Jul 29, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies | 2 Comments

He Said, She Said: Ending the Name-Calling Battle.

More than once, I’ve had kids proclaim to their classmates “I don’t like you to be my friend”. Upon prodding, I find out why: because she’s pangit (ugly) or fat. Yes, this comes from four and five year olds. Shocking as it may be, being a preschool teacher has exposed me to the fact that discrimination is not only an adult thing.

It got me to thinking, where this comes from?

Then it hit me: this is the message we give children. We call people names a lot. From the “idiot” in the car that cut in front of us to the wierdo dressed in all black walking in the mall. And those are only the “mild” kinds of names we call others. It’s also the labels we give them and the characteristics associated to it. For example, statements like “ibibigay kita sa bumbay”  or some other derogatory comment like that. Sometimes it’s also the non-verbal signals we give out,  such as suddenly clutching your purse when someone who looks like a goon walks by. Many times we don’t think about our actions when we blurt out a label we have for people.  Often it happens on instinct or reflex, without us much giving second thought about it. I, too, have been guilty of it.

You may wonder where this whole post is coming from. Let me backtrack a bit. It started a few days ago when, while listening to the evening news, I heard the newscaster comment about the upset Ateneo experienced at the hands of (as he put it) “the lowly UP Maroons”.  I sincerely hope I heard him wrong, but that’s how it came across to me. Saying it in a different manner, such as  “The Blue Eagles were defeated by the last seeded UP Maroons” or something like that seems less derogatory, right?

This got me to thinking about how we can end the perpetual name-calling battle. It’s not enough to scold children when we hear them do it. Punishing them may help a bit but not necessarily change it. We need to stop and change the messages we give our children. This does not pertain only to media, especially the media of today where even cartoons teach kids to call others  “stupid” and the like. It should begin with us.

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Jul 19, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies, Featured | 0 Comments

Hope for the Flowers: Help X Out Cervical Cancer

For my 30th birthday, I got myself the gift of protection. Yes, I armed myself with the protection against Cervical Cancer by committing to getting the vaccine that protects women from the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the virus which causes abnormal growth in the cervix. According to research, half a million worldwide are diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and every two minutes, one of them will die because of it. Every day, 12 Filipina die of cervical cancer. It’s ranked as the second most common cancer afflicting Filipino women. The sad part of this reality is that while cervical cancer is highly preventable, it is difficult to detect in its early stages. Being a staunch believer that prevention is better than cure, plus of course the constant reminders of my OB/GYN that I should get protected, I finally did it. GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine provides protection against HPV types 16 and 18, the two most common cancer-causing strains.  Now, women ages 10 years and older can be vaccinated.

Last July 16, 2009, advocates for cervical cancer unveiled Hope for the Flowers, a photo exhibit featuring stills from the Tour of Hope 2009’s Dare to Be Bold bike tour that aimed to raise funds for the Cervical Cancer Protection Network (CECAP). Images by renowned photographers Jun De Leon, Jed Santos, Ramon Ty and Miguel De Leon will be on display at the Main Atrium of the SM Mall of Asia until the end of the week.

*photos used with permission courtesy of GeiserMaclang.

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Jul 12, 2009

Posted by in Autism | 2 Comments

Be an Angel for Autism and Help Save Their School!

I wasn’t really planning to check out my Plurk timeline this morning as I needed a time-out for myself but I’m glad I ended up doing so. I came across a thread from a good friend of mine appealing for help to save her daughter’s school from losing their lease. This Center for Intervention and Development Foundation Inc. is one of the few centers that caters to Children with Autism. I beleive that WE NEED TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD! There are millions of Filipinos affected by this developmental disorder and it is time our government gave it the attention it needs.

Below is the article written by Earth of earthlingorgeous.com:

In April 2010 the lease term of my daughter’s school for special children especially children with autism (CWA)  in Quezon City, the Center for Intervention and Development Foundation Inc. (CIDFI) will be over.  Our school principal and the members of the board of trustees are not sure if they will still be able to secure a renewal of lease contract since they were told that the government has plans to put up a 6 story building at that lot they are leasing that will be used for the medical tourism plans for the country.

In 2010, if the election will push through, a new president will be in place, a new health secretary will be installed and a new chairman of Philippine Children’s Medical Hospital (PCMC) will be appointed. Will all the new officials that will be installed the CDIFI board of trustees are not sure if they will still grant a renewal of the lease.

CIDFI has been a school for special children for more than 20 years, they were put up in 1987 by doctors/neurologist/developmental pediatrician from the PCMC because they want to be able to completely monitor the case of their patients, since during that time there were no special schools or schools for children with autism (CWA) and other related diseases that involves learning disability.

Do we really need to become a tourist destination and cater for the tourist medical and health problems and leave our countrymen to worry on their own and find somewhere else to go regarding their health and welfare?


My daughter’s school will hold another board meeting by the end of July to find some solution and think of a way to lobby for a renewal of contract if not find a new place to relocate and lease.

Yesterday, we held a Parent Orientation and Parent meeting with the school principal and she told us about this problem and asked for our prayers and support.  Today I am asking everyone to pray and help us.  If you know people who got influence from the government, can you whisper to them to have compassion for the special children, the children with autism, who are benefits from CIDFI to renew their lease contract? (Here is the country’s present situation regarding autism welfare in the Philippines) (here is what the government can do regarding autism welfare)

CDIFI is a private school but it was located beside the Children’s hospital to be accessible for the doctors who referred children with special needs to study there so that they can monitor the child’s improvement and be able to hold a doctor, teacher, therapist and parent conference.  Since the school was put up by doctors from the children’s hospital they were given a low lease price of more than P203,000 a year.

  • If the school will move out this year the fees we are paying for their sessions will shoot up to 500%.  With the present situation of this school which is put up by a non-profit foundation that amount is expensive. Parents with children with autism who have their child study there are mostly averaged income families, while some work so hard to be able to have their child’s intervention push through.
  • If the school will move out and pay a higher rent the fee we pay will shoot up to amounts no average person can handle.  More child with autism will not be able to learn and develop.
  • If the school will move out there will be children with autism who will not be able to get intervention and education they need to become independent and a helpful member of the society.
  • If the school will move out there is a possibility that the good teachers helping us there will rather go out of the country to have better income.  It’s a sad fact that most of the good special education teachers choose to go abroad because the income is greater abroad than here.
  • And the most dreadful of all if the lease contract will not pursue there is a possibility that the school will close down since the school does not have any funds for it. Some parents were not able to pay for their kids fee  but the school still accepts them and the teachers still teach them as their moral responsibility.  But still the school has bills to pay especially the teachers salary.  They already have a more than a million deficit since last year.

My daughter has dramatically improved since she started her sessions at CDIFI.  I love how my doctor and my teacher can talk about my daughter’s improvement and what areas they need to focus on.  I love the fact that the staff in the food kiosk in that school are CWA’s.  I love how accessible the vicinity of the school is to the hospital.  I love how intensive their programs are.  I love the fact that they are helping CWA’s for more than 20 years now.

Please help save my daughter’s school.  Please be an angel to my daughter and other CWA. Please be my angel.  Pray that my daughter’s school be saved.  Please tell God that whoever becomes the new leader of the country to have a heart for special children.

If you support this cause please grab this button drop by Earth’s site and place it on your sidebar and become an Earth’s Angel for Autism

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Jun 19, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies | 1 Comment

Education and the Lack Thereof.

And so today marks the end of the first week of school. School Year 2009-2010 is officially underway! This year for me is kind of bittersweet, because it marks the year that my very first kids are graduating from elementary school this year.

It’s a bit sad to not that while so much has changed, so much still remains the same. It’s sad how education is still deemed as a privilege and not a right in so many ways. What’s even more frustrating about the whole situation is hearing how our government misspends so much of it’s money. And let’s not forget about the whole issue of corruption, right?

This gets me to thinking: how can we really make a change in the system? I feel this step will not only make a change in education but in life in general.

The solution: it starts with us.

Cliché, right? Cliché but true.

Imagine this: if we stopped thinking “everyone else is doing it, so I might as well do the same thing” things would be so much difference. For example, if the higher-ups stopped focusing on the “what’s in it for me” and instead care more about “what is in the best interest” things will start to make changes. Small and slow changes, but changes nevertheless. For me, on a personal level, I am committing to no longer using pirated videos for my lessons, even though I just borrow them and not buy them technically. While videos may technically be in the best interest of my students’ learning, I have to look at the underlying message I am inadvertently sending.

Like I said, this attitude can make a change in so many aspects of life. To be honest, the thought dawned on me while I was stuck in traffic. I realized that more than just the fact that our streets are overcrowded, one major contributor to traffic is the fact that we think only about how we can get ahead rather than how we can all get through the traffic easily. Take the bottleneck by the Bicutan off-ramp of the Skyway. Drivers refuse to yield to one another, thus the snail-paced movement extends even longer, especially for those who are in the proper lane to begin with. If we took turns and went alternately, I’m sure everyone would get to their destination faster. Bottom line, what happens is we tend to think why let people pass me when no one lets me pass either.

So this school year, my quest is to make sure I teach my students that there is indeed a world so much bigger than us, and that no matter how cliché it may be, change begins in one’s self…no matter how small that may be.

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Jun 12, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies, Teacher's Corner | 0 Comments

“The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic”

This was the statement issued by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization.

It is a sobering statement. Many of us have read about past pandemics, such as the
Black Death or the Bubonic Plagues in the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. However, I would think none of us expected to witness the evolution of a modern-day plague. The WHO points out that in the early stages of this pandemic, a moderate severity of the virus is foreseen. However, they are not closed to the idea that this may change as days go by. Nonetheless one thing I feel is reassuring is that despite all these facts, border closure and travel restrictions are not being enforced.

In the past 10 days I have been forced to stay home (at least for the most part) because of an A(H1N1) case in the institution I teach in. I have monitored the number of cases over the days and it is alarming to see the rise in cases. A lot of other schools have also fallen victim to the reach of this disease. When the DLSU quarantine began, I posted a question in one of my blogs asking if postponing the start of classes necessary. I suppose it’s not just a manner of postponing classes, because we can’t let this pandemic stop our lives completely. I beleive it is important to go back to the basics: proper hygene and good health practices.

For my first day of preschool classes I plan to teach 3 H’s (even if they may sound cliché):

1. Health is Wealth. This is such an old saying but I want my juniors class to begin to embrace this as fact. This will include my new rules for snack time: no “junk” food. I put junk in parenthesis because we often think junk is only limited to chips and soda. However, I feel that parents should avoid giving them sugar-filled cookies and the like on a daily basis. For this year, I will try to push for healthy snacks only: crackers, cereal,  and fruits. I would also suggest less tetra fruit drinks (as these are not REAL fruit anyway), but to alternate this with water, milk and less sugary drinks.

2.  Happy Hands are Clean Hands. Kids don’t often like washing their hands, even though they love playing with water! I want to try to make handwashing a real, honest-to-goodness habit in them. I also have put a timer beside the sink so this can guide the kids about how long they should “rub and scrub” their hands with soap and under the running water.

3. Hands Up!. One thing a lot of kids have to be reminded of is to put their hands up to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. I think even us adults on occasion need to be reminded! To make it more memorable for my kids, I’ll say “hands up!” instead of just simply “cover your mouth” because kids simply forget that!

These are my 3 H’s against A(H1N1) for my juniors class. Do you have any other suggestions that can help parents and teachers attempt to safeguard children against this pandemic? Feel free to post them here! Oh…and they don’t have to start with H!

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Jun 5, 2009

Posted by in Autism | 3 Comments

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities.

Living with a disability, be it physical, cognitive, psychosocial or language disabilities, can be trying, not just emotionally but also financially. Doctors visits, tests, therapies and medication definitely place a strain on the family’s budget.  It is nice to hear that as of March 2009, the Persons With Disability ID is available in many local municipalities, as reported by the Autism Society Philippines. These ID’s entitle PWD’s to avail of health and medically related discounts in all drugstores and medical facilities.

On May 20, 2009, the Department of Health issued Administrative Order 2009-0011 which outlines implementing guidelines to RA 9442 (otherwise known as “An Act Amending Republic Act No. 7277, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and for Other Purposes,” for the provision of medical and related discounts and special priviliges). This ordinance will surely make the lives of Persons With Disabilities (PWD) somewhat more manageable. This will also allow them to avail of services, amongst others, that they surely need. It’s kinda sad that this was not publicized or given as much attention as it should have been given. As with the ConAss issue, this seems to have been overshadowed by the controversial Hayden Kho-Katrina Halili sex scandal. I’m glad I am on the mailing list of the Autism Society Philippines, thus I was able to be informed about this.

With this order, persons with disabilities shall be entiled to at least 20% discounts on medicines in all drugstores, 20% discount on medical/dental services and laboratory fees in all government facilities (subject to guidelines by DOH and PhilHealth),  and 20% discount on the same services plus professional fees of attending physicians in private hospitals, again, based on guidelines set by DOH in coordination with PhilHealth. The rules further provide that express lanes for PWD’s shall be provided in all private, commercial and government establishments. The directive provides services not only for the physically impaired, but also includes psychosocial disabilities.

As I read through the guidelines, it seemed to me that the process of availing of the Senior Citizens discount (including getting an ID and purchase booklet from the local municipality) is the same as how the PWD discounts will work.  In the latest e-newsletter of the ASP, they pointed out PWD’s residing in Quezon City can now avail of their PWD ID card and medicine purchase booklet.

Click here for more information about REPUBLIC ACT 9442

Click here to check if your municipality is issuing PWD ID’s and purchase booklets.


Thank you to Earth for clarifying that this law has been in exsistence for some time now. Read more about it here.

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May 31, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies, Teacher's Corner | 6 Comments

Plagiarism and the Mainstream Media.

The blatant disregard for intellectual property rights on the internet is troubling enough, but when we see this creep into the mainstream media, it becomes disheartening and to some extent, shameful.

This weekend, I was shocked by the news from fellow bloggers that an article originally written by Enrico Dee, known as Byahilo on the blogosphere, was infringed upon by the mainstream media. As noted by Byahilo, his article on a cake shop in Bacolod was grossly plagiarized by a Cebu based paper, The Freeman. The same article was also printed in the website PhilStar.com.  (I was planning to add a link here for you to see the article, but when I tried to access it guess what: it had been taken down. However, screen caps of the said article are available in Byahilo’s site.)

In my line of work, it really irks me when my students copy from websites or what not in the papers they submit to me. I tell them that even blog sites should not be copied, and if ever they do get some information from somewhere, adding the words “according to” or “taken from” and the like is expected. I have been somewhat more lenient compared to some of my fellow faculty, in a sense that I reprimand and give them an opportunity to revise before giving them a failing mark. However, as with my previous article, how can we teach the youth what is right when those who are in the workforce (or whatever area that may be) do not do what is right?

I join my fellow bloggers in calling for a more ethical and fair media, one that honors the intellectual property rights of bloggers. Many of us in the blogosphere may not be journalism graduates. We may not have the necessary technical skills and knowledge journalists do. Perhaps we don’t get paid the way journalists do, but that doesn’t make us less of authors or our work and we deserve credit where credit is due. The author of the article, Oliver Victor B. Amoroso, should be held accountable for his misdeeds. The Freeman and the PhilStar.com  likewise should take steps to safeguard the rights of writers everywhere, on and offline.

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May 26, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies | 2 Comments

PGMA Builds a Nation of Readers!

Finally, our leaders take the right step towards building a nation of readers!

In an article in the Philstar.com, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde was quoted as saying that PGMA “wants books to be within reach of the common man. She believes reading as an important value for intellectual formation, which is the foundation of a healthy public opinion necessary for a vibrant democracy”.  Finally, some good sense!

With that, the tax on book imports have been lifted. As I have said in my previous blog posts, I believe that books are essential in making us better and wiser people. It isn’t often that I get to say this, but today I  can say I am proud of something our President has done.

It’s sad to note, however, that a certain video scandal and actors supposed bashing that took over the limelight and was the focus of the Philippine Senate instead of the Book Blockade. More Filipinos were aware of that problem rather than the more pressing issue. It was not our senate, it was not or congressmen or lobbyists that fought to defend our children and the future of our nation.  Heck, it was not even really our President that made the change happen. They were too busy. It was the blogosphere, it was cyberspace, it was US who made sure we have a future with LITERATE and INTELLIGENT citizens. Citizens who will hopefully never, ever make the mistake of thinking that reading books and novels are not educational.

With that said, I applaud all the people who worked hard, lobbied and rallied towards the abolition of the Great Philippine Book Blockade of 2009.  To the bloggers who posted about this, Facebook members who joined the cause, online petition signers, mainstream media writers and all others who made their voices heard: here’s to us! We can make things happen!

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May 20, 2009

Posted by in Advocacies, Teacher's Corner | 6 Comments


‘...novels and reading books are “not educational”.(1)

Add this to a long line of baffling statements people in our government has said.

I strongly reject the notion that a reading book or a novel serves no educational purpose. Just because we are entertained by a story, a book, or whatever reading material, this does not discount the fact that these are avenues for learning and growth. In a country that sorely needs education, they are making achieving this even more difficult. How can we, as a country, progress if we keep the people from accessing information?

While  Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series are not textbooks filled with facts and figures to inform us about historical events and similar data, these books encourage us to THINK and IMAGINE. These are crucial components of problem solving and logic reasoning. We don’t learn how to share and be self-aware with an almanac do we? But with books like Rainbow Fish, The Giving Tree and The Missing Piece we learn what it means to be human.

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Apr 24, 2009

Posted by in Autism, Featured | 0 Comments

Angels for Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by speech/communication and social impairments in individuals with the disorder. It is a lifelong disorder that affects not just the individual with autism, but their families as well. Estimates show that approximately 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism. Although more prevalent in males than females, autism can affect anyone: it knows no gender, age, no race, nationality, and socioeconomic status.

It truly takes an Angel to embrace Autism. I invite you to be one of them too!

This month, I undertook a campaign for Autism Awareness as a project for my birthday. I was pleasantly surprised at the success the project attained! As a birthday present to me, I asked my friends and family to support my cause by pledging at least Php 50.00 (a little over $1) for an Angel Baller Band from the Autism Society Philippines. Proceeds will benefit the ASP’s provincial chapters which in in turn provides support and services to underprivileged families afflicted with autism.

How can you help?

Well, for one, you can make a donation to the ASP to help support their programs. You can get in touch with them through autismphil@pldtdsl.net.  If you have a special talent or skill that can be of help to these individuals, why not volunteer? I understand a major need for many individuals with autism is socialization. By sharing your time, they can have just that. If you are a business owner, why not employ one or two young adults who have autism? Many of them are high functioning individuals who can handle rote tasks like filing, shelving, and similar repetitive tasks.  More importantly, however, you can help by spreading awareness about this disorder to people around you. As the ASP beleives, Autism is not a tragedy. IGNORANCE IS THE TRAGEDY. By building awareness in the community we can help others understand what autism is all about. This can also pave the way for inclusion of individual with autism into mainstream society. I remember with sadness a story a friend told me that she overheard a parent complaining about her daughters ballet class having accepted a child with autism. Let’s try to get rid of that ignorance!

Although my campaign is just about over, I am committing myself to continuing building awareness for autism and individuals and families living with this disorder. I hope to be able to feature inspirational stories written by parents, professionals, and perhaps individuals with autism. If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at yapatoots@gmail.com.

For donations, support and inquiries about how to obtain an Angel Baller Band, please check out my post on my Campaign for Autism Awareness here.

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