H.K.’s Xyza Cruz Bacani wants to meet the Filipino nannies in NYC, visit all museums

Hong Kong domestic worker and aspiring photojournalist earns a scholarship to NYU. Photo: APF Collective website

Hong Kong domestic worker and aspiring photojournalist earns a scholarship to NYU. Photo: APF Collective website

By Cristina DC Pastor

What comes to mind when you hear New York? Huge city with a nice art scene and burgers! What NYC attraction are you dying to photograph? The streets of NYC. They look so interesting. Any Broadway show you’d like to watch? No idea, but I would love to visit all the museums. Do you want to meet with FilAm nannies to find out how they are doing in the Big Apple? Yes. Maybe they will allow me to shoot and tell their stories. It will be nice to make a comparison between the nannies in NYC and H.K. Any NYC celebrity you’d like to meet? Susan Meiselas and Sheila Coronel. They are a great example of strong women, celebrities in their own way.

I did ‘5 questions’ with Xyza Cruz Bacani, 27, a nanny and a photographer from Hong Kong who is coming to New York in May. Her arrival is eagerly awaited by the Filipino community here.

Her photos of romantic couples and protest rallies have attracted the attention of The New York Times, CNN and major news organizations, but before that, her lens told the stories of Filipino domestic workers like herself, penetrating their lives and capturing their dreams, anguish and joy.

Xyza was named one of the Magnum Foundation Human Rights scholars. She will be attending a six-week photography course at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts.

“I’m going to see New York and finally (get) a formal education!” the aspiring photojournalist writes on Her Facebook page. “I’m literally crying when I received the news.”

Xyza works as a caregiver for an elderly woman, and uses her days off to snap pictures of people and street scenes. About 10 years ago, she joined her mother in Hong Kong, who is also a domestic worker, so they could both support their family in Nueva Vizcaya and send her two younger siblings to school. She was working toward a nursing degree when she left the Philippines.

“I love my job as a domestic helper,” she tells The SUN, a Filipino newspaper in Hong Kong. “But my being a photographer is totally separate from that.”

The advent of fame earned her a solo exhibit at the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong in November. The show was called “Xyza In Focus.”

Xyza sells some of her photographs to support the Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, a shelter for abused domestic workers in Sheung Wan. Proceeds are used to buy “diapers, milk, baby clothes and other baby stuff” for mothers at the shelter, where she took many of the artistic photos that have earned wide acclaim.

“Most of the time I shoot lonely, isolated people because that is how I usually feel,” she tells The SUN.

A sampling of Xyza’s photographs below, some taken for APF Collective, an exclusive club of street photographers around the world

xy 3

girl xy

xy apf 2

red line

Leave a Reply