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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query xyza cruz bacani. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query xyza cruz bacani. Sort by date Show all posts

Book, art exhibit shine spotlight on Bacani’s life as 2nd generation migrant worker

Posted on 17 December 2018 No comments
Xyza Cruz Bacani (center) is joined by guests led by Consul General Antonio Morales (5th from left) in opening the art exhibit and book launching.


By Daisy CL Mandap

Xyza Cruz Bacani
Award-winning photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani retraces her steps as a former migrant domestic worker in the book, ‘We Are Like Air” which was launched at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in Wanchai on Nov. 30.

To put emphasis on how personal the book is, 31-year-old Bacani attended the launch with her parents, Villamor and Georgia Bacani, who she said were attending her art exhibit together for the first time.

Also present was Kathryn Louey, Xyza’s former employer, whom she called as “the most important person” and “biggest influence” in her life.

It was Louey, said Bacani, who virtually pushed her out of her house - and Hong Kong - so she would take up the Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice fellowship at New York University when it was offered to her in 2015.

After reading about the scholarship offer in a newspaper article, Louey reportedly told Bacani, “You’re fired!” just so the reluctant maid, who had been in her employ for 10 years, would accept the offer.

That short stint in New York City opened many more doors for Bacani so that she now fondly refers to Louey as the one who changed the fortune of “the future generations of the Bacanis.”

But the book - and the photos in the accompanying exhibit – tell more the story of Bacani’s mother, Georgia, and the more than 200,000 Filipino women working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

Bacani titled the book “We Are Like Air” in reference to migrant domestic workers who she
said are important yet are often invisible.

The photos she took provide a glimpse into how migrant workers live- from when they first arrived at their employer’s home, the numerous letters they sent to their family, finding love and raising a family in Hong Kong, to protesting for their rights.



Part of the art installation was a narrow bed in a corner above which two shirts are hung, signifying the small space often given to domestic workers in their employer’s home.

A collage of photos on a wall show various migrant workers at work or on their days off, with the description for each written by Georgia, who left home in the 1990s to provide a better life for her husband-farmer and three young children, the eldest of whom is Xyza.



Among about 100 guests who attended the launch were Consul General Antonio A. Morales, representatives from the U.S. consulate, the Wanchai District Council, and the sponsors, WYNG Media Award (WMA).

The book launch and opening of the photo exhibit were the first in a series of activities for
Bacani’s new project which she created as part of the WMA Commission in 2016-2017.



On Dec. 2, the domestic workers’ group, Guhit Kulay, hosted an art jam at the Centre, and on Dec. 9, Bacani held a book-signing session at the newsstand in front of World Wide House, the favorite go-to place of Filipino migrant workers on their off days.

On Dec. 16, Bacani will be joined in a forum at the HK Arts Centre by renowned journalist Sheila Coronel, academic dean of Columbia University’s Journalism School.



Among Bacani’s numerous achievements is having a resolution at the Philippine House of

Representatives passed in her honor. She is also one of Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders in 2018, a Pulitzer Prize grantee and an Open Society Moving Walls grantee in 2017. In 2015 she was named among BBC’s 100 Women of the World, and as one of 30 Under 30 Women Photographers in 2016.









Xyza Bacani, ex-HK OFW, is now a proud NYU master's degree holder

Posted on 23 May 2022 No comments

 By Daisy CL Mandap

 

Proud NYU scholar and master's degree holder
(photo taken by Xyza's husband, Nicholas, who is also professional photograher)

She’s come a long way, baby.

From being a second-generation migrant worker in Hong Kong to a Magnum Foundation scholar on human rights at New York University to becoming a highly sought-after photographer, then book author, Xyza Cruz Bacani has scaled an even greater height.

On May 18, she graduated from NYU’s Tisch School with a Master’s Degree in Arts and Politics. Not only did she get a scholarship to the prestigious university and program, she was also allowed to take the post-graduate course without a bachelor’s degree.

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Fellow Filipino and NYU’s former science dean, Michael Purugganan, was so proud of Xyza’s achievement that he posted this on Facebook:

“In less than 10 years Xyza Cruz Bacani has gone from being a migrant OFW domestic worker to world-renowned photographer, with her photos gracing the NY Times and CNN, as well as galleries and museums around the world. Two years ago NYU was so impressed with her that even without a college degree they accepted her (with scholarship) into the rigorous M.A. in Arts Politics program at the Tisch school. On Wednesday she will be in Yankee Stadium to get her diploma!”

 

Purugganan poses happily with a NYU colleague and the two scholars
(from VP Leni Robredo's FB  post)

Purugganan said he wanted to shift some of the attention to Xyza, as the rest of the world had been focusing on another outstanding NYU student – Jill Robredo, youngest daughter of Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo, who graduated with a double degree in economics and mathematics, also on a full scholarship.

Xyza, who is 35, was understandably happy herself about her latest achievement. NYU is not an easy school to get into, and cracking a master’s degree without having gone through the rigors of a four-year undergraduate course would have obviously made the task doubly harder.

“I got into NYU because of my vast portfolio and the grace of an entire village of good-hearted people. They uplifted (me) and took a chance on me. They wrote recommendation letters, encouraged, and helped me financially. They openly shared their knowledge, resources, and influences. I am grateful for that,” she told The SUN via messenger.

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“Being part of NYU was challenging and exciting. The seeds and offerings are stimulating to the mind. It opened up an academic side of me. The Arts and Politics cohorts and faculties are all accomplished people in their own rights. It is heartwarming to be part of a community that allows ideas to flourish.”

Less seriously, she posted on her own Facebook account that she wanted tarpaulins like those used by politicians hung in her hometown of Nueva Vizcaya “because I am the first in our family to get a graduate degree! Lol! My ancestors must be proud.

 

Xyza's parents (extreme left) and former employer (beside her) joined the
launch of her book in HK in 2018, along with then Consul General Tony Morales 

Xyza, who celebrated the new milestone with her new husband and longtime partner Nicholas Papananias, also posted wistfully that she wished her parents were around to see her graduate.

“Next week, I will officially have a diploma. I fulfilled a dream, not just mine but of my parents. A farmer and an OFW got a daughter with Masters in Arts Politics from NYU. I still wish that they could see me wear a violet gown that doesn't compliment my skin tone but wearing it proud and loud. This is for my descendants. I broke the chain, mama!”

Clearly, the rebellious daughter who left home at the age of 19 to follow her mother’s footsteps as an OFW so she could help send her two younger siblings to school is happy to have finally ended the cycle of poverty that used to determine her life’s path.



Through sheer talent, grit and hard work, she got to where she is now – a respected photographer and recipient of various awards, including a resolution passed by the Philippine House of Representatives in her honor and being named as one of the BBC’s 100 Women of the World.

She has also received grants from various prestigious groups like the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the WMA Commission, which funded her book, “We Are Like Air.”

Xyza believes all OFWs are capable of being the best they could be. They just need to dream.

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I can never advise my fellow migrants because they are among the smartest and bravest people in the world. The courage they show every day is worth emulating,” she said.

“This is not advice but words of encouragement. Be your own heroes. We honor our sacrifices for our families by dreaming for ourselves. Everything starts with having a dream and not letting our circumstances define us. Speak kindly to ourselves and rest when there is an opportunity. Self-care is vital because we can only give when we are replenished. Do something for ourselves from time to time and pursue any hobby you’re interested in.”

Check out more stories on Xyza and her inspiring achievements here: https://www.sunwebhk.com/search?q=xyza+cruz+bacani


Book, art exhibits shine spotlight on Bacani’s life as 2nd generation migrant worker

Posted on 03 December 2018 No comments
Doing the ribbon cutting to open the exhibit were (l to r)  Xysa's parents Villamor and Georgia, Katherine Louie,
Xyza, Consul General Antonio Morales, curator Melissa Lee and Wanchai DC member Yolanda Ng


By Daisy CL Mandap

Award-winning photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani retraces her steps as a former migrant domestic worker in the book, ‘We Are Like Air” which was launched at the Hong Kong Arts Centre in Wanchai on Nov. 30.

To put emphasis on how personal the book is, 31-year-old Bacani attended the launch with her parents, Villamor and Georgia Bacani, who she said were attending her first art exhibit together for the first time – and a brother.

Also present was Katherine Louey, Xyza’s former employer, whom she called as “the most important person” and “biggest influence” in her life.

It was Louey, said Bacani, who virtually pushed her out of her house - and Hong Kong - so she would take up the Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice fellowship at New York University when it was offered to her in 2015.



After reading about the scholarship offer in a newspaper article, Louey reportedly told Bacani, “You’re fired!” just so the reluctant maid, who had been in her employ for 10 years, would accept the offer.

That short stint in New York City opened many more doors for Bacani so that she now fondly refers to Louey as the one who changed the fortune of “the future generations of the Bacanis.”


Xyza's photos of migrant women in action, captions by her mother Georgia

But the book - and the photos in the accompanying exhibit – tell more the story of Bacani’s mother, Georgia, and the more than 200,000 Filipino women working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

Bacani titled the book “We Are Like Air” in reference to migrant domestic workers who she said are important yet are often invisible.



The photos she took provide a glimpse into how migrant workers live- from when they first arrived at their employer’s home, the numerous letters they sent to their family, finding love and raising a family in Hong Kong, to protesting for their rights.
Collage of migrant memorabilias: letter to home, work contracts and visas, family pictures and religious images

Part of the art installation was a narrow bed in a corner above which two shirts are hung, signifying the small space often given to domestic workers in their employer’s home.

A collage of photos on a wall show various migrant workers at work or on their days off, with the description for each written by Georgia, who left home in the 1990s to provide a better life for her husband-farmer and three young children, the eldest of whom is Xyza.



Among about 100 guests who attended the launch were Consul General Antonio A. Morales, representatives from the U.S. consulate, the Wanchai District Council, and the sponsors, WYNG Media Award (WMA).

The book launch and opening of the photo exhibit were the first in a series of activities for Bacani’s new project which she created as part of the WMA Commission in 2016-2017.



On Dec. 2, the domestic workers’ group, Guhit Kulay, hosted an art jam at the Centre, and on Dec. 9, Bacani will hold a book-signing session at the newsstand in front of World Wide House, the favorite go-to place of Filipino migrant workers on their off days.

On Dec. 16, Bacani will be joined in a forum by renowned journalist Sheila Coronel, academic dean of Columbia University’s Journalism School, and one of her mentors in NYC.

Among Bacani’s numerous achievements is having a resolution at the Philippine House of Representatives passed in her honor. She is also one of Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders in 2018, a Pulitzer Prize grantee and an Open Society Moving Walls grantee in 2017. In 2015 she was named among BBC’s 100 Women of the World, and as one of 30 Under 30 Women Photographers in 2016.


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Lament of an OFW child at forum on migrant workers’ plight

Posted on 10 January 2019 No comments
Xyza Cruz Bacani


By Daisy CL Mandap

Twenty-three years on, and Xyza Cruz Bacani still remembers the time her mother left their home in the Philippines to work as a domestic helper in Singapore.

“I woke up one day and she was gone, just like that,” the celebrated migrant worker-turned photographer said at a forum on migrant workers’ plight held at the Hong Kong Arts Centre on Dec. 16.

For the then eight-year-old Xyza, her mother’s unexplained departure left a wound so deep it took decades before she could come around to understand that it was more an act of sacrifice than of abandonment.



It did not help that her father, a construction worker who came home only on weekends, made no effort either to explain why her mother, who had been working as a laundrywoman, had to leave.

So, at a very young age, Xyza was left alone to look after two siblings, one five-year-old, and another three.



“For an eight-year-old child, that was not easy to handle,” said Xyza. “I had to grow up fast, even if all I could do was cook noodles for my siblings.”

Another memory that stands out was when Xyza had her first monthly period, and not having any adult to explain to her what was happening, she assumed she was about to die. “So I went over to our neighbor and said, ‘I think I am dying.’’



Her resentment was cemented when, just a month after leaving home, Georgia sent home a picture of her smiling beside a Christmas tree, with several gifts lying around.

“She left in November then sent a picture in December of her surrounded by Christmas gifts. So I said, ‘I hate you!’ and that resentment built up over the years.”



Little did she know that her mother was having her own problems, having been trafficked to Singapore and mistreated initially, until she found her way into the home of a rich and caring employer in Hong Kong, with whom she has been working for more than 20 years now.

Eleven years after her mother left home, Xyza decided to drop out of a nursing course, and work as a domestic helper for the same kindly employer, Kathryn Louey.

But Xyza says she was driven more by the desire to help send her younger brother and sister to school and not to be close to her mother.



“So when I came here I did not know my mother. I kept pushing her away,” she said.

It took three years before she saw how her mother had sacrificed through the years so their family would have a better life.

Xyza first noticed that her mother did not go out during her holidays, which she says could be a throwback to her first employment in Singapore, when she was not allowed to take a day off. Xyza also learned that during those difficult days, her mother was fed only noodles twice a day.

Georgia’s frugal and simple ways have persisted despite being in Hong Kong for two decades.

“Can you imagine being in Hong Kong for 20 years and not having gone into an MTR station, or a bank?”, Xyza, now a globe-trotting photographer, asked her audience.

“That’s when I realized she did not leave us. She has sacrificed a lot.”

One of the speakers at the forum, renowned journalist Sheila Coronel, academic dean of Columbia University’s Journalism School, tackled the ‘profound impact” of migration on the children left behind by the migrant workers.

She said a study shows that three million Filipino children have been left behind by migrant worker parents who have passed on much of the child-rearing to other people. Most affected by the separation are children 8-12 years of age, and its impact is felt more by boys.

Coronel said the Philippines’ labor export program was started as a stop-gap measure to help the country recover from the oil crisis in the 70s, but it has lasted for decades so that there are now second-generation migrant workers like Xyza.

The exodus has continued because remittances from Filipinos overseas remain as the country’s biggest source of much-needed dollars.

But despite the huge dollar earnings from overseas Filipinos, the Philippine government has failed to improve public education and health care.

“So in a way, the government is escaping responsibility for the most vulnerable sectors of the economy,” said Coronel.

Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, general manager of the Mission for Migrant Workers, spoke on how the Hong Kong government has also failed imported workers by enacting policies that diminish, rather than enhance, their rights.

Journalist Zoher Abdoolcarim served as moderator.

The forum was part of a series of activities held to launch Xyza’s  book, “We Are Like Air,” and an accompanying photo exhibit. Xyza says the book’s title refer to migrant domestic workers who play an important role in society yet are often invisible.

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Xyza’s ‘Modern Slavery’ series

Posted on 01 June 2016 No comments
By William Elvin

Followers of Filipina photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani’s career will be pleasantly surprised by the subtlety and simplicity displayed in her latest solo exhibit in Hong Kong entitled ‘Modern Slavery’.
Patrons who have become accustomed to Bacani’s frantic black and white capturing of busy streets and people will find the silent and serene tone of the photographs refreshing.
It is also notable that although the artist has touched on abuse and slavery as subject matter in earlier exhibits, a more mature artistic layering and use of subtext dominate this deliberately low-key collection.
But whatever the technique, Bacani continues to present us with colorful stories through a simple palette of black, white, and gray.
The former domestic helper’s gallery presents human trafficking victims in New York, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Hong Kong in seemingly mundane situations. There are no depictions of actual abuse and horror, yet seeing the subjects and knowing their pain beyond the facade of ordinary activities such as socializing and participating in cultural and religious rituals give Bacani’s material more emotional power.
According to Bacani, the goal of the exhibit is to “humanize the global problem of human labor trafficking”.
By moving away from a direct and in-your-face approach to presenting the abuse victims, Bacani has succeeded in bringing to the forefront the beauty and vitality that could emerge from their experiences .
In the process, observers are able to connect and sympathize with the subjects, not because they have been bombarded by bloody and gory images, but because the victims still choose to be human – to still be among us -  despite the massive pain and abuse they must have endured.
‘Modern Slavery’is displayed at KONG Art Space in Villa Serene, 3 Staunton Street, Central from May 21 to June 10, and is sponsored by the U.S. Consulate and KONG Art Space. For inquries, please call 9887 9840.
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