Welcome to the first round of Expat Escapades. This column is a humorous look at some of the things that you need to deal with when you’re in the country and how you handle them. It’s written by a lifelong Asian expat who has lived in a number of different Asian countries and decided to make the Philippines the last stop on the line. I’d like to kick the first edition off with a tawdry tale that involves a maid, a bus and some makeup.
When “we” found out that “we” were pregnant, we figured it would be a good idea to get some household help. So we started looking for someone who could come in and help Joan (the missus) out with the basic day-to-day drudgery of keeping the household operational. And so the search began, and it was long and wearying but we finally found someone who was going to be able to help us out.
She was young, which was my first reservation, and this would prove to be correct in time. Regardless, in she came before Joan gave birth and started to help out running the house for us. Over the course of her brief tenure we helped her out as much as we could. She had trouble with her eyes so we organized glasses; she wasn’t comfortable with western food so we taught her how to prepare it. We even gave her a pay raise in her first three weeks because she was just doing such a fantastic job, thinking that this would be an effort likely to contribute to her continued tenure.
This went on for about four months. She was great with the baby, she walked the dogs, learned to cook very well and kept the house immaculately. We were both extremely happy with the efforts she put in and duly gave her the opportunity to earn extra money where we could. This included things like giving her access to a computer so she could freelance, and teaching her what she would need to do in order to make a living at this.
That’s about when things went pear shaped. She never actually made a bean freelancing, she did soak up the knowledge though. One day she approached me and said “Kuya, tomorrow I go to Nueva Ecija, ok?” I told her to talk to Jo and arrange some time off. I was more than a little annoyed that she was giving us such short notice but I figured that a day or two would be ok.
So she departed and headed to the province, ostensibly because he father was sick. She left the majority of her belongings behind her, including her makeup, some clothes and the glasses we had purchased for her when we realized she had trouble with her eyes. She also left a rubbish bag in her bedroom full of sweet corn husks and the promise that she would return within 48 hours.
As time tends to do, it then passed. We waited a day, then two. Then three and four – once we got to five, we tried to call her to check on her welfare. The phone rang but it wasn’t answered. What came to pass was that she’d apparently taken off with her boyfriend.
Her makeup, her glasses and much of her clothing remain here. Who knows what happened to our MIA domestic? Not I. Still, we wish her all the best and if you happen to run into her and she wants her glasses back – ask her to give me a call, would you?
A lifelong traveler, Damon has spent most of his life living in Asia. He has been coming to the Philippines for nearly 30 years and living here for the last two. He makes his home on the North Coast in La Union with his partner Joan, daughter and three dogs. If you’d like to get in touch, please visit www.agoolaunion.com or tweet @AgooPhilippines.
By DAMON SIMMS