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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Filipina Maid inherits $6M

A lot of us have been dreaming of winning big in Sweepstakes, all ticket buyers and non-ticket buyers alike. :) I myself have been imagining on hitting the lucky pot, especially when the stake in the Philippine Lotto hits 741M Php (S$22.45M). And when a certain lucky guy hit it, that was the time when I realized that I was only dreaming as I was not buying any lotto ticket for me to win. Anyone willing to buy a ticket for me? Just hit me a message. Hehe.

One time while I was waiting for a lift in one of the malls here in Singapore, there was one particular Ad that caught my eyes from the TV screen, "Filipina Maid inherits $6M from her employer". I can't help but became curious on what the story behind this but it was only this morning that I was able to find time to do a research while office works seem to be less.

So, here's the story of Filipina woman, an OFW from the province of Negros Oriental who went here in Singapore serving her employer for 20+ years, whom in return not only learned to trust her but treated her as a member of the family.

Straits Times Singapore, 21 Jul, 2010, Wednesday
$6m maid
Filipina inherits cash and Leonie Hill apartment
By Sujin Thomas

IN 1986, a petite Filipina arrived here to take up a job as a maid to a general practitioner.

She did the usual household chores for Dr Quek Kai Miew and looked after the doctor’s ailing mother until the older woman’s death three years later.

But what happened to the Filipina since Dr Quek herself died a year ago is far from usual – she has inherited a cool $6 million from her grateful employer’s estate, including the apartment in Leonie Hill (right) which her late employer called home.

But the 47-year-old former maid – and now millionaire – insists that little in her life has changed.

The unmarried eighth child in a family of nine told The Straits Times in an exclusive interview: ‘I do not really think much about the money I got. I just live my life as I did before, and not as a rich person.’

She wears her hair in a trouble-free short crop and dresses simply in blouses and slacks; she does not hanker for all the worldly goods her money can buy – what she casually dismisses as ‘fluffy things’.

She refused to go into the details of the inheritance, and refused to be named for fear of possible threats to her life in the Philippines.

Let us call her Christine.

She went back to the Philippines in February, about seven months after Dr Quek’s death, but returned here on Sunday, a day ahead of the first anniversary of the death.

She brought along her mother and sister-in-law. The women, here on 21/2-month social visit passes, have moved into the Leonie Gardens apartment off River Valley Road.

The Straits Times understands the apartment may actually have been willed to Christine and a nephew of Dr Quek’s, but this could not be verified.

Christine has applied for permanent residency here because this is where she spent more than 20 years working for Dr Quek.

The late doctor probably had a lot to do with Singapore feeling like home.

Fresh off the boat from the Philippines’ central Negros Oriental province, she said she was treated by Dr Quek – herself unmarried – like a daughter.

This came through in the interview, during which she referred to her late employer interchangeably as ‘Dr Quek’, ‘madam’ and ‘mother’.

The doctor always listened to her personal problems, she said. ‘I always opened up to her. Even if she scolded me, we always discussed it.’

She added that Dr Quek shared with her not only the comforts of her home, but also good food such as laksa.

When diabetes made it difficult for the doctor to get around unaided, it was Christine who pushed her in a wheelchair when she needed one, such as during medical check-ups. She said: ‘I was always beside her. Wherever she went, I was with her.’

They were apart only during the maid’s short trips home to the Philippines once every few years.

Dr Quek was 66 when she died on July 19 last year of heart failure; she had complained of chest pains three days earlier.

Christine, recalling that day, said the doctor died peacefully, with her family and her maid around her: ‘She did not say a word when she left us.’

The doctor is said by family friends to have retired about a decade ago. In the 1970s, she headed the Health Ministry’s Nutrition Unit, and was known as a charitable and decisive boss.

She was also a senior member of the Singapore chapter of the World Red Swastika Society, an 88-year-old organisation grounded in Buddhism and Taoism, and which seeks to promote a world without boundaries or discrimination.

Her wealth came from her heavy investments in property, much of it from the collective sale boom.

She has relatives here and abroad, but was not close to them, except for the nephew who visited her just about every week.

Christine said Dr Quek drew up the will some time in late 2008, and discussed it openly with her.

She said: ‘There were no secrets between us. I was not surprised at all when she told me how much I was going to get.’

After Dr Quek died, Christine could not bear living in the apartment, so she moved in with Dr Quek’s nephew when she got permission to stay here until her work permit expired.

She said of the grieving: ‘It was heartbreaking for me as I saw more years with Dr Quek than with my own mother. I would break down every time I thought about her. I could not be by myself.’

When her 85-year-old mother came here to be with her shortly after the death, the pair moved back to Leonie Gardens, but they left for the Philippines in February.

Last Sunday evening, after Christine, her mother and a sister-in-law came back here for the death anniversary, there was a ‘makan’ session at the apartment, and Dr Quek’s relatives came over.

All declined to be interviewed.

Christine is still in touch with her friends here and said even those relationships are still pretty much unchanged.

‘I am still who I was before. I cannot behave differently because I have money now. Even my Filipino-maid friends here still treat me the same.’

Now that she is not working, she has been able to spend the last few days showing her sister-in-law – her brother’s wife – Singapore’s sights. They have seen the Merlion and Sentosa.

Christine said, laughing: ‘I have spent half my life here, and I know the country very well. I am now a tour guide.’

Asked whether she considers herself fortunate, she replied: ‘I am, but I cannot express what to say.’

After a moment’s thought, she added: ‘I am the luckiest maid in Singapore, with or without the money.’

News Story Copyright by Straits Times Singapore.
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