It’s feared that more than 1,000 Filipino domestic workers may have to spend the Christmas break at their employers’ homes in Hong Kong after their tickets booked via a travel agency were canceled by airlines because of apparent transaction and payment glitches.
While numerous woebegone maids continue to camp outside Peya Travel’s office in Worldwide House in Central, the owner of a currency-exchange shop inside the same commercial arcade has started offering HK$100 (about US$13) each to the affected maids.
The good Samaritan, Franki, who has been running a currency-exchange chain in Hong Kong for more than 30 years, told reporters that many of his customers were Filipino domestic workers who remitted much of their hard-won earnings back home to their families.
“I have long been touched by their love for their families. They work hard but get little money, and it’s sad that they can’t fly back for family reunions when they are cheated … like this,” Franki said.
He said many of his own employees were Filipinos as well and he found them hard-working and kindhearted.
He has set aside a total of HK$50,000 from his own coffers to help 500 maids stranded by the agency’s botched operation, who just need to show their booking records to get the consolation money, HK01 newspaper reports.
So far around 60 helpers have received the money.
Meanwhile, Manila’s diplomatic mission in Hong Kong, local travel-agency and consumer-right watchdogs, and several airlines, including Cathay Pacific and Philippine Airlines, are working to provide extra tickets on alternative flights for the stranded maids.