Asian parents posing with their little girl.

They say a scar is a sign of survival. It tells a story of a battle won, and, like a tattoo, it's a tale of victory written on the skin. Here are stories of four Filipinas who wear their beautiful scars like a badge of honor and how they radiate confidence from their lessons of hope and strength.

Memories of Childbirth

There is no greater miracle than life itself. Many women bear the scars of childbirth, but few can say they've gone under the knife twice and at only 14 months apart. Rachel Hipolito’s first C-section was with her firstborn. Shortly after, she found out she was when her daughter was not even one year old.

"I was a little worried about the age gap since we were still new parents, but the idea of having two kids 14 months apart also seemed exciting since they will grow up together. It’s a blessing we didn’t expect,” Rachel says.

In Rachel’s case, her scars are barely visible, something she gives her doctors credit for. “Doctors and nurses who have seen my scar during routine checkups have complimented it and said that it isn’t very noticeable,” she says.

When asked how she feels when she sees her beautiful scars, Rachel looks back at the process like any proud mom: “It feels like a badge of honor. They remind me of how I survived two major, consecutive medical procedures. I’m currently still healing from one of them, but I’m also enjoying the presence of two beautiful children brought about by those scars.”

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A Picture of Strength

Some of the most tumultuous experiences can also give rise to beautiful scars. Olivia Arias was only 25 when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Part of her treatment involved open chest surgery, which left a long scar along the sternum. She also has many scars all over her body from an autoimmune condition. Most recently, she also developed scars on her face due to adhesive burns from another recent surgery.

Despite her long history of health conditions, Olivia’s faith is stronger. “My scars are here for a reason. They have become reminders of my journey in life – of God’s faithfulness, His healing mercies, and love,” she says.

Living with multiple health conditions is no walk in the park. Apart from being rooted in her faith, what keeps Olivia going is her daughter. “Sometimes, I also need to learn to accept that not all days will I feel confident. What is important is my ability to bounce back and be a role model to my daughter,” she adds.

Confidence and Survival

Like Olivia, Tess Arguelles is also a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and had to undergo a mastectomy for her left breast as part of her treatment. “The scar doesn’t bother me at all or affect my confidence. I have realized that my worth and confidence are not in my looks and beauty, nor in having a complete set of breasts,” says Tess.

Confidence comes from within. In the case of these two cancer survivors, their stories attest to the strength they never knew they had and a second chance at life.

Just a Scar

Iya Zaldarriaga had a tendon cyst on her left hand. Although it was not cancerous, she decided to have it removed anyway. As for the scar the procedure left behind, she says she was actually more self-conscious when she had the cyst. “More people have asked me about my cyst when it was still there. I can’t remember people ever looking or asking about the scar on my hand now,” Iya says.

It was only while planning her wedding that she worried about the scar on her hand. “I tried to conceal my scar on because I anticipated my left hand would get a lot of close-up photos,” she says. In the end, she decided to leave it alone.

For Iya, the size of a scar is only as big as you think it is. “I realized that I was the only one who really fixated on the scar, and no one really minded it,” Iya adds.

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Whether they're from a simple scrape or surgery, scars carry memories of survival, healing, and hope. These four women show us what it’s like to embrace imperfections by baring their beautiful scars.