Saturday, April 10, 2010

Domestic Servitude in the Philippines

I grew up in the Philippines but I was fortunate to be one of the privileged ones. I had more than food & shelter. I had a good education. I was even able to travel here to the United States and back without much hindrance. Not many Filipinos can say they graduated from an American university. I can... And now I live and work in Washington DC living a very happy peaceful life compared to most people of the world, even than a majority of Washingtonians. I am so grateful to God for that. In the Philippines, if you could afford it, you would have household servants. Ever heard the Filipino word "yaya"? It means someone who takes care of a child. I had yayas until I went to live with my dad for six months in New York when I was 10. That was the only time when I hadn't had a yaya tending to me. Then when I went back to the Philippines, I shared one with my brother until I was 13 or 14. Teen years is when you want your independence. Right? Maybe it's my experience living in America that I find it atrocious that yayas are slaving away making sure your child doesn't get hurt or dirty at a children's party while you are chit-chatting away with other mothers on the other side of the room. I am not yet a mother but I don't know if I was one living in the Philippines if I could let a yaya stand by my child throughout the whole party while I gossiped with the other mothers. Right now, I do my own cooking and chores because I am in the United States. But if I was in the Philippines, I might have ended up still being a spoiled brat having a chaffeur, a maid, a cook, a washer woman, a gardener maybe and I was just one single woman living in a big house for a family of four or six. I'm okay with having household help now and then but it makes well-to-do Filipinos, especially the women, lazy. My mother never taught me how to cook but I learned anyway... Through trial and effort, I am making progress. I don't cook all the time but I actually enjoy it. Filipinos shouldn't rely on them too much. They need to live their own lives too. I've heard of some maids being abused by their employers. Gosh! There's Filipino movies & TV shows filled with both household servants and farm workers being abused by their employers. It is a huge part of modern Filipino culture etched long before the Spaniards came to rule us for their king and queen for 333 years. But the way we treat these people doesn't put the individual into account as a human being just like us... It's a sad situation...

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