Rowena Romulo on Family, Legacy and Really Good Filipino Food

Written by: Carla De Guzman/Friday, May 12, 2017 11:08 AM

 

 

 
 

At the heart of London’s busy Kensington High Street, walking along the street will give you a little glimpse of a neon red sign of a man’s side profile, with a cheeky little smile and his signature below. Peeking in to the restaurant shows you chic London interiors with Filipino touches, and perhaps the best of Filipino food that you can get from this side of the world. 

The Romulo Café is a favorite among the Filipino foodie set. Serving up the family recipes of former UN Secretary General Carlos P. Romulo, Filipinos know that a meal at Romulo is a fantastic experience from ambience down to their dessert. Unsurprisingly, it was recently hailed as the ‘Most Loved Restaurant in Kensington’ by Time Out London, just a year after it opened last year. 

Romulo’s first international branch was opened by Gen. Romulo’s granddaughter, Rowena Romulo. Before deciding to open the restaurant, she was living a busy and hectic life as the Head of Direct Custody and Clearing at JP Morgan. 

rowena-banker.jpg

While she’s achieved much in her tenure, she knew that there was more to life than being a banker. “I knew that I would never be CEO of an American Bank, but I can be CEO of my own company.” 

When asked if she would ever go back, she’s definite in saying ‘no.’ But not all is lost, as “the skills and the discipline that I acquired during my banking career has really helped me in the day to day operations of the company.”

She’s much happier now, and in our 24x24 feature, we follow Rowena’s usual day, from waking up at 9AM to heading to the restaurant to prepare for Valentine’s day, including sampling their special chocolate dessert. 

rowena-wine.jpg

Like the restaurant, Rowena is a product of a close knit family, despite being away from the Philippines for 30 years, she’s always in constant contact with her sister and father—both in business and for casual conversation. Her passion shines through in her work, and her husband Chris can attest to this. “It’s such a joy to watch her work on the menu, come up with these new recipes. It’s inspirational just watching how creative she is.”

But it doesn’t end there. Every table at Romulo’s London has a 50p donation to the Wonder Foundation, a fantastic foundation that support scholarships for Filipino students. Charity is a huge part of English life, and connecting that to what still needs to be done in the Philippines is a nice way to have things come in full circle. 

Rowena’s advice? Make things happen. “Opportunities don’t just knock on your door. You have to make them happen.” We’re looking forward to hearing more about Rowena and Romulo!

Watch all previous 24x24 episodes via TFC.tv here.

 

Have you tried Romulo on High Street Kensington? Let us know about the experience! And make sure you catch a glimpse of Rowena’s (and other inspirational Pinays) day on 24 x24!

 

About Carla De Guzman
Carla de Guzman is the author of self-published books Cities, Marry Me Charlotte B! and We Go Together. She loves to travel, coming home to her dog Kimchi and spending her weekends having dinner with her crazy family by day. By night, she’s writer and an artist, spending her midnights at her desk. Follow her on Instagram (@somemidnights) for more!
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