Responsive Ad Slot




Buhay Pinay



Philippine News

Join us at Facebook!

Filipino DHs turn to guitar playing to relieve stress and grief

27 September 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

The enthusiastic students squat on the pavement as they strum the blues away

They may not get to attain the stature of Eric Clapton or Santana, but under a bridge below IFC One in Central, about 20 migrant domestic helpers are happy enough to just play the guitar every Sunday, as they try to strum their worries away. 

The ensemble may not be that young, but its members exude the youthful enthusiasm of those just starting to create music with their new instruments under the watchful eye of their fellow worker who is behind the project, Baby Jean de Leon.

The 49-year-old De Leon, an administrator of the online group Domestic Workers Corner, said she started the guitar-playing project on Apr 18 this year as a means to provide domestic helpers in Hong Kong a diversion from the stressful work.

Call us!

“Naisipan kong itayo ang grupo dahil sa pagkakaalam ko, ang music ay nakakaalis ng stress sa amo,” said De Leon, who admits she is re-learning the guitar as she had long stopped playing it. (I thought of forming this group because, as far as I know, music can relieve a worker’s stress from her employer).

“Sa pamamagitan nito, kaming mga OFW ay magkakaroon ng peace of mind tuwing araw ng Linggo,” she said. (This way, we OFWs can have peace of mind on Sundays.)

De Leon says guitar-playing helps soothe mind and body

She said helpers like her look for activities that divert them from daily chores, and guitar playing under the bridge is more relaxing than hanging out in Central or other places on their rest day. It can also help bring out their hidden talent in music.


A fellow FDH helps teach the basics of guitar-playing to students, but De Leon is always around to lend a hand and supervise the group.

Yan Yan B. Obusan, 36, who joined the class on its first day, said guitar-playing drives away her loneliness, especially after losing her father to illness at the weekend.


The sessions revived her interest in the guitar, which she used to play in her high school days in San Mateo, Isabela. Her brothers’ fondness for music also rubbed off on her. This time, however, she has a deeper reason for playing the guitar.

“Mas lalo ko pong gustong matuto ng gitara ngayon at gusto kong alayan ng kanta ang father kong pumanaw po nung nakaraang araw,” said Obusan. (The more I want to learn how to play the guitar because I want to offer a song to my father, who died yesterday.)


Another student, Babyjane Estabillo, 42, said watching her father play their neighbor’s guitar when she was young inspired her to learn the skill. But when she got married, she forgot about that dream.

Then she came to Hong Kong more than five years ago and by chance she met her old friend De Leon, who revived her interest in learning how to play.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang Kwentong Dream Love

“Kaya po dito natupad ang pangarap na bukod sa matututo na akong maggitara, nakabili na rin po ako ng sarili kong gitara,” Estabillo said. (It’s here where I realized my dream of playing the guitar and have also bought my own guitar.)

Another dream of hers came true last Wednesday when she among those picked by DWC for its guitar recording project for Youtube, Estabillo said.

A student focuses on her music sheet, oblivious to passersby 

Thanks to the easy availability of musical instruments in Hong Kong where people start playing them in primary school, it’s not difficult for FDWs to have a guitar of their own.

Guitar prices in Hong Kong are fairly priced. Those who want a brand-new instrument can go to a Tom Lee or Parsons shop and pick up a good one for about $600 and up.

Those with a smaller budget can buy a well-kept, quality instrument on the second-hand market, where a lacquered Toyama sells for $250 or even lower. But if the timing is right, one can have a guitar for free if somebody on their block decides to chuck one out.

Anyone interested in guitar playing can join the morning tutoring session from 9am to 12 noon or the afternoon session from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday, the rest day for most of the 200,000 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.

To join the tutoring session, one can register as a member for $50. Attending each session costs $20, which is spent looking for new pieces to play, photocopy and share during the Sunday sessions.

The group is just six months old, but it has already attracted more than 50 students, many of them eager to learn to play the guitar but do not have the financial capacity to join lessons run by professional musicians.

De Leon said that after the morning session, the students are free to hang around and continue practicing.

"Natutuwa sila rito dahil hindi lang sila natututo sa paggigitara, nagkakaroon din sila ng mga bagong kaibigan,” said De Leon. (They’re glad to be here because they not only learn how to play the guitar, they also gain a lot of friends.)

When the students get to a stage where they can already play a tune on their guitars, they’ll be ready for graduation. A ceremony will be held where a certificate of attendance will be given to each student.

(Those interested to join may send a message to Baby Jean de Leon on Facebook, or through the DWC accounts)


Don't Miss