Friendly Friday: MEET … the Filipinas

It’s Sarah’s turn to host the Friendly Friday Challenge and she asks us to feature people met during travels at home or abroad.

This week she gives us a fascinating look at the people of Jaisalmer, India.

Looking at her photos, I am reminded of a documentary workshop I took while in Singapore years ago. This is a post from my archives and given Singapore’s super-vigilance on Covid-19, I’m not sure Sundays on Orchard is the same. I suspect a variation is still true but maybe my friends in Singapore will let me know.


In Singapore, domestic help live with their employers during their six-day work week. They have sundays off and usually spend it with their friends.  This is no different from anywhere else in the world. Except that in Singapore, there aren’t a lot of public spaces for masses of people to meet.  

A favourite hub is the Lucky Plaza mall on Orchard Road. Every Sunday morning, thousands of people pour into this old-style shopping plaza and block. The crowds are equivalent to Black Friday sales in the US. Or Boxing Day sales in Canada. Or New Years Eve in Nathan Phillips square. (Pre-Covid!)  Lots and lots of people.

Normally, I avoid crowds but I’d signed up for a workshop on ‘Documentary Story-telling’. Our group exercise was to craft a photo essay on Filipino maids spending their Sunday on Orchard.

It’s a hard life being a maid; cleaning and caring for one family while living far away from your own.  Most come from the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar.  Typically, they work two years before taking vacation for home trips.   It’s no wonder that on their day off, they reach out to compatriots and spend the time socializing.

Thomas, our workshop teacher gave hints on taking surreptitious street photos.  The tip I liked most was how to take photos with a mobile phone in one hand.  It helps to have long and nimble fingers. Too bad for me!

Thomas did not spend a lot of time on technicalities, his focus was on messaging and mood capturing. Sometimes it involved taking imperfect pictures. Pictures which by themselves were un-interesting but as part of a whole, made sense.  Here is my collection.

Photos taken on Orchard Rd, Singapore.  April 2016

19 Comments

  1. As the dad to two adopted Filipino kids who are now 30 and 26, 9 months and 15 months when they came to the US, I can attest to the Filipino’s being wonderful people. Sadly , they have little opportunity to succeed coming from a third world country with so much overtly. The country itself is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How good of you to choose an international adoption. I think your kids grew up in a much kinder place with more opportunities than their birth country. I know that as a parent, I’d have nightmares of ‘what-might-have been.’

      For a purely clinical POV, the country’s GNP is interesting. Their greatest export is it’s labor force. Filipinos who work abroad and send money home. Domestics, oil rig workers, cruise ship crew , laborers. It works but is not a sustainable model, is it? To be so reliant on the wealth of other countries. I think Covid must have been especially hard on all the people caught abroad and away.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Like

    1. I know what you mean. I have almost no pictures from my time in Beijing. I only took up photography as a hobby afterwards. It’s my one regret. Thanks for dropping by Donna.

      Like

  2. Super post Sandy – both your words and photos tell us so much about the lives of these young people. My favourites shots are the first and last. The first because it’s such an insight into their lives, thinking of those at home first before they relax and start to enjoy their day off. And the last because I love the way you’ve included the photo being taken of the two girls by their friend – it gives your shot an added dimension 🙂 Thanks so much for joining in the challenge!

    Btw of course your pingback didn’t work so it’s going on my list to report to Bluehost. The more examples I have the better!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Money Exchange post is a classic example of perfectly imperfect photo. It’s a lousy shot on it’s own but as part of a story sequence, it’s significant.
      Thanks for hosting this week Sarah. Looking forward to what everyone has to show.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In the photos, I see happy and a tinge of sad faces. Perhaps they are missing home or perhaps they are sad at their situation, or is that my interpretation. I visited a friend who lived on Orchard Road in a beautiful spacious apartment with a view of Marina Bay Sands. It was palatial and although she refused to have a maid, she showed me the room that was allocated on the plan as the Maid’s room. She used it to store her mops! It was not big enough for a normal-sized bed! I was shocked….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is truly remarkable what some people consider sufficient for a maid’s room. When I was looking for place I was shown a gorgeous condo off Orchard Road. It had a roof-top patio with walk-out to a covered gazebo. In between the two was a Rubbermaid tool-shed. At least I thought it was tool-shed. The agent informed me that this windowless, plastic box was for the maid’s quarters! Shocked doesn’t begin to describe what I felt.

      Like

        1. I’m sorry to say that this is not to be blamed on the architects & designers. It’s a matter of real estate prices and the priorities afforded by home-owners. In SG the avg real estate cost per square foot is over 965USD; compared to Brisbane: 545 USD; compared to a Toronto condo: 800 USD. But I think the disparity has more to do with custom & expectations. In Toronto if I ever offered a broom closet for accomodation, I’d get a visit from the police!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Custom and expectations. Saving the best real estate space for themselves. It is short sighted thinking though. An unhappy maid will make your life uncomfortable and perhaps leave your employment. If you must have a maid, a happy maid with room to move and sleep will be an asset to your family.
            A South African friend had many maids that stole from her or caused mayhem in the family, so that when she moved to Singapore, the last thing she was going to have was a maid sleeping in the mop room!
            Interesting though about expectations and prices of real estate.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Captured the crowd pullers. Scenes are similar to what we witnessed in Hong Kong. Saturdays & Sundays it was impossible to step out of home either in Kowloon or HK island. Entire public spaces were taken up. Initially one did feel disgruntled but then then DWorkers did have a right to free time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first time I saw this phenom was in Hong Kong. I had no idea what was going on. I clued in when I realised everyone was female and they were speaking tagalog. Really, cannot begrudge them their day out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautifully & sensitively told Sandy – through your images as well as your written thoughts; a story of a group of people who are in very peculiar situation. Much more challenging now, as you say, with the Covid 19 situation.

    When the restrictions are relaxed, these hardworking helpers can be seen in smaller groups around Orchard Road still. But many of the public areas where they would have picnic-ed are cordoned off to prevent gatherings; so the available spaces for them to meet are much restricted.

    Lucky Plaza has been very very quiet, at least, the times I’ve run past. It is suffering like most malls in Singapore. We have essentially been in some sort of restriction since the pandemic started, just with tighter or less so restrictions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words Ju-Lyn, and for claritying what happening now. I’ve often wondered how all the Singaporean residents cope with the pandemic restrictions.

      Like

      1. It’s interesting how each country has to deal with repeated lockdowns at various times and in different severities. But one thing is universal, it is challenging no matter where we find ourselves. We are just on a relaxing of restrictions, but numbers are starting to rise again, so I think there are anxieties.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it Neil. I like her expression and casual engagement with her companion as she’s rolling whatever is in her hand. I get the impression that she’s sharing a little story or gossip with her friend.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s