A common sight around here is to see Filipina maids with their Caucasian charges To my eyes it always looks odd, I am not yet used to it.
Servants are really cheap here. You can get a live-in maid for around $200 per month. The politically correct term is ‘helper.’ For that, someone will come and live in a 2m x 1m concrete room out the back with no air-conditioning or fan, and do all the cooking, cleaning and child-minding for you.
The place is alive during the day with gardeners, cleaners, maids, pool-boys, even dog-walkers. I don’t have a photo of that yet, but to see a little Filipina woman walking a Rhodesian ridgeback or an Alsatian or some clearly western-style family pet also takes some adjustment.
It’s against my principles to pay someone beans to do all the menial work while I lie on the couch with my laptop. I don’t mind doing a bit of skivvying. But then I don’t have young children, and I don’t have to go out to work.
The proponents of having servants would argue that by not employing these people, I am denying them a livelihood, denying them the opportunity to lift themselves and their families out of the kampong, and cursing them all to everlasting poverty. I guess that also is true. Some of them speak good English and even have degrees, but there just aren’t enough jobs in the Philippines. It’s not always about education, it’s about jobs.
In Africa I refused to have cleaners and things because I didn’t want to be a colonialist. They laughed at me for this attitude, but it seemed to me that one always wound up arguing about the quality of the work or the amount of the pay or something, as soon as one entered into a boss-subordinate relationship with people who might otherwise be your friends.
The rich appear to be completely idle and bored. It’s not a racial divide exactly, it’s a pleutocracy. Rich Asians, rich Indians, rich Whites. Poor Asians from the Phillipines, China and Mongolia, Poor Indians.
The only conclusion I can draw from the above pictures is that the workers appear to be a bloody sight happier. People derive quite a lot of benefit out of working away at something. I guess I would say that it is idleness that is wrong. The old saying, “From those to whom much is given, much is expected,” has a lot to recommend it. It must be terrible to realise that you are rich and useless. Then I guess that you would start complaining about your servants to bolster your own self-image…