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Distressed maid reunited with family after frenzied flight from HK

07 November 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The distressed Filipina landed at Clark Airport but thought she was in China

A Filipina helper who flew home in haste and scared on Thursday after prematurely terminating her contract due to a spat with her employer in Pokfulam has been finally reunited with her family, a close friend of hers said on Friday, Nov 6. 

The distressed worker, 40-year-old Andrea (not her real name), earlier sent her friends worrying when she told them she was flown to China instead of Manila. It turned out her Hong Kong Airlines flight landed in Clark International Airport in Pampanga for some reason.

The maid took Flight HX781 at dawn on Thursday with just $250 as final payment from her employer, and a “small cash aid” the Overseas Workers Welfare Office in Hong Kong had given her.

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It was not clear what prompted her to immediately take a flight home, but she said she had quarreled with her employer and was scared she would be arrested before she could leave Hong Kong.

But welfare officer Virsie Tamayao immediately discounted Andrea’s claim that she had been brought to China instead of the Philippines. Tamayao said an OWWA staff member  escorted Andrea up to the boarding gate at Hong Kong Airport to make sure she boarded her flight safely.

It turned out Andrea had stayed at the OWWA shelter overnight after she left her employer’s house on Wednesday.

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Andrea’s friend, Shane, said she received a series of frantic messages on that day from the distressed worker, saying she was afraid of what her employer might do to her after they quarreled, claiming her phone had been hacked.

“Takot na takot siya. Sinabihan daw siya ng amo na ipapupulis siya noong bumaba siya,” said Shane, who has moved to Singapore with her Hong Kong employers.

(She was so scared. Her employer had allegedly told her they would call the police in when she left their house). 

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At the time, Andrea told Shane she was staying in a shelter in Kennedy Town and had a ticket booked for her flight home the next day.

Attempts to reach her by phone after that failed. But later, Andrea told Shane she was not getting any calls on her phone, and suspected somebody was redirecting the calls to another line. She also claimed her phone and Facebook accounts had been hacked.

Things came to a head on Tuesday when she reportedly argued with her female employer and told the latter she was resigning. 

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She left the employer’s house in Pokfulam on Tuesday evening and, through another friend, found refuge in the OWWA shelter.

According to Tamayao, she spoke to Andrea on the phone and asked about her problem. Tamayao said she also called the employer to hear her side.

“I talked to both of them and found out their statements matched,” Tamayao said. She added that OWWA gave the worker a little amount as she was aware Andrea left the employer’s house with just $250.

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“We also endorsed her to the OWWA office in Manila for further assistance,” OWWA HK’s chief said. She added the troubled maid could approach their regional office and apply for DOLE-OWWA Akap financial assistance for displaced

Andrea is now back home safely after her frenetic departure from HK

Shane said Andrea left almost penniless because the employer deducted a personal loan that the maid had taken from her.

Around midnight on Wednesday, the maid told Shane she had decided to go home as she was so scared that the employer might file trumped-up charges and ask the police to arrest her or Immigration officers might block her from boarding her flight.

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On Thursday morning, Andrea raised alarm bells again when she frantically asked why the flight had taken her to China. She was insistent she was on the mainland, and she even claimed the people at the airport were Chinese who spoke Tagalog and there were many soldiers with Philippine flags on their sleeves.

Again, OWWA was contacted but Tamayao gave the assurance that the helper was on the right flight. She sent photos of Andrea’s boarding information and said the maid should be in Manila by then. She said Andrea was escorted to the airport by OWWA staff Josh Villa.

“Mukhang distressed siya sa kanyang amo daw kaya nag-resign siya,” said Tamayao.

(She was apparently distressed because of her employer, that's why she resigned)

On Friday afternoon, Shane was able to chat with Andrea and learned that her friend's husband Alberto and their 11-year-old son had managed to pick her up from her quarantine hotel in Pasay City.

The husband told Shane Andrea was taken for a psychiatric examination to a hospital after arriving at Clark airport but was released on the same day. 

“Nakangiti na siya dahil nakatulog na rin, Kuya. Sobra kasi ang takot niya sa amo,” said Shane, who used to work with Andrea in the same area in Pokfulam. 

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