By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – Interracial couples believe that marrying someone outside one’s race would help bridge the racial divide among peoples. The testimonials of Greg and Yuka Agulan and Noel and Rhia Luz speak of enduring relationships of people coming from different racial and cultural backgrounds with one common element: trust.
Businessman Greg Agulan and wife Yuka Masui are married for 28 years. They live in Elizabeth, New Jersey with their teenage son, Sean. Yuka is a Buddhist from Japan while Greg is Catholic from the Philippines.
Filipina nurse Rhia Luz, meanwhile, is married to Noel for 28 years. He comes from Zaire and speaks French. For the two, there was both language and culture to bridge. They live in Chandler, Arizona with their three daughters.
They guested in the new social media talk show Women’s World in the two-part series titled Love Heals Racial Divide in May and June 2020. The show, which is hosted by Merly Barlaan, Marivir Montebon and Dr. Arceli Hernando, is sponsored by the Women’s Federation for World Peace and OSM! Online Magazine.
For both Greg and Yuka, trust is the basic element in their relationship. “Marriage is not easy. It was a process to know and understand each other,” quips Yuka.
Greg concurs: “A good relationship has to have trust. Then love developed. When we were married, Yuka had a round trip ticket to Japan, just in case she changes her mind.”
According to Yuka, she had come to appreciate Greg who showed his selflessness as a church leader and parent. “I made an effort to become a better person for him and to be an obedient child of God.”
Rhia had an exciting dating period. She and Noel were writing to each other for four years until they finally met. “I was attracted to him when he wrote that he is there for me to serve me,” she recalled, citing that this man was someone he could trust.
When they met for the first time, Rhia said, she was attracted to Noel immediately. They married and stayed in Zaire but later had to move to the US where her work was.
Life went on well since then, with bumps but the mindset of putting God in the center of their relationship to make it work.
Rhia said that it was hard for some of her family members to accept that he is married to a Black person. “You know, how it is, we Filipinos discriminate against Blacks and even within ourselves, we don’t like our brown skin. So it was a struggle in the beginning.”
She looks back and says, “He is a faithful man and a very responsible husband and father, he makes sure that we have everything we need every time. He has integrity and is loyal too.”
When asked how to address institutional racism in the US, Agulan said that there has to be a mutual introspection by everyone. “The white people need to look into their discriminatory attitude while the Blacks needed to check on their resentment that had been built up all these years. We need to look at our history in order to heal. God cannot solve racism. Only the people can.”
Dr. Thomas Ward, president of the Unification Theological Seminary in Manhattan, in a public statement on institutional racism and the death of George Floyd in the hands of police in Minniapolis said that US education has to be geared towards an education that promotes revolution of the heart.
“True justice for George Floyd will not come without an American revolution of the heart,” Ward wrote.
“White American public servants and law enforcement officials should never forget that today’s black Americans descend from noble patriots who endured undeserved, unimaginable abuse and yet, in war and in peace, they still chose to forgive again, to appreciate, embrace, and serve this, their country with great courage and valor.
Educators should foster a culture that longs for understanding and reconciliation rather than a culture of fear and resentment. The ability to appreciate one another through the prism of a God-inspired historical perspective, seeking deeper understanding of the other, is central to this.”#
(Featured photo courtesy of Rhia Luz. L-R: Rhia Luz, Yuka and Greg Agulan)