Why Roma? I asked.
“My husband found this shirt in between destroyed houses of San Jose district.“
In ruins of Tacloban, thousands of zombie-like survivors loiter. The super typhoon hit the coast and people’s lives were pulverized to the smallest bits from which they would have to rebuild everything. I’ve seen it before, I know the pattern – to have their old lives back, the high spirit will be as important as material reconstruction.
Just to the right from city’s astrodome where hundreds or survivors found shelter, between some improvised shacks and about dozen rotten bodies left for rescue workers to collect I noticed a beautiful young woman wearing a sleeveless football shirt. She was holding a child and I almost fell of my bike when I first saw her. In the ocean of surreal scenes and powerful photographs I took on this assignment, this one stands out – the image of her smiling and pretty face, of her husband and happy child do not belong to this hell like scenery. At the same time, this is exactly the image I bring back from Philippines – despite the monstrous destruction the amazing spirit of those lucky to survive remains inexplicable high.
Maimai Pasqual lost relatives in typhoon; her house and all the belongings are gone. Now, she has very few things but this Roma shirt to wear – and she wears it so gracefully that I couldn’t stop taking pictures. It is three sizes too big and she cut its sleeves off – from the distance it looks like just another basketball shirt that you can see everywhere in Philippines. I’m glad to see it is Totti’s number 10. But, what happened to its original owner?
Why Liverpool? I asked.
“Liverpool has been my team since I was a little girl growing up in Minnesota.”
Sometimes I don’t desire to find out more than what strangers tell me right after I ask the question, so not to spoil the story I imagine. I don’t know if Britania was just visiting New York, like me, or she lives there now. I don’t know if she grew up in a city or out in a country. What I imagine is a little girl growing up on a farm, somewhere in western prairies, mysteriously falling in love with the beautiful game and the Liverpool football club.