It's a hot noon on a Sunday and my fellow Overseas Filipino Workers, gathered along Orchard Road, are laying down big garbage bags as mats, and preparing food. It's a picnic on a sidewalk.
I asked fellow OFWs which day of the week they prefer, and they answered, almost in unison, “Sunday”.
An OFW’s life is challenging. The long hours of monotonous work is exhausting, and sleeping in cramped quarters is maddening (a few unfortunate ones sleep in tiny and uncomfortable rooms). That is why they consider Sunday as a valuable day, and almost sacred. The only day free to mingle with fellow Filipino workers; have long distance talks with loved ones back home, or just breathe. Breathe from the laborious and demanding duties.
They visit churches before heading off to meet with fellow Filipino workers; while others spend the few hours of freedom hanging around shopping malls. From house helpers to skilled workers, they anticipate the coming of Sunday.
However, life abroad is not always advantageous for an OFW. It’s a sad life that involves sacrifices and risks. One remarked, in Hiligaynon (a local dialect in the Philippines), “Sa tood lang, mas gusto ko pa maupod mga bata ko kaysa magtinir diri. Galing kilanlan ko mangita kwarta para mapa-eskwela sila.” (I would rather be with my children than be here. But we need money so I can send them to school.)
The group of OFWs I spent time that day had the initiatives to meet other Filipino workers, and made sure to spend their Sunday wisely.
I have an innate love of stories. And this is the reason what drew me to photography. I believe storytelling matters—it heals and teaches; it inspires and resolves; it enchants us as well as enlightens us. Since then, this has been a core pillar of my career as a photographer.