The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently released a video produced to spread awareness about Filipina domestic helpers’ rights in Singapore.
The video, which looks like it wants to show both employee and employer some important points about labour laws, has cast actress Michelle Cheong to play someone representing your typical Filipina domestic worker by reprising her comedic role as the fictional Leticia Bongnino from the local television show, The Noose.
Many wonder if the video is targeted towards educating the Filipina helpers in Singapore or for entertaining the Singapore employers of the helpers though. We wonder how the domestic helpers feel about being caricatured on a serious issue.
Watch the video below:
In the video, Michelle plays a Filipina maid named Leticia Bongnino, who refers to herself in the third person consistently and speaks broken English. They started the video by framing her as an “unsung hero.”
She is enthusiastic and appears happy, and narrates how her employer has a lot of parties, which means she learned how to cook a lot of dishes.
The character would tell the audience with wide eyes that she enjoys her stay with her employer, but not serving her employer’s friends during mahjong parties. She said that her employers think she can’t understand English, but she knows perfectly well that her employers’ friends don’t want her to have her full wages because she supposedly doesn’t know how to handle money.
What’s more, Michelle’s character receives hand-me-downs (which the script says she appreciates) that include a T-shirt that has a picture of a noose on it.
Michelle also portrays her character as someone who wants to buy shoes and clothes, and eat at Jollibee all the time. She speaks in simplistic sentences with a distinct Singaporean accent.
A government worker then comes on and explains to Michelle that she has rights, which includes receiving her full wages. He advises her to show her employer the website that has all the rights that Michelle has as a domestic worker in Singapore. He also tells her about a hotline she could call if she is faced with any problem.
The video ends with Michelle’s character expressing happiness over her new clothes and looking off camera to go somewhere else.
The ad seeks to address specifically the “exploited” condition of most Filipina domestic helpers in Singapore. In a report by CNN, 60% of this type of worker are being abused or exploited in some way.
Ten years ago, the number of documented Filipino workers in domestic helper positions was over 200,000. No doubt, that number has risen–and with it came laws that raised these workers’ wages and provided for better working conditions.
These came after the 1995 case of Flor Contemplacion, a Filipina worker who was executed for murdering her friend and her friend’s employer’s son in a sensational case.
In an effort to protect these workers and attract even more of them to serve Singaporean families needing good-quality and affordable child care, the Singapore government has put in place laws and even had some campaigns to generate awareness.
What do you think of the video ad above? Let us know in the comments!