I Was Bullied

From childhood until adulthood, I did not escape bullying. Here are some of what I was bullied for:

In a world where perfection is the goal and not individualism, we all go through ordeals for not fitting in.

I saw a recent post on Facebook about bullying and wanted to share a bit of my experience.

I have been bullied on several occasions:

  • Being taunted for not being rich enough to buy new toys while attending a private school
  • Being called stupid for not knowing how to play badminton because I was never exposed to it as a child
  • Being called a weak CAT officer r having fainting spells in high school because of migraine
  • Being treated as less intelligent just because I come from a smaller city and was defending our group’s science project from someone who never contributed to the creation
  • Being called ugly for not being white enough, not having fake nose and not having veneers while joining Binibining Pilipinas

What were you bullied for?

I remember writing a blog entry about the haters during Binibining Pilipinas and here it is:

I know joining Bb. Pilipinas would mean allowing everyone to have a say on your beauty and I am not new to getting negative comments on how I look.

I found out at an early age how most of the Filipinos prefer fair-skinned and those who are half of something.
Here are just some of harsh words that some people told me.

1. You are ugly.
2. You don’t have the face to make it to a pageant.
3. You look like our maid/katulong.
4. Your teeth are ugly.
5. You look like one of the girls who are out at night looking for foreigners.
6. You will never make it.
7. You are just intelligent, join a quiz bee not a pageant.
8. You are weak and useless.
9. No guy will ever love you.
10. Why did you make it to the final 50 candidates, there are prettier girls than you.

What do I say to them?

I say nothing. I am the type of girl who would never let other’s judgement put me down. I have been dealing with negativity since I was young.

After being told I don’t have the looks to make it to a pageant, I trained hard and won First Runner Up in Bb. Ormoc 2009.

What I do is simple, I use those negativity to push me further up. It makes me work harder and I always see it as a challenge to prove them wrong.

The only mistake one can make in this life is to allow people to get the best of you and ruin your life.

Always think past the negativity, being positive in yourself and the people around you are the only options to make the most out of life.

Be happy, not everyone will like you but make sure to live a life that will make you into someone you yourself will love.

For me, beauty will always be more than a physical attribute. People can judge you on how you look.

Beauty from within will always be eternal and it’s the kind of beauty that makes this world livable and beautiful.

So don’t fret and ditch the negativity.

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My First Humorous Speech: Maria Clara

My looks, behaviour and belief and priorities are really not that of Maria Clara. Here is my humorous speech about the “Maria Clara” stereotype!

I never thought I could ever pull of a humorous speech so when it was announced over our Cebu South Toastmasters Club meeting, I saw it as a good challenge!

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Here is my piece that I wrote for the humorous competition this year:

The last time I was here ON STAGE, I was certain I would win THE SPEECH CONTEST but then I got beaten by Taipan’s polar bear OVER THERE! Well guess what! I am not here to win the best speaker but I AM HERE TO WIN Miss Universe AND YES, I AM STILL CERTAIN THAT I WILL BRING HOME THE CROWN! I am actually on stage in Las Vegas, and Steve Harvey just read my question. “What is the essence of a Filipina?” Yes, I only have a minute to compose myself and come up with a winning answer because Miss Colombia is right there wishing my doom!

Anyways, what is indeed the essence of a Filipina? Hmmm… Oh I see my mom right in the crowd. She is holding a sign that says the answer is Maria Clara.

Come on mom it is already 2017. Why on Earth will I answer that? Would Pia Wurtzbach even agree to this? Yes, I do remember Maria Clara mom, she is known in Rizal’s novel to be shy, demure, modest, religious, obedient and subservient but is the essence of being Filipina fitting to the stereotype of Maria Clara?

Does the stereotype of Maria Clara even apply to me? I know I have three traits that are clearly Anti-Maria Clara, which might disqualify me as a true Filipina.

First, looks. Would you think I look Filipina? My height? No! On the way here, I was on the jeepney and two boys sitting across me were giggling, so I ask them “Why you laugh ha?”. You know what they said? So the guy told me I looked like a tranny, ladyboy, bayot. He said I was taller than average 4’11 Filipina and even the average guy so I probably really am a guy. Anyways, I also thought my skin colour was enough to make me Filipina. I went to SM the other day because you know, “They have it all for you!” I just wanted to buy sanitary pads because the bloody days are coming, when the sales lady approached me she said, “Hi Maam, this product is good for you maam.” She was speaking in fluent English which I enjoyed but she went on talking for 15 minutes, trying to sell me papaya soap! I know my mother would say, “No to papaya soap, yes to papaya (pause) be mestiza like Maria Clara”. Nope definitely not! She also spoke to me in English thinking I was a foreigner. I have already been mistaken for Indonesian, Thai, and Japanese good thing it still Asian

Secondly, behaviour and beliefs. My mom will clearly attest! With conviction she will say, “Paula is the black sheep of the family.” Alright, I know what you are thinking, not my skin colour how dare you!

Back in college, I did not really want to be a nurse so I found ways to escape classes I signed up for dance palabas, track and field and basketball team! A day before Intramurals, I lost consciousness while running by the activity hall in front of a crowd and woke up with blood all over, my skirt had a high slit, my sleeves were ripped showing my unshaved underarms and my professor went to check. She asked if I am okay and I told her, “See what drugs can do?” Luckily it was before Duterte otherwise that joke would’ve gotten me shot. Since then my mother would confuse my large appetite for drug addiction. She would ask me always, why is your allowance gone? Are you doing drugs? Definitely Maria Clara was never accused of such and I hope you guys do not “tokhang” me by the way.

When it comes to belief, I am an agnostic, during high school, my mom went on stage for the first time bringing me a bouquet of flowers on stage as our class valedictorian just looked at me in envy. It was my mom’s proud moment. She thought finally she is turning to be Maria Clara, devout and pious. Why did she think that? Because I won the bible quiz and I received a medal from our parish priest. As she was putting on the medal, I was laughing in my mind because she did not know that I joined to escape classes again! How did I beat the other contestants? My cheat mate no my seat mate gave me a tip. He told me the golden rule for multiple choice! When in doubt choose C and so I did and won. Maybe you should try it, perhaps you will C.

Lastly, priorities. At 30, I am not married. In China, they would call me leftover or what we call the Filipino piece just like that last piece of Chickenjoy nobody wants to take not like Maria Clara she was in demand. Sometimes I feel bad and try to find matches in Tinder but my aunt’s words are making me hopeful. She said I should be happy to be single and morena because I can attract more foreign men and you know what they say… With foreign men comes better currency… Think personal ATM, enough dollar and euros for pasalubong for the entire clan! See getting married is not my priority unlike Maria Clara who was okay with being a second class citizen, I want to be a Queen B! I want to run my own business and perhaps rule the world.

My looks, behaviour and belief and priorities are really not that of Maria Clara but more of Gabriela, strong, opinionated, motivated and of course fierce. Despite not fitting in the Maria Clara, I do love my country this is why I stay despite being a registered nurse so I can defend it against every Facebook troll!

Clearly we should stop questioning people’s nationality just because they do not fit the typical stereotype.

We should not define being Filipina based on the height of our nose, our karaoke skills or our ability to eat 10 cups of rice more than what we should look at is love for culture and fellowmen.

I am definitely no Maria Clara, I am a modern Filipina, your Gabriela. How about you? Are you living the stereotype? Break out of it, I will still see you as a Filipino, or Filipina rather.

Anyways back to the question and answer. Thank you for that wonderful question Steve! I believe that the essence of a Filipina is being confidently beautiful with or without papaya!

Back to you contest chair…

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Trying my best to be “Maria Clara Like” after the Division C competition.

Making people laugh is definitely difficult I found out the minute I delivered my first ever humorous speech. Not only do you have to come up with jokes that the audience can relate to all your actions, vocal variety and pauses matter. I was lucky enough to win our Club contest and made it even farther than I ever did when I first competed. This time, I made it as an Area 23 representative and the competition was far from easy.

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For the second time, I competed with guys who already placed in the international arena. There were 5 of us for our division and unfortunately, I did not even make it to top 3 but it was a good experience. I learned that I needed more experience in finding the right mix of material to relate to a bigger audience beyond the millennials.

Wednesday Warrior: Believe in Someone

Believe in someone and the Universe is on its way to being changed.

It started as a selfish wish to get certified in scuba diving because I loved escaping underwater. It was not easy as I first thought it would be, I met a lot of roadblocks from failing to win the title to dealing with an organizer who wanted to dethrone me as a title holder but things changed because people believed in me.

Robert believed I could represent the country and George believed too, both of them helped me make it to Malaysia to be Miss Philippines and the rest was history.

Yesterday’s coronation night was solid proof that believing in one person can create ripples of change. I am happy to have paid it forward and witness how much the girls that I believed in accomplish so much.

Cindy Pacia Madduma , from our first conversation about your love for the ocean, I knew that you were on your way to achieving bigger things. People have doubted and looked down on you when we first announced you as Miss SCUBA Philippines 2015 but you proved them wrong just as I know you would. I also knew you were the right person to head Miss SCUBA Philippines 2017 into success as National Director and you did.

Miss SCUBA Philippines 2017 Sherlyn Legaspi Doloriel, we both know how long you have been waiting for this opportunity from the first moment you sent out an inquiry if you could join the pageant back in 2015. You too have faced roadblocks and now it is your time to take on the international stage. We believe your passion and your fighting spirit will take you to greater heights and I am nothing but excited for you as you compete this November in Kota Kinabalu.

In a span of 5 years, this competition has changed so many lives and converted doubters to winners.

All of us needs someone to believe in us so we can break out of our self-defeating prophecies. It takes just one person.

Have you shown belief in someone? If you haven’t yet, you should. You will never know how something as simple as believing in one person can change the world. ☺️

The Anti-Hero Journey

Confident. Obedient. Paragon of Awesomeness. These adjectives are typically used to describe a hero. Heroes are typically the protagonist of every story and everyone wants to be like them! However, today, ladies and gentlemen, I am not here to talk about heroes. In fact, I am here to talk about the dark side. Yes! The dark side, not because Rogue One is about to premiere, but because I'm a rebel who enjoys shattering the norms.

We always look up to a hero as the epitome of what a human being should be. According to one of my favorite American Scholar, Joseph Campbell who wrote "Hero With A Thousand Faces", a hero goes through several stages: First he is introduced in his ORDINARY WORLD where he receives the CALL TO ADVENTURE. He is then RELUCTANT at first to CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD where he eventually encounters TESTS, ALLIES and ENEMIES. He eventually reaches the INNERMOST CAVE where he endures the SUPREME ORDEAL. He SEIZES THE SWORD or the treasure and is pursued on the ROAD BACK to his world. He is RESURRECTED and transformed by his experience. Finally, he RETURNS to his ordinary world with a treasure, boon, or ELIXIR to benefit his world.

As much as I want to have my life story built according to this, it will never fit in this mold. My story begins with regression.  As a kid, I had a series of unfortunate life events from having a close encounter with death during the 1991 Ormoc Flood, discovering the lifeless body of my older sister who took her own life and witnessing domestic violence regularly. These life events, along with poverty, always made me feel inferior among friends. It led me to think that hiding all of these flaws and feelings would made them accept me. I created a world of self deceit and aloofness. I recall the teacher's comment in my report card "She needs to be more sociable."  As a weird kid in a Catholic school, I was alienated from the group and even bullied because of my eccentricities. This pushed me further into becoming bad. I fought back by throwing frogs at classmates. Perhaps the worst thing I have done was in Grade 5 when I kicked a boy in his crotch and called him stupid in front of everyone. The unceasing reminder of my uniqueness turned into an internal program for constantly highlighting weakness. When I was about to finish Elementary school, I developed lust for every material possession and description people attached to a rich and ideal kid. I started taking things from the lost and found section at school, even stealing a girl's Barbie doll at her house. I turned into a living contradiction. One day good, next day evil. I felt compelled to control things and people. When they refused to follow I would resort to violence, pulling their hair, throwing things or pushing them off. I evolved into a tyrant, refusing to bow down to my parents and questioning all their tradition and beliefs. It died down until I started university. Despite my seemingly normal student life, I was slowly shutting down from my humanity. I took advantage of my parents' generosity spent my allowance haphazardly; my compassion turned into hatred for the world and loathing for life. My daily wish would that it would be the last day of my life. Although living in paradise, I focused in the negative side. Creating  a living hell in my mind. I could talk endlessly about my life story but this is not an autobiographical movie with hours to spare.

Anti heroes create the problems that heroes have to solve. And without those problems, there would be no revelations concerning the basic struggle between good and evil. Stories would be plain and lifeless. Without the actions of these negative forces, there would even be little stories, and the forces that motivated Hitler and other dictators would be forever a mystery.

How did I escape my anti-hero journey? I haven't! Every now and then my demons visit me and they try to pull me back into the pit. I will never be completely confident, despite my experience in pageants. I am less likely to turn fully obedient, my blood just screams nonconformity and even though some people think I am a paragon of awesomeness (sometimes I like to think it is true), I am just a human being with flaws.

Our anti-hero story continues daily. It gives us clues on what we must do to be saved. Knowing our anti-hero story is not as scary as it seems. Coming to terms with our anti hero story helps us to come to terms with the dark side in ourselves. After all, darkness must exist for light to flourish.

2016 Q2 Insights and Changes

The earlier half of my 2016 is already awesome. Here’s why.

It is half way through August and as you guys have probably noticed, I haven’t done a great job at posting new content in July. I initially drafted this post last month but I could never get my mind in one place. I have had a lot of things going on in my life and I am still struggling to create the habit of consistently writing. Anyways, I am sharing new life challenges and changes for the first half of 2016.

  1. My temporary contract with Rare ended. I said goodbye to the non-profit world to take on new challenges that will further develop my skills in putting ideas to reality. I had a lot of good memories the full 8 months as a Temporary Associate for Partnerships. It was a good experience to be part of an international non-profit organization. Last January, I was lucky enough to be part of the Sinulog Grand Parade as a participant and not merely a spectator. It was my first time to also watch the competition. During my last week, I joined the first site visit to validate the information sent in by the municipality. I learned about the plights of the local fishermen and how deep corruption goes. As I left the organization, I had mixed feelings because I was leaving the people that I have been with for months. They were hardcore workers that are really dedicated to helping the locals protect our oceans. Unfortunately, in life not all stories last and this was one page I had to close to open the next one.

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    Me and my awesome workmates from Rare during the Sinulog Grand Parade.
  2. Ever since I met my boyfriend, Lucas who is equally in love with the ocean as I am, I have been diving more. It is definitely great to find someone who is also into the same sport. As of now, I have already logged in 61 dives! I have started counting down seahorses that I have seen and so far I have seen only 2 pygmy seahorse and 4 regular size ones which makes me closer to crossing this off my life list. I have visited more dive sites and I have had more close encounters with sea snakes. I am looking forward to getting my Rescue Diver License later this year (fingers crossed) since I did not get to do so last year. This goal would mean more focus on saving my pay unless I suddenly find me a sponsor (maybe you know anyone willing?).   61dives13082704_10154070688978329_4043091711850212282_n
  3. Luckily, I was one of the chosen Filipinos to participate in the first Climate Reality Leadership Training in the Philippines which was headed by Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore himself where I have met countless of inspiring people from different parts of the world sharing the same passion for the environment.
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    With my table mates!
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    Intramuros Tour with the other leaders
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    Inspiring stories from different countries.

     

  4.  I was appointed as Miss SCUBA Philippines National Director, which I fully accepted even though I know how huge of an undertaking it is. Making me currently the youngest pageant national director in Philippines. I am happy that I will contribute to a lady’s life changing moment the same way I did for Cindy. I am positive that we can have back-to-back win for Philippines in Miss SCUBA International 2016. Luckily, SERALCHO, headed by Mr. Charles Lim, is supportive about my passion in promoting diving among ladies and marine conservation in the country. There will be selections all throughout the country and I am certain the next Miss SCUBA Philippines will be a woman of substance and action.

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    Me with Mr. Lorenzo Tang, GM of Belmont Hotel, Miss SCUBA International/ Miss SCUBA Philippines 2015 Cindy Madduma and Charles Lim of SELRAHCO during the Press Launch
  5. A SPACE Inc. decided that I was good enough to be Space and Community Deals lead for their first branch out of Manila. Now working hard to exceed their expectations and to have the best coworking space in Cebu. I am admittedly turning into a workaholic working for more than 8 hours per day and even having dreams that are work-related but it all pays when you see the spacers happy and the space slowly morphing into an awesome masterpiece.

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    Blending in with the participants of Angelhack Cebu challenge.
  6. I have ran farther and faster than I used to during university. I have stuck through my resolution of being more healthy and I have already accomplished much. I survived my first 12km run and made it in the top 10 finisher. I also have recently increased my speed in 10k and earned my first Sub1 10k medal.

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    I have always been into short distance running but I never knew I could be as good, if not better doing long distance.
  7. I went back to public speaking by delivering a talk on marine conservation during the Instameet organized by I Luv Cebu. It was weird to be the older person in the room as I was surrounded a lot of teenagers but it was a good test on how I could package my talk in a fun but a bit alarming way. Although, I think I scared them more. Plus Lucas and I ended up in this page of the local newspaper!

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    Photos during the Instameet Event
  8. I reached a milestone with Lucas, he surprisingly survived my craziness for a year! I have learned a thing or two from him when it comes to relationships. I am never the best person when it comes to controlling emotions. Since I do not do mediocre, I am either all in or nothing in a relationship. Managing this stereotypical girl behavior of over analyzing and over acting is never easy but I am getting better at it (I think). He is very thoughtful and always reminds me that we are a team. I got so used to being independent that I usually forget that I can ask for help. I have never been happy in a relationship.  He is not only a boyfriend, he is also my dive buddy and co explorer! What more can a girl ask for right?
  9. I recently found out that I have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Hiatal Hernia, making my diet a lot more complicated. I cannot have any acidic food which means I have to avoid tomatoes, chocolate, caffeine and gas forming foods too! I am still adjusting and to be honest, it is not easy at all. Being vegetarian is already complicated in a meat loving country. It just decreases my food choices. I was reminded that even if I workout, I should also take the time to take care of the other part of my body like the stomach. We often do not care about it. Each organ is vital to us and all should be treated equally with great care.
  10. I went back to short hair and fringe! While it is not such a big of deal, it is quite liberating. The last time I had hair this short was right after I finished university which would be 9 years ago. After having to keep my hair long for years because the modelling and pageant industry demanded it, I feel more empowered these days and it has lifted my confidence. Helped me channel the rock star in me.

What will happen next? I can try to analyse and think of the things to come but I will never completely know what to expect. One thing I know is that this is my last year to be part of the 20ish and I will not let it drift by in a boring manner. I will continue to push my limits and break current boundaries. Just as how living should be.

How is your year so far?


 

Monday Musing: Fighting Thoughts of Uncertainty

How often do you doubt yourself?

Today is World Poetry Day! Back in the days, I would spend time writing on my diary and trying to be a poet. I love words and enjoy sulking in their meaning. To celebrate this day, I went through my old blog site to search for past entries. I used to write a lot of free verse on my frustrations in life. To be honest, most of it made people depressed so I decided to shift.

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Here is a free verse I wrote on August 4, 2012:

Standing in front of two eternities, sadness and happiness accompany me.

Trying to hold on to the dusts of yesterday, losing grip of what used to be.

Confused with the now as future is pounding at my door.

A bleak promise of tomorrow awaiting outside.

Fears and worries prevent me from moving further, for thoughts of you still linger. Time why do you change things?

Weak and weary but I will trudge on.

Now is my only possession, for the past is dead and tomorrow is unborn.

I sometimes I end up worrying too much about things that it temporarily freezes up my life. As humans the idea of not knowing everything always bothered us. The fear of not being totally in control of our life is an ongoing disease. Sometimes I resort to emotional eating or running. Oftentimes, I run away from uncertainty. After accepting the fact that the unknown will never stop bothering me , I confronted it and welcomed reality.

Having peace within one’s self is never easy. As social beings, we tend to use others or things to solve problems. It takes a lot of strength to fight our own demons and as you might all know, there is nothing more debilitating than self-doubt.

Fear is one of man’s formidable enemies. We do a lot of things that tend to be destructive to ourselves, to others and to relationships. You should not let a shadow consume your entire life. Decide to be positive and pro-active. I chose to do the same. We are all given the opportunity and time to make the best out of our lives.

The most freeing thing you can do for yourself is to hold on to your own abilitie. Believe in your capabilities and know that things happen for the better if you will it.

Do you have these moments too? How do you get over them?

Monday Musings: Taking Out Trash

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How often do you throw away? Most of us tend to keep a lot of unnecessary stuff whether in our places or in our minds. Unknowingly, we end up taking in so much that it leaves us with little space to work with.

I recently read an excerpt about Getting Things Done by Dave Allen where he described stuff as “Anything you have allowed into your psychological or physical world that doesn’t belong where it is, but for which you haven’t yet determined the desired outcome and the next action step.”  I have never thought about how much stuff I kept until I checked my email and sorted out my room. It is so easy to not realize the gravity of our hoarding and these stuffs slows us down and makes us inefficient.

Now is the time to clear your mind and place. Start by sorting and throwing out the unnecessary.