Every Sunday, Singapore explodes with life as tens of thousands of foreign domestic workers escape their workplaces and head to the island’s parks, churches, tourist attractions, and other public spaces. When you live and work six days a week in the home of your employer, how do you spend your day off? Where can you go to rest and recharge for the week ahead when your home is also your workplace? For many foreign domestic workers, the answer is a shopping mall, where you can meet friends, send money home, get a haircut, buy clothes, eat familiar foods, and more. The most visible and well-known such place is Lucky Plaza, a mall known as Singapore’s Little Manila due to its concentration of shops catering to workers from the Philippines. In this episode, student-producer Celia explores the phenomenon of foreign domestic workers in Singapore and visits Lucky Plaza to hear why so many foreign domestic workers visit there on Sundays. She also reflects on growing up with foreign domestic workers in her own home and wonders what ‘home’ means to them.
Sound effects from freesound.org. Music from audioblocks.com.
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– Asis, Maruja Milagros B., Shirlena Huang and Brenda S.A Yeoh. 2004. “When the Light of the Home is Abroad: Unskilled Female Migration and the Filipino Family.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 25, no. 2: 198–215. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0129-7619.2004.00182.x.
– Yeoh, Brenda S.A., Shirlena Huang and Joaquin Gonzalez, III. 1999. “Migrant Female Domestic Workers: Debating the Economic, Social and Political Impacts in Singapore.” International Migration Review 33, no. 1: 114–136. https://doi.org/10.1177/019791839903300105.
– Yeoh, Brenda S. A., and Shirlena Huang. 1998. “Negotiating Public Space: Strategies and Styles of Migrant Female Domestic Workers in Singapore.” Urban Studies 35, no. 3: 583–602. https://doi.org/10.1080/0042098984925
Additional links about Lucky Plaza and Foreign Domestic Workers:
– Assoc Prof Shirlena Huang Profile: http://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/geoslena/
– Main Entrance of Lucky Plaza
Image Source: The Finder Singapore
– Foreign domestic visitors at Lucky Plaza
Image Source: The Straits Times