The following situation has largely resolved itself but I thought I would share it while it's still fresh...
My wife's cousin has a one-year-old. Close to when she gave birth she asked my wife's mother if she wanted to be the child's yaya. That would have meant having to move to Cebu City from the south, to live in a middle-class subdivision in a not-terribly large home with at a minimum three working adults, two students and the kid, not counting the cousins, aunts and uncles passing through (quite often). For whatever reason, my mother-in-law declined. Smart move, if you ask me. Though she has been unemployed since 2009, she did start to receive her pension this year and at least has a little income coming in; we help her out when we can, as does my wife's older sister, from Dubai.
The whole yaya concept is one I have a real (negative) gut reaction to. The idea of paying someone-and not much-to feed, diaper and nurse one's own children is just plain counter-intuitive. I get the economics of it and I know that in the States, daycare is status quo for just about everyone. We're basically doing the same thing-in a country that supposedly values the family, the economics are such that we are forced to pay strangers to look after our young ones. Only 12% of employers offer paid leave to new mothers, etc. etc. Makes me sick-but that's another topic for another day.
In the Philippines, I would argue that they take it to another level. Anyone, even from the lower middle classes, who can afford one, invariably hires a yaya. Even those who can afford to stay at home have nannys and sometimes two. Someone to come into-or live in-their home and provide 24/7 care to their child. And certainly in my wife's cousin's case, where the two of them are having to shell out some coin to pay for a home requires the two of them to work. Childcare workers here in the States aren't paid well. My mother used to work part-time for $9/hr. Anyone know what yayas make in Cebu, for a month? Try 3000 pesos, about USD75. This in a country where the minimum wage for gov't workers is, I think, 280/day (feel free to correct me on this).
For a woman newly turned 60, to decline such a position makes sense to me. But now the kid is spending the whole week at her grandma's house, about three hours away from the city. His parents come down on weekends to reclaim him. And though there is a yaya there during the day, at night, a lot of the care is falling on my mother-in-law's shoulders. It should be stated that since she has never declared anything definitive about caring in such a way for her nephew, I cannot speak for her about her feelings. I do know for a fact that she gets up in the night to tend to him quite frequently and her youngest daughter has several times stressed this to us, that my mother-in-law was providing most of the night care.
My mother-in-law is in the unfortunate position of being the only healthy (and free) person in the household. Her twin sister works during the day for the municipio. Two uncles also live in the house but neither is particularly healthy. She also happens to be very kind and quite the push-over. I know the type well, as my own mother is the same way. So when the twin asks my mother-in-law to do anything, she jumps. When my wife's cousin's father was rushed to the hospital with heart issues, my mother-in-law was asked if she could withdraw money from her social security account to help pay the hospital. In the Philippines, you cannot leave the hospital without first paying. She took a bus in to the city on her own dime, only to discover that the money was not yet available from her account.
I should add that I am godfather to the child in question and though I have not seen him in person, he is completely adorable and undoubtedly a great pleasure to look after, like any child, at times. However, when my mother-in-law was asked for her pension money, I could not hold my tongue any longer. In a civil way, I asked my wife's cousin if there might be some compensation for all the care my mother-in-law provides for her child at night. This did not go over well. Not at all. She immediately replied, demanding to know, just how much should the compensation be? Had I itemized it? Good comeback, I have to admit. For several months, all Facebooking between my wife and her cousin-who is close to her-ceased. I felt horrible and was moved to write a note in apology, feigning ignorance of how the yaya system worked-pointing out that my wife had nothing to do with my original message, which was true. The two of them eventually reconciled and there has been no mention of it since then. Business as usual. And presumably my mother-in-law's yaya duties have not lessened.
What was gained? Most likely nothing. Mostly I made an @@@ of myself. I'm sure the whole family knows about it. Although my wife and her sisters were secretly pleased. "Truth hurts" was her ate's comment, after the incident-which made me feel all knight-in-shining-armor. For a day.
Moral of the story: butt out of family business. And don't type anything you wouldn't say in person. The problem with the Internet is that it emboldens fools. I'm keeping my trap shut from now on.