MANILA -- Jasmin Ariola did not let her disability stop her from doing what she loves most.
The 21-year-old from Olongapo City has been making waves as a deaf fashion vlogger, using sign language to share her insights and inspire the differently-abled community.
"Ever since I was young, I love to dress up a lot. I learned it from my sister," she said in an e-mail interview with ABS-CBN News.
"I decided to be a fashion vlogger because this is what I love to do... I can finally share my outfit ideas to other people, and share my knowledge about my community," she added.
Ariola, who experienced bullying as a kid for being deaf, was able to find her voice through YouTube.
She said she could still not believe that her content has been shared by popular Filipino influencers like Mimiyuuuh, Angel Dei, and Rei Germar.
"Technology helped me a lot. I am now comfortably speaking my language to a number of people that really listen and see how compassionate I am in everything I deliver," she said.
When asked about the best comment she has received so far in her channel, Ariola replied: "'Respect,' because in this world full of bad people, there are still good people who appreciate me, and it makes me so happy."
"I just want to inspire the deaf community to pursue their own passions," she went on. "Even though I have a disability, I still want to make my dreams come true. I want to inspire everyone to also pursue what they want to do with their lives, and to let them know that we can also do what others can do."
Aside from vlogging, Ariola also has modeling and pageant experience. She said her second runner-up finish in Ms. Teen Zambales helped boost her confidence, admitting that she used to think she won't be accepted in beauty competitions because of her disability.
"At first I would feel nervous because I would think, 'what if they don't allow persons like me to join certain events like pageants?' But when I tried it, I was proven wrong," she said.
"I realized that I can do it," she continued. "I can achieve what I want by trying and trying until I succeed. Modeling and joining pageants helped me to be more sociable not just in the deaf community, but also to other people who don't have disabilities."
On top of these, Ariola is also into sports, playing football and frisbee since her early teens. She hopes to encourage more deaf people like her to become more active, thanking her teammates for making her "feel normal like them."
"Different parts of the world have taken action to help differently-abled people and communities, providing them with better living conditions through healthcare, financial support, emotional, mental and social aid. I hope that my country, the Philippines, will step up and see us as a valuable part, not just of our community but of the rest of the country," she said as the world celebrates Accessibility Day this Thursday, May 21.
As for her message to those who continue to face discrimination and exclusion because of their disabilities, Ariola said: "I know and I understand what must've been like in your position. Take it from me, I've been there and will always be. But what do we have to do? Do we sit still and do nothing, and just brush off the fact that we are not valuable?"
"No! Differently-abled people are just as normal as the latter. We are capable of doing extraordinary things, and when we do it with our heart and mind it becomes magical. Fight the fear! Stand with faith in your heart! Be you. Be who you want to be," she ended.