Oversease Filipino Workers (OFW) are modern-day heroes. You leave your country to secure your family's future to go to a job that requires you to...take care of another family. Everyday, our OFWs show the meaning of empathy, generosity and compassion; in fact, they exemplify the way Filipinos love, treating their alagas as their own. There are so many of them, but here are a few famous personalities who have spoken highly about their Filipina nannies and the impact they have made in their family's lives.
1. Joseph Schooling
Singapore got its first ever gold medal at the Rio Olympics, courtesy of 21-year-old Joseph Schooling. Joseph won the gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly swim, beating American Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps. Aside from his family's support, he thanked his Filipino nanny, Yolanda "Auntie Yolly" Pascual who has been with his family for 19 years. "Auntie Yolly is like a second mom to me. As a kid, she’s always the easiest to handle. She’s the one who always takes care of me at home. She cooks for me and made me do my homework. Small things like that really go a long way. She supports me unconditionally. She’s passionate about what I do. I think I couldn’t have a better mom or second mom or nanny by my side to help me through all these,” he says in a video for a telecommunications company released last year. In an interview with Straits Times, Aunt Yolly said, "I've always believed in him. I was watching and shouting for him. I cannot express how happy I am... I was jumping and crying after he won."
2. Anthony Bourdain World-renowned chef, bestselling author and multiple Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain revealed in an essay he wrote for CNN Philippines that his kids' Nanny Vangie has played an important part in his kid's life from the beginning. "My daughter is no stranger to sisig and sinigang and adobo and holds me in disregard for being unable to procure her the delicious Filipino pastries and breads she finds at her other family's home. She knows a few phrases in Tagalog and looks at me pityingly when I don't know what she's talking about," he wrote. Anthony's family came to know Nanny Vangie's family as well. He tackled the plight of overseas Filipino workers--attending to other people's children while their away from their own--in his travel and food show No Reservations.
3. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Even before he took the job of prime minister, Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie, had hired two Filipina nannies to help care for their three kids Xavier, 9, Ella-Grace, 7, and Hadrien, 2. Hiring Marian Pueyo and Marilou Nemiada Trayvilla (although the latter is no longer employed by the family as of July first, but both are Canadian citizens) under the government’s payroll raised a few eyebrows, but the Trudeau family defended their decision. "Given the nature of the prime minister’s responsibilities and his young family, the Trudeaus employ two household employees who, in addition to performing other duties around the house, act as secondary caregivers to the three children," says spokesperson Kate Purchase told the Candian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
4. Marion Cotillard French Oscar-winner actress Marion Cotillard speaks fondly of her Filipina helper, Elma, when she visited the country in February last year to push for a global action against climate change. "She takes care of us and is part of the family,” said Marion, who lit up when Elma's name was mentioned. "I don't know why I get emotional (talking about her)." Marion said that Elma, who has been with Marion for two years, always talked about the Philippines. "The trip to the Philippines is special because of her." (inquirer.net)
5. Anthony Chen
Singaporean filmmaker Anthony Chen's first full-length film and an entry to the Cannes Film Festival, Ilo Ilo, was about his Filipina nanny, Teresita "Auntie Terry" Sajonia from Iloilo. It took Anthony three years to finish it, requiring him to dig deep into his past to recall his experiences. "Auntie Terry formed a big part of my growing up years. She was with us for eight years. I thought there was a film in there. I wanted to explore it," he told Jansen Musico of The Philippine Star. "Auntie Terry was nice to us. She took care of us, but she punished us as well, like a real mother. She caned us before, when we bullied our youngest brother or when we fought," he quipped. Anthony added that Auntie Terry loved music and cooks very well. He said she bought him and his brothers toys for Christmas even if she "wasn't paid much."
6. Robin Williams married his first kid's nanny Marsha Garces Award-winning American actor Robin Williams was married to Filipina-Finnish American Marsha Garces, who was the nanny of his first child Zachary. The couple had two kids together, Zelda and Cody. Together, Robin and Marsha formed Wolf Productions, which produced Mrs. Doubtfire and Patch Adams, to name a few. In an interview with Ruben V. Nepales of Inquirer.net, Robin described Marsha, "She’s Finnipino. You get lechon with white fish." Robin has said that their two kids (now grown-ups) kept in touch with their Filipino family, especially their grandfather and Marsha's dad, Leon Pantaleon Garces from Bohol. In 2008, Marsha filed for divorce from Robin after being married for nearly 20 years. Robin passed away in 2014.
7. Prince William Araceli "Lilly" Piccio was the only Filipno invited to the royal wedding of Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton. Lilly was a nurse from Bacolod before getting hired as part of the royal household staff by the late Princess Diana where part of her duties included taking care of the young Prince William and Prince Harry. She told Pep.ph that she was personally introduced by her former ward to his wife after the wedding ceremony. Lilly recalled that when the newlywed prince saw Lilly, he hugged her and said, "You know, I’m glad that you are here," and went on to introduce her to Kate. "This is Lilly, and she looked after my mommy." Lilly said, "Akala ko nakalimutan na niya ako. But he still remembers me. Sa tagal-tagal ko na, na nawala ako sa kanila, kilala pa rin pala nila ako sa kanilang buhay."