ROME – A former undocumented worker in Italy is helping run her husband's travel agency business in Rome.
Serafina Narciso or "Tita Pina" never imagined working or even put up a business in Italy.
The Ilocos Norte native first went to Rome for a vacation in 1979. In 1981, she decided to try her luck in Italy as a domestic helper even if it meant being an undocumented in that country.
She also sold airline tickets on the side to kababayans who wanted to go home to the Philippines.
"After a year, bumalik ulit ako that was 1981. Nag umpisa na ako ng ganitong klase although nagtatrabaho pa ako sa bahay bilang live-in," Narciso said.
In 1991, she met and worked for Italian Luigi Petrocilo, owner of Jeepney Travel Agency. Eventually, the two fell in love and got married.
Together, they started to improve their travel agency business.
"Salamat sa mister ko si Luigi dahil tinuruan niya ako kung paano i-manage, cargo man o ticket man, tinuruan niya na lumago at kaunting lambing sa pasahero kahit na minsan nagagalit ka na kailangan na ngumiti pa din," Narciso said.
Over the years, the couple managed to make their business grow.
"There is patience. You should be available to work and sometime for 17 hours-15 hours to be always available to your clients," Luigi said.
"Magandang service at masaya ako sa trabaho na ito marami nakakausap nakakahalubilo parang isang laro na nagtatrabaho, business and pleasure," added Narciso.
Many Filipinos and even foreigners are regular clients of the couple's travel agency.
"Sanay na akong kumuha ng ticket kay Tita Pina dahil madali siyang kausap at maganda ang kanilang performance na maihatid ka hanggang sa airport," said Karina Evangelistavito.
Another client, Fely Garcia said, "Mini-maintain nila ang mga customers kahit nasa Milano pa kami pupunta pa kami dito para kumuha ng tickets."
Aside from the travel agency, the couple is also involved in other businesses like assistance and consultancy services.