A Sunday Life for Filipino Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong

There are plenty of benefits working in the special administrative region of China. First, it is just a couple of hours away from Manila by air and there is no timezone difference, which means it is easier to get in touch with family members back home.

Also, Hong Kong is relatively a small place which helps consular officials and labor attaches extend help faster. With strong support from the Philippine Consulate present in the city, it is easy to file a complaint against abuse or violation of applicable labor laws.

Domestic helpers are mostly paid higher than their counterparts in other locations. If they stay with their employers, they save on food and accommodation costs. Otherwise, they are also provided additional living allowance (food and boarding).

But there are also disadvantages about Hong Kong. Among others, it’s the nature of Hong Kong’s small territorial area to be crowded that living cost is high as space comes at a premium. This also means there are cases of employers not providing enough accommodation to their domestic workers.

With shortage in space, Hong Kong government resort to shutting down streets on Sundays and statutory holidays so foreign domestic helpers can avail of extra space to move around. If spending the whole day on streets is not enough, things could get worse during scorching hot summers, rainy days or cold snaps of winter.

Not everyone takes their days off on the streets. Many others spend their Sundays serving at churches, stay at boarding houses with friends and pay a nominal amount, queue at remittance centers to send money to family, picnic at parks, enjoy the beach or other attractions. But in case you wonder why many of them stay at the streets, that may be because they don’t spend extra — they cook their food, play cards or share their week-long experience at work on makeshift cardboard.

A photo essay compiled by Facebook user Lisa Jane Pillado describes the life of many foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong during their days off.

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