For most of the year, Assunta de Rossi and her husband, former Congressman Jules Ledesma, live in Pasig City. But picturesque San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, Jules's hometown, is where Assunta unwinds whenever she can get away from the hustle and bustle of Manila.
Although officially a city, San Carlos retains a decidedly countryside flavor. Its breathtaking scenery, fresh air, and leisurely pace make it, for the statuesque actress, the ideal place for rest and relaxation.
The couple, however, can only get the chance to visit together when their busy schedules allow. Now a businessman, Jules is usually the one who goes to San Carlos more frequently. As for Assunta: "I only come here kapag may okasyon, like 'yong town fiesta."
The fiesta, in November, is known as Pintaflores. "May makikita kang naka-body-paint na flowers, kayaPintaflores ang tawag nila," Assunta explains.
Still, San Carlos is a special place for Assunta. This is where she and Jules had their civil wedding on December 14, 2002. It was held inside the Hacienda Euzcara, one of the Ledesma properties in San Carlos. Almost a year and a half later, on March 14, 2004, the two had their church wedding at the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati.
The road to wedded bliss was a rocky one. Assunta's family initially disapproved of Jules, and a family feud broke out after Jules and Assunta announced that they were a couple back in 2002. It didn't help that there was a 23-year age gap between the lovebirds. (Assunta turned 23 only last month. Jules will turn 46 this August.)
Assunta, however, thinks the age difference has been to her benefit: "Ang good thing about 'yong `malaking age gap, siyempre, bine-baby ka, di ba? Siya 'yong naga-adjust sa 'yo. But, of course, kapag kailangang magpaka-mature e wala akong choice, di ba? I have to, kasi I'm a wife and a mother na. Hindi naman puwedeng forever bata-bataan ka."
Just like other couples, Assunta admits, she and her husband have their differences and commonalities. "We have so many things in common. It's just that our personalities are so different. Parang North Pole and South Pole."
But at the end of the day, she gets what she wants. "Kahit naman gano'n 'yon, wala, tiklop sa 'kin 'yon!" she laughs. "Promise! Aaway-awayin niya 'ko, maya-maya sasabihin niya, ‘Hindi talaga kita matiis!' Gagano'n 'yan, kahit kasalanan ko pa. Dati kasi, sa mga past relationships ko, kahit sila pa 'yong may kasalanan, ako 'yong hindi nakakatiis, e. Di ba, ang cheap ko?"
What do they have in common then? "We're both family-oriented, very religious. Mga simpleng tao lang din kami. May times na pareho kaming magloka-lokahan. Basta't about family values, pareho kami. We both believe in marriage. We don't believe in annulment."
Assunta's relationship with her husband's children from his first marriage-13-year-old Cristina and 9-year-old Carlo-is also ideal for everyone concerned. She even speaks about her stepkids as if they were her own.
"Masuwerte ako dahil mahal nila ako. Ako 'yong kunsintidora, the dad is the disciplinarian. They're like my friends. Ayoko kasing naiilang sila sa akin, 'yong feeling nila hindi ako maa-approach.
Having married into a prominent family, Assunta had prepared herself for the eventuality that Jules would ask her to quit showbiz. To her surprise, the exact opposite happened. She only heard words of encouragement from her husband.
Jules told her: "I want you to become self-actualized and self-empowered, kasi you're still young! Angdami mo pang puwedeng gawin... It's up to you if you wanna stop working. Okeylang sa akin. But if you wanna continue, okey lang din."
Her husband's protectiveness, however, has sometimes been misconstrued as meddling in her showbiz career. "Hindi niya ma-take 'yong merong mga tao na aapakan ako. Kasi, parang alam niya na mahilig akong magpasagasa."
Three years after Assunta and Jules got hitched, the gossip columns continue to dish out rumors and speculations about the real status of their marriage. Assunta takes it all in stride.
"I'm very optimistic. I never think for the worst. Ganoon ako. 'Yon nga 'yong pinagkaiba namin. He's very strong, but madalas, kung gaano siya kabilis matuwa, ganoon din siya kabilis magalit. Kung gaano siya kabilis sumaya, ganoon din siya kabilis malungkot. Ako, steady lang ako lagi. May times na sumasama ang loob ko, but after that, isang iyak ko lang, hay, okey na 'ko!"