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Infected Indonesian helper who stayed in dorms sparks fears of coronavirus spread

Posted on 05 August 2020 No comments
By Daisy CL Mandap

About 30 Indonesian workers and their employers could be close contacts of the infected helper
An Indonesian domestic worker who stayed in a boarding house with 28 other helpers as well as an employment agency office was among the 85 new Covid-19 cases reported today, Aug. 5.

Her case has sparked concern that a new cluster of cases might emerge from among the many people she had been in contact with, two weeks since she left her former employer’s home.

Also among the new cases is a Filipina domestic worker who tested positive on the10th day of her quarantine, indicating she had a negative test result on her arrival in Hong Kong, and in a required pre-boarding testing before she left Manila.

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According to Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection, the Indonesian helper, identified as case no 3664, left her former employer’s home on Jul 20. Between Jul 22 and 23, she moved to a boarding house in Wanchai, where 28 other FDWs were staying.

The shelter, located at 375 Lockhart Road, Wanchai, is reportedly operated by KL Home Care Ltd.

On Jul 23, she hung out in a unit at 48 Yee Wo Street in Causeway Bay (reportedly owned by Bandung Enterprises Employment Agency) while looking for a new employer. She developed symptoms on Aug 1 and was confirmed positive for Covid-19 yesterday.

“Her former employer has been found, and will be tested,” said Dr Chuang.

All four helpers who lived in the unit with her between Jul 30 and 31, along with the agency’s staff, have been traced, and put under quarantine.

However, all the 28 FDWs who had stayed at the first boarding house with the patient have all left to live with their respective employers, so it is taking time to locate them, said Chuang.

She also said that because two weeks had passed since the patient started staying in the dormitory, it would be difficult to find out where the infection might have started.

“So we are very worried because we have not found the source of the infection yet,” Chuang said.

She called on the workers and their employers with links to the case to step forward for testing and isolation.


The case also sparked concern among those living in, and managing shelters or temporary lodging for FDWs.

Edwina Antonio, executive director of Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, said the surge in infections has made running the shelter even more difficult. The new positive case has made it even more urgent to adopt stringent intake measures.
Antonio (left) says Bethune House is taking extra care amid the recent surge in Covid-19 cases 
Kahit ang Bethune House ay maingat sa pag-admit ng mga bagong clients dahil malaki ang magiging epekto nito (infection) sa operations and services,” she said. “Kaya sa ngayon, hindi pwedeng lumabas ang mga residents unless case-related, at wala ding outside activities o visits mula sa ibang tao.”

(Even Bethune House is being very cautious in admitting new clients because an infection could have a severe impact on operations and services. So for now, our residents are not allowed to go out unless for case-related matters, and we also don’t  conduct outside activities or allow visits from other people).
Apart from the Filipina helper who was found infected while in quarantine, two other imported cases were reported. One involved a returnee from the United States, and another who flew in from Kazakhstan via Turkey.

There was another case of a patient who flew in from Taiwan, then tried to switch hotels before attempting to leave Hong Kong while under quarantine.

He was intercepted at the border and moved to a quarantine centre where he tested positive yesterday. Chuang said they were still looking into whether the case should be classified as imported or local.

Another cause for concern is the growing number of cases linked to a direct marketing company operating out of a basement office in Kowloon.

Six new cases were recorded today, and all the patients were at the company’s training held at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Mong Kok on Jul 31.

Chuang said that so far, around 45 cases have been linked to this cluster.

Five other cases were linked to the King Fok elderly home in Sham Shui Po. Four are staff of the home, while one is a resident.

Dr Lau Ka-hin of the Hospital Authority said two more patients, both of them elderly, passed away in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 43.

A male patient aged 82 passed away last night, while another 86-year-old man died at 3:16pm today in Tuen Mun Hospital.

Another death could be added if a 86-year-old patient who passed away at North District Hospital after testing preliminary positive would be classified by health authorities as a confirmed case.

Dr Lau said that as of 9am today, 1,223 confirmed patients are in 19 public hospitals and the community quarantine facilities at Lei Yue Mun and AsiaWorld-Expo. Forty-five are in critical condition, 3 are serious, and 1,173 are in stable condition.

Never a dull moment with doll collector

Posted on No comments
By Laura Gatmaitan Perez

Long before Covid-19 placed us under house arrest at risk of arrested development, an artist found a way of keeping boredom at bay. She immersed herself in a hobby that kept her going throughout the lockdown.
“I started sewing when I was five years old,” says Sheila Ella Gatchalian, a 37-year-old Bulakeña. “Since my parents were afraid I might hurt myself with my grandmother’s sewing machine, they told me to just hand-sew dresses for my doll.
“When I went to school, my parents discouraged me from making frivolous doll dresses, saying it would get me nowhere. They told me to focus on becoming a teacher. But I was obsessed with dolls, you see.

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Dolls are reportedly some of the oldest toys that children have ever played with. Their earliest use was traced in Greece around 100 AD. There must be a reason why they have been a top favorite through human history. Apparently, children see themselves in dolls and help them decide what to be in adulthood.

“I had a cheap plastic doll when I was young,” Sheila narrates. “An uncle gave me an original Barbie for my birthday but its head fell off when my sister forced an ill-fitting blouse through its fragile neck. Every time my parents took me to the mall, I would beg for a Barbie but they did not buy me one. I told myself I would study hard so that I could work and buy as many Barbies as possible.”
Today, Sheila has a collection of over 300 dolls, some bought online as preloved toys. That’s a lot to design costumes for.

This collection probably feeds her Peter Pan or Wendy complex but in the real world, she is a consummate dressmaker and costume designer.

You can’t help but wax lyrical upon seeing the exquisite beauty of Sheila’s creations. You get drawn to her elegant period pieces and enthralled by the sheer craftsmanship behind them. No expense is spared to jazz them up and all you can do is swoon.

“I was a sickly child and had to stay home most of the time with my mother who loved watching old Filipino movies starring Paraluman and Gloria Romero. I took a fancy to their elegant clothes. I imagined myself in glamorous gowns, darting across time and space.

“In high school, we read Noli Me Tangere, and it later inspired me to depict this period in my cultural exhibits. Not only did I sew Filipiniana costumes, I also created props like Spanish colonial houses, bahay-kubo, jeepneys, calesas, some animals and other details that would recreate the 19th century ambiance. I researched on ancestral houses and even went to the actual spots where they stood. I visited museums to see particular artifacts.

“I created everything in my educational exhibits, occasionally held in schools and different municipalities. Although I have a limited income, I made sure that the materials were of high quality and which I could be proud of. I used bamboo, recycled paper, plastic, shells, wood, and other locally available materials for my props.”

Sheila’s followers make sure they get hold of the vintage costumes worn by her Barbie dolls. They come with earrings, necklaces, brooches, head decorations, shoes, fans, umbrellas and sometimes even with Ken in equally dazzling Barong Tagalog. Prices of Filipiniana doll gowns range from Php2,500 to Php8,000 depending on the fabric used, how long and how hard it takes to finish them.

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“I used to cry when my parents could not buy me Barbie dolls. I could not even touch the ones I saw in stores for fear of breaking them. Now I have my own dolls that are dressed to the teeth. The ones I have in my collection are not for sale but I gladly sell many that you see on my Bratinella website. Most clients want me to sew customized clothes for their dolls.”
The regal Maria Clara dress, for instance, is like a time capsule, a reminder of what Filipinos once were. Overseas Filipinos proudly show it off to their grandchildren to educate them on their ancestry. Patriotic doll
collectors display it in their living room as a great conversation starter.

Others go a step further and ask that Sheila make them gowns exactly like the ones worn by her dolls, and there are many styles to choose from. Having taken a course in dressmaking, she is up for such a request.
“I have long been making gowns and costumes for friends, not just for my dolls. Usually, clients show me a picture of the outfit they want me to sew for them, not necessarily Filipiniana.”

There is more to wearing certain clothes, according to psychologists. What you wear – whether it’s a fancy dress or sweatpants – can put you in a certain mindset.

Denise Green, a fashion anthropologist at Cornell University, claims that clothing can change your mood, that it can have a dramatic psychological impact.

Some say that gorgeous clothes can improve your self-image. They claim that when you copy the dress code of smart and powerful people, you feel infused with these qualities as well.

So, go ahead and put on a stylish dress if it makes you feel good. And your doll can have a makeover too.
These days, Sheila takes care of her mother who recently suffered a stroke. This does not prevent her from pursuing her passion, however, as she is bent on stitching dreams that may well come true.
For inquiries, contact Sheila Ella Gatchalian (Bratinella) on Facebook or email her:

Fears of virus spread in markets as HK registers 85 new Covid-19 cases

Posted on No comments
By The SUN

A number of infections  in wet markets involved fish vendors 

An infectious disease expert has called on people, especially the elderly, to avoid going to wet markers, as a number of Covid-19 cases linked to two public markets in Kowloon continues to rise.

Of the 85 confirmed cases reported today, Aug. 5, one was linked to the Hung Hom public market. Yesterday, there were two found in the same market, and another at the To Kwa Wan wet market.

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So far, at least 11 markets have been linked to 15 infections, particularly among fish and seafood stalls.

Dr. Ho Pak-leung of the University of Hong Kong has called wet markets as an “epidemic time bomb” after taking environmental samples from the two areas.

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Both markets were closed early and disinfected as environmental samples were taken from there by Dr Ho and his team. The samples were taken from chopping boards, ice, water and weighing scales in the two markets.

At today's press briefing, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan revealed that no traces of the coronavirus were found in the samples.

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Dr Ho that to avoid infection, younger people wearing face masks should take on the task of buying food from groceries, and that the items bought be soaked in clean water as soon as they are brought home.

The market contamination sparked fears of outbreaks similar to those that happened in Wuhan, where the first coronavirus cases were discovered, even as Hong Kong added fewer than 100 cases for the third consecutive day.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

With today’s 85 new cases, Hong Kong’s total tally has risen to 3,670.

The death toll also rose to 43, with six new cases being reported over the past 24 hours, all involving elderly patients. One other death is being investigated, as the patient tested preliminary positive before passing away.

Militant Filcom leaders threaten legal action vs Duterte supporter

Posted on 04 August 2020 No comments
By The SUN

Aries' Facebook post which Bayan covered with a 'fake news' tag

Two high-profile Hong Kong migrant leaders have threatened legal action against a fellow overseas Filipino worker for allegedly defaming them in a Facebook post, and targeting the organizations they belong to as part of a terror campaign.

A statement issued earlier tonight by Bayan Hong Kong and Macau was accompanied by a link to a Facebook post that depicted its chairperson, Eman Villanueva, and United Filipinos-Migrante HK chair Dolores Balladares Pelaez along with other Filipino militants as “salot sa lipunan.”

The post was made on Jul 19 in the name of  Jeanette Angel Aries, an OFW who is said to be the leader of Emilio DDS (Duterte Diehard Supporters). The statement gave her real name as Jeanette Lopez.

In the picture showing Villanueva and Pelaez together, Aries accused them of “exacting funds from OFWs in Hong Kong and spreading fake news against the government.”
The two were also branded as “fund collectors” for the Philippines’ left-wing groups, CPP-NDF-NPA. (Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front and New People’s Army).

“Our officers and members in Bayan Hong Kong and Macau, together with our friends and supporters, will lodge complaints against Lopez and her group both on Facebook and take actions against them through legal means,” said the statement.
“Their brazen red tagging of progressive migrant leaders and organizations in Hong Kong should be exposed and condemned.”

The statement said Lopez and her followers have been targeting so-called progressive groups that have Hong Kong chapters, including Bayan, Migrante and Gabriela, in their hate campaign.

Two years ago, another member of Emilio DDS called “Jenny” reportedly distributed pamphlets vilifying the left-leaning organizations, and even made vlogs condemning them.

The hate campaign reportedly intensified when Bayan and its aligned organizations started a widely supported campaign for the scrapping of the mandatory contribution to PhilHealth.
“We even wrote to the Philippine Consulate calling their attention on this group’s malicious actions and unfounded accusations,” said the statement.

Bayan said Emilio DDS is emboldened to attack them because they are supported by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which was formed under the auspices of the Duterte administration.
“Now, with the Anti-Terrorism Act in effect, the Emilio DDS faces no consequences even if their posts are false and malicious in nature, and even if their deeds endanger the lives of leaders and members of migrant organizations,” said the statement.

Two Filipino students charged with classmate in $1.4m watch robbery

Posted on No comments
By Vir B. Lumicao  

The Kowloon City magistrate denied bail to the 2 Filipino defendants
Two Hong Kong-born Filipino male students are each facing a charge of robbery in Kowloon City Court for allegedly attacking a man and snatching his watch worth more than $1 million.

Their Pakistani schoolmate has been charged with conspiracy to rob.

Defendants R.P. Bernardo, D.R. Banaag and A. Khan appeared today, Aug 4, before Magistrate Ada Yim for a bail review, but the prosecution read out in court an amended charge against the three.
The robbery took place on Granville Road in Tsimshatsui on the evening of Jul 23, according to local news reports.

The prosecutor said that on an unspecified date and place, Bernardo and Banaag robbed a man of his expensive watch worth $1.4 million.

Pindutin para sa detalye!

A South China Morning Post reported that the watch was a limited edition Richard Mille timepiece and the victim owns a watch store.

According to the prosecution, the victim had just left his shop when Bernardo attacked the victim from behind. When the victim fell to the ground, Bernardo snatched his watch. The three fled the scene before police arrived.
The prosecutor said the three defendants are schoolmates. Bernardo, a tall and chubby youth, is a Form 4 student who will be promoted to Form 5 this school year. Banaag, a shorter and leaner lad, is a Form 5 student who will be promoted to Form 6.

The lawyer for the two Filipinos said they were both born in Hong Kong and live with their parents, who are Hong Kong permanent residents.

He said they have clear records but Bernardo has an outstanding snatching case in West Kowloon Court. As for the robbery, the lawyer said no weapon was used. The lawyer said the appropriate charge should have been snatching.

Banaag has two outstanding burglary cases and the lawyer said he was hired only to serve as a lookout.
Khan has an outstanding case in Kowloon City Court for non-payment of goods and theft. His lawyer said Khan was a transport company clerk who claimed he was only paid by Bernardo to drive them to Tsimshatsui.

The lawyer representing Bernardo and Banaag said the former was offering $5,000 bail money, in addition to reporting daily to the Tung Chung police station. Banaag was offering a $6,000 bail money and was willing to report daily to the North Lantau police.                                                                                                                                                                                    

Khan’s lawyer said the youth was offering a $40,000 bail money and his uncle, who was in court, would put up a $40,000 surety.

Magistrate Yim rejected the two Filipinos’ bail application, saying they were facing very serious offenses and there is a high risk they would abscond and commit further offenses. She said they can apply for bail at the Court of First instance.

The magistrate granted Khan’s bail application, but ordered him to pay his bail money and surrender his travel documents within 24 hours, in addition to complying with all the bail conditions.

The hearing was adjourned until Sept 21 for plea. Yim ordered Bernardo and Banaag to be remanded in custody.

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