Information and communications technology (ICT) is a valuable tool girls can use in this digital age.
My first introduction to the internet was in 1999 when I was a freshman in the University of the Philippines-Mindanao. UP is the premier state university in our country. Even though we were told we were the “cream of the crop”, I was scared of using a computer. It looked complicated to me. I heard about the internet back then but I had no idea how to use it.
In college, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Mathematics program. My classmate Melissa introduced me to the chat world called MIRC. She also created my first now defunct email address: email@example.com. In return, I created email addresses for the majority of my classmates who didn’t have a eudoramail or email. I would send a lot of information by forwarding messages to them. We were really happy to access the Internet Explorer as a source of many answers to our pile of homework!
I quit studying in our junior year because of our parents’ decision to move to Cebu for a “missionary training”. I had been an “out-of-school” youth for around six years, but I caught up with my friends through Friendster, then I learned to blog on Multiply, then eventually joined Facebook. When I got back to college, I was already 26 years old. I graduated in Bachelor of Community Development at age 28.
My priority back then was to help my parents financially and to give financial assistance to my sisters who were in school. During the day, I work in non-profit organizations, and I worked as an online English tutor to Koreans and Japanese in the evenings until midnight via Skype.
The time I decided to get married, I had to quit my English tutoring job. Then when my firstborn son was eight months old, I decided to become a fulltime mother. There was a pause in my career, and I’ve seen younger girls overtook me with their employment opportunities. I felt stuck in the world of care work. I took a chance to go back to the dynamic world of paid work as a call center agent, but I didn’t last long because I could not find a good caretaker for my son with special needs. I ventured to work in a non-profit organization again until I got pregnant on my second child. Because I attributed my stress in the workplace as one of the reasons why my firstborn son has developmental delay, I once again quit my promising job as a Sustainable Development Program Manager. Yes, fear got into me as it always had in my entire existence.
I often wondered if I would have a chance to go to back to work and reclaim my economic power as a woman. I felt insecure of being in my 30’s and haven’t accomplished much. I wondered what my significance as a woman was aside from being a wife and a mother.
Then I discovered World Pulse.
I had spent most of my life feeling insecure and unsure of myself and my abilities. I love to write, but I was too critical of my compositions. The day I became awarded as a Featured Storyteller, I was surprised that I wrote a material that caught the editors’ attention. It boosted my confidence so I wrote more. The second time I got awarded as Featured Storyteller, I wondered why I was chosen. Was my writing good enough? Sisters from around the globe sent uplifting messages so I kept writing. Every time I did, I began to believe in myself and become braver. The third time I received the Featured Storyteller award, I was convinced that writing could be a path I can take. These are very humbling experiences as I was typing all my World Pulse entries from my mobile phone.
The stories I read from our sisters all over the world inspire me to emulate their courage, dedication, passion and perseverance. By the time I got invited as one of the World Pulse Ambassadors, I already said goodbye to my old insecure, emotionally-broken self.
Last month, during the International Women’s Day celebration, I had the honor to speak to women who survived Super Typhoon Haiyan. I shared my World Pulse journey with them and encouraged them to write their stories here, too.
Their response to the personal stories I shared was among the most touching experiences I had. I relayed to them my storm story, then urged them to write their typhoon experiences, too. I also told them my child birth story and how my firstborn son has special needs. I saw women wiping their tears. By looking at their eyes, I realized that there were stories trapped within them. After the event, there were women who came to me and told me they were inspired. Then they asked me these questions:
“ Is it ok to write on World Pulse about my typhoon Haiyan story?’;
“ Is it ok to share how my brother abused me?”;
“ Is it ok to write about my Martial Law experience?”
I wanted them to be healed and free, so I answered, “ Of course!” to all. I told them no one can tell their story better than they do, and they need not ask permission to share their truths, and World Pulse is that safe online space to release the pent-up trauma of the past. I’m glad that there are those who mustered the bravery to begin writing here. I hope World Pulse would be beneficial to them as it has for me.
One telling tale that I gained confidence in writing is a few days ago, I accepted a job to document a one-day event: an Ideation Workshop organized by an international non-profit organization. Before, I would shrink back and say, “ I can’t, look for someone else”; however, this time, I told myself, “I can do this, and I can give my best!”. I submitted a documentation well-packaged to the organization's satisfaction. This experience encouraged me to pursue more writing jobs and to own a laptop. Then eventually, I plan to finish my Masters of Development Communication.
Wherever I am, whatever I do, I could not stop sharing World Pulse. This is the online space that catapulted me to the world.
To find dignity and significance, gain self-confidence and self-acceptance; to access support from global sisters; and to give back to my community: these are World Pulse’s gifts to me. These, among many others, are World Pulse’s gifts to the girls of the world!