Interview with Tessie Reyes


Name: Tessie Reyes

Age: 58 years


-          Started working in her twenties in combination with a study.

-          Company in typewriters in her thirties.

-          The last 16 years she spend working in the household of a British family in Wakwak.


Lives in: Tondo, Manila

Currently, Tessie Reyes (58) is a trainee tourleader for Smokey Tours (ST). She will begin working as a professional tourleader December 2014. After this interview it became clear to me that Tessie is a very busy and strong woman.  2014 was the year of big change for Tessie. In February the British family went back to London, so she had to stop working for them.

For years she has been the breadwinner of her family. She pays the rents amongst other things for herself and her younger sister. The other sister of Tessie lives next to her with her husband and children. During the years she was working at Wakwak, she came back to Tondo only once a month for a few hours of quality time with her family in Tondo. She liked working there, so it was a pity when the British family announced they were going to London. But now she can spend more time with her family again.

This years’ September, Nympha (already a tourleader for ST) introduced Tessie to Smokey Tours. Immediately she liked the organization. October and November this year were busy months because the training for becoming a tourleader started. For instance, to become a tourleader you have to practice the English language. And you have to learn the ins and outs of the tour. In Tessies case: the Slumtour.

When I ask her about the situation in the slums she feels “depressed about them” and “lucky to be in a better position”. But she also can see that the children have access to education. They have dreams about leaving the slums one day. “Although the people in Tondo are poor, they are goodhearted and dare to dream.” The family bonds are strong in the Philippines, also in the slums. Tessie thinks that the slumtour is important to let people see that there are also things that go right there.  

She is really looking forward to be a tourleader. I personally think she will be a great tourleader. After the interview I received a text message from her: “Thank you for helping here and also on behalf of my countrymen. MABUHAY THE NETHERLANDS.” I am so glad that I had the luck to meet her during my month in the Philippines.

Author: Jolien de Boer

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