Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Language On Its Own

Back when I was handling a well known cable account years ago I had an American female customer who wanted to watch her favorite baseball game but was unable to view it on a local sports channel. Part of my job was to assist customers look for alternative channels where they could watch their favorite shows in the shortest time possible while having small talk so as not to have dead air. I was just new then and still adjusting with the account. Personally I am not one to start a conversation especially to somebody that I have not met yet until I was coached by my Operations Manager where she pointed that it was a skill that I should start learning. And since it was my only bread and butter I have to adjust and loosen up a little even if it was hard to begin with. Good thing some customers do broke the ice first, a cue that I needed to join in the conversation.

Going back to my customer, aside form being a baseball fanatic I have learned that she was also a music teacher at Berkley School of Music even added that she handled Filipino students. This she mentioned upon learning that she was talking to a Filipina and that she also taught to very young children as well. And when she mentioned the word "kids," that immediately touched a soft spot. At that time my youngest son, Red had very limited vocabulary but hums and sings with words he alone could understood. I told this music teacher customer about my son, telling her about his disability and the fact that he had learned to sing even before he could talk. Upon hearing this she told me to enroll my son to music lessons. Since that idea seemed strange then, I repeated her advise in a form of a question .

"Voice lessons ?"

The customer corrected me immediately and answered, "Not voice lessons but music lessons."

Though I was a little bit embarrassed with my question (I was also in the midst of looking for the right channel for her favorite baseball team) the customer generously pointed out that music and voice lessons were entirely two different things. Although the challenge was still there considering my son was speech delayed, she pointed out that music was his way of expressing himself. She added that jazz and rhythm and blues artists performed and sang just like my son even added that enrolling him to music lessons can even be therapeutic.

"You may not know it but your son had always been communicating through his music. Perhaps because a lot of people often forget that music is a language on its own."


I finally found the channel she had been looking for and as I thanked my customer for her patience she in turned extended her gratefulness for the conversation and for finally being able to watch her favorite team.

It had been almost six years since I talked to that lady.Though I never had the chance to enroll my son to music lessons due to financial and time constraints, her sisters and I creatively did our best to support him. We let him watch and listen to station ids for local channels, movie theme songs and soundtracks especially the classics even if that would mean hearing them over and over again. His eldest sister who had always been like a second mother made him listen to jazz tunes on youtube and even concerts during fiestas. Lately when I tell him to take a short nap he would ask me to set the settings for the different ring tones on my old Nokia phone in return, and with his favorite teddy bear and pillows put the phone close to his ear until I could hear the music accompanied by his breathing, sign that he had fallen asleep. But the biggest improvement of it all was his ability to talk and ask for the very basic things which had been a far cry from the little boy who only hummed  and sang  that only he could understood.

My autistic son Red

I may have forgotten to thank that cable customer years ago on what she had shared but her words still echo a familiar tune. Amidst the hustle and bustle of work and parenting I sometimes forget that the mundane and the trivial things are the ones that make us stop, look and listen. From then on I understood.

 Now each time I hear my son hums and sings every note, rhythm and beat comes alive. All I need was to listen closely.

 And open my heart .

 photo raoc_zps0fb7dd8c.jpg

Monday, January 14, 2013

An Eventful Summer

Last year my eldest daughter Sam was invited by one of her instructors to become a volunteer of God's Special Children Inc. My daughter had no idea what she was into but because her instructor had been a volunteer for a long time , Sam sensed it will be a worthy cause as she not only get to help orphans but abandoned kids with disabilities and kids who have special needs as well.  Aside from that every summer the group holds a summer camp popularly known as Pedya Kamp where they get to tour different provinces in the country for free for ten days. I have to admit I was tempted to join but  since that would also mean ten days of no work and pay I decided to put it on hold (again). With another daughter entering college this coming June and another one on her last year of schooling I felt that it would be best to postpone my plan for now.

It would not be too hard to notice that my daughter has been enjoying her life as a volunteer since she has started. Despite her already busy schedule she makes it a point to join and attend the meetings even if that would mean she has to walk to and fro to Makati Medical Center. Though we live in Pasay we are just near the Makati area so Sam get to have some exercise as she walk her way to attend the seminars. Bu the real good thing about it is she get to take her brother with her to some of the activities as what happened when they went to Isabela for the first time where they spent their first summer camp for ten days. This time she said she will have her sister join. Kookie is my seventeen year old daughter who has learning disabilities and is now a freshman . Though she maybe independent this will be the first time that she will be in a summer camp with other kids and she has never been more exited that she cannot wait for the school year to end.

Perhaps there really is something more than just being a volunteer. My daughter is not new with handling kids especially those with disabilities. Being the eldest of seven brood I always thought that she already had enough of having them around. Seeing her interest and commitment to the group opened my eyes to a whole different meaning. Perhaps it is not the mere presence of having the noisy, tupsy turvy world of children with its ever ending demands of childcare that challenged her but the mere realization of giving one's time, attention and love to those who needed it more. A sense of fulfillment that maybe too hard to explain but can definitely be seen and felt by the heart.

For those of you who want to have an eventful summer you can drop by and visit Pedya Kamp's facebook page at www.facebook.com/pedya.kamp. I assure you it will be definitely worth the experience.

Angels Walk For Autism

The month of January had always been a favorite month of mine. Aside from being my mom's birth month it also coincides a week of celebration for the National Autism Consciousness Week spearheaded by the Autism Society of the Philippines, an organization that I am most proud of as two of my kids, Red and Sidney both have autism.

This coming Sunday, Jan 20th which happens to be my mom's 78th birthday will be another memorable day for me and my kids as we all head to SM Mall of Asia to join other parents who have kids not only with autism but ones who have special needs as well .Together with the various groups -teachers, educators, volunteers, activists, sponsors and the media both local and foreign the event will be highlighted by having a parade inside the mall before it opens. It will be a day of fun and entertainment as there will  be a show where the participants will be kids and adults alike having special disabilities.

So if you do not have anything to do this coming Sunday, come join me and my family as we celebrate life and acceptance in this wonderful world of autism.

Looking forward to see you there.

For inquiries , you can drop by at the Autism Society of the Philippines blog to find the complete schedule of events or visit their facebook page at www.facebook.com/autismsocietyphilippines.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Unlike Any Other Name

A lot of people would agree that the sweetest word one would love to hear is their name. How it was spelled, pronounced, mentioned. And a lot would concede that just doing the opposite would be the easiest way to annoy them. Perhaps because it takes a lot of thinking and creativity to name a person even before he is born. Good thing there is now technology to guide us on what names to choose and gone were the days that the expected newborn's name had to be changed the minute one finds out it did not fit. Though spontaneity and creativity strikes when you need it most at times one will get into thinking if the chosen name sounded right or even appropriate.

For us Filipinos, we have a way of choosing what names should be given to our kids, siblings even to our grandchildren. As a parent I took into careful consideration of the names I have given my kids including their nicknames. There were certain criteria which their dad and I have agreed. This may be true for other parents whereas for others it may not. Whatever the reasons behind why a certain name was chosen , perhaps it would not hurt to take a closer look why a name is unlike any other.

1. Popular Names - Back when google had not been discovered, some people chose to name their kids with well known names wether in literature, movies and the arts. My dad was one of them as I was named after an African American singer Sarah Vaughan thinking perhaps I might become one day which was not really wishful thinking at that time. Then there were some who chose religious or famous movie characters wether real or fictional. My mom who was a teacher mentioned that one parent insisted the he named his son Alyas James Bond which she corrected that perhaps it should be James Bond but the parent digress. There was also one time that a kid's ID circulated in facebook by the name of Lord Voldemort. I wonder how one smart aleck will nickname this kid .You know who ?

2. Foreign names. Aside from American names, some people have names in Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, name it. I have a friend who comes from a family of two word names in Spanish as well as the rest of her siblings. Her name was Dulce Fides which means sweet faith. Thanks to her my Spanish vocabulary improved a little. But the challenge lies when you really cannot pronounce it like a four word name mostly consonants almost sounding like a tongue twister. Thank goodness for nicknames .

3. Common names. There maybe a lot  but for those who thought of these name they will always be unique. Month names, planet names, flower names, color names, zodiac signs, gems, constellations, even acronyms. There was this one contestant from a local game show who shared that his daughter's name's acronym is ATM. Though I forgot what that stood for, the contestant shared the reason for the name. He thought that it would never run out of money (except of course if it cannot dispense cash) which was not really far form the truth. I would not be surprised if names like Lotto, Dollar, Million, Casino, Euro may come out in the future. What about Peso or Yen ? With that I am not sure but that remains to be seen.

4. Suffixes- The Juniors, the IIs, the IIIs, the IVs either for sons and daughters thinking perhaps it is a lucky name. Problem is what if you have an extended family or a second family, even a third or fourth one and you just wanted to spread your good name? Not only does it make more confusing, it may even start a rift as far as inheritance is concerned. So much for spreading your good name.

5. Joint names. This one is my favorite as some people's sense of creativity never cease to amaze me. These are the parents' names joined to form a new one. Sometimes the formed name is acceptable, cool even. But at times you really cannot help but raise your eyes and try to think where did it come from. Names such as Marisol  (Maria and Soltero ) , Marivic (Marites and Victor),  Loreto (Lorena and Tomas ). The lists could go on and the funny thing about it is one can spontaneously create a name which my siblings and I did based from our neighbors names one lazy evening. These are as follows. Patis (Paquito and Tisha ), Tiis (Tina and Isko ), Luga (Lucy and Gary ) Regla (Regina and Lauro). Good thing we already have moved and have stopped thinking of names  to kill our boredom.

6. Run out of names- These cannot be considered as spur of the moment names. In fact these are the ones that have a story to tell. There was one kid in our neighborhood named Jeepy, from the word jeep because her mom was riding a jeep and was not able to reach the hospital when she delivered her. Another one was named Christmas and when the nosy nurse in the district hospital asked why the baby was named as such, the grandfather proudly reasoned simply because she was born on Christmas Day and that if she was born on New Year's eve, the baby's name should have  been named New Year .

Which had me thinking, what if the baby was born on November 1st? Will he name it All Saint's?