STRENGTH AND CONVICTION
Where do you get the strength to carry on while undergoing dialysis?
You know before, when I hear about other people having afflictions, diseases, or disabilities, which keep them from living their lives as close to normal as possible, other people would say, “oh, wala yan! It’s just a matter of attitude.” I thought that was all rhetoric, or in Tagalog, sabi-sabi lang. Until this happened to me. So what enables me to carry on despite all of this? Faith. And like I said, it’s also a matter of attitude. Para sa akin, lahat ng health issues kong ito, I have learned to accept. When I pray, I tell the Lord, “I know this is from You. And I accept.” As if I had a choice? So ‘yun ang sinasabi ko sa Kanya: I accept and I will carry this burden as You carried Yours. Also, like Pope Francis, it’s a matter of humor and not being too serious about yourself. I keep reminding myself that I am not here just for myself. It’s also one of the things that I look forward to after my kidney transplant. I am excited about that future where I can devote even more time to what I’m doing now. Friends keep telling me, “You will be okay because God has plans for you so that you could do more for other people.” I believe that.
How do you deal with comments from online bashers when you voice your opinions?
I read them. I have no choice. After that, that’s it. I move on. I remain focused on what needs to be done or what I think needs to be done. To me, all of these mga trolls, negative comments, bashing, and including the compliments are all distractions. If you allow them to go to your head, you’ll most probably end up being mayabang or too full of confidence in yourself.
Pope Francis is known for his strength and conviction. How does he inspire you to stand up for what you believe in?
Pope Francis knows exactly what he thinks is right and wrong. That’s one. He has conviction. And then number two, he has the will and he has the faith to defend his conviction. Not only that, he takes every opportunity to propagate, to preach to the world his convictions and what he stands for. However, before that conviction, what strikes me is his being humane. Pope Francis is a natural at being one of us. In other words, he’s not a pope na regal. He carries his own worn-out black bag, he wears worn-out black shoes, eats breakfast with the seminarians. I see in that a deliberate effort to tell the world that he, like all of us, is an ordinary human being.
What can you say to those who lack the strength and conviction to keep going?
You must believe that the Lord will not abandon you. Hindi ka pababayaan. As I said earlier, you have to have a good attitude, but in order to have that, it must stem from faith.
By Yen Cantiga
Many times the fashion industry is unfairly characterized as a very vicious and survival-of-thefittest kind of industry. How are you able to practice kindness in a very cutthroat culture?
Because I have experienced being bullied and being treated unkindly, I don’t want this feeling inflicted on any one, ever. You must realize that the thing you can control is your attitude, and how you will deal and react with all the negativity. If you practice kindness, this creates a ripple effect and changes the dynamics of the situation. This is not easy to do and it took a long time for me to realize. I also practice “walking away,” which is deciding to walk away from bad energy and unkindness. I practice this as our lives are truly very short and we all don’t have time to waste on the irrelevance of hate.
Stories about Pope Francis’ acts of kindness abound. Is there a particular one about his kindness that inspires you?
What really made a profound effect on me is his stand on my lifestyle. As an open Catholic homosexual I have and had lots of issues with my faith. Our Pope’s stand on my lifestyle was affirming, and although in my mind it is still a work in progress, I like where this is all leading.
You are one of the judges of Project Runway Philippines and do red carpet fashion reviews. Some have capitalized on being mean to be entertaining. Is there room for kindness in these types of shows?
Constructive criticism is the main goal when I judge, as I was once—and often still am—in the same shoes as the designers. There should be no space for meanness and hate as a means of entertainment. We should all foster the mindset of growth, learning, and development. From this we all become better designers and better human beings.
You have around 278K followers on Instagram alone. How do you use your influence on social media to be an instrument for kindness?
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