Most of them spend 6 days of the week working hard – keeping house for others. You would think they’d choose to spend their one day off resting.
Not this group.
The 35 strong Filipino Community, made up mostly of domestic workers, is full of zest. Founded in 1984, by Sister Georgina Liwanag, a Filipina nun, of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the group continues to live her legacy.
The aim of the group is to reach out to help the migrants as well as the locals regardless of race or religion. With only a handful of members in the beginning, the group grew as word spread among the Filipino community. Following Sr Liwanag’s return to the Philippines in 1984, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) managed the group with Brother Colin Wee and Fathers Erbin Fernandez and Aloysius Ong as spiritual Directors. Today, the group is independent and has Fr Damien de Wind as its Spiritual Director.
The Filipino community meets every Sunday at Emmaus House. Members also sing with the St Anne’s Choir at the 7.15 mass every week. Once a month they hold a Bible study sharing session in church.
Undaunted by their long work week, they spend many Sundays jointly serving with the SSVP, making home visits to the aged, and the physically and mentally challenged.
In 2002, the community started a Skills Development Programme for all migrant workers regardless of race or religion. The aim was to equip them with skills, giving them an edge in employment prospects on returning home. It started humbly, with three courses offered to 10 people.
Today the group runs courses in Basic Guitar, Basic Computer, Nursing Aid, Hair and Beauty, Dressmaking, Foot Reflexology and Body Massage to about 35 members. It has also recently collaborated with the Canteen Ministry to run the church canteen once every three months.
Rhodora Panes, a domestic worker drawn by the sense of belonging she felt at the parish, became a member in 2013. Now the group’s coordinator, she says, “ Many like me feel that they are spending their days off in a meaningful way.”