Richardson scores firsts for Filipinos and females
No matter where she works, Remy Richardson remembers her regulars.
It is a character trait that has served the waitress well. At Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, where she has worked for nearly 30 years, she was recently promoted to supervisor – the first female and the first Filipino in the senior role.
“You have to know your customers, you have to know what they like,” she said. “It’s what I always tell the staff – not only about the members here, but wherever they go. I’ve worked in a restaurant, I’ve worked in a hotel, this is a members’ club. In the hotel, in the restaurant, if they complain they’re never going to come back. Members will come back because this is their place and so you have to take care of them, give them what they want.”
Mrs Richardson was 16 when she got her first job as a waitress in Subic, Zambales a coastal municipality northwest of Manila, the Philippines capital.
She met her Bermudian husband Lee there in 1992, and moved to the island shortly after they married three months later.
“He was working at [the former Marriott] Castle Harbour and he had a lot of Filipino co-workers,” she said. “When the hotel closed for the winter season one of his colleagues who was going home invited him to come. He went. And then we met.
“His friend just happened to be a guy who had a sister who is my best friend.”
By the time she arrived here Mrs Richardson was five months pregnant. She had never been to the island before, had “no idea what Bermuda was like” and initially struggled with the new culture. She was grateful for the English classes she’d taken in school that helped her muddle her way through conversations.
“When I got here I was homesick,” she said, explaining she’d left her parents and nine siblings behind. “I never thought I’d live anywhere other than the Philippines. It just happened.”
Three months after she gave birth to her first child she joined her husband at Castle Harbour. A Filipino friend whose husband was working at RHADC suggested Mrs Richardson look for a part-time job there.
She started helping the Paget club with Sunday brunch. Before she knew it her hours had been extended to two days a week.
When Castle Harbour closed in 1999 Mrs Richardson joined Windsor Garden, located where Café 4 is now, in Windsor Place.
“I was working there for five years and when they closed I moved here full-time, in 2007 if I’m not mistaken.”
In the years since, general managers and commodores at RHADC have changed; members’ children now have families of their own.
“All the people I worked with at that time are already gone. The only person still here is one of the chefs, Janet. She’s the longest person here and I’m the second.”
Mrs Richardson added five children to her family and, for several years, worked part-time at Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio in St George’s to make ends meet.
“Our children are all two to three years apart. My husband is from a big family like me – his mother had eight, my mother had ten. So when we got married we wanted eight kids.”
After each birth, she travelled back home to introduce the baby to her family. With her youngest now 12, the trips are less frequent although she did pay a visit in February.
“It has become expensive for everybody to go,” the 53-year-old said. “Now and then we go and take maybe the youngest one and maybe my husband comes with me but my oldest children have to work now.”
Her mother passed away five years ago. It helps that she has family here – two of her sisters married Bermudians; a brother is also on the island.
Her new role at RHADC has brought a lot of change, as has Covid-19.
“A year ago now they promoted me, said Mrs Richardson, explaining it is her job to assist the general manager, Cassius Fevriere. “We’d never had a supervisor before, only a general manager, maitre d’ or food and beverage manager.
“Especially now with the pandemic, we are busier. Most members prefer to come here, it’s safer. We take their temperature; everyone has face masks on.”
She recalls, with some shame, how little she understood about the island when she moved here.
“I just wasn’t used to the culture,” she said. “Even when I would catch the bus with my husband it was different. In the Philippines, when we catch the bus or any other public transportation, we don’t wait for people to come out. We just go. We’re racing. We want a seat. But here, no.
“The other day I was thinking back to one time when my husband said to wait, and I still went. The driver held up his hand but I kept going. Now I realise, but I had to adapt to the culture.”
Although it was likely just as difficult for her husband when he visited the Philippines, Mrs Richardson said: “ He was probably embarrassed because I was not Bermudian and then [I acted in the way I did] but he also had to adapt to my culture.”
She laughs when she hears other Filipinos describe her as having an “easy” life.
“What amazed me was that some people that I know said, ‘You’re lucky you have a Bermudian spouse, you don’t need to get a work permit.’ They don’t know what I’m going through. In the Philippines I never worked in my life like how I work now. I have six kids and I never stop working.
“Before I didn’t have bills, now I have bills. Back home I didn’t have a credit card, I didn’t have a back rent and I never worked long hours. Sometimes I work 12, 13 hours a day.
“I never worked hard like that when I was in the Philippines. So don’t say I’m lucky. If my husband was rich and I didn’t have to work then maybe I would be lucky but sometimes I work more hours than him. I’m here because we have family together, we have children and we have to put food on the table.”
Still she says she is happy with the job she has.
“Most important for me is that I have passion for what I do. You have to love what you do. I’m the type of person if I don’t like it, if I’m not happy I’ll just leave. It’s not just about the money. I’m comfortable here. I feel like this is my second home. I am happy here. If I’m 60, as long as I’m fit and healthy and they want me to be here, I’ll still be here.”