Flame of love thrives, even with in-law in tow


Victoria Kobayakawa, a 29-year-old Filipino, was kept busy by her children during a recent interview with The Japan Times in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture.

While holding her son, Masato, 1, in her right arm, she fed her daughter, Maria, 3, pudding at a restaurant in an Ito Yokado department store.

Victoria, whose maiden name is Navarosa, works at a hotel near Tokyo Disneyland three or four days a week.

Her husband, Masayasu, 41, is a firefighter at the Funabashi Fire Department.

He is happy that she is kind to his mother, who lives with them in Funabashi, he said, because not many young Japanese wives like to live with their in-laws. In fact, some specify not having to live with their future in-laws as a condition of marriage.

Masayasu does not know Tagalog or English very well, while Victoria speaks the two languages as well as Japanese.

When did you come to Japan?

Victoria: I came to Shizuoka Prefecture first as an entertainer at a bar in 2000. I was 21. Then I moved to Funabashi in 2003 for the same type of a job.

How did you meet each other?

Masayasu: I went to the Funabashi bar as a customer in February 2003. I instantly liked her, took her out for dates and proposed to her in May that year, shortly before she went back to the Philippines because her visa was about to expire.

Victoria: I was not sure if he was serious, but I said yes. Later I realized he was serious because he came to the Philippines to prepare for marriage.

Masayasu: After Victoria left Japan, I went to the Philippines twice before our wedding. In the first visit, I met her parents, who supported our marriage from the beginning. For the second visit, I handed in some documents needed to register the marriage to the local authorities.

For the wedding on Sept. 18, 2003, my mother and one of my two sisters came with me.

What type of wedding was it?

Masayasu: It was in a Catholic church. I remember I went to the church a few days before, and a priest told me something in Tagalog. Victoria interpreted for me, but I don’t remember what was said. The priest probably told me how married couples should love each other in sickness or health or something.

Victoria: Basically, the priest talked about how married life should be.

Masayasu: I remember I was not asked to be baptized.

Victoria: My parents want my husband to be Christian, but I told them he does not want to because he is Buddhist.

What did the wedding go?

Masayasu: I just stood and listened to the priest. Victoria’s relatives told me what to say. Victoria: I felt nervous and cried because I was going away from my parents. After our wedding, we went to Palawan, a beautiful beach resort in the Philippines, for our honeymoon.

Did you have a wedding ceremony in Japan?

Masayasu and Victoria: No. We just submitted papers to Funabashi City Hall.

Masayasu: I came back to Japan a few days after the wedding because I have a job.

Victoria: I moved to Funabashi in May 2004, which means we lived separately for nine months.

Were your parents supportive of your marriage?

Masayasu: Victoria and my mother got along very well. We went together on a trip to Tateyama, near the southern tip of Chiba Prefecture, and we all had a good time. And I am kind of old and my mother wanted me to get married soon, so she was like, “Get married if you want.”

Victoria: My parents had no problem with our marriage. Of my five brothers and three sisters, the oldest sister is married to a Japanese and lives in Gunma Prefecture. So, Masayasu is not the first Japanese exposure to my family.

Who takes care of your babies?

Masayasu: Victoria, my mother and I do equally. I work 24 hours, including nap time, and take two days off, so I get free time on weekdays.

How often do you go to the Philippines?

Masayasu: We went there twice after the wedding. We took Maria there and stayed for two weeks after she was born, and stayed for a week for the second visit with Maria and Masato.

How do you plan to raise your children?

Masayasu: I want them to go to school in Japan.

Victoria: Because they are Japanese, I will send them to school in Japan.

What language do you speak to your children?

Victoria: Mainly Japanese. Sometimes English. I speak Tagalog to them when I’m upset.

What do you like or dislike about each other?

Victoria: Masayasu is very kind to me. He has no bad points.

Masayasu: She is very nice to my mother. But Victoria does not like it when I go out with my colleagues.

What is the most difficult thing when you are together?

Masayasu and Victoria: Nothing. Right now, looking after the kids is the biggest trouble. But we like it.

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