MANILA -- Traumatized by what she described as "inhumane treatment and slavery" in the hands of her employers, Joan Masa, a housemaid in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) said she had learned her lessons and is not thinking of going back as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) yet.
Interviewed by the media on Wednesday (Nov. 1), Masa, who is one of the 105 distressed Filipinos repatriated from UAE, said she is relieved to be home after her nine-month stay in the Gulf state.
"Overworked po talaga, wala kaming rest day and unpaid ang salary, so naisipan naming mag-runaway and then dumiretso po kami sa Philippine Embassy," she narrated.
"Doon sa embassy, 'di po kami pinabayaan doon, inasikaso po kami at lahat po ng needs namin ipinagkaloob po nila sa amin at ito po nakauwi kami ng buong-buo," she added.
Masa, who stayed with her employer for six months and three months under the embassy's care, shared that cases of human trafficking of Filipinos are prevalent.
"Marami tayong kababayan sa embahada na kailangan ng tulong(We have a lot of countrymen at the embassy who need help)," she said, sharing there are still numbers of Filipinos who can't go home.
"Kailangang masugpo (ang illegal traffickers) para hindi na maulit yung dinanas namin, para wala nang kababayan natin na makakaranas nung sakit at sakripisyo na dinanas namin dun (Illegal traffickers should be stopped so that no one will ever get to experience the pain and suffering we went through again)," she added.
Compared to her overseas work in Hong Kong, Joan said her employment in Abu Dhabi was the "worst".
"Halos ang tulog namin two hours lang, gigising po kami ng 8 ng umaga tapos ang tulog na namin 5 o 6 (ng umaga) (We only get to sleep for two hours only, we usually go to sleep 5 or 6 in the morning then we have to wake up at 8 a.m.)," Masa recounted.
She said the daily grind was almost the same when it is Ramadan season wherein households are busiest. "Wala po yung pahinga, kahit po pag-ihi bawal po tapos po yung pagkain namin limited kung ano yung matira 'yun lang (There's actually no time to rest, you can't even use the restroom and our food is limited to leftovers only)."
Asked if she would consider working abroad again, Masa answered not for now.
"Hindi na. Sa ngayon, hindi na po muna, talagang medyo traumatic po 'yung nangyari sa amin doon, para sa akin hindi po makatao, slavery po talaga (Not for now. Our experience was really traumatic, it's inhumane.)"
Joan, like the other 104 Filipinos who went home on Wednesday, received a certificate from the goverment to be presented at any Overseas Workers Welfare Adminstration (OWWA) offices to claim livelihood financial assistance worth around PHP15,000.
According to OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac, the government will strengthen efforts against illegal recruiters who typically attract innocent victims through social media. (PNA)