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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wanted: Helper

Teaching my cousin's helpers to cook - 2008


In the Philippines, when one is a "helper", she is a maid or a servant.

I think there is even a Greek Dictionary out there somewhere wherein the meaning of "Filipina" is "maid." It may hurt  to be known as such but it was linguistically accurate according to then Education Secretary Andrew Gonzales because it captured the current social reality. Filipina domestics comprised a huge part of the more than four million Filipinos who worked abroad as seafarers, entertainers, hotel workers and professionals. He said that "we should live down that image not by getting angry, not by denying, but by changing the image of the Filipina." This was back in 1998.

A common ad in a popular free business site in the Philippines
I grew up with helpers/yayas (nannies).

Coming from a middle to upper middle class family, it was common for our family to have a live-in helper/s. In the Philippines, we called our maids kasambahay literally to mean "members of our household" or katulong which means "someone who helps or helper".

I grew up with my nanny, Ate Sepa (pronounced Ah-te meaning older lady -- a term of respect), who took care of me and lived with us from when I was three to when I was 17. (She took care of my younger sister Erica from birth.) I could honestly say, I got super attached to my yaya or  nanny because Mama was too busy with her career. I considered her my second mother.:)

The only time she left was when she got married and had her own child, and even then, she still visits often as a guest and as a family member, and now, as a "surrogate grandma" or Lola. :D
Vacation and visiting her surrogate"apos" (grandchildren) - 2012

Through the years, we have had our fair share of helpers. I couldn't stress what I am about to say enough. 
I love our helpers/yayas. 
I consider them angels and blessings from God. 
We are super blessed to have them help take care of our children.

First, there was ATE SHEILA. She helped take care of our firstborn, Therese. She is now living and working in Dubai as an assistant in a specialty shop. Last time she came home to the Philippines, she went to our house to give us so many gifts!  :)

Ate Sheila with Therese - 2006

Then, there was ATE FLOR. She helped take care of our second-born, Andre. She now has her own family but she still visits us every now and then too. :)

Ate Flor with Andre - 2009

And currently, we have with us ATE RAIZEL and ATE JENEFE. They help take care of our third-born Reuben and our youngest, Isabelle. :)

Ate Jenefe with Isabelle, Therese, Andre, Ate Raizel with Reuben- 2013
Ate Sheila helping Reece put on new shoes - 2007

So, you see, we are used to having helpers in the home. This may be unnatural to some cultures, but in the Filipino culture, they are very significant and necessary.

They help with household chores, with taking care of the children, and are part of every important occasion. We can do without them, but life is sweeter and easier with them.

They need us and we need them too. :)

Celebrating Ate Sepa's birthday - 2006

At first, at the start of my submission journey, I found myself asking myself if I should let go of our household helpers because they might get in the way of my being my husband's "helper". I was encouraged when I read about the Proverbs 31 woman. :)

                                                          Proverbs 31:15
"It's still dark when she rises to give food to her household and orders to the young women serving her."
She also had maidens living with her! She also had young women serving her! I could still have them in our home and still be a helpmeet to my husband!!! :)

I felt like I could pattern my life after the Proverbs 31 woman.

                                                         Proverbs 31: 27-29
"She watches over the affairs of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,

    but you surpass them all.”

Ate Flor, accompanying Andre at the wedding of Dong's brother - 2010

To non-Filipinos, having some maids living in your homes may seem intrusive, even 'oppressive' and unimaginable. But, just to be clear, in the Philippines, it is quite common and they are really part of the Filipino family and the Filipino home. :) You have got to be Pinoy to understand. ;)

Given that we already have "helpers" in the home, what is left for me to do or what is my role as the "helper" of my husband?

As the helper of my husband Dong, according to Ephesians , I must "submit to my husband in everything, as unto the Lord."

Pregnant with our 3rd- early 2009
  •  As the helper of my husband, I will encourage him (not in a bossy or domineering way) in his endeavors.
  • As the helper of my husband, I will empower his leadership by allowing him to make the last decision. Not to say that I don't have a voice, but in times of disagreement, I would give way to him. The buck stops with him.
  • As the helper of my husband, I will be generous in my time with him.
  • As the helper of my husband, I will make myself available to him when he wants or needs intimacy.
  • As the helper of my husband, I will support him in his plans and goals for himself and the family.
  • As the helper of my husband, I will not attempt to control him or lead him. I am here to help, not to boss him around. 

This list is not at all exhaustive and I am sure you can put in here your own to-do list to help in your own husbands' leadership. 

I am still new in this respect and submissive journey. Most of the time, it is still awkward. I am so used to being boss and having it my way. You know, controlling. But because of the new and renewed spirit that the Lord has imbibed in me, I am little by little enjoying this new role of helper to my husband. I want to bless him every day with things that I can do to help him, be it just preparing breakfast or keeping the noisy kids away from him while he sleeps, or bringing the kids to and from school so his schedule would be cleared.  It's a role that grows on me each day. I pray that I am able to glorify God by helping my husband and submitting to his leadership.
Eating Mega ice cream :) - 2012

If to some parts of the world, Filipina means helper, without a hint of anger or bitterness, I will
In Filipiniana. Manila Hotel - 2013
embrace that role. Yes, I am a Filipina. Yes, I am a helper. Yes, I am the helper of my husband Dong. :)

A shoutout to all the 'Filipinas' all around the world: MABUHAY! There is honor in heaven to be gained in your humble and loving service to our fellowmen. God bless us all. :)

Our loving yaya, Nana Sepa. :) Thank you for your love. We love you!

May we all be richly blessed! :)

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