Monday, 22 May 2017

"My Family's Slave" by Alex Tizon

Read it on The Atlantic.

I've never been so moved by a journalism piece in my life. I read it to Mike last night. We never had maids or nannies so we could not relate to this, and it was very apparent when I paused whilst reading or Mike made a sound, that something in the essay was very strange, unbelievable, or unfamiliar to us. But house helps are very common in the Philippines. I remember watching Filipino films when the very rich have uniformed maids and they call their masters "señor/señora," or "señorito/señorita" for the younger members of the family. The maid in this essay (I couldn't bring myself to call her a slave, but she was, sadly) was originally from Tarlac, which is the province next to my home province, Pampanga. Majority of those living in Tarlac speak kapampangan like me.

I think one of the reasons why some well-to-do people choose to come back to the Philippines. is they find it so hard living without their servants, and also very expensive to hire them abroad. And it seems, sadly, that like Alex Tizon's family, there might have been others who brought [slaves] with them when they emigrated.

There are mixed reactions about this piece, most are heartbroken by the story of Eudocia Tomas Pulido ("Lola" or grandmother) and some are defending the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alex Tizon. Whatever his intention was in writing this piece, and whilst I feel he could have done more for Lola, his words (and I emphasise Words, as sometimes merely words could make us find excuses; I might have a different opinion had I known them personally) made me feel that he really cared about her and that he wanted to tell her side of the story. What's sad is that he died not knowing that his story had been told and had reached out to so many people. For Lola and the life she had, I could only have tears.

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