Is former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento the mystery man in Kris Aquino's viral Instagram post?
Source: Official Gazette
On Wednesday, August 11, the actress-host stirred up speculations of a new romance when she greeted a "special someone" a happy birthday and thanked him for coming into her life.
"I thought long and hard whether to upload this, because I know what kind of speculation I'll be starting. BUT he really did come when my grief was unbearable; he continues to give me unselfish support and comfort; he’s been around for all my ups and downs, health woes, and tears—plus Bimb likes him," she said in her post, referring to her youngest child.
"Most of all, he makes me feel taken care of, secure, and SAFE," she continued. "So he is deserving of this birthday greeting that all of you are now seeing (care bears na kung anong iisipin ninyo). BECAUSE for me he is #special."
Among the names who came up in the comments section of her post include her former flame Herbert Bautista, lawyer friend Atty. Gideon Peña, rumored suitor Mark Leviste, and even hosts Willie Revillame and Erwin Tulfo. However, none of them were celebrating their birthday on Wednesday, August 11.
Then some netizens brought up Sarmiento’s name. The politician sort of confirmed the rumors himself when he used Kris's Instagram account to defend the actress from a basher who called her "narcissistic."
"Ghorl @krisaquino kung gusto mo talaga na private ang buhay mo, 'wag ka na mag-post ng ganito. Narcissistic ka din eh. Kawawa naman ang dating DILG Secretary sa 'yo. Be fair. Please abolish you're social media account. Please lang 'day! Baka malasin pa," said the basher.
Not one to back down from her critics, Kris hit back, and said, "Why? Did I name names? Ikaw ang nag-greet by name and nag-assume agad... And bakit mo 'ko didiktahain to 'abolish' my social media account? Siguro if like you, I had 3 posts and 8 followers, madaling gawin 'yun, but when you have 4.8 million on IG and 4.5 million on FB, you just don't do that because you respect the relationship you've built with the people, who have come to love and trust you. If you are afraid about my political ambitions, that's why you called me narcissistic—that's really not my problem. Mas mamalasin tayo kung puro ka-nega-han like your attitude instead of positivity and #lovelovelove. We live in a democracy and wala akong masamang pi-nost."
In his response, the netizen clarified that he was not talking about politics. Rather, he was just pointing out that Kris could have greeted Sarmiento privately.
"Ang sabi ko lang, kung gusto mo ng private life, bakit need mo pa mag-post ng ganito? Puwede mo naman i-greet na lang siya in private. Puro ka hanash. Ano 'yan, parang Shopee, may hint? Ang narcissistic mo kaya. Ano 'yun, gusto mo pag-usapan ka lagi, duh! Kung tatakbo ka, tumakbo ka. Kung hindi, eh 'di hindi. Daming hanash, bagay sa 'yo sa bahay na lang," said the netizen.
It was at this point that the former Cabinet official came in, using Kris's Instagram account to address the basher.
"Hiniram ko 'yung phone ni Kris. Ewan ko kung nakatrabaho kita sa DILG, sa laki ng department mahirap maalala ang lahat. 'Wag naman masamain kung nag-greet nga sa 'kin, ba't naman napunta na sa malas? Eh napasaya nga niya 'ko—kung tutuusin, napaka-swerte ko. Kung nag-sama nga tayo sa department na minahal ko, konting respeto naman sa 'min ni Kris - Mel Senen Sarmiento," he said.
Sarmiento, 58, served as the DILG Secretary under the administration of Kris's brother, the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, from September 2015 to June 2016.
He was also a former Congressman of Samar’s first district, serving from 2010 to 2015, and Mayor of Calbayog City, from 2001 to 2010.
Kris—who was formerly married to PBA star James Yap and was last romantically linked to Batangas Governor Mark Leviste—has yet to publicly address her rumored romance with Sarmiento as of this writing.