Five-foot Pinay Power: Conquering adversity

Buddy Gomez -- Cyberbuddy

Posted at Jun 24 2020 11:47 PM | Updated as of Jun 25 2020 10:35 AM

“Ad astra per aspera.” A point of pride among Filipinos, achievement by one amongst our world-wide diaspora, is always worth sharing. “To the stars, through hardship!” is at the very heart of our cyberchat this week. 

Worth sharing more especially because our story possess the hope of inspiring emulation, serving as exemplar, and in the least, simply for notable information. Here is life on a roller-coaster ride over an emotional range of struggling, thriving and surviving. Then comes triumph and success, the conquest of adversity, from heartbreaking upbringing and adulthood to breaking through deprivation and dire challenges by sheer persistent determination.

A Filipina in America came through, overcoming discomforts of humiliating indigency, achieving financial freedom and the comforts that go with it. Five-feet flat, pert and spunky.

A child of poverty and near destitution, of deprivation and profound difficulties, spending early childhood in shack-like living within the slummy warrens of Pasay City, where she was born. Relocating to Surigao and then to Davao with a hard-luck, star-crossed father, an early retiree from the Philippine Air Force, who never knew financial comforts. 

Thence to Caloocan, moving in to live with a grandmother’s already cramped quarters, squeezing in with an aunt’s husband and their children. She was the youngest of four from the added incoming family. Her father eked out with whatever odd jobs were available while her mother worked in seasonal factory assembly work. As a child, she and an older sister sewed fabric scraps into dish rags for sale and assembled sewed-on button packages as homebound jobbers for a garment manufacturing sweat shop. 

Obstacles notwithstanding, schooling she tenaciously pursued. With help from elders who had the good fortune of having gainful jobs, she was able to go through high school and college. And through life! Eventually, achieving the grateful capacity to ‘pay forward’ and more!

She was born Lilibeth S. Avelino 57 years ago. Growing up naughty and girlish, with a happy penchant for beauty cosmetics and appurtenances, they teased her with a pet name, “Kikay,” which of course meant lively impish and yes, naughty girlishness. Evidently it stuck, for today, she goes by “Kai.” Kai Hayes. Mrs. Greg Hayes, in fact.

Today, Kai Hayes is a Transformational Leadership Coach, an Inspirational Speaker, an entrepreneur, a transplanted Texan living in comfort in Austin, and very soon a published author. All these stem, not only from her life’s experiences but likewise inspired by her outstanding success in multi-level marketing with the Lifevantage Corporation, a publicly traded health and nutrition company engaged in dietary supplements. Lifevantage’s scientists are dedicated to “cracking the aging code´and ‘extending human life.” She is an “Elite Global Distributor, having assembled a vast network of costumers and distributors over 27 countries. Her company “Kai Hayes Lifestyle LLC” is in YouTube.

Sometime in 2014, Kai attended a Lifevantage convention as one of the featured speakers in Kansas City, Missouri, with thousands in attendance. She recounted the story of her life. Beyond the audience’s delight, she was encouraged and repeatedly reminded by a host of admirers to share her story with a much wider audience. 

On Tuesday, June 30, the world’s largest retailer, Amazon, makes available the story of her life: “Lion at Heart -- Discovering Courage and Greatness Within.” It is evidently a ‘self-improvement’ book, speaking of which I would categorize Kai’s opus under the genre of “Personal and Spiritual Growth” and “Leadership.”

I googled “Lion at Heart” and here is what I got: “An inspiring story to encourage you to rise above your present-day circumstances of fears and failures. To conquer and triumph during the seasons of your life to become a Lion at Heart.” 

I also googled ‘Kai Hayes’ and this is what I got: “Lion at Heart – Discovering Courage and Greatness Within.” 

In her introduction, Kai says: “My story from poverty to financial freedom is not mine alone. I did not work hard and endure hardships to keep my story a secret, for my story can help others, like you. My story may help you answer the questions: What type of life do I want? Who do I want to be? Who am I fighting for? This book is for you – for those of you with wounded hearts, who are searching for answers to your prayers, hoping to improve your life. For those of you who want to improve your life. This is a journey to discovering your greatness and finding the courage to thrive. As you read these pages, you will discover your own strength.”

The concept of “paying forward” brings to mind that good old Filipino cultural trait of “Utang na Loob” (Debt of Gratitude), which has not been lost to Mr. and Mrs. Greg Hayes. By the way, theirs is a romance, a love story but I would rather be a tease than be a spoiler alert! Let Kai tell their story herself!

As Kai enjoys the fruits of her labor, having learned and still learning the lessons life has strewn along her personal ‘sturm und drang’ of tribulation, triumph and turbulence, Kai assisted by Greg, engages in another Filipino cultural trait. The “panata, ” Filipino for a solemn vow to be fulfilled.

That vow, in fulfillment of a debt of gratitude, has taken the form of charity work through their “Bridge of Hope Ministry,” benefitting an orphanage in the Philippines and a priesthood mission in Tanzania.
Going back to the forthcoming “Lion at Heart,” here is another handy Filipino word. Abangan!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.