Pinay Domestic Helper in HK Now a Scholar in New York, Invited on Ellen Show

Photo by Xyza Cruz Bacani

Photography by Xyza Cruz Bacani

A Filipina domestic helper in Hong Kong named Xyza Cruz Bacani is now a scholar in New York. This is after Magnum Foundation has chosen her to be among the seven individuals from around the world as the 2015 Human Rights Fellows. Ellen DeGeneres has invited Ms. Bacani to appear on her Ellen show.

“All dreams are valid! Im one of the 2015 magnum fellows! Im going to see New York and finally [have] a formal education! I’m literally crying when I received the news.” Xyza wrote on her Facebook page this Thursday.

“My papi and mama was so proud and excited, even my girls in Bethune!” The 27-year old Pinay DH added, thanking everyone who supported her all the way. She also included a link to the post on the official website of Magnum Foundation where her name was mentioned.

“Beyond the scholarships that MF provides and the coursework that is developed in collaboration with NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts, MF also continues to mentor and support these regional photographers when possible through editorial advice, introductions to photo editors, and in some cases, helping to facilitate independent freelance work with prominent, international media networks.” A statement reads at

The six other members of the 2015 Human Rights Fellows are Basel Alyazouri, 19 (Palestine); Nour Kelze, 27 (Syria); Sipho Mpongo, 21 (South Africa); Chery Dieu Nalio, 33 (Haiti); Anastasia Vlasova, 22 (Ukraine); and Muyi Xiao, 23, (China).

Xyza Cruz Bacani was featured in an article at the New York Times back in June 2014. According to the post, she is from Nueva Viscaya and is working in Hong Kong as a domestic helper. Her job is to take care of an elderly Chinese-Australian woman, whom her mother has worked for 20 years ago.

Bascani has a deep passion in photography while she was still in college in the Philippines. However, it was only in Hong Kong that she was able to buy a Nikon D90 camera from the money she borrowed from her boss. Unlike the sad stories of some domestic helpers abroad, Bascani’s boss is very kind and pays her overtime work.

During her spare time, Xyza walks on the streets of Hong Kong to take pictures of everyday life in black and white. She became friends with a fellow Filipino, Rick Rocamora, an award-winning documentary photographer. Mr. Rocamora has been helping her boost her self-confidence in photography.

“For me, photography is a universal language. I’m a Filipino and I’m in a Chinese city, so it’s, like, the language of freedom and equality. Because with photography, there’s no gender, there’s no age, there’s no social status, color or race.” Bacani told the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Ellen DeGeneres was reportedly informed by her staff about the inspiring story of Xyza Cruz Bacani. After seeing the photos, the TV host was very amazed especially after she learned that Xyza is only a hobbyist photographer. As of posting, there is no report as to when the Pinay OFW will appear at the Ellen show.

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