Saturday Special Edition: Four Lives, Four Stories

In honor of all the contributors, photographers and writer alike I would like to share with you the people behind AMSDaily. Every picture or weekly post you see on this site is shared with their support and their collaboration. With them, each post is special. They are the individuals who take their time and share their talents with me, and the rest of you, our readers.

So, for this Saturday – a week prior to Christmas I want to give you a special gift. This gift of honoring them: Buenaflor Laoang, Michaela Cruz-Ungos, Shem-shem Pablo, Ria Geraban Rombaoa, Randy Legaspi, Joana Marie Martin, Leizl Joy Nayahangan and Ronald Colunga. Although for today, I will be sharing with you four of their stories it is always nice to keep in mind that all of them are special; and because of them AMSDaily keeps on going.

Here are their stories:

1. BUENAFLOR LAOANG

AMS: Tell us about yourself, your background and how you became a part of AMSDaily. 

Long answers, or short? Honestly ading Alpha, I can’t figure out the way to respond! Too often, I bring myself to question just by revealing things about me. But- I’ll give this a try. I’ll just say what comes naturally from within.

I am Buena- a mother of three, a wife who gets jealous easily, a writer, a teacher. Currently I am a house mom (thanks to my employers who allowed me the year’s leave to hands-on my children)- spending a day grooming my home, trying to fix it up among my kids, writing about friends, attending evening class, going out or reaching out if at all possible, no money in my pocket! (But most often, I manage my husband’s salary (okay, okay- all the time! :)

Background – sadly though, this is where I feel awkward at times writing inspirations because, contrary to being inspiring, I think I have a scarred one. I grew up in a family wherein my parents are both 50’s when we were children; there is very little communication in the house while my mother was out daily to find us food, and my father –antisocial he is- angry all the time over very small things. Actually, I never heard him say, “oh you did well my child…” . Perhaps, that influenced a lot of our sibling rivalries, too. And that really affected the way I dealt with life the years that gone by. I received little guidance; I was on my own at a young stage. I once was very arrogant, rebellious; you could see hell in my eyes. Quite ironic facts, right– for somebody who now writes inspirational pieces.

I thank AMSDaily because- while a very few people try to approach me, your site did. I appreciate that! When you invited me to write, it is really your friendship that convinced me. And the truth is, though I have a very scarred background and I’d seen a very dark world quite a couple of times- I still found out a very special mission God seeded in my heart- that is, to reach out to the ones like me and share His message of love, as once He embraced me with.
AMS: What inspired you to share your talents and skills on the blog?

To me Alpha, posting on your blog is more like, sharing myself to you. And I’d also like to say big THANKS to the people who come by to “like” my posts-  the bits of me, the thoughts I tell about.  Well- of the many good things or influences that I lacked in life- it is the gift of being able to tell stories in writing that I’d like to believe is heaven-blessed.  When I discovered that my writings can lift spirits or share messages of warmth to the audience, like when I wrote speeches for individuals and you see the listeners smile or applaud as it is delivered, it was bliss! -even when they wouldn’t know it was by me! :) I am happy for every speaker that had won hearts because of my piece.

At the onset of your blog, on Day 26, I realized this and shared on my wall:

DannyMhegs Sanfo (Alpha Miguel-Sanford to us) writes very inspiring pieces in her blog Aspire. Motivate. Succeed, which is simply the way to define her. AMS will let you into her daily servings of life lessons and one way or another, will bring you to appreciate, enjoy, and experience life all the more…A daily dose of her writings will either add gladness to your heart or glow to your face. -Buena Laoang

I just knew right then that somehow, we share the same purpose of giving the messages of hope, inspiration, and motivation to whoever we can reach. And so I said- let my blog explore me, and let your blog have me! We will share daily dose of inspiration. I think I am now in that chapter of life when I’ve learned some of the things that matter most- which nourish my soul and continually heals my heart. It is personally inspiring to share those to others and maybe- it will inspire them, too.

AMS: Who are your inspirations behind your contributions?

Behind every piece I write is God. I think about Him- and I write as honestly, as close to His presence as I can. Then, of course, my sad background, especially in family relations. Yes- I take my pains as inspirations.  I am striving hard at not repeating my sad beginnings to my very own family- my spouse and my children. They inspire me to come up with articles that may guide, console, cheer up, or at least bring them closer to home, or simply remind me of them when I’m gone. Also- my Mama Flor. She’d been a very quiet, gentle, compassionate spirit when she was still with us, and I’d like to continue her legacies of kindness and sharing in deeds and in my writings as much as I can. And of course, I know there are a lot of people in the world whose life has never started perfect- may just be as bad as I had or even worse –yet, striving to follow the voice of happiness within them. I write for those people. Imperfect we are- I believe everyone has his story to tell. Readers may learn, relate, or simply find a little comfort just by knowing such stories.

AMS: Can you share us a personal story that may be motivating, inspiring or simply uplifting.

My 31 years is a story of lonesomeness, loneliness, dislikes, fear, anger, insecurity, inferiority, misjudgment, the negativities one can think of. But now I take all these weak facts of my life as standpoints. God keeps me up. He takes care of you as He sees your heart. We just have to be completely honest about the facts of our life, right?  Like the man Job in the Bible- who just went completely honest in his words- and then he’s called a friend of God. I wanted to be just like Job.

I’ll share this special story. One day I was sitting by a sunken garden, and I was too desperate I wanted to die- cliché, but I’d arrived at that point. And then, I just felt it – God’s arms embracing me. That was one February 14. That day He renewed the way I saw myself, told me about how He originally created me to be, that I am His breath, his breath is fragrant, and so I am a fragrant creation myself. Wow- who am I that I was talked to by the Mighty One that way? (Of course- it didn’t come like a physical encounter.) But then, as that happened, I was redeemed of my past and scars and brokenness and all- and since that day I vowed to share that same fragrance to others. Oh- a lot of times I failed, I’d fail, and I still fail! But, He never lets go of me. And I think as long as His grace covers me, I will not let go, too.

AMS: Finally, what is your definition of success.

Is knowing who you do it for, and going through life’s journey not necessarily with all the flying colors, but eyes fixed to your room built for you in heaven.

2. MICHAELA CRUZ-UNGOS

AMS: Tell us about yourself, your background and how you became a part of AMSDaily. 

I am Mica. I live in El Paso, Texas with my son and husband. I was born and raised in the Philippines. Eight years ago, I decided to come here to America in pursuit of independence, success and happiness.

Alpha, who is the creator and writer of AMSDaily, has been a very close friend of mine since college. I’ve always admired her; her intellect, wisdom, perseverance and courage. These traits are well reflected in her blog. I haven’t seen her for so long and reading her blog has been my way of keeping in touch with her and get inspired by her stories at the same time.

AMS: What inspired you to share your talents and skills on the blog?

I love taking pictures. It’s a hobby of mine. I started last year and I still have so much to learn.
One day, Alpha sent me a message and told me how she loved my pictures that I loaded up on Facebook. And then, she asked me if I would be willing to share it on her blog. I really didn’t think she was that serious at first. I was just surprised that someone would admire my photographs as much as she did. Then she said she wanted to use one of the pictures on her title page. That’s when I realized she was not kidding. So I said yes. In my head I thought, if one person was inspired by my pictures then why not share it to a lot more people. It worked out perfectly because through Alpha’s blog, the AMSDaily, I am able share my love for capturing beauty through photography and motivate myself to learn more and be better at it.

AMS: Who are your inspirations behind your contributions?

I get inspired by looking at pictures taken by other photographers. There are just those photos that speak to you and induce you to feel something or believe in something. Photography is so powerful; it is so amazing how a single frame can do that to you.

But generally, I get inspired by beauty everywhere and of everything. Since I have been taking pictures, I am able to look at things, places and people a little differently. In photography, things don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. And at some point you realize, even the imperfections are worth our attention.

AMS: Can you share us a personal story that may be motivating, inspiring or simply uplifting.

The story I am sharing is of a person very close to me – my mom.

Her name is Lydia. Her mom was a house keeper and her dad was a policeman. She lived with her six siblings. They were poor. They had a small home and food was scarce at times. Her parents didn’t think that education was that important. High school wasn’t free at that time but she didn’t get discouraged. She learned how to sew and worked as a seamstress to pay for high school. She graduated and when it was time for her to get to college, her dad told her that college was not for girls and that she was just wasting her time thinking about it. But again, she didn’t get discouraged. She went to the city and worked as a stay-at-home maid during the day and went to school during the night. The diploma that most students would normally acquire in four years was finally hers after seven years. She got a job after that as a book keeper at a local government hospital. A few years later, she got married and had a family. Now, she is an accountant at the same hospital where she has been working for about 22 years. She has three kids and a grandson.
She made it happen. She made it to where she wanted her life to be. She may have had a tough life but she was tougher than all the difficulties and trials that she had.

AMS: Finally, what is your definition of success.

Success to me is anything in life that one or more people have accomplished. I think that successes, whether big or small, should be celebrated and shared with other people so those who are being discouraged will be inspired to stay positive and to continue to work hard.

3. SHEM-SHEM PABLO

AMS: Tell us about yourself, your background and how you became a part of AMSDaily. 

I am Ma. Shemanka-Lene Tomas Pablo, 29 years old. People call me Shem or Mackey. I was born and raised in the Philippines. Kiwi by papers but Filipino at heart, currently living in Australia. Interests include, different cultures, anything ethnic and tribal, photography, and reading.

A few months back, Alpha sent me an email asking me if I would like to share some of my photos on AMSDaily. I never thought people actually check out the pictures I capture. I felt embarrassed a bit but at the same time, I thought I have nothing to lose anyway. I saw it as an opportunity for another adventure so I said yes to her request and that is how I became a part of AMSDaily.
AMS: What inspired you to share your talents and skills on the blog?

Reading what the blog was all about inspired me to share my pictures. I saw it as a chance to become a part of something that can bring smile on people’s faces and something that can potentially touch people’s lives one way or another.

AMS: Who are your inspirations behind your contributions?

The idea of being able to freeze a moment in a single frame inspires me to take pictures. But since the question is “who” then I have to say 3 of my friends who I fondly call the ‘cavemin’. Posting the pictures in my facebook account started out as fun between the 4 of us. I would take and post pictures and they would comment or discuss what is good/bad about the pictures. It became a way for us to share our thoughts, laughter and sometimes tears. It became our little adventure, our little bonding moments despite being oceans apart. It is rewarding to know that somewhere out there, 3 people crack a bit of a smile when they see the photos.

AMS: Can you share us a personal story that may be motivating, inspiring or simply uplifting.

Failing is not always easy. I failed a paper when I was halfway through my nursing degree. I was so devastated because not only did I have to repeat the paper but it also meant I had to spend an extra semester in school. That wasn’t part of my plan. When I started uni, the goal was to finish as fast as I can. In doing so, I forgot to have to fun. I forgot to enjoy everything that was happening around me at the time. I actually thought of shifting gears and planned to go back to what I originally wanted, to become a marine biologist. But being the stubborn kid that I am, I refused to give up that easily. I decided to finish what I started. After all, I was raised as a fighter. While juggling work, school and fun, I eventually finished what I started. The following year I enrolled in my post graduate studies specializing in psychiatric nursing. Sure it wasn’t all that easy, but I had fun, loads of it. I got few cuts and bruises along the way but I learned from them. Thinking about this now, made me realize that maybe it was God’s way of reminding me to slow down, enjoy the adventure and never give up. Setbacks, though not part of your plans are definitely part of your adventure. All you have to do is deal with it when it comes, learn from it and conquer it.

AMS: Finally, what is your definition of success.

For me, success is not about how much money you have in your bank account or how many cars and houses you own, or how high you go up the corporate ladder but rather it is a journey, an adventure that each of us can choose to go through or not. I do not look at is as something that has an ultimate pinnacle but rather I view it like a mountain range that has multiple peaks. One success builds another. Setbacks and mistakes are big part of the journey on your way to conquering each peak. Work hard when conquering your peaks but do not forget to have fun along the way.

4. RIA GERABAN ROMBAOA

“I don’t live beyond my means…my intuition means everything to me…I am a nomad…I am an artist…I am a stranger… I can be anything…”
There is not so much to say about myself and I’m not really a writer. When you asked me if I was interested in becoming a weekly contributor on your blog, I told you that I wasn’t confident enough in sharing my thoughts and experiences mainly because numerous people will be reading it but nevertheless, you told me that it’s ok so I gave it a shot. I value my thoughts and I seldom write but when I write, every word comes from my heart. Someone once told me that my words can be powerful that it can touch even the toughest heart and I guess that is one of the things that inspired me to share what I can on this blog. I thank you Alpha for giving me this opportunity.

Who are my inspirations behind my contributions? I’m not going to answer that question. Let’s just say that a series of unfortunate events led me to develop the things that I thought I couldn’t do. I believe that there is this point in our lives that someone will come or something will happen that will truly change us. At the beginning we live within the moment not knowing that things can change within a blink of an eye and without hesitations, we begin to see ourselves taking risks and surrendering to the unknown. Love and joy is eternal as so is fear and sadness. One can never learn to appreciate the existence of these four words until reality presents itself and oftentimes, in the most unexpected way and moment.

Sharing a personal experience is a bit difficult but having the courage to put it in writing gives me a sense of peace and I can finally tell myself that if I am a survivor and I am a warrior and there is nothing in this world that can ever put me down. I may still grieve but it won’t last long and one thing that we should teach ourselves is to find an outlet wherein we can transform negativity into something beautiful…Like learning a new language…Learning a new skill….Doing something different. In my case, art became a some sort of “security blanket” and getting tattooed became a coping mechanism. Get in touch with your inner self and let the things that didn’t kill you make you a better and a stronger person. Everything changes and the only things that will remain are the embers of the past. Maybe this explains why I tend to keep a lot of memories not because I haven’t moved on but in order for me to remember.

Lastly, how do I define success? I honestly couldn’t find the exact words to define it. I still have to become successful in order for me to give my own definition. That will happen hopefully a few years from now. All I can say is that I have fulfilled a lot of things in my life already.

To read other inspiring Success Stories, click here.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for wonderful stories. This site is blessed indeed, as is its readers. Life is people. People are stories. Stories inspire. I’m inspired.

    To the ‘good flower’:
    “I once was very arrogant, rebellious; you could see hell in my eyes. Quite ironic facts, right– for somebody who now writes inspirational pieces.” To the contrary, perhaps. It may be the very reason!

    Merry Christmas to of the writers of AMSDaily and their families.

    Paul Sutherland
    @BreakThruGuy

    • Buena Laoang says:

      Dear Paul Mark,

      Wow- I am blessed indeed by your comment. It is church day here in the Philippines and this post and your note are wonderful gifts upon coming home.

      Thank you for seeing the “good flower” in my name, too! Buenaflor was given by (or thru) my parents, Buenaventurado and Florencia- and I think it’s something that I have to live up to! :)

      Merry Christmas to you and your family, as well as to all the readers of this blog!

  2. drchana says:

    Great Blog

  3. Hi,
    Thankyou for the background. It is a pleasure to find out more about you all.
    be good to yourself
    David

  4. Buena Laoang says:

    To drchana and David and the first seven who liked this post,

    A big thanks for stopping by! Surely this site will do its best to bring us all a little comfort daily. We are grateful for Alpha who started this, and the writers and photographers, and of course the readers like you! Happy season to you all! Whatever our faith is and however we go in life, may we be united in a common task of lifting up one another’s life- our brothers- in whatever way!

    Merry Christmas to you and your families.

    Sincerely,
    Buena

  5. eof737 says:

    TY for sharing your team. I thought this blog was written by one person. What a lovely surprise. Kudos and Happy Holidays to all of you. :-)
    Eliz

  6. buenalaoang says:

    Reblogged this on BAREFOOT Life Reflections.

  7. Heidi says:

    to ma’am buena we have few similarity in growing up and learn how to stand in own feet ..very touchy nman ang life story mo.. atleast u conquer and now u succeed despite of bitterness u have in past..am so proud of you..

    • buena says:

      salamat Heidi.. just saw your comment now. pleasant surprise :) enjoy life’s sweet little details ma’am..there is plenty in every day. thank you so much- you warmed my heart :-)

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