Change starts with a story, and the story that changed my life was an encounter with a typhoon.
When my friend Dyan invited me to join World Pulse, I initially thought I wasn't qualified. Who would listen to a stay-at-home mother whose world revolved around the life of her husband and children?
But a storm came. It was not as fierce as typhoon Haiyan, the strongest super typhoon recorded in the world, but it was still destructive and very frightening to me.
At the height of the landfall while I held my two sons around my arms, uncertained if we would survive the storm's wrath, I realized I could not face death without writing my stories.
On December 2017, I wrote my first World Pulse entry, and it was about surviving that storm.
First of all, I did not expect I will be receiving comments full of empathy. I even sent a copy of that piece to a literature professor and asked her to read it so I can revise it and submit it as an entry for local online writers publication. But she replied, " if I have time, probably I will read that by the end of the year". That was January.
Prior to writing on World Pulse, I received a chat message insulting us for moving to Tacloban City, the hardest hit by Supertyphoon Haiyan. (My husband is involved with the livelihood rehabilitation here.) It's our fault, that was the gist of his message. Probably, that was how most people thought when they heard about our storm experience. So empathy from my World Pulse sisters touched me and my family. I thought, "Wow, they cared."
A few weeks later, I received an email and a private message from dear Corine, World Pulse editor. She thought my story was "powerful", thus, I got awarded as a Featured Storyteller. That meant my story got more coverage, and more readers. As a result, I received more encouragement!
The $100 honorarium was my first "earned money" since I became a stay-at-home mom.
I was a reluctant writer, with very low self-esteem. Being a Featured Storyteller, together with my sisters' empathy, slowly built my confidence in writing. It felt great to be encouraged! So I went beyond my encourager assigments to give uplifting feedbacks to my sisters.
I wrote more stories and encouraged more sisters as I typed from my cellphone while my husband and sons slept at night. I unexpectedly won two more story awards later. It made me cry with joy.
Last month, I received an email invitation from Dawn to join the World Pulse Board Meeting. During the videocall, I couldn't hold my tears as I was given a chance to speak with Jensine, the World Pulse team and the Board. I was only a nobody, but World Pulse recognized my humble contribution to this online space. It was truly an honor. I couldn't sleep after that call. I was so happy!
Then recently, I was invited to be among the World Pulse Ambassadors. How humbling can this journey be? Imagine, It all began with one storm story.
To Jensine, Corine, Dawn, Hannah, Jill, Olutosin, and the whole World Pulse Team, I'm writing this on my cellphone (while my husband and sons are asleep) with tears falling from my eyes. I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for giving a stay-at-home mother like me (who is raising a son with special needs and another toddler) a chance to change the narratives of my story.
Being in this online community, I dare to dream again.
How can I not give my best to World Pulse? When with the little that I have done, you've shown recognition. With the little efforts I've made, you've shown appreciation, trust and validation. I've never felt so loved and valued. All because of that one story, and you've brought me here today as if I am living in a dream. This is such a beautiful reality!
Thank you so much! I love each one of you! And what a blessing to be celebrating International Women's Day with Queen Stella here in our country!
To the rest of my sisters, thank you for sending love, virtual hugs, prayers. Thank you for your encouragements. Your comments uplift me during my challenging times; your stories inspire me a lot to strive harder and become the best version of myself. I am so blessed to be connected with you all.
I honor each of you. Happy International Women's Day!
(P.S. I will be reading your stories after our IWD event and will be sending love and encouragements.)