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filipina household helper in Philippines


Yes I’m back on the household helpers in Philippines story, and I’ll call this Part Two of the last one. Please READ Part One if you didn’t already.

Again, many who live in the Philippines and have moderate to highly busy lifestyles, we employ household helpers to deal with the stuff we don’t want to do basically. We do, and have since we first arrived here full time in 2010. We’re in the middle of planning a replacement of one who really isn’t working out as we would have liked. 

And no, we don’t personally use terms like “maid” or “yaya”, and would never stoop to use the word “servant”! They help us, so they’re “helpers”.


Difficulties with Household Helpers in Philippines


I covered the issues of how to maintain a boss-worker relationship with household helpers in Philippines, and the folly of trying to be on the same level in the egalitarian Aussie-style that most of us are accustomed to. I think probably OK without going over it again.

Other issues come from communication and cultural differences, mostly. I’m looking at things that happen in our household here, and was thinking I need to do this for our household, when I thought….why not make a BLOG article out of it, and maybe help out a few others? Plus if I’m going to write it anyway, it can save me some work time! I’m no fool!! 

This morning? Coffee machine needed de-scaling! Yes, I love my coffee and have a pretty you-beaut machine. Every now and then the machine needs de-scaling and it tells you so. This morning it told us so. And descaling requires some tablets, which we had bought in Quezon City for this purpose. 

Well, the tablets have gone missing! Still haven’t found them. Chances are that SOMEONE has put them somewhere else. But you soon discover that nobody ever does anything! You ask, but you expect a sea of “No”!

First time years ago when we bought some descaling tablets, someone in the house decided to put them in the freezer! 

Yesterday afternoon looking for a protein supplement which normally lives in the cupboard in the kitchen. It was put in the fridge! 

Bought a mincer a few years ago. Took it out of the box. The blades were left in the box. Someone threw out the box! Buy anything new, and the box gets thrown out with lightening speed! Sometimes the instructions and/or warranty is still in the box!

What I’m saying is that one of the many challenges is to deal with things being put away in odd places or being thrown out, and never being given a choice, eg “Where would you like me to put this, sir?”

Anyway, just thinking that I need to write up an Orientation that our new helpers can be talked-through whenever they start here. We need it! Maybe so do you?

No doubt you will all have your own ideas about what you’re OK with and what you’re not OK with. Feel free to use this as a guide and we hope it proves useful.


Orientation for Household Helpers in Philippines – in Australian Filipina Households


  • Understand that the owner of this house is Australian. You will need to have an open mind and be willing to adapt certain things. 
  • Understand that if you do not understand something, you are expected to ask questions. The same applies to anything you are unhappy about. No one can read minds.
  • Requests for leave should be made at least 3 days before that day
  • If you ask for 2 days off, do not try to return 3 or 4 days later
  • Maintain personal hygiene in the household, ie daily showering, teeth-cleaning, changing clothes etc. Ensure you don’t have body odour.
  • If you are sick, you must tell someone! If you are sick and untreated, you could make other people sick.
  • Do not share food, drinks, cups or utensils with other staff members or especially with children
  • Do not put anything away unless you are certain that:
    • You know that they want you to put it away, and
    • You know where they want it to go
  • Do not throw anything out unless you are certain that they want it thrown out
  • Be very careful not to throw out boxes with instructions, receipts or warrantees inside
  • Keep bathroom floors dry. Do not flood the floor. Mop dry if wet.
  • Do not put sanitary pads in the toilet. Do not put clumps of hair or anything else inappropriate in the toilet which can cause blockages.
  • Do not shower for longer than 15 minutes
  • Do not use scouring pads, steel wool, knives or steel implements in non-stick frying pans or on delicate surfaces
  • Do not use kettles/jugs with too little or too much water
  • Do not leave stoves/ovens turned on
  • Try to save electricity by turning off lights and fans when you leave a room
  • Wash dishes in hot soapy water, and rinse in clean hot water. Do not wash dishes under a running tap or in cold water.
  • Wash glasses and cups separately, and in a clean sink
  • Do not wash hands or spit in sink. Use the bathroom for this.
  • Do not mix up cleaning cloths, ie. 
    • A cloth for cleaning the floor is only to be used on the floor
    • A cloth for cleaning the bench and tables is only to be used for this
    • A cloth for doing dishes is only to be used for this
    • Cloths for cleaning babies faces are only used for this purpose
  • Never use clorox (bleach) in the laundry for anything at all
  • Always dissolve washing powders before using. Never let dry or damp powder get in contact with clothes.
  • Always hang out washed clothes immediately and do not leave in a pile, or they will start to smell
  • Mops and cleaning cloths should be hung to dry so they do not start to smell
  • Cleaning implements, wallis tingtings etc should be put away after use and not left all over the place
  • Do not unplug appliances without being instructed to
  • Chinelas/slippers not left in a pile in doorways where people can trip over them
  • Do not unlock the door/gate unless 100% certain that this person is welcome and known to the owners
  • Do not use phones when doing anything critical, eg taking care of children, cooking, ironing etc
  • Limit the use of phones during working hours
  • Do not attempt to borrow money or loan money with other staff members
  • Fighting, sulking or having tampo with other staff members is not OK. Make all efforts to resolve such issues peacefully.




With household helpers in Philippines? Bottom line is not to assume anything. Flooded bathroom floors which lead to your dropped-pants soaking up copious amounts of toilet-floor-water are not considered an issue to most Filipinos. Sharing cups, utensils (and Hepatitis) is also not unusual. It’s your house! You need to decide what you can stand and what you can’t stand, so better to make it clear at the beginning rather than wait for a serious of confrontations which will probably lead to the helper resigning. 


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Jeff Harvie is a Registered Migration Agent from Australia, but resident in Philippines since 2010 with his Filipina wife Mila and large extended family. Experienced with the Philippines culture, cross-cultural relationships and bureaucracy as well as Australian visas and Australian Migration Law, he writes with authority and fortunately with enough informality and humour that the average Aussie gets it!


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  1. Graham John Hunt

    god help us, you mean they don’t know these things?
    well of course, why should they? most of those requirements stem from our complex western culture
    phils lifestyle inherently much simpler (and highly reminiscent of polynesia – this from a kiwi)
    so it all must be taught from scratch….

    but we are unlikely to ever need to hire staff
    my sweetheart mrs is my helper
    ang asawa ko ang aking katulong
    sinta asawa ku kasaup ku (for the kampampangans amongst us)

    another entertaining and amusing read thankyou Jeff

    • Jeff Harvie

      Nope! They often do not, which is why I made that list finally. Hopefully it will bring about a little more harmony. And you are correct. Why WOULD they know this? Different cultures have completely different approaches to a whole lot of things. You need to show a fair bit of flexibility, however some things are hard to take.


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