There are plenty of benefits to 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 that 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 to 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 a shortage in space, the Hong Kong government resorts to shut 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 the 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 on 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.