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Nanay Erlinda: Old age is never a hindrance to learning new things

posted Oct 21, 2017, 4:58 AM by Domestic Worker Empowerment Project Hong Kong   [ updated Oct 21, 2017, 5:02 AM ]
The life of Erlinda Dizon, known to DWEP members as Nanay Erlinda, is far from a rags to riches story, just as those of most foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. But hers is a story that proves the notion ‘with old age, comes wisdom’ we could all learn from.

Nanay Erlinda flew to Hong Kong in 1991, armed only with her strong will of coming back with a house and a farmland of her own in their hometown of Baguio City. She shares that with her and her husband’s earnings prior to coming to Hong Kong, their family could already live a decent life. But her ambitious self (to use her words) and forward thinking compelled her younger self to think more about ensuring her family’s future, which for her, could only happen if she earns enough money to invest for a house and farmland she could call their very own.

Twenty six years, and three employers later, Nanay Erlinda earns her sweetest reward which are more than enough to sustain her family’s needs back home. Of course, getting at this stage of her life is not without any bitter point that, to her, strengthened her willpower to keep herself on track to attaining her dream for herself, and her family.

Her world fell apart when her better half passed away in 2005. Having only three children and with her only daughter inheriting a genetic disorder causing epileptic seizures, Nanay Erlinda could only wish nothing but a comfortable life for them. However, she had to face yet another agonizing blow when she learned that her son-in-law whom she helped to secure a better job in Korea has left her daughter and their children to her care for another woman who already had children of her own. For her, it was one of the most painful memories she had to endure because she hoped that the moment her son-in-law married her daughter, he accepted her wholeheartedly including her condition.

Now that all her children have a family of their own, and her grandchildren having the same, she believes that it is high time that she prioritize herself, and her daughter whom she said, wanted to take her place as provider if only she is not suffering from epileptic seizures. She strongly believes that having a strict hand on finances, and keeping an eye on investment goals are important for domestic workers so that they will come home comfortably without having to think about where to find money and resources to sustain a decent life when they decide to come back. This is why her final goal before finally going back home is to invest on another apartment, which could be another source of income for her and her daughter.

Being one of the oldest member of the DWEP, at 63, Nanay Erlinda devoted herself to learning new things through lectures and workshops offered by DWEP to foreign domestic workers every Sunday. Reaching only second year high school, she admits that she felt that her fruitful life in Hong Kong only started when she joined Batch 3 of DWEP, saying that in the past 26 years, her Sundays were mostly spent elsewhere without the feeling of physical, social, and mental satisfaction she feels every after lecture or activity Sundays in DWEP.

To her classmates, Nanay Erlinda is the epitomy of the fact that old age is never a hindrance to learning new things, and participating in activities thought to have been enjoyed only by the younger ones. For her, the things she learns from DWEP is important in that she could use it especially when she decides to retire in two year’s time.