284,000 Philippine Workers Gather Every Sunday in Hong Kong
Most of the domestic help in Hong Kong homes is supplied by women from the Philippines (and Indonesia) who are paid a fixed rate salary of $3,800 HK each month for six days work (about $450) plus housing and medical care. What I found most interesting is what these domestic workers do each Sunday on their day off. They only get one day off and most of them are living in Hong Kong solo while their families are back in the Philippines. So what do they do with this time off? They all go downtown to the central area and gather in the public areas to socialize, play cards, share food and hang out. It is not something that only a few of them do; we are talking about 284,000 workers. It is absolutely amazing to see–you can walk for blocks and blocks in the downtown area every Sunday and see them everywhere. They look a bit like well off homeless folks camping out, but much better dressed and not begging for food or money. The photo I took was on a very cold Sunday in December. I was told there were less domestic workers out because of the cold and many looked like the homeless with temporary box shelters. If they didn’t have cardboard boxes to sit on, they were using picnic blankets. Either way, if they were on the blanket or cardboard they removed their shoes. I don’t think i’ll ever truly understand the desire to remove shoes when in freezing cold weather, but it is definitely a part of the culture. I also noticed almost all of them were laughing or had huge smiles. They absolutely love their Sundays together. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people gathered together and so happy. It was enough to make me smile and if you ever get a chance to see it, I’m betting you’ll smile too.