Virgie Baliton (aged 41) has worked for a Chinese family living in Hong Kong for fourteen-years. Her primary care-job was to look-after the daily need of her 80-year-old employer. According to statements made by Virgie Baliton’s employers – she was very well liked and fitted-in exactly with the family. Virgie Baliton was well-treated, well-paid and well-looked after. Virgie Baliton was born in the Philippines and acquired her post in Hong Kong in 2003. When she packed her bags for Hong Kong – this was the first time she had left her home-country. Virgie Baliton had never travelled outside of Hong Kong before – prior to 2017 – when she was tasked with accompanying her employee to the USA. At 9am on May 13th, 2017, Virgie Baliton and her employer were on the grounds of the University of California (Berkeley), preparing to attend the graduation ceremony of the employer’s grand-daughter – ‘Grace’.
Together, they were sat in the ‘on campus’ Café Strada when Virgie Baliton attempted to use the ‘restroom’ (toilet) – only to find that it was ‘out of order’. On a day that would see thousands of extra visitors to the University it seems bizarre that the owners of Café Strada would not have ensured that ALL the facilities were working properly. As matters transpired, and given that women quite often require the ‘restroom’ far more frequently than men – Virgie Baliton decided to look for another facility outside the café (but presumably still on campus – although this point is not clear in the narrative). After giving the impression that she would be back in a short-time – Virgie Baliton ‘left’ her 80-yesr-old employer – never to return. The grand-daughter – ‘Grace’ – has stated in an interview that she does not think that Virgie Baliton has ‘run away’ as she was happy and settled. However, when the mobile telephone pf Virgie Baliton was rung – it went straight to answerphone – a situation that was very unusual. Furthermore, at the time of the disappearance, Virgie Baliton’s employers tried to ring her family in the Philippines only to find that all the numbers given no longer rang but just re-directed to answerphone. Grace stated that even if Virgie Baliton had run away – the family thought so highly of her that they would take her back with no problem.
What happened? There are no eyewitnesses past 9am. As the place was starting to build-up with larger than usual groups of people, noticing unusual individuals was probably not high on people’s agendas. More to the point, no one reported seeing an Asian woman being manhandled into the back of a care or van – although the likelihood of this must be very high given that her disappearance was so sudden and complete. Another scenario could involve Virgie Baliton being ‘kidnapped’ and held in a secure room somewhere on campus until the crowds had died-down, before she was transported away. Whatever the case, barring the most bizarre of strange circumstances, it is unlikely that her dead body is still on campus – but stranger things have happened – assuming a tragedy befell her. We simply do not know if she was kidnapped and taken away, or killed or hurt on campus. It is also unclear as to whether a 41-year-old (mature) woman would ‘run-away’ – unless she wanted to stay as an illegal immigrant in the US. Why give-up the good life she had in Hong Kong for the terrible life of a migrant exposed to systemic racism in the US? It is a curious case and I hope that Virgie Baliton is well and that her employer has found another carer as good as she was.
Note: According to Chinese Language sources, a 22-year-pld female Chinese student (from Beinjing) who was attending the University of California (Berkley) – named ‘Zhang Shuqin’ (张舒钦) – and she went missing in early 2016. On April 23rd, 2016, a hiker stumbled upon the scattered skeleton of Zhang Shuqin at the nearby scenic spot of the ‘Point Reyes Lighthouse’ (in Marin County). Apparently, her skeleton was two miles away from her abandoned car. This demonstrates that students can and do go missing on or near the campus of the University of California – and perhaps that Asian women are more vulnerable than most: