The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

16 January 2012

Ocean Heaven

By: DANG U. KOE, ASP Chair Emeritus

MANILA, Philippines — In May of 2010, while this author was in China, Hongkong’s action super star Jet Li was promoting his non-mainstream, lowbudget Chinese language production, “Ocean Heaven.”

The movie is a story of a father who is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and his challenges to ensure, after his death, the safety and happiness of his 22-year-old autistic adult son.

Actor Jet Li, famous for his martial arts skills won best actor
for his dramatic role in the movie, Ocean Heaven

As I watched Jet Li (named by TIME magazine as 2010’s Most Influential People) being interviewed on TV, my husband was lying beside me in the hospital room we shared for two months. He was dying of cancer. And I thought of our own son with autism.

Jet Li admits to crying a lot after reading the script. He also revealed having a nephew with autism who withdrew himself for nine months.

After constant family support and encouragement, the nephew “stepped out of darkness”. This made Jet Li realize how important it is to offer attention and care to those who are affected with autism.

“This film shows that filmmakers have a responsibility to do something for society. If we can raise people’s awareness of the issue of autistic children and their parents, that’s enough,” said Jet Li (Sources: China Daily and Press Association). This is the first time Jet Li has starred in a non-kung-fu film and he won the 2010 Wen Zhang Best Actor Award for it. The movie was also recognized by the Shanghai Media Awards, CCTV Movie Channel Media Awards 2010 and Golden Goblet Award. In July 2011, Li even named one of his charity projects as Ocean Heaven Project to help children with autism, cerebral palsy and other disorders.

The following is an excerpt of movie review of “Ocean Heaven by Angel Talker Tiffany Tan, board secretary of Autism Society Philippines. She is also known as the mother of JR Tan, an autism self-advocate.


The film starts with father Wang (Jet Li) and son Da Fu (Wen Zhang) going on a fishing trip. Both are in their best attire with shiny shoes and coats. Father attempts to drown both of them using a dead weight tied to both their legs. The feat proved unsuccessful as Da Fu, a good swimmer, is able to untie the ropes and save them both from the abyss.

The scenes that followed are not far from some of the obstacles encountered by real parents of children with autism.

Jet Li’s Wang is very convincing, as he shows his unconditional love to his son with Da Fu’s simple successes as he utters “Da Fu chen haw ah!” (Da Fu you are really good/ terrific).

The film also shows desperation when Wang snaps back at Da Fu during his futile attempts to teach his son how to mop the floor, “Can’t you even remember how to do a simple task?!” or frustration in trying to teach Da Fu the concept of money.

Movie viewers expecting kung fu kicks won’t be disappointed either. Jet Li, gave one of his best performances -— a sincere portrayal of a father’s courage, persistence, creativity and love for his son with autism.

Now, after one and a half years of waiting, “Ocean Heaven” will finally be shown in the country. The movie showing is timed with the celebration of the 2012 Autism Consciousness Week. Thanks to the 6th Spring Film Festival of Chinese films organized by the Ateneo de Manila University (Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, Celadon, and Confucius Institute) to celebrate the Chinese New Year and to help Filipinos understand China through the popular medium of film.

And here is the good news, admission is free for the scheduled movie showing of Ocean Heaven (along with other scheduled Chinese moves) in Shangri-la Cineplex. Schools are welcome to bring their students for block screenings on a first-come, first-serve basis. For screening schedule, visit


Autism Society Philippines leads the nation again in celebrating the 16h Autism Consciousness Week with the theme “Making the Rights Real for Filipinos with Autism.” The week-long celebration kicks off with the annual Angels Walk for Autism in Mall of Asia on January 22 at 8 a.m. Aside from free showing of Ocean Heaven (Jan. 21-29), ASP has lined up the following events with its various partners:

• On-the-spot painting contest for students with autism, with DENR, Jan. 23

• Orientation on “Understanding Passengers with Autism” with DOTC, Jan. 25

• Quiz A with Norfil Foundation, Jan. 26

• Seminar on ‘’Roles of Professionals in the Management of Autism, and a Forum on Employment for Persons with Autism’’, at the SkyDome of SM North EDSA, Jan. 27

• Sensory-friendly movie showing in SM City Fairview, Jan. 28

• Family support group meeting in ASP National Office, Jan. 28

• Davao Autism Alliance Conference, Jan. 28

• Family day in Atrium of SM City Fairview, Jan. 29

• 4th Regional Autism Conference in Baguio City, Jan. 28-29

For details, please visit

Uploaded with permission

Acknowledgment Manila Bulletin: Ocean Heaven


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