Friday, July 08, 2011

Rome and the Fil-Italia

Rome is home to thousands of overseas Filipino workers mostly domestic helpers.

Tagged as today’s heroes for their contribution in driving the Philippine economy, they to me symbolize industriousness, risk taking and sacrifice. They leave home for a better future not for themselves but for their family.

Our hosts, active in embassy activities exposed us to several social gatherings where families enjoy simple gathering, sampling Italian and Filipino food and playing familiar Pinoy card games.

Almost all can speak Italian, their kids speaking as fluent if not sounding real Italian. You would hear success and a lot of sad stories mainly related to health and domestic issues.

Gladly, there is a Filipino community bonded to provide simple assistance if possible. Like instructions on how to go to the airport, how to remit money with minimal surcharges, how to ship cargo to loved ones in Batangas, Tarlac, Samar and other provinces and the most popular concern, the status of my and my families Italian citizenship.

We see them in groups and in pairs, in the park on a Sunday afternoon, in a debate at a downtown bar, mass held at the Coleggio, a dormitory of Filipino priests studying in Rome in buses, train terminals and literally everywhere.

There appears to be no traces of loneliness in their faces as they enjoy the privileges, amenities and the Italian lifestyle.

One thing Cecilia and I experienced, they are more than willing to help co-Filipinos. On our 1st independent train ride where we were figuring out which was North and South, a young man in his twenties from Leyte came to our rescue. He narrated his success stories and diversions to keep him busy. He even willingly took our picture together. When I asked if I can take his picture, he politely declined saying, “Huwag na lang po!”

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