Filipinos abroad – be it in a country that speaks English or in one that speaks Swahili – are known to be quiet and hardworking folks who cause no trouble. Lest, of course, they risk losing that contract job they’d given up so much for. Back in the Philippines, those branded as troublemakers are those who speak out. And in the (recent) past, the “risk” was to be called a leftist or an activist. In and out of the country, it has been a culture of silence.

But thanks to social media and the power of the internet to call to action, voicing out one’s anger and frustration no longer paralyzes. It now provokes thought, sometimes action, and in some cases even change. And with the more widespread use of images as a means of expression, understanding the images we find on these platforms has never been more urgent and significant.

Today, we proudly share the provocative images of 2 Overseas Filipino Workers – Manny Francisco and Daniel Infante Tuaño – who have used this new media not only to vent, but to express deep sentiments about the country they’d left and their desire for a new way. A political cartoonist based in Singapore, and a multi-media journalist based in Spain. Through their drawings and Instagram posts, we will get a glimpse of the issues that weigh down on Filipinos overseas, along with the ‘thousand words’ spoken by each of their brilliant images.

This is what Route Projects’ VISUAL STORIES is really all about.

MANNY ANELLE FRANCISCO is originally from Novaliches, Quezon City.
He studied Visual Communications at the College of Fine Arts, in the University of the Philippines – a university known for producing free-thinking and critical minds. When asked why it is important for him to speak about one’s ROOTS, he says it is what defines one’s identity and sense of belonging in the global scheme of things.

MANNY is currently based in Singapore. He is proudly an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) and Editorial Artist for the Singapore Straits Times. He was recruited directly by the paper in 2007 while he was still working for the Manila Times. Up to this day, he continues to produce editorial cartoons for the filipino newspaper and sees it as a chance to speak up about any issue he chooses, which the paper has generously allowed him to do. This cartoon of a ‘broken record’ is about the recently held State of the Nation Address (SONA), which is an annual address by the President of the Philippines to a joint session of Congress. This, just like all of his other drawings for the Manila Times, are meant to provoke thought about a certain issue in the news which he believes is his mission as an editorial and political artist.

MANNY ANELLE FRANCISCO has chosen to keep creating these political drawings for Manila Times despite having a full-time job with the Singapore Straits Times. His images vividly reflect the sentiments of many Filipinos abroad and in the Philippines, only tinged with the more lucid honesty of one who has seen the country from outside. These recent drawings are in response to the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) threat to tax OFWs and inspect all the Balikbayan boxes they send back to their families. This has sparked an outrage among overseas Filipino workers who are supposedly the “new heroes” of the country, and are now being treated like tax-evading cheats. But as suggested in Manny’s drawings, the BOC itself is the one that should be subjected to such “intimate scrutiny.”
See more of his works on

DANIEL INFANTE TUAÑO is originally from Mariveles, Bataan.
He has been an active speaker about his Filipino ROOTS, and for the Filipino community in Barcelona where he now lives. This is his photo of second generation migrants, or more politically correct – “children of migrants” – whom he feels should be seen. On why it is important to be visible in society, he says – “VISIBILITY is one of the ways to address the problem of discrimination and structural racism. I wish these children will be able to do whatever they want in life and not be limited by stereotypes and the lack of job opportunities their parents are experiencing.”

DANIEL has been living in Barcelona since 2005. He first came to study a Masters in Globalization, Development, and Cooperation at the University of Barcelona, fulfilling a life-long dream of studying abroad. He ended up staying after the masters and now works as a Multimedia Journalist. As his involvement with the Filipino community grew deeper and his migrant experience wider, he has consistently spoken out, openly and fearlessly expressing his views as a Filipino immigrant. He has done this on several occasions as an invited speaker in public debates and discussions, and formerly through “Ang Bagong Filipino,” a blog and magazine for Filipino migrants that he founded during his earlier days in Spain. This photo – “Terrorism is not having enough salary to get by till end of the month” – along with the others are from his Instagram account – yet another channel for his ideas on ROOTS and migrant RIGHTS to be seen and heard.
See more of his photos on Instagram!

“The term ‘terrorism’ has been used over and over again in the narratives of international relations and media to pursue the interests of the powerful. […] Sadly the victims of terrorism are usually the powerless, the innocent, ordinary individuals.”
And this was his Instagram caption for THIS PHOTO:
“”In your face racism” The photo exhibit of an Italian photographer on Filipino community in Barcelona was vandalized by a xenophobic, anti-immigrant group in Spain. The sticker flag might have been torn up but the message of the extreme right Spanish group is still decipherable not to mention predictable–“Kick out immigrants! Spaniards first!” Oblivious and IGNORANT of the fact the “Filipino” in the picture is a Spanish national like the aggressors themselves.”