A nine-piece black-and-white photography exhibition at Yuchengco Museum reveals the hardships that Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially domestic workers, endure in France.
Entitled “Chicken Hands: Photographs by Ryan Arbilo,” the exhibition features portraits of Filipina housemaids, with a particular focus on their tired, weary, chicken feet-like hands. Ryan Arbilo, a Filipino photographer and videographer based in Paris, took the images.
Born in Laguna, Philippines and now based in Paris, France, 35-year-old Arbilo studied French, photography, and videography in Manila and Paris.
Being the son of a ‘Chicken Hands’ mother, Arbilo wants to promote awareness on the socioeconomic situations of OFWs who feel the need to work abroad because of poverty in their home country.
“I grew up without my mother and, although I am grateful for the opportunities I received, it came at too high a price. The pain of growing up with her has stayed with me and, through this project, I seek to understand why. So I honor her and the women in this series,” shared Arbilo.
As such, in 2009, Arbilo began photographing the struggles of Filipino housemaids who travel to France for a better life for their family.
“The women I photographed have worked for more than a decade, mostly as undocumented workers and living in fear. However, they are always smiling, never complaining as they do everything their patron demands for little to no pay,” Arbilo further noted.
Former French Minister of Culture Jack Lang remarked that Arbilo “uses his talent to highlight the plight of these all too often invisible women, to challenge the viewer, and to embody which many prefer to ignore.”
Arbilo’s Chicken Hands series of photographs have previously been exhibited in Monaco and Paris.
Chicken Hands: Photographs by Ryan Arbilo is on view until June 17 at Yuchengco Museum, RCBC Plaza, corner Ayala and Gil J. Puyat Avenues, Makati City.