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Filipina caregivers react to stage portrayal of their lives

Ana Kristine Cagas

CAREGIVING, OFF STAGE

Originally from Oroquieta in the Philippines, the 28-year-old arrived in Canada two years ago and is still in the Live-in Caregivers Program. She worked 11 months for a "very good family," taking a leave a week before her seven-month-old son was born. She expected to go back to work soon, but her employer needs someone with more flexibility than a new mother, so she has to look elsewhere to complete her remaining 13 months in the program. Her eight-year-old daughter is still in the Philippines.

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CAREGIVING, ON STAGE

"The play is very true. It's emotional." The moment that struck her most - when one of the characters sends money to the Philippines for her family. "I'm sending money for my family. It's very difficult because they think that our work here is easy and good money. I have a sister who's finished nursing school already, and a brother in university, so they always ask for money to buy this, buy that."

WHY SHE THINKS YOU SHOULD CARE

Cagas hopes audiences will understand the lives of live-in caregivers better, especially because "some Filipinos don't complain - that's why their employers take advantage [of them]"

Victoria Dela Sierra

CAREGIVING, OFF STAGE

Born in La Libertad, Dela Sierra was a Ministry of Health midwife for 20 years in Saudi Arabia. She came to Canada a widow in 2008 and is very happy in her job as a caregiver. The 58-year-old finishes her 24 months of service in late November when, "Inshallah, I can have my papers."

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CAREGIVING, ON STAGE

What spoke to Dela Sierra most about Future Folk was "being far from your family." On watching the play: "Oh my God, with a teary eye, because that is true."

WHY SHE THINKS YOU SHOULD CARE

For some, Dela Sierra says, caregiving is "a very sad life. They are unlucky. But we are always praying for them that they should have, sooner or later, a nice life."

Tita Honrado

CAREGIVING, OFF STAGE

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Honrado came to Canada back in 1998 by way of Italy, where she was living with her two sons. She arrived on a Thursday, rested on Friday, visited a caregiver agency on Saturday, and was working by Monday. The 56-year-old is now a Canadian citizen.

CAREGIVING, ON STAGE

"They got it right," says Honrado of a scene where a mother greets her two children after years spent apart. "For my daughter-in-law [Kay Evangelista] it was exactly like that. They were small kids, and they travelled alone."

WHY SHE THINKS YOU SHOULD CARE

Immigration officers, in particular, "need to have more compassion toward the caregivers."

Kay Evangelista

CAREGIVING, OFF STAGE

Honrado's daughter in-law, 33, came to Canada in 2003 to become a caregiver - but wasn't able to bring her children for nearly five years. Her third child was born here.

CAREGIVING, ON STAGE

"Everything is true," Evangelista says of the play. What really hit her: "The two boys, always calling home," she said, referring to the sons of one character phoning their mother, who works in Canada, "because I've got two boys."

WHY SHE THINKS YOU SHOULD CARE

"[Canadians]should respect us. It's not an easy job. You need to tell everybody, we left behind our families."

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About the Author
Banking Reporter

James Bradshaw is banking reporter for the Report on Business. He covered media from 2014 to 2016, and higher education from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a cultural reporter for Globe Arts, and has written for both the Toronto section and the editorial page. More

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