Farm, businesses, maid has it all
HERE, she is a domestic helper. But back home, she owns a farm, is boss to up to 18 people and is even a landlord.
That's because Liza Padua, 49, had an eye for business and took courses to sharpen her skills.
She is one of dozens of helpers, who took business courses at Aidha, a micro business school with its campus at the United World College of South-east Asia at Dover.
The Filipina, who is from the province of Isabela, credits her success to Aidha.
The school, which is specially targeted at domestic workers, has seen a steady rise in the number of students since its first lesson.
Ms Padua, who attended classes in 2009, said: "Before I attended the classes, I wasted a lot of money. I would try saving at the start, but withdraw the money again at the end of the month to spend it.
"I started by saving $150 to $200 each month. With each class (on how to save and budget), I became more passionate about saving and building my finances."
She tightened her belt and started saving $500 a month out of her $750 salary and invested in a rice farm in her hometown, half a hectare at a time.
After three years, she eventually bought over the farm, which cost her 400,000 pesos (S$11,280) in all.
It is now managed by her elder brother and they employ up to 18 farm hands, mostly her neighbours, providing them with jobs and an income.
"I employ even my nephews and nieces during their holidays because I don't want them to be spoilt," Ms Padua said.
The farm rakes in about 8,300 pesos a month.
She also has a joint business venture to distribute frozen seafood locally and gets a cut of 6,000 pesos every month.
Aside from her businesses, she also earns 5,000 pesos from renting out a house and a night market stall.
The various earnings add up to more than half the amount she earns as a domestic helper every month.
It was her father's death which forced her to leave school in her mid-teens to work as a domestic helper here in 1997.
She had seen her mother toiling as a maid in Manila and wanted to help support the family.
Most of the money has been used to see her six nieces and nephews, now between 21 and 23 years old, through university in the Philippines.
With only one still studying, Ms Padua called her gift of education to them a major achievement.
She had to give up on her studies, even though she enjoyed school.
"I always wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer. But I ended up becoming a maid," she said.
Her youngest nephew, Samson, is still in college doing IT and her two other nephews, Melvin and Marlon, graduated with a degree in criminology.
Two of her nieces, Myrna and Manilyn, hold degrees in agriculture, while Mercy graduated with a degree in hotel and restaurant management.
After her youngest nephew graduates next year, Ms Padua plans to save up for her dream home - a landed property.