Domestic workers in Hong Kong on a day off. Photo: Asia Times

A Filipino mother has described the anguish she went through before reluctantly deciding that her daughter should work as a domestic worker in Hong Kong to help support her family.

Illustrating the difficult choices that Filipinos often face before heading abroad to find work, Milagrosena Tebia, 56, said she initially didn’t want her daughter Sheila Bonifacio, to work in Hong Kong. She eventually relented because there simply weren’t enough well-paid job opportunities back home in the Philippines.

Tebia had herself worked in Hong Kong for eight years before returning to the Philippines for good in 2007, so she knew the challenges that her daughter would face. But she needed some way of paying for her now- deceased husband’s medical bills, ABS-CBN News reported.

Bonifacio, 34, was a professional teacher in Manila for three years before she went to Hong Kong. She decided to follow her mother’s footsteps because her monthly salary of PHP15,000 (US$293) was not enough to support her family.

She said it was common for people in the Philippines to seek work overseas to avoid poverty and hunger. “We are forced to leave our country to find better opportunities.” .

After working for six different employers, Bonifacio now earns HK$5,000 (US$640) a month, which is twice her monthly salary as a teacher in the Philippines. She is able to pay her father’s medical bills and support her siblings’ education.

Tebia said she is proud of her daughter, but feels sad because they are not together. “In the Philippines, even if you graduate with a degree, you still cannot get a job with liveable pay,” she said.

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