By Marivir R. Montebon
Keep believing in yourself. That’s when you win. You win over yourself.
– Juliet T. Van Ruyven
New York City — International motivational speaker and author Juliet van Ruyven visited the Big Apple last week and spoke in the Filipino restaurant Payag Queens before young leaders of the JCI Philippine New York on the art of winning.
I attended the event at such a short notice by friend Jeanette Marco who is an honorary member of JCI. Juliet?! Of course I know her and I will be there, I told Jeanette on FB Messenger.
Juliet or Jhet was a long lost amazing friend 11 years ago, in good old Cebu, where she flew from Canada and began promoting her book, The Tale of Juliet. We had her as guest in our defunct TV show for women, “Babaye” on the Cebu Catholic Television Network where she spoke about her inspiring life.
I remembered we dined and chatted sincerely about our lives, had decent drinks too in some of those balmy evenings at the Ayala Mall. It was a fleeting but a solid kind of honesty that bound us at that time.
So finally after 11 summers, we met again on a late Thursday afternoon in Payag. Juliet has not changed – still petite, still bubbly, still forceful, and still funny.
During a quick dinner, we chatted to catch up and exchanged pleasantries with her husband, Ted.
A few minutes later, she started an engaging conversation with her audience, mostly young Filipino-American professionals of the Jaycees International, about success and positivity.
She randomly called her audience to ask them of their views on success. In a flash, the A-G (we had no time to reach to letter Z) of success meant: taking Action, Believing in yourself, Committing to succeed, Deciding to succeed, Educating oneself, admitting and conquering Fear, and being Grateful.
That was simply inspiring.
She wrote and published her autobiography “The Tale of Juliet – You have the Power to Change Your Life” which continues to be an Amazon bestseller since its first edition in 2004.
She told members of the JCI in New York that the book was a result of the encouragement of writer Mark Hansen, co-author of the Chicken Soup of the Soul. “I went out of my way to attend their book launch in Canada. And the Mark noticed me and encouraged me to write my story. I was shocked. I am not a writer. I am a businesswoman, I told him. But he did convince me to write. So the Tale of Juliet came about.”
Juliet’s life is a testimony of gratitude, positive outlook and hardwork. This dusky lady was born to a poor family in a rural village in Batangas in Luzon, and had sold mangoes and fish in order to help her parents feed the entire family.
“At the age of 7, I was already working. I was a vendor. I had to sell food, or fish or fruits, so that we could have something to eat,” she recounted.
The hard life must have molded her to be such a fighter. And her turning point was when she saw how unkindly her father had been treated.
“I saw my father, a driver for a rich family in our barrio, who was treated unkindly by his boss while he was eating dinner in a nook during a house party of the family. I asked myself, why was my father treated that way? And I said at such a young age, I will not let anyone treat my father or myself in that manner,” she told her New York audience teary-eyed.
Since then, Juliet said she had become motivated to succeed. She took action and had gone a long way since that day she saw her beloved father maltreated by one of his boss’s children. “No hard feelings. They drove me to my dreams and desire to get out of that impoverished life,” she said.
For 15 years now, Juliet owns and manages her digital printing company in South Surrey, Canada. She was awarded by her community an entrepreneur award in 1996. In 2009, she was diagnosed with cancer and her marriage went through the worst of times. She decided to save her marriage and herself. It was her wake-up call – to dedicate her life to sharing positivity to everyone she meets as possible.
“We have to dream and take action. We have to live life to the fullest,” she said.
In 2005, the People Asia Magazine awarded her as part of the People of the Year as her book has made waves in the Americas and the Philippines and Asia. In 2013, Juliet was named one of the top 30 Visionaries of Diversity by Diversity Magazine in Canada.
The one last question I asked was how did she deal with racism and prejudice, being an international woman that she is. “I didn’t let them trump me down. I do my own and show them who I really am. Sabi ko nga, You have to believe in yourself. Keep believing in yourself. That’s when you win. You win over yourself.” (Photos by Stevenson Van Derodar)