Privacy

From the book Cultureshock! Philippines:

“The most important consideration in managing househelp is the personal relationship involved. It is the Philippine way. The expatriate will very likely feel he or she is never alone, and loss of privacy becomes the price paid for having househelp; the more help, the less privacy.
The Filipino help will not understand your strong desire for privacy. It is not a need that gets any kind of priority in Philippine society. Filipinos grow up with ever present human company: parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, nannies and other househelp. Human company provides strong emotional support, and most Filipinos crave human company every waking moment; especially so in in times of personal crisis illness, the loss of a loved one, but just as vital during times of joy…”

The authors recommend having an area you mark as off limits except for specific times for cleaning and to try to teach your help to knock on your closed bedroom door, although, they say, Filipinos tend to find knocking on the door a superfluous custom.
The book is somewhat older and outdated in places, but I can say that it seems to still hold true about the door-knocking. I lock my bedroom door when our 20 year old young male helper is here, because otherwise he does just walk in without knocking first. Since our rather tiny master-bathroom adjoins the bedroom and I leave that door open so as to keep an eye on the Cherub, it is completely necessary. Our female helper is both older, and also far more experienced in the ways of westerners, having been the help for several other western families before us (one of her previous families is somebody we know via the blog, which is how we found this treasure). She does knock and while she may not understand my reclusive tendencies, she at least does not take them personally.

P.S. There is perhaps four feet of space between our bedroom window and the fence, and it’s an open field on the other side of that fence. For a long time the local street department stored large concrete pipes there (large enough for four or five children to sit in them with ease and comfort). That means the children were at eye level with my bedroom window. The curtains and windows are open in the evening to let the breeze in as we save money by not running the aircon (when we do run it, electricity is more expensive than our rent). This means that often I would hear the children calling to me, “Aunty, Aunty? What is your FB name because I cannot read it? Aunty, Aunty? would you watch a movie, please?”

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