By Philippine News Agency
For 65 years, “Nanay Fedelina” lived the life of a modern-day slave in the United States. This year, at 81, she begins life as a free woman.
Nanay Fedelina worked as a nanny for a Filipino-American family who brought her to the US when she was 16.
In a June 2019 interview with ABS-CBN’s Balitang America, Nanay Fedelina narrated her ordeal with the family she served for four generations.
“Nag-alaga ko ng nanay niya, nag-alaga ako ng anak niya, tapos nanay naman niya, apat na apo ang inalagaan ko. Lahat ‘yun ginawa ko ako lang mag-isa — nagluluto, naglilinis, namamalantsa, namamalengke — ako lahat, kayang-kaya ko, hinahatid-sinusundo, dinadalhan ng pagkain sa eskuwela (I took care of the matriarch, I took care of the children, and then the mom, I watched over four grandchildren. I did everything alone– from cooking, cleaning, ironing clothes– I did those things alone),” Nanay Fedelina shared.
“Ang hinihigaan ko ang lamig, ang dumi-dumi, butas-butas pa ‘yong blanket ko, salbahe silang mag-ina (I slept on the cold floor with my tattered blanket. The mother and child were cruel),” she added.
“Ngayon, maligaya na ako at malaya. Hindi na ako nakakulong, hindi na ako inaapi ng mga tao (Now, I am happy and free. I am no longer locked up, no longer abused by people).”
In a recent Philippine Independence Day reception in Los Angeles she attended, Nanay Fedelina was hailed as “a symbol of courage and freedom, the very essence of the annual celebration of Philippine Independence.”
In 2018, the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), through the help of US law enforcement, rescued Nanay Fedelina and helped her pursue a case against her employer in court which she won.
“Today, with the help of PWC, the Consulate General, and many other generous hearts in Los Angeles, Nanay Fedelina is ready to begin a new life at 81,” the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles said.
Nanay Fedelina wants to go home to Tacloban City and find her family. Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez hopes to help her with her dream.
At present, Nanay Fedelina is staying at a Filipino-American retirement home for free.
“We are working on getting her T-Visa (trafficking victim visa) which will allow her to stay in the US indefinitely. As soon as she gets her visa, I promised to fulfill her wish to get a tour of Malacañang and maybe a chance to see the President,” Romualdez told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Wednesday.
When the Philippine ambassador met with Nanay Fedelina last September 15, Romualdez reiterated the Philippine government’s commitment to uphold the welfare and protect the rights of overseas Filipinos at all times.
“The President instructed us to prioritize overseas Filipinos. We must do our best to safeguard their welfare,” he said.
Nanay Fedelina came from a generation when slave-like employment practices or highly unregulated domestic employment were still commonplace in the Philippines.
The meeting between Romualdez and Nanay Fedelina was facilitated by PWC as part of the joint advocacy of the Consulate General and PWC to tell her story in the hope that no more Filipino would fall victim to modern-day slavery.