The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons with autism spectrum disorder. The ASP has been in the forefront of providing services and training to families living with autism.

08 August 2011

'A Special Symphony' and a special movie critic

By DANG U KOE, ASP Chair Emeritus

MANILA, Philippines — The movie “A Special Symphony” was inspired by the amazing story of a chorus of special children in Beijing, China.


Special Appreciation – (From left) ‘Movie reviewer’ JR Tan, Autism Society Philippines Vice President Peng So and the author during the premiere of the movie


It follows the journey of Filipino struggling singer Jayden (portrayed by Christian Bautista) towards finding his purpose and happiness, which he later discovered in the company of special children in an Indonesian special school.


Being one of the movie’s beneficiaries, Autism Society Philippines was invited to the premiere night of “A Special Symphony.” One of ASP’s representatives that night was JR Tan, a college senior taking up BS Accountancy, with minor in Biblical Studies.


JR dreams of becoming a Certified Public Accountant in the future.


He regularly contributes articles to ASP's blog, and volunteers in ASP activities. He is passionate about autism rights and is one of the first self-advocate members of ASP. So we asked JR to be this week’s Angel Talker. He shares his insights as a person with autism after watching a movie which features special students like him.


* * *


July 31, 2011, I was privileged to be invited to the advance screening of “A Special Symphony” at Robinson’s Galleria. The Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines, Drs. Yohanes Kristiarto Soeryo Legowo was a special guest, with beneficiaries ASP and World Vision. Topbiller Christian Bautista also graced the occasion.



JR with mom Tiffany inside movie house


I appreciated this movie so much! I was inspired by its desire to help people change their mindset about people with disabilities. I believe that children with autism have innate talents and can be developed to the best of their potentials.


Jayden, the character played by Bautista, is a music teacher to students with disabilities. At first, he experiences a different environment, including misbehaving students. It takes a lot of disciplining to keep the students’ attention. For instance, a girl’s attention is distracted by a mobile guitar despite a teacher’s command to settle down. This behavior is usually seen among children with autism.


At one time, Zaky, a transferee, is brought to Jayden’s school; some pupils mock him instead of giving him a warm welcome, saying “you stink” or “mabaho”.


It is a reality that there are also bullies in special schools because I experienced being bullied in a special school. It was not pleasant. Our teacher asked us to bring a toy to share with other classmates. The toy I brought with me was my favorite toy ambulance. Joshua, one of my classmates, took the toy from me and broke it. I felt bad. It takes time for transferees to adjust to a new school environment.


In the movie, there is a part when Jayden gets mad at Zaky’s brother for saying “idiot” to Zaky. The following day, his parents complain to the principal. Zaky’s parents decide to pull him out of school. Teachers who encounter the same situation should say “that’s not nice” or warn the bully. Parents should also educate their children to be more sensitive to family members that are “special” or have limitations.


Another scene features students being assessed for their vocal ranges.


While it is Zaky’s turn, he does not sing; instead, he does a beatbox.


When they found out that Zaky sings better when he is in the toilet, they bring the toilet bowl to class and let him hold on to a roll of toilet paper. I laughed in that part, it’s so funny (haha!). Teachers must be able to make a connection by adjusting to the needs of the child and improvise. It can help the child cope with changes. This will eventually help him participate in class.


Children with autism should not be confined only at home or in classrooms; they also learn by exposure and training – like when the children in the movie visit a theme park. They should not be placed in a cage or chained to a bed.


I found this movie interesting; I am convinced not to lose hope in every struggle. I would recommend to various parents, teachers and people concerned with disabilities to watch this film; they too will be more inspired about the challenges faced by different people with disabilities.


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Acknowledgment Manila Bulletin: 'A Special Symphony' and a special movie critic

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