Hearing stories of individuals who experienced chronic abuse from the ones they trusted the most is both tragic and auspicious. Its heartbreaking because the pain, anger, misery, and vulnerability are almost re-lived each time the survivor recounts the story. On the other hand, it becomes promising because it offers profound lessons that only the one who had gone through the experience can portray.
Among the privileged scholars of Malampaya Foundation, Inc. (MFI), there was a self-assured and self-proclaimed member of LGBT who ensnared my curiosity. She was Emalyn Baylon, 26 years old who took up Housekeeping Services NC II. I was handling Individual Excellence (IE) back then, and there was an activity that prompted the scholars to remember their past and reconcile with their previous hang-ups. During the initial encounter, I noticed Emalyns quite evasive and uncooperative nature. Despite her actions, I knew that there was a tale hoping to be uncovered, and a chronicle waiting to be told. With their eyes closed, while under a mind exercise, and unconscious of the happenings outside, I saw Emalyns tears streaming down her cheeks. Indeed, there really are pains that only tears can convey.
Emz, as she wants to be called, experienced domestic violence since childhood. She recounted, Nung five years old ako, tandang-tanda ko pinasok ako sa loob ng sako, binitin sa puno at pinalu-palo. She attributed her fathers aggressive behavior to his inability to regulate emotions when stressed, especially when her mother left him also because of experienced violence. She narrated, Iniwan siya ng mama ko, parang sakin niya binubunton lahat ng galit niya. Umalis yung nanay ko kasi lagi rin siyang sinasaktan ng tatay ko. She described the beatings to be extreme. She narrated, Talagang kung hindi ka makakatakbo, talagang mababalda ka o mamamatay ka. The anger that she felt stemmed not from her personal experience of abuse, but from her fathers attitude towards her mother. She claimed, Hindi ako nagagalit na binugbog niya ako. Nagagalit ako nung nakikita kong sinasaktan yung nanay ko tapos wala akong magawa. Though this statement illustrates the root of anger, its more of a representation of Emzs unsettled feeling of guilt and helplessness as a child. When she was 20, her father died but her resentment towards him remained. With all the throbbing emotional burdens she carried since childhood, she needed to act tough and strong in her younger years. With the intent of protecting herself from further harm and abuse, she decided not to be fragile like her mother. Hence, she confidently proclaims herself as a lesbian.
It is true that our current disposition is highly influenced by genetic propensity and past experiences. When these two forces combine, they create an exceptional individual that uses distinctive lenses in seeing the world. Despite this, Emz proved that there is one factor that can beat these powerful forces the freedom of choice. Through MFI, Emz had the chance to improve her life and future. With her mother as her prime inspiration, she applied as a scholar and successfully trained in Housekeeping from April to August 2016 in Puerto Princesa School of Arts and Trades (PPSAT). With her aspiration of having a happy and successful life, Emz demonstrated diligence and sense of responsibility throughout the training. Housed inside the MFI dormitory in PPSAT, she formed strong bonds and genuine friendship with her co-scholars. The greatest break she had in the training was during their on-the-job training (OJT) in Aziza Paradise Hotel in Bgy. San Manuel. Among the trainees, she was the only one who got absorbed in the hotel right after graduation. At present, Emz works as a room attendant in the said hotel. She proudly considers herself as successful. She defines success as the ability to earn from a decent job and provide the needs of the family. She lives with her mother and her nieces and nephews, and gets constant inspiration through their presence. If theres one thing that she treasured from her childhood experience, it would be the ability to avoid repeating the history by being caring, loving, and nurturing to her loved ones, especially to her mother.
Moreover, according to Emz, she wouldnt be able to maintain her positive attitude towards life, education, and work without the guidance of her trainers in PPSAT. She even attributed her knack to forgive his father and let go of the entire emotional burden through a special activity in IE, as I described earlier. She said, Kung hindi dahil dito, hindi ko mapapatwad ang tatay ko. For her, undergoing that particular mind exercise was indeed liberating.
Emalyn also showcases her ability to be socially sensitive, self-confident, and compassionate. Despite her experiences, she was still able to transcend the past with positive mind-set and forgiving heart. Letting go of anything that hurts us may be an uphill battle, but Emalyns journey only proves that nothing is impossible once we exercise our freedom of choice.