Moe and I have been married for 5 years. In those 5 years, we’ve had a total of 5 helpers. 3 of them lasted for at least a year. A couple stayed for a week. We also encountered a scammer who never even made it to the house.
Sharing with you some of our experiences:
Weng was our 1st ever kasambahay. She was recommended by the wife of Moe’s old boss. She stayed with us for around a year and a few months.
I was watching Sex in the City the movie and there was that part where Carrie was saying goodbye to her personal assistant, Louise and she dramatically states, “St. Louise, you brought me back to life!”
Weng was the Louise to my Carrie- except Carrie had a way better closet and my Louise did not go around renting designer bags. Also that “brought me back to life” bit is a tad too melodramatic.
Ok fine! My life is nothing like Sex in the City, but you get the picture.
Brief Background: Before we hired Weng, I was a domestic dud. A couple of days after our wedding, Moe had to leave me alone because he had to attend a meeting. He was supposed to be back in time for lunch, but he got caught up. All I had to do was heat the leftovers. But because I had never gone into the kitchen before, I had to read the oven manual from cover to cover. By the time he came home I was in tears and crying, “I’m so hungry!”
Needless to say, I was deliriously happy when Weng came. As a bonus, she had experience working with expats so she was incredibly efficient and meticulous. Our house was spotless under her care. She was also an excellent cook, and taught me how to at least be functional in kitchen.
More than her special house skills though, Weng was trustworthy and seemed to genuinely care about us. After someone broke into our house , she asked her husband Gerry, (who was a forest ranger) to come and stay with us for a while just so we’d feel a little bit safer. She would buy us little pasalubongs every so often, and would brag to her friends about us the way mothers would brag about their children.
But of course, like everyone, Weng had her fair share of quirks.
She was quite talkative and had a vocabulary that was just as colorful as her life. Every morning, whether I liked it or not, Weng would tell me every intimate detail about her 9 kids (yup, you got that right. 9.) and her husbands (she’s had 3: Her current husband, Gerry, was completely enamored with her. He was convinced that every man was out to steal Weng away from him so he would visit her often. They were both in their 50’s and toothless – so it was both funny and sweet seeing them act like teenagers.)
She was pretty sassy and would often have a comeback whenever I said something about her work. She also had an opinion about my household decisions.
For instance, I used to order fresh honey from the Aeta community where she lived. But it was kinda expensive and hard to come by. So one day, I decided to just buy regular honey from the grocery. When she saw this, she didn’t hesitate to show her disapproval: “Ay, ma’am. Bakit ka bumili sa grocery? Honey lang ito, may halo. Yung dati nating binibili Honeybee, mas puro. Sa susunod ma’am, pag punta nyo, maghanap kayo ng honeybee hindi honey.” (Of course, I did the sensible thing and never bought anything but honeybee after that. Hehe)
Also- how do you put this delicately- she had a hearty appetite. We told Weng from the start that she could help herself to any food in the house. And help herself she did. Every week, we would spend around 4 kilos of rice- Moe and I combined would consume roughly 1 kilo, the rest was for Weng. I got a bottle of Speculoos spread from a friend in the States, and within 3 days she had finished it all up. We brought home 5 boxes of Silvanas from Iloilo. By the end of the week, she had finished 3.
Most of the time, we would laugh off all these quirks and think, “it’s just Weng being Weng.”
But our major conflicts started because of her leaves. We had previously agreed that she would get a 24- hour day-off every week. But, no fail, she would leave at the crack of dawn on Saturday then come back at dusk on Sunday. Plus, apart from her weekly days off, she would often ask permission to have mini-breaks the middle of the week. She never seemed to run out of family emergencies. And, she needed to be present for every single event imaginable- from birthdays, to barangay elections, down to the baptism of her neighbor’s cousin’s grandchild (she was the proxy ninang daw).
It was getting ridiculous, so I started calling her out on it. A few months later, she resigned. She said she needed more time for her family.
We remained in good terms though. In fact, when we still lived in Subic and had a new maid to train, Weng would come over to help us out. She would also pass by our house when she had work in our village and would help herself to our rice. Hahaha.
Kim was referred to us by my mom’s former helper. She was with us for a year and a half.
Funny story: Her name is not actually Kim, it’s Mabel. Apparently, my mom, who was already a little deaf, misheard her name and introduced her to us as Kim ( go figure). It was only when she was finally able to retrieve her documents and we were processing her requirements that we found out what her real name was. By then, Moe and I had gotten used to calling her Kim. And she insisted liked her new name better because it was more sosyal. Lol.
Anyway, although Kim/Mabel didn’t know much about running a household, she was sharp and would follow instructions really well. More importantly, she didn’t mind being corrected.
She was also pretty quiet and just went about her day without saying much (definitely a welcome change). Plus, she didn’t seem to have a lot of baggage. (There was this one time though, that she broke up with her boyfriend. Dude, she was inconsolable. We had to take her to the parlor to cheer her up. She perked up after getting highlights.)
But (there’s always a but) she was not very meticulous. When she first started, I had to do a lot of spot-checking because she would miss out stuff.
After a while, she improved significantly. But she still lacked initiative. She had an everyday routine that she followed; but if something came up that deviated from that, she wouldn’t do it unless you asked her to.
Example: Subic has its fair share of hooligan monkeys. Every so often, they would boldly scavenge through our trash like a boss. Kim, even after seeing the mess, would not bother cleaning up unless I called her attention to it.
There was this time that she discovered a fat tuko under a center table. Apparently, it had been living there for MONTHS!! But she waited for me to tell her that I wasn’t down with having exotic reptiles around before she shooed it away.
Despite those small things though, her stay with us was pretty uneventful and conflict-free.
But then, I had to leave for Manila and Moe discovered that her name was not the only secret she had been keeping from us.
While I was away, Moe went out with his friends and realized that he had left his house keys home. He started calling Kim’s phone so she could open the door for him. She wasn’t picking up. Since the maid’s room was not part of the main house, he decided to go and wake her up. Much to his surprise, she wasn’t in her room.
The following morning, he discovered that she’s been sleeping at our neighbor’s maid’s room for a good few months now. Moe explained to her that for her safety and ours (she had keys to the main house), she couldn’t just casually sleep wherever she wanted. She agreed not to do it again.
But since he was already suspicious of her, he checked up on her again that same night. She wasn’t in her room. AGAIN.
Of course, he was was super pissed and gave Kim a dress-down. A few days later, she asked if she could go on leave to attend to a family emergency. She never came back.
But, wait! There’s more: In the process of getting a hold of her, I chanced upon her Facebook page. Lo and behold, she had all these selfies around our house –- WEARING MY CLOTHES!! She even wore one of my bathing suits!!
Holy f*cking crap. I felt violated. It was so Single White Female! (Of course, When I told my brother about this, the cheeky bastard took it as an opportunity to throw shade at me: “Oh well. At least kasya sa kanya damit mo. Payat kaya ni Kim.”)
On one hand, I was incredibly pissed that I didn’t get the satisfaction of firing her. But at the same time, I was just relieved that she was out of our hair.
We hired Camille through a recruiter that my tita recommended.
As usual, we asked Weng to come in and train her for 3 days. To be fair, Weng was already warning us that Camille was not just lazy, she seemed disinterested in learning the work.
But, I was desperate for help so I brushed it off and insisted that she was young, and therefore trainable.
Come Day 4, she was still totally clueless. I had to prod her to do every little thing- down to washing the dishes after we eat.
Day 5 turned out to be her birthday. She asked if she could leave for half a day. We agreed and even gave her a little money as a birthday present. She came back with a birthday cake that she insisted on sharing with us. So in my head I was thinking, “Okay, fine. She seems a little slow, but at least she has a kind heart.”
Day 6, we had to leave for Manila. We arrived two days later to find her gone.
We went to her room and found rotting food on her bed. There were dirty dishes on the sink, wet clothes in a basin on the foyer, muddy footprints all over the 1st floor- and the petty cash that we left for emergencies was missing.
Moe and I were flabbergasted. It was like coming home to a scene from the Twilight Zone. Why was the house in disarray?? Did she just up and leave? Was she kidnapped?
I contacted the recruiter in panic. And she eventually got a hold of Camille. Turns out, the punk found Subic boring, so she decided to go home. She used the spare cash for food and pamasahe.
Wtf right?? Not only did she not have the courtesy to resign properly – she left our house in filth and she stole our money.. All because she found her job boring. Millennials. Tsk, tsk.
Ofcourse, we filed a complaint against her. But we ended up not pursuing it because it was just too much effort for a little amount.
I did insist to the recruiter that since it was her responsibility to screen her applicants, she needed to send us a replacement for free.
That’s how we ended up with Manang. Manang, by far is the sweetest, and kindest among all of them. She’s also the crankiest and the most infuriating. She’s a character and deserves another post altogether. So will save stories about her for my next entry.