Family Portraits by Ryan Arbilo

Patricia Marques and husband Giovanni Varicca with daughter Vanessa
Turin, Italy

I was still living in Asia, when I married my Italian fiancé in 2004.
I worked in Taiwan as a nanny. When my Filipino friend was on the phone with her aunt in Italy, she asked to pass the phone to me, as there was a gentleman there in search of a wife.

He said he wanted to marry me even without seeing me in real life. I sent him my photo and he asked me to go to Italy. I didn’t have legal papers or visa back then. I’ve travelled to Singapore since 1991, to work, but never had a relationship with a man. I’m advance in age yet always fearful of men’s bad behaviour and the difficult life. My friend said that the Italian gentleman is kind. We agreed to meet in the Philippines.

I went to NAIA (airport) to meet him for the first time, and asked that I kiss him on the lips, but I didn’t know what I felt about it. I was 44 years old back then, and he told me he as only 43. He didn’t tell me that his real age was 82.
We know that due to life’s challenges, men in the Philippines behave a certain way. There are drunkards and womanizers that I’ve dreaded entering into relationships with, or even considering marrying a Filipino.
After a month of courtship, I became pregnant, but lost the child. When he went back to Italy, he grew more in love with me that he asked me to go to Italy. Adjusting to the culture and speaking Italian became difficult hurdles.Took a while to get used to their manner of speaking—which only always sounded mad but wasn’t. I found it difficult to communicate with him and forced myself to learn their language.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to go abroad, for any Filipina in search of a better life—just like what I experienced.