The ‘kilabot’ and the ‘kasambahay’

12:05 AM April 05, 2017

Riyadh—She came here to the Saudi capital to work as house help in a residential villa. But finding the rigors of her work unbearable—the villa was enormous—she ran away. She encountered no difficulty in looking for refuge; she found a Filipino community that gave her temporary shelter—in the rented apartment of the family of the community leader.

He was a martial arts expert and he taught his skills for a fee to those who wanted to learn the art of fighting. He had been in Saudi for quite a while, having gathered a following among his kabayan who considered him a “master” and a kilabot (terror) due to his expertise in martial arts.


One day, meeting the community leader, he came to know the sad story of the runaway kasambahay. He saw the 19-year-old escapee, was promptly smitten by her beauty, and asked to be introduced to her.

The next thing she knew was that she was to transfer to the house of the hotshot martial artist. Trusting the community leader and thinking his friend kind and a gentleman, she agreed to the setup. But no sooner had she spent a quarter of an hour in the new house than she found herself being assaulted by her host. It was, from then on, a living hell for her—she became his sex slave. Whenever he would leave for work, he would lock her up with a threat: If she tries to flee he would take her to the police station where she would be imprisoned.


Though aware of the terrible plight of the runaway kasambahay, the community leader could do nothing because her captor was his “master.”

One day the kasambahay was able to bolt free. Out in the streets, she was advised by some compatriots that she should proceed to Batha, an old district in Riyadh, where she could get assistance as the area was a known hangout of Filipinos. On hearing her story, her compatriots in Batha readily offered help, saying they would raise her case to the Philippine authorities in Riyadh. Meanwhile, angered by the wickedness of the maniacal kabayan , they devised a plan to deliver him to the Riyadh authorities.

Thus, the runaway phoned the martial artist and said he should come to Batha to collect her. He readily did as told. On seeing the girl in the company of men, he became enraged and told the men he had come to pick her up and just leave. But the men refused to turn her over to him. The confrontation turned ugly, leading to a brawl.

Like the late legendary movie king Fernando Poe Jr., who slew his enemies in his vintage films, the martial arts expert took on and felled one by one his adversaries, who had swarmed all over him. By this time, the area had become crowded with people of different nationalities who left their shops and found themselves mesmerized by the fighting skills of the Filipino warrior.
But the martial arts guru was no FPJ, and the scene was no scripted story. It was real mayhem. And so, one of the “antagonists” managed to sneak up behind the kilabot and struck him with an iron bar. He fell to the ground instantly.

Like a pack of famished wolves, the kabayan mob rushed to the fallen warrior and an orgy of kicks and punches ensued. By the time the Riyadh cops came, the kibitzers were gawking at the sorry sight of a badly beaten man lying unconscious, his clothes torn off except his underwear. He woke up in a hospital with serious eye injuries and his body sore all over.

Fortunately for him, the runaway kasambahay seemed not intent on filing charges. She probably thought the severe mauling he received was enough revenge against her tormentor.

This story took place about a decade ago in Riyadh. And, well, it never fails to resurface every now and then whenever there are conversations among Filipinos in the city.


Amador F. Brioso Jr., a lawyer, has been working as a senior legal advisor in a Riyadh bank for eight years now. He is the author of several books, and his first nonfiction work published in 2015, on Arsenio Lacson of Manila, earned him the award for best nonfiction prose in English in the 35th National Book Awards.

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TAGS: Filipino community, Kasambahay, nanny, OFW
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