Friday, February 4, 2011

I am Pretty Powerful!

Dear AMW Readers:
I have been blogging for around 3 years and a lot of you knew bits and pieces about me base on each post.  A lot of you may wonder how I get all the energy, the confidence, the passion to do the things I love.  Well, this is the moment you'll learn something deeper about the girl behind AskMeWhats.

First of all, I got an invite from Bobbi Brown Philippines to take part in a blog contest, to share a story on how we feel "Pretty Powerful"!  To be honest, I felt uneasy because I've always preferred teamwork over competition.  But come to think of it, I cannot pry myself away from competition as it is an integral part of our life!  Looking back, I've been competing (on life) without me knowing it and have been luckily surviving!

When we were assured by Bobbi Brown's Ms. Ina Casas that there won't be any pulling of hairs, punching of the throat, kicking of each others' shins, and worst, pulling each others' fingernails *gasp*  I told them I'm in!  Because I have a story to tell, a story worth sharing, a story that made me who I am today!

I was called a "Crybaby", "Weak person", "Scared-y Cat" most of my life!  Crying is a sport I've perfected!  That's why I've always been put inside a bubble that protects me from reality.  When I turned 22,  it was the time I suddenly wanted to get out!  I graduated with honors, got myself a good job even before I graduated, everything was sunshine-y for me but I felt it's not enough!  I haven't seen the world, the "reality".   I've always wanted to travel - that explains why I took up Tourism in the first place.  I've always wanted to start with the country I studied the most after my very own (Philippines)--- which is China!!!  I am not the type  who would ask for money straight out from my parents and I obviously haven't earn enough to spend that much on travel!  I was searching for "out of the country job" through my low-speed dial-up internet and I remembered having only an hour left on my internet credit when I found the website called "Teach in China".  As I clicked from page to page, my hopes were high!  I can speak English!  It'll be easy to Teach and Travel in China all at the same time!  Gosh, I was that optimistic then!  *laughs*

It was an hour of CV attachments, after I finished up the credits of my internet connection, I went to sleep, purchased another internet card the next day, and I was really hopeful and all ready to "choose" where I plan to work!
Of course the world didn't work that way! 

I got a lot of email replies, a lot of rejections!  
Here are some of the valid reasons  ---
"You don't have a teaching degree."
"You don't have teaching experiences."
"We require candidates coming from English Speaking countries."

And a lot of unacceptable ones ---
"You don't look foreign enough."
"You should have blonde hair or blue eyes."
"You look like one of us!"

And you think that would stop me?  Of course not!  Who are they to stop a gorgeous 22-year old lady like me? *laughs*  Don't they know me?  *hahaha* Okay, seriously, as hurtful as the responses sound, that did not stop me!  It was actually a challenge that made me want to conquer!  I was even more determined to scatter my resume and my "cute" 1x1 sized photo!  I got rejected 50 times? Well, guess what? I will send 50 more!

One University (God bless that University), accepted my application after series of phone calls.  I got in a big University called Zhejiang Forestry University located in Lin'an, Hangzhou, China.  Difficult to pronounce eh?  Well the place is difficult to find I tell you!  But hey, I passed, someone with NO teaching degree, no teaching experiences, and mind you, I have black hair and dark brown eyes!  Best of all, someone who has an email box called "Clefairy" (a Pokemon character)! *groans*  I must be jumping for joy right?  Well, I shouldn't, as it was the start of my Real Life Adventure.

As young as 23, it was the most difficult moment in my life to be away from my family, my friends and my then boyfriend Keith.  I was armed with One Year Contract, a round trip ticket, and $100.00 (which my brother gave me).  I seriously thought of jumping out of the plane during transit and head back home and cry 'til my eyes pop!

I didn' was a battle I wanted to face!  I chose this road.

As a University Professor for an Australian Program called TAFE, I was surrounded with a group of highly qualified, professionals, Non-Asian foreign teachers.  All of them have teaching degrees impressive teaching backgrounds.  I won't forget the first day of class, I was even scolded by the school administrator for "loitering" around during class period thinking I was a student!  (Can't blame him!  I was wearing  Powerpuff girls top!)

I have to explain to people gazillion times that I am a teacher, not a student! That I know how to speak English!  That accent doesn't matter, because we all have our own accents to be proud of.  That I love teaching by nature, that I have passion and compassion on students who have a hard time learning...amidst my salary being the lowest just because...I look like them.

I have been advised, many times by my friends back home to dress up maturely!  To use more make-up just to appear "older" than my real age.  I told myself, I know I have the talent, I know I have the heart to teach, I don't need to change for people to believe in my capabilities.  That well said, may I borrow Bruno Mars' song ---  "Cause girl I'm amazing, Just the way I am" :P ?  That's what I did, I stayed just the way I am.  I did gain a lot of weight though!  *laughs*  It wasn't intentional!  It was all the Hot Pot, the oily cafeteria food, the change of weather, and of course, the homesickness!

I still look cute naman di ba? :P
But you get the drift!  I just changed physically but I did not change the way I am in terms of personality and teaching style!

 (Note: The super sexy girl with "hand horns" in the middle,!)
It was a tough ride, but students are starting to get used to my round face, getting used to the way I dress, getting pass the stage of "shock" on how much their parents paid for a Foreign Teacher but got someone who looked like them instead!  They finally stopped trying to find ways to irritate me, or to bully the "young teacher".  They finally opened up their minds and hearts to listen to my teachings and realized I do make sense!  A year quickly passed.  My students who are on a Basic English Level went up to Intermediate Level, some even to Advance Level!  It was a very proud "motherly" moment for me.

 Ang serious ni lolo, nag aaral pa din kahit picture taking! :D
Because I was starting to be known as a "very good (and hyper)  teacher", I was given extra night classes to teach adults and professionals!  Some were grandfathers!  I won't forget that fateful day when I saw one of my "grandfather" student on the street as he went up to me, introduced me to his wife, and said: "She is MY teacher who made me speak Good English  I learned a lot from her!".  

It was an achievement for me that no amount of money can ever replace the price of pure happiness and contentment.

Year 2004, after nearing the end of my contract, I received an award given by the University to 10 deserving teachers (of all colleges)!  I was in line with teachers who were teaching for more than 30 years.  My name was printed on the University Paper as "Top 10 Best Teachers".  It was an achievement, I was the youngest, and I was the ONLY foreign teacher who received such prestigious award! 

A closer look on the article for people who can read Chinese :D 

One achievement I won't forget, after a year of service, I, confidently marched up to the University President (wearing a Peanuts shirt) the day before I head back to Manila, without appointment!  I gave him a mouthful (in a very respectable manner) on how he should open up his eyes in hiring talents not only from specific countries but instead, search for good teachers who have the passion for teaching!  Almost an hour of  debate and second-hand smoking!  It was worth all the effort as I received a plaque of appreciation from the University the next day and best of all,  the University started to hire Asian teachers!  *yay!*

This shirt was my lucky charm!  So don't laugh! :P
What does this long story had to do with Bobbi Brown's Pretty Powerful Campaign?  Lots! The Pretty Powerful campaign symbolizes Bobbi Brown's belief that all women possess natural beauty.  She wanted individuality and inner beauty to shine through with the right kind of tools. In my case, I was expected to dress up differently, I was advised by school authorities not to blend in so much with the students because no one would respect me if I look like a kid.  With the same ideals as Bobbi Brown, I wanted to embrace who I was almost 10 years ago, I was young then and I am comfortable dressing up and putting on very minimal makeup!  I don't need to conform to the standard on how foreign teachers should look just to fit in!  The key is confidence, I am confident with my capability to teach and be heard amidst my looks and age! 

You can see 3 looks of ME in the photo below: 

Pretty - natural me, no makeup at all!
Powerful - a darker makeup that hides the flaws and some contouring to give my face a bit of change and dimension.
Pretty Powerful - very natural look that's not far from the original look. The best feature (according to the hubby) which are my cheeks, are enhanced.

No Makeup to a Darker Makeup
This is a great attending a party or event look.  I think this is what other people want me to achieve.  Look older than my age and look professional.  This look will definitely separate me from the rest of the students, though it does not take that long time for me to create this look way back, I personally do not feel comfortable at the age of 23 to wear such make up. 

No Makeup to Very Natural Makeup
This was the look I sported way back because I think it's appropriate to my age.  Plus the fact that I have a busy teaching schedule, I go home late and I need to study for next day's lesson!  I have to wake up at 5:30am for a 7:00am class!  Teaching classes after classes for full 4 hours in the morning and another 3 hours in the afternoon, it is just right to sport such natural look without me having to worry if my eyeliner or mascara are smudging on me or my red lipstick stains my teeth!

It's a look I personally like because you can still see the flaws, the laugh lines, the under eye circles, these are proofs how I did my part to be where I am today.

I've used the Pretty Palette to create looks above

Real women should celebrate real beauty!  Looking back, I am glad I embraced the real me!  I may be really chubby those years, but those were the times I felt the strongest!  I worked out five times a week, I played tennis, I do my own household chores, I hiked,  I biked,  I accepted multiple teaching jobs!  No one sees the young, chubby-looking Nikki anymore, all they see is a strong woman who survived homesickness and the harsh reality of life outside my comfort zone!  They have seen the Nikki - who may not have the teaching degree, nationality and right age they were looking for, but a very effective teacher who helped change lives!   I, was a living proof to them, that they, can also make a difference, in their own ways even once in their lifetime!

That, for me, is Pretty Powerful!
How about you? 
Do you consider yourself Pretty Powerful too?

Keep smilin'
Stay happy!


  1. Your life is one great adventure and I admire you all the more for it. I wish my daughter will grow up like you!

  2. Wow, that's an awesome story Nikki! You're definitely an inspiration to everyone.

  3. Nikki, you're so beautiful inside and out! Your story was really heartwarming and what an achievement to get an award as one of the Top 10 at such a young age! On top of that, you were out there alone. You are inspirational. :)

  4. Wow Nikki! Enjoyed reading your story.... It was an overwhelming feeling to know a part of you. Thank you for sharing. I have been a passive reader for years now.

  5. i know how u feel. i taught esl in china too when i was 22. nobody wanted to believe im canadian bc i am filipino by blood; it was only my passport who gave me the passes to teach. very inspiring story, nikki. more power to you! xxx

  6. Love the post and the MU! All the best, Ms. Nikki! :)

  7. OMG, Clefairy?? Hahaha! Naaliw ako dun ah!

  8. Very inspiring indeed! But I have a question that I hope you don't mind me asking. Is 黄素华 your real Chinese name or just a Chinese name they gave you?

  9. Awww, you really are so beautiful, in & out! I love the peanut shirt story ha! =)

  10. your story is very nice. you're pretty inside-out! : )

  11. very inspiring post..pretty powerful indeed look so different ngayon.blooming

  12. Thanks so much for sharing your story Nikki! You know, i don't say this very often (in fact i don't think i've said it at all before), but i really want to be like you! Many a times i've faltered and all i did was give up and "resign to fate". You're truly inspirational and beautiful!

  13. Hi Nikki

    You have an impressive resume and work experience.

    Do you still teach now?

    You have a lovely chinese name.

  14. Panalo, Niks!
    I still can't believe that you were the one in the photo you showed me during one of the events we have attended.
    Love this post!

  15. teaching is not easy in any part of the world and what more in China! I've been there so I know there can be many obstacles, like admin which was one nightmare for me haha. Way to go, huang su hua laoshi!you're really pretty powerful! :)


  16. I love this post of yours, Nikki. Thanks for sharing your story. Though I thought it was funny that you were mistaken as a student. :P

    Love the pretty powerful look on you the most. Looks so sweet and pretty yet it has this strong look as well.

  17. That is a wonderful read & a very inspiring story :)

  18. Thank you for continually inspiring me to be a strong woman, Nikki. I remember having conversations about these a few months back and I'm so thankful knowing you, kasi you're such a strong woman who's not madamot in sharing the things you've learned.

    Love you!

  19. galing galing, nikki! i've always admired you but i have a newfound respect for you now. that was a very brave thing you did, doing something new for the first time and in a foreign land away from your family and friends. well done!

    also, you should wear red lipstick more often because you have such a lovely smile and it's even prettier with red lipstick. :)

  20. very inspiring story Nikki! thanks for sharing. I love all 3 looks... but the natural look suits you best. =)

  21. Aww! this is truly an inspiring story.. ang galing mo sis!! idol!!

  22. SO INSPIRING JIE JIE! :P nashock lang ako sa photos mo

  23. wow,your so brave friend.Very inspiring to all of us and I admire you a lot so keep it up.Your always beautiful now and then.Always keep your spirit high, luv yah!

  24. Wow TPS, thank you so much for such great compliment! I believe your daughter will grow up different from me but I'm sure someone who can do greater things! In her own ways! Thank you for the wonderful compliment :D

    Anne Dee, thanks girl!

    Maggie, the award is an icing, the fact that I was given the chance is such a blessing! thank you for your compliments!

  25. joyskidooper, thank you for being a reader and thank you for commenting! great to know you :)

    Phey, congratulations for teaching ESL in China too! Where in China :) Are you still teaching? Are you back in Canada? I'd love to hear more about your stories!

    Juana, thanks sweet!

  26. Skysenshi, hahahah pagtawanan daw ang email box ko? :P Hey its still working ha!

    Arhani, yes 黄素华 is my real Chinese name given to me by my grandpa! :) I use that name in school too!

    Dangski, hahahah I was surprised I have a photo of it, but need to crop my head out because its blurry on the face, clear on the tshirt! :D

  27. Valerie Joy, thank you sis! Muwah :x

    Camille, hahahaha I know, actually I changed so much when i worked in China, I wasn't really taking too much time and effort to prettify myself due to tight schedule, and I was thinking that nobody knew me naman in China! :P

    Jenn, you are so sweet to say that! I am sure you are gorgeous just the way you are! No need to be like me! :P I'm glad to have met friends like you too! I want to meet you all!

  28. Lavender, I don't teach anymore! Well, is teaching makeup included in my resume? :D :) Thanks for liking my Chinese name, I used to not like it because it sounds toooooo traditional! But thanks to my grandparents for giving me such name!

    *MrsMartinez*, hahaha di mo ma get over sis? :D Well I'll probably look like that again if I get pregnant, at least may preview ka na at hindi ka ma shocked! :P Love you sis!

    Mandy, thank you so much for the comment and for appreciating the efforts I have given teaching in China! People probably think its easy but its definitely not! Both physically and mentally! :)

  29. Pammy, it wasn't funny at that moment when I was mistaken as a student! As in scolded to the nth level and I was quite letting the guy scold me! Bastos naman sumagot di ba? :D thanks for liking my post

    Tanveer glad you like it thanks for reading!

    Tara, I know, it was inside the car ba? :) Thanks for listening! Of course I am not madamot in sharing, I love to let people know that there are so many hardships in this world but nothing will be given to you if you can't manage it! Its a rule I live by!

  30. Isea, thanks dear! Hahahah I've been told to wear red lipstick more often but I guess I'm just too lazy and I don't want attention on my lips! I'm weird that way! hahahha But definitely will wear more especially on events and parties!

    Khymm, thank you!!! I am most comfortable with the natural look!

    Shenster, thanks sis! You have such great stories to share and I love hearing yours too!

  31. Mei Mei, :P Now you know more about your Jiejie :)

    Mags! Thank you friend for appreciating the me PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE!

  32. Aww.. this is a very nice post. The part about the old man made me teary eyed! You didn't save the world or end a war but it really is a great achievement =)

  33. awwww...i'm so proud you're my friend nikki-doodles! ang kyot kyot mo nun pa hihihi....

    dont ever change nikki...lav yah!

  34. I love your post! <3

    I didn't know you were a teacher before!
    Hindi po halata, kala ko make-up guru lang :)))

  35. I am in tears as I am reading in full this entry! I am so proud of you, achie, for touching the lives of people there in China. Teaching has always been an option of mine, something that I've wanted to do because of how I would touch the lives of people. Your story seemed like something in the movies! :) I am just so proud!

    Now that is my pretty powerful sister. :)

    PS your jokes about your round face cracked me up, and the clefairy email addie! LOL!

  36. Wow Miss Nikki! What a motivating article. I've been following your blog for quite some time now but this is the first time I am going to write a comment. This particular entry moved me because I'm currently at a stage where I'm really doubting myself. I've been feeling really low lately but having read this made me believe again. Thanks a lot for sharing your insights to the world, Miss Nikki. Continue sharing your stories, I know you touch a lot of hearts out there. :)

  37. I've following you for a while, and I've really come to think of you as a close friend (in a somewhat strange way!), but now I also feel reassured, as a woman, as a fighter, as a believer... for stories like yours. Thank you :)

  38. such an empowering story told!! keep the spirits high.. more power to your blog!!!

    there's a nice feel when i visit your blog everyday!!!



  39. your story seriously made me want to be a better teacher:)

    thanks for sharing this, nikki!

  40. This is a very touching entry, Nikki. You've come a long way and your life is indeed an adventure. Thank you for sharing.

    Goodluck to the contest. :)

  41. this is a great post. you've definitely come a long way - your persistency is inspirational Nikki!

  42. It's wonderful to know that not only are you pretty and kikay, but a strong lady with a lot of heart. Your story is an inspiration to all young teachers (like me!) out there. Thanks so much!

  43. This post was VERY VERY inspiring> It's nice to know that you are both beautiful inside and out :) You deserve all the success you have know. I'm happy for people like you. Good job! :D

  44. wow, i admire you miss nikki...btw, you look different way back, hehehe....

  45. Isabel, I agree, I was told that once too, I may not be on TIME magazine but in my own little ways, i was able to help out :) Thank you dear!

    Jheng, hahahaha KYOT KYOT NOON? How about now? Thanks for being proud and thanks for being a friend!

    Krista, hahahah Yup, I have many titles even way back! Airport staffs, teacher, merchandiser, doll designer, translator, Voiceover talent, now makeup artist! :)

  46. Sophie, thank you so much shobe, thank you for appreciating what I've gone through, looking back, I am proud to have gone through all those feelings - positive or negative because it made me who I am!

    Cheassy, thank you for being a reader and thank you for commenting for the first time! Aawww, I hope you understand that feeling down actually is a "preparatory stage" for you to be a strong woman! If you need someone to talk to, you can email me :)

    Pati, thank you for looking up to me as a woman who is a fighter, this post does not mean that I am a very strong and confident woman na! I still do have some bad days but we can always look back on the times we achieved something and that makes us go on with life, proud to be in this world and to make a difference in our own tiny ways!

  47. -theodemae- , thank you for commenting and for rooting! You are very sweet!

    Joice, I am sure you are a good teacher! For someone to want to be better in their craft means they have the passion to strive to be the best! I am so proud of you for doing what you're doing right now!

    L, thank you too for reading and thanks for the goodluck! :)

    NicNic, I'm glad my persistency is inspirational! Appreciate that you read my post dear!

  48. Dinna, yay! another teacher! I am glad the story is inspirational to you and to teachers! Actually, I hope its an inspiration to whatever career we are! Its a story of being confident and believing in oneself ! I guess no one would appreciate you if you don't appreciate yourself :)

    Judy, thank you dear! *hugs*

    Issa, hahahha different? how different? hahahah CUTE??? :P

  49. Gosh, Ms. Nikki! You inspire me more to get rid of my fear of teaching in a real classroom!

    I am a licensed teacher, have online teaching classes, but I still don't practice my profession. My fiance and I were currently offered to teach in our university. I am excited and scared at the same time. My former and current boss(es) as well as students tell my I am a good teacher but I know it is entirely different in a real classroom.

    Thank you so much! I guess it is high time for me to overcome my fear!!! ^__^

    1. I'm glad to inspire wonderful teachers like you! :) I'm sure you'll be able to conquer your fears soon! Just believe in yourself and your God-given talent to teach :)

  50. I truly admire your courage. I have always given a great respect to people who work abroad, leaving loved ones behind isn't such an easy thing to do. I must admit that I find airports to be the happiest and loneliest places I've ever been. Where the hello's and goodbye's happen.

    Nikki, you inspire me!

    1. Sis, thank you! :) I'm glad to inspire and looking back, I'm glad I did this! Today, I am very contented with everything I have done in the past as it made me who I am today, a strong-willed woman with great respect for others :D

  51. Hi Nikki! I do recall in a previous post wherein you mentioned that you once a teacher in another country, and even in that post I admired you for that. This puts my respect for you so many notches higher! You were already Pretty Powerful back then!!! :)

    1. thanks Crissy! I didn't feel Pretty powerful then but not until I came back and realized how many lives I have touched from students who emailed me thanking me for the years of service!

      Sis, thank you for the compliment, means a lot to me :D


I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to comment your questions, suggestions and just anything you may want to say! Keep smiling and stay happy!