This story is published in partnership with SoJannelleTV, a magazine show about Filipinos in North America.
No one knows when or where they’ll meet their future partners. It can happen at any time, when one least expects it, and in the most unpredictable of places.
For Byron Scott and Cece Gutierrez, that place was the gym, where they both worked out. The two Los Angeles residents were working out at an Equinox gym when Scott, a three-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, caught a glimpse of Gutierrez, a Filipino-American registered nurse. He was transfixed on the woman as he paused to watch her dance in a workout class.
“He was basically stalking me,” Gutierrez joked, as she recalled their love story in a conversation with Filipino-American media pioneer Jannelle So Perkins for a Valentine’s Day-themed episode of So Jannelle TV, which airs US-wide on cable channels The Filipino Channel (TFC) and ANC, as well as on local Southern CA digital channel KNET 25.1.
Scott, who is older, on the tall side, and physically fit, checked off the boxes for what Gutierrez was looking for. Gutierrez had heard of Scott, a member of the “Showtime” Lakers of the ’80s who went on to coach the team, but it never registered that she was speaking with the former basketball star. She told a friend that she had met someone, but since she misheard his name as “Myron,” it took a while to figure out who she was referring to.
“One day, a couple of weeks later, he walks up to me to say hello, and she was with me, and I said that’s who I met. Basically, one thing led to another,” recalled Gutierrez. Scott invited her to a hike, and then to dinner, and the two have been together now for the past nine years.
Both Scott and Gutierrez had lived experiences with relationships in the past. Scott, a father of six, had raised his children and was divorced, while Gutierrez had one son and had never been married before. She said there was one thing that Scott still had to put behind him. It’s a detail she said she had never told anyone before.
“When we first met, you were a little skeptical about asking me out…. Because he was dating other people at the time,” said Gutierrez. That detail had never been shared publicly before, despite Gutierrez being interviewed many times, and having appeared on the VH1 series Basketball Wives.
Scott said he cut off all other women after a month together, realizing he had met “the one.” Scott had been adamant about not going through the marriage process again but soon changed his tone. The two got married in 2020 and are raising a pair of dogs together.
That isn’t to say there haven’t been adjustments to make. Scott, who has developed a fondness for chicken adobo and dinuguan, was initially taken aback by the amount of food that Filipinos will cook for dinner. The warmth of a Filipino family was also something that was new to him. Scott, an African-American who grew up in Inglewood, California, said his father raised him to be stoic in some regards, not showing emotion, with crying off limits.
“The thing that I’ve found out about the Filipino culture is that family is extremely important. When they greet each other, it’s with a hug. At least in my culture where I grew up, we weren’t big huggers,” said Scott. “[Cece’s family is] very loving and very caring and giving. And we weren’t nothing like that.”
Scott has fallen in love not just with Gutierrez but with the Philippines as well. He recalled having a great time at the country’s golf courses and being blown away by the beaches of Boracay, and even took in a Philippine Basketball Association game.
Gutierrez advised people in multicultural relationships to not shy away from being themselves and to bring their culture to the relationship.
“I don’t think it’s something that they would run away from. I think it would be different at first, bring it to them, let them see,” said Gutierrez.
From Scott’s perspective, a relationship can work as long as the two people are truly in love. In that department, there’s nothing that needs adjustments.
“I love this woman big time. Every day, it seems like I’m in love with her even more,” said Scott. – Jannelle So Productions | Rappler.com
Rappler is partnering with Jannelle So Productions Inc (JSP), founded by Filipino-American pioneer and Los Angeles-based journalist Jannelle So, to publish video and written stories from SoJannelleTV about the journeys, successes, and challenges of Filipinos living in America.
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