The Guest Room

A Hong Kong blog that does a lot more than blog

QQQQQ: Meet the Domestic Helper

 

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I am Edna Pilapil, from the Philippines. I have been working as a domestic helper for three years now. I try to get involved in various Filipino community activities and I like exploring Hong Kong in my spare time.

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Hi Edna, does Hong Kong feel like home?

Yes, it does. There’s something about Hong Kong that tugs at you the moment you set foot on its soil, plus the presence of more than a hundred thousand Filipinas here surely helps.

 

Which law regarding Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong would you like to see changed?

The two-week rule. This requires all Foreign Domestic Helpers to leave Hong Kong within 14 days after their contracts are prematurely terminated. This law leaves very little time for us to seek for new employment.
For quite some time, Organizations of Migrant Workers have been lobbying for amendments in the HK rules for Domestic Helpers, and I am joining them in their stand that the two-week rule must be abolished.  We should also be given the option to live out of our employer’s home and fixed working hours should be imposed.

 

What does your employer do that makes you feel appreciated?

My employers are very vocal when it comes to praising me for a job well done.  Of course they’re just as vocal at reprimanding me for a job not so well done, which I guess is fair.

 

Other than living away from family and friends, what’s the hardest thing about living in Hong Kong?

There’s the high cost of living, but even more than this, I find it hard that for a society which has gained so much from the important role that migrant workers play here, little or not much is being done to alleviate our welfare.  Instead, we hear of exploitation and abuse inflicted on some of my fellow helpers and yet they just brush it off as nonexistent. Working as a domestic helper doesn’t make us less human, and to be treated that way is just plain ridiculous or cruel, or both.

 

Without the incentive of being able to save money, is Hong Kong a place you would want to be?

Absolutely. For some obvious reason, I haven’t been to any place other than my country, which is why I fully intend to get to know all there is about Hong Kong — its culture, its diversity, and its every nook and cranny. So far, I’ve only managed to scratch the surface and I’m happily taking it all in. I am, admittedly, in awe of Hong Kong!

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview!  

For our reader’s information, I met Edna recently though the blog when she wrote asking to donate money to the people living in caged homes here in Hong Kong.  Despite Edna not being able to join us on the junk, she did donate $200 and I think that says a lot about the type of person she is.  Thanks Edna!

If you have a question for Edna, please say hi to her in the comments below.

Also, if you’d like to be interviewed or know someone who has a unique perspective please let me know.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Mr.J

 

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8 comments on “QQQQQ: Meet the Domestic Helper

  1. Stephanie
    June 20, 2014

    Great interview! So interesting reading about Edna’s life and her thoughts.

    • theguestroom
      June 20, 2014

      Cheers Stephanie! Thanks for reading!!

  2. brielle87
    June 22, 2014

    Wonderful interview and very informative. Best of luck in working toward abolishing the 2 week law, it seems foolish and represents such ignorant ideas regarding domestic workers. Be well and enjoy Hong Kong, it truly does tug at you and I can hardly wait to go back there.

  3. edna
    June 23, 2014

    Thank you Mr. J, I’m honored to be a part of your qqqqqq list. Thanks for your thoughts stephanie and brielle87, glad you liked this. Cheers!

  4. hazzeltoz
    June 26, 2014

    Thank you for this interview. Growing up as an expat in Hong Kong, we had a domestic helper from the Philippines and she was like family to us. I miss her.

    • theguestroom
      June 26, 2014

      Hey Hazzeltoz,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Having a helper is a great privilege that many can’t afford. I think most children growing up with helpers have no understanding of the massive sacrifice that these women make to be in in Hong Kong.
      As Edna puts it in the interview, these ladies play a vital role in hong kong’s society and they deserve much fairer treatment.
      It’s nice to hear that you and your family appreciated your helper and treated her with love and kindness.

      Cheers
      MrJ

  5. theguestroom
    January 30, 2015

    Reblogged this on The Guest Room and commented:

    So, the Hong Kong government thinks that this person shouldn’t have the right to live in her own place?!

    • brielle87
      January 31, 2015

      It really blurs the line between Domestic worker and indentured servant when the government does not support Domestic workers having their own home.
      So sad, yet so typical of developed countries.
      I do hope Edna is still well.

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