Leeh Ann Hidalgo

Added 27th Jan `20

Tell us about yourself!

I am Leeh Ann. Filipina. Former teacher. Photographer and I am a domestic worker.On January 2013, I left my home country, the Philippines, to work for a family based here in the city. My daily chores involve cleaning, cooking, and looking after my employers’ children. But before I studied biology at university and worked as a high school teacher back home. Personal circumstances led me to move here.Of course I knew that life wasn’t going to be the same in Hong Kong. But I don’t think anything could have really prepared me for the emotions I experienced in my first months. The hardest part was not the job itself: it was the stigma associated with being a migrant worker. What was most difficult was being looked at differently. Not only did I look different and speak a different language, but my status seemed to precede me.

What inspired you to start photography?

It was that feeling of being some sort of “second-tier” citizen in the eyes of others, which was
hardest to overcome and became my inspiration to get back to photography. Going out and taking
pictures of others somehow became a therapy, and a challenge. I wanted to find an outlet to
express what I saw and how I felt, and I wanted to meet other people. I was also determined to tell
our unheard story and to make us “connected” to the city and to the community and to show others
that we are more than our job.

Ethnic minorities and migrant workers comprise a large population here in HK, what improvements would you like to see?

I am hoping that in the future we won't be looked down and not be considered as only second-tier
citizens but part of the community that has a great contribution not only to the employers and families we
are working with but to the society as whole. That we will be considered as part of Hong Kong too.

Advice for fellow migrant workers who want to pursue photography or similar interests?

Don't let our job as domestic worker become a hindrance for us to do and achieve something that we
really want to do. Instead, use our situation as an inspiration for us to reach our goals. And most
importantly, enjoy and respect others. Nothing is too hard or impossible to do as long as you are really
enjoy what you are doing without hurting or offending others.