Photography exhibition at Yuchengco Museum sheds light on OFWs

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byCassie Cheng

Manila, Philippines: 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. The images were taken by Ryan Arbilo, a Filipino photographer and videographer based in Paris. Chicken Hands will be on view from April 25 to June 17, 2017 at Yuchengco Museum.

Filipino emigration to France has a face, a female face. The women portrayed in Arbilo’s photographs just want to support their families back in the Philippines. Arbilo’s ‘chicken hands’ images have the power of an intimate face-to-face encounter. They are portraits with no touch-ups, of women, of mothers, holding out their bare damaged hands—the only tool they have. As visitors look through the photographs, they read the loneliness marked on their faces and the stories told through their hands, revealing the perseverance and endurance of these Filipino women.

Since 2009, Arbilo has been photographing the struggles of Filipino housemaids who travel to France for a better life for their family. “The significance of seeing their bare hands…. their ‘Chicken Hands,’ as a symbol of the sacrifice and demeaning treatment they endure, both inspired and moved me to tell their story the best way I knew how: through the art of photography,” shares Arbilo.

About the photographer

Born in Laguna, Philippines and now based in Paris, France, 35-year-old Ryan Arbilo studied French, photography, 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.

Former French Minister of Culture Jack Lang says 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 from April 25 to June 17, 2017. Yuchengco Museum is at RCBC Plaza, corner Ayala and Gil J. Puyat Avenues, Makati City. Museum hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (632) 889-1234, visit, or follow @YuchengcoMuseum on social media with the hashtags #ChickenHands and #RyanArbilo.


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