x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Christmas cheer for UAE Filipinas missing home

A Filipino organisation is throwing a celebratory feast for Filipinas away from home this Christmas.

DUBAI // For many Filipino women who are away from their families this Christmas, Pasko sa Piling Nila (Christmas with them) is a long-awaited event.

More than 100 women, mostly maids and nannies, live in a makeshift shelter after fleeing their employers’ homes complaining of being mistreated, overworked, underfed and not paid.

Pasko sa Piling Nila, an annual tradition, will take place tomorrow from 11am to 1pm at the Philippine overseas labour office in Al Ghusais.

“We know what they’ve been through,” said Juvy Torres, who chairs events for FilCom, which represents Filipino community groups in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. “We’d like them to feel the warmth and joy of Christmas, even for two hours.”

There will be a feast of Filipino food and delicacies and gifts will include groceries, toiletries, phone cards, clothes and shoes.

“There will be more organisations participating this year, which means more gifts for the women,” said Matilyn Bagunu, FilCom’s president. “Five groups, mostly made up of housemaids, have confirmed their support.”

Ms Torres added: “They miss spending Christmas with their families back home. We’d like them to feel that there’s still hope and that we care. They can always approach us for help.”

Precy Sarino, a maid in Dubai for more than four years, said: “I can personally relate to the maids at the shelter. Years ago, I fled my employer’s home in Bahrain after only three months. I want them to stay strong.”

Ms Sarino is now president of Helping Hands, a group composed mostly of household workers.

“Our mission is to lighten the emotional and psychological load or stress of our compatriots,” she said. “Our catchphrase is, ‘We care because we’ve been there’.”

Filcom is also aiding relief efforts for victims of Typhoon Bopha, which left more than 700 dead in the southern Philippines.

Filipinos in Dubai raised Dh7,500 at FilCom’s “lunch for a cause” at the weekend.

rruiz@thenational.ae