I wrote this article a couple of months ago for the Ayala Young Leaders newsletter, and I thought I'd share it with you. Now that almost all the playgroups around the city are closed for spring/summer, I'm being challenged again to be creative in thinking of activities for the kids at home. We're now kind of limited to going to playgrounds around our neighborhood, splash parks around the city, and big parks, and I don't know if I want to drive "out" all the time, every single day, to keep the kids busy. So, I need a little "push" right now, to be productive day in and day out, and not feel like a lazy Mom!
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The Ayala Young Leaders Congress has truly been a great opportunity for us to come together and talk about what we can do to make our country better. We marveled at the life stories of Filipinos who have made a difference in their own "spheres of influence." It inspired us to follow our dreams, be passionate and serve others.
Twelve years after the Congress, I think back and ask myself - have I done what I could to pursue my passion and be useful to the people around me? I would like to believe that I have done everything I could - to be useful. We may have different definitions of the word "career", and twelve years after the Congress, my definition has definitely changed. I would like to share my journey with you.
I've always had two passions - teaching and music. After college, all I wanted was to be a teacher and to sing. I dreamed of being involved in revolutionizing education in our country. I also had dreams of singing professionally and performing all over the world. I was fortunate to intern, and eventually be hired by Ayala Foundation under the CENTEX project. At almost the same time, I was fortunate to become a member of the Bukas Palad Music Ministry. CENTEX made me realize how education can transform the lives of families in Tondo and a Batangas. Every day, as I taught one class to another, I felt a sense of purpose. Early on, I had a voice inside me saying, "this is where I belong and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life." Bukas Palad has compelled me to look beyond "performing" and to use every minute on stage to proclaim God's word.
Six years later, my boss sent me to a conference in Tagaytay sponsored by the US Embassy. A fine gentleman introduced himself to me, asked me out on a date, and the rest, as they say, is history. I left Centex to be with my husband, and create a life together. I figured, wherever I went, God will always give me the opportunity to serve others and I knew myself enough to think that I will never turn my back from my advocacies and I will be always be Filipino by heart.
My husband's next assignment was in Washington D.C., and I was fortunate yet again, to find a great school community that enabled me to maximize my potential as a Music teacher, and allowed me to share my passion to the students. I remember being given the opportunity to make a presentation to the entire faculty about the plight of the teachers in the Philippines. The other teachers could not believe their eyes and ears. They encouraged me to speak to the middle school students about it, and after I did, the students sponsored a fund raising activity for Centex.
While in D.C., I served the Filipino community by teaching a choir made up of veteran OFWs and I was moved by their stories of struggle and success. I was also grateful to have contributed to the establishment of the program and curriculum of Paaralang Pinoy, a school dedicated to teaching Philippine history, culture and tradition to second generation Filipinos in Virginia.
After two years, we moved to Tokyo, Japan. Again, I found an international school to that allowed me not only to teach the students, but to train and mentor teachers as well. I also found a wonderful Catholic choir community that paved way to a lot of performances and charity work for seminarians in the Philippines.
In May 2009, Kevin was born. I stopped working for a few months, but decided to go back part time. In December 2010, Nina was born. This time, with two children, all I could do was a little bit of teaching work and a little bit of volunteer work. At this point, we had been in Japan for three years, and we were bound for our next assignment.
We moved on to Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada in August 2011. This time, with family geographically farther, and with no monetary resources to have household help, my husband and I decided that it was time for me to start a new career, and so far I've been taking it one day at a time. I think it's the most challenging, most beautiful career decision I have made so far.
Seeing how everyone in AYLC has been successful at every field they are in, and seeing how productive and passionate everyone remains about serving our country, I sometimes wonder if I would still have the opportunity to do the same. Reading everyone's status on Facebook and tweets about their jobs and achievements sometimes makes me wonder if I even deserve to be a part of this community.
I did not finish my master's degree. I am not a public official. I am not holding a top position for a big company. I am not rubbing elbows with the "who's who" in our society.
I am a stay at home Mom. I cook, clean, do the laundry, drive my kids to playgroups and home school. My bosses are a very spirited 3 year old boy and a 1 year old baby girl, and my biggest fan is my husband. My calendar is full of doctor's appointments, play dates, classes and occasional dates with my one and only fan. It may not be a "career" for some people, but for sure, everyday is as emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating, physically tiring and as crazy as your days.
Some people may think that moms are anonymous and blend in the crowd, and may not really create a big impact in society. But, I know in my heart that, right now, this is where I am supposed to be. I want to be a good mother to my children, and hopefully my husband and I will raise them to be good citizens of this world. I believe we need more of those these days.