Maid in the Philippines: Should Filipinos Abolish Brown Slavery?

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In many countries in the developed world, families get by without any need of domestic helpers (katulong).  A typical family in the US or Japan will not have a stay-in maid doing the dishes, cooking, and laundry. And yet they are far more advanced, efficient and productive than Filipinos.

Only in poverty-infested demographically skewed countries like the Philippines do we have informal hires working for not just the families of the rich and famous, but even for simple middle-class households. Filipinos have in effect created a Hindu-like caste system that defines a strong line dividing the poor from the well off, a social construct we never really culturally & mentally shed off after our liberation from Spanish colonizers. Filipinos still have the master-slave mentality. It pervades our entire society – just look at how the Pinoy elite love to have lowly people addressing them as sir/ma’am (many foreigners are actually culture-shocked and find this Pinoy practice annoying).

The Flourishing Slave Trade

There are many reasons why holding a Philippine passport is not something to be proud of – and one of them is the fact that we are known across the world to be an exporter of “slaves.”  Whereas the Chinese fill the world with “Made in China” products, our country’s claim to fame is our brown “Maid in the Philippines” product line. From that, you can easily deduce the level of brains and technology the latter possesses.

Wealthy Singapore and Hong Kong families trade Filipina slaves like merchandise. An entire industry is now created just recruiting and fielding these slaves. Even those in Manila ask friends with relatives in Bicol or the Visayas if they can find them a dependable katulong from those regions. (By the way, why don’t we hear of Ilocano DH?)

In fact, a rich family can have an assortment of slaves for personal use and disposal in the form of not just a general-purpose helper, but as a specialized nanny, cook, body guard, driver, gardener, laundry washer, or house bhoy (handyman). Now how can Señor/Señora walk around their hot humid house with just one’s underwear on with all these gossiping aliens roaming around the hallways?

Slavery has a Bleak Future

Should Filipinos start considering ending their bustling slave trade? This amazing video of Atlas, the next generation humanoid robot developed by Boston Dynamics (a Google Co.) that can replace Filipinos doing menial jobs, should get us to think twice about the future of job opportunities for Filipino “slaves.”

Yeah, I know, people may discussing robot rights rather than your year-end bonus and health insurance later on. Filipino slaves might be out of a market sooner or later if we don’t shape up. Talk about a drying up of that inflow of juicy remittances. (Henry Sy and his siphoning empire will not be very happy!)

Automation is the future. Rather than Filipinos idly manning sari-sari stores, we should be developing vending machines. Rather than exporting Filipina maids, we should be sending off engineers and IT professionals. Filipinos should be AI and robot designers rather than being content doing low-paying manual repetitive work themselves if they want to move on.

Abolishing Brown Slavery: Regaining International Respect

It will take time for Filipinos to gain respect in the international community. Filipinos would not have to fight for respect if only we chose to be respectable by taking on jobs that required some degree of intelligence and sophistication.

Wasn’t Cory protesting to the racist entry of “Filipina” to mean domestic help in an English dictionary (although eventually dismissed for lack of evidence), and were not Filipinos offended when a Hong Kong text book depicted a Filipina as a helper?

Why do we keep on demanding people around the world to admire Pinoy Pride when Filipinos themselves are the very enablers of turning their citizens into lowly slaves?  Wala na bang masmataas na pangarap ang Pilipino?

PS: If you can’t let go of your maids now, at least give them a rest day and ensure they get to pursue their studies. Look forward to someday setting your kababayan free.

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About zaxx

Zealous revolutionary advocate of bringing back common sense for the common good in a land of dysfunctional and delusional zombies.

43 Comments on “Maid in the Philippines: Should Filipinos Abolish Brown Slavery?”

  1. “Look forward to someday setting your kababayan free.”

    This will take time but I’m dying to see the day!!!

  2. maybe it’s some sort of colonial hangover, but in Australia, where there are over 400,000 Filipinos, I very much doubt that any of them employ housemaids – Australia is a highly egalitarian society where people are used to doing things for themselves.
    It is only when we came to live here in Cagayan de Oro in 2008 that we began to see that many OFWs on their return would resort to hiring maids to do their washing and cooking etc.
    Well, I guess it helps keep some people employed, but isn’t it somewhat degrading?

  3. How is having a job where you earn money degrading?
    Problem is they r not jobs…they r slaves and OFWs that return here think be suse thats how they were treated, they should be able to do so now they can afford servants.
    Stop looking down at people that do laboring jobs as beneath you.
    Having an education or a well paying job does not make you a good person.

    Believe it or not..the world can not be full of doctors and engineers.
    Instead of making these people feel bad for taking the only jobs available…how bout making noise for them to be paid and treated better.

    Also your whole country thrives off state sanctioned international slavery.
    U can get offended all u want that china and hongkong and singapore only think of filipinos as whores and maids.
    But until the OFWs( or state sanctioned slavery) stops and actual jobs and economic reforms happen to keep people here in this country….well indentured slaves continue to be philipines main export.
    Anyone that gets upset by my comment is niave and not very well travelled.
    Do not shoot the messenger.
    Want more, demand more, be more.

    1. Maybe it would help to have dedicated education and job-generation programmes to curb the phenomenon…China’s growing affluence can only trigger the development of robots to replace Pinay DHs, thereby sending them packing home in droves

    2. You hit the nail on the head there! Maids or helpers are decent jobs, just like servers in the restaurants and workers in the movie theatres or factory workers. The problem is not those who work decently for their livelihood. The problem is those people who look down at them and call them slaves like the author of this article we both have been commenting on. Also, being away from the Philippines and seeing other cultures, I have learned a great deal of our culture and us, as Filipinos. We tend to beat ourselves mercilessly. We need to stop that. We should start with our own attitude, without putting down other people; be proud as Filipinos, either as a maid or an engineer. And we ourselves need to stop equating a maid’s job as scum. If we want to elevate their position, then start by adding more in their wages. Start a trend that gives them a higher income standard. My father has been doing it for as long as I can remember. He even send few of them to college with free tuition by negotiating the owner of the school. I remembered that I shared some work because we have a boy finished his elementary schooling. No need to call these decent hard-working people “brown slaves,” because they are not. Almost all of them go to other countries to work, not to sell themselves as prostitutes or white slavery.

  4. ‘We should be sending off IT…’, NO….THAT IS THE PROBLEM. Until the Philippines steps up and develops its own business’s that comes up with new technologies and manufactures them…. the people being sent off (the so-called ‘back-bone’ of the economy, IS A DISGRACE!) to toil in foreign lands just to support a family will remain SLAVES and nothing more.
    The Filippines needs a reboot and they have just voted in a Neanderthal that will lead them to shithouse. YES, its the ‘SHITHOUSE EXPRESSS’ for the Republica de Pilipinas. Filipino’s now do not even get the ‘CHINESE WHOREHOUSE’ version of degradation,NOPE…its straight to the ‘SHITHOUSE EXPRESS’ for all of you. Naturally some will prosper at the expense of the unfortunates, but they will be few and far between.
    Dueterte should be executing the thieves and scumbags in the Senate/SC/HOR rather than ‘street crime’,LO ! it is the penny-ante game of ‘real results’ that is really a sleight-of-hand that will trick the simple Filipino into thinking they are ‘advancing’ all while taking gigantic steps backwards.

    At least the biggest thief of them all doesn’t get to return to the Palais in which he fled in disgrace as a child Binny-Bing Marcos, that is. It goes to show how stupid a population is that the Son of undoubtedly one of the most notorious scumbag thieves of all time (up there w/Caligula) was able to run for the Presidency of the country less than 40 years after he should have never been allowed to return to the country from which he and his family were banished.

    But this should come as no surprise to the simple Filipino who cheers for the convicted criminal scumbag, E-CRAP, now Mayor of Manila…The R.P., what a cesspool.

  5. What else? In an anti-intellectual culture, even in younger years, many Filipino children stock there time at house doing chores without any time for recreation to enhance their mind, plus the bad education system. This result to incompetent, unproductive drones…only few are awake.

  6. Indeed, one of the good articles of F. Sionil Jose said that: our practice of having maids and servants to do our work for us is an expression of our laziness and irresponsibility as a people. It symbolizes our moocher mentality. Once we are able to teach our kids to think and act more independently, without house servants, that is one step to a more responsible society.

    1. Kids who grow up having maids doing all the chores miss out on having critical values inculcated in them during their formative years. Our DH culture contributes to the general dysfunction of Filipinos. E.g. Many go about in public expecting someone to clean up after them. If we want to fix Filipinos, we need to address the issues at the root. Psychologists and Parenting experts can provide us some enlightening root cause analysis.

  7. I was assigned in a country in the Middle East, some years ago to work in the Technical Field by my company. I told them that I am a Filipino; a middle eastern employee in that company, asked me to clean his table and throw away his garbage. I told him, I am here to work as a Technical Expert, and showed him my resume. When, I showed him the Job Order from my company. He apologized and was a little bit embarrassed.

    We are identified, as the servant of the world. We are looked down by countries, as modern day OFW slaves. It is the slavery of the 21st century. Filipino maids and houseboys, for trading. The employment agencies , are the modern day slave trading boxes; where OFWs stand, and are ready for trading/sale…

    We inherited this notion of “katulong” from the Spanish colonizers. They degraded the mindsets of Filipinos, by making them: house servants, nannies, houseboys, maids, etc…The Spanish Colonizers were the Masters, and must be served…

    Rizal stated: “There are no servants; where there are no slaves”…but with no employment opportunities in our country. People are forced to work as OFW slaves in foreign countries. I am outraged on this status , we Filipinos are looked down upon by these foreigners…

    1. Filipinos are servants because it is their natural position. Notice that historically they have never seen any progress whatsoever without the intervention from foreigners. Simply put, Filipinos are too genetically inferior to enact adequate decision-making and effective organization to take on leadership roles themselves.

      Nicholas Longworth said it best: “The average Filipino mind can form no conception of the duty of officials to the people, and it can form no conception of the dignity of labor. The very fact that the Filipino is so shiftless, so worthless, so untrustworthy, and so helpless is all the more reason this nation should reach out the helping hand to him.”

      And he is absolutely right. Filipinos must ask for help from outsiders if they are to move forward in any sense. They will always need to be followers. If Spanish colonization is to blame for the Filipino servant mentality, then someone please explain why you don’t see former Spanish colonies like Chile, Argentina, or Uruguay having OFW programs. The answer is pretty clear.

        1. I disagree. Race and genetics determine a culture and therefore determine how a people behave and function, much more than environment does. I’m a Filipino who grew up mostly in the West among other Westernized Filipinos. None of them are in any leadership positions or are influential to their communities whatsoever despite the fact the culture they were brought up in was different than that in the Philippines. They are followers and participants, not leaders or innovators. That is their natural position. In that link you gave it said that Filipinos thrived working under the Japanese in the Middle East. This is just another example of Filipinos needing a helping hand just to get anywhere in this world. Nature did not give them the ability to lead by example.

        2. I indeed disagree that race and genetics influences culture and behavior. That is only an excuse thought up to arrest action to change things. A better thing to do is to throw out these beliefs on race and genetics and act on one’s own.

    2. You should be lucky to have used your fancy Engineering degree to good use…serving these uppity Ay-rabs when you should be serving your OWN people.

      Look at the Chinese…part of the key to their dszzling economic success was that they sent their young as students in foreign lands to pick up the best technologies in Ivy League universities across the USA

      Then from your comfy aerie you complain about how things are turning out in the land of your birth. Very rich of you indeed.

      1. The Philippines is now a fucked up country. I don’t have any fancy engineering degree or whatever. I am a Technical man specializing in Science and Technology. I may have a higher graduate degree education; but , it is my own business to use it to earn my living…

        You cannot help people, who refuse to help themselves. This is the reason, we are all blogging.

        To awaken the sleeping Filipino population, induced by stupid shows like: telebasuras, Kris Aquino TV, game prize shows, wowoowee , giling giling , etc…

        Filipinos are getting out of this God forsaken country in droves. It is because they see no future of themselves in this country…we cannot blame them!

    3. Even before the Spanish era, we already have alipin, though not the slavery in a Western sense of the word. There are two kinds- aliping namamahay, and aliping saguiguilid. The first one pertains to helpers who live with their masters house, more like serfs and the latter, the saguiguilid, are the people at the bottom of the society, as their name describes was based on the part of the house where the toilet was located.
      The worst among the alipins are the alipins indebted to other alipins, the bulisik.
      So alipin or slavery is not just created out of colonial mentality, even before the Spaniards came, our society already have a culture of slaves, made worse by the Spaniards and we continue until now because admit it, we still benefit from this cheap labor, and as long as there’s plenty of people in this country who are ready to work for cheap, this idea of katulong dependency will continue. If there’s a need there will always be a demand.
      The Spanish era sucks, yes, but blaming and continually to blame the Spaniards who are long gone in this country for more than a century just reeks of lack of owing responsibility. Its about time we need to owe responsibility to this OFW mess, because admit it, it is no longer the Spaniards fault but rather, the government, and the few privileged folks in this country who takes advantage of the poor Filipinos who are force to sell themselves cheap for manual labor.

  8. Fliptards chose to be enslave by other countries and race, so they can enslave their own kind. A vicious cycle.

  9. Great to read an article addressing this. The general lack of independence is probably the biggest cultural difference I’ve found here.

    Even among households that can’t afford slaves, it seems people are always relying on family and friends for loans, errands and other favours – from the kidults enjoying an extended childhood living with their parents to the off-loading of major responsibilities, like grandparents or aunts taking guardianship of kids for a few years while their “loving” parents work abroad.

  10. I deplore the abuse of the word “Slave”..
    If you dont want to work as a Ya ya you are free to leave and find another employer.
    What about a second hand Chinese cell phone sales assistant in an air conditioned mall for example?
    Or perhaps one of the proud Filipino lefties that have commented above will be happy to employ you as some kind of personal wannabe assistant??
    You could carry their books from school and stuff.
    Free at last!!!!! lol.

    1. Slave – someone who wants to quit serving someone/something but can’t; generally works with reluctance.

      Servant – works for his master willingly.

      Most maids fall under the former category.

  11. Real truth is about to hit people on this website. They are Filipino, doctors, nurses and engineers in the USA making the same amount of money that the American does. The only time it changes is when Filipinos go through these employment agencies that pocket the rest of the cash , which is illegal in the USA. I am actually a real American been here and seen it. People with money have maids and nannies in the USA.Passing grades in the USA is 70%. Filipinos laugh at that as a passing grade. The certification boards in the Philippines is harder than in the USA why? The culture here enjoys making things harder for people to be equal for some reason. There is a test for everything here including graduating high school. Why? On most certification test in the USA you get a pass or fail. There is none of this top notcher stuff that has made schools corrupt

  12. If you go to work in a foreign country, because there are no opportunities in your country, to earn decent source of income. You are forced to become a Slave. Slaving for pay for a foreign master.

    I have met college graduates working as: nannies, houseboys, housemaids, etc…

    I have met a former Bank Manager, working as a Fueler for aircrafts in a Saudi Arabian airport. He was happy, because his pay was more than the pay of a Bank Manager in the Philippines…

    OFW slaves are Filipinos that are: underemployed; overworked and under compensated by their foreign employers. Because, their government cannot create jobs and opportunities for them.

    They are like the Mexicans climbing over the fences on the U.S. – Mexican border; to find low paying and menial jobs in the U.S.

    Instead of climbing over the fences. The Filipinos go to employment agencies. The employment agencies, made them “stand” on the “slave auction boxes”, until comes a foreign employer/buyer, come to buy them. It is OFW “slavery” in the 21st century.

    It is the Aquino era legacy of failed employment policies and programs…

  13. Philippines is a breeding ground for Moochers, Swindlers, Corrupt from the highest level of the government to the very least in society. No investor in their right mind would trust a Filipino when it comes to bussiness, Pnoys are simply unteachable. Yes, we became slaves to foreign countries, since we love the chains of slavery. We are a disgust to the whole human race.

  14. The USA is an agricultural and technology-based economy, while Japan, China and South Korea are manufacturing-based ones, as are Germany, the UK, France and Italy. Canada, while being the beneficiary of out- sourced manufacturing from the USA are really an agricultural and petroleum-based economy. India is a balanced mix of technology, manufacturing and ‘service’. Right there.. mentioned.. is two-thirds of the world’s economy.. easily. Where and how do the Philippines fit in? What is their contribution to the world?
    The reality is that the Philippine, in terms of technology, manufacturing, petroleum and agriculture(?) have little to no credibility. The only real dollar-based action where we have proven viability.. for which we should have, as well, practicable long term expectation is ‘service’.
    The serious players in this multi-billion, worldwide industry is India, Indonesia and Bangladesh in the East; and, Mexico and Guatemala in the West. We are, ourselves, serious contenders in the areas of maritime, industrial,hospitality, (hotel and restaurant), and domestic, (housekeeping/care-giving), placements.. worldwide. We do have a real shot at, not just in improving our lot, but in controlling an established and growing industry if only we address it squarely and seriously.. without being ashamed of being debased for doing such a “chimay” thing.
    It’s really time to get real.

    Sent from my iPad

    1. There is no need to debase ourselves further FYI since Oxford dictionary already labelled Filipina synonymous to maid, sure there is no shame in that. Just get real.

      1. Thanks for your reply. I respect your view although I’d hope that yours is just a minority opinion. Until we.. somehow, sometime.. manage to break into the manufacturing scene worldwide, or the technology field in the typical ‘dot-com’ way, or, strike oil ala Brunei or Indonesia, or get serious about agriculture in the way Thailand and Vietnam are engaged; we shall have to settle for what we can get. It just seems to be a happy coincidence that there is a field.. ‘Service’.. on which we have secured a foothold.
        There are fields in the ‘service’ industry other than ‘care giver’ and ‘house keeper’ (aka ‘domestic help’) that are available. Thousands of our compatriots now serve the world’s maritime industry.. as deck officers, deck hands, stewards, chefs and food handlers in tankers, bulk carriers and cruise ships. Even more serve land based industry in the Middle East, and in off-shore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arabian Gulf. There are, as well, doctors, nurses and med-technologists in the UK, the USA, and Canada. All told, there are over six million Filipino expatriates, (permanent and temporary residents) who, together, remit over 22 billion USD back to the Philippines; a windfall that has been propping-up the country’s foreign currency reserves for nearly 50 years now. This, by the way, includes the care givers and housekeepers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Italy the USA and Canada.  This fact, to my mind is something to be proud of. It is not an embarrassment.
        There is a Mexican saying that goes.. “Si comes frijoles no eructes jamon”; which literally translates to “If you eat beans, don’t belch ham”.

        Sent from my iPad

        1. If dogs are defined as Man’s best friend, why would I accept Filipinas as maids in human language this is how slave owners addressed their slaves, It’s BS, then we just catapulted ourselves to the heights of idiocy. If one can take it to their grave engraved in their tombstones, Then you are one hopeless idiot.

        2. To Camara:
          Thanks again… but this “idiot” is poor at untangling parables and metaphors. Please rephrase what you’d said. Indulge me that I might understand the point you were trying to make. Simple  declarative statements is all I can handle. Thanks…

          Sent from my iPad

  15. I am a foreign guy married to a Filipino woman and I have observed the culture of the Phils. As someone previously stated, the culture of many Filipinos revolves around dependency. There is a lack of self-sufficiency in the country, as well as personal responsibility. Filipinos do not generally appear to learn to take care of themselves, which, I believe, compels them to depend on others for their income/ survival. When I see young Filipinos have babies/ sit around all day without any sense of how they will earn money/ survive, it makes me wonder. I believe parents in the Phils. should teach their kids independence.

    We were recently in Cebu City and I saw a number of beautiful, young Filipinas with old/ nasty, fat slob foreign ‘males’. One of the women I saw was probably 23 and was with a fat slob 60ish guy; she had the most miserable look on her face. I saw another Filipina (maybe 19 or 20) with a foreign guy who was probably 70. I bring this up because it’s shocking to see and, frankly, disgusting. Some Filipino parents are so screwed-up. If most American fathers had a daughter who wanted to prostitute herself to some dirty old pedo freak, the father would beat the guy. Unfortunately this gives filipinas the prostitute/ slave reputation.

    It’s sad when young people resort to these degrading measures. Poverty/ lack of self-worth compels people to do drastic things. Why do Filipino parents not teach self-respect to their daughters? Girls there are not treated the same as boys; I’ve seen this first hand.

    1. Why don’t Filipino parents teach children self-respect? You answered it in your first paragraph: it is because they do not know how to take care of themselves. Filipinos in general do not understand the meaning of standing up for yourself, let alone teaching the idea of self-worth to others. They do not have nor showcase any real pride in any work they do either. Their ridiculously high dependency on family is a big reason why I chose not to marry into another Filipino family.

  16. To me, there’s nothing wrong being a housemaid/boy. All of us are in a way a “Katulong” for someone: Jesus Christ, our priests and nuns, presidents of organisations and countries, teachers, professors, Coaches, doctors and nurses, even people running their own business – EVERYONE! The “Katulong” (housemaids/boys), which I think you’re referring to is perhaps the “only” way by which they need the money for what need for the meantime. I myself WAS a “Katulong” from my Secondary School to University as my family could NOT afford to pay for my formal studies. Even today evenafter finishing my Ph. D. and am doing well, I am still a “Katulong” for my clients and for the participants doing the seminars I conduct and the lectures I give and THIS is alright. The problem , I think, of being a “Katulong (housemaid/boy, lies in our thinking. They are doing a favour for another favour just like as YOU and I are doing.

  17. What is wrong with working as a maid? Are you not paid fairly? So, what would you provide to these people when you abolish the “brown slavery.” You actually look down on them by calling them slaves. The maids or helpers work for their livelihood; they are not beggars or slaves. The same as I work in a factory for my livelihood. If the work is an honest and decent job, then I say, “go for it!” It’s not the kind of job that begs labeling or disrespectability. It’s those people with their prejudices and ill-manners that invites it. Seriously, here in America, not everyone are engineers and AI experts, or whatnot.. same us all other countries, including Philippines. Caste system? You’re barking on the wrong tree! I would rather be a maid than those welfare lazy buffoons! They can’t keep a job, they would rather have hand-outs from the government and have the hard-working taxt payers pay for their smartphones! And these, my friend is not Philippines! I admire and respect those people you flippantly called “brown slaves,” (you really have to respect them… please don’t call them slaves).

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