March 16, 2000, was the day Alma Concepcion gave birth to Cobie, her love child with businessman Dody Puno.
But unlike most moms excited to embrace motherhood, Alma had never felt so lost and confused.
She was then six years into her semi-finalist finish at the Miss International 1994 pageant and six years into her showbiz career.
Very few people knew that she was in a very dark period in her life.
First, she was epileptic.
According to her doctors, epilepsy could put her pregnancy at high risk.
According to epilepsy.com, her pregnancy may increase the frequency of seizures in "15% to 30% of women...most often in the first or third trimester."
The website added, "anti-epileptic drugs taken during pregnancy can cause congenital malformation or birth defects."
Alma had to make decisions, and threw caution to the wind.
One, she "went through the pregnancy." Two, she threw away her medicines.
She posted on Facebook a week ago, March 16, 2017, that "(my) Neurologist told me that being an epileptic under medication, pregnancy was a risk to take.
"I could've had lost the baby with the meds or, if I had stopped taking it, the life of the baby would've had been at risk in the event of a seizure.
"I ignored the doctor, threw away my meds, and told God, 'If it's Your will so be it.'"
Second, Alma had no one beside her.
She and Dody had broken up when she was five months pregnant.
Her parents were away; they were in the United States.
And she was quite broke.
At the time she was pregnant, the "future looked blank" and "that was the lowest point of my life."
She further described, "not even my 23-day ordeal in Guam prison can beat that."
In 1998, Alma was arrested for "possession and importation of shabu" in Guam.
DEPRESSION. Her struggles did not go away after giving birth.
She ballooned to 200 pounds, thus, going back to showbiz did not become an option.
She also battled "four years of panic attacks and depression, a secret I tried to deal on my own."
Alma, now 41, was then 28 years old.
In the same Facebook post, she said, "It crippled me even more. The best decision I made was to seek help."
TURNING THE TIDE. Looking back, Alma now refers to the "lowest point" in her life as the "happiest moment" in her life.
All thanks to her son Cobie.
"Prior to his presence in my life, my life was so sad, without direction, and had a shallow meaning."
Looking at the bright side, "The pregnancy changed my lifestyle, [made me say] goodbye to too much partying, and my pregnancy took me away from the unhealthy world."
And 17 years after, on March 16, 2017, she could only say, "I shake my head in disbelief...this 5 foot 11 inch man beside me, used to be my baby, is now 17!"
Alma's long post recounting her past became her birthday tribute to her son.
She wrote, "Thank you for squeezing the best out of me. Thank you for changing the course of my direction. Thank you for being my guardian angel and taking me away from a dark life. Thank you for giving me the best /happiest moments of my life. Thanks for giving me a life I never imagined. Thanks for making me the person I never imagined i could be.
“Having you is an achievement more than being a Miss Philippines. Having you is truly the essence of a woman (Sushmita is right).
“Thank you for taking me to new heights. Thank you for transforming me. For your birthday, I just wanna say THANK YOU Cobie Puno.”
(The Sushmita that Alma mentioned was Sushmita Sen, who won the Miss Universe title in 1993, the year the country was made the pageant host.)
When Cobie was in Grade 4, Alma went back to school, and took up International Business, her first degree.
In 2015, she finished her second degree, this time in Interior Design, at the University of the Philippines (Diliman.)
She now runs her own interior design firm, which handled the spaces of Eugene Domingo and Ellen Adarna.
Alma Concepcion's journey was truly incredible.
See below the complete post of Alma on Facebook: