Honeylet Avancena (right) with her daughter, Veronica Duterte.
PHOTO BY YOUTUBE
DAVAO CITY – Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s partner, Honeylet Avancena, gave another revealing interview on Monday (June 6), giving the public more details about the man many of his supporters perceive as often misunderstood by local media, and also talked about her relationship with Duterte’s first wife, Elizabeth.
In an interview with Philippine news site, Rappler, the former Valenzuela beauty queen said she got acquainted with Duterte at a local pageant. “Di naman ako natakot sa kanya (I wasn’t intimidated by him),” she said, adding that she was drawn by Duterte’s intelligence. “Yun ang pinaka umano sa akin… intelihente (That was what made an impression on me… Intelligent),” she said.
Duterte also gave her a gift that stood out from among those she received from her suitors. “[Ma]dami akong manliligaw nun [but] sya lang yung nag iwan ng college ring (I had a lot of suitors then but he was the only one who gave me a college ring),” she said.
Did she choose him for his money? “Hindi ako nagpapabuhay sa kanya. Nagtatrabaho ako (I don’t depend on him for [financial] support. I work),” she said.
Avancena, now 46, said she had put up a business long before she left for the US where she worked as a nurse for four years. She didn’t want to close shop, she said, choosing instead to put her sister and mother in charge of her business.
It was her business that caused a rift between her and Duterte, she said. They separated for a while when she was in the US and she didn’t expect she would come back to the Philippines where their romance would be rekindled, she had said in an earlier interview.
What exactly did they fight about? “Kasi sya politician sya. Public servant sya. Tapos yung paninda ko gusto nyang ipamigay. Sabi ko ba’t pa ako magnenegosyo? Di na ako magnenegosyo kung ganyan (He’s a politician. A public servant. He wanted to give away what I was selling. I said why would I still run a business? I won’t run a business if that’s the case),” she said.
Ever since then Duterte doesn’t meddle in her business affairs, she said.
Duterte is a night owl, Avancena said. “Nocturnal talaga sya. Mas alive sya sa gabi. Mas nakakapag-isip sya sa gabi. (He’s nocturnal. He is more alive at night. He is able to think better at night),” she said.
Duterte is a busy public figure, but does he still find time for her? He does sleep all morning but wakes up at around lunch time, Avancena said, adding that lunch time is family time for them.
They still have the usual rows as a couple, but Avancena said she prefers to just walk away when she’s angry.
Who is the first to say sorry? “Minsan ako. Minsan s’ya. Depende. Pag kasalanan n’ya s’ya (Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s him. It depends. If it’s he’s fault then it’s him [who says sorry]),” she said.
And how are things with her and Duterte’s first wife, Elizabeth?
“Okay lang naman kami. Di naman kami nagkakalmutan… Civil lang (We’re okay. We don’t claw at each other. We’re civil),” she said.
Quite a few things have changed since Duterte was elected president, Avancena said. She can no longer go out of the house wearing shorts, and when she does go out, there are throngs of supporters that she needs to greet.
“Nagkakatraffic nga jan eh. Sa labas ng bahay. Dati wala naman (There is a traffic jam outside the house now. It wasn’t there before),” she said, adding that the Presidential Security Guard has tried to solve the problem by banning cars from entering the area.
She hopes Duterte will still find time for their 12-year-old daughter, Veronica “Kitty” Duterte. “Naghahanap talaga ng tatay (She really looks for her father),” she said, adding that Veronica has given her hints. “Ayaw ko yung inuuna pa yung ibang tao kesa sa family (I don’t want to be in a situation where other people come before your family),” Avancena quoted her daughter as saying.
She still prefers to keep her life away from the public eye, she said. “There is no need for me to be around. Nasa likod lang ako. Alalay lang ako (I’ll just be in the background. As support),” she said. ICA/Expat Media
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