Hi, my real name is Ethel Honorio but I’d be more comfortable if you call me Kim. Most people wonder why, so I’m just going to tell you…
Around the time that I was born, a Filipina named Lea Salonga made it to Broadway in a musical titled “Miss Saigon”. All Filipinos were very proud of her and one of them was my mom. Lea’s character was named Kim, hence my nickname.
Growing up, I was a shy girl. I was content to sit back and watch everybody else run around and play. It was probably because I was too scared of tripping over and falling or losing the game. I also felt that I was different. I grew up without my mom there to raise me (as well as my sister who was just 6 months old when she left). My mom started working abroad, looking for greener pastures. So my father raised me at home with our extended family. And by ‘extended’ I mean my grandmother, cousins and all of my aunts all under one roof. I have lived, crowded with this extended family for a great portion of my life. And when children from the West demand privacy I can’t help but roll my eyes. I grew up like, “What privacy?”
My mother and father’s break-up took place when I was 7 years of age. In primary school, I hated every parent’s meeting at my school. Why? Because it meant that a whole line of mothers were going to ask me where my mom was – even though they already knew! And without fail I would hear them lament, “Oh poor child. She doesn’t have a mom.” I don’t resent the fact that my mother left – she did what she needed to do. She was dirt poor growing up, but was able to attend school through scholarships, surviving on an empty stomach and hand-me-down school uniforms. My father was also from a poor family. Their father left them when he and his siblings were young so at a very young age my father became the breadwinner of the family.
In high school I changed. I started to explore life and speak my mind. I will admit I wasn’t the ideal student (or daughter!) even in college, but I tried my best when I could. And I surprise myself daily when I remember things I learned from school… when I thought I daydreamed through most of those classes! 😀
After a year in college, my parents decided that I should go live with my mother in Saipan. Saipan is that little rock in the Marianas, about 45 minutes from Guam. I loved that island – and still do! It is gorgeous! It has the most beautiful beaches and the clearest waters I have ever seen. The people love and respect their island and it loves them back. I learned so much while I was there. I learned to live in harmony with different races, to enjoy nature and relax, and to know how to be a good friend – because there is no one else on the island! (That little rock has few inhabitants) But the best of all, I got to know my mother and spend time with her.
January of 2009, we had to move to Laos – a country next to Thailand. It’s the most ‘rural’ of all the rural areas. Imagine a 19-year-old surviving in a town with only a few decent restaurants that serves Western style cuisine, one single club, and no mall. I almost died! If it weren’t for my job as one of the inventory staff, I would have fled the moment I stepped foot in that province. But the upside was that the people were friendly. They introduced me to many people and their way of life. At first, of course it was a struggle. I experienced so many exchanges between people right in front of me – talking non-stop, laughing, and looking at me as if they were judging me. And how did I react? I just stood there… like a zoo animal in a glass enclosure – free to be observed and talked about without knowing what on earth they were saying, hoping that it wasn’t something bad!
My coping procedure was simple: I learned their language and their culture… and a valuable lesson. Now I understand how to be sensitive to foreigners and learn about their values and lifestyles. Being in Laos taught me that what’s okay for one might not be okay for other people. I also learned to respect other people’s religions, as I am a Christian and they were Buddhist. It taught me that we can all co-exist in this world peacefully and happily if we are all open-minded. Nine months into that life I made the decision to move back to the Philippines and finish my degree in Psychology.
2013 was THE year for me. I graduated from college in March, got married in May and gave birth in August. Who said the number 13 is an unlucky number? All the significant days of one’s life fell within the same year for me. 🙂
Now, I am happily living with my beautiful family… the people I can call ‘my own’… the people who I choose to be with… and the people I would fight tooth and nail to be with. My core is my family. And I never want my daughter to experience what I went through. Having said that, through the worst of times I learned from my mom that you should go after what you want in life. She taught me to never stop dreaming and never stop growing. You have to work your hardest, learn to sacrifice a little and always give your 100% in all you do or else, why bother? My father taught me to love unconditionally and to be good to everyone who surrounds you; the people you work with and those who contributed to your growth.
The ‘Kim’ that is ‘now’ is no longer afraid to trip and fall like she did as a child. I now know that there are valuable lessons all throughout life – even while tripping and falling. Getting disappointed taught me to be humble and patient and kind to those who are ‘not there yet’, like me. Now, I am someone who is constantly watered by time and circumstances. I want you to witness me full bloom.
For a copy of Kim’s resume please click here.