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 Roma?”, I asked.
“Gialla com er sole, rosso come er come mio! Chi tifa Roma non perde mai.” (Yellow like the sun, red as my heart! Who supports Roma never loses.)
When recently Lazio beat Roma (Senad Lulic, 71min) in the finals of the Italian cup, my natural reaction was to immediately send Dario a teasing text message saying that such a tragedy happens only because you leave your Bosnian on the bench (wunderkind Pjanic) while the other team’s double Bosnian trouble is at their bests (Lulic plus coach Petkovic). After dramatic minutes of silence (maybe it was too much, too soon?) his reply unveiled a serious diagnosis similar to the Stockholm syndrome – he said that the Lazio coach transformed a group of assholes into lions while Roma players were %#*$^*(@.
Just as it should be, I’m not sure where Dario’s great love for Roma stops and where the disregard (hate?) towards Lazio begins. However, his southern mentality that gets berserk especially when we talk about football makes my years away from home less painful. He is my best friend in Bangkok, where we both live, and yes he really wears his Roma shirt like it is Caesar’s best toga.