How I met my future husband, I mean, the President

Michelle Baltazar

She’s just an ordinary girl standing in front of an extraordinary man. But will he let down his (security) guard?

When it comes to eligible bachelors in Sydney, it is slim pickings out there. That’s why I decided to go for an easier catch, the President of the Philippines.

My babe was in Sydney for two days. Some people might say that’s too short a time to forge a lasting relationship but in budgie’s years, two days means three years so, technically, I'd be taking it slow.

There’s one little detail to take care of. Before I could become his First Lady, I had to get a First Date. And I wasn’t sure his security detail was briefed about that.

The mission was simple. All I had to do was get past his Secret Service agents, his delegation, Members of his Cabinet, Government officials and the 1,000-plus other Filipinos who were scheduled to welcome him at a venue in Campbelltown.

I also had to figure out how to get to Campbelltown.

There was another option, which I ended up taking. Go to the Shangri-La hotel where he had a speaking engagement in front of a smaller crowd.

Alas, no luck. Lots of people there, too.

Time was ticking.

Look! There’s Ricky Carandang! He is His Excellency’s Press Secretary and a hotshot editor in a previous life.

I told myself, Quick, tell him you want to marry the President!

Okay, I didn't say that out loud. Ricky graciously chit-chatted with me and a few other people for half an hour. By that time, I figured PNoy has left the building and I should call it a night.

Then it happened. The same time I was exiting the hotel, who should I bump into at the foyer?

I told myself, Quick, say something!

But I was paralysed. As he walked past me, flanked by his security staff, I stood aside, invisible like a corner pot plant.

Then a few seconds later, my journalistic instincts kicked into gear and I followed him (When I say him, I mean him and 12 other men in black).

My dress was yellow so I couldn’t have blended that easily among the sea of suits, yet, probably because I go to church on Sundays, nobody shooshed me away.

Five minutes into the walk I gently tapped one of his minders on the shoulder and asked, “Sir, can I please have a photo with the President?” (Filipina translation: Is he single and can I ask him out?)

To which the guy in a suit answered: “Sorry, Ma’am. Hindi po puwede.”

Well, I had to do something for my unborn children.

I leaned to his left, looked straight across to PNoy who was a few metres away and shouted, “Mr. President, can I please take a photo with you?”

The secret service agents froze. Collective sharp intake of breath. One guy talked to his walkie-talkie as if he was in a scene from The Bourne Identity.

Then PNoy smiled, nodded his head, handed my camera to one of his staff and said “You look familiar.”

Score! Three words I’ve been waiting to hear all my life!

Wait. That’s not it. And maybe he vaguely recognised me because I had been following him around as part of the press pack for the past 10 hours. In heels.

I took three steps forward, smiled and posed next to him. Click.

My mom’s voice was ringing in my ears: “Isa pa at baka nakapikit ka.”

I was about to give him my business card but when you're surrounded by secret service agents, any sudden movements like pulling anything out of your pocket is probably not a good idea.

Besides, no matter how badly I wanted to be the First Lady, I am a Filipina first. Meaning, I would rather die than ask a man out for a date.

Writer strikes a pose with PNoy

The money shot: Writer strikes a pose with PNoy during his Sydney visit.
Photo credit: Some guy from PNoy's security who will always be welcome in our house.

 Michelle Baltazar for First Lady


And yes, I already have my First Lady picture on the ready, just in case!

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