In the media here you hear about horrific stories of how badly some Hong Kong Chinese treat their Filipina maids, from verbally abusing them to hitting them and even injuring them.
When the employer is not a nice person it makes for a horrible one year for the Filipina who is usually here on her own with not many friends let alone family for support.
And then there are those who treat their maids quite well and have a happy co-existence.
Last night I was shocked to witness how one Chinese woman verbally abused her maid in front of strangers in the tram we were riding in.
They got on and the employer immediately berated the Filipina, making her say the Cantonese words "see ga che" -- at least 20 times. "Say it! Say it!" the Chinese woman ordered her in Cantonese. The maid recited it over and over, counting with her fingers and the rest of us immediately empathized with her.
"Now remember it for next time, OK? Your Cantonese is absolutely horrible. It's not good enough. You need to practice. What's this colour?" the Chinese woman said pulling at her pink long-sleeve shirt.
The maid was silent as she didn't know the Chinese word.
"Pink!" the employer shrieked in Cantonese. "Pink! What about this colour?"
The Filipina said the wrong colour.
"Orange!" the Chinese woman said. "This one?"
"Black," the maid replied.
"No! Hak sik!" the employer said. "Black. Your Chinese is so bad. You have to learn Cantonese, do you understand?"
The maid probably nodded her head as no words came out of her mouth. The humiliation was too much to bear and excruciating for us to witness.
And it wasn't because the employer couldn't speak English -- she knew a few words too. So why force the maid to learn Cantonese using the worst teaching method possible?
The monthly wage of maids here is only HK$3,580 ($460.65). For lower middle-class families this is affordable and also very helpful for them in running their household efficiently.
But does that give employers the right to abuse them like slaves?
The employer then thought the maid wasn't feeling well because she looked tired and asked her so -- in English.
The Filipina nodded, but wouldn't explain why.