Filipina Nannies / Babysitters

You must make a few things clear to the Filipina who will be taking care of your child.

Filipina workers aim to please and are good at following their employers' instructions. But you have to bear in mind that what you consider common sense may not be so common in their culture.

For example, corporal punishment is an accepted way of disciplining children in the Philippines. Although most Filipinos may express objection to bugbog, which is heavy beating with the use of fists, you will see TV commercials on Philippine TV featuring mothers who proudly state that their kids are well-behaved because Pinalo ko sila (I spanked them).

You must make it clear to the babysitter that you won't tolerate casual physical punishment like spanking (palo) or pinching (kurot).

Kurot is not an affectionate type of pinching. It involves digging into the child's flesh with the tips of one's fingers and even with fingernails. It is very painful and leaves red marks on the skin. It is usually done to the arms, legs and ears.

Palo is hitting with either an open palm or a stick. The hand usually strikes the arms, the face and the buttocks. Stick-like objects are frequently used on the buttocks and legs. Belts are also used by Filipino parents, but are unlikely to be used by your Filipina babysitters. Just to be safe, don't leave any belts lying around.

Another thing you must make clear to your Filipina babysitter is that she must tell you if your child gets hurt. There have been instances where the nanny was so fearful of being reprimanded or terminated for something that may not have been her fault (like the child falling off the jungle gym at the park) that she didn't report the incident to the parents. In an infamous 2002 case in the New York-New Jersey area, the nanny took the boy home and did not tell the parents that he had fallen and hit his head on the ground. The boy did not receive the medical attention he needed and died.

Money may be incentive enough for some, but the best way to ensure that your Filipina babysitter will give your child the best care is to make her feel like she's part of the family. Often ask if she's eaten (Kumain ka na ba?), check if there's a problem (May problema ba?), ask if she's fine (Okey ka lang ba?) and bring her knick-knacks from your trip — these are all considered thoughtful gestures by Filipinos and will endear you and your kids to her. If your child is a little bratty and tests the patience of adults, tell your Filipina nanny "Pagpasensyahan mo na lang." (Just have patience with him/her.) and she'll feel better about putting up with things.