The wind came and left rapidly, unstoppable like time. The world used to be so wide and clear that I actually felt like if I stared too long to the sky, it was going to swallow me. Now I’m lying down on a roof and it feels like the world have gotten smaller. I can see the edges on each corners of my eyes.
Growing up in a village with lush mountains and vast green fields was one of the many beautiful memories I was grateful to have. I was born during the era when playing is physical. Swim and catch fishes from the pond under the sun together with other kids, hunting spiders and random fruits, running bare-feet on vast oasis. I always got scolded whenever I came home with muddy clothes of coming from the farm I went to gather the crops farmers’ missed during harvest season.
The sense of discovery brought me to unfamiliar places and found new paths to wander. Until now I’m still surprised how careless and lucky I was to stick my hands into those holes to hunt frogs but never found a single snake.
The most amazing thing back then is waking up the next day with a fresh memory if yesterday wasn’t good.
I have a beautiful grandmother with hair like waves of the ocean always clipped with a ribbon. She was hard-working. Toughest woman I’ve ever known and she always amazed me on how she managed to look fine even after all the work. She was a Kabo (“jueteng”) always walking all day.
I wish I was able to help her buy medicine and treat her diabetes back in the day because it kept her awake everynight when it’s causing her pain. It gave me the wrong impression that hospitals were only for dying people because she never wanted us bring her there.
I was wrong, hospitals are for people who can afford to live longer.
I wished I could grow up faster.
I stayed at school the whole day while others go home for lunch because my grandmother was sick and there was no food at home. I spent time reading books and old magazines. Sometimes, I simply just lay my head on the grass contemplating. I remember Mylene, my oldest of the classmate. Just like me, nobody wanted to her friend because they think she is dumb for being on the same grade. She was kind. She brings lunch at school because she lived far from school and just like me, she has to walk everyday. She lives at the end our village in the middle of the rice fields. We shared scrambled egg and tomatoes and sometimes the food is no longer good. She was so kind even when she didn’t have much to share.
I wonder where she is now.
At young age. I got to learn the language of silence. The beating of my chest, the sound of the wind, the colors of the sky and loving mountains to contemplate life. All I learned is gratitude for all the little things.
I was able to buy myself a pair of slippers and medicine for my grandmother from selling on the streets at eight years old. I still remember how my new pair of slippers went through the fast running water while I was crossing the muddy bamboo bridge. I followed and watched it go away. My grandmother got so worried. She was shouting at me asking me where I was. I didn’t see any reason to tell her what happened. I stayed at the river just watching the water. I ended up getting hit with a wood at the back of my legs.
I’ve always been treated differently. I was the reject—the outcast. The weird girl sitting at the back of the class with no comfidence to sit in front. Attentions embarrassed me. I was the errand girl. My classmates always asked me to do things for them because the canteen was far away while they would give parts of their food. That’s how I survived breaks during grade school. I let it because I needed them.
One day my teacher pulled me out from the class because I got caught stealing ice candy from our canteen. From that day on things got worst. I was discriminated everyday. I get bullied and rejected. No one wanted to sit close to me or be part of the group. It was a horrible feeling when everyone’s disgusted with you and fear that I was going to steal their things. I felt alone.
I found beneath the hair that’s covering my face. I felt a bit safer from those people who were judging me. Thank goodness to those magazines and story books hiding from the shelves. I had something to do during those years. I have always been alone sitting at the broken chairs.
I got used from being ignored and somehow it felt safe. I felt like I had the super power of being invisible. It was easier for me to move ignoring what people think. Life was better that way. A lot of time to think, to dream, to be anything and sometimes by looking down, I find pennies on the floor. (lol)
After classes before I can play out, I had to finish my tasks at home. Fill up water containers, wash dishes or gather some woods for cooking. Finish everything early so I can go out and play longer. We lived near little forests and farms. Dragon flies go in search of place to stay during sunset. It was the best part of my days, watching butterflies, catching dragon flies and the sun kissing my skin. Playing with shadows from the golden rays of the Sun. That time when the only beauty I know was the beauty of nature. These were times I missed the most. The simplicity of life, the freedom and joy that I might not able to feel anywhere again anymore.
One time I made a kite. It wont fly even if it was made of 2 wings and a tail. I didn’t understand.
“How come when it looked exactly like the rest of kites?”
I kept running and running. Out of madness both wings detached—rotated rapidly as it continously hit the ground. I was about to give up but then it stayed up, still. Best times! A memory I can’t forget. I made something fly. It became my daily routine. Everyday I was excited to fly my kite.
But one windy day—like the rest of the days I was excited! I thought the weather was perfect to fly my kite. I let it go until the string reached its bottom. My kite was so high and so small. The string felt hard, enough to let me know that the wind was strong. I tried to roll it back as fast I can but it was too late. I’ve lost it. It followed the direction of the wind.
Carelessness. I didn’t realized that the wind was harder and stronger up there. I was focused on getting it higher and higher. I didn’t consider the capacity of my kite. I was still holding the string that connected me to it but it’s gone.
Then came High School. I got 50% scholarship from the government also with the help of my school.
But nothing has changed. Maybe faces and names but my situation remained. I was still invisible and it kept people away. They didn’t even remember my name until second year.
Then came the most challenging and unforgettable moment of my life. Few days before Christmas.
My dreams died as the love of my life and the only person I had left me forever, my Grandmother.
I questioned the universe. Why? Why everything had to happen with me. I blamed God, the nature and everyone else With my misfortunes and heartaches. Why did I have to face everything at a young age. I didn’t know what was going to happen with me. I was scared. I never asked anything from this world. I tried not to be a baggage to anyone. I tried and find ways to make it all easy for everyone around me and answer my own doubts. I never complained but fate was hard.
I was meant to be too young to find ways to extend my grandmother’s life. I had to be born through a married father with a young woman who wasn’t prepared to raise a child alone so she had to leave me to my grandmother who had six children, who was sick and will passed away before Christmas Eve -before I was even able repay her.
Those were moments when the unknown was the only beautiful thing there is. When tomorrow was a gift. I was given an armor of bravery and fearlessness. When you are just broken. There was nothing more to lose, nothing more painful to feel. The ability to move forward with no reason to look back.
But there is always a light waiting at the end of the tunnel.
Being completely on my own, I broke my walls and let people do what they want with me. I had a brave heart even when it pounds most of the time. There was nothing more to lose only lessons to learn. Pain struck me long enough to be weak. I didn’t want to live and die in the same way in the same place—being hopeless again. I am going to live life and see the world.
I traveled to the city and it was not an easy start. I had to go through shit holes before I even get started. I had to deal with different faces of hypocrisy while I try to find my true self. I was naive but slowly I have learned.
In this world, you are not striking if you have nothing to offer.
You know this thing called beginner’s luck? I guess it was all because of it. At some point I was scared to put down all my card but I’ve got to try atleast and hope to get better ones from it.
Awaken from that long nightmare, tears of joy came rushing on my cheeks. It was like a dream. I found myself walking on the stage, spotlight on my face. What a bright runway. People watching and taking photographs of me. ‘That moment I didn’t have to do anything anymore, just keep my head straight and be proud.
I made money just like that. I used to think I would have to clean toilets to make that kind of money.
But of course it took me a while to finally get used to the pain fitting my ginger-feet inside those six-inches stilettos. Tears of joy every time I got new projects. I’ve never felt so relieved. I didn’t expect to become any of it. I was just glad its over.
In no time, I left Philippines. I had my first plane experience traveling to Zurich, Switzerland at 19. My first love. The one who taught me about my self-worth. The first person who showed me a beautiful reflection of myself. He believed in me and loved me more than anyone could ask for. With him, I learned that love is the most beautiful feeling there is to feel and give. I was free. He let me transform into a beautiful butterfly be the best I can ever be. I was in Lucerne, on the mountains of Rigi and San Moritz, steps to Uetliberg, apartments in Basel then back to Philippines. As soon as I arrived, I became an official candidate of the most prestigious National beauty competition in the country which during the time of the audition I didn’t even know what it was. Miss Philippines-Universe changed my life. It was around 2012. I didn’t win but it was an instrument for me to gain confidence and projects. I travelled back to Zurich then to Paris, encountered a beautiful woman named Julie (Maison Julie) , who asked me if I could walk for her show in Zurich while I was shopping at her boutique. I walked-in to some agencies in Europe and tried to model. Metro-models and Time models gave me a chance but I had to go back to Philippines and again my life was on fire. I won Ms. Resorts World 2012-3rd Runner up, then travelled to Singapore as a prize. I couldn’t believe what was just happening to my life. Year 2014 represented Philippines for Asia New Star Model–FACE of the Philippines. It was a competition held in Korea where I met every every race in Asia then a lot more magical things followed. 2015, I won a place for Miss Manila.
I realized that there is no real destination, only finding meaning to life. We are all in search of treasures we don’t know we already have. And yet, the wisdom from failures and losses develops us to fulfill our highest human experience.
From the day I lost those slippers, it taught me to be tough and learned to let go even those that are most precious to me because there is no use of holding on and letting life slip away. Take the unbeaten paths and be brave enough to walk alone.
Those times I let people hurt me, I couldn’t be more thankful to them. I gained more wisdom and sensitivity for people who are also going through rough times. To understand how it feels to be rejected, discriminate, bullied and to have nothing.
All the rejections and discriminations were my greatest momentum to something big and special that is going to happen with me even when I felt so small. Sit from a distance while seeing things clearer, to read better, observe and be more sensitive about other people.
To my grandmother, thanks for being tough. Thanks for leaving me enough wisdom and strength to face the world before you left. Now I know why you had to show me tough love.
To that kite that disappeared with the wind, it was a lesson from the universe. To find balance in between things. To have self-discipline in order not to get lost with the unpredictable direction of the wind. To always keep my connection to the ground and know that being on top is not always a good place to be. It could be cold, lonely and sometimes it’s just going to break myself apart.
As I grew older, I realized that we are only able to see our treasures when we are ready to have them. It could’ve been just in front of us the whole time but we were looking somewhere else and it’s alright. That’s life! We need to experience and learn new ideas before we are able to see the beauty of life we have. Life is up to you, your own definition.
If you are looking for happiness, look for things that nurture your soul and the key to that is to always know what how your heart feels. If you want to be successful about something, you’ve got to use your craft and believe in yourself. Discover, develop and be consistent. It doesn’t matter how slow you progress as long as you are not stepping back.
We are part of a great masterpiece, part of the soul of the universe and it will bring us to where we are supposed to be. Sometimes we just get surprised for those greater things we are meant to live.
And up to now I’m still learning and learning from all my experiences and from everyone I meet along the way. From people passing by the streets, from all those amazing islands and mountains that welcomed me, from all these amazing people around me, for everything. I am grateful they happened to me. My life is beautiful.
CHAPTER 2. 45TH PLANE