Los Angeles — In a moving encounter with “Nanay Fedelina,” a Filipina who was kept in slave-like conditions and recently won her case against her former abusers, Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez reiterated the Philippine Government’s commitment to uphold the welfare and protect the rights of Overseas Filipinos at all times at the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles Conference Room on September 15, 2019.
“The President instructed us (government officials abroad) to prioritize Overseas Filipinos. We must do our best to safeguard their welfare,” Ambassador Romualdez said.
“Nanay Fedelina” was a nanny who was brought to the United States by the Filipino-American family she was serving when she was just 16 years old. She spent 65 years in servitude that could only be described as a case of modern-day slavery.
In 2018, the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), through the help of U.S. law enforcement, rescued her and helped pursue and win her case in court. 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.
“I want to go home to Tacloban and find my family,” she said. The Ambassador hopes to help her with her dream.
“Nanay Fedelina” came from a generation when slave-like employment practices or highly unregulated domestic employment were still commonplace in the Philippines. She also seems to be one of the few to survive this and gain freedom. Although transnational slavery has long been abolished, its modern-day incarnations still exist in the form of human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, unpaid salaries, and many others.
The meeting between Ambassador Romualdez and “Nanay Fedelina” was facilitated by PWC. It was part of the joint advocacy of the Consulate General and PWC to tell her story in the hopes that no more Filipino would fall victim to modern-day slavery.