Baguio City – The kasambahay or our katulong sa bahay, whether we like it or not, is a very important person (VIP) in any family. This is due to her critical and indispensable role in promoting the welfare of any family for that matter. Let us face it, how could we be at peace with ourselves, leaving our homes and children every day because we have to attend to our business, our work, and other responsibilities outside without our kasambahay taking charge of everything?

 It is for this reason that Republic Act 10361 or the Kasambahay Law, has provided one day every year as “Araw ng Kasambahay.” In our case, the Department of Labor and Employment and other agencies like the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Social Security System, PagIbig, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, PhilHealth, and the local government of Baguio have scheduled today, Feb. 17 as a special day for our kasambahay as a tribute to them at the City Hall multipurpose hall, starting 8:30 a.m. They and their employers and other interested parties were invited to attend this one-day full of fun and meaningful activities all for the honor and recognition of our kasambahay.

If we really recognize their importance, what could be the best gift we can provide our kasambahay? If you ask them, their answer is always higher pay and more benefits. This is the reason why the most important activity during this whole day affair is a wage consultation sponsored by the Regional Tripartite and Wages Productivity Board with the sole objective of finding out if increasing their minimum wage rates again is possible and appropriate based on the requirements of RA 10361 and RA 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Law.

Initial discussions with DOLE-Cordillera Director Exequiel Guzman, who is also the chairperson of RTWPB, seemed to point out for the need to increase the minimum wage rates of our kasambahay.

He said it had been almost two years when the last wage order for kasambahay through Wage Order CAR-DW-02 was issued providing for a rate of P3,000 per month in cities and first class municipalities; and P2,500 per month in all other municipalities. With the ever increasing cost of living, which has also a direct effect to the kasambahay, it may be appropriate to raise their wage rates this time.

Guzman added that with the presence of kasambahays and their employers during this occasion, they shall be asked about their opinions and reasons on increasing the minimum wage rates of kasambahay.

If ever the salaries of our kasambahays shall be raised, this shall be the best gift given to them, according to Guzman.

We usually hear or read bad news about them being abused, not paid properly, overworked, or inhumanly treated, whether here or abroad. For a change, let us look and talk about them on the positive side. There are also news reports about fortunate domestic workers who enjoy so much care and love from their employers. We hear about some who are treated so well and being considered as family members of their employers, eating the same kind of food, enjoying comfortable living quarters, and practically everything is provided to them for free. Some children of these domestic workers even go to school with expenses shouldered by their kindhearted employers. Not only that, they are even being paid good salaries comparable to wages of workers in the commercial business. Indeed, inspiring news about domestic workers also abound.

A case in point is a Cordilleran who was hired to work abroad to take care of an old and sickly employer. When her employer died after some years, she got the surprise of her life when a good part of her employer’s wealth was bequeathed to her in gratitude for her patience and dedicated services to him when he was still alive. The last I heard was that this fortunate domestic worker is now living a comfortable life with her family in La Trinidad, Benguet where she buit a mansion she now calls her own and is now engaged in a thriving business.

END/ Ogie Aquillo