When Loretta left the Philippines in the 1980s, she didn’t have any training in cooking or housekeeping. What she did have was an eight-year-old son she had to feed back in Quezon City.
Loretta got pregnant when she was 17 and soon thereafter her boyfriend disappeared. Left with no other choice, the single mother – a title she carried in her hometown for eight years like a scarlet letter – turned her child over to his grandmother and headed to Hong Kong in 1983.
|Chinese live-in maids with their signature cues
In the past 30 years, she has served twelve local Chinese families across the city. The Chans, the Wongs and the Leungs – Loretta has seen it all. For a quarter of a century, she cleaned their apartments, ate in their kitchen and listened to the radio by herself in the maid’s quarter. Most of her employers treated her well enough, though none of them ever considered her one of their own. Not once have they invited her to eat with them, watch television with them, or simply have a chat with them. Loretta has heard that back in the day those Chinese maids with their braided queues – "amah" (媽姐) as they were called – often became their employers’ best friends and confidants. When it comes to Filipinas, however...
Read the rest of this essay in No City for Slow Men, available at major bookstores in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.
|No City for Slow Men