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My Story: I came, I saw, I was conquered!

I didn’t want to be here! When I first came to Metropolitan Manila three decades ago I vowed never to live here. Yet in 2001 destiny brought me here again, and although I didn’t like what I saw, I resolved to stay and conquer the odds to make it through.

My neighborhood at the periphery of the state university campus was not where I wanted to be had I the choice. Just three days into my stay the house across the street was raided on pot/drug session. Few months later the ladies dormitory beside my apartment exploded into a scandalous commotion after a video camera was found installed on the comfort and bath rooms. A year later the eight-year-old girl next door was raped and mercilessly murdered by her own fourteen-year-old uncle right inside one of the school buildings nearby. Gracious me, how could I ever survive such despicable, scary and ugly environment? That was a question I had asked myself every minute – for three long years! My life was a roller-coaster ride of anger, hatred, loneliness and paranoia. I hated the noise, the traffic, the pollution, the congestion … and people reduced to rats, robots, commodities and numbers.

In my work where I take short trips here and there, I tried to live with disaster awaiting me on my doorstep – garbage, broken pots of my precious plants withered or stolen, animal and human wastes littered around! I knew no one in the neighborhood – and did not care the least!

Christmas of 2004 I took a long break in my hometown. Well, after three weeks of absence, what should I expect? So I was utterly surprised to see a clean and orderly front yard on my return. It was evening but I noticed the plants looked happy!

I woke up the next morning to find an old woman watering my plants!!! Moments later another woman joined us. They were taking turns! It struck me then I webbed a curse around me for so long – shutting off to a caring and sharing neighborhood. Aling Mila and Aling Luz… and the likes of them have always been there, taking me as their own without bias or conditions. I came, I saw … I was conquered by love and acceptance! The world is full of good people. It only takes an open heart to live happily wherever you are.


Amei's picture

People do surprise us :-)

Loved your story. It is wonderful way to be conquered. There is so much love in this world. We get so blinded by the uglier side of it. Thank you for sharing this story.

Wishing a love filled day


Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks Amei!

You're right, sister! The world is full of pleasant surprises and humanity is full of love. It is really us who hide from life's beauty and amazing realities, simply because we choose to linger on our past hurts, ugly experiences, biases and prejudices! Happiness is always an option ... the choice to open our hearts! All the best ...

Emie Zozobrado

Sera23's picture

beauty in darkness


Thank you for sharing this story-- the detailed descriptions and your message at the end were what made it powerful. I agree that there is beauty in even the darkest parts of humanity-- you just have to know where to look. :]

Thanks for sharing. It is strong, thoughtful women like you that help World Pulse make the world a better place...


Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks sister!

Hi Sera! Yes ... and sometimes the ugliness lies in the way we look at things ... and not on what we are looking at! Thanks for taking the time to share your reflections. But, of course, we each has the chance and the incentive to make this world a better place, by just looking at the brighter side and seeking beauty and joy in the simple things in life. All the best...

Emie Zozobrado

Sarah Diop's picture

With Gratitude


Your story really moved me. I loved it!

I came, I saw … I was conquered by love and acceptance!

The world is filled with wonderful caring people and your story is such a reminder to me to let my guard down and see the beauty and love that is out there.

I am so grateful for your story, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wishing you many Blessings,


Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks, too, Sarah!

Hi Sarah! It's really nice to share small wonders with others, because it can only grow bigger and spread out! Thanks a lot for the appreciation. It reinforces my conviction to hold on to the simple joys through and despite life's difficult and complex realities! All the best...

Emie Zozobrado

Breese's picture

Emie this is such a wonderful

Emie this is such a wonderful story, thank you for sharing it. Living in a new place where you don't know anyone is hard, and maintaining an open heart is key to happiness wherever you are.

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks Breese!

Sister, nice of you to take the time to read this piece and reflect on it. Yes, we can be strangers in a strange land, but staying a stranger is a choice ... we can always open our hearts to new friends, to a new community, where we can bloom and grow with ...

Emie Zozobrado

Paulina Lawsin's picture

You were indeed conquered by

You were indeed conquered by the love of the unassuming women. There are many of them . Lesson is: Don't generalize.

Let's meet in 2012. Merry Christmas.


Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks, Pau!

Yeah, sister! Let's meet in 2012. Surely the chance is right by then ... A blissful season to you and your loved ones!

Emie Zozobrado

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