INSPIRING: This Lifestyle Photographer Grew Up Without Hearing But With an Extraordinary Vision

Words by Rianna Bernabe

It’s easy for a lot of people to look down on those who decide to pursue their passion in art. The traditional-thinking ones would say that it wouldn’t be enough to provide for a sustainable future. These cynics are just some of the giants we stumble upon as artists. The truth is, there are so many factors that hinder us from reaching our dreams.

Kung ‘di ka magpupush, ‘di ka makikilala.. Babagsak ka lang.
(If you don’t push yourself, you won’t be able to make a name for yourself. You’ll just fail.)

These are the words of Kevin Cayuca, a self-made photographer, film director, and creative director who has become one of the prominent names behind shoots such as those for Nike Philippines and FHM Magazine. Cayuca is an artist who was left at the hospital for a week after being born due to an infection which resulted in zero hearing in his right ear and only 30% hearing on his left. It wasn’t until he was four that he could finally speak.

(ALSO READ: Fresh graduate with autism shares college journey)

Photo from Kevin Cayuca

Just like you and me, Kevin had plenty of obstacles to overcome. But it was even harder for him considering his condition then. However, I realized that when it comes to pursuing our dreams, we are all one and the same. We all get lost, we start to doubt our capabilities, and we lose sight of what’s in store for us.

Sawang-sawa na akong walang ginagawa sa bahay, hanggang sinabihan ako ng mentor ko na si Xander Angeles to “Open the door, create yourself.” Naging eye-opener talaga iyon. (I was getting tired of not doing anything at home, until my mentor, Xander Angeles, told me to “Open the door, create yourself.” It truly became an eye-opener.) 

Kevin taught me that sometimes, all we need is to shut out the skeptics and remain focused on our vision.

Kevin had to change schools a number of times–from a Christian school to a school for the hearing impaired. He even had to take gap years, saying it was because he was constantly bullied. In kindergarten, he even had a tutor who said that he would only be able to finish first grade. This is what pushed Kevin’s mom to transfer him to Community of Learners where he finished high school without any hearing aid. All it took was a lot of faith in himself as he took his speech therapy to heart.

Kevin’s story is one that every frustrated artist needs to know about. His dad, Jay Cayuca, is a famous musician. As artists, we can all agree on how important support really is. In fact, sometimes, it’s all we really need to keep us going. Kevin says he is most grateful for all his mentors. This includes his dad, the one who gave him his first camera because according to him, Kevin had stronger eyes.

When Kevin graduated high school, he had no idea what to do. Another scenario we can all relate to. This was when he received his first hearing aid and was completely overwhelmed by the beauty of sound that he couldn’t leave the house. He was eventually inspired to take up Communication Arts at Mapúa Institute of Technology. This was where his love for photography was developed.

Today, Kevin celebrates nine years of being a photographer. He is proud to be self-made as he whole-heartedly taught himself all the skills he now possesses–from perspective, texture, lighting, focus, mood, and all other visual arts. He started with fashion photography and now, he indulges in commercial lifestyle and travel.

Those cynics I mentioned in the beginning weren’t entirely wrong. It definitely gets tough to survive in the arts industry. As for Kevin, his giants haven’t stopped. He would be judged for taking the PWD lane in the LRT, or PWD line in restaurants, as bystanders would think that he looked completely well and able.

Even though Kevin has learned to adjust his hearing and cope better after mastering how to lip read, there is still no reason to listen to those giants. He extends his utmost gratitude to his mom, his uncle Rico Gutierrez of GMA, and Xander Angeles, who took him under his wing at Edge of Light Studios. Support can go a long way and for Kevin, this meant him being able to witness the movement of the ocean up close and capturing the best of life.

Major props to you, Kevin! And here’s to all the starting artists, wherever you are in your craft, may this story inspire you to never stop pushing yourself and defying the ordinary.

What do you think of this story? Let us know in the comments below!






Related Stories