The Domestic Worker Empowerment Project is a powerhouse team of University academic staff, students, volunteers, and domestic workers themselves, dedicated to uplifting the lives of domestic workers in Hong Kong.

President and Founder

Michael M. Manio, MD, MHPEd, PhD

By the numbers, Michael Manio, fondly called in DWEP as Doc Mike, has 15 years experience in scientific research, 10 years of academic teaching experience, and 5 years as a Resident Development Officer at the Residential Colleges of The University of Hong Kong. He holds the following academic degrees: BS Biology (awarded as Outstanding Student in Leadership), Master in Health Professions Education (Cum Laude), and Doctor of Medicine from the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, as well as academic units towards a PhD in Biochemistry (as Presidential Scholar at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital College of Medicine). After receiving a scholarship at HKU, he transferred to The University of Hong Kong's Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine where he finished his PhD in Vascular Pharmacology. 

In the academic world, he was appointed as Assistant Professor in 2008 at Holy Angel University, Angeles City, Philippines. In the scientific world, he co-authored some papers, published in reputable journals, and presented his research works in countries such as the United States, China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. A testament to his achievements, he was conferred the prestigious Young Investigator/Scientist Award in 2012 at the 16th Annual Scientific Meeting Institute of Cardiovascular Science & Medicine. As a PhD student, he won the Outstanding Poster Presentation award in 2011 at the 16th Research Postgraduate Symposium at the University of Hong Kong.

Passionate about sharing his wisdom through writing, he became a Medical Writer for a famous magazine in the Philippines – Star Studio Magazine – Hong Kong Edition, having a monthly Health Column that tackles different pathologic diseases affecting the human body. As a public health journalist, he serves as a public health enthusiast through his column that reaches up to 50,000 readership.

His career and network continuously expands not only in Hong Kong, China and the Philippines but also around the world as he manages the Alumni Network of the University of Hong Kong with almost 2000 Overseas Students every semester. He created a platform for the International Alumni, to which he serves as adviser, enabling connections within that group. Moreover, he serves as mentor at the University for the Leadership Development Goals at HKU Common Purpose and has been the Project Leader of the Research Millennials of Beijing and Hong Kong.

As an advocate of domestic workers empowerment, Doc Mike's brainchild, the Domestic Worker Empowerment Project (DWEP), has since 2015, uplifted the lives of many foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong through Sunday schools in Health and Wellness, Gender Equality & Law, Nature and Environmental Sustainability, and Performing Arts at the University of Hong Kong. Now with almost 6000 members and 200 students from 27 countries, the program similarly focuses on behavioral change, policymaking, strategies and interventions that promote cultural intelligence, abiding by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Because of these efforts, Doc Mike was nominated as the CNN Heroes of the Year 2017, American Chamber of Commerce “Champion of Women Advancement” 2017 and The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines 2017. He was likewise chosen as one of the Special Mention List of The Race for Diversity of The Zubin Foundation (TZF) in 2016, and was invited to be the representative of DWEP for the Good Pitch 2 at Jakarta, Indonesia.

Current Student Ambassadors

Karen Chung

The University of Hong Kong

I always believe that domestic helpers are women who are strong, capable and beautiful. They are strong because not everyone could bear the pain working far away from the family. They are capable because they own unlimited hidden talents which are to be discovered. They are beautiful simply because they are all AMAZING women. These are why, I joined DWEP, who shares exactly the same values with me.

In Fall 2015, I initiated a ballet project for domestic helpers, bringing ballet to the Victoria Park on Sundays. I did this because I knew how beautifully they could shine on stage, and they too, could be the spotlight.

Besides, I am currently a member of the Hong Kong Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), where I further women's rights advocacy in Hong Kong. In March 2017, I even had the precious opportunity to participate in the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York as a delegate for the first time of my life, voicing out for women on an international platform.

Guillaume Guinard

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Nicanor L. Guinto 

The University of Hong Kong & King's College London

Nicanor Guinto is a Joint PhD in Sociolinguistics and Discourse Analysis candidate at the School of English of the University of Hong Kong (home institution) and King's College London (partner institution). His PhD project is concerned with the way Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong use sociolinguistic resources to negotiate their position across the centre-periphery spaces of transnational labour migration. His work is inspired by, and is a tribute to, his mother who has worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong for more than 20 years.

Nic maintains and updates the DWEP website. He is an Assistant Professor (on leave) at Southern Luzon State University in the Philippines.

Jessie Yang

The University of Hong Kong


Jocelyn Padigos Aquino

Jocelyn Padigos Aquino hails from Sumabnit, Binalonan, Pangasinan in the Philippines. A high school graduate, she has been working for 30 years in Hong Kong as a Domestic Helper, the most part of which was for a French family for 22 years. Before coming to Hong Kong she worked in an export and import handicraft company as a quality controller.

For more than 30 years in Hong Kong, she believes that she enjoyed her Sundays off only when she joined the Domestic Worker Empowerment Project (DWEP) where she learned a lot of things and encountered different people. It was her dream to study and finish University education, and DWEP gives her a similar opportunity through its Sunday programs. For Jocelyn, "Education is for all, and has no age limit, as long as you are willing to learn."

She was chosen to be a part of MKICS last year after her graduation. At present, she is one the mentors for Batch 3. Jocelyn believes that even though there are lots of challenges, she can over come all of it with the help of the DWEP family. 
- - -

Delia Rosell Derder

Delia Rosell Derder has been working in Hong Kong for 12 years now. Before coming to HK, she worked as an assistant supervisor in a local drug store. She studied Physical Therapy in College, but failed to finish the program.

Delia became part of DWEP batch 2 and is now one of the mentors, guiding the Group 1 Dwep Batch3. As a DWEP mentor, she has done a lot of self assessment. She said that what she learned about herself is that she wants to commit to the organization and wishes to build her home here.

- - -

Lenin Galvez Flores

Lenin Galvez Flores is a registered Midwife from The City of Love, Iloilo, Philippines. She decided to go abroad and work as a Domestic Worker, and for her, the nature of her job is never been a hindrance for her to continue learning. She's a woman equipped with positive set of mind and possess the ability to empower others.

"My Job is the kind of Job that deserves a salute! The Family I worked with cannot function well without my help. I play an important role in the success of my employer. Because of me, she can join the Hong Kong work force, working confidently and with peace of mind knowing that someone brave and responsible enough to take her place and responsibilities at home," Lenin quips.

She joined DWEP from the very start, became vice-president internal of DWEP Batch 2 and now a Mentor of DWEP Batch 3. In DWEP, she said that she learns, while at the same time enjoys. For her, DWEP provides her not only numerous friends but also a family: a big, happy and empowered family. Lenin subscribes to the notion "In life, Don't look for the accident. Look for the substance."

- - -

Sharon Zafe Faustino

Sharon Zafe Faustino was born and raised in a tiny island called Catanduanes they dub "the Happy Island" in the Philippines. She has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration major in Marketing from Catanduanes State Colleges. Her first job was being an inventory clerk in a famous supermarket in mainland Bicol and after 3 months, a family friend asked her whether she likes to be a teacher for a non-formal education scheme now called ALS (Alternative Learning System). Being surrounded by family and friends is the thing she misses the most when she flew to Hong Kong to work. After more than 14 years working in Hong Kong, she still misses the place where she grew up very much, especially the family gatherings and festivals. To cope with homesickness she joined different organizations but gets easily bored, until one day while at the roof top of IFC mall checking her Facebook news feeds, she came across the Philippines Consulate page. Her attention was caught by the announcement on lectures of the Domestic Worker Empowerment Project. After many challenges in work and other commitments, she still enrolled in DWEP until she graduates. For her, being a mentor is not an easy task. She encounters different personalities of members which need to be bridged. "Every batch is a challenge," she says, but according to her, that's where she learns most. For Sharon, DWEP is her family in Hong Kong which guides, molds, and prepares her when she decides to go home for good.
- - -

Sue Loria

Sue Loria hails from Pampanga and permanently resides in Bacnotan, La Union in the Philippines. She has been working in Hong Kong, employed by 3 Chinese family and an American-Canadian-Filipino family with 2 beautiful and nice kids, in a span of 26 years.

She studied Computer Secretarial (leading to Computer Science) and has worked in a computer company in Manila for a few years before coming to Hong Kong.

Sue believes that being a member and mentor in the Domestic Workers Empowerment Project is a big apportunity to use her talent in computer-related work and to share her knowledge to the community. For her, DWEP has provided her another family away from home in a setting where she learns and grows.

- - -

Elpidia A. Malicsi

Elpidia Malicsi, or Elpie Leba, was born in Pambisan, Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines. With her persistence to finish her studies, she finished Secretariat and Bachelor of Secondary Education as a working student. Since a job with decent salary was difficult to find, she decided to work abroad, first in Saudi Arabia between 1993-1995, then in Hong Kong since 1995.

As a very independent and hardworking person, she made sure that her stay abroad is worthwhile by devoting her time off from work to learning different skills such as weaving, soap carving, fruit carving, bead-making, designing gowns out of recycled materials, and many more. Elpie believes that even without formal education on these crafts, it is passion that compels us to learn new skills.

Further in her quest for learning, she became part of the DWEP family where she enhanced her knowledge on health, law, etc. that, for her, contributed to her holistic development as a person. Aside from being a DWEP mentor where she presently devotes her free time productively, she is also livelihood trainor in the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), HK Foundation.
- - -

Molina Manahan

Molina Manahan, known to her friends as Aisha, is a high school graduate through acceleration exams. She hasn't attended college due to financial constraint in the family. Before deciding to go abroad, she worked as an office clerk and outlet coordinator at Sellery Philippines Enterprises. She was also a promo merchandiser for 5 years at Robinson Place Manila. She has been working in Hong Kong for 5 years now.

She learned about DWEP through her friends and decided to enroll for batch 2. For her, she was lucky to have been chosen to be part of MKICS and now as DWEP mentor for group 2 in Batch 3. Aisha believes in the saying: "When there's life, there's hope."

- - -

Gegerma Y. Montero

Gegerma Y. Montero works as Domestic Helper with a Chinese employer. She looks after 2 kids and do house chores. During one of her days off, a friend informed her to attend a symposium about Cervical Cancer, which became her first step to learning about the DWEP programs at HKU. However, she did not complete the program. When calls for DWEP's batch II came, she gave her focus and decided to let go of her other Sunday commitments. After completing the program, she was luckily she was one of the chosen few to be part of MKICS, and be one of the Mentors for batch III.

Gege holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Visayas, Cebu City, and has worked as Clerk at LGU Danao City, Computer Encoder at Sugar Mill, Inc., and Assembler at Cebu Mitsumi Inc. prior to coming to Hong Kong. She also did volunteer work as Liason Officer for the Vietnam Mountain Bike Delegation for the South East Asian Games in 2005 in Danao City, Cebu, Philippines.

- - -

Liezl Muega

Liezl Muega has been an Overseas Filipino Worker for 13 years now: 3 years in Taiwan and turning 10 here in Hong Kong. She studied AB Mass Communication at Holy Cross of Davao College and Bachelor of Science in Commerce major in Management at the University of Mindanao-Tagum College in the Philippines. However, she did not finish her studies as she decided to work abroad.

Liezl learned about DWEP from one of her friends attending classes as well. She enrolled in the DWEP Batch 2, and after that, for her, "the rest is history". At present, she is part of the MKICS and one of the mentors of DWEP Batch 3, Group 4. For Liezl, being one of the mentors is not an easy task as it involves a lot of patience, perseverance, adjustments, commitment, and understanding. She believes that DWEP molded her to become a better and mature person, which brought out the best in her. "I am grateful and thankful to be part of this program and I am glad for the opportunity to learn and grow as a person at the same time," she quips.

- - -

Wilma Sabado

Wilma Sabado has been woking in Hong Kong for 18 years now. A high school graduate coming from a poor family and a mother of one from the Philippines, she has worked with 7 different employers, most of whom are Chinese family. Prior to coming to Hong Kong, she worked as a sales staff in the Philippines. Her current employer is German-Chinese with two kids who have been nice to her and who brings her along when they travel.

Before joining DWEP, she was also part of another domestic worker community in Hong Kong which encouraged her to study in HKU through the DWEP. She signed up for Batch 2 to enhance her knowledge, and she completed the program. Then she became part of MKICS and Mentor of Batch 3. 
- - -

Analyn M. Soriano

Analyn M. Soriano is from Dasmarinas City, Cavite, Phillipines, and a BS HRM graduate from De La Salle University Dasmarinas Cavite.  She's been working in Hongkong for almost 10 years and currently employed by an Australian family in Clearwater Bay New Territories. Before coming to Hong Kong, she worked as a service crew in Greenwich Pizza Pasta Corporation and has experienced as a part time teacher. She loves Arts and Crafts, hiking, swimming, trying new things and have a passion for music and singing. She discovered DWEP from one of her friends and decided to join the program. She graduated from DWEP Batch 1 and 2.

As one of the mentors of Batch 3, Analyn aimed to share what she has learned from the previous batch. She also gained her confidence being with a big group of people who loves to learn, explore and be who they want to be and to just have some fun, make friends while they are far away from home.

Her motto in life is: BE STRONG,BE PATIENT AND BELIEVE THAT EVERYTHING's gonna fall into place.

- - -

Romelyn A. Porras

Romelyn A. Porras, known to her friends as Lynx bionote, has been working in Hong Kong for 15 years now. She studied Education and Commerce, but failed to finish both. Prior to coming to Hong Kong, she has worked as a musician, BACMI Layout editor and Photographer. She considers having a little banana farm and land in the Philippines as one of her achievements.

She is member and official photographer of MKICS and mentor of Group 5 of DWEP.

- - -

Eleen Navarro Valdez

Eleen Navarro Valdez, known to her friends as Colleen is an AB Liberal Arts Major in Political Science graduate  from the Dominican College in the Philippines. She also holds a Diploma in Hotel & Restaurant Management, from the Philippine Woman University, Diploma in Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) from the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government, and has attended a diploma course on Administrative Law and Public Management. She is member and former secretary of The Filipino Bowling Club of Hong Kong, member, former secretary, and present Head of Public Communication of Samahang Tarlaquenio Association of Hong Kong, and President of MK International Community Services (MKICS) under DWEP. 

Before coming to Hong Kong, she worked as Supervisor 2 in Tri-Gold Catering Services, then in a Korean electronic company as a quality controller assistant. She also had experience working as night supervisor in a garment factory, and as a sales and market researcher in a trading company. She has been working here in Hong Kong for 14 years now.

For Colleen, "learning is a continues process, no matter how old you are, because in learning you gain knowledge and in gaining knowledge you gain wisdom that we use in our daily lives."

Past DWEP Collaborators




DWEP Empowered Ladies

DWEP Empowered Ladies