My life has been fraught with hardships, mistakes, sorrow, and grief. It is also filled with battles won, mountains climbed, and lessons learned.

More importantly, I am as close as I can get to self-actualization on this part of my journey, therefore my life is an open book. I am just as happy sharing my life in the real world as I am online, where I am blessed to have the ability to document this journey, good and bad, in this wonderful thing called Facebook. I see you’ve spent countless hours digging through hundreds of my pictures, and chose to highlight to my very conservative mother some of my “worst indiscretions”.

As my mother, she has been privy to every major mistake, and I have personally shattered her heart a million times over. I would like to think I have redeemed myself a million times over, as well. I have always had the strength and tenacity to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start anew. I am proud of the mistakes I have made, and I am INTENSELY proud of who I am today because of those mistakes.

You played no part in raising me to be the person I am today. The only value you have added is this experience, now, having to deal with your well-intentioned but poorly-executed “intervention”.

You exemplify the cliché of rumor-mongering, self-righteous churchgoers. You choose to turn a blind eye to your ridiculous situation: that for a small group of “faithful believers” being “persecuted” in a repressive regime, you’ve managed to fracture your community into two disparate groups with differing beliefs! And not just that, you’ve actually started to sow hate and discord by ruthlessly speaking about each other behind each other’s backs! You’ve destroyed credibility and relationships from within (it helps that I’m an expert in information gathering, no?).

I am a productive Filipino, earning a living that puts me in the top 10% of the income bracket for this country. Through talent, hard work, sleepless nights, and sheer willpower, I have built a home filled with items that allow me to live a life of relative comfort. I am part of the 2% of the world’s population that can claim ZERO debt. But that’s not a measure of success.

I share my life with a man who I know loves me unconditionally, and who I would gladly take a bullet for. We have a home filled with love where we freely discuss Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, The Book of Mormon, the Bible, and The Talmud. We are surrounded by books on every major philosophy, movies from every major genre, and eat Adobo on Monday, Tandoori on Friday, and Baklava for dessert. We are both constantly curious about this amazing world and her people, and do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion. We are blessed to be surrounded by friends who return the favor, and love us for who we are. But that’s still not the true measure of success.

I define my success by my ability to pronounce an oath: I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine.