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Cycles of Care

Letters of Workers

  • Apr 30 2024
  • Claudia Liebelt, Lizza May David
    Claudia Liebelt is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the FU Berlin. Her research interests are in the Anthropology of the Body and the Senses, Gender, Migration and Citizenship. She has authored Istanbul Appearances: Beauty and the Making of Middle-Class Femininities in Urban Turkey (Syracuse UP, 2023) and Caring for the “Holy Land”: Filipina domestic workers in Israel (Berghahn, 2011).

    Lizza May David is a transdisciplinary artist and lecturer at the Kunsthochschule Weissensee Berlin. She engages with omissions in personal and collective archives through abstract painting, installations, architectural interventions and collective works.

These three voices are based on the documentary Cycles of Care, which follows five Filipina caregivers returning from Israel, where they worked in homes. Back in Manila, they struggle to make a living and reintegrate into families. 



You dance with the music.
Just go with them, you dress like Israelis,
eat like Israelis, act like Israelis and
my hair before was very curly, you remember?
And they told me, you don’t look like a Filipina,
You look like a Spanish.
That’s what they talk about me.
If I go to the group of the Israeli,
I am no longer a Filipina.
Since then, luckily, I have been very very lucky.
I was the only one left for 19 years
from the group, the 48-group.
They were caught by the police
and the others even though
they married Israeli, they [left].

Do you still have any savings?

No. I’m sorry. Not even a cent.
I left the Philippines with 5 cents.
When I entered the Philippines,
it’s 300 $.

Finita della comedia.




How was your first day in Israel?

It was hard for me
because I traveled alone.
And then I stopped in—
I don’t know that place.
My seat is still available
and they are calling my name.
And then when I heard it,
I run and run and run.
The airplane is already waiting for 6 minutes.
And then they bring me immediately to the house
of my employer.
We cannot communicate.
My hard experience is
when I don’t know how to speak Hebrew.
And my employer doesn’t know how to speak English.
And then every day, until one year maybe.
I just cry and cry.
When he died, I needed to go home.
Because I have no more visa.
So the children of my employer let me go home.
So my sister found me another employer.
And then she is a woman.
But because of the time,
I already know a little Hebrew.




So when I went to Israel,
I told myself, I will save money,
I would not waste my money.
Because it's really good money.
You will see on television,
that when people win an amount of 5000
you see they are crying, oh my god.
I told her for 5000 pesos, do you know the value?
And then when they win 10,000 pesos,
they cry very hard, you know, really!
I told her, I only paid that
for one time in your school,
10 000 how many times
will I pay that to your school?t
I told her, she needed to study very hard,
I don’t just pick it on the street
or just cheat people,
so that I can have money, I always tell her.
I hope she will learn,
she will know the value of that love.


fig. 1




Cycles of Care, 2011, documentary by Lizza May David and Claudia Liebelt, 52 min.

This contribution was originally published in Caring Structures, the booklet was released in conjunction with the homonymous exhibition at Kunstverein Hildesheim.



    Cover, fig. 1: Lizza May David and Claudia Liebelt, Cycles Of Care (2011), Filmstill.



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