The Story of Isabel Villegas
As told to Janina Marie Rivera
The next day, I took care to dress well, fix my hair, and apply make-up on my face. I went to my job interview. My potential employer looked so simple. She had no make-up on and no jewelry. She bluntly asked, “Are you sure you want to work with me?”
“Yes, ma’am any kind of work.”
She grabbed a mop from the floor and said, “Okay, I’ll show you your work place.” She brought me to the bathroom.
And my first assignment?
“Clean the toilet for two hours,” she said.
My face didn’t show my dismay, but my heart fell. “Oh, Lord, I will clean the bathroom!” It was a humbling experience. I said to myself, “This is just my training ground. My being a teacher or a nurse should not be affected.”
When I was left at the toilet, I went down on my knees and prayed, “Lord, hindi ako tamad na estudyante. Nag aral po ako na buti. Do I deserve this?” I cried. I didn’t know I was being watched through the CCTV.
I remembered my seafaring brother who had taught me how to clean toilets; what he taught me was “education” I could apply now. As my tears flowed down my cheeks, I decided to worship my Savior. I passionately prayed, “Lord, let all who use this toilet be saved in Jesus’ name! Let this be a holy toilet!”
Right then and there, I resolved to be faithful with my two hours in the bathroom and to do my best.
Fruitful through Faithfulness
My new employer offered to give me work for two hours for five days—from Monday to Friday. After my first week with her was done, I was called on the phone. “I am not contented with your two hours,” she said.
I gulped down my uncertainty. “I’m sorry; I’m not really good with household chores,” I stammered. “But that was my best!”
“You don’t need to worry,” my employer said kindly. “Do you have any other work? Can you work for five hours next week?”
It was a promotion! I was faithful with my two hours; I would be faithful with five hours! After that next week, my employer called me again. “Isabel,” she said, “Are you interested to work for me?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Are you sure you have no other work?”
“Yes,” I replied again.
This time, this wonderfully plain woman gave me, the only Filipina among her servants, the whole house to clean— not just the toilet.
Again, I was overjoyed!
“A month after I received Sundays off”
After that week, my employer came back home with a baby. She handed me the baby. “I know that you are Isabel, but can you take care of the baby?” she asked.
I was stunned.
“I’m going to prepare our food,” said my employer.
I was shocked all the more. Our food?
She prepared vegetable salad. I was unsure of myself as she did this. I asked her cautiously, “Is it okay for an employer to eat with a servant?”
My employer smiled. “Why not? This is your home! Sit down and eat!”
We settled around the dining table. I prayed, teary-eyed and thankful. When I opened my eyes, she looked straight at me.
“What did you do?” she asked.
“I prayed,” I said.
“What is that?”
“I thanked God for the food,” I explained. “And I thanked God that you, an employer, wants to eat with me, a servant.”
“Here, Isabela, I’m telling you again. This is your new home!” My employer said. Then she added, “Maybe next time, you can make your prayer a little bit louder so I can hear it.”
Ever since that time, I prayed out loud before we ate.
The Garden Clock, a tourist attraction in Vienna
An Alarming Phone Call
In all this, I never really knew who my employer was, except that she worked with the government. As the days passed, I did my work faithfully. Part of my tasks in her house was to answer the phone. One morning, it rang, and the caller said, “Hello. Can I talk to the Princess?’
I was so naïve. “Princess? Who?”
“I want to talk to the princess.”
I was shocked. My employer was a… princess?
I composed myself quickly. “She is not here. Just wait.” When I put the phone down, I gasped. “What? My employer— a princess?!” I never knew I was working for the royal family; then again, the “house” I was cleaning was a schloss! There was a good number of these kinds of castles in the country, but I did not think that the lady I served was the princess of a European nation.
I continued my tasks as her household helper, blessed with the new knowledge of whom I was serving and finding out more about them. As the days continued, I saw myself ironing and doing the laundry for the family. I was faithful, but in all honesty, I had to admit that ironing was difficult! I sweetly asked God if I could be spared from ironing.
The Best Promotion
One day shortly after, the princess called me and said, “Isabel, are you willing to take care of my baby?”
“Do you have experience in taking care of babies?”
“Yes, ma’am! Back home, I took care of my nephews and nieces,” I said.
“Okay.” She handed me her baby and said, “Can you take care of our baby?” This touched my heart. She said, “OUR BABY.” I would be responsible to treat this baby as my own!
The princess continued. “Starting today, you are not going to do laundry, or iron, or clean the house– except to clean my room, Isabel. You will be the only one allowed to enter my room.”
God truly answers prayer! Not only did I get a job to help my parents’ medical bills, but I received a good job from one of Europe’s royal families which allowed me to have my weekends off (and ironing off) my list! I can say that I am the first Filipina to teach their royal grandson how to pray for the food.
And yes, I treat the boy as my very own.
Writer’s Note: The exact country where the royal family holds power has been withheld at the request of Isabel. It is apparent in the story, however, that they do stay often in Austria.
The story of Isabel Villegas comes in many parts. In fact, this is only one slice of her highly interesting life. Isabel is currently in the Philippines due to the lockdown brought by Covid 19. She is the Founder of Kayang Kayang Missions International, which provides basic medical and livelihood services to unreached communities and tribes in the Philippines.
Because of what she does at Kayang Kayang, Isabel has been awarded by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Naval Forces, and the Special Forces of Philippine Military. She is also an international awardee of the Government of Sweden and an international awardee of the Government of Thailand. This information, of course, is altogether another story in the life of Isabel.
Janina Marie Rivera is the author of the book, A Night Bird Sings of Blindness and Fear and has co-authored the devotional, Dawns, published by OMF Literature. She is a contributing poet in the books Joyful Light and Whitmanthology: on Loss and Grief by Various Authors. She is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine.