• R.I. nanny files trafficking suit vs UAE colonel, wife • Visiting DLSU profs wow Washington

Classic case of human trafficking, if you ask the nanny’s lawyer.

United Arab Emirate Colonel Arif Mohamed Saeed Mohamed Al-Ali and his wife brought their Filipina nanny to the U.S., promising to pay her fairly for a light amount of domestic chores. But when Elizabeth Cabitla Ballesteros got settled into the family’s home in Rhode Island, she was made to singlehandedly work for the family of five children, on top of cooking, cleaning the house, washing the couple’s cars and doing yard work. Elizabeth escaped and, with the help of lawyers, contacted authorities.

“We claim human trafficking in our lawsuit,” Aaldef lawyer Ivy Suriyopas told The FilAm. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund represents the 30-year-old Ballesteros in the civil lawsuit against Al-Ali and his wife Samah Alharmoudi, while federal officials have filed criminal charges against Al-Ali alone. On April 11, he was arrested in New York after boarding a flight bound for the UAE, and later released on $100,000 unsecured bond. His family was with him on the flight.

According to Suriyopas, Elizabeth has been with the Al-Ali household for several years, splitting domestic duties with another househelp who is of a different ethnicity. She worked as a nanny for the Al-Ali’s youngest child. When the family moved to the U.S., they brought only Elizabeth but promised her she would have less responsibility but will continue to care for the child.
“She got far more than that,” said Suriyopas.

She said Elizabeth took care of all five children, as well as the needs of the couple. They paid her indirectly – and against her wishes — by remitting the money in UEA currency to Elizabeth’s family in the Philippines!

Published reports also said he “took away her passport, forced her to work seven days a week—often until midnight—and refused to let her leave the family’s East Greenwich house alone or talk to anybody outside his family.”

Al-Ali has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but his formal response to the civil complaint is still being awaited. He is in the country as a student of the Naval War College in Rhode Island.

Elizabeth remains in hiding. – Cristina DC Pastor
Over at Washington, D.C., two visiting professors from De La Salle University (DLSU) in Manila gave presentations about their academic studies.

Vicente G. Groyon spoke before the Writers in Motion forum about the challenges brought about by natural and social crises, and how people recover from them. The reading and discussion forum was held at the American University April 14. He was joined by seven other participants from Canada, Australia, Guatamela, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jamaica, Kenya and Myanmar.

Writers in Motion is an international writing program sponsored through a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the Department of State. The visiting writers get to travel to Gettysburg, New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, Birmingham, and Baltimore to discuss the theme, “Fall and Recovery.” They engaged local writers, scientists, historians and citizens about a vast range of topics that included the Civil War, Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill and the Civil Rights movement.

Groyon, who teaches creative writing at the DLSU, is an editor of several anthologies and collections of fiction and has written four film scripts. He is a recipient of a Manila Critics Circle National Book Award.

Susan with O’Brien and Abulencia

Another teacher, Susan Gallardo, Ph.D. demonstrated the use of a sustainable water purification system during the National Sustainable Design Expo held April 15 at the National Mall. The expo was organized by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of Earth Day. The water system will be introduced in Nagcarlan, Laguna in the Philippines. DLSU partnered with Manhattan College in developing the system which uses indigenous biodegradable materials such as coconut shell. Gallardo was joined in her presentation by FilAm Prof. James Patrick Abulencia, Ph.D. of Manhattan College and his student Shannon O’Brien.

The expo showcased 55 teams of more than 400 college students from across the U.S. and their innovative solutions to environmental challenges.

Gallardo teaches chemical engineering at DLSU. Abulencia recently participated in the Balik Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippines and will return to the country in June to help launch the water system.


  1. John Zahri wrote:

    I am always excited to visit this blog in the evenings. It is very entertaining.

  2. […] in a human trafficking civil suit. The decision paves the way for the award of compensation to Elizabeth Cabitla Ballesteros, according to a statement from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) which […]

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