Saturday, July 12, 2014

The X Comes Home: Xyza Cruz Bacani’s Cinderella Tale With a Digital Twist

Fujifilm brings Xyza Bacani home to tell her Cinderella Tale

Xyza Bacani philippines
Armed with just her Cat-eared headband and a shiny new camera,
Xyza Bacani shares her vision of photography
Cinderella is a timeless story first published by Charles Perrault in 1697 about a girl down on her luck, but with the flick of a magic wand has been given the opportunity to turn her life around overnight. (If you’re a fan of the Disney version, this included the aid of talking mice and a giant kalabasa).  

Today, Cinderella has become an archetype name for someone unrecognized and unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity or neglect. 

Fast forward to 2014. In a world a lot smaller because of technology, many seem to question if the validity of the Cinderella tale as something possible a good 300 years later.

Enter Xyza Cruz Bacani, a Filipino who has been working in Hong Kong as a domestic helper and has recently been recognized for her passion and talent in photography. Her Cinderella story is one that can be told with a modern digital twist. 

Emerging from mere obscurity, it seems that Xyza has grown to become a celebrity  in the photography world overnight. With her street photography  being featured in the likes of Vogue and The New York Times, and eventually landing in the local news, one could not help but see a Cinderella story in the making. But behind the overnight success, lies years of hard work and perseverance.

With hard work, dedication and sheer love for her craft, Xyza Bacani achieved the fairy tale dream. Instead of glass slippers she has a shiny new camera, and for her ball, a precious spot at the New York Times.  

Her fairy Godmother though, came in the form of social media-connecting her to the world, the insurmountable support of photographers such as Ric Rocamora, Jonathan Van Smith and Gary Tyson, and  photo and imaging giant Fujifilm, offering her the pumpkin ride back to her hometown today to fuel photographers with her inspiring story. 

The event brought photographers up close and personal to the Xyza Bacani story. Wearing her cat-eared tiara and standing in front of a crowd of shutterbugs and fans, she shared her photographic vision in her own words.


Xyza Bacani Photos
Street Photography by Xyza Bacani
As with any person practicing the craft of photography, creativity is the sugar that is stirred into the coffee. Some want diabetes-inducing sweetness, while others prefer the more bitter taste. For Xyza, it is something she seeks when she shoots.

“I hate routine but of course as a helper, I can’t avoid it” 

Her day job entails taking care of 6 kids, which she enjoys every moment of. But when work becomes routine, she finds ways to exercise her creativity. 

Despite her day job, she always makes time for photography, taking at least one picture a day.     


Xyza Bacani Philippines
"The more you work hard, the luckier you get"
Many people who have heard of the Xyza Bacani story online will say that she has been blessed with luck. But for her, its not just luck, but also having to work hard. In her own simple words, “The more you work hard, the luckier you get.”

Xyza's hard work and dedication came in many variants, from finding time to shoot, to nitpicking every photo. 

When working on her photography, she mentioned  having to trim off around 50,000 shots into 600 photos for her portfolio. Any photographer would testify on the difficulty of letting go of one shot shot you love, now try 49,400 of them.

“We have this Pwede na yan (that will do) Attitude”

thatll do pig babe
"That'll do That'll do"
There are many Filipinos who have helped elevate the country to its present stature through sheer will and determination. But there are also many more of us stuck in the plateau that is mediocrity.  Whether we choose to accept it or not, the pwede na yan (that will do) attitude remains a mainstay in the average Filipino persona.  For Xyza, if you want to make it big, you'll have to let kick this habit.   

For Xyza, it is hard work and perseverance to get the best shots that brought her talents to the limelight. The recognition she has for her photography today would have never seen the light of day, had she not been religiously shooting and posting online and on her blog, and trying her luck at photo contests. 


Xyza Bacani Philippines
"In photography, we all speak the same language."
Of all the insights she shared, Xyza Bacani's most unique view would be on the importance of friendship in developing as a photographer. 

Though we mostly learn and improve by having that camera in front of our face half of the time, the other half is spent learning through interaction. Xyza puts emphasis communicating by not looking down on others, especially newcomers, to photography.
You have to admit that many of us, have experienced talking to (and to some, actually being!) photo snobs. These social hipsters contribute nothing to the photography world whatsoever, seeing themselves too far-off from anyone to touch, with their self-admiration for their skills making them so thick-skinned, it could be used to make world class leather wallets (or world class chicharon).

Xyza Bacani's name is already well-recognized in our local photography community, but she recalls the days when she was starting out and was bashed by some groups because she didn’t know about this or that.  To her, this shouldn't be the case, as she mentioned, "In photography we all speak the same language, so why not be nice to newbies?"  

For all you know, one day, that newbie may be featured by the New York Times. (So suck it photo snobs of the world.)

For her, Friendship also plays a big role in Fujifilm's success, citing the imaging company's  photo group, XPPH (X-Photographers Philippines). Apart from her camera that she uses for her street photography, to her, "The best part of Fuji is the group that they created”.    

xyza bacani camera
"I've been chased by a Chinese person
who was trying to hit me with an umbrella."

On what inspires her to shoot
“I shoot for myself. I enjoy the process of taking photos more than the images.”

“When you shoot, empty the cup. Try not to shoot only based on someone else's photo because it may not be your vision anymore. You end up shooting their vision instead.”

When compared to Vivian Maier
“I believe the comparison is only based on our day job, when you look at our photography, you will see that the difference  is divided from east to west.”

Ever got into trouble when shooting street?
“I’ve been chased by a chinese person who was trying to hit me with her umbrella and an Indian guy tried to get my camera from me. If they don’t want their photo taken, I simply delete it because it is their right.”

When was your photography first noticed?
“The first time I was noticed was in a photo contest for National Geographic Hong Kong, where I got honorable mention. I've been joining other contests ever since.”

About shooting

“Enjoy the thing you do, even if it means nothing to anyone, Enjoy.”

You can learn more about Xyza Bacani and her photography at her blog, 


  1. yes, the inspiring X. :)

    hey, this is a very well-written article. :)

    1. Thanks Joemill! Always glad to see a happy reader. If theres any topic you'd want to read about, feel free to give us the heads up. Read on!

  2. Very inspiring and a really great story of perseverance. I'm happy for her

    1. Her story is a reminder that even lady luck gives more more chances to the hard worker.