let the people know, let them feel
Listen in Kensington Gardens
Listen in Kensington Gardens
Sound by Helen
Sounds of women speaking in Tagalog, unclear.
At the moment we are here in Kensington Gardens having a joint picnic party: GABRIELA London and Filipino Domestic Workers Association. We will have this event because we want our members to be united, and we wanted to update them for what’s going on here in London, most especially in the immigration status, immigration laws, and also what’s going on in our country, the Philippines.
GABRIELA is an organisation composed of women, but it’s also open for men who believe in our advocacy. GABRIELA is all about empowering women. We are going to unite and fight for our rights. Being united, women being united, we wanted to show that what men do, women can do also.
Sounds of women speaking in Tagalog – ‘Abante! Babae!’ – and laughing.
I’m a migrant domestic worker working here in the United Kingdom. I left my country because I have no regular job to help feed my children. I’m thinking about their future, and I wanted to give them the best, and I wanted them not to experience what I had experienced. The Labour Export Program is the programme of our government to let us go out the country, because for them it’s the solution. Instead of having an industry in our country, thinking of giving us the jobs, they let us leave our family. They let us experience leaving our children growing up, and I don’t like that. I hope in our generation it will be stopped.
In my experience, most of the women leaving their children have encountered different problems. The first time I left the country it’s really a culture shock for me, and I feel very lonely, but during that time there’s no technology. I cry every night if I remember that I miss my family. So always loneliness, right. It’s always, even now that I’m almost two decades as a migrant domestic worker, loneliness always comes back.
I’ve encountered being depressed for the problems with my family. Because we always wanted the best. We always wanted also to… to go back home. And stay there for good.
In cleaning we always use chemical stuff, and we are not really protected by the health insurance. But our health is suffering. Not in one year, not in two years. But as we grow older. For example, in our lungs. As the years pass by, using chemicals every day, it will affect our health. And then you’re thinking too much that if you’re sick, you will be terminated by your employer; they don’t need you anymore. So the worries are there. There’s no security for the migrant domestic worker.
In the year 2003, I went to Hong Kong to work as a caregiver. Normally it’s two years contract, but then it became six years, and during that duration of six years I have no holiday. I left that family because my ward passed away. I look for another employer, and during this time I have one day holiday for one week. And there I was able to meet my fellow Filipinos, my fellow migrant domestic workers, in Chater Road, in Hong Kong. And I saw this group of women – and not so plenty of men – having a rally around Central. And upon seeing that I am very happy because I saw different – it’s my first holiday, so I saw different fellow migrants – they’re chanting, and I listened carefully to what they’re shouting, and next Sunday I joined them.
When I found activism, it changed me a lot. In one organisation, if you go together and understand each other, fighting for one purpose, it’s a fulfillment. It’s a great feeling. Because you are changing for the better.
At the moment here in the UK, we have this tied visa system, that you can’t change employer. I’ve been working twelve hours a day, from eight o’clock to eight o’clock in the evening, Monday to Friday. And on Saturday, if there are available part time I’m doing part time, because I’m not… my salary is not too big. And on Sunday I devoted my time for the organisation. I’m not being paid for minimum wage, but I can’t complain, because I’m looking after the status of my visa. But if the government will bring back the concession, my situation will be better, and I can change my employer.
As a migrant domestic worker in the United Kingdom, I wanted to work legally. I wanted to have a clear status of my visa. And I wanted to call the UK government to bring back the concession for us domestic workers. As a member of GABRIELA I am calling for reforms, and as a member of migrant domestic workers, I am calling the government of United Kingdom to ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention 189. Migrant domestic work is decent work.
As a migrant domestic worker, we need to speak out, and let the people know, let them feel, how our worth is. The chanting ‘Abante! Babae! Palaban! Militante!’ is all about women move forward and fight.
Sounds of women and men speaking fade in again, and become the chants ‘Abante! Babae! Palaban! Militante!’ and ‘Makibaka! Huwag Matakot!’
The chant ends, and the chanters cheer and clap. Fade out.