We had our class this afternoon at a coffee shop across the street from school. There were three readings and three discussion leaders. Immediately, though, our professor asked a question which I was not sure I wanted to answer in front of everybody, but which I was sure i wanted to think about more.

It is about identity. When we introduce ourselves to others, when we think of ourselves, what words do we use to denote our us-ness? I, for instance, could be a Filipina, an Atenean, a friend, and many other things. However, we ourselves choose which to emphasize.

If I were to be asked, I would say, three things:

First, I am a journalist. I take pride in my job. I am fortunate at being able to do something I feel I was born to do. This is why I do not mind so much that the pay is not as big as in other industries. I get to write about what is happening. I get to involve myself constantly. I have the need to be aware all the time. I tell stories, write editorials -- and, by the way, get paid for it. It is my hope that out of the myriad of voices, my own will be able to make a difference, nudge people into action. Or at least, thought.

Second, I am a mother. To qualify, I am a single mother of four children, the head of my household. I also take pride in having this kind of responsibility -- of nurturing them, guiding them, making sure that they will be fine when they are on their own, eventually. I like fussing about the house, making it comfortable and orderly -- every inch a refuge to come home to at the end of a long and busy day.

Moreover, I am doing it alone. I feel empowered that I am able to make big and small decisions alike without having to consult with a partner. I am not in any way authoritarian or dictatorial (you can ask the kids that!) but in my experience, I do better on my own. Immensely. I am beginning to think I am not a couple-person.

Finally, I am a woman. I feel strongly about this. My professor hit a raw nerve when she talked about herself being a victim in the past who decided to transcend her victimhood. Yes, through my work I think I have already made a dent. Conversations with friends and acquaintances have enabled me to help "catalyze" things for them, get them to think about their own situations without in any way imposing that this or that course of action should be done.

The work is not complete. I want to do more in telling disadvantaged women (and disadvantaged is a BIG word!) that they have a choice, they have free will and determination, and that they must exercise it. Not because I said so, but for their own sake.

At the same time, empowered as I now feel, I also have not completely dealt with some episodes from the past that i need to make sense of to make the healing complete.

I would like to think I am on my way.