CHICAGO (jGLi) – The British Royal Wedding of Prince Williams to Kate Middleton may be an odd curiosity to the world community outside the British Commonwealth of Nations but it carries a powerful message for overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s).
Since it is not a state event, the wedding of the century may not include the most powerful man in the world in President Barack Obama and other world leaders among the guest list, yet to be invited to such an exclusive event is like winning a lottery.
This is perhaps the million-dollar feeling of Araceli “Miss Lillie” Piccio, who is probably the only Filipino to make the Royal guest list when Prince Williams exchanges “I’do’s” with Kate Middleton on Friday, April 29, at theWestminsterAbbeyin London, England.
The invitation extended to Ms. Piccio was a testament that Prince Williams, the second in line to the British throne, was not a politician, but a promise keeper.
According to news accounts few weeks ago, when Prince Williams was 16 years old (which is about 1998), he made a vow to Ms. Piccio, who was nanny to Princes Williams and his brother Harry, that, “when I get married, I will take you back.”
When Prince Williams made that promise 12 years ago and kept it, it spoke volumes of his honesty and sincerity after Ms. Piccio, a nurse from Bacolod City in the Philippines, received her invitation “plus one” to the Royal Wedding.
It is hard to parse what the British future king meant with, “I will take you back,” when he told Ms. Piccio about it. But if he meant, he would invite her to his wedding, then he already kept the end of the bargain.
But if Prince Williams meant to have Ms. Piccio as a nanny again to his future children, it would certainly be reaffirmation that a Filipino nurse is a dependable and trustworthy professional.
PRINCES DIANA CALLS HER “MISS LILLIE”
Ms. Piccio recalled that when Princess Diana, who called her “Miss Lillie,” was still alive, the Princess would ask her to wake her up in the morning. She left the Royalty household a few years after Princess Diana died.
The ability of Ms. Piccio to earn the respect and trust of Prince Williams should send a message to the world that Filipino nurses and other overseas professionals are deserving of respect and trust by their employers anywhere in the world.
Unfortunately, some Filipino caregivers, like Ms. Piccio, do not get the same respect in some countries, like Canada, one of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Recently, when 26 Filipino caregivers became victims of human trafficking, they hardly got moral support from Canada’s provincial government of Quebec.
At a press conference last March in Montreal, Quebec, the Filipino caregivers complained that as their human rights are being violated by theirrecruiters, “many public agencies continue to turn a blind eye” to their plight year after year.
They claimed that these public agencies failed to “effectively protect more than 40 women who came to Montreal through contractual arrangements.” These women were subjected to abusive treatments in employment and housing, including legal actions filed against them before the Rental Board on the basis of questionable leasing clauses.
They worked unpaid and had endured substandard living conditions that included sleeping on the floor, overcrowding and unsanitary conditions.
“WE ARE THE FACE OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING”
“If you want to see what modern slavery and exploitation of women is all about, just look at us,” said Sylvia, a Filipina who was among the original 26 who filed the civil rights complaint after much hesitation. “We are the face of human trafficking in Canada and we must break the silence.”
There are about 700 caregivers, mostly from the Philippines, who come to Quebec each year. Mr. Fo Niemi, executive director of theCenter for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR),a human rights group in Quebec, has teamed up withPinay(nickname for a Filipino woman), a caregivers’ group also in Quebec, in calling for a series of government actions to end the economic exploitation and violations of Filipina caregivers’ civil rights.
According to Pinay President Evelyn Calugay, “This case will test (Quebec Prime Minister John James “Jean”) Charest’s commitment to civil rights and fair opportunities for one of the most vulnerable groups of women in Quebec, the Filipina Live-in Caregivers (LIC’s). It is about having laws that are not enforced and recourses that don't work, or worse, recourses that are supposed to protect these women but that actually perpetuate the violations of their civil rights.”
ASKED TO PROSECUTE HUMAN TRAFFICKING
They also asked to investigate and prosecute the case as one of human trafficking. They want more effective protection and enforcement of LIC’s' civil rights by the Quebec human rights commission, which may require a special investigation team that possesses the necessary competencies and sensitivity to rapidly investigate such cases; a systemic investigation by the human rights commission of the Rental Board's handling of all cases involving LIC’s; reforms to the Quebec Government's policy and measures involving LIC’s; and pushing Ottawa (capital of Canada) to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers.
The Philippine government is also being urged to do its share in providing legal assistance and French interpreters for victims of human rights. These OFW's are supporting the stand ofSan Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito for President Noynoy Aquino to restore legal aid fund to OFW’s this year from 30 million pesos (US$714K) to 100 million pesos(US$2.3-M) so OFW’s can scrape by when they face criminal charges before their host countries. (email@example.com)
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