Walking through the streets of Milan in the summer, I hear thousands of familiar voices and conversations as if I am still in Manila.
I am safe here. As winter comes, these familiar voices fade away. Silence, like the winter air, seeps through every fissure of my being reminding me that I am a foreigner in an adopted land. I long to hear again these familiar voices, conversations.
“Siomai. Siopao, 2 for 3 Euros. Fishball.” Ciao Jun. Kumusta, How are you? Where is your wife Nessa? Mabuti, I am good. Nessa’s stopped joining me as she now has a job. God’s mercy! She will drop by later though.
“Halo-Halo. Hotdog. Tahooooo.” Hi Helen, last weekend was tragic for us. Tito Alex had a stroke last Saturday and is still recovering in the hospital. We have not decided yet whether to send him back to the Philippines as his official permanent residency documents are coming in the next months.
“Mineral Water. Softdrinks. Mais. Ice-Cream.” Are you coming to our church mass tomorrow morning? We need your tenor voice. No, I can’t. I have a morning shift at work. I might join the 5pm church mass. I heard we have a new priest. Have you already met him?
“Balut. Chicharon. Turon. Banana-Q. Kumusta Pepe?” I heard from Fishball King that you are expanding the size of your mansion in Laguna. Well, it is quite understandable as you have been in Italy for more than 10 years, right? No, that is just hearsay. I am just renovating my family’s kitchen.
Photographs & Text: Joseph Neri
The IPA Mentorship Program is a photography mentorship initiative by Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA) for those who wish to further their personal photographic vision and goals. More info: www.invisiblephotographer.asia/ipamentorship