Xyza Cruz Bacani on the Humans of Makati

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The Ayala Triangle in Makati is one of my favorite spots in the city. It’s my hideaway when I want to get away from the steel and concrete of packed malls. Parks are democratic because it’s the only space where the rich and poor can sit together under the blooming foliage and feel the cool breeze. It also helps that the capital is mall-centric so it’s never crowded.

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It’s only fitting that photographer Xyza Cruz Bacani would hold her Humans of Makati exhibit in the Triangle. This fascinating collection of photos of people from every spectrum of humanity reminds you that there are interesting Filipinos out there that are not necessarily celebrities. On one end you have Mariana Zobel, an associate of the Ayala Corporation, and on the other, you have Bienvenido Ortiz, a security guard in the Triangle.

I like how Humans of Makati is a celebration of diversity, and how it forces you to be more curious about the people around you. While I was looking at the exhibit, I was looking for Ortiz, hoping he was on duty so I can chat him up, a change from my usual routine when I would just notice people’s presence without actually paying any attention.

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I once read an autobiography where the writer’s dad always wondered about the lives of the people around him. When they would ride the train, the dad would always come up with imaginative life stories. That guy is on his way to his girlfriend’s so he could propose. That woman is going home after a 12 hour shift at the hospital. This is a habit that I don’t have because I’m always deep inside my own thoughts, but Bacani’s exhibit made me want to look outward instead of in.

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I first heard of Bacani when a friend shared a feature on her for The New York Times. She has an incredible story: she was a domestic helper in Hong Kong who moonlights as a street photographer. Her ability to capture raw emotion, lines, and symmetry have been lauded by the Times and Vogue Italia. Voyeur.ph was still up at the time and my friend Stefan and I contacted her for an interview. At the risk of sounding like I’m tooting my own horn, Stefan and I interviewed her before she became a celebrity. When I met her during a talk Sen. Sonny Angara sponsored at the Senate, she signed a postcard for me and promised she would give me a print. The print didn’t come but I was inspired to pay more attention to the people around me. There are interesting stories out there. You just have to look.

Humans of Makati will run until February 12, 2016 at the Ayala Triangle Gardens.


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