Filipina domestic worker in HK wins scholarship to NYU

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Remember Xyza Bacani? She’s the domestic helper in Hong Kong whose beautiful documentary-style street photography has wowed pretty much everyone, including photojournalist Rick Rocamora who takes photos for the New York Times. 

Xyza is back in the headlines as she becomes one of only seven Human Rights Fellows of the prestigious Magnum Foundation. This means she’s going to New York to study at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Yay.

READ: Our interview with Xyza after she won the scholarship

“All dreams are valid!” the 27-year-old Filipina exclaims on a Facebook post. Apart from the scholarship, Magnum Foundation will also continue “to mentor and support these regional photographers when possible through editorial advice, introductions to photo editors, and in some cases, help facilitate independent freelance work with prominent international media networks.”

“I want to continue documenting the life of OFWs. I want to tell their stories — our stories — and plant seeds of awareness in people. I want to be a photojournalist, a photographer with a purpose,” she tells Coconuts Manila in this interview held a day after she heard the good news.

Xyza grew up in Nueva Vizcaya and studied to be a nurse. Her mother also works as a maid for a Chinese-Australian woman. This employer was the one who paid for Xyza’s college; she wanted Xyza to take care of her in her old age.

“One of her tasks is taking care of her boss’s seven grandchildren, who visit almost daily. Recently, the old woman had her repaint the entire apartment. On more than one occasion, she has asked Ms. Bacani to take portraits of the grandchildren,” according to a New York Times story.

Her message to her fellow overseras Filipino workers? “All dreams are valid as long as we work hard and be passionate about it. Its all about hard work. It always pay off!”

Congrats, Xyza! Mabuhay ka!


Photo: Xaxaphotography Facebook page

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