Acclaimed international photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani, in conversation with Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, took us through her unusual but exciting path to achievement. Starting with her childhood as the daughter of a domestic worker working in Hong Kong, she talked about growing up without her mother, having little patience for school, then becoming a domestic worker herself, before discovering she had a talent for photography
The talk was the kick-off to a new series at Manila House called Changing the Narrative, intimate conversations that put the spotlight on inspiring transformative journeys. Held at Anahaw last month to a packed and rapt audience, the event was also a fundraiser for the FTW (For the Women) Foundation co-founded by Founding Member Cara Wilson. FTW is a non-profit organization that creates better economic opportunities for women scholars through free training in Data Science and Digital Marketing.
Xyza on her start as a photographer:
"When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I didn't have a very good relationship with my mother because she left when I was eight. As a growing girl, a lot of changes happened to me and I didn't have a mom with me. When I had my first period, I thought I was dying. I think these little things that happened in my life made our relationship not so good. So when I arrived in Hong Kong, and she wanted to be a mother to me, I'm like "Who are you?" "You were away for half of my life so why are you trying to be a mom now?" I never understood why she left. I thought she left because she wants a better life for herself but as we stayed together and worked together, I noticed that she never really goes out. She works seven days a week. Her life is confined in four walls. She only goes to the market and then goes back home. She stayed in Hong Kong for 20 years and she just learned to ride the MTR last year. That's how much sacrifice she has done. She never really saw Hong Kong, and so I picked up the camera and I realized, why not show it to her? Because our relationship is getting better, I feel so guilty about being a bad daughter. I decided, why not show Hong Kong through my photography. She was the main reason I became a photographer. I became her eye."