Filipino fiesta date for Square bashers

THE matter elicits much righteous hand-wringing from time to time. But now, at long last, it looks as if something is going to be done about it.

We refer to the weekly sit-in of Filipino maids at Statue Square - a subject destined to attract mixed emotions whenever it is raised.

For plans are afoot to establish several civic centres where the domestic workers can spend their free time in an agreeable environment.

And - surprise, surprise - the Hong Kong Government, which hitherto had shown little interest in the plight of the maids just as long as breakfast was served on time and the shirts got ironed, is in on the plan.

At the forefront of the scheme is a new organisation called the Bayanihan (a Tagalog word meaning ''community spirit'') Trust.

The trust is headed by Filipino businessman Manuel Pangilinan, who is managing director of First Pacific.

Included on its board of trustees is Angelita Ramos Jones, the Hong Kong-based daughter of Philippine President Fidel Ramos.

We understand the Government will make available suitable sites to the new trust, which will then refurbish them to meet the needs of the foreign domestic helpers, including non-Filipinos.

In addition to First Pacific, also lending support are Manila-based San Miguel, the Philippine National Bank and the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation.

Thus far $1 million has been raised but much more is needed.

So a fund-raising fiesta has been planned for tomorrow (7 pm) at the Hilton ballroom when the place will take on the atmosphere of Filipino barrio fiesta. And anyone who has attended one of these colourful festivals in the Philippines will know what fun to expect.

Some of the decor and the food will be flown over, and you can be sure there'll be plenty of lively music to captivate the spirit.

If you want to do something positive to help the cause then just turn up. Tickets (priced $750) will be available at the door. For more information call 524 9801.