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Maltreated in HK, former DH finds business success in Japan

17 May 2019

By Vir B. Lumicao

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and indoor
Jonalyn was often fed only boiled onions by her former employer in Hong Kong

A former domestic helper who returned home after just three months in Hong Kong because she could not take starvation and long working hours has completely changed her fortunes, but in another foreign land.

Jonalyn Tayoto, 37, now runs her own immigration consultancy near Nagoya, capital of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, a manufacturing and shipping hub in central Honshu Island. 

In a recent visit to Hong Kong, Tayoto recounted her brief stint in the city in 2014 as a domestic helper for a wealthy family in Kennedy Town.
From the start, she said she had to endure maltreatment by her female employer, such as not being given food, being made to work long hours and putting up with daily scolding.

The female employer and her children suffered from severe skin allergies, yet she was not allowed to wear gloves even if she had to handle utensils and clothing that they had used. Such was their skin condition that when the children took off their clothes, the fabric stuck to their sores, Tayoto said.
In addition to her duties in her employer’s flat, she was sent once a week to work in the house of her female employer’s mother across the harbor in Yaumatei.

Tayoto said she was under constant watch by her female employer, especially when the latter noticed her husband being nice to her.
“Kapag namamalengke kasi ako, sinasamahan ako ng lalaki para ituro kung ano ang mga bibilhin ko. Pagdating ko sa bahay ay mainit na ang ulo ng babae,” Tayoto said.

She slept on the couch but would move to the floor when the employer’s mother visited. For food, she was given a little serving of rice or noodles to eat once a week, but very often she would only have boiled onions, residue from boiling the bulb for the essence that she administered to the couple’s child as a cough remedy.
Tayoto had a good meal only once a week on her day off when she visited Social Welfare attaché Beth Dy at the Consulate. The two became fast friends after talking on a tram one evening and Dy became excited on learning she had worked with the Department of Social Welfare and Development office in Basud, Camarines Norte.

One day, Tayoto decided to quit after she got a scolding over a dress that was burnt with a hot iron, not by her, but by the employer’s own mother.
She complained to her agency, whose owner tried to appease her by making her a Manila-based partner in recruiting helpers for Hong Kong.

But Tayoto eventually parted with the Hong Kong operator because he was allegedly envious of her success in recruiting people for other places. Their parting was acrimonious, with the agency owner allegedly harassing her with various lawsuits.

Tayoto eventually decided to go to Japan as a tourist, but ended up working at a sport bar and a hotel to earn rent money. Her Hong Kong experience had taught her to survive on little food, so, she stocked up on flour and sugar to ensure she would always have pancake, her staple.

The Filipina said she used to cry about her predicament until the hotel owner saw her crying, and on learning about her problem, offered to pay her rent.

While working at the hotel, Tayoto began assisting and advising Filipino migrants on immigration issues, a job she used to do when she was still in the recruitment business.

Seeing her growing clientele, the hotel owner asked a friend to lend his immigration consultancy license to Tayoto so she could work legally and open an office.

She immediately set up a company, Forza Consultants, and used the business to obtain a visa. She says her company is now attracting enough business to pay for the hefty operating costs, which include the use of the license, rent and staff salaries. She gets to keep about half of the earnings.

On her last visit to Hong Kong recently, Tayoto met with the agency owner with whom she had a falling out. The man begged her to partner with him in the Japan business, but she said no.

Having experienced dealing with cunning business people before, she was not about to fall for the sweet talk again.


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