Sharon Cuneta Defends Calling Her Helpers ‘Yaya’ And Their Use of Uniforms

Sharon Cuneta posted an innocent photo of her staff having dinner out (presumably on her) last September  2. The photo unexpectedly attracted a significant amount of controversy for referring to her helpers as ‘yaya’ and requiring them to wear uniforms out in public. Sharon stood by both of these decisions, defending that there is nothing inherently wrong with either.

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One Instagram user questioned Sharon’s use of ‘yaya’: “I don’t think yaya is a nice word for it. Guardian sounds better [don’t] you think?”

Yaya to us is an affectionate term, which is why even our cook and lavandera and all-around helpers are called ‘yaya’. Mahirap naman to call my yaya ‘Guardian Hazel!'” Sharon replied.

Another Instagram comment read: “Ang panget lang sa public na kasuot ng uniform ang mga yaya dapat walang uniform ang mga yaya.” [It’s so ugly to see helpers wearing uniforms out in public, they shouldn’t have to use uniforms.]

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Sharon replied with a lengthy message, starting it out by saying “I’m so sorry you think that way. I guess if I have to explain it to you pa, that means you won’t understand.” She focused on how her treatment of her helpers should not be judged based on their wearing uniforms as they are actually afforded more than what meets the eye.

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The comment explains how her helpers are not required to wear said uniforms when out abroad and instead wear the clothes and souvenirs that Sharon either buys for them or gives them an allowance for. More than that, she stresses that they are treated like family by eating at the same places the family does and watching the same Broadway shows. She concludes that these benefits are “not a bad exchange for giving me and my family some decent representation in the Philippines.”

“Maybe those who find it not nice that [our] yayas wear uniforms in public should meet them somehow and ask them how they are treated by me!” she added in a separate comment.

How do you feel about the use of the term ‘yaya’?