Thursday, March 23, 2006

“Ay, ay, ay, Inday” by TM Sheila dela Cruz

Last night, for my speech #6 which is on "Vocal Variety", I delivered the following speech. 6 down, 4 more to go! :)

“Ay, ay, ay, Inday”

How many of you here have household help? Yes, mere mortals such as ourselves, but who we depend on to take care of our children, keep house for us, do the laundry, etc… basically, manage our home!

Growing up, my family wasn’t rich, but I hardly remember a time when we didn’t have any household help since both my parents worked full-time. Here in the Philippines, you don’t have to be rich to have a maid, even two!

So after countless years of having maids, and swapping stories with friends, I’ve actually collected so many stories about MAIDS, or the “Indays” in our lives... Come to think of it, I think an appropriate subtitle for this piece would be, “The Clue-less, the help-less and the dumb and the witless”.

The Clue-less… Maybe because their unschooled or simply were not properly trained, these maids made these mistakes. Please allow me to speak in Filipino in some instances so that you’ll better appreciate the impact of the message.

Incident #1 involves Ben and their maid…
B: Inday, paki-kuha mo nga sa ref yung ponkan
I: Opo, koya… Koya, wala pong ponkan sa rep…
B: Andun sa loob ng ref. sa may crisper…
I: Okay… (later) koya, wala po talagang ponkan sa rep…
B: Andun sabi sa ref, hanapin mo!
After the third failed attempt to locate it, Inday comes back and asks, "Koya, ano po ba ang ponkan?"

Ay, ay, ay, Inday…

Incident #2…
An American calls looking for my friend Ben.
A: Hello. I’d like to speak to Ben please
I: Wala po sha dito
A: I’m sorry, I’m afraid I can’t understand you. Can you please speak in English?
I: Helloh po, Sowri poh, wahlah poh shyah dhitoh (mimicking the American ‘twang’)

The second, the Help-less. These are the maids who would not just budge! They are not what you would call household help, since they’re hardly any help at all! They would be better off to be called as “utusan” or people who would only move when given orders! They don’t have any initiative. Take for instance, this maid we had before. While the family just finished eating dinner, there are other chores to be done around the house.. Inday is happily lounging on the sofa, with her feet on top of the coffee table, watching tv, and smoking! This prompted my younger brother to sarcastically ask, “Inday, gusto mo ng juice? Ipagtimpla kita!” (Inday, would you like some juice? I’ll make some for you!)

The dumb and the wit-less. This may seem pretty harsh, but listen to these stories, and decide for yourself.
Incident #1
After orienting our new maid on the use of the gas oven, washing machine, etc. I’m sitting quietly at home when I smell the distinct odor of gas. I go to the kitchen, and yes, as I assumed, the gas valve for one of the burners was on, but no flame. So I immediately turn it off, open all the windows, etc. And then I talk to Inday.
M: Inday, bakit iniwan mong bukas ang stove? Di ba sinabi ko naman sayo i-off mo yan?!
I: Ate, in-off ko naman po ah…
M: Wag ka nang mag-rason, kitang-kita kong naka-on yan kanina noh!
I: Ate, in-off ko talaga. Hinipan ko pa nga yung apoy eh!

Ay, ay, ay, Inday!!! GRRRRR…

Incident #2
My boss and his wife come home one Sunday from the wet market. They bring home a live chicken, and they ask their new maid, Inday, to “dress” the chicken, meaning pluck out all its feathers, clean it, then put it inside the ref. Hours later, upon opening the ref, there inside is the poor chicken, feathers all gone, but clucking and shaking. Yes, the POOR chicken was still alive, when Inday brutally plucked out its feathers one by one… I can imagine the chicken, thinking to itself, “Kill me now! Why are you torturing me?!”

Tsk, tsk, tsk… ay, ay, ay, Inday…

From these stories, it’s easy to easy how our instructions can be misinterpreted. Or really how narrow their thinking and understanding can sometimes be. So one thing to remember when dealing with our maids, is that we have to be VERY patient. As my dad always reminds me, our household help are unschooled, and thus, you have to know how to talk to them and deal with them at their level. If they were schooled, do you think they’d agree to be maids/yayas in the first place? No! Of course not! So knowing that they have “limitations” it’s up to us to relate to them at their level and make sure that we are understood.

Hay! With my kids’ new yaya, who has been with us all of 7 months and counting, she has had lapses as well. But these are things I can easily overlook especially since I see how attentive she is to my kids. Hopefully, I have finally found “the ONE” and that this ends my collecting stories on the “chronicles of….” Or the “adventures and misadventures of Inday”…

Good evening.

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