Pinay domestic helper gets prestigious fellowship in NYC


Posted at Jan 23 2015 01:21 PM | Updated as of Jan 23 2015 11:24 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Filipina photographer Xyza Bacani, who works in Hong Kong as a domestic helper, is heading to New York City.

Bacani has been named a Human Rights fellow by the prestigious Magnum Foundation. As a fellow, she will be participating in an intensive, six-week program at New York University (NYU) in New York City.

In a Facebook post, Bacani said she cried when she received the news.

"All dreams are valid! I'm one of the 2015 magnum fellows! I'm going to see New York and finally a formal education! I'm literally crying when I received the news," she said.


Every year, Magnum Foundation offers scholarships for the 6-week program, wherein students will "explore strategies for creating effective visual stories with the aim of advancing human rights in their home counties."The program's coursework is developed in collaboration with NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts.

Bacani is one of 7 Magnum fellows for 2015, along with participants from Palestine, Syria, South Africa, Haiti, Ukraine and China.

The 27-year old Filipina received much attention after the New York Times did a feature on her street photography on its Lens Blog.

Bacani works as a domestic helper for her Chinese-Australian employer, who allows her to continue doing what she likes.

"I like observing the world around me. When I see beautiful scenes, I have always wished I could record them. I tried painting for a while but it wasn’t for me. Finally, I discovered photography and it made me happy," she in an earlier interview with