Tribute To Yaya Vi

One of the blessings that we Filipinos have is the availability of cheap labor for our household. Yes, I’m referring to helpers or maids, yayas (nannies), cooks, drivers and gardeners.

In Western countries, a family can only afford to hire such help if they are filthy rich. Or if they belong to the rich and famous segment of society and therefore need to keep up the appearance of wealth.

Here in the Philippines, for a meager 3,000 pesos (roughly $75) a month, a lot of mothers from near and far provinces leave their kids to seek employment in Manila. As most of these women did not finish schooling and therefore cannot aspire for a well paying job, a common option for them is to get hired as a stay-in helper for a Manila-based family.

One such woman is my helper, whom we fondly refer to as Yaya Vi.

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She is not a real yaya (nanny) as I’m a hands-on mom. She sometimes assists me when I need an extra hand in caring for my baby but the rest of the time, she is more of an all-around maid (a helper who generally do the cleaning, laundry, cooking plus other mundane tasks) Yaya Vi came to my household in May 2000 when she was still single.

What I really like about Yaya Vi is her honesty and efficiency. I can trust her to return money left in our jeans’ pocket when she does the laundry. I think we are a good match because like me, she is very particular about neatness and cleanliness in the home. I trained her on my style of cleaning and she quickly adopted it as her own. She has the initiative to look for things that needs to be done around the house (aside from the checklist on her work schedule) and does it even without me asking.

Aside from these admirable traits, she has common sense. And because we’ve had her for a long time and knows our household routine by heart, she can anticipate our needs. She also has a good attitude towards her work. Early on, she told me that should I find anything wrong with her or the way she works, I should call her attention to it and tell her right away so she’d be aware of it and can change for the better! O diba?

Yaya Vi started with us when she was only 19 or 20 years old. After a year with us, she went home to get married. When her kid was already 3 years old, she came back to us but left for home again after a year. Early this year, she came back. But unknown to me, she was already pregnant then. So when she was in danger of having a miscarriage I had to send her back home, both of us with a heavy heart. Back home, she did lose her unborn child and after a few months came back to me.

Of course, like any other person, Yaya Vi has her share of shortcomings and negative traits but I prefer not to dwell on those and instead focus on counting my blessings that I have her in my household.

In a few weeks time, Yaya Vi will be going home to Bicol to take a much deserved Christmas break.  In the meantime, I’m looking for a temporary helper.  I do hope I find somebody like her.

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