My first contract and my experiences in Malaysia


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Waiting for my first contract and my experiences in Malaysia.

Learning the hard way to be an OFW

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September 2007: In preparation
First timer, full of courage, full of dreams, full of hopes but so nervous. This is me, this is what I feel the first time that I am on my way to a local agency where I apply for work as domestic helper. When I arrive in the agency office, I give my bio data and the copy of my passport to the staff. She ask few more question from me after she read my bio data. She ask me which country I am planning to go and work. That time I really don't have money so I choose Malaysia since I know that the placement fee is more lower than in Hong Kong. I ask how much do I need to pay and she told me only 6,000.00 pesos. But that amount is for the agency only. I still need to pay for my medical examination and of course my training in household course I also ask how much is my monthly salary in Malaysia and she say it is equivalent to 400.00 US dollar and it is stated there in the contract. I ask if I still need to pay in the agency aside from 6,000.00 pesos. She said no that is all you need to pay. Then she let me sign the contract and she told me she will call me once I already have employer.

Last week of October, I receive a call from my agency that the employer sign my contract already and I need to report in the office to sign my job order and to undergo the medical and physical examination. After I done all the requirements needed, my agency send me to Manila. I am from the province and their main office is there. In Manila, they send me to take my 3 weeks training program in household training. I need the certificate from my training because that is one of the requirements of the agency. After training, I need to attend a 3 days free seminar about language and culture familiarization in OWWA. I also need to go in TESDA for my assessment test, followed with the pregnancy test and lastly I need to attend a half day seminar for pre-departure orientation.

December 11, 2007
Malaysia This is it. This is the day I was waiting for, that all my dreams will come true. I can give a better life for my family, I can send my three girls in school, I can buy them foods and I also can give them some material things that I know I really cannot give if I only stay here in the Philippines. When I arrive in Malaysia, the staff from Malaysian agency is the one who pick up me and the other Filipina from the airport. Because it is around 8:00 in the evening already we go straight to the house of the owner of the agency and sleep there that night.

The next day, the two of us go in our agents office. From there the staff accompany us in a clinic for follow up medical examination. Then back in the agents office and wait for our employer to pick us up. That night, I meet the family that I will serve for two years. But the very next day, my employer talk to me that I don't have day off because my day off is paid already together with my salary. The next thing is my salary, my employer told me that for the first six months, I will receive half of my salary only because I need to pay my six months salary deduction from my agency. I ask, how come that I have a six months salary deduction that my Philippine agency did not told me about that? I ask them before and they told me, I need to pay 6,000.00 pesos that's all. I ask if I still need to pay again they say no. Another worst thing is, my salary. In my contract my one month salary is equivalent to 400.00 US dollar but I receive 850 Ringgit (Malaysian dollar) equivalent of 200 US dollar only every month.

I send all the 400RM (4,600.00 pesos) to my family. But that is not enough. My eldest is first year in college, my second and my youngest girls is already in high school. My husband is jobless. What will I do that time? I am so hopeless. I call my agency here in Manila and ask them why I have a six months salary deduction when I arrive in Malaysia that they never told me about that while I am still in the Philippines? They say it is the agent in Malaysia ask for that payment. I also ask why in my contract my salary there is equivalent in 400 US dollar but I only receiving now 850 Malaysian Ringgit or 200 US dollar? The answer??? Malaysia is a Muslim country and they did not follow on what is in that contract.

I am tied up in my contract. I don't know what to do. I don't have day off. I don't have a chance to see and talk to other Filipina and ask what should I need to do. No cellphone, no one is there to give advice on how to deal in that situation. That is really the time that I feel so alone and lonely in that country. So far away from my Homeland. Moments like this, I need to hold on to my dreams. I need to think properly, I need to survive, to be strong to finish my 2 years contract. I still need to reach for my dreams. I really learn a lot of important lessons from my first experience abroad.

That before we go we need to study and learn what is in our contract. We really need to learn our rights even if we are only a domestic helper. We need to show that to our employer. So even if we are only a domestic helper, if they see, if they know that we know our rights, they will respect us.

I stayed in Malaysia for two years without even a single day off. December 11, 2009 after 2 years, I was going back in the Philippines. And my mind was set for the focus: My next destination is Hong Kong.

I want to go to Hong Kong...

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