Maid wins best actress award
ANGELA Barotia is not your typical foreign domestic helper.
She cooks, cleans and, yes, acts.
The 39-year-old from Albay-Bicol province in the Philippines even won a Best Actress Certificate of Outstanding Achievement at the 2016 Brooklyn Film Festival held in New York last month for her lead role in the local feature film Remittance.
It is directed and written by Americans Patrick Daly, who works in Singapore at Earth Observatory, and Joel Fendelman, who owns a production company in New York.
Remittance also won a Certificate of Outstanding Achievement in best screenplay.
There are no plans to screen it in Singapore yet.
She said her employer - a Chinese-Singaporean man whom she started working for last year - found out about her Best Actress win when the certificate from the Brooklyn Film Festival was delivered to his HDB flat.
When he saw it, he was in "complete disbelief" and praised her.
Ms Barotia came to Singapore to work in 2009. Her first stab at professional acting happened in 2013 when she played a maid in local theatre production Rojak, which was a portrait of the lives of foreign workers here and the issues they face.
She saw the casting call for it on the Facebook page of the local non-profit Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) and decided to audition on her day off.
Ms Barotia would complete her household chores before attending rehearsals for the play on weeknights.
The script for Remittance resonated with her as she portrays a maid struggling with difficult employers, long work hours and being separated from her family.
Remittance was shot in Singapore and in the Philippines from July to September 2013.
During that time, Ms Barotia's British female boss was overseas with her family members, allowing her the freedom to shoot from early morning to evening, seven days a week.
Although she did not earn any money from her acting gigs as it is illegal for foreign domestic workers to take on other paid jobs, she sees acting as an outlet to relax and make new friends.
She said: "I am happy with my ($600 monthly) salary and life here.
"I could never earn this much back home."
She does not wish to return to the Philippines, where she used to be a vegetable seller, but she hopes to bring her children to Singapore one day.
THE NEW PAPER