Many Kiwis here are really amazed that I speak English very well. One local even complimented on how impeccable I speak it. When they do ask how come I do it well, I explained that my country was once colonized by the Americans for around 50 years, and so the medium of instruction in some schools after such a long time of Spanish rule is American English. I was educated in a private Catholic school from kindergarten until high school, and during that time, there was only one subject called Filipino where we needed to speak the national language during that class, while the Cebuano dialect was only spoken outside of school. I even said that the teachers had a rule in high school where every student needed to speak English, otherwise they would have to put a particular amount of money in a jar as penalty or fine. Also, I like to write and so it helps me speak more of it, and should I dare say, I express more in English than in Cebuano or Tagalog. But that’s just me.More than simply the language, I always feel I am a Western woman trapped in an Asian woman’s body. I used to think that I would prefer to stay in the US and grow up there when I was a few years old. Didn’t know if that idea came from watching heaps of American TV, but that was what I thought of back then. Also, those thoughts were also encouraged by the fact that my aunt moved to the States from Saudi Arabia when I was a few years old. But my parents didn’t really want me to be me. That’s honestly how I felt growing up. As in most Asian societies, children are expected to do as they are told, and that presented many challenges for me, mostly emotional.For one, I loved performing in front of an audience, whether it’s my family and relatives, or on a stage in a food court in a mall with red shoes and matching red dress and accessories to go with it. At least that was what my aunt, who’s now based in the US, told me as I had absolutely no recollection at all what I did during those early years except for watching TV, like from morning until the multicolored screen would appear and then it goes blank and then that seemingly eerie sound accompanied it. My parents played songs on either the radio in the car or at home and would sing to them, and that’s where my love of music came from.My first encounter with someone who did what I would love to do was Billy Joe Crawford, who’s now known simply as Billy Crawford. He was one of the popular kids in the long-defunct show “That’s Entertainment.” He sang, he danced, he showcased his acting skills to the audience, I thought I could do that too.
I was a very confident kid every time I sing and dance, but when my parents didn’t want me to do that, over time I got depressed, irritable, even confused.There were many times in those twenty years where I wanted to make my own decisions. Like when I was encouraged to play the piano by my parents, I actually wanted to learn how to sing properly. But I wasn’t able to voice out what I wanted to do because it was not only unheard of to speak out, but also it was not allowed, otherwise I would get an earful from it. There were many times when I heard my father say “Don’t do this, don’t do that.” It was really, really frustrating to be honest, to hear every single mistake I did. No positive words at all about me and what I did right. In short, being myself seemed to be not allowed in my own home. As my father said that time, “My way or the highway.”
It wasn’t easy when this still small voice and conflicting feelings tried to communicate with me, but my own home environment was not supportive and safe for being myself. I had to wrestle with myself and my own feelings so many times, unnecessarily berate and punish myself simply because I didn’t know better. I had countless days where I would cry for a long time, for sometimes a reason, other times no reason at all. Maybe that was my intuition’s way of saying, “Please, please listen to me.”
Luckily, I discovered that I actually liked the process of writing when I started a diary full of detailed events in my high school life. Because I can’t speak out to my parents for fear of getting an earful especially from my father, I decided to write instead about my daily activities, what I observed in my classmates, what the guy whom I had a crush on was doing that time.After I graduated from high school, my mother encouraged me to study at the University of the Philippines (UP) because she said it was one of the best universities to study for a degree and that most companies would be awed to have someone graduate from there. She wanted me to take an accounting course, but since my entrance exam result wasn’t good enough for that degree, I opted for the business course instead, as it had the numbers that my parents wanted (as they both graduated from accounting) and the psychology aspect of it that I liked. Thank goodness because I also knew then I would be so damn bored if I focused with numbers all the time.I wanted to go to UP Diliman in Quezon City to pursue that course, and I have always wanted to go to Manila and be independent from them, but again they didn’t allow me. I wasn’t even allowed to have a part-time job at the same time study a course. The reason I wanted to have a part-time job is simply to learn how to manage finances very well because I knew I could only do that through experience, and there was no personal budgeting subject in uni that time, although I also knew there would be challenges that come with studying during the day and working at night. I didn’t realize until I started to read about intuition recently that the way my intuition spoke to me was my soul, my interests and curiosities ever since I was a kid, and I was starting to stand up for it, but my parents tried to squash it. So I settled for UP Cebu.
As maybe fate would have it, it was through the environment at that school that I was encouraged to speak out for myself. There were many issues certain groups or even the university itself was fighting against, and so I had an “aha” moment that I can do this for myself. But my parents were aghast to see me stand up for myself, my father interpreted it as being rebellious and talking back at him. It was really a big thing for him when someone talked back at him, we had many arguments about it.
So the last straw was actually when I was working in a company and I got so depressed two years into the job that I forced myself to listen to my soul and did something about it. It wasn’t that I hated the job, I actually liked it. It’s just that there was someone I needed to avoid because, without going into any detail, I was crying day and night for what seemed like the longest time, I needed to get out of Cebu to save me from myself. It even got to the point that I asked the therapist to give me medication to cure my so-called depression, only to hear her say that I actually don’t have depression.I think by this stage I was also watching the now-defunct “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (as Oprah has established her own cable TV network called OWN), and learned from her how to start listening and trusting intuition through various topics that were discussed on that show.
So I applied for a job in Boracay, got it, bought a one-way plane ticket, and announced to my mother that I am getting away from Cebu for a few months as I got a new job. At that point, she demanded for me to get a refund and still stay in Cebu. But I was like, “Nope, I have already made my decision. I will only stay in Boracay for a few months to learn how to budget and manage my finances, explore Boracay, at the same time reconnect with the things I like to do.” Although Boracay was the most unlikely place to get back to myself, what with all the bars and parties all night and every night, many people raved about the white sand beaches there and the peacefulness that can come with just sitting on a bench nearby. For me, it was a good enough place to start reconnecting with my soul. It was also there I started to write articles, one of them landed in the print and online version of Sun.Star Cebu newspaper, which you can view by clicking this link. I was really happy about starting to write articles, and so when they actually got published, I got paid for them too. I showed those articles them to my parents. But still they were not really impressed. So at that stage I said to myself, “Look, if they can’t be pleased, then you just need to continue doing what you love to do. Eventually, there will be people who will like your writing and be inspired.”
There are still societies out there who are still teaching their kids to do as they are told. I have even talked to a few Asians who graduated from university here in Auckland but are not sure if they wanted to pursue a career based on what they studied. I’m not saying that what Asian parents do in general is bad. And also, I needed to emphasize that doing what you’re requested to do in a full-time or part-time job is a good thing as you will not last long if you don’t know how to follow instructions. But there’s a big difference here, between “request” and “impose.” Sometimes being too controlling with children, imposing rules on what courses to take and what activities to do can stifle or prevent them from being curious about what’s it like to do the things they would prefer to do. To be honest, self-confidence can truly come from letting them do what they want to do, allowing them to commit mistakes and learn from them. It took me a VERY, VERY long time to realize that making mistakes while doing something I love is a good thing because not only I have learned many things from it, I have also gained my confidence back that I thought was lost in my childhood. You can only learn from taking action, not what your parents tell you to do. Of course, there are people out there who thrive on the same career paths as their parents did and got to love it. And also I do understand where my parents came from because they were also taught by their own parents to do as what they are told and to grow up fast as they had other brothers and sisters to take care of. It just so happened my parents had a creative kid who didn’t have the knowledge and maybe proper skills on how to bring me up in a way that would make me feel secure and happy to be myself. They taught me what they themselves were taught. And although there were indeed some good things from what they taught me, I have had to fight for being myself the hard way.It’s almost three years now that I am here in New Zealand, and I have learned so much not only from what people mostly do here, but also how courageous they are in pursuing their own dreams and goals and have become successful doing it, even though they are too humble to admit it. They don’t mind the risks, all they think of is the rewards of pursuing their passions. And actually, this is one of the many reasons why many countries around the world are more successful than others. Simply by following their own passions, that’s putting intuition into action.Through all of this, and despite the external environment I was in, somehow God and intuition still found ways to encourage me to pursue my passions, even through my parents. I’m very grateful that I made the decision to fight for my right to be myself during a time my soul pushed me to listen. So this time is for me to be who I want to be so I can teach my own children how to accept themselves and be confident and safe around me and my partner.
This blog is just the start of many good things to come. I have started taking meditation classes and am keen to enroll in more classes with topics of interest to me. That I will discuss in my future blogs. And I know deep inside that God is guiding me every step of the way.
Please feel free to leave comments on this article. I would really love to hear from you.
P.S. As I was preparing myself to meditate and then go to bed, I had an “aha” moment. I actually have a very brave soul in me that called on me for years to listen and take action. When there were times I didn’t listen, crying would then come. It seems that God has placed this brave soul inside me starting from when I was born because He knew that I would need it. That eventually, my physical body and my soul will be aligned together and move together in synchronicity, just like two of the fishes my partner and I have in our aquarium. Always moving in the same direction together, no argument. I have a brave soul to match my sensitive nature.I’m very glad God chose me to have this soul of mine. I’m very grateful for that part of my journey because the next part will be more exciting, more fun, more adventure, hopefully more success, more in tune with Him, my soul and my intuition.Until the next post!