Louis Marièn

Trapped In Belgium

By Louis Marièn

Father Apolo de Guzman of the Diocese of Cabanatuan, chaplain to the Filipinos in the Archdiocese of Mechlin-Brussels, Belgium, sent this article. He is the brother of Father Efren de Guzman SVD and Sister Emma de Guzman ICM, both frequent contributors to Misyon.

She’s reduced to tears. She hasn’t seen her children for three years. Carina is a Filipino who worked as a housekeeper for the ambassador of an Asian country who locked her up in his house like a slave for six months. Washing, cleaning, cooking, ironing, from six in the morning to eleven at night. She was paid only €200 (a euro is worth about P70) per month while others were receiving around €500.

‘There are 5,000 Filipino migrant workers in Brussels. Seventy percent of them are women. And mistreatment is routine,’ says Father Apolo de Guzman, chaplain of the Filipino community. ‘The women in particular, and they are the majority, are sometimes the victims of exploitation. It’s not difficult for an employer to keep someone under their thumb. He can take away their identity card and work permit, and detain them. Housemaids have no way out. If they run away without papers, then they are here illegally.’