“So many stories fill the pages of life. Some chapters you can be proud to tell.
Others you’d rather skip. The day life really turns a page,
is when you let God be the author of your story.
Let God write your story and you’ll live a story worth telling.”
– Craig Groeschel
When Rappler published my story “Leaving Los Angeles to Pursue Greener Pastures”, I was in Makati anxiously waiting for my turn to talk to a group of young people during the launch of Positively Pinoy, a new movement I am very excited about.
Halfway through the event, I received a message from Ryan, the social media producer of Rappler, informing me that the article has been getting social media attention. I was unaware of the gravity of what he was talking about until I went home, got online and noticed the flooding of messages in my Facebook account. It was so overwhelming that until now I am still responding to messages from those who read the article.
I’ve always thought that my story was just plain ordinary, something no one would even bother to read. I’ve heard stories far more interesting than mine. I had second thoughts on sharing my story, concerned that Rappler may not find it newsworthy. But once Rappler published it, the story started creating a ripple effect.
When a story is no longer yours
An OFW based in New Zealand since 1990 said that after being inspired by the story, he now has a deep conviction to help the elementary school kids in a barangay in Laguna where he grew up. Another reader said that he had been praying for a similar business that is socially responsible. One reader also said that he gave up an offer to practice as a doctor in the states and decided to go back to the Philippines and serve his kababayans.
The moment I shared my story, I knew it was no longer mine. It is now a living legacy burning in the hearts of other people who somehow share the same story or the same passion.
I am in awe at how a simple story of an ordinary man like me can be translated into action – that it could move other people’s hearts to start doing something to give back to their community. I believe that all of us have the ability to help and give even in our own simple way. We just need a little motivation and an inspiration to do it. I am humbled to have inspired our kababayans to do probably the very thing they had always wanted to do.
This story also inspired a lot of people abroad who are thinking of ways on how to give back to their country. I pray that this will also redefine the Balikbayan. A Balikbayan need not go home to the Philippines in order to help. For me, a Balikbayan is someone who, even while still abroad, strives to work with thoughts of home in his heart. Fuelled with the Filipino resilience, the bayanihan culture and Filipino family values, let us live not just for ourselves, but for our kababayans who are in need. In such a time where others are looking for whatever they can take from our country, I urge all of us this one thing: Magbalik po tayo sa bayan (Let us give back to our country).
When your story recreates itself in someone else’s life
An unexpected message from a high school student from Cebu gripped my heart. She said she was on the brink of giving up on life. But when she read my story, a renewed hope sparked within. The hope I held on while I was growing up and the hope I am seeing in the eyes of the youth today is the same hope that made her give another day a chance. It made her believe that life is worth trying again, that she is worth a second chance, and that her dreams are not too far away.
After hearing her story of a new beginning, I felt the urgency to do something for a young generation who are losing hope in life and losing hope for this country. I realized that, yes, we are yet to see the change we hope for this country but more than anything, we need to save this generation if we want to see that change happen.
Like this student from Cebu, other people also found comfort from the story. One of them said that the story helped him look at the brighter side of life while going through a very dark time in his life. Another reader expressed how the story made her cry and how it made her appreciate the life she is living.
I am sure many of the readers found themselves caught in the same struggles I fought to overcome. And somehow as they read through, they shared with me the victory in holding on when it is easier to give up. These people who have their own stories to tell are the ones who can attest that a life like ours is not a story of success but a story of overcoming in the midst of failures.
When the story is just the beginning
I always tell our team in BAG943 that my life is just the first chapter of our story as a company. Our entire team is an anthology of stories that make BAG943 a rainbow of inspiration.
By sharing my story to the public, a lot of people showed their support to BAG943 and its cause. My team and I got numerous phone calls and messages from various people not only locally but also from other parts of the world.
One particular call we received was from a very kind-hearted woman from Manila. After reading the article, she immediately searched for BAG943 in the internet, visited our website and got our contact information. She was so touched by the story that she reserved 200 bags to be delivered sometime in November of this year. God bless her heart.
The story caught the interest of many people who started inquiring about BAG943. We received multiple pledges/orders from individuals and companies interested to buy the BAG943 backpacks. Others were interested to join our team of volunteers to help out with our movement. We also secured partnerships with companies that wanted to support our cause as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programs. We have earned the trust of agencies and private individuals who are willing to collaborate with us in their projects like feeding programs and medical missions. I also received a lot of invitations to speak in events and guest in radio and television programs to share my story.
For an ordinary man trying to blaze a trail in a third world country, it is heartening to know that I am not alone in this path. There are a number of volunteers, community workers and social entrepreneurs out there whose mission is primarily to help the marginalized sector of our society and in so doing improve their lives. One of them wrote, “I am writing to let you know that you are not alone in your journey. We are with you in shaping this country.” What an encouragement!
My story is not a story of happy endings. Rather, it is a story that never ends. I hope it translates into stories of other people who are brave enough to look at poverty in the eye and give this country a fighting chance and do something about it. This story was not meant to just inspire but to let change transpire in our actions.
I firmly believe that this story has been written with every detail orchestrated by the Great Author in order to spark hope and charge people to start making a difference in a country that refuses to give up.
We all can make a difference by the stories we make. And the stories we make can help shape the future of this generation and this country.
Woodrow Wilson once said, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.“
We need to first find our purpose in life then we take the challenge to improve ourselves before we can create a change in our society. As you allow God to write the pages of your life, live to tell a story and let that story make an indelible mark in the lives you’ve somehow changed.
By Josh Mahinay
Thanks to Syra Gordo for editing this blog.