Advocacy. Honestly the first time I heard that word was just a couple months ago and I even had to ask my husband exactly what it meant. It was one of those words I heard about important people and important organizations, but not about normal people like me. But over the last few months I’ve been learning more about what advocacy really means.
This post is really inspired by a friend and member of my support system, Tita Mary Anne Alcordo-Solomon. Tita Mary Anne is known as an advocate in Cebu and beyond for cancer awareness, cancer survivors, and also children and children with disabilities. She was the first person to ever ask me what is my advocacy and I’m so glad she did.
Technically speaking, advocacy is defined in the dictionary as “support for, backing of, promotion of, championing of; argument for, push for.” To me it means, believe in a cause that is bigger than yourself.
|"I Am Woman" Exhibit at Ayala Center Cebu, March 2013|
After reflection, I realized I had been an advocate for a very long time, I just didn’t know there was a label. Since I was young, music has always been something I have taken with me no matter where I am in the world. More recently that has expanded to music and youth education. Looking back, this was put in my system as a little girl growing up in Lutopan. Both of my parents worked in the school, ASMS, and my Mama was the catechist and Christian Living teacher. Music has always been common bond in my family.
Something I have learned by Tita Mary Anne is that everyone can be an advocate. It doesn’t matter how much money is in your bank account, what kind of job you have, or your position or power in society. What matters is that you find something that you believe in and support.
Becoming an advocate for something is an important stage in life. It is a sign of maturity and realizing your place in this world. As human beings, we can choose to be selfish and make as much money as we can. We can set our goals to buy a bigger house, a fancier car, or nicer clothes. But is that really the point of life?
I recently read an article online written by a nurse for terminal patients. The nurse only worked with people who were in the final stages of life. The number one regret from those patients was that they wished they wouldn’t have spent so much time at work and trying to make more money. It’s understandable; most people spend more time awake at the office than at home so it’s only natural to focus on work goals. But in the end is that what really matters? In the end money means nothing. Awards and material possessions will stay here the moment our Earthly bodies fail us. Even if we selfishly stuffed our coffin full of our most prized possessions, it would make no difference in the end. I have always believed that relationships and causes are the most important things in life.
|After performing for ICanServe Cebu Advocacy Group|
My advice to everyone reading this is to find your own advocacy. Find something in your life that means enough to you that you want to support it. It can be anything! It can be your religious beliefs, an awareness or support organization, or even a sport or hobby. But find something that is bigger than yourself and spend time there. Start with something you enjoy and you never know where it might lead you. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people who can become lifelong friends.
If you are scared, then you can start small. Volunteer a few hours just to see if that is your advocacy. Trust me, you will never regret it. Even if people don’t understand you at first, keep at it. In these busy times, it may seem tough at first, but when you really start giving, it’s funny how insignificant some things in life can become. Do you really need to spend so much time online or watching TV. Cut out an hour or two a week and just try it out. Involve your family; there is no better way to bond as a family than volunteer together.
Next Saturday evening, July 6, I have the honor of performing for the Rotary Club of Cebu Fuente. According to the website of Rotary International, the group’s motto is “Service Above Self.” I was invited by Tita Mary Anne and there is no way I could say no. This group inspires me every time I perform for them. It is a room full of advocates who see this world as people who are connected together. We need to support each other, love each other, and sometimes give a voice to those who cannot speak up on their own.