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‘You have two options: to create art or be in a dark limbo’ – Filipino tattoo artist builds miniature houses to cope with depression

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At first sight, they look very much like real shanties, but they’re actually the rigorously realised miniature model houses of Jayson Pascual “Nhoda” Munoz, a 28-year-old artist from Mabalacat in the province of Pampanga.

Munoz began building houses at the peak of the pandemic to get his mind off the situation and fight his depression, stress, and anxiety from being locked up.

“During the lockdown, I was depressed and I realised that while experiencing it, you have two options: one is to create art or be in a dark limbo,” he explained.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 28-year-old was a full-time tattoo artist for six years, but health restrictions brought on by the pandemic led him to lose clients, income, and eventually slide into depression.

His situation led him to turn to support groups for people battling depression and anxiety on social media, eventually discovering his hobby stemmed from his childhood living in shank houses.

“I make slum houses because I am hoping that someday this will just be a part of our history. These kinds of houses in the Philippines will be eradicated because I am hoping that the new generation of Filipinos will have a better future away from these kinds of shanty houses,” Nhoda outlined.

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