To the young Vicki Belo,
Fairy tales are not real. They always end with “...and they lived happily ever after,” but in fact, the struggle is real and it usually begins when you get married. Life is not easy, but it’s exciting. Learn to embrace both the good and bad. In the end, God loves you and everything happens for a reason. I wish I knew that before. For example, I was adopted. I think the most important thing about being adopted is to not ever let yourself feel that you’re not good enough and that’s why they gave you away.
My mom used to say that I didn’t understand when I was a kid, but I understood later that the only difference between a child born of the biological mom and an adopted child is that one goes through the belly and the other one comes from the heart. Now that I have Scarlet and she didn’t grow in my belly, I know that I love her every bit as much as I love Cristalle. So stop worrying about not being good enough.
Don’t waste your life being angry or resentful about anything.
I know that you get bullied for being fat and ugly or even for being adopted. But use it to become successful. Know that there will come a time when you have to let go of all the negativity because it won’t work for you anymore. Sometimes it will work for you when you’re younger—the things that push you, like bad skin and being fat, but when you’ve conquered it, you can’t live in that space anymore. You have to move forward.
Put God at the center of everything you do.
Instead of trying to find satisfaction from the outside, like when you feel bad because you don’t have all the designer clothing or shoes or whatever your friends have, it drove me to earn money so I could buy those things, but they won’t fill up the empty hole inside you. Only God can fill it, and once you realize that, everything else is just palabok.
I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy shopping and you can’t enjoy all the beautiful things that life has to offer, but don’t make that the major part of your existence. Be a distinct person, read a lot of books, experience a lot of stuff so that later on when the looks are gone, you are still interesting and having a lot of fun because you’ve shaped your personality and character.
Also, you will keep on falling for good-looking men. If I could do it all over again, I would really look for someone who is God-fearing and God-loving. I really believe in the saying that it takes two to tango, and if a man doesn’t have God in his life, then it’s very, very hard for him to resist temptation. So you have to make sure that the man is good from within, but of course it would not hurt if he’s good-looking on the outside.
Do the things that make you happy—yet with responsibility.
I love sugar and chocolate in moderation, but I also work out. It has to be part of your life, yet it is also something you have to enjoy. Exercise is the language of the body—dancing, too! So if you can, do that as well; I learned how to belly-dance in my older age, which aids the brain to stop from shrinking. It’s also good to learn languages, so do it now. I feel bad I didn’t learn French and Chinese when I was your age. I also suggest that you learn three new things every year. For example, learning how to cook is good as it is; the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Find something that you really love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.
I’m lucky to have found that also made money for me. I really do enjoy making people beautiful and happy. I love making people become more confident and comfortable with their bodies, so it’s great that my passion is also my work, so I never feel that I work a day in my life.
Life should be easy. Life should be cool and you shouldn’t feel like everything means something. If I regret anything, it’s that I can’t seem to change that I’m so sensitive. Human beings naturally have to make a story out of everything. Sometimes you have to let it go so that you won’t have so much baggage and heartache. Learn to laugh more and love more. Learn that we have a short time here on earth, so while we’re here, we might as well enjoy it and be adventurous. I never left the country to study because I was so attached to my parents, being an only child, and I think that robbed me of a lot of growth. I could’ve been a much, much better person if I were just willing to leave the Philippines for a while and come back and help the country. Be a little more adventurous.