MANILA, Philippines - "We're friends."
These were the words said by President Benigno S. Aquino III to describe Korean television and radio host Grace Lee during a radio interview yesterday, sparking curiosity if the rumored breakup between them is indeed true.
In the interview aired over Bombo Radyo, the President was asked on his thoughts on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, the new Tourism ad "It's more fun in the Philippines," the airport brawl between journalist Mon Tulfo and actor Raymart Santiago, his Cabinet men, as well as other personalities like Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Jessica Sanchez, to name a few.
However, when the name Grace Lee was mentioned, the President only answered, "Kaibigan natin (Our friend)."
It was the first time the President spoke about his relationship with the Korean celebrity following rumors that he and Lee have already broken up.
Lee earlier declined to answer questions pertaining to the matter, urging the media to ask the President himself about it.
When told about Lee's stance during the same Bomboradyo interview, Aquino said: "O, (eto) two words (ko): '(mag)kaibigan kami."
Aquino and Lee were last seen together in public last month during a Sergio Mendes concert.
Rumors about their supposed breakup surfaced early this month when the President was heard once again cracking jokes about his love life in his speeches.
The 52-year-old bachelor also took to making mention of the presence of beautiful women in the gatherings that he has been attending - something he has stopped doing after being publicly linked with Lee.
Last February, President Aquino and Grace Lee earlier publicly admitted that they were seeing each other. They met in an event in Cebu last year, wherein Lee was the event's emcee and President Aquino was the guest of honor. The President had acknowledged Lee as "gwapa" (beautiful) before he made his speech.
Earlier this week, President Aquino said -- although in jest -- that he would enter the priesthood when he steps down from office in 2016.
A report on a news website added fuel to the fire by saying that they have already confirmed the breakup with "sources" close to the President. Malacanang has not issued an official statement about the matter.
Aquino met Lee at a function in Cebu last year. He admitted to dating the Korean beauty a few months later.
The President's last known girlfriend is Councilor Shalani Soledad, who is now married to Pasig City Representative, Roman Romulo. (With a report from NR Ramos)