A migrant worker from Cagayan de Oro City working as a caregiver recently finished first in the Taoyuan City’s 2021 Good Migrant Workers Competition.
Milagros Polestico Santillan, 51, started working as a caregiver in Taiwan in 2010 and is now with her third employer with whom she has been working with for the past six years.
“I have to work abroad because our income was not enough for our needs,” wrote Milrose (as she is known to friends) in a post in her social media account. “If I’m not working in Taiwan, my sons would not have been able to study in the university. Now they have all graduated and have stable jobs.”
After a two week training in Manila, she started working in New Taipei City until her contract ended in 2013. She next tried Hong Kong but quit after only seven months.
Her luck took a turn for the better when she started working in Taoyuan in 2014, and her employer hired her through the same broker/agency Celtis Enterprises Co., Ltd.
“They are very fair with their employees, strictly comply with the law, and what is provided in the contract. They always grant my requests and allow me to go home to my family in Cagayan de Oro every year until the pandemic started,” Milrose said.
Taoyuan is a special municipality in northwestern Taiwan , neighboring New Taipei City, Hsinchu County, and Yilan County.
Taoyuan District is the seat of the municipal government and which, along with Zhongli District, forms a large metropolitan area. Taoyuan developed from a satellite city of Metro Taipei to become the fourth largest metropolitan area, and fifth-largest populated city in Taiwan.
Since commuting to the Taipei metropolitan area is easy, Taoyuan has witnessed the fastest population growth among the cities of Taiwan in the past few decades.
“Taoyuan” means “peach garden” in Chinese, since the area used to have many peach trees. The city is home to many industrial parks and tech company headquarters. Taoyuan International Airport , which serves the capital, Taipei and the rest of northern Taiwan, is located in this city.
Since the time she started working as a caregiver, Milrose surmounted challenges which would have dismayed one of a lesser heart. Although she has been working in Taiwan for nine years total, she admits her Mandarin is still spotty, since she is only self-taught, and has no formal training in the language.
But as she describes herself as a “God-fearing, hardworking, understanding, kind hearted, easily hurt, simple and loving person,” Milrose apparently had more than enough of her inherent qualifies to be up to the daunting tasks assigned to her.
For her first four years in Taoyuan, she was assigned to care for a 102-year old patient with dementia. The patient had irregular sleeping pattern because of his symptoms. She discussed his medications and took care of her patient’s routines in consultation with her employer and physician, helping the patient not sleep too much during the day.
When her first patient passed away, her employer again hired her to care for a 92-year old patient with Alzheimer’s disease. More patience was required to deal with the symptoms, but she was up to the task and took care of him like her own family.
She expressed her gratitude to God, her agency, employer and employer’s family members who also treat her like family. The caring is mutual, although she is a caregiver for the patients.
“Thank you my employer for hiring me to take care of Ah Kong and Amah. Thank you to my sia lao pan (Little Boss) for always lending me money when I have an emergency in the Philippines. Thanks also to my agency for always taking care of me, looking after my complaints and always responding to my requests quickly,” Milrose said upon receiving her award.
Among the many foreign destinations of Filipino migrant workers. Taiwan has enjoyed a far better reputation than most.
In fact, Taoyuan City won the Best Practice in Citizen Participation award from the International Observatory on Participatory Democracy Nov. 27, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain, for a program to help empower migrant workers.
Implemented by the Department of Labor under Taoyuan City Government, the Participatory Budgeting for Migrant Workers project provided online and offline channels for foreign residents to express their needs and ideas. Its primary aims were to make them feel like equal members of society and included in budgetary and policymaking processes, according to TCG.
Launched last year, the initiative also involved nongovernmental organizations and the private sector and enabled migrant workers to use their native languages in sharing their opinions. According to Ministry of Labor statistics, Taoyuan is home to more than 113,000 migrant workers, many of whom are from Southeast Asia.
Speaking at the ceremony, DOL head Wang An-bang conveyed his gratitude toward everyone who participated in the program. The award is an honor for Taoyuan as well as an opportunity to help raise the city’s profile and Taiwan’s international image, he said.
Established in 2001, the OIDP is an international network consisting of over 800 members from local governments, NGOs and research institutes that aims to strengthen democracy at the municipal government level. (KWS-E).
For any Filipinos looking for greener pastures in Taiwan, Milrose strongly recommends they deal with her agency Celtis Enterprises Co., Ltd. Their office is at 4F, No. 47, Sec. 2, Yuanhua Rd., Zhongli District, Taoyuan City 320, Taiwan (R.O.C.) and they can be reached through tel. no. 03-427-2479.
You can have a first-hand look at how Milrose goes about her daily routine with her patients in this video: : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfEv0h_j5h4 (advisory: dialogue mostly in Mandarin)
Milrose and family in Cagayan de Oro (left to right) Clifford, 27, Nikko James, 25, Milrose, Dave Laurence, 24, and husband Jose Felix.
Milrose with her employer, Shao Mao Sin (left) and a representative from the Foreign Workers Affairs Section of the Taoyuan Department of Labor.
Milrose with her broker Lǚ Mǐn Yù who has always favorably recommended her to her employers.