It is now beauty queen Abigail Cruz's turn to speak about her relationship with popular TV host Paolo Bediones.
"Yes, we're together," affirmed Abigail to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) last Thursday evening, October 11, at the opening of Levi's new flagship store in TriNoma, Q.C. Abigail was one of the models who paraded wearing Levi's latest collection for the season.
According to the 2007 Bb. Pilipinas runner-up, she and Paolo have been together for four months now.
LONG ROUTE TAKEN. The road towards coupledom wasn't easy though. In fact, it was a long courtship, complete with all the stumbling blocks along the way.
Abigail vividly recalls their first meeting.
"We met in Bb. Pilipinas ," she said while trying to relax on a couch inside the newly inaugurated Levi's store. "He was the host and I was one of the candidates. But then he didn't get my number, hindi kami nag-exchange numbers."
Even on that initial meeting, Paolo's reputation as a ladies' man was well etched in Abigail's mind. But aside from that lingering perception, Abby simply had no time to entertain the thought of being romantically involved with any guy. She was dating someone else at the time.
"Iniiwasan ko siya when he was like talking to the girls," she candidly confessed, beaming. "Kasi I was seeing someone at that time."
It would take a while before Paolo and Abby's path would cross again. But, apparently, she had already caught the eye of the sought-after bachelor. Their second meeting took place under totally different circumstances, but it provided Paolo the right opening to break the barrier.
"After Bb. Pilipinas, we saw each other na sa shoot ng station ID ng GMA. But then, hindi pa din niya kinuha ‘yong number ko. Sinabi lang niya, ‘I added you in Friendster, so I hope you could check out your messages.' So I answered it and dun na kami nag-exchange ng messages," relayed Abby.
She added: Eventually we exchanged numbers sa YM [Yahoo Messenger] and then he started calling and texting me and ‘yon, naging friends kami."
DIVINE INTERVENTION. But still, Paolo had to work extremely hard to wipe out the Cassanova image. And Abby is no easy prey either.
"Paolo Bediones: chickboy, girl magnet!" laughs Abby, concretely describing her stubborn impression of Paolo.
Despite managing to develop a friendship, it dawned on Abby that Paolo wanted more than a platonic relationship.
"Alam mo ‘yong parang more of love-hate [relationship]? I didn't like him at first. I was making iwas kasi I was seeing someone. Medyo may kutob na ako, kaya lumalayo na ako. Parang I put a wall already and sabi ko, 'Ay naku, I have to be cautious with this guy.'"
Ignoring the odds and determined to wipe out his playboy image, Paolo resorted to the old-fashioned way of winning a woman's heart.
"He pursued me. He courted me," exclaimed an excited Abby. And then she started to see her ardent suitor in a different light.
Confused, the amiable beauty queen decided to seek God's help, which turned out to be in Paolo's favor.
"Sabi ko, ‘Lord just give me a sign if it's really for me' and then I prayed and then the guy whom I was seeing went to the States and kind of let go of me. Sabi ko, ‘Why don't I give Paolo a chance? Even though I have someone, he was just there waiting patiently.' Parang I gave him the benefit of the doubt. So I said, ‘This is the chance.'"
TEN-YEAR AGE GAP. Abby stressed that their ten-year age gap is not a stumbling block in their still young relationship. Abby is currently 23 years old while Paolo is 33.
"Kasi ako, I'm matured in thinking and I love conversations and you know how he is talking, talking. We talk with sense, we talk nonsense, and we talk just about anything. I think the best tool for a relationship to really blossom is for both parties to communicate," she rationalized.
Abby went on to defend the age gap issue, "I have friends na ganun din, e, ‘yong age gap is ten years, twelve years. But then, gusto ko kasi ng matured guy, kasi kung mag-isip ako hala, parang hindi 23 years old. Pero puwede din namang maging child at heart. Believe me, kaming dalawa kengkoy din."
She also couldn't contain her happiness when Paolo publicly admitted that they are indeed an item during the press conference of her boyfriend's newest game show, Whammy! Push Your Luck, held last October 2 at the Oasis in Quezon City.
"I was really, not only happy, I really thank him. Sabi ko, ‘Well you are really proud of me and thank you so much it really means a lot to me and my family,'" she commented.
For Paolo to proudly announce that he has a girlfriend can be heralded as a breakthrough, considering his penchant to keep his love life a secret— especially from the press.
And even Abby was aware of this. "Kasi first of all, sabi ko ‘Kung itatago mo lang ako, huwag na lang kasi hindi naman ako ganong klaseng babae.' Pero sabi niya, ‘No, no.' Sabi niya, ‘I'm gonna be so proud of it and I'll tell the whole world.'"
As for their busy schedules, Abby said they're still adjusting, but they're able to cope up so far.
"For a relationship to work out, you have to invest your time," she said.
"Hindi lang naman siya 'yong busy, ako din, so we adjust to each other's needs. It's not easy, but sabi nga nila, ‘pag gusto mo talaga, may paraan."