I grew up an orphan in Naga City, south of Manila in the Philippines. From a very young age I have had challenging experiences, so different from the other kids, which made a huge impact on my innocent mind and molded my character into who I am today. The trials, sadness and emptiness I felt as a child without a family made me stronger and learned to dream the impossible. I was brought to a convent when I was in second grade without a single penny to my name. I had nothing but a small box, smaller than a shoe box with few items in it.
I felt I was away from home, a broken home. In that moment of time I didn’t know who or where my family was, but I knew that I had to continue to breathe and face the next morning’s challenge. I was not sure what life would be the next day, but I quickly learned to follow the routines in the convent. As the sun set I longed for my mother’s hug. Outside my window I could see our neighbor’s chicken coop. I watched the hen protect her chicks and take them under her wing at night. I envied them. For a long time I dwelled on the emotional loneliness of being an abandoned child; but each sunrise I got up and followed each day’s routine.
The nuns and priests found me a family when I was in fifth grade; I was so excited. When I moved in, however, I immediately realized that those people had no intention of accepting me as a member of their family. Instead I was used as a servant for hand-washing laundry, cleaning, and yard work for almost 2 years. I was not allowed to attend extracurricular activities or enjoy playtime like the other kids. They were unspeakably cruel. They abused me emotionally and physically. They told everyone I was a bad kid. As a young girl I sensed that this was not the way life was supposed to turn out and I could not allow people to put me down and stop me from shining. By the grace of God I escaped from that horrible family and I somehow made my way back to the convent by myself terrified and barefooted. My belongings were never given back to me either. I was back in the convent with nothing again, but I remained determined that I will someday be somebody.
I firmly believed that God is always there to protect and support me as was taught to me by the nuns. I kneeled so grateful in prayer, asking as if the universe was a catalog and the next day I will have what I want. I tried to obey the rules in the convent even it wasn’t easy for me. I thought it was so monotonous! The truth is, every day I was so grateful and proud that I was in the convent and I felt I was luckier than most- and I truly was.
For me it was a beautiful world and I eventually learned how to love and trust a boyfriend and consider him my only family who loves me. One day I was shocked by some bad news, that he had betrayed me. My heart was shattered into pieces and cried over the rejection, but the situation made me stronger and more motivated. From that moment, I promised myself I will stand up and I will live my life well enough and happy as can be no matter what happens. Nothing can derail me. I have the power to turn rejections and failures into success and happiness and tell those people who caused me pain, “Thank you for the boost.” I want to reach out to them to say “Let’s have some Champagne to celebrate!” I wonder if they would be happy to see me in laughter.
I turned all of my focus to prayer and academics. As I advanced through high-school I found it increasingly difficult to balance the demands of school with my obligations to the convent. There were precious few hours to study after prayer and chores. Socializing was scheduled in advance and strictly monitored. With no outside distractions I did very well in high school and was accepted into the BSN program at Universidad De Santa Isabel in Naga City. Without the generous and heartfelt donations from my beloved benefactor it would not have been possible to attend. The course work was extraordinarily demanding, and the convent did not have a budget for all of the books and expenses called for by the program. I managed to graduate with flying colors by borrowing books and notes from friends, and studying for long hours after “lights out” using a tiny sliver of light that came through the window from a street light outside.
I was so focused on what I wanted, even though I had nothing, it seemed that suddenly like magic one day after 14 years I had my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and my license. I immediately landed my first job working in Taiwan overseas in 1996 earning more than I could have ever imagined and learned Mandarin. After that in the year 2000 I relocated to the United States of America, the land I feel my freedom, the place I belong and pledge my love to eternity. The nation I am proud to say I am now a loyal Citizen!
The adjustment to living in the United States was exciting and challenging. My new family were talented professional country musicians. I tried to adapt to the new culture and way of living, and began to feel like I found a place I could belong and call home. Over time I began to realize that it was their intention for me to become their private nurse for their aging family members. They became extremely controlling and would not allow me to do anything without their explicit approval. They intercepted all of my communications and withheld vital documents from me like my original college transcripts and birth certificate. I started to have nightmares and flashbacks of the horrible family that stole two years of my life from me as a child. They accused me of being a gold digger and other horrible things to justify their actions. So I signed a disclaimer of all my property rights and left them in the dust. Once again I started from scratch, knowing that nothing can take away my education, career, enthusiasm, motivation and willpower to succeed. I will always find a way.
I am now very happily married, with one pretty daughter, two adopted rescue cats, my grandparents-in-law, sincere friends and the dream home I always wanted. I am currently working as a Registered Nurse in a progressive care unit at a large hospital in the United States of America. In the beginning I had no idea how my dreams could possibly come to pass, but with all my courage and help of the sincere people who have helped me so much along the way, I am here mighty with a smile. I can attest that anything truly is possible if we put our mind to our goals and do the necessary work. I am in awe with all the miracles in my life.
My long lost sister Beverly eventually tracked me down in 2012, after being separated for more than three decades. She wants me to be reunited with my biological family back in the Philippines. There’s time for everything under heaven. I have forgiven. God is watching, He will make everything possible. Even being a product of a broken home abandoned and cast away by my parents. I am not alone after all. Family is not always by blood. It is those who stand by you when you need them most. To the real sincere people in my life I do appreciate you all more than words can say.
I am blessed and grateful indeed. I live in the present. Each day is a great gift, a new chapter to be revealed. Life will go on through sunrise and sunset. Stick with me in my bad and good times and we’ll do some magic, then when I am gone turn me into dust and remember how I touched life and made a difference.