“Growing up in the Philippines, we lived in a two-bedroom house that housed sometimes 30 of us at one time. My mother, being the eldest daughter, became a working girl to support her family. As you can see I’m not your typical Filipina, I’m a half-cast. I’m what you would consider a work hazard. I’ll never know what my other mix is because she can’t tell me, and that’s ok.
I was bullied for being so different. But my family saw this as an opportunity and entered me into beauty pageants. It was a way out of poverty. Just like the burden of responsibility was thrusted upon my mother’s shoulders, it was also thrusted upon mine. It became my obligation to keep my family fed and alive – I was only five years old.
That obligation stayed with me even when I moved to New Zealand, I started work at 13 to help where I can with money, while studying. And still I was an outsider, someone different. I lost my way a few times.
Then at 19, I met my husband. Feeling accepted for who I am and being challenged to be a better person changed everything. I started to take control of my life, started to accept that I AM different and I AM my own person. The sense of obligation started to lift and I learned that my only real sense of obligation was to myself.
What I’m trying to say is – fight to transform into the person you want to be – don’t settle for the person you were born to be because of your circumstances. There’s something liberating in accepting your differences.”
You can hear more of Astellas story on Pecha Kucha https://www.pechakucha.com/presenta…/diving-into-the-unknown
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