In the Filipino setting, family isn't limited to just the next of kins. We have extended family, almost-relatives, and of course, our trusted helpers and nannies. Yes, many of us consider our kids' nannies part of the family, so this holiday season, we should put in as much thought to what we're going to give them as we would any other gift. The generosity and kindness we extend to them is a way of showing our appreciation for their service and "malasakit', and everything else they've done for us and our kids.
We asked parents what presents they have given their helpers, either material or a sweet gesture, to make them feel they are part of the family, and here's what they shared:
A homecoming “Our yaya’s first ever grandchild was born just last August in her hometown in Bacolod. We wanted her to be able to spend Christmas vacation with both her daughter and granddaughter, so we shouldered the cost of her transportation going to Bacolod.” -- Joanna Mendoza, editor; mom to Paolo, 5, and Milo, 2
“If you can’t allow your helper to spend Christmas in her hometown, set up a Facetime, Skype, or any online video chat session—or even an uninterrupted free phone call—between her and her family. A long and meaningful conversation with her loved ones can help make her Christmas really happy.” -- Kimberley Cowper, web designer
“We make sure to include our house helpers and even my tito and tita’s helpers in our Christmas list, so that they can also receive gifts. We also prepare fun games and a raffle for them.” -- Maria Gabriella Umali, publishing assistant
“I give our helper a hygiene pack (with shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc.) every other month. During the holidays, I throw in a few pampering products such as a body scrub or a moisturizer.” -- Jing Ruben, quality assurance technologist; mom to Amber, 2, and Kalel, 8 months
“My first-anniversary gift for our yaya is a PNB Healthy Ka Pinoy Health Emergency Card. This gift will not only show Yaya that I care about her and value her services; it’ll also be a great help to both of us if and when she needs medical assistance.” -- Christine Ongteco–Sandejas, deputy group magazine publisher; mom of two
Heartfelt gifts “Whenever I can and especially when our nanny’s siblings are in town, I invite them over and we throw a Christmas party just for them. We also try to do something different with them every year, such as a trip to Star City or Enchanted Kingdom. Last year, because our yaya’s kids lived with us, she opted to take them to visit their home in Bulacan.” -- Kaye Sy-Catral, marketing manager; mom of two
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“When I have extra funds, I give my helpers a shopping allowance for the holidays aside from their 13th month pay. If I don’t have cash, we all go to a surplus shop or the department store at the mall, and I use a debit card to pay for their purchases— within budget, of course. I know they earn just enough for the barest necessities and almost never get to buy some ‘luxury goods’ for themselves, such as a new top or lipstick.” -- Sue Espiritu, account executive; mom of two
“I bring my helper along to our annual Christmas family reunion, and she’s allowed to join the games and raffle as part of our family—not as another pair of hands in the kitchen.” -- Lisa Rey, mom of two
"Every year, we decorate our Christmas tree with tiny framed photo ornaments of our nearest and dearest. One way we make our long-time helpers feel like they are a part of our family is by also including their photos in our ‘family’ tree.” --Mia Cruz, stay-at-home; mom of three
“I always give my yaya, who has been with me since I was born, something every Christmas. The first gift I gave her when I started working was a cell phone with a radio so she could listen to her favorite radio program. Last year, I took her to a bazaar and asked her to pick her gift. The clothes she chose were not expensive, but her reaction and happiness were priceless. For me, it doesn’t matter how much the gift costs as long as it’s from the heart and you give it with sincerity.” —Mei-Lin Lozada, junior web writer
Added benefits “This year, we intend to give our yaya a Noche Buena package and provide her with additional benefits, such as a health card.” -- Rene Borromeo, environmental consultant; dad to Raja, 1
“Upon my yaya’s suggestion, we used her Christmas bonus to buy two piglets that her family could care for back in her hometown and eventually sell for additional income. As an added bonus, I threw in a few of packs of vitamins for the pigs, too.” -- Olivia Gomez, graphic artist; mom to Louie, 2
“Our helper has been with us for 17 years now, and every Christmas, we invite her to be part of our Noche Buena feast. Last Christmas, I got her a digital wristwatch. This year, I plan to take her to the dentist so she can get her teeth checked.” -- Lovprit Rai, human resource officer
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“We offer our helpers college scholarships sponsored by the family, for as long as they stay with us.” -- Anna Marie M. Salas, junior account manager
“I treat our helpers and yayas to dinner and an MMFF (Metro Manila Film Festival) movie, plus popcorn and drinks, every year.” -- Nell Roquez, creative director; dad of three
How do you make your helpers feel this love this season? Share with us in the comment below!
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Smart Parenting magazine. Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.