Former domestic helpers in Hong Kong left jobs to become SEA Games medalists

MANILA, Philippines – Former domestic helpers in Hong Kong took a chance and made a giant leap to become medalists at the 2023 South East Asian (SEA) Games held in Cambodia.

Former domestic helpers in Hong Kong left jobs to become SEA Games medalists
Half of the Philippine women’s cricket team are domestic helpers in Hong Kong | Photo courtesy: Philippine Cricket Association

Jennifer Alumbro, Joelle Galapin, Lolita Olaguier, and more than half of the Philippine women’s cricket team at the SEA Games shared heartwarming stories of leaving their jobs as domestic helpers in Hong Kong to bring home the country’s first-ever SEA Games medal in the women’s cricket event.

It was the first time for the Philippines to compete in the event for the SEA Games, and the team bagged a silver medal.

For Jennifer, she recalled playing cricket was just a sport she loved to play during her day off. She didn’t imagine it would pave the way for her to make her country proud.

She said, “At first when I joined cricket, I just wanted to chill and play when it was my off day. It didn’t pop into my mind that I would represent my country.”

When the opportunity to be part of the Philippine Cricket Association came, Jennifer took the chance and risked her employment as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. At that time, she knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity she couldn’t pass up. She told herself that maybe she’ll just look for another job after the SEA Games.

According to Jennifer, while she lost her job, being a SEA Games silver medalist was all worth it. She offers her success to her later father, who was her inspiration. She added that she also wanted to play for the Philippines to introduce cricket as a sport and encourage the younger generation to be interested in it.

“I played for my country, so in this way, we can introduce cricket sports to the next generation. I believe for the next few years the Philippines will have a strong cricket team,” she said.

Like the inspiring story of Jennifer, Joelle was also a domestic helper in Hong Kong. She decided to resign from her job when her employer refused to let her leave and compete in the SEA Games.

Meanwhile, Lolita also took a chance despite her employer allowing her to leave for Cambodia only if she agreed to a “no work, no pay” arrangement. She agreed without hesitation and packed her things to join the team in Cambodia.

According to Jennifer, training while being domestic helpers were tough. While they were in Hong Kong, they only had Sundays, or once a week during their day off to train. After quitting their jobs and returning home, they self-trained for 3 weeks.

But everything was worth all the risk when they brought home their silver medals. Jennifer said she hopes their stories will become an inspiration to other domestic helpers to continue reaching for their dreams. She said, “Dapat willing ka to sacrifice for your dreams, and that age doesn’t matter to win.”

Faisal Khan, the Philippine Cricket Association’s chief executive officer, confirmed that some team members are household helpers based in Hong Kong and couldn’t be any more proud of their achievement. He said, “Getting a medal in their first appearance is a big achievement. I can see a much-better performance in future events.”

— Sally, The Summit Express