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"Sunday Beauty Queen": Review and Insights

Denise is a communication student, a poet and a book lover. She enjoys watching documentaries and film.

About the film

Sunday Beauty Queen is a 2016 Philippine documentary film directed by Baby Ruth Villarama and follows a group of expatriate domestic workers or Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong as they prepare to take part in an annual beauty pageant. It made its world premiere in the Wide Angle documentary competition at the 21st Busan International Film Festival in 2016.


There are 190,000 documented Filipino professional helpers in Hongkong. They live with their employers 24 hours a day and six days a week.

On Sundays, they are free. They meet with their fellow immigrant workers at their informal holiday meeting places.

They organize beauty pageants as a means of relieving their stress from working almost every day. The annual event takes place on Sunday and is participated by Filipino domestic helpers representing their different home provinces.

This 95-minute film, follows the life of the few of the pageant participants and the organizer, Leo and their struggle to support their families back from home.

What it speaks about?

As most of them wanted to provide a "better life" for their families, they are forced to leave them behind. The lack of job opportunities and low salaries in the country pushes them to try their luck outside the country.

In a foreign country, with foreign people and unfamiliar customs and traditions, Filipinos tend to adapt well as immigrants anywhere in the world. They try to fit in with the culture and values, but also keeping the values they've learned from home. Despite adapting to the new environment, these workers yearn for their family back from home. Behind the smiles and enthusiasm, are stories that replicate the struggles of every Filipino domestic workers and their families apart from them. The simple events they stage are just ways of coping from the sadness brought by being away from their loved ones. They need to sacrifice themselves to provide for their families.

Apart from yearning for their loved ones, some of these immigrant experience abuse and maltreatment from their employers which some of them endures it so they can stay and still be able to send money for their families. Help is sure available but sometimes, they refrain to ask for it because they are afraid to return to their country with less opportunity to earn as much as they earn from working there. This sometimes leads to their death.

There are sure policies that protect them from harm, but it does not lessen the risk of them to experience abuse.

The stories and challenges they have to endure and surpass surely shows their unconditional love for their families - one of a kind story of love.

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A snapshot of our video call.

A snapshot of our video call.

My mom

"Sunday Beauty Queen" surely touched my heart because my mom also works abroad. I basically grew up without her. She used to work as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia for around seven years. She went home after a two-year contract and went back to Saudi few months after. She stayed and worked there for about five more years. I have no resentments or whatsoever, I am well aware that my mom left us so she could provide for our needs as the opportunities to get a well-paying job in the Philippines is scarce. However, her absence affected us - her children - a lot. And I believe, this is true for most children who have a parent/s who are working abroad.

No matter how much we needed their presence at home, they would still make the same choices for our sake, of course. Simply because finding a job that will support the family's welfare is not so easy to find here in our country. We have lesser job opportunities and even if we do have, the salary we get here compared to that from abroad is very cheap.

This time, my mom transferred to Hongkong to work there again as a domestic helper. Whenever we do video calls on Sundays, I usually see her around other Filipino workers in a park or near the beach. They console each other's yearning for home. After a week-long stressful work, they usually unwind and talk to each other on Sundays at the parks. They do picnics and other stuff just like what the documentary film, "Sunday Beauty Queen" has shown.

© 2019 Dens Yang


BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on November 29, 2019:

This was interesting. I enjoyed seeing your mom and you on is great that nowadays one can keep in contact almost like they are right there.

I am sure it is difficult and you miss your mother, but she is trying hard to provide you with a great life.

You got to Love her for that...she seems very special.

Whenever you miss her or feel lonely.. start to write and post it here on Hubpages.

There is always nice people who care and would love to read your work.

Thanks for sharing.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 29, 2019:

Thank you for sharing about the film Sunday Beauty Queen, and also about the situation with your mother being an OFW. It must be hard growing up with a parent not always present but I am sure it was necessary to support the family.

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