By Gerard Joseph Atienza
I had the opportunity to be up close and personal with R. Vicente Rubio, and during his adventures in Cavite on 20-21 February 2013, my calling has become much clearer.
It was Tuesday, 19 February 2013. I together with, Teacher Jen Caseres of The Early Steps Therapy Center and Tita Alona Nolasco of ASP Kawit Chapter, picked up Sensei Vicente from the airport after his seminar series in Cebu. After checking him in at the hotel, having breakfast, and giving him time to rest, we toured him to Tagaytay City, where he appreciated the cool air, the pristine surroundings, and the view of Mount Taal from the ridges. It was indeed a break for him from the hustle and bustle of the urban settings of Cebu and Manila, and a refreshing one at it.
The next day, Sensei conducted a workshop for teenagers and adults on the spectrum at the Holy Nazarene Christian School at Tanza, Cavite. The workshop was done with focus on their well-being and health, as outlined in his book, Mind/Body Techniques for Asperger’s Syndrome: The Way of the Pathfinder. Sensei assigned me to be his assistant. Among those who attended his workshop were Muneer, son of ASP National President Jan Peña, and Moti, son of ASP Bacoor Chapter Chie Marquez.
During the workshop, Sensei introduced to the teens and their parents who were present the importance of well-being to their everyday living and pursuit for independent life. He also engaged the teens to a series of exercises and activities, including running up and down the stairs, basic sword training (using sticks, of course), and proper standing and sitting positions. Of course, being the so-called senpai (“senior”) of the day, I led the teenagers, mostly boys, and motivated them to join the activities.
It was really tiring, especially for the big ones, but it was fulfilling nonetheless, and everybody were treated to home-cooked meals, done by none other than the parents themselves. Of course, as Sensei had mandated, everybody needs to eat only what they can consume, and not eat too much.
Sensei also gave a seminar to parents, teachers, and professionals Thursday, 21 February, at The Early Steps, in Kawit, Cavite. There, he discussed with them the principles embodied in his book, among them the rites of passage of persons on the autism spectrum, and ways on how to help them with their health and well-being, including managing their diets and bringing them back to basics.
It was right after this seminar that the officers of the newly-formed ASP Kawit Chapter were inducted, and the ceremony was led by Tita Jan Pena, President, ASP National. Also, Sensei joined the participants into making 1Pangako, making a promise to help stop the use of autism as a derogatory term in the Filipino language.
During the days we have had with him, Sensei confided that he has great hopes in the Philippines, and from there, he declared me as his apprentice and challenged me to be a role model for my fellows on the autism spectrum. With Sensei’s challenge, my encounters with him has reinforced my calling to become an autistic self-advocate and become the Big Brother for my fellows.