Filipino guest workers wary of Hong Kong handover
June 25, 1997
Web posted at: 6:05 p.m. EDT (2205 GMT)
From Correspondent May Lee
HONG KONG (CNN) -- Filamina Primero considers herself to be
one of the luckiest people she knows.
For 19 years, she's worked as a live-in maid in Hong Kong,
earning good money, living a comfortable life and putting
aside money for the future. Had she stayed in her native
Philippines, she suspects her life would have been much
different. She would have remained poor and, in her words,
probably "had 10 children."
But for Primero and 160,000 other Filipinos living and
working in Hong Kong, the July 1 transition from British to
Chinese rule is raising anxiety. Even though assurances have
been made by the Hong Kong government that nothing will
change for these guest workers, they still fear what new laws
China might impose.
Although exploitation of Filipino workers occurs in Hong
Kong, it is still considered to be a place with a generally
An example of that environment comes every Sunday, when
streets in the center of the city are shut down so Filipino
domestics can have a place to meet, socialize and catch up on
the week's events. It is a combination marketplace, doctor's
office and outdoor concert hall.
Primero and many of the other Filipinos work under contract
with their employers. Her situation is better than most. She
has a two-year contract providing free room and board and
about $620 a month.
But some of the Filipino guest workers report that when they
have approached their employers about new contracts recently,
they have been told that they should come back in July after
As for Primero, she has bought some land and a house back
home and has been able to help financially with her siblings'
education. She wants to keep living out her dreams in Hong
Kong -- as long as the powers that be continue to allow it
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