Maids…This can be a touchy subject, especially for me. Mamamona was blogging about her recent experiences and I had too much to say that I figured, I’d just post about it, so here goes…(sorry if this is more a novel).
In the Philippines, maids or nannies or hired help, are a common thing. As long as you’re not wallowing in poverty, chances are, you have a a “katulong” (hired help). Depending on how high up you are on the social ladder, you are more than likely to have more than 1. Usually, they even live in your house and you may even have “maid’s quarters”. Here, in the US, it’s not as common. Sure, you can hire someone to come help clean up every now and again, but it’s not so common to have one living with you 24/7.
Some of these maids are older, with their own families just needing some form of income. Some are a lot younger…some, barely even teens or fresh out of high school. These younger ones come along b/c they see no other alternate route. They don’t have money to continue going to school (yes, even public schools in the Philippines have some sort of tuition and they almost ALL require uniforms). Some just don’t know enough of a trade to do anything else besides cooking, cleaning, laundry and/taking care of kids. For some, this is ok and get lucky enough to get a good “master”/family to work for. Some, get abused – mentally, physically, emotionally.
The way some people (adults and children alike) talk to their hired help makes me cringe. They talk to them in such a demeaning manner that makes them appear higher up and more grand, when really? You’re ALL PEOPLE. Some go out of their way to make sure their hired help is darker in skin tone than them. Yes, skin color. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, it’s still a colonial mindset where the lighter you are, the better off you are (and that’s why my family over there always laughs at me b/c I try SO hard to get a tan!). And, unfortunately again, these “masters” actually think they are better. Turn the lights off, you are all the same color and breathe.
Anyway, it didn’t surprise me when Mamamona mentioned that one of the ladies she spoke to said that “Filipino maids are the best”. I can see truth to that. One, because it is so common and Two, Filipinos, in general put everything into what they do. They strive for the best to please their masters – and everyone else for that matter. It’s pretty common for Filipinas to go out of the country seeking greener pastures only to become hired help. I’ve known of some who have college degrees and step down just to make more money outside of the country and then send that money back to their loved ones. It’s not just maids that do this – I even know of a Doctor in the Philippines who stepped down to be a Nurse b/c it was easier to get hired as a Nurse than a Doctor.
I hate that some of these hired help get taken advantage of and take advantage at the same time. I also wasn’t surprised when Mamamona mentioned that some women feel threatened by these maids…like it was a threat to their family. Reality is, it’s the man of the house that’s the threat. But, yes, it takes 2 to tango. And of course, there are those promisicuous girls/ladies – maids or not.
I don’t like the fact that people go out of their way to find YOUNG help so they stick around longer or grow up to be more loyal or are less threatening. Give them a chance to be more than what you’re making them! There are some who actually put their maids through school so there are good souls out there, but I’m pretty sure they are outnumbered. And, unless you’re a working parent that works 24/7, there is NO excuse that a child learns from their “ya-ya” (nanny/maid). I don’t know of any parent that works 24/7 so there is no excuse.
I remember I had a ya-ya from when I was living in the Philippines…up until I was 6. But, I do remember that my Mom still took time out from her busy schedule (she was working and getting her Masters) to teach me things and my siblings. I remember my Dad taking us on outings and not just sticking us with our ya-yas. I also remember that, yes, we were spoiled (as in we didn’t have to wash our own dishes or do laundry or other chores and such), but we also never talked to our ya-yas in a demeaning manner. My mom was not having that. My Grandmother, on the other hand, was a little Senora and ordered them/hers around like servants. There’s a fine line / balance to this and not too many accomplish it.
My Grandmother no longer has a live-in maid in her house, but she does get someone to come and do laundry (no washing machines) and clean up a bit once or twice a week. The way she sometimes would talk to the help made the hairs on the back of my neck standup. If I didn’t have to watch what I said to my elders, I would have said something, but I’m sure she’d disown me as her grandchild…I usually would just go to the help and say something like, “she’s old…don’t mind her” and give the help a tip…not like that would make anything better, but what else could I do? My Grandma’s been known to make help (and her own relatives trying to help out) cry! It’s so annoying when people act above others when in reality, we are all people. It kills me even more b/c the Philippines, in general, is so religious, but they don’t exactly act that way outside of Church/prayer.
I’m all in a huff right now and I don’t even know where I’m going with this anymore so let me just stop now before I really write a book! I just felt like I had to get that off my chest and didn’t want to write a whole novella in Mamamona’s comments! lol