Failon Ngayon: Kasambahay

By Santino Honasan, Multimedia producer, Failon Ngayon

Posted at Jul 25 2011 07:16 PM | Updated as of Jul 27 2011 01:54 AM

With the recent reports that Diamond Star Maricel Soriano allegedly verbally and physically abused her household help, Failon Ngayon takes a look into other cases of the household help being abused and asks why people would do such things.

"Rachel" just days after escaping from her former employer last October, 2010.
May Cachuela and Camille Acojedo, Maricel Soriano's household helpers

Early in July of this year, news reports broke out regarding the Diamond Star Maricel Soriano and her two household help, May Cachuela and Camille Acojedo. According to May and Camille, Soriano often used profanity and even threatened to kill them. Having had enough, May and Camille decided to escape from Soriano’s condominium in Rockwell, Makati and sought help.

While Failon Ngayon tried to get the side of Maricel Soriano, the show was unable to contact her. Soriano’s close friends however, find it hard to believe that she would be able to do such a thing and they ask the Filipino people not to be so quick to judge a person, just because of one instance that they see or hear in the news.

Working in a Nightmare

17-year-old “Rachel” can relate to what May and Camille went through, but what she went through was a lot worse.

A native of Cotabato, Rachel wanted to help her mother with the expenses. According to her, there are times when she and her family had nothing to eat. Rachel’s father had already passed away and her mother washes clothes for a living. When Rachel asked for her mother’s permission to work as a household helper, her mother said no.

Simulation: Rachel's head being dunked into a toilet bowl

On March 2010, without her mother’s consent, Rachel left Cotabato for Manila and began working as a household helper for a woman named Rosa So.

For the first few days, Rachel said that So treated her like a daughter, but as the days went on, So became more and more abusive and hurting her for no reason. So would whip her with cables, splash hot water on her, beat her with a hammer and a rod used to reach the laundry, and even dunk her head in the toilet bowl.

Aside from the physical abuse, Rachel was not properly fed and was not given her salary. This was the hell that Rachel had to endure for four months. She continued working because she did not know how to escape. Fortunately, Rachel was seen by the household help next door, and immediately alerted the authorities. When Rachel was able to leave the So residence, she was badly beat up, but happy to be able to leave.

Currently, Rachel stays at the Girl’s Home in Boystown, Marikina while her case goes though the hearing process. In Girl’s Home, Rachel is properly taken care of and is also given education. Rachel is now doing much better and has shown signs of being able to move past the horrible incident that she suffered.

Failon Ngayon was able to contact Rachel’s mother, and she says that Rachel has always been eager to help and would find ways to be able to contribute at home.

Rachel’s former boss faces child abuse and physical injuries complaints, but is currently at large because she was able to make bail.

Why does it happen?

According to the Visayan Forum Foundation, there are more or less 2-2.5 million household helpers in the Philippines and while there are employers that are fair and generous to their helpers, how come there are those that are abusive and hurtful?

According to Visayan Forum Executive Director Ma. Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, it is because a lot of these employers tend to look down on household help and because there is no law to protect them. Psychiatrist Dr. Ma. Bernadette M. Arcena also believes that abusive nature towards others may stem from personal experiences.

Sometimes, when people are going through or have gone through experiences where in they were abused, they tend to displace that abuse towards other people.

On the other side of the spectrum

Yaya Nalen Bilad is fortunate to have generous employers

While there are abusive employers, there are also very generous employers, just like the one that employed 56-year-old Nalen Bilad.

Yaya Nalen has been a household helper for the Aganon family for 20 years. She was forced to leave her three children in Siargao because of the need for finances.

While Yaya Nalen found it difficult to take care of the children of other people, the generosity of her employers made her feel more at ease and she was treated like a member of the family. Now, she acts like a second mother to the children that she takes care of, especially now that Mrs. Aganon had passed away.

Because Yaya Nalen worked hard and showed that she was trustworthy, her employers rewarded her with different benefits. Aside from her monthly salary, Yaya Nalen also has her own PhilHealth and SSS. Her medical expenses are also shouldered by her employers.

Probably the best benefit that Yaya Nalen received from her employers was that they encouraged her to bring her children to Manila so that they could enter college and help her with the expenses. Now, Yaya Nalen’s children have their own jobs already.

The Kasambahay Bill

Written and proposed by Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, the Kasambahay Bill aims to provide protection and security to Filipinos working as household helpers. It also aims to provide all household help with the same benefits that Yaya Nalen received.

The Kasambahay Bill states that there should be a CONTRACT between the employer and the employee which states how much the salary is and the scope of work that the household helper is required to do.

It also states that it is mandatory that the household helpers must be members of PhilHealth, SSS, Pag-Ibig, and the Employees Compensation Commission, all shouldered by their employers.

They must also be given 13th month pay, and will be allowed to form their own organizations or unions.

Also included are stipulations that the employer must shoulder the medical expenses of the household help and they must also be granted Vacation, Maternity, and Paternity Leaves.

Once the Kasambahay Bill is passed, then it can be certain that abuse cases like that of Rachel’s will certainly be lessened or even completely eliminated.

“Kasambahay” was aired on Saturday, July 9, 2011.

You can catch Failon Ngayon every Saturday, 4:45 pm on ABS-CBN and replays every Sunday, 1:30pm on ANC.