A documentary that delves into the daily dramas of Filipino domestic workers had its premiere at the 21st Busan International Film Festival in South Korea early this month, with the Manila-based director seeking to shatter stereotypes about the millions of women employed in households across the world.
Babyruth Villarama’s documentary “Sunday Beauty Queen” tells the story of Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong finding fulfillment through a beauty contest. She followed five domestic workers as they gear up for the annual Miss Philippines Tourism Hong Kong, a pageant organized by maids in the Asian financial hub since 2008.
The film gives audiences a closer look at domestic workers’ daily lives in Hong Kong, which includes interactions with their employers, their working conditions, and their relationships with families back in the Philippines.
The International Labor Organization estimates that there are around 50 million overseas domestic workers employed globally. They play a vital part of the Philippine economy, sending an estimated US$26 billion home each year – or around 10 percent of the country’s GDP.
Villarama hopes the film draws attention to the contributions of foreign domestic workers and changes the way they are treated. "The beauty pageant is a light story, but behind that, there is a reality we have to confront," she added.