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A Nanny Story You Don’t Often Hear: Cannes-winning Film About Filipina Nanny

Set in Singapore in the 1990s, llo llo chronicles the relationship between a young boy and his maid from Iloilo
Set in Singapore in the 1990s, llo llo chronicles the relationship between a young boy and his maid from Iloilo

Set in Singapore in the 1990s, llo llo chronicles the relationship between a young boy and his maid from Iloilo

Often times we hear about nannies being abused all over the world. On the other hand, we also often hear about parents complaining about their nannies bad behaviour. It has even become so common that when we hear a fresh story of the same theme, our subconscious mind seems to think that it’s expected. No matter how much of a common thing it is for us to hear about such stories, we can never conclude that it will always stay that way. Still, there are some rare stories that need to be put out there to change the mentality that we have become accustomed to.

One of the most heart-moving true-to-life stories about nannies these days is a story about a Filipina nanny who worked for a family in Singapore. Teresita, a woman from Ilo-ilo, Philippines used to work for a Singaporean family back in the early 1990’s. She spent 8 years working for the family but had to leave for health reasons. The experience that she had with them was priceless for her. She carried their photos and graphic memories of them being together even years from the time she left.

Teresita, called as “Auntie Terry” by the family, spent a vacation with the family during the time she was still working for them. She shared a very memorable time of those days where she visited a wishing well and gave her heartfelt wishes for the family. According to her, she wished that her wards will grow up not forgetting about her and that they would be successful and decent men in the future. For her, it was simply an expression of her love for the family and the kind of relationship she had with them not knowing that it will surely come true.

After a couple of decades, an unexpected blessing came and paved the way to making her wish come to life. During the 2013 Cannes, an Ilo-Ilo film that received an international appreciation and won the Camera d’Or prize brought Teresita or “Auntie Terry” into a great and emotional reunion with her very loved wards. Anthony Chen, who was one of the three boys in the family that she used to work for as a domestic helper, featured it as his debut film. With the cooperation of Cebu-based public relations agency Selrahco PR, a bridge was created for Teresita to meet with Anthony Chen and his youngest brother Christopher. It was a challenge to find Teresita at first because of the fact that they only knew her first and last name but with the great support of these people given to her, she was easily found. Chen and his youngest brother flew all the way to Ilo-ilo to reunite with Teresita after 16 years of not seeing each other. It was an emotional reunion that moved the heart of not only them who were involved but of every person who have watched the movie and witnessed this one-of-a-kind bond that existed between them.

Ilo-ilo, the title of the film, is now shown in Singaporean cinemas as it was scheduled on the later part of this month. Teresita will also be attending the premier screening with the boys thanks to the help of a popular low-cost airline in the Philippines known as Cebu Pacific. This will be the first time for the Filipino nanny to travel overseas again after 16 years since she departed from Singapore. Truly her wonderful and heart-moving story has shown the kind of selflessness and genuine love that Filipinos have for others. Filipinos are known to value relationships highly and Auntie Terry is just one of the many examples who show that to the rest of the world.

You can visit the film's website here

Questions for a Nanny to Ask at an Interview

You are off to visit a family for a nanny's job interview, of course you will be feeling hopeful and perhaps a little nervous. You will already have a list of questions you will need to ask, and hopefully you have these written down so that if your nervousness makes you forget some, you can pull out your slip of paper to refer to.

There will be the typical questions regarding the hours of work, whether live-in or out, salary, the expectations the family has of you and the expectations you have of them - for example, if you need to pick up your own child at a certain time each day, it may mean it will be impossible to do any overtime and you must leave punctually at the appointed time.

  • What are the family's expectations regarding play dates? If their child's friend calls up and wants to come over, or to meet in the park, is this OK? Or does the family generally need to know more details, and make decision's case-by-case?
  • What activities do your children like to do? Do they enjoy an afternoon in the park? Or do they prefer indoor activities? Is there a play gym I can take them to? Is there a food court they sometimes like to go to for lunch?
  • Do your children have any special talents which I can try to cultivate? Music? Badminton? Swimming? Acting? Drawing?
    • One of our friends had a nanny who liked to organise the kids into producing a one-act play of a scene from a fairy story. They were loads of fun, and kids got really excited and enthusiastic about doing them, especially the dressing-up part!
  • What primary language should I speak to them in? Would you like me to also sprinkle in some phrases from my mother tongue?
  • Do any of your kids have any dietary restrictions? Are there some foods which anyone really hates to eat? Do you have rules about eating too much candy?
  • What are your kid's favourite foods? How often can they have them?
  • How much television, video gaming, Internet access do you allow each day?
  • Is any of your children struggling with a particular subject in school? Is there anything I can do to help?
  • Do you celebrate birthdays in a special way? Can I help you plan and prepare?

Being full of questions shows that you are a professional child-carer, and you take your job seriously and are keen to do the best you can. It will also mean, of course, that you will have as much information as possible to help you make a decision about working for a particular family, or not.


Keeping it Professional. Tips for Child Carers

Daily Diary or a Child Care Logbook
Daily Diary or a Child Care Logbook

Keep a Daily Diary or a Child Care Logbook

Whether you are a nanny or babysitter or a domestic worker who looks after children, all professional child carers should keep a daily logbook as a record of their activities. It sounds like a real pain, and it is. It also seems like a waste of time, but it isn't. It's the professional thing to do, and when parents notice that you keep a log, it will reflect positively on you.

It's a sad thing to say, but child abuse is found everywhere, in every culture and every country. The term "abuse" may be used for quite mild omissions, such as not changing nappies quickly enough, or leaving a child unattended for too long. To be accused of improper child care can be a real career killer, and you need to take every step which you can think of to make sure you are not a casualty.

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Nanny, babysitter, maid or transfer maid?

Nanny, babysitter, maid or transfer maid? What sort of domestic help can be found on Find a Nanny, and what is the reasoning behind it?

The beginnings of Find a Nanny started a few years ago when my husband took an overseas posting. Things were going to be tough for me and I couldn't imagine how my daughter was going to get the kind of care she was used to.

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Find a Nanny’s Resource Section for Child Carers

infantcprFind a Nanny has a resources section for parents, nannies and professional child carers with emergency information, children's videos and colouring-in sheets and with more to come.

The Emergency Information contains the phone numbers you are likely to need in an emergency. They are highlighted in a red banner at the top of the page and are for police, ambulance, fire and poisoning information.

Immediately below are a series of ten videos showing how to perform infant CPR, child CPR, what do do in cases of infant choking, poisoning, burns and loss of consciousness. The videos are only a few minutes long and could end up being a life-saver. It would be a really good idea to watch each one at least once, and then come back and watch them again in a couple of week's time as a refresher. Really everyone should have a knowledge of CPR and note that infant CPR techniques differ from those performed on an adult. For a professional child carer it is absolutely essential to know basic first aid and, preferably, to have gone through a certified training course. Parents who intend to employ a nanny or babysitter should ask to see first aid certificates of any adult they hire to look after their child. I remember one tragic case a few years ago of an infant who suffocated by choking while her grandmother, who didn't know what to do, rubbed medicated oil on her forehead.

The next section in the resources library is for kids videos. The top row contains flash-cards for the alphabet and word-picture associations. Some people seem to think that flash-cards are a great way to start early childhood education. I actually have my doubts about that, but they ARE a good way for an adult to engage a child in a fun filled two-way communication session and many years after using them I can still remember the smiles and giggles of our evening flash-card times together.

bigbuckbunnyAmongst the videos there are some delightful ones, perhaps the most famous one being "Big Buck Bunny". The main character is a loveable (though hardly cute) bunny who is being pestered by the bratty behaviour of an assortment of rodents, and who kill a butterfly which he was admiring. The rest of the video is about retribution and contains scenes of "cartoon violence" that kids always seem to laugh at.

"For the Birds" is a simple but funny tale of a flock of birds trying to settle down for the night on a wire but who end up squabbling amongst themselves until they are distracted by a goofy looking bigger bird whom they make fun of. The story ends with the smaller birds being in an embarrassing situation.

"French Toast" is a wonderfully quirky story with some "off-the-wall" characters, which addresses themes of snobbery, dishonesty, and judging people by their appearance. I would spoil the story if I summarised it here, but do take a look.

If you think your child might be lonely sometimes, do sit together and watch the video titled "Short Film by Wes Ball". It is an interesting mix of film and animation and has a lovely theme of how imaginative story telling can overcome loneliness.

At the bottom of the page is a collection of lullabies and if you are lucky, one of them might be just the thing to send your baby off to sleep. The video titled "Chinese Lullaby" lasts for an hour. I wouldn't bother watching the images on the screen.

On the previous version of this website we had some classic children's nursery rhymes and children's stories. We will be bringing them back as soon as we find a nice way to present them in a flip-book which works on iPhones, iPads and everyother device out there.

Don't you think iPads (and other similar devices) are great for entertaining babies and children? I do. You just have to be careful that kids don't become addicted to them and prefer them to real human company.

What are Some Reasons for Hiring a Nanny?

Cuddle Comfort

Cuddle ComfortYou are thinking of hiring a nanny, here are some reasons to consider:

  • If you are a working mum you may have support staff in your office. It's the same thing at home, you can't do everything yourself, so a nanny can pick up on the the things you can't get to, like helping with cooking, running the occasional last minute errand and doing a quick tidy-up at the end of the day.
  • Having a nanny can not only mean that your children get better and more focused care, it also can mean that you will get to spend more quality time with your kids. A nanny can get the meals prepared, some homework supervision done, get the kids in their jammies, their teeth brushed and their room tidied, so that when you come home, it is all about talking, bonding, reading, cuddling and winding down together.
  • Reinforcements! If you have more than two children, they can easily "gang up" on you and events can spiral out of control. Three rowdy children, a telephone ringing and something burning on the stove. A nanny can save these sort of situations and help bring things back into control. Who knows, an accident could have been averted.
  • A nanny can make disciplining a child much easier. You wouldn't buy that trinket that caught her eye in the shop, the one that you knew would be forgotten and uised as land-fill in less the 24 hours time. When she melts-down, cries and screams, you can be the cool disciplinarian while the nanny comforts and explains that mummy has some good reasons for not buying that tacky ridiculous cheapo piece of junk (she may explain it a bit more tactfully than that).
  • Your nanny maybe from another culture and this presents a wonderful opportunity to broaden your child's outlook. Many times our family have had an entertaining evening talking about life back home for the maid or nanny. Singapore is already a wonderful mix of cultures, but not many of us know the daily routine on a subsistence farm. And why not learn a new Tagalog word a day (or Indonesian, or Burmese).
  • Your first child? It is likely that your nanny has helped raise several families and so can bring all that experience to your own family and help reduce the uncertainty.

Overseas and Local Maids, Nannies and Caregivers

Live-in Help, nannies, and Maids

Improve Maids Work Conditions

The headline you see to the left is from today's Straits Times and I couldn't agree more with it.

A maid, or foreign domestic worker's life here can be tough. Apart from the low wages and occasional shabby treatment from some employers, it is not easy to leave your own family, and then live cheek by jowl with another family which has completely different cultural values. Our maids work long hours and have very little time to themselves, or to spend socialising with friends.

Our household has employed a number of maids over the years and I really think there has to be a better way to solve the problem of getting nanny care, domestic chores, baby sitting and elder care than importing young girls, under-paying them, over-working them and under-appreciating them.

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Grannies for Nannies?

Eldercare Jobs

Eldercare Jobs

It is interesting that the government has anticipated the need for increased nursing and professional helath-care workers to staff the nursing homes being planned. The government hopes to employ mostly Singaporean retirees and housewives for this purpose.

Same here! I mean I agree. There is a large pool of people in Singapore who are not working full-time, but who have a lot to offer. The benefits go both ways. What is more fulfilling: Watching soap operas on TV all afternoon? Or taking on the challenge of helping raise the next generation of Singaporeans?

These jobs pay reasonably well, too. So after a year of being a nanny you can treat herself to a month's holiday overseas. It's a lot better than rotting in front of the TV.

"Grannies for Nannies" is a serious proposition, just as is Stay-at-Home Mums for nannies and babysitting jobs. The hardest part for a nanny is finding the best family to work for and the hardest part for a family is finding the right nanny.

That's what we are here for...

Some Suggestions for Hiring a Nanny Pt. II

Continued on from the previous blog entry...

Do expect some temper flare-ups occasionally. A typical day in the life of a nanny normally has very little drama associated with it, but disagreements can sometimes happen with a parent. Sometimes this will result in the end of the employment agreement, but often it will just serve to put things into balance again and clear up any misunderstandings.

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Some Suggestions for Hiring a Nanny Pt. I

Hiring a Nanny

Hiring a Nanny

A Quick List of Do's and Dont's

  • Don't get upset if your child calls the nanny "mummy". This happens sometimes, but to the child it is just a way of expressing affection. A good nanny will correct the child and expand on the subject of mother, talking about, perhaps when she is due to come home, or picking up the mobile phone and giving her a call.
  • Don't install a nanny cam. It is better to approach your nanny and voice out any concerns you may have than  it is to hide a nanny cam in the house. If the nanny's response is unsatisfactory, then she is not the right person to be your nanny anyway. If the idea of installing a nanny cam is appealing to you, you should bring the topic up during the interview. Many nannies don't mind the idea as it is also a way for them to demonstrate their professionalism and commitment to the career.

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