A total of 19 pairs of foreign domestic workers and their employers were presented with Long Service Awards by the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) at an annual awards ceremony at the Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium on February 11.
Maria Aida Procalla Somejo, 59, who was the longest-serving award recipient and has worked for the Choo family in Singapore for the past 28 years, received the award along with her employer’s youngest daughter, whom the Filipina is most attached to, the Straits Times reported.
This is because when the youngest girl started to speak, she referred to Somejo as “Mama”, instead of calling her “Auntie” as her sisters did, according to Choo Yuen Ling, 30, the oldest daughter of Somejo’s employer.
When the family corrected the girl from time to time, she refused to change.
As a result, Somejo, despite being single, has unexpectedly raised four “daughters” whom she sometimes took care of seven days a week as their mother was so busy with her own job.
Over the years, Somejo reportedly became an expert in Chinese cuisine, with her signature dishes including dumplings, roasted barbecued pork and lotus root soup, and the Choos have treated Somejo like family because the Filipina has been doing the same for them.
In 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the home of the Somejo’s relatives, her employer and one of her daughters donated money to help them rebuild their house.
And a few years back, Somejo turned down an offer of a pay rise, as she was aware that the family had to take care of their money as the four girls were still in school.
As well as to Somejo, other long service awards went to three Filipinas, eight Indonesians, four Sri Lankans, three workers from Myanmar and one Indian.