There are days when I miss the old-suede smell of my first car. It was a 2007 Black Honda City which I had bought second hand with all the savings I had at that time. I was 20 and had only learned how to drive.


I couldn't entirely afford buying a car, but badly needed a more comfortable means of transportation since I was already working in TV and hours were odd, bags were heavily stuffed with makeup, clothes, shoes - the works - and I had gotten tired of riding in dizzy, cherry-smelling cabs,  or asking my brother to drive me using our old, beat-up, '93 Kia Pregio (which we loved - but like most things we loved - always gave up on us).


I remember asking the car shop owner if it would be alright to pay half of the price (around 150k), get the car so we could already use it, and pay the other half within 2 months. Miraculously, he agreed and made me sign a bunch of papers that basically meant 1) Ive made my first big purchase as an adult  and could now travel more comfortably and 2) I would then have to hustle like I never had before so I can pay the remainder on time, as I had promised.


In those 2 months I took more hosting and singing gigs than I ever could, again. Sleeping was not an option, and  saying "no" to work was only a suggestion made by my parents whenever they saw me looking like nothing but a dilapidated shadow of a woman.


But we made it — by God's grace and provision, we were able to fulfill our promise; I remember making that final payment with a gust of confidence, drenched in sheer joy. At the time of sowing I was under painful pressure, I was questioning my decision - had I been arrogant in thinking that this plan could work out, that God will provide, that He will make a way? But He was faithful, as He has always been. Reaping came in four wheels and the happiest 20-year-old woman behind the car stuck on EDSA traffic that day.


Today I drive a Toyota Altis, nothing fancy, but on heavy work days of taping, radio, and events I have the privilege of having a driver with me. Life is so different from 4 years ago, yet I still catch myself thinking of my first car. I also remember days through college where I had to walk around UP instead of riding the Ikot / Toki jeeps because I had zero money in my pocket, or days growing up in Tondo when I would walk from our house to T. Paez Elementary School (Batang Maynila, reppin) with just P15 for my baon. Days when I had used my gift of gab on my friends who ended up buying meals for me, days when I had to borrow money, ask for rides, or just cry in complete surrender because I had no idea how I could possibly reach for my dreams or help provide for my family.


Through those difficult times I had peace and joy lying steadily on my everlasting God Who gave me a sense of humor when it was tough, and grace when it started to get better. He has continuously supplied me with an unparalleled hunger for excellence, incomparable grit, and great adventures filled with opportunities to become the woman I am today. Working hard only makes sense because I find my purpose in Him everyday.


I still miss that old-suede smell of my first car because where I found my joy then, is still the same as where I find it, today.