When the woman is much older: Brigitte Macron and Dionesia Pacquiao

By Cristina DC Pastor

In my search for the Filipino Brigitte Macron, I circled back to Dionesia Dapidran Pacquiao.

Except for the huge age gap these women have with their significant others, I find nothing else they have in common, except, notably, the public’s obsession with their relationship with much younger men.

Brigitte is the wife of the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron. Reports say they met when he was a high school student and she was his drama teacher. At age 15, according to reports, he had his eyes set on her who at the time was married with three children. He vowed to her that, “Whatever you do, I will marry you.” That romantic spark did not dim as the two continued to communicate throughout her marriage, according to reports. She was divorced many years later, and Emmanuel and Brigitte wed shortly after, undaunted by their 24-year-age difference.

Dionesia’s relationship with Michael Yamson, a sailor 28 years younger, would have been a little unusual by conventional Philippine standards. The pair has been fair game to misogynist humor, mainly because she is an occasional entertainer who appears on television to sing, dance or make people laugh with her folksy Visayan accent. That she happens to be the mother of boxing champion and senator Manny Pacquiao and is said to be very wealthy make her even more intriguing. One of the first things Michael had to dispute when they made their relationship public was that, “I am not after her money.”

Dionesia Pacquiao and boyfriend Michael Yamson. Photo by ABS-CBN

Dionesia Pacquiao and boyfriend Michael Yamson. Photo by ABS-CBN

The media scrutiny couldn’t be helped given how news is not only about developments that are timely and impactful, but also about human interest and novelty, especially as they involve prominent personalities. In both the Brigitte and Dionesia narratives, the politician husband and sporting icon son put their romance on spotlight.
Depending on what publication it is, the stories can conceivably be crafted in a way that may suggest some salacious elements. Some tabloids have begun to label Brigitte a “cougar.” Others are questioning if there was forbidden seduction between the teacher and her pupil a la Mary Kay Letourneau. In Manila, Dionesia has been questioned by reporters about her sex life with Michael, erasing the boundary between private and tawdry.

The coverage of the two women is intense, driven by the public’s appetite for gossip. It takes an open-minded society like France to brush aside the big age gap, among other sexual peccadilloes, as something they can accept in their presidents.

Brigitte herself has dismissed the obsession with age, saying simply that “I’ve become accustomed to listening only to those who convey positive messages. Life with Emmanuel was necessarily like this.”

As for Dionesia’s May-December romance, Filipinos treat it with a combination of entertainment and voyeurism worthy of a few laughs. Wait till she runs for public office.

Copyright © 2017 The FilAm

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