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.

28 December 2020

A Call for Kindness: The Cebu Coffee Shop Incident

The Autism Society Philippines is saddened by yet another viral incident in Cebu, involving a family with a non-verbal child on the spectrum and an angered father at a popular coffee outlet.

The image shows a green background.
A Call for Kindness Cebu poster

The child's inability to sit still was seen by the man as a lapse in health safety protocols. His aggressive response against the child with autism; however, was shameful and unwarranted. The action taken by the coffee shop was also wanting.

The law is clear on the rights of and protections for persons with disabilities. The ASP will work with the DOJ, CHR, local government, businesses and the public to ensure this is upheld.

Kindness goes beyond being civil. It means actively choosing to be generous with a part of ourselves -- whether it is time, knowledge, finances, patience, or emotions -- so that those with less or are vulnerable can live with dignity.

Choose to be kind.

A sad Sunday

The video of the event was released on Facebook by Christina Dabao, big sister to Regur has been seen by thousands. Emotions were visibly high. Audible was the threat to throw a chair at the child with disabilities.

Ate Christina went on to give more details in another Facebook post:

Today my brother, Regur was discriminated for being a special child.

Every Sunday, our family goes out and have lunch and coffee to ease up a week of stress from school and work. (Which, by the way, we practice social distancing and use face masks and face shields) But today, unlike any other Sundays, ended up quite disappointing.

We went to Coffee Bean Tea Leaf, Taft East branch in Cebu City, the usual place we go to. Since we are collecting stamps for the tumbler and the planner. Me and my family are happily drinking our drinks and chatting about the venue for an upcoming family event. Regur, unlike any other days when he has tantrums or not in the mood, was in a good mood. He was just sitting at the edge of the table near the wall, facing my other brother Christger, playing with himself and the towel he uses as a toy. On the other table was another family, when suddenly the father (a big man) told us to stop Regur from doing what he was doing. (Which is playing the towel and drinking his drink), my mom and dad quickly apologized if Regur caused disturbance to him and his family. Informing him that Regur is a special child, and cannot fully understand and does not even talk. But instead of accepting my family’s apologies, he got mad and told us to discipline my brother for not behaving normally. Again, we apologized. But he did not stop there, he stood up and got really mad at us and wanted to smash Regur with a chair. Imagine the scenario of a big adult/old enough man, to understand the situation, acting in that way. Wanting to hurt my brother for playing his towel. (Regur did not even touch him, he was just annoyed that Regur wasn’t sitting still in his chair)

My family immediately stood up to make him understand that his actions are not necessary and that he is discriminating my brother just because he cannot talk and cannot understand like normal kids do. But instead of understanding the situation, he went towards my dad and told him “f*ck you”, for not disciplining my brother well. My dad quickly responded that “it is not our fault that Regur is a special child, that’s why we apologized for the disturbance he may have caused”. He still did not stop and went towards my brother carrying a chair and is about to smash it against him.

What’s more disappointing is that the staff from Coffee Bean told me and my family to stop and move towards the other table so that the commotion will end. We did not even hear any apologies from the staff for blaming it on us for not changing seats. The man kept repeating and shouting that we should go out and leave immediately. If that was about me, or on any of my family members, i have nothing against him. And would just understand that maybe he was in a bad mood. But he did it to my brother, a loving, smiling and happy kid who does not know what he did wrong and how the situation worsen. My family moved to another table far away from them, to not cause another commotion. The man’s wife apologized and his daughter on his behalf. But the man stared at us like we are nothing but trash to the society for having a kid with special needs. There was no remorse, not even guilt and it was us who kept apologizing despite all the threats and harassment he did to us.

I am mad and sad, on how these people can easily look down on kids with special needs. How easily for them to ask for convenience just because they were uncomfortable. How the staff reacted on the commotion and how little their knowledge on what these kids and their family goes through everyday. I am quite shock that there are still unkind people, people that would discriminate and belittle others just because they think they are right. Just because they are normal and others are not.

I just hope this does not happen to any other families. And if anyone sees a kid with special needs, they would not overreact but instead widen their perspective and understand that they are not the same as those who live normally.

Regur is okay, he still does not know what have happened. But the man’s loud voice scared him a bit. On the way home, he held my hand in the car, as if telling me he was sorry our Sunday did not end well because of him. And i want him to know, that it was never his fault. And no matter the situation is, we will protect him and we will always be on his side.

We love you, bhe ko Regur.


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