Elementary graduate ka ba?

Our labandera Gemma is back in her hometown for good. She left on April 30, 2022, and as much as we wanted to keep her, from the beginning of her employment she already disclosed that as soon as Boracay tourism started grinding again she would hope to go back. She has a daughter and a thriving career on the paradise island. Every night, she, together with a dozen others, goed to where the tourists are, offers to braid their hairs, and put a henna tattoo on their arms, legs, backs, shoulders, and cheeks. Her favorite clients are the Koreans who are willing to pay P1,000 for a full head of braids.

Two of our maids are both on vacation attending town fiestas and visiting relatives. It had been two years of missing and longing for their families thanks to the pandemic.
They are both scheduled to come back at the end of the month.

The two left here are my namesake Annie, a 50+ (or 60+) kusinera, and Jean, a 20-year-old housemaid who’s very good with our dogs. She has a natural love for dogs and doesn’t mind keeping an eye on the 8 dogs here. We are planning to make her a full-time dog yaya once the two other maids are back.
Lucy has maintenance medicines and can’t miss her capsules every 6 am, 7 am, 8 and once again at 6 pm, 7 pm, and 8 pm.
And since Stitch, Pixie, and Pearl sleep in our bedroom, they must be clean all the time, and Stella too because she sleeps on Oyen’s bed.

Our labada is growing by the day waiting for the new labandera who was supposed to come on May 10. She was recommended to me by our family driver. She asked me to send P1,000 pamasahe daw and tried to convince me to hire her cousin too. I said no because my two other maids are still coming back and we don’t want to have a lot of maids. Wala na silang gagawin, and nag-aaway lang. After a few days, she again tried to convince me to hire her friend. “Mam, masipag ho bakla sya. Mabait at kasama ko sya dati sa trabaho bakla.

The maid’s room has only four beds. Although each bed could accommodate two thin and petite women, we don’t encourage na mag siksikan sila. We want them to be comfortable.

The drivers/guards room has the same number of beds, 4. Unlike the maid’s room where the toilet and bathroom is inside the room, the men’s toilet and bath is outside, but adjacent to the drivers’ quarters. This is to allow utility personnel who come to our house to be able to use the toilet too.

Before the pandemic, I hired a girl from an employment agency. I noticed she had very short hair and wearing purontong shorts. I asked if she’s a tomboy, she said no. After a few months, the other female maids didn’t want to be in the same room with her.
Kasi they discovered that she’s gay. They were no longer comfortably getting dressed in front of her. They began to see her as a male. They requested her to move to the drivers’ quarters. But the men didn’t allow it, syempre naman. In the men’s eyes, they still see her as female, even if she’s gay.

With a bakla around, he has no place to stay. We don’t have an extra room for him or her. During the pandemic, we used the billiard’s room as temporary quarantine room to isolate for 10 days any newly hired. But we cannot let anyone use it as a permanent quarter and use the toilet and shower there. It’s for guests only.

I have been interviewing applicants for labandera but I haven’t found any match. I wanted to hire one a week before Gemma leaves so Gemma could turn over the laundry department and orient the new girl. Pero until now I haven’t found the one.

The woman who took my P1,500 kesyo hindi daw na sya tutuloy because she’s taking care of her kid, nadulas daw. She cannot return anymore the money my secretary had sent thru Gcash because she had spent it. I got the feeling that she didn’t really intend to come here. The money was supposed to be for her ticket to travel. She would pay me back daw pag meron na syang trabaho. Joralyn, messaged her and she returned P500 thru Gcash. Let’s forget about the P1,000 it will never come back.

One of the applicants asked for free coffee, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, meryenda, When told we don’t provide personal care products, she backed out.

One applicant admitted she knows how to wash clothes but not mag plantsa.

Yesterday, someone wanted to bring a labandera here. I insisted on getting her name and cell number first so I could at least interview her over the phone. The signal was so bad that I decided to text my questions.

I basically have the same questions for all, maids and drivers. Age, saan ang probinsya, saan dating nagtrabaho, asan ang pamilya. I also ask kung ano ang natapos sa eskwela. Depending on the position I am hiring them for: If for laundry and cleaning, I ask kung natapos ang elementarya. for cooking, I prefer someone who reached at least a second-year high school, and for drivers, I prefer a high-school graduate with some vocational degree or at least second-year college.

The job of labandera requires operating the washing machine and dryer. There are tasks simple enough but from our experience, people respond to their jobs differently. A big part is their basic education. Some say they are elementary graduates pero pagdating dito, cannot read simple words in English.

One time, the labandera helped bring the groceries in. She placed the half-gallon ice cream in the pantry and the shampoo that says Creme Silk in the freezer and cooking oil in the ref.

I ask about their education so I could manage the challenges. Not to discriminate against them.

So yesterday I messaged the labandera applicant: “Ano edad mo? Nakatapos ka ba ng elementarya?” Naku sumagot akala daw nya labandera ang hanap ko hindi pang opisina. She messaged me again. Matapobre daw ako. Ang kailangan ko pala daw ay mataas ang pinag-aralan. Nanay ko po. May sinabi ba akong masama?


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