Mon, Aug 25, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Foreign laborers hold `sungka' challenge


A tournament of sungka, a traditional chess game played in Indonesia and the Philippines, was held with 18 teams competing yesterday in Taipei.

The event was organized by House of the Migrants' Empowerment (HOME), a government-sponsored foreign-labor-care center.

Players compete with an opponent to move 98 small shells around 14 wells in a bid to collect as many shells as possible in the players own buhay, or base. The person who collects the most shells in his or her buhay wins.

The winning team was given a certificate and an international telephone card for each participant.

"We want to thank HOME for holding this tournament for us," said a Filipino worker attending the event.

The sungka tournament is just one of hundreds of activities that have been held by HOME since the organization was founded in March last year.

"With funds from Taipei City's Bureau of Labor Affairs, we can hold activities such as this, said Broadway Chen (陳柏偉), director of HOME.

Located near St. Christopher Church in Chungshan District, HOME is a place for foreign workers in Taipei -- most of whom are Filipino female domestic assistants -- to gather over the weekends and share experiences.

At the end of July, there were 33,064 foreign migrants working in Taipei. The majority of them are women from Indonesia and the Philippines, according to statistics provided by the Council for Labor Affairs.

"This is our second home," said Emma Solocio, a Filipino housework assistant, who has worked in Taiwan for nearly two years.

HOME provides a free kitchen, computers for Internet access, a mini-library and a gym.

"HOME is a very good place. We can cook food in the facility's kitchen," said Solocio.

"I can also share my experience of how to deal with Chinese bosses and teach people how to cook Chinese food with those who just came to Taiwan in need of help," she said.

"Our Filipino friends enjoy their leisure time here. They have formed several rock bands, a basketball team, even a poet's society, said Huang Hui-chen (黃惠偵), the secretary of HOME, pointing to some poems hanging on the wall.

Here these people are their own masters, enjoying complete autonomy on things ranging from organizing activities to decisions which will improve their working conditions.

"We formed a labor group -- Kapulungan Ng Samahang Pilipino [KASAPI] -- last month. In English it means the Group of Filipino Migrant Workers," Solocio said.

KASAPI will hold a legal workshop at the end of this month with HOME to familiarize foreign laborers in Taipei with laws and regulations concerning their rights.

With the cooperation of local labor groups, HOME is also drafting the household affairs service bill while consulting with these foreign laborers in the process. HOME intends to send the bill to the Legislative Yuan, Chen said.

For more information, readers cang visit HOME at No. 38 Shuang-cheng St., and its telephone numbers are 2595-6858 and 2595-2977.

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