“To that person who gets to read this article, perhaps you’re at the point in your life where you feel like there’s no hope or you have no purpose anymore. I just want to let you know that if God can use an ‘Amalayer’ like me, paano ka pa?”
– Paula Jamie “Amalayer” Salvosa
I know what crossed your mind upon reading the hyphenated name below the statement. I bet it drove you back to memory lane when ‘social media’ beguiled our attention to a school girl, a mini handbag across her shoulders, shouting at a lady guard on duty at the LRT Santolan station. This girl was caught for not following the protocol of train rules. Who could ever forget this appalling encounter that instigated different emotions, judgment, and sympathy. The Amalayer incident became the very first scandal that went viral on the powerful platform of the internet.
The world suddenly turned its back against the schoolgirl and aspiring doctor, Paula, or PJ to her dear friends and loved ones. When the video came out, she became embarrassed and confined herself to the four corners of her home— afraid and intimidated. She was greatly mocked, cursed in different forms and languages, and even tagged as a disgrace to her clan. But such words did not come from her own relatives. They came from strangers who did not know the back story of the fiasco. Others said that she deserved to be thrust onto the train tracks, gang-raped and kicked out of school. There were people who actually meant this menace to the point that they roamed around Paula’s house, threatening to assault her.
During the hype of the video, the parodies that amused us were the same parodies that attacked Paula’s identity and triggered her anxiety. She had nowhere to go, no one to run to. It was the morning of the next day, November 13, 2012, when she found out that the clip had reached millions of Filipinos in the Philippines and around the globe. It was the most trending and talked about scandal on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and various social media sites. Paula did not hold back in explaining herself through interviews, but it seemed that she could never be understood. Whatever she said, whether she accepted the blame or blamed the lady guard, her name was now Amalayer—the girl who confirmed that “good education did not guarantee good manners.”
Paula’s growing depression was just the tip of an iceberg. We did not know nor feel how the video tore her life apart. Undoubtedly, this time was the darkest and lowest moment of her life. When she graduated from college with the hope of starting a renewed life, Paula applied for a job with the confidence of a high-ranking student. However, the nightmare that happened to her clung to her identity, leading to a number of rejections and disapprovals during her job applications. Forgiveness and second chances weren’t served to her on a silver platter.
The author, Ruth Graham, quoted a statement from her friend Lysa in the book, Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There: Trusting Him in Uncertain Times.1 She said, “Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person. Today, He pauses for you.” When all Paula could hear and watch were not in favor of her, God paused for her. While Paula was browsing her Twitter account, she came across a tweet from a member of Grace Testament Church-Caloocan. It read, “God loves you beyond measure.” That one-liner stood out amongst the hate-filled messages and caused Paula to burst into tears. She felt the forgiving love of the Lord embrace her so tightly. God promised her that no one could hurt her anymore, right then and there. God met Paula where she was, broken and undeserved.
Paula wanted to know Jesus and to walk in His ways. Another powerful moment she experienced was at an altar call in church. The pastor asked the congregation who among them wanted to surrender their lives to Jesus. Looking in awe, she slowly raised her hand. It even became more breathtaking when the pastor said “You, the lady in purple,” as if singling her out since she was wearing a purple shirt. Paula drew closer to the altar where the people prayed and declared redemption and good things upon her. She realized that God called her and knew her. From then on, Paula Jamie Salvosa fully devoted herself to Jesus and later publicly declared that she was a follower of Jesus Christ through water baptism on March 3, 2013.
The zeal for Jesus and the ministry that was entrusted to her became so evident. Right now, Paula is the discipler and pastor of the youth band Unify, a group of young people whose heartbeat is to reach out to people, pointing them back to the love of Christ. Together, since November 2018, they travel and go to different places and churches to share the love of the Lord through music. They also conduct workshops, writing and producing songs and discipling other people, especially the youth of the next generation.
In her third year of studying Master of Divinity in Theology at the Asian Theological Seminary, Paula is now in constant pursuit of learning and mastering Scripture and falling in love with Jesus through His love letters. Aside from being a youth pastor and a student, she is also into vlogs, writing, and is currently wrapping up a book. You can see her preaching at different churches and inspiring other youth through her testimony.
One of the issues that Paula tackles these days is mental illness. She was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD and Bipolar Disorder. Her recent Facebook post last April 6 on the disorders summed up her sympathy and dedication to encourage people who are experiencing the same. She is now an advocate for embracing the truth, turning to Jesus, and seeking appropriate help and medication.
Paula Jamie ‘Amalayer’ Salvosa admits that she still has a lot to work on. She is still single at the age of 30, and one of her priorities is to finish her Master of Divinity in Theology by 2020, and hopefully, a Ph.D. in Contextual Theology or Biblical Theology. She aims to teach someday at a seminary. She is more than willing to go wherever God sends her because according to her, “for as long as you’re discipling a person, you are saying yes to the Great Commission.”
The world smashed Paula into pieces, breaking her heart and masking her with false identity. Going viral and being judged was never her plan. But the knowledge of the Lord is above and beyond our understanding. If not for the broken Amalayer, the world would never have known a woman after God’s own heart. There’s an astounding beauty in Paula’s brokenness and crushed spirit. This brokenness is her greatest weapon and the reason she can stand and preach at the pulpit. Amalayer became Paula, princess of Jesus.
The grace that found Paula Jamie Salvosa is the same grace that will also find you. Yes, you!
PS: Just so you know, Paula and the lady guard that was involved in the video are now friends. We can now move on in peace.
1. Graham, Ruth. Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There: Trusting Him in Uncertain Times. New York: Howard Books, 2017.
First published on April 25, 2019