All roads to Rome-A A +A
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
MILLE viae ducunt homines per saecula Romam. All road leads to Rome. In my case, first I have to pass by the Bahrain International Airport via Gulf Air. Not to attend the canonization of new Filipino saint San Pedro Calungsod, rather to attend the global meeting of the Mountain Partnership Task Force focal points at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Middle Eastern airlines are beating the thunder out of the bigger airlines because of the cheap fare. Not the best in food and the washroom, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. Besides, I didn't pick the airline, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN did.
It's no longer surprising to expect Filipino faces every step of the way. I saw the Gulf Air female employee working at the passenger service. Thai? Indonesian? My first guess: a Filipina. If I smoke, I win a cigar hands down.
And a Boholana. A Visayan. We spoke in perfect Filipino, a national language. Abroad (except perhaps in the US), we are not Negrense, Ilongo, Cebuano, Ilocano, we're Filipinos identified as such when we speak in the national language.
When I got to Rome, I was on roam with my cell phone, constantly in touch with my sundo, Ilongga Julie Garzón, whom I first met in 2004 during my last trip to Rome.
How the world has changed. We get in touch not just through emails but through, where else, the power of social media. We became Facebook friends.
She brought along JR Ferrer, her Pasig-raised husband. We chatted away, talking in the national language, although we can talk in English. Por favor, no hablais en Inglés or worse, in Italian behind my back.
We spoke in the national language. Julie spoke the language with an almost a perfect Manila accent. When she talked over the phone, it was a mix of Hiniray-a and Hiligaynon.
Back in their Filipino Catholic faith community, the Cebuanos, Warays, Ilongos all speak the national language. There was no debate or question of Manila imperialism ramming down Tagalog in their throats. Everyone had got together not as different tribes but as Filipinos putting to practice their dagyaw or bayanihan to survive in a strange place.
With Italians, Julie and JR spoke Italian. When we talk to Italians, as when we got to my bed and breakfast billet, we spoke in English.
Life is getting hard for Filipino workers in Italy. With the economic crunch, hard-pressed Italians are jostling with Filipino workers for domestic jobs. The Ferrers admitted that after decades of working in Italy, they are now exploring their options to relocate in another Schengen state.
Unfortunately, many non-EU nationals are trying to enter Germany, the economic powerhouse that is largely shoring up the EU economy. Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain are not exactly good options, which are faring worse.
My Italian host Renato Di Segni Lombroso complains of being taxed to the max, at 67 percent of his income. He says he works to shore up the government, not to meet the needs of his company.
Despite the taxes, public services are going down the hill. JR mentioned that trade unions often go on a weekly "manifestazione" (strike or demonstration) to protest the latest government policy.
From the Ferrers, I learned to find my way around. Take Bus 32 that will lead to my B&B billet. Or in reverse, to go to the Metro on my way back to the Roma Termini, and watch out for the Romani, the usual suspects for thievery. Thence back to Fiumicino Airport for my flight back to Manila.
Frankly from what I heard so far, for all I care, all roads lead to Manila. Or better still, to Bacolod.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 31, 2012.