'I hope I can always work for them': Helper of 32 years gave up marriage plans to take care of employer's family

'I hope I can always work for them': Helper of 32 years gave up marriage plans to take care of employer's family
Marien Togonon Fernandez (first row, middle) has been working for Mr Liu Zhicheng’s (first row, first from left) family of more than 10 members for the past 32 years.
PHOTO: Shin Min Daily News

People don't have to be tied by blood to be considered part of the family.

Filipino helper Marien Togonon Fernandez was first employed by Mr Liu Zhicheng (transliteration) 32 years ago to come to Singapore and look after his elderly parents.

However, as Mr Liu and his sisters' family grew, Marien took it upon herself to take care of their children, so that he and his family members could concentrate on their work.

"Our family is just like a childcare centre, my two elder sisters and I have eight children. When we go to work, Marien will help take care of them," the 53-year-old, who works in the construction industry, shared with Shin Min Daily News yesterday (Feb 23).

When Mr Liu's youngest daughter was born in 2003, she was diagnosed with learning and speech delays, and doesn't communicate with anyone — except Marien.

Marien, 58, said that as his youngest daughter was unable to communicate her emotions clearly, more time was needed to carefully observe and understand her.

Mr Liu added that he had been facing financial issues with his business then, and when Marien came to know of his situation, she offered to stay on without receiving a salary.

He told the Chinese daily: "We were very grateful to her, but not taking a salary was too much. In the end, we decided to reduce her salary. Six months later, when the business was back on track, we adjusted it back to the original rate."

Ten years ago, Marien was supposed to return to the Philippines to get married, Mr Liu revealed. However, her fiance had hoped she wouldn't return to Singapore after that. As Marien couldn't bear to leave the children, she decided to give up her marriage plans.


"She can't have her own family, but we are also her family. We would eat and go out together, and have not had an employer-employee dynamic since the beginning," he told Shin Min.

He also shared that when Marien's mother died in 2019, he and his family members, including the children who had started to earn an income, gave her $4,000 in condolence money.

Marien, who was awarded 2nd runner-up in the Migrant Domestic Worker of the Year Award by Association of Employment Agencies Singapore on Feb 22, expressed her appreciation for the care and concern that she has received from Mr Liu's family.

"I am very happy and feel very lucky to be able to meet such a nice family as soon as I came to Singapore. I hope that I can always work for them," she said.

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