Ma On Shan (馬鞍山)

07:00 - 18:00

“I’ve been working in Hong Kong as a domestic worker for over 24 years. I landed in this city when I was 22 years old, without really knowing what to expect. Back in the Philippines, I was a hospital nurse, the first university graduate from our village. I also trained and joined the army for a short period and worked as a second lieutenant. I was misled by the employment agency that the job opportunity abroad was for a nursing role, and only realised just before I was about to board a plane for the first time in my life that, in fact, I signed a contract to be a helper. I landed in Kai Tak Airport one November evening in this foreign place. In those days we didn’t have internet at home, so it wasn’t like I could have Googled where I was going beforehand. Growing up in the Philippines, I always expected ‘abroad’ to be much more wealthy and prosperous, but on my way to the boarding house that day, I walked through an underground tunnel and saw that it was lined with homeless people. This image was something that I had never associated with Hong Kong and it left a lasting impression. I also remembered thinking to myself, after all these years of hard work to put yourself through your studies, how come you still need to work as a helper?”

「我喺香港做咗家庭傭工超過24年喇。啱啱嚟呢個城市嗰陣,我係22歲,都唔係好知嚟到之後會點。喺菲律賓嗰陣,我喺一間醫院度做護士,我係村入面第一個大學畢業嘅人 。 我仲有段時間入過軍隊受訓,做過少尉。當年我比僱傭中介公司誤導咗,以為自己係出國做護士,就喺我準備人生第一次搭飛機嗰陣,先發現原來我簽嘅合約係要我去做家庭傭工 。嗰年11月嘅一個夜晚,我坐㗎飛機喺啟德機場降落,咁就嚟咗呢個陌生嘅地方。以前我哋家鄉冇得上網㗎,唔會有得上Google睇吓個地方先。喺菲律賓長大嗰時,我成日以為『外國』會係好富裕、好繁榮,但係喺我去緊外傭宿舍嗰陣,行過一條隧道,見到啲露宿者喺嗰度瞓覺。我從來都冇諗過呢個畫面會喺香港出現,所以留低咗好深印象。我記得我嗰時問自己:『努力讀咗咁多年書,點解都仲要係做一個 家庭傭工呢?」

“My parents had me when they were just 16 years old and didn’t have the means to take care of a baby at the time. For the first 8 years of my life, I was raised by my grandparents. We were very close and they were like my mum and dad. I lived with them in a remote mountainous area, and would walk up and down the mountain 6km to school on my own every day. When I was 8 years old, I was sent back to my parents’ home and my world changed. My parents were farmers, and struggled to make a good living. I was suddenly dropped in a household where I had three younger brothers, and I went from being looked after to being the one looking after others. I eventually had five younger siblings. I took care of my youngest little sister like she was my daughter, because we had such a big age gap. One of the main reasons why I wanted to get a job abroad was so that I could make more money to put each of my siblings through college; and I did.”

“When I started work with my first employer, I felt excited as I was shown my room, my toothpaste, my toothbrush...I felt like I was being taken care of. At the time, I didn’t even know how to use a vacuum cleaner or rice cooker - because we didn’t have electricity back home! I went from being clueless to learning to do everything in the household. I would wake up at 5am to prepare breakfast, get the 5 year old child ready for school, pack his schoolbag, prepare his lunchbox, clean the apartment, do the laundry, ironing, groceries, prepare dinner and do the washing up. The child’s parents were always busy at work, so I would also help him with his homework. By the time I finish work for the day it would be after 11pm. It was Christmas-time one month into this job, and my first ever Christmas and New Year’s alone from my family. New Year’s eve was very important for my family and we would have an annual tradition of playing games and eating a big feast together as the clock struck midnight. That year though, I felt so lonely and missed my family so much.”





「去到第一個僱主度做嘢嘅時候,我見到自己間房,覺得好興奮,見到佢哋準備俾我嘅牙膏、牙刷……,我感覺到佢哋關心我 。嗰陣時我連點用吸塵機或者電飯煲都唔識,因為喺菲律賓我哋屋企係冇電㗎!我由一開始乜都唔識,到後來學識做所有家務。我會朝早五點起身煮早餐,嗌醒五歲嘅小朋友起身返學,幫佢執書包,準備佢嘅午餐,然後打掃屋企,洗衫,燙衫,出去買餸,煮晚餐同埋洗碗。個小朋友嘅爸爸媽媽做嘢好忙,所以我要幫手睇埋佢嘅功課。做完晒一日嘅工作,已經係過咗夜晚11點。嗰時開工一個月之後就到聖誕節,係我第一次冇家人喺身邊過節同埋過新年。除夕喺我 屋企係好重要嘅節日,我哋每年嘅傳統係一齊玩遊戲,等到個鐘搭正12點食餐豐富嘅晚餐。喺嗰年,我覺得好孤單,好掛住屋企。」


“After the first two years in Hong Kong, I wanted to leave and go home. I called my family to tell them and my little brother asked me ‘But if you come home, how will I ever go to college?’. So of course, I stayed. Because of the money that I sent home every month, my family eventually moved into a concrete house with electricity in 2004. Gradually, I started to form a community in Hong Kong. Every Sunday, I would meet with other Filipinas in Central. The first time I went to Central I took a picture next to the big bronze statue in Statue Square. People wonder why of all places we choose to congregate on the pavements of Central on our one day off. It’s where we feel a sense of community and home; we can get Filipino food, shop at Filipino shops. It’s hot and noisy, but we have each other. On my day off, I would also try to speak with my parents. In order for my family to access a telephone back then, they would have to walk 3-4 hours to the nearest phone - that’s why it was so important to schedule it way in advance!”

“After a number of different employers, I now work and live in Ma On Shan with a couple and their two lovely dogs. I have a dog myself, Arianne, and I’ve had her for 13 years. I like to keep busy in my spare time - I’m the president of the Filipina Nursing Association in Hong Kong, helping helpers to transition back to becoming nurses, I also volunteer at a couple of organisations, and I’m taking an online course in psychology. I also enjoy trail running and participated in the Sai Kung 50 and Country of Origin races - without any training! Back in university days, I would enter marathons just to try to get cash prizes to help with my school fees - so I guess I’m used to it! How do I find time to do so many things? If you really want to do something, you will find a million ways to make it happen. I would say that I am now really happy to be in Hong Kong, because I’m involved in so many meaningful and worthwhile causes. If there is one thing that I would like to say to the people of Hong Kong, is that foreign domestic workers have the same needs to eat, play, connect and be happy just like everyone else and we deserve to be treated with empathy and respect.”


 「喺香港過咗頭兩年,我想唔做,返番菲律賓 。我打返去屋企同佢 哋 講,我嘅細佬問我:『如果你返咗嚟,我係咪冇機會讀大學?』所以最後我當然冇走到啦。靠住我每個月寄返去屋企嘅錢,我嘅家人終於喺2004年搬咗去一間用石屎起嘅屋,有埋電力供應。我都漸漸喺香港有咗一班朋友。逢星期日,我都會喺中環同其他菲律賓外傭聚會。第一次去中環嘅時候,我企喺皇后像廣場呢度同個銅像影咗張相。啲人唔知點解我哋有咁多地方唔去,會揀喺中環呢啲空地度放假聚會。其實呢度就好似我哋屋企咁,我哋可以喺度食到菲律賓菜,去啲菲律賓雜貨鋪度買嘢。係好熱同好嘈嘅,但係有大家嘛。放假嗰陣,我都會同我父母傾電話。喺以前,如果我屋企人要同我講電話,佢哋要行三四個鐘去最近嘅電話亭,所以以前一定要事先約好個時間㗎 !」

 「之後我轉咗好幾個僱主,而家嘅僱主係住喺馬鞍山嘅一對夫婦,佢哋仲有兩隻好可愛嘅狗。我自己都有養一隻狗叫Arianne,我養咗佢13年啦。我鍾意趁空閒嘅時候充實自己,我係香港菲裔護士協會嘅主席,希望幫啲同鄉轉返去做護士。我仲喺幾個機構度做義工,同埋上緊一個心理學嘅網上課程。我都好鍾意去跑山,參加過西貢50同埋Country of Origin越野賽,冇乜訓練㗎 !讀大學嗰陣,我為咗攞個獎金去幫補學費,都會去跑馬拉松,所以我都應付到嘅!我點樣抽時間做到咁多嘢?當你真係好想做一樣嘢嘅時候,你會搵到100萬個方法去實行。我覺得自己而家喺香港都真係開心,因為參與咗呢啲有意義嘅工作。如果要同香港人講啲嘢,我會同佢哋講,外籍傭工同佢哋一樣,都會需要食飯、放鬆、同人聚會同埋過得開心,我哋係值得被尊重嘅。」


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