I grew up wanting to be a boy. I saw that my brother got more freedom because he was a boy. I stayed and kept the house clean while my brother go out and play. When I entered college, I found talking politics and ideas more interesting and exhilarating talking about clothes and make up. It was the questioning mind, the audacity of the thought “why not?” that led me to activism in the late eighties. I was one of the thousand young men and women who become involved in advancing the issues of agrarian reform, poverty, human rights, etc. My journey took me to the path of development work rather than the path of armed struggle as a means of changing the society. Since then I have been working with rural poor in various initiatives: food security, capacity building, women’s health. My personal vision and mission is to light the lives of the people I touch with- my two children, my family, my colleagues , the women and men I work for and with. I wanted to become a resource to others, particularly to women under difficult circumstances so that they can find affirmation, insights and support. I have worked and continue to work with women –across communities in different parts of Mindanao. Despite the particularities of the sector where they are in---common threads can be found everywhere: their daily struggle for survival to feed, clothe and educate their children ,their unmet reproductive needs, their enterprising abilities , to name a few. Surviving Mindanao is a daily struggle. A land of conflict and widespread poverty, so many killings happen in the island. Some of my colleagues have given up and opted to live abroad. And every time I know of someone leaving the Philippines for good, something inside me a dies too. But we cannot give up hope. I need to hold on to that hope because if I cannot hope, how can my children then hope for a better future? I applied for VOF because so many stories affecting ordinary women in Mindanao do not find their way to the mainstream media. Most the news and stories in the media involved the rich and powerful and the popular. At 45, I want to continue the journey of making the lives of other women better because I have shared information, resources and interests. I want to be able to share our stories and keep hope alive. I also want to learn from other women’s groups in other places. At 45, I also have my share of inadequacies, of uncertainties . Are the things we are doing really contributing to change? Will the sounds of bullets drown my voice? But with the Web 2, I know I am entering into a powerful community of women, who like me, know what is out there, have tried ideas and know that it works, and who remain fired up by their own visions of change. Together, its hope multiplied.

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Hi ma.chona lasaca,

Your story is one of positivity, determination and devotion to create a better world. I am grateful and honored to be connected with Pulsewire and able to hear your story. Your dedication to your country and commitment to stay and work for improvement rather than move is inspiring. Your voice comes through very strong. I was curious if you feel things have changed since you were younger, do you think many girls in current times have the same thoughts as you did of wanting to be a boy- to have more freedom? The struggle continues and it is women like you who empower me and so many others. Thank you for sharing your vision.

Cheers, Megan

What an inspiring story. I am honored to be able to listen to your week 2 assignment. It is heartening to know of your commitment to staying with and helping the community in Mindanao, in spite of any uncertainties. Thank you for sharing.

-Tara