Filipino maids are sending almost all their monthly wages to drought-stricken and scorched regions on the islands of Palawan and Mindanao, where their families are struggling to stay alive. United Filipinos in Hong Kong co-ordinator Connie Regaldo said the crisis, compounded by the devalued Philippine peso, highlighted the need for higher wages. Domestic worker Martina Lacse, 43, said she was sending back most of the $3,860 she earned to her extended family in South Cotabato, on Mindanao. 'I'm really worried and very, very sad. They are hungry and sometimes they only eat bananas and casaba fruits because there is nothing else,' said Ms Lacse, who is praying for rain. She supports her three sisters and two brothers, all corn and rice farmers whose livelihoods have been battered by the droughts and fires of the El Nino weather phenomenon. Her security guard husband, adopted six-year-old daughter and student son, 24, also rely on her wages. 'It's very difficult for all of them because there's been no harvest and it's really hot. Even animals like chickens are dying,' said Ms Lacse, who has worked in Hong Kong for eight years. 'I spoke to them a week ago and my sisters and brothers are suffering because there has been no rain. The rice they planted has already died because they don't have any water. 'I have also heard babies there are becoming malnourished.' Thousands face starvation on Mindanao. Some 26 people have already died from eating poisonous wild yams after food supplies ran out. The devaluation of the peso has also been forcing food prices up. Ms Regaldo, also from South Cotabato, said everyone on the island was affected by the El Nino effect, whether or not they farmed. 'Everyone relies on farming and there has been such a long drought there is just no food. It is one of the most depressed areas,' she said. Her family now needed more than half her $3,860 salary, compared with the $1,000 she used to send. 'Our message is we need more money to support them,' she said. Carole Mangambo of the Philippines Domestic Workers' Union said she would meet colleagues this week to discuss aid for their compatriots. No members had asked for individual assistance yet, but the organisation might consider raising funds with the Palawan-Hong Kong Association and United Davaoinas - whose members come from the affected areas. The Red Cross began distributing rice rations in south Mindanao yesterday.