Skip to content




  译者:杨   阳  

校对:刘   蕊


Women’s servitude blights Philippine society


本文选自 BBC | 取经号原创翻译

关注 取经号,回复关键词“外刊”


The final article by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Alex Tizon was controversial when it was published shortly after his death – because it revealed that his family had kept a Filipina slave in the US.

普利策奖获得者阿列克斯·提臧(Alex Tizon)过世之后发表的一篇文章透漏,作为美国人,他家还有着一个菲律宾奴隶,这篇文章引起了争议

controversial  /ˌkɒntrəˈvɜ:ʃl/ adj. causing a lot of angry public discussion and disagreement 引起争论的;有争议的

Some readers were appalled, while others leapt to the author’s defence. But the core of the story is one that Filipinos relate to – a power dynamic that is deeply rooted in society.


appal  /əˈpɔ:l/ verb. to shock sb very much 使大为震惊;使惊骇

Alex Tizon’s A Slave in the Family generated a maelstrom. A confessional-memoir, it remembers Eudocia Tomas Pulido, who had been a gift from his grandfather to his mother and who served the family for 56 years – without pay.

阿列克斯·提臧所写的《家中的奴隶》引起了巨大的反响。他的这篇回忆录坦白地写出了优多西亚·托马斯·普礼多(Eudocia Tomas Pulido)曾被提臧的祖父送给他的母亲当礼物,普礼多在他家为奴56年,没有一分钱的报酬。

maelstrom  /ˈmeɪlstrɒm/ noun [usually sing.] (literary) a situation full of strong emotions or confusing events, that is hard to control and makes you feel frightened (思想、感情、事态)混乱,骚乱,动乱

Mr Tizon did not evade the issue, naming her a “slave” – though he also called her Lola.


The word was a trigger. It named the essence of a servitude familiar to Filipinos, both at home and overseas.


Few have childhood memories without the presence of the caretaker, the yaya, the utusan (the one commanded), katulong (helpmate), kasambahay (home companion) – and now, the industrialized domestic worker.


The name keeps morphing – but the essence of servitude remains the same: a life held hostage.


morph  /mɔ:f/ verbto change, or make sb/ sth change into sth different (使)变化;(使)改变

Americans reacted with a range of emotions to the alien concept


I once referred a Filipina American – who was having cash-flow problems – to house cleaning work for another friend. After a week, she quit. The pay was good, the employer was fine, but she “couldn’t stand the power dynamics”.


One had to be groomed – by culture, by tradition, by authority – into servitude.


groom  ~ sb (for/ as sth) to prepare or train sb for an important job or position 使作好准备;培养;训练

Life in service


Life-long servants are not a rarity in the Philippines. In the multitude of household help in my family, there was always one who stayed.


In 2007, Emma, who had cared for my mother in her final years, said she had been with our family for 40 years. Recruited as a teenager, she had grown up in my younger sister’s family, had become a live-out help, married, had children and funnelled nieces and nephews into service with various branches of my clan.


“My family has orbited your family for four decades,” she said.


That was the first time I learned her last name.


A full identity is not given those at the periphery. We learn early enough that there is always a woman poorer and more vulnerable who can take on the relentless burden of housekeeping.


periphery  /pəˈrɪfəri/ noun [usually sing.] the less important part of sth, for example of a particular activity or of a social or political group 次要部份;次要活动;边缘

I can see a procession of women whose last names I never knew but who served my family: from the reflection in the mirror of myself carried by a yaya (baby caregiver) to the young woman who finally graduated from college and left my employ.


They were invariably browner and from the rural areas, recruited by friends and relations who were landowners. Browner because class and colour do correlate in the Philippines, though this is blithely ignored.


correlate  /ˈkɒrəleɪt/ verb  if two or more facts, figures, etc. correlate or if a fact, figure, etc. correlates with another, the facts are closely connected and affect or depend on each other 相互关联影响;相互依赖

The Spanish-created feudal patriarchal family which persists to this day was a major historical education toward servitude and self-sacrifice. Mr Tizon’s grandfather, a landowner, gave Ms Pulido to his daughter as a gift; it was he who administered 12 lashes on Ms Pulido, as punishment for his own daughter’s transgression, sealing thereby in the girl’s mind the conviction that those who serve must also endure undeserved punishment.


Ms Pulido’s enslavement, in the context of millions of Filipinas in domestic work in some 200 countries, hits hard.


‘Grooming toward servitude’


The common reason for Filipinas entering servitude is the same siren song used by Mr Tizon’s parents to convince Ms Pulido to leave with them: she would be able to build a better house for her parents. The same seductive hope fuels the condominium and subdivision boom in the Philippines.


By April of this year, remittances to the Philippines had reached a record $2.6bn – enough to offset the balance of trade deficit of $2.3bn. According to the Walk Free Foundation, one of two Filipinas working overseas is “unskilled” and “employed as a domestic worker, cleaner or in the service sector”.


This persistent devaluing of women’s work is a key element in the grooming toward servitude.


Filipinos are still highly visible in the service industry of many countries


Poverty is, of course, a key to the creation of a category of women whose lives can be held hostage. In China, where the poor make up 8% of the population, women are still associated with marriage, children, family and homemaking. In the same way, a woman with a career in the Philippines still remains responsible for the household, and is the principal nurturer.


While today’s options for Filipinas may not be as limited as Ms Pulido’s was, her story echoes the irony of fate for millions of Filipinas.


To build a home at home, she has to leave home. She must be indentured to a stranger family, for her own family and the national home to survive.


indenture  /ɪnˈden.tʃəʳ/ verb. to officially agree that someone, often a young person, will work for someone else, especially in order to learn a job以契约约束:按契约的规定为另一方服务

How to disrupt this relentless demand for self-sacrifice is the question we wrestle with, considering how amply the world rewards selfishness.


wrestle   /ˈresl/ verb~ (with sth) to struggle to deal with sth that is difficult 奋力对付;努力处理;全力解决

Ninotchka Rosca was born and raised in the Philippines, and lives in New York City. She is the author of two novels, and co-founded the women’s organization AF3IRM in the United States. She returns to the Philippines regularly.

Ninotchka Rosca生长于菲律宾,现居于纽约,定期回菲律宾探访。出版小说两部,是美国女性组织AF3IRM的创办者之一。


后台回复 读译会,参与取经号Q群交流


后台回复 外刊,获取《经济学人》等原版外刊获得方法


扫描 二维码,关注跑得快的取经号(id: JTWest)


Be First to Comment


电子邮件地址不会被公开。 必填项已用*标注