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DH bears appendicitis pain for fear of losing job

30 August 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Tumanguil put her life at risk by trying to bear the pain from an acute appendicitis

A Filipina domestic helper who tried to hide the intense pain she was experiencing for fear of losing her job is now recovering at home after undergoing surgery for acute appendicitis.

Leilani T. Tumanguil, 33, said she had foolishly endured her pain in silence, thinking she would be fired if she told her employers about her ailment. She was to learn later that she could have died if she hesitated some more.

When the pain became unbearable on the night of Aug 12, Tumanguil still hesitated, thinking that the pain would still go away. But the next morning, she was forced to tell her employers as she could hardly walk and the pain had become unbearable.


"Pagbangon ko… umakyat ako sa itaas, pero di ako makalakad, pinipilit ko lang dahil madami pa akong work. Nang di na tumigil ang sakit ng tiyan ko, umiyak na ako kasi di ko na kaya,” Tumanguil said.

(When I got up…I went upstairs but I could hardly walk. I just forced myself because I still had lots of work to do, but when the pain won’t go away, I cried and had to tell my employer.)

To her relief, her 38-year-old female employer immediately gave her money and told her to take a taxi and rush to the hospital.

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At Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po, the doctor who examined her said she needed urgent surgery. Her fear of what could happen to her employment again gripped her, but she sent a message to her employer about the doctor’s suggestion.

“Okay, get the surgery done now,” the employer replied.

She was transferred to the North District Hospital in Sheung Shui the next day. There her doctor told her she had an acute appendicitis that should be removed immediately or it could rupture and spread infection throughout her body, potentially endangering her life.


The surgery took place at 2am on Aug 14 and it was successful. Tumanguil said she just had to go without solid food for seven days, and had to be fed intravenously with dextrose.

Still burdened by worries about the future and her three young children, she asked her sister in Manila to contact her employer, and find out how her employment situation looked like.

But after Tumanguil’s sister sent a text message, the employer gave assurance that she will retain the helper and let her recover at home until she can resume working.

“The doctor called me and told me Lani’s condition is good, but due to Covid-19 they don’t allow us to visit her… Also, there’s no need to worry about the money, we bought insurance for Lani; if it’s not enough, we will pay the final bit, it’s okay,” she wrote.

“Once she’s out of the hospital, she can rest in the house until she’s healthy and ready to work. We will take good care of her.”

Tumanguil was profuse with thanks when her sister forwarded the employer’s message to her. After 14 days in the hospital, she was fetched by her employer on Aug 26.

The Filipina is grateful to her employers for taking care of her after the surgery

In her employer’s home, it is they who take care of her and bring her food in her room as they nurse her to full recovery. She says she feels embarrassed because this is her first time to be served by the people she should be serving.

“Sana bumalik na ang lakas ko para makabawi ako sa kanila,” Tumanguil said. (I hope I can recover my strength so that I can repay their kindness.)

The grateful worker said she will be marking her second year with her employers on Sept 29. She worried about being terminated because her employers have been good to her even if she had broken many items in the past.

Tumanguil said both her employers and their two sons, aged 8 and 19, have been nothing but kind to her. Her female employer is from Hong Kong and her husband is from the Mainland. They are her second employers here.

She said she worked only for a year and five months for her first employer then went home. Before Hong Kong, she worked for three years in Kuwait.

Tumanguil’s advice to her fellow workers is to seek help immediately if they are feeling unwell. Putting your life at risk is just not worth trying to save your job for.

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