Even when she was young, Dondon already knew “ingun-ani jud ko (I’m really like this)”. She recalled that even then, if there are pageants, she’d always join and “kiat-kiat jud ko (I’d playfully take part).”
Her father didn’t like it. “Diha ko pirmi ka-experience ug bunal (Those were the times I experienced him hitting me),” she said. He called her “walay pulos (useless)”, telling her that “kung laki daw ko, ihatag niya tanan ako gusto (if I acted manly, he’d give me anything I wanted).”
The abuses stopped when Dondon was finally able to tell her parents that “bisan ingun-ani ko (even if I’m like this), I am useful.” In fact, she swore to give them more than they expected from her.
Her family is now behind her after she proved that “dili hadlang and paging ako para ihatag sa ilaha ang ilang gusto (my being me is not a hindrance to give them what they expect from me).”
Dondon now helps in community organizing in General Santos City in Mindanao, particularly people in fishing communities in need of protecting their villages. And no, her being trans is not a challenge for her when dealing with the community; in fact, this serves as an inspiration, as she aims to show people that “bisan ani ko (even if I’m like this), I can be great.”