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Doc Mike: The champion of domestic workers empowerment

posted Sep 20, 2017, 11:43 AM by Domestic Worker Empowerment Project Hong Kong   [ updated Oct 10, 2017, 9:07 PM ]
by Dr. Michael Manio

Video Courtesy of RTVMalacañang

In August 2010, I flew to Hong Kong after being accepted as a Postgraduate scholar at the University of Hong Kong. I devoted much of my time in research from drug discovery to drug formulation. But beyond helping humanity through research there’s something more I miss: teaching and helping out.

Eye-Opener: What can I do and how can I help? 

During my first Sunday in Hong Kong in 2010, I became amazed with the scene in downtown Central and Admiralty. Hundreds to thousands of domestic helpers are seating on the pavement of the streets, prone to sickness and accidents. I asked myself: why do they need to stay in the streets of Hong Kong?

There are about 350,000 migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong and nearly 200,000 are Filipinos. I once again asked my self: how can I help them and how I can use my profession and voice to empower them?

HKU Awards: The beginning

As I am very passionate in research, I won an award in December 2011, competing against 400 researchers and scientists from around the world. I was recognized by the Community to be the FIRST FILIPINO to ever win an award at the University of Hong Kong and later on, to win the Young Scientist Award in 2012. Because of this award, I was invited by various organizations to give Health Talks where my journey began. 

To win an award is a validation of my hard work and dedication to my craft. Standing with fellow awardees and scientists makes me proud that I am the only Filipino in the group, showcasing my love to my country by wearing our traditional Barong. It was there that I realized what would turn out to be DWEP. I believe that Education is for all: a fact that transcends race, color, boundaries, and age.

From then, I used my influence to educate the public and since most people recognized me in Hong Kong. I decided to convince the university to open its doors for domestic workers to serve as a platform for educational activities and skills development.

I believe in knowledge transfer and whatever their status in life, everyone has the right to be educated and learn new things. I felt compelled to create a positive image for domestic workers as they are part of the Hong Kong culture and society.

My first step

I started having an audience of 30-40 domestic workers during my First Health Talk held at the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong in December 2011. I also spent time and became a public health advocate during the Filipino Migrant Cancer Society (FILMCASS) Anniversary with almost 1000 members.

Most of the time, I am invited as a resource speaker in Health Promotion and Awareness not only to domestic workers in Hong Kong but also to Filipino Professionals and Foreign Nationals in Hong Kong. 

Taken during the Health talk at Foreign Correspondents Club, Hong Kong in 2012. 

Through series of Health Talks, DWEP became a household name in the community providing educational platform for Domestic Workers t
hrough series of lectures, workshops and fun-filled activities free of charge. Growing to nearly 5000 domestic workers as member and 150 HKU Students from 27 different countries, DWEP was featured in various newspapers and magazines.


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