I am Joshua Cote, from the Land of the Orient Seas, the Philippines. I was born there and raised with Catholic values– hard to do, but still trying my best. Currently I am writing this letter having just turned 18. At this point, I can compare my life to a Ferris Wheel- I had my ups but most of the time, my downs.
I was raised in a family where love was hard to find. I was the son of my father from a different woman, Filipinos call it “Anak sa Labas”. It was hard for me to be a product of an unwanted and sinful pregnancy. I spent most of my childhood with different people. Usually, different relatives took care of me while my father was in the States with his original family. My mother never cared to visit me after I turned 5 and it was hard growing up not having my own family and just being a child in another home. I always felt special when my dad was forced by my aunt to take me around and tour me to different places though I knew that it was not his will to do it. I remember how hard it was when I started going to school. Family Days and Intramurals where the days that I felt useless and not valuable, parents would carry their sons and daughters while having fun while I am on the corner all alone and no parent would allow me to experience the love I deserve.
I found myself alone and nowhere to go. I always saw myself as a piece of trash being thrown around. I still remember the bullying I have learned to accept when I was still on the 3rd Level of Primary School. I was called a son with no parents. They’d always ask me who my parents were and answering themselves that they forgot that I was adopted. I already felt that there was something wrong but I just wanted it to slip away. Fast forward to when I was in 7th Grade, I started seeing my world a little bit different. I started being super secretive with my problems to the point that I had to wear a mask just to hide all of the suffering in my soul. As early as 10 Years old, I was already diagnosed with mild depression. I was in 7th Grade when I realized that everything was real and never a joke. I started injuring myself, crying all night, seeing myself as useless.
You could never blame me for it because people around me treated me as if I was useless and a man with no dignity. Years later I was confined due to a medicine overdose due to suicide attempts.
When I was 15 years old, I never imagined seeing myself with authentic smiles in community service while holding my own project related to mental health support groups. During those times where I served my country, it felt super nice to see my old self again. I have to agree that suicide was never an option but volunteerism can be the answer to reduce such emotions. I still believe that my purpose is living for, by and with the people of my beloved country. Seeing my actions creating positive effects in other people’s lives is more than what I expect to contribute. My project was even awarded at APEC Sikhay 2019: Youth Community Service Awards. With my involvement in multiple organizations, I showed that giving back and fighting for something valuable not just in your heart but for the development of the people and country is always a legacy you can leave.
In 2020, I joined the Internship for the World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific with no reasons and expectations. But joining it, I realized I still have my worth.
I am writing this letter not for my personal benefit, but to encourage each and everyone that you are valuable. I may not know who you are personally or what challenges you are experiencing but there is always hope. Volunteering may seem hard but in the end all the sacrifices are all worthy in the end. You see how your small actions can have a huge impact in the lives of others. I am writing this letter to tell each and everyone, especially the youth of the present and the future, that volunteering for a cause and lending your voice for the meek is something you need to do. Not because I say so, but because the world needs you now more than ever. If not you, then who? If not now, then when?
Published: May 26, 2020
Written by Joshua Cote, World Youth Alliance Asia Pacific Intern
WYA Summer In-person Internships have been temporarily cancelled. To know more about on-going WYAAP programs, email firstname.lastname@example.org