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.

19 September 2012

Hope is Everywhere: A Journal on the 5th Regional Conference on Autism

By Gerard Joseph Atienza, ASP Bacoor Chapter Secretary



It was a highly refreshing, nourishing, and interesting experience at the 5th Regional Conference on Autism as everyone shared a lot of lessons, experiences, and facts about living with autism and having hope at home.

The weekend was indeed sunny, as the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) Cavite Chapters, together with the Municipality of Carmona, successfully held the conference, themed “Living with Autism: HOPE@HOME,” on 8-9 September 2012 with fine weather, after being moved from its original date on 11-12 August due to bad weather. It was held at the San Lazaro Leisure and Business Park, which is well known for its horse races and gaming facilities, but is also well-known for its convention center and picturesque vistas.

The first day kicked off with a breathtaking performance from the Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) of Carmona, featuring children with special needs dancing to “The Power of Your Love” by Hillsong. The second day, on the other hand, was opened by Buboy and Junjun Dolor singing “The Prayer” by Céline Dion and Andrea Bocelli. Tita Jan Peña (ASP National President), Tita Dang Koe (ASP Chair Emeritus), and Gov. Jonvic Remulla (Governor of Cavite) all delivered messages of hope. What awed everyone was Gov. Jonvic’s journey with his daughter with autism, Stella, and how he, recalled being a teacher to her amid his duties as provincial governor.

To jumpstart everyone for the topics ahead, the keynote speech was deliveredby one of the well-known occupational therapists in the country today, Sir Archie David, who gave an overview of the importance of community-based rehabilitation (CBR) to the well-being of persons with disabilities (PWD). Following him was Mayor Dahlia Loyola of Carmona, who showcased the town’s achievements in responding to the needs of their PWD constituents, as well as giving hints on how to implement CBR in the local government setting to the participants, who were primarily composed of social workers, teachers, students, and parents.

The participants of the conference were able to experience first-hand the achievements of the Carmona PDAO through an exposure trip to Carmona Elementary School, whose facilities were specially constructed for the benefit of their PWD students. There, students with special needs presented their accomplishments, products, and talents to the participants who joined said trip. Many of the participants got some goodies made by the PWDs themselves, which included food, trinkets, and more.

Other topics were nourishing as well, including Dr. Cecille Licuan’s topic on home-based intervention, Dr. Grace Gomez’s topic on family support, Tita Ging Viado’s topic on managing autism at the transition stage, and Teacher My Sorongon’s topic on sibling empowerment. And of course, who could forget the discussion panels of parents, PWAs, and siblings?

The parent panelists, composed of Dr. Malu Cagingin, Tita Cathy Lopez, Tito Evert Malapad, Tita Adel Martinez, and Tita Beth Udquin, shared their good and not-so-good experiences with their children with autism. And together with Tita Dang Koe, who stood as the panel’s moderator and being a parent to a PWA herself, everyone in the panel imparted refreshing lessons and insights to the participants, inspiring them to be strong and faithful to their children as they continue their journeys together with autism.

The PWA team of panelists was equally juicy, as yours truly, kuya Gabby Atienza, JR Tan, and Paul Garcia, with Tita Mona Veluz as our team captain, amused, intrigued, and awed our audiences with our own experiences, thoughts, and accomplishments as we play the game called life, and despite stumbling a lot of times, make it through and win in our own right. Also, the siblings’ panel was full of tales, both with happy and sad endings, as Banesa Baba, Thea Peña, Hycee Ramos, Buboy Samantela, and Mark Zeta, led by Teacher My Sorongon, told their stories and testimonials of their journey of their brothers with autism, and how they made it through thick and thin.

Speaking of siblings, we actually had a surprise guest, in the person of Shane Williams, brother of author with autism Donna Williams. Teacher Kismette Cepe-Riguerra, our host, interviewed Shane on his insights on the panel discussions as he shared his experiences with his sister, and is looking forward to invite Donna for future engagements with ASP.

The conference closed with a performance by the Siblings of Cavite, who sang HOPE@HOME, the official theme song of the 12th National Conference and the 5th Regional Conference, with a final word of thanks from Tita Chie Marquez (ASP Bacoor Chapter President).

This conference, indeed, was one of many landmarks. It was at this conference that 1Pangako (Isang Pangako), a campaign launched by ASP to stop the derogatory use of the word “autistic” as a slur in the Filipino lexicon, was formally launched. The official theme song, named “1Pangako,” made by ASP Trustee, Tita Gina Bermudo, and sung by Toto Sorioso, with a matching lyric video made by yours truly, was exhibited for the first time to the participants, who made a mob pledge led by Gov. Jonvic, Mayor Dahlia, and her husband Congressman Roy Loyola of the 5th District of Cavite.

Also, the new Board of Trustees of ASP, together with the new sets of officers of the Bacoor and Gen. Mariano Alvarez chapters, were sworn in to their posts at this conference. In addition, this conference was the very first in ASP’s history to be broadcast through live streaming on the Internet, together with live Twitter posts and Facebook statuses. And, to everyone’s delight, such a move garnered positive responses from netizens who followed us on Twitter and liked us on Facebook.

At this point, we would like to thank everyone who made this event possible: the organizers, our partners, our sponsors, and our participants, who made HOPE closer to HOME. We hope that the message of HOPE@HOME would be an inspiration to other regions in the Philippines, through the partnership of our ASP chapters and LGUs nationwide.

1 comments:

Jan Peña said...

wow, this is really HOPE-FULL! Congratulations to all!

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