By: Joan Mae & Emma Kwee
Get to know another cross-cultural couple, this time from the Philippine Islands! This couple started out as friends but ended up as lovers! Now, they are happily settled in the southern part of the country, Davao City. Read the stories of the other couples featured in Latitudes Cross-Cultural Couples Series and don’t hesitate to drop us a line on email@example.com if you’re interested in joining.
Please introduce yourselves, what are your names, where are you from and where do you live? ‘We are Romano (Swiss-Italian) and Rochelle (Filipino) Venuti, our family lives in Davao City, Philippines.’
How did you meet and where?
‘We met in Bali, Indonesia. I was singing with a band playing in the Hyatt Hotel and he was the pastry chef of the same hotel.’
How did your relationship evolve?
‘We started out as friends. The chefs of the hotel would organize parties in their apartments and invite my whole band to party with them. We became close and an attraction blossomed between us. It was a long distance relationship after I left Bali and went back to the Philippines. We communicated through long distance phone calls and he would come and visit me if he had a chance. Until I got pregnant by him and decided to get married in Korea.’
What does it mean to your relationship to be of two different cultures?
‘It meant having to decide where to settle and have a comfortable life. Being of two different cultures was never a concern. We just wanted to be together because we love each other. The adjustment was difficult though even up to now. We have a lot of differences in our way of doing things and beliefs.’
Has it ever caused any problems or miscommunication?
‘Yes, a lot of times, but we compromise. One always gives way and the other just bows.’
Rochelle shares that the ‘adjustments of living together with different points of view about our cultures and trying to compromise’ are also sets of challenges that they have to overcome.
And so it comes as no surprise that even the preparation of their meal mirrors Chef Romano’s outlook; on the other hand, the handling of house chores has Rochelle’s touch all over. ‘The quality of our food and the way of handling it is something that we don’t compromise,’ says Rochelle, ‘It is during the preparation of the meal, no matter how simple the dish is, that we get to show our affection to those around us, that’s how Romano treats every meal. But the house, you can observe Filipino chore-handling all over.’
Moreover, there are also a lot of times when their cultural differences have caused them problems, ‘There are times when miscommunications have brought challenges to us,’ confesses Rochelle.
Filipinos are used to a soft voice when being talked to. And to me, Romano’s Swiss-German intonation sounded harsh at times although he doesn’t really mean it that way.”
How did your surroundings react to your mixed relationship?
‘A lot of people reacted differently because of the stigma to cross-cultural couples. I was never affected knowing that ours is a relationship built from friendship and we had a love going on to keep us together.’
What are the best things that this relationship brings you?
‘We learn a lot of things about each other’s culture which we’ve never known even in school. We learn to be patient and understanding about not being able to do a lot of things that we’ve gotten used to in order to respect the other’s belief.’
What makes you guys a perfect fit?
‘He is a motivator and leader while I am a follower. To balance that, he solicits my ideas and uses most of them.’ ‘We also complement each other. I am particular on the business side, while Rochelle is on the artistic field, I think that’s another great thing for us,’ says Romano.
What language do you speak with one another?
Are religious differences an issue between you and your partner? How did you solve these?
‘We have different religions but it was never a problem. We respected each other’s religious beliefs.’
Future plans?Being together for 22 years now, the Venutis are planning to explore the places they still haven’t been to.
After our kids finish college, we look forward to go around the world. Just the two of us.”
When the couple was asked to share their tips and pieces of advice to other cross-cultural couples, this is what the couple has to say: ‘Live for each other. Don’t be misled or be influenced by other people who criticize your relationship. Cross-cultural relationships are just like any other relationship where both parties work hard to make the relationship work, regardless of where each one of you comes from.’