Our Maid Story (She didn’t return)

This is a belated post and an update on the previous post where I had sent my helper back to Philippines. I got several questions meanwhile in regards to the self-applying process and I hope it helped some of the readers out there! Super easy and I’d do it again next time (after the two year contract is up this time around, as you’ll find out shortly). But there has been an unfortunate and totally unexpected happening upon our return- our maid never came back. It was crazy and just totally unexpected because we had really trusted her, but as always, life goes on, and we’ve managed to find a new helper during the two months time and now living happily ever after again. Thought I’d share the story with some of the readers as I’ve written about the visa process!

So our family was leaving to visit my family in America in August 2015, and despite my maid being with us only for 5 months at the time, I wanted to give her an opportunity to see her family back in Philippines as well. She had a 5-year-old son, and I put myself in her shoes and thought how much I’d miss Brevi if I never got to see him for months at a time. I can’t imagine not being with him for even one day, so I thought it was only right that I send her home to see her family since we wouldn’t need her help anyway while we’re gone. If we send her to an agency during our vacation, it’s $15/day, and at the time I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her at our home alone for such a long time (a month).  So with that same amount of money, we figured we’d buy her a flight ticket and pay for all the necessary embassy documents as a nice gesture. She was so thankful and excited that she would be able to see her family again, that she said she’d have her artist friend in Philippines to draw a family picture of us, which I thought was really sweet of her. She was to go back for 3 weeks and then assist with the interior renovation of our house once she got back. (My husband would go back first after 3 weeks stay, and I had hired an interior designer to do our tv wall and wallpaper while Brevi and I stayed back in America for two more weeks.)

On the day she was suppose to arrive, we didn’t receive any Watsapp message from her. I thought odd, but because she told us she rarely has reception at her home let alone an internet service, we thought she’d perhaps message us after she lands at Changi Airport with the free wifi. But 8 o’clock came when she was to land, and nothing. We waited until 10pm (given luggage collection and commute time) and then dialed TigerAirways only to realize that their customer service line was closed. I don’t think I even assumed then that she purposely didn’t board, I had assumed that she got lost or missed her flight and was worried sick for her.

It was only after few days when it was confirmed that she was a no-show in the Philippines airport, and with no message, did I realize that she purposely had not come back.  We then canceled her work permit and applied for a new helper right away (had to trust the resume rather than an interview, due to lack of time), since it would take four to six weeks from application.  Because we have no family help in Singapore, we had to change our plans and I decided to stay few weeks longer in the states at my parent’s house with the baby (but that didn’t matter bc the application process took a lot longer and we went without help for two months before our new maid arrived).

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She left this sweet note on the day she left, so we had no idea she wouldn’t return.

 

Long story short, our ex-helper contacted us few days after the incident apologetic saying that she was pregnant and could not board the flight knowing so. (huh? she was gone for only 3 weeks). She messaged again few weeks later telling us that she had miscarried and she feels she’s paying for what she’s done. It seemed like she was regretting the choice she had made, but there was nothing we could do for her anymore as the trust was lost. And few days ago, nearly six months later, she messaged me again asking for our forgiveness (bc i wasn’t too responsive before) but I had totally forgiven her by now- I do appreciate the work she had done for our family and taking care of Brevi as she would her own. It just sucked realizing that we were given extra headache for months BECAUSE we tried to do something nice for someone, but a well, everyone makes mistakes and a sincere apology makes things alright.

Would we ever send someone off for a vacay again before her contract is up? Never, we lost over $1300 because we decided to do her a favor, as she still had $900 of her loan + her plane ticket and the embassy money. And because we had such a great relationship, we had not the slightest idea and it sucked being reminded (over and over actually, though you forgive and forget) that you can’t really trust someone 100%.

btw- having full time help has been the best thing that happened to us in Singapore, and the reason why we LOVE SINGAPORE all the more! I used to want to leave Sing ASAP because, as most can relate from the states, SPACE (house), CAR, and an abundance of everything was just an everyday thing and it was all taken away once I got here. but after having a kid, Singapore’s import of foreign help is life changing and I wish Korea and US would do the same. Hubby and I joke that we don’t want to leave until our kid(s) are older as we actually have time to enjoy our life and be a great parent to our child because we are not tied up 24/7 and happier.

Moral of the story: don’t be TOO nice and trusting, though don’t use what had happened against anyone else without giving them a chance first (stated by my wise friend Joann 😉 ). My Singaporean friends had told me they don’t usually send their helpers until their contract is finished, as stated on the contract papers due to various ‘horrible maid stories’ that happened in Sing. But I thought this was mostly due to employers treating their helpers unfairly and them lashing out in return. If I treated mine like family and rewarded them, won’t they, too? I just didn’t see any reason NOT to allow them go as they’re responsible adults and THEY are the ones that chose to work abroad to make money. Now that I think back on it, she never intended it to all happen. but upon seeing her family, she saw what she left behind and how much she had missed them, and could not return to work. That’s why they have such a thing as contracts for helpers here, it seems. This is totally understandable- I rarely want to go back to Singapore after I’m reunited with my family in the states! until months pass and I start to itch to go somewhere else. lol

Oh and around the time this happened to us, our neighbor and friend’s helper ran away when she had taken her to Korea, but their relationship wasn’t that great to begin with. She ran when she was able to get in the borders bc it’s nearly impossible for foreign workers to enter Korea, just like the US, and the pay is a lot higher.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Our Maid Story (She didn’t return)

  1. duhwuneeyah says:

    Moral of the story seems to be if you’re going to exploit someone’s labor, don’t be half-assed about it. Not looking down on you, shiet I’d have two maids if I lived in Singapore considering the going rate is something like $500 USD a month.

    • Angie says:

      sorry, i don’t understand. half-assed about what? Yup, we sometimes secretly wish that we had moved to Thailand or Indonesia instead so we could have several maids/drivers in a huge house lol. but still blessed and thankful for what we have now.

  2. duhwuneeyah says:

    Half assed as in treating third world people with first world sensibilities. Of course she was extremely thankful that you gave her a flight home and time to see her family. But as soon as that opportunity – that you created – appeared, she maximized it to her advantage. Her trying to crawl back is probably sincere, but like you said trust is broken now.

    I’ve heard some truly horrific things that people have done to their domestic help in HKG and SIN, so I’m not advocating abusing them. Still, it’s been my experience that this Western mentality of being nice and more accommodating than normal seems to backfire with this demographic, so that was the jist of my comment.

    • Angie says:

      I understand now and I can see that. it just doesn’t make sense to me though because it was their choice to go abroad to work, so why do they give up so easily? we’re all adults here responsible for the choices we make. it’s unfortunate that now, i’d have to refrain from doing something nice because of the possibility that it’ll backfire. It’s just the worst feeling.

  3. Kristine says:

    You are out the price of a purse/stroller? You are so young and have such wealth. Why are you trying to be so thrifty when it comes to people?

    Why not hire a person who lives there to clean your home and be a nanny? Sounds more like indentured servitude than an employment contract how all of this is arranged from an American mindset. Do you really think it’s a contract where the employer-employee are on equal footing with a real free will choice on her part? Don’t you think that is a lot of control in someone else’s life just so you can have a live in for very little money? What would the Pope say?

    • Angie says:

      Sorry, I don’t really understand your English but from the gist of it I’m assuming you’re stating that I’m a bad employer? from which part of my post do I seem “controlling” and that I pay her “little money” below the norm? I don’t think you should be putting your American standards in other cultures and belittling everyone that doesn’t think like you. Don’t judge, and next time please check your grammar before you leave unwelcomed negative comments on other people’s pages.

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