Aquino remembers a pretty woman in Boston neighborhood

President Aquino visits the house on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton, Massachusetts, where the Aquino family lived for three years while his father, then opposition leader Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was on exile in the United States. The President returns after 31 years, saying it’s an emotional time for him.

NEWTON, Massachusetts-He had a pretty neighbour but someone else in a flashy car picked her up one day. And that ended Noynoy Aquino's plans of asking her out on a date.

This was among the fond memories that President Aquino shared with friends who accompanied him to his family's former home in Newton on Monday morning (late Monday night in Manila).

Aquino brought a gift for Ione Malloy, the retired American schoolteacher who had bought the house more than a decade ago.

Mah-jongg, informal dinners

Dr. Mario Bucal, a good friend of the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. in Boston, also joined the President in his nostalgic return to the house that saw a lot of mah-jongg games and informal dinners.

The President spent some 30 minutes inside the house with his friends, Doctor Bucal and Malloy. It was a private meeting, which members of the media were not allowed to cover. Coverage of the visit was limited to a photo and video opportunity outside the house.

Aquino was overheard by Inquirer photographer Edwin Bacasmas sharing his stories with friends as they ambled on the sidewalk after emerging from the house.

The President said he shoveled the heavy snow on the sidewalk and their driveway, not an easy task considering the bitter winters in Massachusetts.

An elderly American couple, John Paul and Rebecca Valette, patiently waited for Aquino outside the house. And when he got near them, Rebecca introduced herself as the Aquinos' neighbours and pointed to him where they lived.

Cute

The anecdote on the "cute neighbour," as Bacasmas heard from one of the President's friends, was the closest one got in satisfying the curiosity about whether Aquino dated anyone while in Boston.

At 54, the President remains a bachelor.

Going to No. 175 Commonwealth Avenue on Chestnut Hill, an affluent neighborhood in this town, was perhaps the highlight of the President's homecoming to Boston since returning to the Philippines in 1983 to bury his slain father.

Emotional

In a speech at Boston College on Sunday, Aquino said he knew that going back to Boston for the first time after 31 years would be an emotional moment for him.

The three years he spent with his father, mother Cory and four sisters in the red brick, two-story house were obviously the happiest moments they had as a family.

Boston and the friends they made there, Aquino said, gave his family a sense of normalcy amid "abnormal" times, referring to the brutality of martial law. It was a "home away from home," he said.

His father, one of the leading opposition figures against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, was in jail for seven and a half years, before an urgent heart surgery in 1980 became the family's ticket to seek exile in the United States.

Formative years

But even in America, Ninoy continued to fight Marcos, giving speeches and media interviews where he talked about how Filipinos had suffered from an autocratic rule and how a few raided the national coffers.

The time he spent in Boston was also his formative years, Aquino said, in imbibing his father's fight for freedom and democracy.

Before going to Commonwealth Avenue, the President shared a pizza with US Rep. Joseph Kennedy III at Bill's Pizzeria, said to be one of Mr. Aquino's favorites when his family lived in exile in Boston.

The meeting with Kennedy was limited to a photo opportunity.

Scions of political greats

At press time, details of the 30-minute meeting between the scions of their countries' most influential political families had yet to be released.

Kennedy is the grandson of the late US Sen. Robert Kennedy and grandnephew of US President John F. Kennedy.

On a recent visit to Manila, the 33-year-old Kennedy invited Aquino to a meeting should he travel to Massachusetts.

A statement from the Office of the President said that Aquino met with several American companies on Monday afternoon (early Tuesday morning in Manila).

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