Wanchai, Hong Kong: Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) based in Hong Kong is continuously affected by the non-visa entry dispute between the Philippines and Hong Kong.
Rosemarie Gallardo, 35, an OFW working at Central Hong Kong Island said that many fellow Filipinos working in Hong Kong face “difficulties” concerning their employers, work and even lifestyle in the foreign country.
The dispute mentioned is about the Hong Kong tourists bus hostage in Manila, denting the relationship and ties between Filipinos and Hong Kong people. It drew further spark concerning the South China Sea island dispute and the recent refusal of the Philippine government to apologize on the Manila hostage that lead to Hong Kong legislature drop a possible restraint on the non-visa access of Filipinos to Hong Kong.
“Bumababa na ang tingin sa mga Pilipino dito sa Hong Kong. Maraming mabait, pero since nung balita sa Manila incident, nagffire na sila, mababa na tingin nila sa mga Pilipino,” Gallardo said.
She said that there are instances that Filipinos in the foreign country work 18 to 24 hours a day and blamed for wrongdoings either made up just to have a reason to fire the employee or not of their doing.
“Sinasabi nila na ang OFW ay bayani ng bagong panahon, pero hindi namin nararamdaman. Kung ganun nga, sana marinig ng gobyerno ang hirap namin dito sa ibang bansa…Magpasa naman ng batas o kahit anong proteksyon para sa mga Pilipino para makalaban ang mga katulong kapag sinasamantala sila dahil alam nilang may kakapitan sila,” Gallardo said.
At present, Gallardo—who is working at Hong Kong for 7years so far—said that there are 70 percent of Hong Kong locals in Hong Kong, while the other 30 percent are from Mainland China. She said that some of the Hong Kong locals was very affected by the incident that they tend to fire Filipinos and replace with Indonesians multiplying their number in the country.
She also said that Filipinos domestic helpers are “afraid” that they might be outnumbered by Indonesians as Filipinos are only advanced by an estimate of 100 in terms of number in the country, given that Filipinos have families back home that they support while Indonesians—mostly young people aged 14 to 17—only spend their pay mostly for themselves.
Some Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong told The Manila Times that Filipinos are the top domestic helpers in the country in terms of numbers. They are followed by Indonesians, Thai, Sri Lankans and Pakistanis growing their volume in the country.
Average domestic helper’s income in Hong Kong range from HK$3920 to HK$4000, while other satisfied employers give Filipinos minimum of HK$6,000, which 90 percent of it according to Gallardo will be remitted to their families in the Philippines.
At present, hundreds of Filipino domestic helpers like Gallardo are taken care of in a so called “shelter” located at the Central Wanchai area. Filipinos currently living in the shelter were mostly laid off by their employers and agencies amidst the tension of Hong Kong and Philippines on the apology and non-visa grant cancellation concerns.
Filipinos not only in Hong Kong, but also in other countries, do various “tricks” and “tactics” just to survive and earn more in foreign countries which involve borrowing from different banks and engaging in other transactions, given the limitation of their income, environment and low protection.
“Sana ingatan ng gobyerno ang mga OFW. Napapansin lang kasi nila kami kapag may problemang ganyan, pero hindi naman talaga nila nabibigyan ng solusyon sa problema,” Gallardo said, citing possible aid to OFWs such as protection laws, emission of multiple placement fees on potential Filipino worker to foreign countries, restoration of direct hiring, and provision of benefits to OFWs overseas. Kristyn Nika Lazo