October 2020, I joined Toastmasters – a speaking club – to enhance my skill in public speaking. In that same month, our VP for Education invited me to join the Rookies Competition.
“You are only a rookie once”
That statement, made by one member, pushed me to take part even though I was a week old in the group and was extremely nervous.
This month is women’s month, and I want to share the speech I did during the competition.
In honor of the greatest woman I know, my hero and my teacher – my dear Lola.
“Ayaw nyu aku kalimti.” Do not forget me.
was the last four words that my Lola told me.
It was January 2015, A start of a new year but the end of my Christmas vacation. Sigh! it was time for me to go back to work. I opened my grandparent’s room and stepped inside to say my goodbyes. I wrapped my arms around my Lolo’s big waist. And there was Lola laying on the bed. I leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. She gently grabbed my arms with her thin hands and told those four words.
Do not forget me
I did not know that it would be the last.
Those four words resonated with me, as if it was tattooed on my mind and in my heart.
I grew up with my Lola. She was the reason I am what I am today. She was my first teacher. She taught me how to count, tell time, and she not only gave me lessons about academics but also lessons on how to live life.. The important lesson I learned was that poverty is not a reason not to help others.
She was there when I laughed. She was there when I cried, and she was there when no one else was. She was my rock.
When I lost her, it felt like I lost a part of me as well.
She left a big mark on me that I did not want her story to die and be forgotten. This is why I want to write her story. I want the world to know about her.
But the problem was, I was not a writer. I did not know how to start. Yes, I journal, but I was not a serious writer. My vocabulary was limited.
I scribbled words that I thought was what I needed to say. Long hours of being stuck on my desk, a pen on my hand with my pink notebook to write on. I racked my brain to search for the right words to say, but then I ended up with nothing.
Have you ever experienced that? You have all this idea in your head, but you ended up with… blank?
I was on my phone one night, browsing on my social media when I came across a post. A memoir coach offering her service to new writers. Finish your memoir package. perfect timing!
I remembered Paulo Coelho’s statement in his book The Alchemist, when you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.
And that is exactly what happened. I messaged Elaine, the memoir guru, and she agreed to meet me in a coffee shop. And inside the yellow lit place, surrounded by the comforting aroma of coffee bean, she taught me how to start. We talked for hours, about deadlines and schedule. I wrote down everything I could, and everything she said. I was overwhelmed with information, but was smiling because I finally knew how to start.
In the middle of it all, in the middle of finishing my manuscript, I received a news; it was a good news, actually; I found out that I was 9 weeks pregnant.
It started out fine, but when nausea kicked in. I became exhausted, I just wanted to sleep all day in bed. It felt like having PMS… but times 10 of everything..
I was 10 times hungry, 10 times tired, 10 times moody. I cried and laughed at the same at a TV ad. It was crazy.
One weird thing was my heightened sense of smell. I could smell the pungent scent of garlic and onions from miles away.. Yuck! or when I walk on the street, my nose picks up everything. The nasty smell of trash, musty pavement, and nauseating scent of cockroaches, a combination of musty, oily and pungent.. shiver It was the worst. I was not sure if I was just pregnant or if I became a mutant with super smelling power. I could smell my way to victory.
And then I received a text from my coach.
How are you? How are your chapters going?
This brought my focus back to my manuscript.
My Lola’s four words. It came back to me.
Can I do this?
Slowly, I went back to writing. I grabbed my laptop, opened my draft file, and tapped on the keyboard as I typed my words.
I didn’t think I could finish.
despite nausea, I kept going..
for the love of my Lola. for those four words.
I finished my manuscript..
La, I won’t forget you. And now the world will not forget you too.