Stories shared, igniting change
Billy (Filipino, 23)
I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Then, nagcollege ako sa Manila where I took up Marketing Management. I worked for a few months right after graduation but I just couldn't ignore this nagging feeling about taking up law. I felt like it was something I really had to do -- na no matter how successful I become in the corporate world, there'd be a void to fill if I passed on law school.
So, I took a leap of faith.
I didn't realize that once you go in, everything would happen so fast. When they gave us samples and study tips, I was shocked to see I've reached my limit. Yung abilities ko hanggang dun lang. And that was just the review. Classes had just started and there I was, crying until I couldn't cry anymore because I still had to study. The sleepless nights, the endless readings and the anxiety you get when it's time for recitation -- lahat yan, everyday cycle. I'm sure other law students can relate. Madalas, I cried out of frustration kasi may hindi ako nabasa.
One thing I'd never forget with law school was when I had to choose between family and law. My grandmother passed away recently so we had to visit our province. I knew that if I chose studying over my lola, I would definitely regret it so I came with my family. It was hard knowing I had tons of cases to read but I managed to slip in a few in between my free time.
So far, I've learned that one of the best things you can do to survive everyday is to manage your stress and your expectations.
Everyday is a struggle to survive. I just thank God for being my strength and my peace whenever I feel anxious. Also, my family and friends that continue to support me even if we don't get to see each other that often.
Camilo (Filipino, 29)
I've been working as a research specialist for the past seven years in a financial services company. I choose my job everyday because I like what I'm doing and I get along well with my colleagues.
If may challenges man, I would say yung shifting schedule. Serving US-based clients meant rotating mid shift and night shift schedules. You're only on your way to work but you're already stressed because of the commute and traffic.
Another was the shift in the industry. I took up Mass Communication major in Broadcasting kasi theater ang first love ko. Plot twist, right? It was a hard transition for a theater guy who's used to anything artistic to enter the finance industry -- an industry that's all about numbers and statistics. Who knew I would eventually learn to love what I do?
In 2015, a TV network offered me a full-time job as part of their production team. During that time, third year ko na sa work. Nabuhay yung passion ko for theater but.. I declined.
I said no maybe because I found my comfort zone here in my desk job. Siguro, pagod na rin ako. I had a lot of what ifs. Pursuing my passion meant sacrificing my financial stability. It meant going back to zero.
But everytime I look back, I can't help but feel like sana.. tinuloy-tuloy ko na lang.
If there's anything I learned, it's to take risks cautiously. You really have to think about the pros and cons if you're doing any decision in your life. There are times when we fail in life but it's up to you how to turn each failure into a learning lesson, to always look for the brighter side.
Niña (Filipino, 29)
This is a tribute to my family: my mom, and younger brother who have been my supporters since day one of this endeavor, and to my father who had passed away.
My brother was a full scholar back in college. During that time, he still needed expenses for his allowance which I shouldered throughout his graduation. When he started working as a seaman, he called me from overseas and told me, “Ate mag-resign ka na. Mag-aral ka na ng law school. Ako na ang bahala sayo.” After working for five years after college, I pursued law school in 2015 as a full-time student. I gave my 100% and I was in my Honors section from first year to fourth year in law school. I was supposed to take the bar exam this November but when they announced the list of candidates who wouldn’t graduate, to my surprise, I saw my name on the list. I was pretty devastated. I knew that I did everything I could and I felt confident I wouldn’t fail any subject.
First time ko magkaron ng major failure. Nadepress ako for one week. I cried day and night and I never left my room. Ako kasi yung tipo na kailangan kong i-feel yung feelings ko to feel better and move on. On the day that was supposedly my graduation day, sinabi ko sa sarili ko na I had to work in a law firm. I need a place na close sa work ko and sa production place of my small business.
Then I realized: Often, we celebrate success stories but seldom do we hear celebrations of struggles. We throw feasts when someone becomes a topnotcher at the bar, a valedictorian in law school but we never magnify the failures that they’ve overcome to be where they are. Our culture taught us to shun our losses in life. We need to reconstruct our definition of success. My takeaway from this experience is to help yourself get back on your feet as soon as you can. Do it for the people who believe in you when you’ve lost all confidence in yourself.
R (Filipino , 31)
After graduating, I looked for an architectural firm that had the same ideals as mine and at the same time, a job that would support my dreams and my family. I waltzed my way through different types of architectural practice from design firm, to construction and now, real estate.
Eventually, I decided to pursue work in Singapore. During that time, I had no resources to fulfill this dream which led me to depression. I was so frustrated because I couldn’t reach my goal. At work, I would smile and laugh with my co-workers but when I get home at night and lay in bed, that’s when it would hit me. For two years, I felt a big void in me. It was always dark and lonely.
Then one day, I just realized, naiba na yung rhythm ko so I helped myself. I found ways to motivate myself. I unfollowed people on social media who triggered my frustration and started following accounts that posted motivational quotes and positive thoughts.
But most of all, I turned into art as my salvation. Sa architecture kasi, it’s bound by rules. Lahat may measurement, may precision, may restrictions. Art doesn't have that. Yung feelings na hindi ko maexpress, I translated into painting. It was liberating. Everyday, I find time to paint.
There are times in life that we may feel like we are not going anywhere. Use that time to think, to reflect and to savor the present.
Mark (Filipino, 25)
Growing up in the province and being the only son of the family is a setup where it's so hard to come out of the closet. Syempre, ikaw lng yung "magtatawid ng lahi" di ba. Yes, I am not straight as I am attracted to both women and men.
I got the courage to figure myself out after my relationship with my college girlfriend. I met a lot of guys and was really trying to spell out who I was. The downside of my journey to self-discovery was that it became a vice. I was running for honors back then, but “napabayaan ko studies ko to the point na muntikan nang hindi ako makagraduate ng college. First try for the board exam, I got conditional remarks and I was really frustrated. Idagdag mo pa yung pag-iwan sayo nung boyfriend mo whom you expected to be a shoulder to cry on.
Hearing the news, my mom was disappointed and upset. I went home to my province, scared and disappointed at myself, too. I was expecting that I would enter the house with a closed door. Bagsak e. But upon entering the gate, sinalubong ako ng nanay ko with open arms. Behind her sermons is the love of a mother which is truly unconditional. She still accepted me despite my failures. After that, I focused on my studies and finally passed the board exam.
During my first job here in Manila, I stayed in a male's dorm somewhere in Ortigas. The culture there was tough -- all my roommates were straight so I had to blend in. When I came to MyTown, hindi ko inexpect na dito ko pala fully maeexpress sarili ko. As a first timer. I wanted to try out the events that they have, like the Summer Pool Party, where I met new friends who are part also of the LGBTQIA community. Some are out and others are discreet like me. Through them, MyTown turned out to be my home in the city. Mas dun ko naramdaman yung maenjoy yung pagiging ako. Kasi free to express ka kung sino ka with no judgments.
If there's any advice that I could give, it is to pray for God's perfect timing. Hindi lahat kailangan madaliin, hindi rin naman kailangan patagalin. Know your priorities and never forget to seek guidance from God. You don’t have to rush His plans for you. Just trust His pace.
Pauline (Filipino, 22)
First of all, I would like to take this chance to thank my single mom who gave me everything I needed and more. You will forever be my hero. I can't put into words how in awe I am of her for raising two kids by herself while enduring the pain of losing the love of her life early on.
After passing the board exam, I was initially hired as a staff nurse in Wesleyan University Philippines Hospital and got promoted to a resident nurse after a few months and eventually, to an ER nurse. I was employed there for 8 months until I decided to transfer to Premiere Medical Center as an ER nurse. I left after a year to pursue my German studies and that is what I'm involved in currently.
A major challenge we nurses face is the lack of recognition on the work that we do. To be honest, this passion goes beyond the white uniform. It's broken bones, blood and stitches and takes more than a paycheck to keep us going for 12 hours or more; it's the desire to see people glow in health. Something most people can’t put a price on.
As I walk through this incredibly difficult but enlightening journey, I walk with a brave heart and an open mind. I get to assess myself better on what I can do best to help the patients I am given.
If there’s any advice I would give it would be to take life head on instead of putting your problems to the side. Don't bottle up your feelings because they are valid and you deserve to have them. Be patient in the things you're healing from or praying for. Laugh often and smile more. Most importantly, have faith.
Shae (Filipino, 22), Claire (Filipino, 21)
Claire: Shae and I knew each other ever since high school. My mom and her dad were batchmates, too. Pero nung high school hindi pa kami close. We knew each other by name. We only became friends when we went to college. And as funny as it sounds, magka-work kami hanggang ngayon! Haha.
Shae: Back in college, I was already singing. Si Claire, hindi pa niya alam na marunong pala siyang kumanta. When we discovered she could, we both joined the choir and got a scholarship.
One time, nagpatulong kami dun sa isa naming ka-choir for school requirements. Tas sabi namin, habang nagpapahinga, kami muna. Apat kami non. Trending before yung My Boo (Running Man Challenge) so instead na sayawin namin siya, kinanta namin. And from there, nagtrend siya slightly sa Facebook.
Claire: After hearing all four of us sing, our friend's manager took us under his wing. At that time, we were anything but confident. I mean, who would listen to "girly girls" singing at a bar? But our manager never lost faith in us. His ultimate goal for us was to be more open and more connected with our passion for singing. From there, we started getting more gigs: from being the opening act for Mayonnaise (OPM band) to singing in sponsored events.
Shae: On top of that, we're very thankful to be working with a boss who's compassionate as we are for music. During breaks, he'd ask us to sing with other colleagues who share the same love for music.
Claire: 2018 did a lot for us. We attended a monthly event here at MyTown called "MyTown Sounds" where they partnered up with @Kumu, a livestreaming app for Filipino voices. After an impromptu performance, Kumu invited us to be ambassadors and here we are fast forward 2019, juggling work, singing and Kumu, all with love and passion!
Leo (Filipino, 27)
Working at a young age, I didn't have any clear life goals or even a list of goals.
I took a technical vocational course in Don Bosco Technical College, Mandaluyong and had my first job at the age of 17.
Fast forward, I met my good friend, boss, and my third mentor where I worked for his startup company as a Tagalog teacher and business partner for one and a half years. That time, I was already in my 5th year in college: juggling my social life, student assistantship duties and classes in Laguna, along with my part-time work in Makati. I'm sure you can imagine that the stress that time for me was extremely high.
Six months before my graduation, I started working full time for his main company — an innovation in business design consultancy firm. With massive effort and frustrations combined with a string of huge wins and losses, I finally finished my degree at the age of 27 in November 2018.
It’s been almost a year for me working as a workshop facilitator, speaker, and an adviser to a handful of Fortune 500 businesses. I'm trained to be in front of huge audiences, coaching top-tier executives and managers. I could not ask for a better position in my professional career that could stretch me far beyond my comfort zone like this almost every single day.
If there's anything I learned, it's to take immediate action in everything you wish to do. You don't need to see the whole picture for you to start. Just put one foot ahead of the other and I'm positive that you'd be delightfully surprised.
Carl (Filipino, 22)
I've always wanted to be a flight attendant. But, life has its own way of surprising you. Halfway through college, my family encountered financial difficulties that led me to stop my studies and pursue a full time job.
Luckily, I found a good paying job as a credit control officer at a bank. It sounds like the ideal job for any millennial like me but I won’t deny that I feel trapped with the nature of my work. Kasi hindi naman siya yung gusto kong work. Being an undergrad doesn’t present a lot of opportunities, does it? There are times when I can’t help but think about my what ifs. What if I became an FA? What if I graduated on time?
Working in the corporate industry for more than two years has taught me a lot of things. For one, that your dreams are worth the wait. Right now, It’s not about what I want. Sometimes, you have to bend your rules and prioritize your needs. I believe that you’ll get there eventually, at the right time and that your sacrifices will not go in vain.
AJ (Filipino, 24)
Growing up in a traditional Chinese family, I've seen my life planned ahead of me: from the school's I'll be going to, to the career I'm going to take, to the day I would finally take over our family business.
At a young age, I learned that I needed to figure out and focus on what I want, on where I want to be. Dapat neat and organized lagi.
When I got into college, my parents sent me to UST where I got the chance to explore the world beyond the life I've gotten used to. I got to meet people from different walks of life and got to meet my very first set of Filipino friends. Dun ako natutong maging relaxed, to have fun and be normal. I took up Accounting but figured it wasn't for me so nagshift ako sa Financial Management. Nasobrahan ako sa challenge, eh. Kailangan yung saktong challenge lang. Haha!
I was 22 when my dad passed away. That’s when I realized how much time I've taken for granted. Sana mas pinrioritize ko yung studies over night outs. But, I used my grief as a motivation to work harder, to always push myself beyond my limit and to be independent.
I started working right after graduation and had my first job at a fast moving consumer goods company. A year later, I moved to another job as a management trainee back in June 2017 and got promoted as an operations officer in May 2018.
Overall, I feel like I've proven myself. I feel like I've made the right decision to pursue what I want. The promotion made it all worth it, but I'm nowhere near my goals. And although I have high standards for myself, I learned that I'm not the uptight type when in comes to my management style. I find it uncomfortable to reprimand my people. I'd rather be approachable than be strict and tell them what to do.
If my dad were here, I'm sure he'd be proud that at this age, I was able to achieve the ultimate goal that any person could ever dream of: self-fulfillment.
Vlad (Filipino, 22)
I work at Uber Technologies as a Community Operations Specialist. My role is to assist first-time drivers who sign up with the app until their first ride.
After college, I promised myself that I would never commute much and here I am! I just love walking; it saves me time and it keeps me healthy. I enjoy looking at the scenes around me whenever I walk to and from work. It feels quite good to take time and pause from my everyday life -- to be just "in the moment".
Some say that working night shift is a nightmare but I can testify it's the opposite! Wanna know what a typical day for me looks like? Working a 10pm to 7am shift means I get up at 8pm, leave at 9pm and walk to work. After shift, I get home around 8am. Then, I sleep at 12pm.
Outside of work, I have no dull moments. I consider myself as an extrovert. I love socializing and meeting new people. When I have time, I engage in seminars and workshops related to another passion of mine: agriculture. For me, life has always been vibrant; there's just always something you can be happy about!
Ayel (Filipino, 28)
I live for filming the right moment.
I've been working as a filmmaker for over 10 years and have been active in the street dance community both here and outside of PH. On the side, I do content, videos and commercials for local and international brands. In the long run, I realized how much I fell in love with documenting street dance. The euphoria in covering these kinds of events is beyond words. There’s this thrill in capturing how the beat of the music and a dancer's moves are in sync.
I enjoy being the man behind the lens a lot, as it gives me the power to see things happening off-screen that contribute to the beauty that happens on screen.
When I'm not busy editing videos, I spend my time dj-ing.
Overall, despite the industry I'm in, I'm more comfortable out of the limelight, and am a super shy guy who prefers pre-meditated conversations.
Fumiya (Japanese, 23)
Konnichiwa! My name is Fumiya and I love the Philippines! About 1 and a half year ago, I watched a tv show in Japan that featured the lives of Filipinos in Manila. I got so curious so I decided to study English in the Philippines and left my job in the hotel business back in Japan. That's when I officially started my career as a Youtuber!
Most of my vlogs are about the Philippines: the food, the people and the places. I find it easy to create content because Filipinos are very friendly; everywhere I go, I make new friends. I can't explain it but I've never felt this excitement when I was in Japan.
If I had to choose between my old job in Japan vs my life in the Philippines, I'm picking the Philippines! Even though I edit my videos for many hours, I don't find it stressful at all! Work doesn't feel like work when you're having fun in what you do.
Faith (Filipino, 24)
Metro Manila; blinding lights, towering buildings, and deafening noise. A breeding place for the champions. When I entered this city, I had little to zero knowledge of how overwhelming it can be for a girl who only had interactions with cows, goats, chickens, and rice paddies. With the mindset that I will have a better chance if my diploma is Manila-made, my parents sent me here to study. After eight years of living here, I can conclude that Manila is a place where both evil and saints collide. Bad company will insist their standards of perfection, but good company will at the end of the day help you to reboot again. Most importantly, I realized that the right place is found by making some wrong turns. I'm happy that I was able to find that Place, the place where I needed to be to mend my broken soul.
Bo (Filipino, 44)
I think being a graphic designer is the coolest job ever. I've been in the creative industry for more than 20 years now, working abroad at an advertising agency in Saudi Arabia andnow here in the Philippines in BGC. We have around 160 graphic designers in one hub, and getting older while being surrounded by all these young fellows made me have to quickly adapt to the millennial culture! Learning new skills, contemporary styles and stuff. But as long as you're friendly and an easy to approach kind of person, they’re willing to help me.
I love swimming, love to go outdoors; the beach in particular. We are all into freediving, and perhaps will also try scuba diving soon. I collect comic books and Star Wars toys. Nice movies stimulate me, aside from a good cup of coffee! These are just some of the things that makes my day. I don’t think I would have been able to do these things without the blessing and guidance from God. Being a Christian, I am very grateful for all the things that were given to me.
Harvey (Filipino, 24)
I’ve been struggling with “perfect people” for a very long time. They would judge my beauty by my skin color, my intelligence by how I speak English, my personality by the place I grew up in, and my capability by the college I attended. I was so negative about it that I just stopped listening to them and let them say what they want.
But I now use all the judgement I experienced in life as my weapon to be beautiful and be the best in everything I do, because I am the only one who can pick myself up, love myself, and share it with everyone I love. So I always stand up and remember that I am Flawsome!
Kayla (Filipino, 25)
As a young working millennial who was just starting her way in the big city, it can be tough. Getting a job is one thing, but what follows can be even harder: finding a place to stay, meeting new friends, where to eat, how to get to work. I feel very lucky to have found this place, because it makes becoming independent a lot easier. I can rest easy and still get all the help I need to become the best version of myself: they actively build a strong community by hosting events, gatherings, and parties.
Mack (Filipino, 27)
Four years ago, I felt like I did not have any direction in life. Not that there were many forks presented in front of me; I just did not know what to make of myself. I wanted to be a master of everything, yet in that pursuit I only ended up not finishing anything at all.
In that malstrom, I decided to move to Saudi Arabia for work. The idea that in the middle of the desert, a once nomadic land, sits a grandiose amalgamation of history, architecture and art, was amazing to me.
My only means to stay connected with the rest of the world was lost when someone accidentally lost my phone upon arrival. A blessing in disguise. Without my phone, I started missing friends, family, and entertainment, but I pushed myself to finish something for once and finish my employment contract. In the process, I found myself embracing the country, new friends, and books. I was reading one book after the other. I loved it, extended my stay, and I fell in love literature so much that I wanted to write it myself. So I started writing. And I still am writing today.
Have I discovered who I am? I still do not know where I will be going next or what the next chapter is in store for me. But I know, whatever it is, I am more confident with my decisions. I will still make mistakes along the way. I will still not fathom the idea that I am an adult already. But I am not afraid of it anymore.
Sami (Filipino, 28)
Since I was young I wanted to be with someone special. That longing came from losing my dad when I was 18, and my mom being busy with providing for us. I asked myself how I’ll be worthy of finding someone. Getting married was the constant, never-ending quest I would incessantly try to unlock. I tried to solve it by focusing on material things; how much money I should have, being up to date on the latest fashion trend, changing my personality to be attractive to the opposite sex.
I knew that one area that I have to work and improve on was my finances: I should have enough money eventually in order to be able to ask someone to marry me. I felt I had to prove myself an independent man and thus moved out of our house and into MyTown. I was saving enough, enough to be able to treat ladies for dates, but I felt I had to earn more somehow. And just then I bumped into a trader asking me to borrow him money in exchange for high monthly interests, so long as I could borrow him money.
I agreed, and next thing I know I was signing loan agreements with banks in order to be able to provide him the funds. One day I woke up and realized that I was about to lose what I wanted to prove about myself from the very beginning. Life has a bitter way of proving a point sometimes, but as long as you get that point in the end, it’s worth it.