When my younger nephew's nanny decided to leave one day, the house was thrown in disarray as we cannot run as a .holding with just a single maid.
There was no time to assess the situation, and within days, a new maid was dispatched from Iloilo care of my sister's mother-in-law.
The house breathed a sigh of relief.
But the new maid is no ordinary housekeeper. She's a he, and puts on makeup, and wears skimpy short pants that attract attention. Had it not for the fact that he was my brother-in-law's distant relative, he would never set foot inside the house.
And there was reason to be weary sharing spaces with the effeminate man.
We have two young boys in the family, and mean stereotypes tell that men wearing ladies' accessories "corrupt" young children. They are not to be trusted with valuables and information too as they are masters of deception. The latter statement came from my mom's beautician, a female hairstylist, who has probably a lot of gay friends of her own.
These doubts were brushed aside when I reminded the Left-leaning members of the family of their socialist agenda.
How can we achieve labor equality if we can't even give this man a chance.
"Malay natin," I said. "Okay naman siya."
"Who knows" I told myself. "He might lead the way for me to finally leave the confines of my closet."
He was generally met with ambivalence in the first weeks after his arrival. Arielle, as we call him, can cook well, (his vegetable dishes are divine) and ever since he took charge of the laundry, never did my clothes leave a foul smell again.
But the nonchalant attitude didn't last long. The head maid, who calls him "bakla" eventually lost patience. His refusal to finish household chores earned him the ire of my sister. I would describe him as someone who needs to be winded, like a machine, to do his job. For when he does nothing, and receives no tasks, he was out of the house, in the company of other men who are tambays in the neighborhood.
Twice, I spotted him talking to them and this too I shared with urgency with the matriarch during one of our late night conversations.
The small offenses piled up until it became clear that he is bound to be replaced. My sister, his direct employer dislikes him. The matriarch worries about the kids getting confused of his gender. Soon, instructions were sent to my relatives' helpers to look for a new nanny, a female, who can actually be relied on to look after the kids.
The search ends weeks later, and a new maid was found. It was the Favorite Aunt who arranged for her travel. I woke up one afternoon to find her in the kitchen. And I knew, with one glance, that someone has to go.
Just when he had finally stopped talking to the tambays who did nothing but ask favors.
We could have looked for a replacement job for him. A relative who lives a street away has a beauty parlor. There might be a job opening for a new stylist. I could have asked friends too on Facebook and Twitter if they needed a helper. While both ideas were plausible, they didn't convince the women of the house to set forth and initiate the search. They simply wanted him back in the province for reasons of safety.
Given Arielle's curiosity of urban folks and his mediocre work habits, we cannot guarantee he would be treated well by other employers.
He simply has to do it on his own.
And so he left a day before my birthday, a week after he helped my mom de-clutter the Master's bedroom, and after receiving a simple "Thank you card" from me. Had he been someone else, someone who would tirelessly work day and night to put the house in order; someone, who would not court trouble by associating with people we naturally distrust; and had he won the Alpha females' favor by becoming one himself, like I did, to prove I am no pushover, he would have stayed, and his wages will directly come from me.
After all, it has been my fantasy to have a flamboyant guy dressed in French maid costume serve my needs. That, of course, belongs to my future.