Most households here in the Philippines would prefer to hire yayas or househelp referred by their relatives or friends. Yayas from the agencies are often treated with disdain, as there are countless horror stories of major boo boos from those yayas who came from manpower agencies.
|Photo from Smart Parenting website|
One of my friends who has interviewed more than 10 agency-recommended yayas noticed that their answers seem to be rehearsed. Even their character references seem staged. "Pare-pareho ang sagot sa interview (Their answers are the same in my interviews)," she says. The usual story they give when asked for a character reference is that the last employer went abroad and cannot be contacted. If they do give a reference, the person on the other line doesn't seem to talk like an employer and always has excellent feedback.
When I was about to give birth to my baby, I challenged myself to survive without a yaya. I have read inspiring stores of women here in the Philippines who have run households without a yaya, and I felt that maybe I can do the same.
A week after giving birth, my mother-in-law (MIL) sent us a yaya over. My MIL, ever caring and nurturing, thought it was best for a yaya to help us since I gave birth via C-section and was still in the early stages of recovery. I also acquired high blood pressure after my CS, so it really wasn't good for me to lack sleep and be exhausted. My MIL has searched high and low for a yaya recommended by friends and relatives, but unfortunately she found none. So she turned to the agencies (gasp!).
Meet Yaya J. When I first met her, I asked her a lot of questions. Unlike most of our previous househelps wherein it was okay to accept them immediately because they were recommended by so-and-so, I thoroughly interviewed her to make sure we didn't get a bad egg. Where did you come from? How long did you stay in your last employment? What's the name of your employer? The list goes on.
To ensure that her stories are right, I prodded her about details. I asked her about her routines with her previous alaga. Her previous employer migrated to Canada and she stayed with them for seven years. I asked her for the Facebook account of her previous employer, and she willingly obliged.
As she went on her first week with us, I carefully watched her every move. My baby was just a week old back then, so it really was not easy to just entrust her to a stranger. I noticed Yaya J is hardworking and neat. Since I take care of the baby at most times (high blood pressure and all), she is left to other duties like washing the baby's clothes and preparing things we need. She was hired to focus on the baby, so she didn't need to cook or clean or wash our clothes. Yet since I took care of the baby, she made effort to do other tasks. She fixed our closets, cleaned the rooms, and help with the cooking.
Since then, Yaya J has stayed with us for five and a half months (same age as my baby). Her main task is to take care of the baby, but since I'm around she also cooks for us as well. I see that she has grown attached to my baby, and I'm very thankful that she cares. I see her play and read to my baby. At most times after I nurse, she will always come to me to ask if she can carry my baby already so I can do my other tasks for work. She takes days off only twice a month.
When at first I had doubts about her capabilities since she came from an agency, Yaya J has totally proven me wrong. It is possible that a good yaya can come from an agency.
Please do note that I am not recommending households to go out and hire agency yayas since it worked for me. I believe everything still boils down to the competence and character of the yayas that these agencies recommend. Interview them thoroughly and test their character by observing them closely.
For those who want to know which agency Yaya J comes from, please leave a comment or shoot an email out to email@example.com.
Good luck with your yaya hunt!