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‘Our work does not define us’: Award-Winning Photographer and Helper Mayrhose Coronado on How to Pursue Your Passions

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As Helper Appreciation Month continues, we shine a spotlight on some of the passions and hobbies helpers pursue in their free time

We all need self care, and a big part of this is having the time and opportunity to pursue our hobbies. Today we meet Mayrhose Coronado, an award-winning photographer who only discovered her talent after arriving in Singapore 10 years ago. As you’ll see below, she didn’t come here to be a helper, and initially felt despondent when she had no choice but to become a domestic worker in order to stay in Singapore. But she made a conscious decision to make the best of things, which ultimately led to the discovery of a new hobby – photography, culminating in a showcase at Aidha’s 2018 “Unspoken Life” photo exhibition.

Mayrhose is almost entirely self-taught – and shoots primarily with her camera phone – and today she leads free photo walks for anyone else interested in learning photography and exploring Singapore’s beautiful streetscapes and heritage buildings. Stay tuned later this week for more info on how you can sign up for one!

There’s so much inspiration to be drawn from Mayhrose’s story (not to mention her gorgeous photos!), but one thing that stays with us is an important piece of advice she has for other helpers: Our work does not define us. We applaud Mayrhose for pursuing her passions and creating new and exciting opportunities for herself!

Hi My name is Mayrhose Coronado. I work here in Singapore as a domestic helper for 10 years now. After I left my job as an F&B trainer in the Philippines, I decided to look for a job abroad. I like how Singapore is a very efficient, convenient and safe country. I also love the variety of food choices and the quirky cafes.

So I came to Singapore, hoping to land a job in the F&B industry. But things didn’t turn out as planned. I didn’t manage to get a job. And I was in that situation that there’s no turning back, so then I decided to work here as a maid. I really thought it was the end of my life. But I knew back then that I only had two choices: it’s either to just sit there and be sad and depressed about my situation, or get up, go out there and face the world.

After I realized that there is more to life than being so unhappy about my situation, I made a promise to myself that I would explore every nook and corner of Singapore. So then I bought a map and started exploring. And I came across this street, it’s called Purvis Street. That’s where I saw those colorful shophouses for the first time. I was so fascinated by it. And I learned that those colorful old buildings are called Peranakan shophouses. And that’s where I started digging a little bit deeper about Peranakan architecture and its history. I just love its beautiful and ornate façades, intricate motifs and ceramic tiles.

 

In addition to that, exploring quaint back alleys is interesting too. I fell in love with the older neighbourhoods in Singapore such as Blair Road, Emerald Hill and Joo Chiat. I love taking photographs of old buildings; I am not a history buff, but there’s something about historical sites that ignites me.

I started using Instagram to showcase my photos, and because of this I was able to reach out and connect with other amazing and talented Intagrammers. I must say that Instagram is one of those communities that will accept you wholeheartedly regardless of who you are. And for years of exploring these historical sites here in Singapore, I’ve come to realised how ordinary it is to love the beautiful, and how beautiful it is to love the ordinary.

I didn’t really have any background in photography when I started Instagram, I was just creating to survive. The only tools for my shoots are a handphone and natural light. I like representing the colors, the vibe, the spirit of the other side of Singapore, its heritage and history portrayed in its preserved old architecture. I believe my personal style does not focus on the more technical side of photography, but rather capturing the scene with the right light from the sun, showing symmetry and the vibrant colors of old structures. For me, photography is something that keeps me going.

My number one piece of advice to anyone interested in starting photography is: just really love the subject of your photographs. Be consistent, and don’t forget to have fun!

 

I hope that some day people will recognize how important [domestic helpers’] work is and appreciate our contribution to the society. I would also like to reach out to my fellow Domestic Helpers and somehow help them reach their full potential is. I want to share my story to help them realize that there are endless possibilities out there just waiting to be discovered. And also help them realize that our work does not define us.

So if you feel like giving up, just remember that life may not be perfect, but it is good.  And more good things are coming down the road as long as you keep moving forward!

Thank you so much, Mayrhose! Click here for more information on her photography and photo walks!

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