Philippine government officials meet with Nanay Fedelina, modern-day slavery survivor

LOS ANGELES — Led by Commission on Filipinos Overseas Secretary Francisco “Nick” Acosta, Philippine government officials met with Filipino workers in Los Angeles recently.

Among the community groups they had a dialogue with, the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC), which has been focused on assisting victims of labor and human trafficking.

While the Pilipino Workers Center talked about their concerns to Secretary Acosta, they also introduced him and his delegation to Nanay Fedelina, who survived decades of enslavement by her Filipino employers.

The 83-year-old domestic helper was freed last year after being kept as a modern-day slave for over 60 years.

Nanay Fedelina shared her story with Secretary Acosta and his team, whose mission is to protect migrant rights.

As Nanay met with a number of Philippine officials since regaining her freedom, there is one person she does look forward to meeting.

As the story of Nanay Fedelina’s ordeal and survival reached the community, her only surviving sibling reached out to the PWC.

The PWC managed to track down and verify the sister of Nanay Fedelina. And after 40 long years, they came face to face — via video chat.  

Nanay Fedelina’s sister has requested to stay private.

 “Tumanda na husto… wala Kang ipin pareho tayo…kamusta ka dyan…” 

The Tacloban, Leyte native had not been in contact with any family member since her trafficker brought her to America in the 1970s.

“Kung hindi nila na hanap, hindi ko alam may kapatid ako buhay Ng na kita ko ang kapatid ko tuwa tuwa.”

“If the (PWC) didn’t find her, I wouldn’t have known my sister was still alive. When I saw my sister, I was so happy.”

Nanay Fedelina has been waiting for her T-visa to be processed.

The PWC is also in the process of securing a visa for her older sister to visit the US.

“We’ve been trying to connect. We hope her sister can follow here,” said Aqui Soriano Versoza.

It’s not clear when the visas for the sister will be granted, but for Nanay Fedelina and her advocates, they’re just hoping a physical reunion can happen soon, no matter which side of the world.

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