Ms. Judith P. Bernardo: Lending Respectability
and Sophistication to Housekeeping and Caregiving as Decent Jobs
by Apolinario Villalobos
When Ms. Judith P. Bernardo shared with me how she managed her life while in the United States, she proudly mentioned how she tried her best to be respectable as a Filipino while doing housekeeping, garden maintenance, and caregiving jobs. She used to her advantage, the American culture which is founded on fairness for all who are willing to flex their muscles in order to earn a living while in the shadow of Uncle Sam. Another advantage of Ms. Bernardo up her sleeve is her social adequacy which enabled her to meld with the locals, be they Americans or immigrants from various nations who have been able to have a secure foothold and who belonged to the higher rung of the American society.
Without any qualm, she grabbed every opportunity to earn that came her way which enabled her to establish connections with clients, soonest as she was able to adjust herself to the environment. Her courage and determination were fueled by her former social status in the Philippines and her former job as a young member of the American diplomatic corps based in Southeast Asia, and which bolstered her self-confidence.
After a few years of doing the various jobs single-handedly, she was able to form a group of trusted house cleaners and gardeners, with her as the coordinator. Requests from clients were channeled through her, an arrangement which helped many immigrants. A little later still, she ventured into catering which was very much appreciated by her clients. Later, some of them requested that she also attend to their elders whom they prefer to be taken cared at home, rather than being sent to the home for the aged.
Social graces have always been part of Ms. Bernardo’ life while growing up and moving around her circles of cliques. This plus factor made her a sought after housekeeper and caregiver, as she was also trusted by her clients with the finances allotted for the homes that she maintained and elders under her care. She was also appreciated for her culinary expertise, always ready with suggestions about what food could go well with red or white wine and any liquor.
According to Ms. Bermardo, Filipinos who work as caregiver and housekeeper abroad need not be ashamed of their job. All that they need is try their best to project a respectable image. She added that teachers and other professionals who happen to land on such jobs should not be despised or belittled as they are in fact, well- equipped. She is right, for how can an ignoramus who has no knowledge on the proper housekeeping that deals with handling of fragile household furnishings, be trusted by a client? Or, how can one who can barely speak English be hired by a family that speaks such language only?
With her exposure to housekeeping as a job and social graces that have been part of her life, I asked if she is willing to be contacted as resource speaker for trainings and seminars that may require such, to which she replied in the affirmative, adding that she can also be consulted on banquet preparations.