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I went back to school in Isabela. I worked as a student aid. But in school, some people ridiculed me. They judged me because of my past. They called me names like “ Japayuki.” At first, I endured all those remarks. But eventually, I gave up. To make things worse, my family messed up my small business, and in a short time my sari-sari store and tricycle were gone. And then, my mother, whom I have always considered as my closest friend and ally, died. I was devastated. I decided to start to re-build my life. I quit school and left for Manila.
DAWN Changed My Life
I went to DAWN in 1999. I was warmly accepted in DAWN. I was never judged for my past and instead was given all the support I needed to heal myself. In DAWN, I have found a new family—one that taught me my rights and how to stand up on my own.
I availed myself of DAWN’s skills trainings. Workshops, and seminars. Such opportunities brought back my-esteem and self-confidence.
From that time on, I have never looked back. From being a member of Sikhay, the alternative livelihood project.
I have been an active member of Teatro Akebono in the last seven years. Being the director of the musical play for women “Iba’t-Ibang Mukha ni Misty,” I was inspired to motivate the members to give their best performance. We relived our lives and experiences in Japan. In the musical play, we freely pour out our feelings, both the happy and painful memories, through the songs and dances.
DAWN has been providing me with opportunities for self growth and development. The seminars and workshops I attended together with other women in DAWN helped me extremely.
I also got the chance to meet other people through the seminars, workshops, and the conferences I participated in. I became stronger and more confident. Soon, I became an advocate of women’s issues. In many instances, I would speak on the issue of women entertainers in Japan and share my experiences as a former entertainer. Although some people would look down on me and criticized me for speaking up on issues, I continued with what I was doing because I do not want others to experience what I went through in Japan.
If only there were opportunities then available to women like me, maybe I would not have gone to Japan and worked as an entertainer. If there were some other means to support my studies, I would have been a teacher. If there were some kind of support from the government for those who are in need, then maybe people will not be lured to work abroad.
DAWN encouraged me to pursue my dream. In 2003, I enrolled at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines for a degree in B.S. Entrepreneurial Management and I graduated on December 8, 2006.
God is really good. At the proper time, He will put everything in its proper place. I may have had lots of difficulties in achieving my dreams but all those difficult experiences have helped me become a stronger person. Through these experiences, I learned to value myself and the people around me. I saw the beauty of life. I owe all of these to the people, who allowed themselves to be God’s instruments to help me become the person that I am today.
I may not become the teacher that I dreamed of, but I know that I will continue my work in Sikhay and DAWN– teaching, helping, and inspiring others to make the most of what they have and can do.