Flor Contemplacion

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Flor R. Contemplacion
Born January 7, 1953
San Pablo, Laguna,
Died March 17, 1995(1995-03-17) (aged 42)
Changi Women’s Prison and Drug Rehabilitation Centre,
Nationality Filipino
Occupation domestic worker
Known for Executed by Singapore for alleged murder

Flor R. Contemplacion (January 7, 1953 – March 17, 1995) was a Filipino domestic worker executed in Singapore for murder. Her execution severely strained relations between Singapore and the Philippines, and caused many Filipinos to vent their frustrations over the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers towards both states' governments.

Early life[edit]

Contemplacion was born in San Pablo City, Laguna, Philippines,

Background of case[edit]

On 4 May 1991, Delia Maga, a Filipino domestic worker, was found strangled to death in Singapore. A three-year-old boy, Nicholas Huang, whom Maga had been taking care of, was discovered drowned. Although Huang's father could not identify a suspect, the police learnt about Contemplacion through Maga's diary. The police interrogated Contemplacion, who initially confessed to the crimes of murdering Maga and Huang. Contemplacion never retracted her confession, and the Philippine Embassy in Singapore deemed her confession credible. She was then sentenced to death by hanging.


No medical evidence was introduced either by the prosecution or the defence during the trial, in spite of bizarre symptoms experienced on the day of the murders which she described in her confession. A witness, Virginia Parumog,[1] said later that she had shared the same hospital with Contemplacion. The latter one day narrated how Nicolas Huang accidentally drowned, and that Maga's employer was probably the one who killed her, out of rage for his son's death. The witness also confirmed that Contemplacion related how she was tortured into accepting blame for Maga's death.

On appeal, the case was sent back to the same trial judge to allow medical evidence to be heard. The defence then introduced medical evidence claiming that she had been suffering from a partial complex seizure (an unusual form of epilepsy) at the time of the killings, while the prosecution's medical evidence maintained that she was only suffering from a mild migraine on that day. The defence's medical evidence was rejected and she was again found guilty and sentenced to death. She received minimal consular support from the Philippine Embassy in Singapore throughout her trial and there was no representative from the Philippine Embassy present in court throughout the duration of the trial. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Singapore showed an active interest only in the weeks leading up to Contemplacion's execution, when emotions in the Philippines were running high.


Contemplation was ultimately hanged on 17 March 1995 at the Changi Women’s Prison and Drug Rehabilitation Centre despite a personal plea for clemency to the Singaporean government from Philippine President Fidel Ramos.


Although President Ramos seemed initially resigned to the execution, he called Contemplacion a heroine. His wife, First Lady Amelita Ramos, came to receive Contemplacion's coffin at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. President Ramos sent a wreath to Contemplacion's wake and offered financial assistance to Contemplacion's children, who were dependent on their mother's income as a domestic worker. The Alex Boncayao Brigade, a Filipino terrorist group, threatened to punish Singaporean and Filipino officials, while prelates of the local Catholic Church also condemned the execution.

When Contemplacion and Maga's bodies were repatriated to the Philippines, autopsies revealed that Maga has a fractured skull and her throat was almost crushed due to the force inflicted in it. Further investigations revealed that a woman will not be able to exert that much force.

Many Filipinos believed that Contemplacion was innocent or at least insane, blaming the Singaporean government for a lack of compassion, and the Philippine government for not doing enough to stop the execution. The Philippine Embassy in Singapore in particular was criticised since it did not even have a consular representative as an observer in court throughout the trial.

Bilateral relations between Singapore and the Philippines soured for several years after the execution. President Ramos recalled the Filipino ambassador to Singapore, and many bilateral exchanges between the countries were cancelled.

Contemplacion, regardless of her innocence or guilt, became an icon for the allegedly inhumane, abusive, and exploitative working conditions that many Filipino domestic workers and labourers face abroad. Public anger in the Philippines continued with the similar case of Sarah Balabagan in the United Arab Emirates several months later; Balabagan's life was ultimately spared.

In popular culture[edit]

The film The Flor Contemplacion Story, starring Nora Aunor in the role of Contemplacion, won Best Picture in the Cairo Film Festival.

See also[edit]


  • Regional Briefing Philippines: Death Threat (March 23, 1995). Far Eastern Economic Review, p. 13.
  • Rose-Coloured Glasses (March 30, 1995). Far Eastern Economic Review, p. 12.
  • Manila Justice: Executed Filipina Hailed as Hero (March 30, 1995). Far Eastern Economic Review, p. 5.
  • Regional Briefing Philippines: Autopsy Conflict (April 13, 1995). Far Eastern Economic Review, p. 13.
  • Regional Briefing Philippines: Singapore Reopens Case (April 20, 1995). Far Eastern Economic Review, p. 13.
  • The Fight For Flor (March 24, 1995). Asiaweek, p. 27.
  • The Furor Over Flor (March 31, 1995). Asiaweek, p. 36.
  • Beyond the Rage: Lessons from the Case of Flor Contemplacion (April 7, 1995). Asiaweek, p. 17.
  • The Fallout From Flor: A President's Political Worries Over a Hanged Maid (April 7, 1995). Asiaweek, p. 30.
  • Savage Blows (April 14, 1995). Asiaweek, p. 33.
  • More Fallout From Flor (April 28, 1995). Asiaweek, p. 34.
  1. ^ Tupas, Jefry (24 March 2013). "The Lessons Singapore Learned From Flor Contemplacion". Retrieved 28 April 2015. 

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