Dina Tenerife Celo with her son, Ryan.


Filipina in Abu Dhabi gets house as gift from employer


DUBAI – We’ve all heard the horror stories of household workers being maltreated by their employers, but this story of a Filipina nanny in Abu Dhabi is far, far from that.

Dina Tenerife Celo, 45, said her Emirati employer has given her the biggest gift of all: A piece of land with a house-under-construction in Camarines Sur, Philippines.

Celo said that her employer Melissa McPike, an American who acquired Emirati citizenship after marrying an Emirati, is financing the construction of the two-bedroom house.

Celo told that she is “extremely grateful” for the unexpected gift since she has not been able to save any money even after working in the UAE for 20 years.

“This will be home for me and my son, Ryan,” said the single mother. Celo was 25 when she met Ryan’s father, a Saudi national, when she worked in Saudi Arabia in the early 90s. Things didn’t work out and she was left to raise Ryan, now 21, on her own. That was when she decided to seek employment in the UAE and landed a job with McPike’s family, who took her in as one of their own.

Now with the land purchase completed, Celo will be flying to the Philippines on January 18 to take a full month’s leave and oversee the start of construction for her house. Her employer’s 26-year-old son, Saeed Al Muhairi, will come with her to help. Celo said that Saeed helped her design the house.

Saeed was only six years old when Celo started taking care of him and his younger brother in 1998. She worked for the family for two years, and when her contract ended, she took up employment in coffee shops and supermarkets until 2014 when she returned to work for the Al Muhairis again.

“I’ve invited them to stay in the house when they come to the Philippines to visit. For now, we need to start construction work. I am already in touch with people in my province who will work on the project. I hope the job will be done quickly,” Celo told

Melissa McPike with her sons

Celo said her experiences in life have taught her a valuable lesson.

“For people like me who may have experienced some form of hardship in the past, whether in love, life or work, just keep on going and never give up. It will pass and time will come when everything will be okay again as long as you do good to other people and you trust in God,” Celo said.

Celo’s employer, McPike, for her part said that she “wanted to give back” to Celo for everything that the nanny has done for her family. She described the Filipina as “trustworthy” and “hardworking”.

McPike, who is now divorced, said her family treats Celo as one of their family and that her children adores the Filipina so much that they call her auntie. DAJ/Expat Media


Explore Expat Media