Sharon Revalde-Bering designs with purpose and beats the odds
By Deneb Batucan
NO matter where life takes her, nothing could stop the affable but feisty Sharon Revalde-Bering from doing what needs to be done. Whether it involves her career or personal life, her resilience and can-do attitude always gets her through.
Growing up in a large family of ten siblings in Dalaguete, Sharon and her twin brother were the second to the youngest in the Revalde family. The moment she was born, she was already facing a challenge. Sharon was born with a club foot due to polio, but she never considered this a hindrance.
“I was bullied when I was younger, but it never bothered me,” Sharon shared. “I wasn’t like other children who just stayed inside the house, afraid of people’s ridicules. I would go out with a nice dress on and play with other children.”
Years passed, she went on and took up interior design at the University of San Carlos. Sharon still maintained that same spunky and confident attitude. During college, she would wear the skirt uniform because she wanted people to know of her disability. “If someone had a crush on me, I would want them to know that I had a disability in my leg because of polio. If someone should like me, they should like me for me. I don’t like it when people say, ‘Gwapa ta siya, ki-ang lang.’ I want them to say, ‘Ki-ang na siya, pero gwapa!’” she said with a laugh.
Being one of the younger siblings in a large family, it was given that her older siblings took part in paying for their tuition fees. But during that time, her older brothers and sisters were already starting their own families. When she graduated, she decided not to take up the interior designer licensure exam yet because she didn’t want to ask for money from her older siblings anymore. “I thought of working first and save up so I could pay for it myself,” she said.
A beautiful gift
For several years, Sharon worked for local export furniture companies and did freelance interior styling on the side. She got married in 2009 to her college boyfriend, and they were immediately blessed with a beautiful baby girl named Ysha in August 2010. Little did Sharon know that it was the beginning of another roller-coaster ride.
As new parents, Sharon and her husband didn’t know too much about a child’s development except from what they have learned from their families and from their doctors. They gave Ysha everything she needed from the essentials to vaccines, boosters and among others. “We do our best to provide for her,” she said.
But when Ysha was around two years old, Sharon noticed something different about her. “We had friends who had a child who was two months younger than her but could easily say simple words like ‘mama’ and ‘papa.’ Ysha wasn’t speaking or mumbling at all. That was already a sign that something was wrong,” she said.
Their pediatrician advised her to take Ysha to a developmental pediatrician. She was advised by the doctor to let Ysha undergo attention and focus enhancing therapy and well as speech therapy. “At that time, he didn’t diagnose Ysha yet. I felt like I was going crazy. It was really hard knowing that there is a problem, but you have no idea what it is. I also researched for myself and took note of Ysha’s symptoms. But I didn’t want what I read on the Internet to be true. Who would want their child to have a disability?” she said. “It was hard. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to know what was wrong with my daughter, but no one would tell me. It would really help that I knew what was wrong so I would know how to deal with it.”
When Ysha was finally diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Sharon was devastated. “I went home, saw my husband, and cried so hard. But I told myself it would be the last time that I cried about my daughter’s condition,” she said.
Sharon focused on helping Ysha. There is no known cure for autism until this day, but they can be better and be functioning individuals through therapy and special education. Today, Ysha goes to the USC Montessori Academy where she studies among the regular classes but is supervised by a special ed teacher.
“It’s very rewarding seeing your child socializing with other children and they are included in programs and field demos and the like,” she said. “As a mother of an autistic child, it’s important for me that my child is accepted and not discriminated against. And it’s also nice that I have a community of mothers who are also going through the same things as I am. It’s like I have a support group. And the children there understand that there are children who have disabilities but they still accept them.”
But of course, there will always be discrimination. “It hurts, but other people’s opinions are not important. What’s important is what we do for our children. Focus on helping your child deal with their disability. And most of all, love them with everything you have,” Sharon said.
When Ysha was born, Sharon had to stall her career for several years because she had to take care of her. But when she saw that Ysha was getting better and is stable, Sharon started thinking of pursuing the interior design board exam.
When she learned last June 2015 that there was already a review center for interior designers here in Cebu, she immediately grabbed the chance. After the four-month review, she went to Manila for a week last October for the three-day board exam. It was the first time she was away from her daughter.
“It was very hard. I even had a fever during the exams probably because of the pressure of the exams and the stress from being away from Ysha. But I told myself, ‘Go lang ng go, you can do this,’” she said.
After the exams, Sharon was confident that she would pass. Although she had doubts with the theoretical parts of the test, she knew she could do it. And, boy, did she.
Sharon ranked top 7 during the 2015 Interior Designer Licensure Examination and was the only one from Cebu among the top 10. For her, it was just icing on the cake.
“It was a blessing that I passed. But it was a bonus that I ranked at top 7. I couldn’t believe it. My initial reaction was, ‘Ah, if I didn’t have a fever, I would have ranked top 1!’” she jested. “But seriously, it was there that I learned that even if a person is pushed into a stressful situation, it’s really important to be emotionally strong. The Lord really had a purpose for me. I’m so blessed.”
Right now, Sharon is working hard as she is going to launch her own brand soon. She will be opening her own interior design firm. As she launches a new chapter in her life, she looks on with the same optimism and confidence that she has possessed even in her early years.
“Life and design, it’s the same for me. It’s better that you have a plan, like when designing a home, but at the same time, it shouldn’t stop you from being spontaneous from time to time. There should be balance. What makes an impact in design are the details of a room or house. It’s the same with life. The memorable details are always the minute scenes that make your life uniquely yours,” Sharon said.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Make-up Artist: Carlo Damolo
Hair Stylist: Jerwin Bastatas