Manila Launches New Program to Train ‘Supermaids’

Julie Javellana-Santos, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Fri, 2006-08-04 03:00

MANILA, 4 August 2006 — Looking for a maid who can not only cook and clean but save your kid from a fire? It’s not Superman, but it’s a “supermaid,” according to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who yesterday announced a new training program for Filipino domestic helpers.

“We will be sending ‘supermaids,’” Arroyo said of a new training program during a round-table discussion on efforts to evacuate 30,000 Filipinos in Lebanon, most of them maids, and help them find new jobs.

Augusto Syjuco, head of the government’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), said the “supermaids” program includes instruction in first aid, evacuations from high-rises in case of a fire and other skills to help maids get higher pay.

Syjuco said TESDA is currently working on the program, which will include training in first aid and CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) and even how to escape from high-rise buildings in case of emergencies.

“They are not just maids. They are really very well trained now,” he said. “If there is someone injured among the family they work for ... how to get out of a fire in a high-rise building, all these are part of our upgrading program.”

Arroyo agreed. “They should (be able to) find jobs with families who will offer them high salaries,” she said.

About 10 percent of 86 million Filipinos work abroad, sending home at least $10 billion each year.

Test Case

For a start, the program will recruit those repatriated from Lebanon as a test case.

“We will upgrade their capabilities. They will become upgraded DH (domestic helpers) with a higher price,” Syjuco said.

Arroyo said she wants the enforcement of “selective deployment” in such countries as Lebanon because “it’s not worth the risk.”

Good employers and conditions of work, she said, must be considered before maids are deployed.

She noted that a majority of the 30,000 Filipinos working in Lebanon are domestic helpers, unlike the nearly 1 million Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia who are supposedly “almost all highly skilled.”

Arroyo said that upgrading the skills of domestic helpers may convince the governments of countries where they work to give a premium to Filipino maids.


Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has designed a special reintegration program for OFWs forced to leave their jobs when they fled the fighting in Lebanon.

Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo Brion said the assistance will primarily comprise of coupons that will entitle these returning heroes to participate in training for work scholarship projects (TWSP) dubbed “Balik-Buhay, Bagong Pag-Asa for OFWs.”

Brion said the TWSP under the auspices of TESDA, which initially distributed 134 coupons to repatriates who arrived in Manila last weekend. More are being awarded to those returning.

The vouchers or scholarship certificates will be used for livelihood skills training and retooling for entrepreneurship and enterprise development activities of OFWs, Brion said, adding that the other returnees have been profiled to determine the kind of assistance they wanted under the reintegration program.

The scholarship certificate valued at P5,000can be used by a returning OFW or one of his or her dependent as full or partial tuition fee for any skills training course that also covers entrepreneurship development modules being offered by technology institutions under the supervision of TESDA.

Brion said that the courses have been designed to help the OFWs start a livelihood undertaking. The courses include processed food and beverage, garments, health and services, restaurant operations, agri-fishery like slaughtering operations, welding, driving, automotive, masonry, plumbing, and building wiring installation.

Also, he said that loans will be made available by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to the OFWs wanting to set up livelihood projects, from P50,000 (without collateral) to P200, 000 (with collateral). The DOLE regional offices will train them on business planning, Brion said.

He reminded the returnees to accomplish the forms given by OWWA to ensure that they will be assisted depending on their needs.

Other assistance being made available to the returnees also include employment facilitation services.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will facilitate overseas work for displaced OFWs, while the Bureau of Local Employment, DOLE regional offices, and Public Employment Service Offices will be facilitating local jobs.

The other assistance being extended to the returnees also include the provision of temporary shelter, counseling, medical services, and transportation from Manila to their respective provinces. (With a report from AP)

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