A view of life in Italy from OFWs during this lockdown

Rick Olivares

Posted at Mar 31 2020 05:47 PM

MANILA -- For Aldrin and Flerie Luna, the ongoing lockdown in Italy is something they follow more keenly than any telenovela on The Filipino Channel. They are regularly glued to the news in Italy, Europe, and, of course, back home in the Philippines.

The couple, along with their three children, have lived in Italy for almost 20 years (they managed to bring over Aldrin’s mother a few years ago). Vetralla, an ancient town in the Viterbo region that was a vital location during the Etruscan and Roman Empires in central Italy, is home. And their home is just outside a busy highway. 

But since the lockdown that started on March 9, vehicles on the road are scarce. Their town and the nearby areas have become virtual ghost towns.

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, Italy has recorded the second most number of COVID cases with 97,689 confirmed with 10,781 deaths -- the most of any country given Italy is the second country in the world – next to Japan – with the highest population of elderly people.

“It’s bad in other parts of the country but here in our region, there have only been two positive cases,” said Aldrin who is the only one able to go out due to the autodichiarazione – a quarantine pass that allows only one person to go out and buy groceries or run any necessary errands. “In our region, people have been very disciplined and followed all the protocols prescribed by the government and health officials. But we are concerned of course, that a lot of people in Italy are infected and have passed away.”

With social unrest looming, there is a significant military, carabinieri and civilian police presence who have check points and go out on regular patrols. 

If two members of the household are going out, either they have to take separate cars or the second passenger has to sit in the back (to also observe social distancing). Each one as well has to have a autodichiarazione. Citizens are randomly stopped by the carabinieri to check on the veracity of their being out. If they are going to work, the employer is called up by the police.

The Lunas have a pair of dogs but the lockdown protocols stipulate that one can only walk their dog within 100 meters of their home. 

During the first few days of the lockdown, there was panic buying but with the government now in control and access to food available, the anxiety has subsided to a certain degree. Like anywhere else in the world, disinfectants and facemasks are in short supply. 

Aldrin recently purchased five (for the entire family) one-time surgical masks for €15 (roughly P168 per mask).

“Right now, it is only Flerie who is out of work because her job is ‘no work, no pay.’ But myself and my two other children (the third child is still in school) are receiving 80% of their pay as prescribed by the government,” disclosed Aldrin. “Of course, we – all of us here in Italy -- hope it gets better soon.”

Having the entire family at home together and for an extended amount of time is something that hasn’t happened to the Lunas in a long time. "We all work different shifts so it is rare we are all here. This lockdown has brought us together,” said Aldrin.

Chimed in Flerie: “If I only had to cook one full meal before for the entire family, now I have to cook two.”

The family life is a blessing amid the pandemic. “Plus, now, we get to watch a lot of things we always wanted to but never had the time on TFC, Netflix, or YouTube,” kidded Aldrin. “It’s a way to distract from the pain, death, and suffering brought about by this pandemic.”