TAGBILARAN CITY, Sept 7 (PIA)--Believe it or not, three towns in Bohol have been tagged by the Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO) as having the highest number of "au pair" beneficiaries.
And what is that "au pair"? It is French for, "at par" or equal, and allows a young person to partially work as domestic assistant in a foreign country by taking a share in the host family's responsibilities, while the other part, is for the person to get to school.
And while au pair has presented to Filipinos a way to study, in exchange for childcare, some light housework, Boholanos from Pilar, Sierra Bullones and Tagbilaran have been most numerous in the CFO list.
Au pairs work but while working light jobs, they take on easy tasks because government regulations allow them to be in the foreign country primarily for reasons of education, said Princess Mayumi Kaye Peralta of the CFO project management division.
So when the name doesn't ring a bell, it may be because the program, which has been on since 2000, was temporarily suspended owing to the tendency of host families to abuse the good-natured Filipinos, the CFO administrative assistant said.
Then, au pairs who stay in the host families, when they do the laundry, initially offers to include a few until the government realized the candidate was washing all the laundry and has few hours left for studies.
An au pair receives an allowance, and a private room, the usual practice is that au pairs eat with the family most of the time, and join in some of the usual family activities such as outings and trips.
However, host families normally expect to have some private time to themselves, particularly in the evenings, that during this time, au pairs may retire to her room to study, or go out with friends.
To protect their rights, governments impose limits as to how many hours an au pair is allowed to work. Tasks can include taking children to and from school, taking children to after-school activities, cooking, cleaning, ironing, tidying up and babysitting. Each placement varies depending on the host family.
The key operative word is "limited household services", adds Arthur Joseph Vitasa, emigrant services officer at the CFO.
So, while doing child care to the host family, a Filipino student can study and take on two-year courses, when he is petitioned by the host family to be domestic assistant.
Au pair schemes are subject to government restrictions which specify an age range usually from mid-late teens to mid to late twenties; some countries explicitly limit the scheme to females, according to sources separate from the CFO. (rac/PIA-7Bohol)