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Happy Grandparents’ Day! How you can make their golden years happy In the Spotlight James Reid steps out of the shadows Sex in the Media Protect your kids from growing up too fast Secret Admirer Should you tell Ma’am how you feel?


FamilyMatters Volume 3 • Number 2 September-November 2015 2 Homework

I Am Special, You Are Special

4 Family Note

Special Section:

God’s VIPs

5 Letters


6 Frameable

Thank You, Teacher!

22 Life with James

Youth Talk

25 When our Parents Need us Most

3 Ways to Cure Shyness, 31 School Smart, 35

28 A Child Beloved

James Reid: From Shadow to Limelight, 38 A Pinay Pharmacist in the US, 40 Secret Admirer, 42


8 Relating

The Homecoming

10 Protecting Innocence Lost

13 Balancing

Where’s Everybody?

16 Preventing Move It!

19 Parenting

The Right to Decide


44 Advertorial


God’s Gift to the Young

47 Nurturing Special Touch



I Am Special, You Are Special

We are all perfect and precious just the way we are. By Fr. Bernard P. Nolasco, SDB

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Decades ago, persons with disabilities (PWDs) were branded as abnormal and retarded. They were teased, bullied, ridiculed, and laughed at. Some were pitied. There were people who considered PWDs as a curse or a source of bad luck. Some parents even abandoned their children for having disabilities. They considered them as ‘pabigat,’ as good-for-nothing individuals. Nowadays, however, persons with disabilities are already gaining the

respect they deserve. Although it will take time and a change in cultural attitude before any society can fully claim that all persons with disabilities enjoy the respect and the integrity that are due to them, there are positive signs that we are headed in that direction. There are a good number of laws around the world that protect the rights and integrity of persons with disabilities. In our country, it is noteworthy to mention the 1992 Magna

Carta for Persons with Disabilities, also known as Republic Act No. 7277. It is an act providing for the rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of disabled persons and their integration into the mainstream of society. As more civilized societies begin to appreciate and respect people with disabilities, families, communities, and institutions are becoming more and more interested in how to make life more livable for their brothers and sisters who are physical challenged. To mention a few of the accommodations that have been made: there are parking slots exclusively for PWDs, and buildings, by law, must have ramps and elevators. There are also restrooms for PWDs. Just like the senior citizens, PWD citizens have their own PWD Cards that they can use to get discounts on their purchases, especially medicines. Airports, malls and other big establishments must have wheelchairs on standby. There are also express lanes for PWDs. Among persons with disabilities, we have a sector we call special. Considered special are those who have special needs like learning disabilities, communication disorders, emotional and behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, and developmental disabilities. Autism, Down syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are the

most commonly recognized special disabilities. It is noteworthy how our present socio-cultural status considers persons with special needs as special, for indeed they are. I have a good number of young friends who opted to take up Bachelor of Science in Special Education as they feel the call to be of service to children with special needs, fully aware of its great demands. Still, others go for volunteer work during weekends to serve people with special needs. Families, especially parents, are becoming more positive about dealing with members with special needs. When I encounter parents of children with special needs, I feel the sincerity in their hearts whenever they describe, with smiles on their faces, their children as ‘special’. How great it is for children with special needs to hear and feel from their loved ones that they are special. It is amazing to realize that the persons we call ‘special’ are helping us develop the good nature in us. They give us the opportunity to discover and to share our power to love, to hope, to care. They enable us to be the special persons in their lives and in the lives of others as well.

Nowadays, persons with disabilities are already gaining the respect they deserve. Our best homework is to allow ourselves to mutually share our being special with one another. Let’s not wait for any member of our family to be sick or suffer any form of physical disability before we give him or her our special concern. Let us seize every opportunity to make every member of our family feel special. Believe that we are all special in God’s love. I am special. You are special.

How great it is for children with special needs to hear and feel from their loved ones that they are special.




Family Note

God’s VIPs

FamilyMatters bookmark

When asked what they prefer—a boy or a girl— pregnant parents are likely to give this answer: It doesn’t matter as long as our baby is healthy. But such is not always the case. There are couples who are given a special child to take care of. The University of Missouri’s College of Education defines special children, or special needs children, as those that require assistance due to physical, mental, behavioral, or medical disabilities or delays. It cites autism, learning disabilities, and Down syndrome as examples of “special needs.” Understandably, we commiserate and sympathize with the family when we learn that a special child has been born to them. We can only imagine how devastated the parents must be, and we can barely comprehend what heartbreaks, hardships, and trials lie ahead for them. Yet, in the special section of this issue where we focused on families that have special needs children, people with disabilities (PWDs), and elderly members, we’re happy to report on an uplifting and heartwarming discovery. The families of this vulnerable group all say they have come not only accept their unique situation, but to also see the wisdom of God in giving them this extraordinary mission. We invite you to turn to page 22 to read the amazing stories of these families and learn how their loved ones with special needs enrich their lives, enlighten them, and draw out from them reserves of strength and depth of understanding they never knew they possessed. At the same time, this issue pays tribute to two other groups of people that will always hold a special place in our hearts. One of them is our grandparents, who we will be greeting Happy Grandparents’ Day in unison on September 13. Flip to page 8 for the article of our overseas writer Erlinda Esguerra, who chronicles her brief but memorable reunion with her Philippines-based apo. The other group is our teachers, to whom Fr. Drans gives a 10-gun salute in his write-up on page 6 to honor them on World Teachers’ Day on October 5. Indeed, special children, PWDs, the elderly—God’s own Very Important Persons—are very much among us. They are weak and vulnerable, but with our love and support, they can rise above their circumstances to prove that they, too, can contribute something good to the family, to the community, to society—if only we can remove our prejudices and dismantle the impediments put up against them. As the English poet John Milton said: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Cut out and paste on a cardboard, punch a hole, and put a ribbon through.

“I was slightly brain damaged at birth, and I want people like me to see that they shouldn’t let a disability get in the way. I want to raise awareness— I want to turn my disability into ability.”

Romelda C. Ascutia, Editor E-mail:

Photo by Jun Pinzon

- Susan Boyle

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FamilyMatters Volume 3 • Number 2 SEPTEMBER-NOVEMBER 2015 PUBLISHER Don Bosco Press, Inc. ADVISER Fr. Bernard P. Nolasco, SDB EDITOR Romelda C. Ascutia ART DIRECTOR Haidee Afable COLUMNIST Francesca Isabelle B. Sarmiento (Couples for Christ Foundation) CONTRIBUTORS Maridol Rañoa-Bismark Aileen Carreon Excel V. Dyquiangco Gabriel Joshua M. Floresca Ruth Manimtim-Floresca Annabellie Gruenberg Stephanie Mayo Cecile N. Nonato AJ Perez Angela N. Sevilla Ross Valentin, M.D. PHOTOS AND STUDIO DBPI-Multimedia Section DBPI-MMS PHOTOGRAPHER Raymond S. Mamaril PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Early Macabales PRODUCT SPECIALIST King Reymel Gonzales CIRCULATION Don Bosco Press, Inc. LEGAL COUNSEL Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan Law Offices PRINTER Family Matters is a quarterly magazine published by Don Bosco Press, Inc. Antonio Arnaiz corner Chino Roces Avenues P.O. Box 1601 MCPO, 1223 Makati City Philippines All rights reserved © 2015 by DON BOSCO PRESS, INC. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission from the publisher. Tell us what you think! Your news and views are welcome. E-mail us at All submissions become the property of FamilyMatters and will not be returned. Letters may be edited, and full names will be published unless otherwise specified by the sender.

Natural is still best

I applaud your principled stand on real life issues that is in stark contrast to the permissive attitude many people seem to have embraced with gusto, especially the young. Standing by one’s beliefs as guided by the teachings of Christ is really difficult, such as deciding to adhere to Natural Family Planning as opposed to just taking the easy way out by using modern contraceptives. And I have to say the writer of “Nature’s Way” (June-August 2015) did a good job of explaining precisely why NFP is still the best method of planning a family. The feature article also highlights the way this practice serves another purpose—to instill respect and enhance love between couples rather than drive a wedge between them the way that artificial contraception does.

Rosie Vergara

It’s back to school for me! I’m glad I’ve got Family Matters to give me tips on how to improve my studies. It’s a promising start to a brand-new school year! Jerry

Daddy’s home—always

I’m one of those stay-at-home husbands while my wife is a rising corporate lawyer, so I can totally relate to the article “When She Earns More” (June-August 2015). I used to work as a team leader in a call center, but my wife and I decided three years ago that I would resign when our daughter was born. My wife has a bigger salary, so it makes sense that I give up my career instead of her. I know some people think I made a big sacrifice, but I honestly don’t feel that way. I love taking care of my daughter and I don’t miss my work because I get to do things I love like run a blog about finance matters. Recently, too, I’ve started providing accounting services to some clients. This arrangement is actually working out very well for us, and I am glad I did not let my male pride get in the way.

Luis Morillo

Online dating precautions

As a mom to a 16-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, I’d like to thank Family Matters for the article outlining the dangers of dating sites (“Swipe Left, Swipe Right,” June-August 2015). I find this article to be timely and necessary and I am glad for the helpful tips on how to discreetly keep tabs on the online activities of my kids. Both of my children have FB accounts and I feel secure that nothing untoward is going on because the fact that I can see their computer screens clearly acts as a deterrent.

Issa Yang





Thank You, Teacher!

Here are 10 points to consider when making your teachers feel super special on World Teachers’ Day…and every day. BY FR. BERNARD P. NOLASCO, SDB

The CREATIVE Greeting Card: Express your artistic prowess by making an original greeting card from materials only you could possibly put together.

The CLASSIC Letter Writing: Nothing beats letter writing. Let your heart move your pen… yes, your pen. Your letter must be hand-written for that extra personal touch.

The UPBEAT Dance Move: If you are good in dancing, invite some of your schoolmates to prepare a dance number for your teachers. You may even teach them a step or two.

The PERFECT Stroke: If you are an artist, secretly make a sketch, a caricature, or even a realistic portrait of your teachers and surprise them with your masterpiece.

The ORIGINAL Composition: If you’ve got the talent for writing poetry or songs, what keeps you from creating one? You can even print and sign it.

The INSPIRING Word(s): When spoken from the heart, words move hearts as well. Even a Thank You, when expressed wholeheartedly, becomes extraordinary.

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The SENTIMENTAL Serenade: Serenading may be a thing of the past, but if you have the talent for singing, then seize the opportunity.

The UNTIRING Kindness: No matter how hard we try to make our teachers feel special through what we do or what we give, acts of kindness and respect are what truly matter.

The SPIRITUAL Gift: Saving the best for last is this priceless gift called prayer. It may be the easiest thing to offer but definitely not the least. Compose a personal prayer for your teachers and give each one a printed copy.

The POSITIVE Status: Post on your Twitter, Facebook, or blog account or site your message of affirmation for your teachers.





The Homecoming September 13 is ! Day Grandparents‘

Thisvirtual virtualgrandma grandmagets getsher herwish: wish: This tocome comehome homeand andspend spendsome someface face to mewith withher heryoung youngapo. apo. titime ERLINDAESGUERRA ESGUERRA BYBYERLINDA

Lola Linda bonds with Yanna like they're long-lost friends during her brief stay in the Philippines.

I am a Skype grandma. I only get to see and talk with my granddaughter online. I first became a grandmother in 2011 with the birth of my daughter Yayie’s firstborn, a beautiful baby girl named Elianna (Yanna for short). Although I was there when she was born, I only got to carry her and take care of her for two months because I had to go back to the States where I am a permanent resident, along with my husband and another daughter. As an absentee grandma thousands of miles away, all I could do was take advantage of the Internet. With my old raggedy computer, the first thing I would do in the morning was open Dropbox, and check for new pictures posted of my apo. Sometimes I would spend hours scrolling back and forth among the pictures, staring at that little chubby face

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and laughing at the videos. Once in a while my daughter and I would chat online and I would get to see what new antic my granddaughter was up to. She had rhythm and was always dancing to her favorite tunes. Time flew by so fast. Suddenly Yanna was two years old, with a vocabulary that was growing and a creativity that was exploding. She could come up with colorful tales using nothing but a paper cup, which could transform into a crown, or a kitten, or an airplane. At three and a half, she was ready for school and, though quite shy with other people, she suddenly discovered her love for schoolwork and with it, her social skills.

The visit

Meanwhile, the grandma in the U.S.

wished that she could be a part of Yanna’s life. I felt I was missing so much by being so far away. But the Lord gave me my heart’s desire. Last February 2015, my daughters gave my husband and me a surprise gift—a two-month vacation in the Philippines. We were so excited to see Yanna and even get to celebrate her fourth birthday. At the same time, questions came to my mind: How would she react to us? Would she be warm or indifferent?

Would she remember Grandma whom she only saw online? The big day came when we were there at Yanna’s school waiting for her to be dismissed from Kinder class. I nervously looked at her through the glass window. Would she recognize me? The moment finally came. Her mom took her by the hand and said, “Look who’s here to see you—Lolo and Lola!” She looked hard at us and didn’t know whether to step forward or back. I hugged her tight and she felt so soft like a teddy bear. All the years of missing her were in that hug! Then in the car Yanna started to

Grandparents are given a special grace to be the channel of God’s blessings in their grandchildren’s lives.

warm up and talk endlessly. From that day on, we hit it off like we were longlost friends. She involved me in her make-believe world. She would put a basket on my head and proclaim me a queen. We embraced and hid from monsters that could not see us because we had become invisible. We hang out for hours and never ran out of stories and games to play. Then I sat down with her and read her Bible stories, enjoying telling her all the stories about Jesus, the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho, and so many others. That was a dream come true for me—to be sharing the Bible with her.

Special memories

That was such a memorable, blessed two months in the Philippines, and I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned:

• Aside from parents, grandparents are also given a special grace to be the channel of God’s blessings in their grandchildren’s lives. • Prayers of grandparents for their grandchildren always have the Lord’s ear, whether you are living next door to your grandchild, or are on the other side of the world. He loves our grandchildren more than we do! • Grandparents help pass on a precious legacy to their children’s children—the beliefs and values to help them live happy, purposeful lives. • Happiness in our golden years is inextricably linked to the happiness and well-being of the generations that come after us. As Proverbs 17:6 says, “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”

Lola Linda and Lolo Jim finally get to attend Yanna's birthday party in person! Also in the photo are Yanna's mom Yayie and dad Mike.

Enjoying the sunset years

Boredom, loneliness, and isolation are some of the major struggles the elderly in our society have to contend with, but we can help them win this battle and stay engaged, active, and happy. There are fun activities we can get them to do, including the following:

• Encourage elderly parents or relatives to listen to books on tape or CD. • Create a playlist of their favorite songs to keep brain cells stimulated. • Encourage them to engage in exercise classes. • Consider buying them a pet that is easy to care for, such as a cat, dog, bird, or fish. • Help your elderly nurture an interest, like volunteering in community programs. • Take them on morning walks to stay fit,

meet friends, and breathe in fresh air. • Keep their mind active by supplying them with crossword, Sudoku, and other puzzles. • Take the time to listen to them as they recount stories from their past.

Just because our parents are old does not mean their life is over. Make sure elderly family members continue to explore new things, engage in varied interests, and find ways to stay productive and involved. With our help, they can remain healthy, positive, and joyful as they wait to be with the Lord. SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015




Innocence Lost How parents can ďŹ ght back against the hypersexualization of children by media. BY ANNABELLIE GRUENBERG

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Although media is an important

pillar of society that provides crucial information, offers entertainment, and keeps us up to date on current events, it can also be a catalyst for the premature sexualization of our children. Here are just a few examples of how media often precipitates the sexual awareness of children and teens: • Using young, beautiful models in suggestive advertisements, especially to market underwear or revealing clothing • Hyping up adult products packaged for teens, like makeup and other beauty products • Making young stars participate in sexy production numbers and music videos in revealing outfits and intimate poses. • Producing television shows and movies in which tween and teen actors are paired up in love teams, given adult roles mouthing mature dialogues, or made to participate in sex scenes • Highlighting violence and glorifying pornography and gender biases

Malevolent message

Seeing young personalities flaunting their barely clothed figures or doing lewd acts in various forms of media— television, music videos, billboards, Internet, mobile phones, cable, movies— can have adverse effects on our children. It can cause the loss of their innocence before they are ready, with serious consequences for their physical and psychological development. Indeed, constant exposure to inappropriate messages, images,

or experiences in media can trigger unhealthy mindsets and behaviors in the young that can lead to, say, eating disorders as kids aspire to have the emaciated look of supermodels. Psychological problems like low-self esteem, self-hatred, depression, and frustration for not attaining the ideal (i.e., unrealistic standards in beauty or body size) can also erupt, as youngsters lose the capacity to distinguish between the real and the unreal. Conversely, it can produce aggressive behaviors and actions like violence, promiscuity, and rebelliousness. Much of what is depicted in mass media either screams commercialism and negativity or sends subliminal messages that worm their way into the consciousness, producing youngsters that are angry, self-centered, materialistic, and conflicted over what they are taught in school and at home versus what media tells them.

Battling media

We often forget that children don’t have the capacity to process what they see and hear. As caretakers of the young, it falls on us adults the task of countering the early sexualization of our children by shielding them from harmful media content.

Media can trigger unhealthy mindsets and behaviors in the young that can lead to, say, eating disorders as kids aspire to have the emaciated look of supermodels. SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015



Protecting This means deliberately getting involved in the activities and interests of our children and being available for their questions. This also requires encouraging an exchange of thoughts and feelings with our kids on their reactions to what they see in mass media. We should think about what is good for the children, not what is convenient for us and allow mass media to be an electronic babysitter. Our creativity and time must be used to find better substitutes for media as our children’s partner in learning, play, and entertainment. Let the little ones explore nature and have more guided playtime and creative activities. Go on family outings in natural surroundings to give your brood a taste of real-life learning and entertainment. Set boundaries on the use of media and technology. There is a right time to allow children to experience and learn certain things. It is unfortunate that some adults give gadgets as gifts when kids still don’t need them or even ask for them. Instead, offer good books to read, art supplies to get busy on, or projects to do without the aid of technology. In school, an age-appropriate holistic approach to sex education should be part of the curriculum. Sex education is not just about the human anatomy or the reproductive system—the psychological and spiritual aspects of sexuality are just as important. There must be a sacred space in the school and even at home where sexuality can be discussed, so children do not have to turn to media and be fed the wrong information. Enjoin children to have coming-ofage rituals that highlight the importance of the occasion, rather than celebrating milestones by going out on a date, getting a tattoo or piercing, wearing makeup for girls, or being “baptized” by an experienced woman for boys. A better—and safer—way to initiate a boy into manhood is for father and son to go fishing or camping where they can bond and converse as adults. Teachers, parents, and caregivers should read up on the harmful effects of

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We should think about what is good for the children, not what is convenient for us and allow mass media to be an electronic babysitter. Did you know?

• More than half of teens report getting some or most of their information about sex from television. • On average, music videos contain 93 sexual situations per hour, including 11 “hard core” sex scenes. • The best-selling Bratz dolls—a hipper, sexier version of Barbie— are now a media empire, selling over 4 million DVDs and reaching number 1 on the Billboard Children’s Chart.

media. Let us educate ourselves on what is happening “out there,” and fortify our own values so we may guide our young correctly. A partnership between school and home must be forged in creating programs and activities that educate both parents and teens about media and technology. They can initiate “No TV days,” hold meetings on movie or TV classification, or form advocacy groups that will push for laws promoting responsible broadcasting and advertising. Most important of all, let us be good examples to our own children. Healthy education about sexuality should begin from us.


Where’s Everybody? Is your home like a boarding house where people come in just to sleep or change their clothes? Act now to recapture that loving feeling as a family. BY AILEEN CARREON

You give all your best at work in order to earn enough

to provide for your family’s growing needs, but the trade-off is long office hours away from your loved ones. At the same time, your kids are increasingly kept away from home by mounting schoolwork and extracurricular activities. With everyone preoccupied with his or her own thing, your family can only be described as busy—too busy, in fact, for its own good. Ma. Angeles G. Lapeña, a psychologist and member of the academe, says a family has become overly busy when gatherings are getting fewer and farther apart as a result of less common free time and the reluctance of some members to join in bonding activities.




Balancing Lapeña. “When a member of the family is often not present at important family gatherings, the message that member unwittingly conveys to the others is that they are not important enough for him or her to make time for. This may result in weakened family bonds.”

Kids see, kids do

As with most unresolved family issues, the consequences impact children the most. According to Lapeña, children catch nonverbal messages quickly. “If the adults do not give importance to family bonding rituals such as getting together on important occasions, the children ‘learn’ that it’s all right for the family not to be a priority.” She adds that it’s even worse when

“When a member of the family is often not present at important family gatherings, the message is that they are not important enough for him or her to make time for.”

Here, Lapeña lists some signs of a family that’s starting to live separate, overscheduled lives. • You don’t share at least one family meal in a day. • During times that you do eat together, everyone is busy with his or her gadget (mobile phone, tablet, computer, etc.) • You no longer attend mass together. • Not everyone is present during celebrations of important milestones and occasions (birthdays, graduations, awarding ceremonies, anniversaries, Christmas). • You don’t go on family vacations or do family activities together.

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Mariel Padua-Balabad remembers the time when her family was going through such a phase. “At that time my husband was working in Panay Island and only gets to go home every three months. When he comes home, he would spend most of his time with his friends and cousins. Going out with them was his way of de-stressing.” Her two older kids, aged 14 and 11 then, were also busy with school and extracurricular activities, while her youngest had just started schooling. Feeling lonely, Mariel responded to the situation by immersing herself in her work when not taking care of the kids. Lapeña warns that a family that has no time for each other is entering dangerous territory. “The ability to maintain good interpersonal relationships is first learned in the home and within a family,” says

a child’s milestone celebration is ignored. “The child develops a sense of unimportance, instead of developing self-esteem. Self-esteem is an important psychological resource that children have to develop early on, so that the child’s psychological health and wellbeing is ensured.” Moreover, the effect on the child could last a lifetime. “People typically carry over the culture and practices of their respective families of origin into their married life,” notes Lapeña. As parents, you have to take the lead in preventing your family from becoming too preoccupied with their own separate lives. Lapeña suggests strengthening your relationship with your children, initially through “dyadic,” or one-on-one, faceto-face, communication—mother and child, and father and child. Hold special

mother-child and father-child days where for a whole day, a parent devotes his or her time and attention to just one child. “This gives the child a sense of importance and clearly shows how much the mother [or father] loves that child,” she says. She adds that a beautiful by-product of a loving, well-established parentchild bond is that interactions between siblings become less contentious. “When siblings learn to like each other’s company, they will naturally seek each other out, making sure to spend time with each other because they are not just siblings but also friends.”

“If the adults do not give importance to family bonding rituals, children ‘learn’ that it’s all right for the family not to be a priority.”

More bonding boosters

She also recommends doing the following to fortify family closeness: • Designate a space in your home as the “family room” or “family activity space.” This could be the living room where the family can watch a movie or a TV show together. • Set some ground rules like going to mass together, and having breakfast or dinner together as much as possible, with no using of mobile phones during mealtime. • Establish certain cycles in the family like going out for dinner every Saturday, or going on a weekend trip

once a month. • Always be on the lookout for opportunities to do activities together as a family. Happily, the Balabads saw where they

5 ways to make your kids feel special Author Jane Nelsen gives a few suggestions in her book Positive Discipline A-Z. 1. Take time for hugs. Give hugs in the morning, right after work, several during the evening, and a longer one just before bed. 2. Ask for help. But do so invitingly instead of lecturing and scolding. 3. Share sad and happy times as part of the bedtime routine. Take a few minutes sharing the saddest and happiest things that happened to both of you that day. 4. Write it down. Take a few seconds to write a note for your child’s lunch bag, pillow, or mirror. 5. Go on errands together. When you run a short errand, ask one of your children to ride along so you can spend time together.

were headed and were able to correct their situation before it damaged their family dynamics. Mariel says that they made a pact to go on regular road trips and do fun activities like swimming, ziplining, and hiking. “We make it a point to do these during semestral break. It is also a rule in our family to set aside time for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, recognitions, and graduations,” shares Mariel, whose children are now 22, 18, and 13 years old. Oliver De Guzman and wife Jing, on the other hand, try to include their sons, aged 12 and 13, in their activities or bring the boys along to whatever appointment they have. Planning ahead of schedule also works for them. “If I will be needed in a family activity which happens to fall on a weekday, I make sure to file a leave from work well in advance. Weekends are non-negotiable for me, particularly Sunday which is our family day,” says Oliver. Every Sunday, the De Guzmans go to church, attend The Feast at the Philippine International Convention Center, visit the park for a picnic or a game of soccer, and eat out together. Weekend activities also include road trips to Clark in Pampanga and watching movies. Being a parent means playing a critical role in ensuring your family doesn’t become too caught up with life outside the home. But before you can effectively address the issue, you have to set an example for your children to follow. “Parents have to start with themselves before they can expect their children to not be too busy for the family. Parents set the family rules and they have to be credible policymakers to effectively implement these rules,” reminds Lapeña. Ma. Angeles G. Lapeña is a psychologist who has focused mostly on teaching, including 30 years at De La Salle University, and studying Filipino personality and culture. A mother of three grownup daughters, she is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology at De La Salle.





Move It!

Beat your child’s bathroom blues with a healthy diet and regular exercise. BY ROSS VALENTIN, M.D.

Apart from digesting food

and absorbing its nutrients, the digestive system also eliminates wastes from the body. For many of us, this process happens efficiently and without any problems. However, some individuals are not able to move their bowels normally and are said to have developed constipation. Although there is no single recognized definition, constipation is generally characterized either by painful bowel movement or less frequent bowel movements (BM), or both. Constipation in children is common. Those more likely to develop the condition are youngsters who don’t eat enough fiber or drink enough water, are sedentary, have a family history of constipation, take certain medications, and have medical conditions that trigger the problem.

What causes the condition to develop in kids?

Several factors contribute to its development, including behavioral factors, dietary factors, changes in routine and environment, genetics, medical conditions, medicines, and milk allergy. Behavioral factors include withholding, as when children withhold BM or ignore the urge to go, perhaps due to pain or fear, a refusal to take a break from play, being away from home,

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Teen troubles

or being uncomfortable about using public comfort rooms. Dietary factors such as a low-fiber regimen and changes in the diet are another culprit. BM becomes difficult for children who don’t eat enough vegetables and fiber-rich foods. Changes in the routine or environment can likewise affect BM, as when the child is being left behind by the parents, moving to a new house, or starting school. Genetics can also be a reason. Children are more likely to develop the condition when other family members have it. Medical conditions such as diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome, certain medications such as antidepressants, and milk allergies and consuming excessive amounts of cheese or cow’s milk are other contributory factors.

What are the symptoms to watch out for? • • • • •

Difficulty and straining during BM Pain during BM Less than three BMs a week Very large or small pellet-like stools Dry, hard stools that are difficult to evacuate • Stomach ache and nausea • Irritability, unhappiness, poor appetite, restlessness • Blood on the surface of hard stool

For tweens and teens, you can also encounter bathroom challenges because your busy schedule in school may cause you to ignore the call of nature. If the problem is causing you discomfort, you can make changes gradually, starting off by slowly adding more fiber to your diet and drinking more water. At the same time, engage in more exercise as moving around can help your digestive system. The Center for Young Women’s Health gives these general tips for youngsters encountering bathroom blues. • Learn to pay attention to your body’s signals. • Don’t wait too long to find a bathroom when you feel the urge to go. • Start a habit of going to the bathroom at the same time every day, such as 20 to 30 minutes after a regular meal. You can usually get into a routine if you eat your meals around the same time each day. • Get up early enough to have time for breakfast and going to the bathroom before you leave for school. • Try not to be in a rush when you get to a bathroom; if your body is relaxed, it will be easier to go. • Fit in exercise; walking is a great way to be healthier. To get more fiber in your diet, here are more suggestions: At breakfast: • Eat high-fiber cereal or a bowl of oatmeal. • Try whole-wheat pancakes, waffles, and whole-grain bread. • Add some fruit. For example, toss some raisins on your cereal, or have a slice of melon or papaya. • Have a small glass of prune juice. • Drink a beverage that contains caffeine (such as coffee or tea) to stimulate your bowels. At lunch and dinner: • Have soup containing beans or legumes. • Add some veggies to your sandwich, like tomato, avocado, or cucumber. • Increase your portion of veggies. Have some extra squash, or green beans with your meal, or add a side salad. • Try eating whole-grain brown rice instead of white rice. At snack time: • Make your sandwiches on whole-grain bread, pita, or wrap. • Have some raw veggies (such as peppers or carrots). Try dipping them in hummus. • Choose whole fruit, such as an apple (with skin) instead of juice. • Add high-fiber cereal, dried fruit, or raisins to yogurt. • Make some trail mix with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit or raisins. • Snack on some popcorn (it’s a whole grain!) or edamame (soybeans).




Developing While most cases are temporary and not serious, some situations can lead to complications. Severe and prolonged constipation may lead to impaction and cause other symptoms. There are also instances when the problem is caused by an underlying medical condition. In such circumstances, especially when there is fever, vomiting, weight loss, abdominal swelling, and similar worrisome indications, it is important to consult a doctor and get medical treatment.

How can parents help their kids attain regularity?

Several measures can be taken to make toilet visits more regular. Serve healthy, fiber-rich foods. The recommended fiber intakes are as follows: younger children—20 grams per day; adolescent girls—29 grams per day; adolescent boys—38 grams per day. Vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole-grain cereals and breads are good sources of fiber. Start your child on small amounts first and gradually increase it over weeks to prevent bloating and gas. Drink plenty of water. Children must be encouraged to drink plenty of water, especially during the warmer months. Be aware though that excessive milk intake can also lead to constipation. When the

Always read the label

Learn to read the label to find out the amount of dietary fiber a food contains. Look for breads, crackers, soups, granola bars, cereals, pastas, and other grains that have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving. Aim for 20 to 35 total grams a day. To figure out whether a food is a whole grain, read the list of ingredients. The first ingredient should be a whole grain, such as whole wheat or oats. Some food labels advertise that a product is “high fiber,” which means that the food contains 5 or more grams of fiber per serving.

problem occurs, offer fruit juices like those derived from prunes, apples, and pears, as these fruits have fructose and sorbital that act as natural laxatives. Create a toilet routine. Having a regular ritual for young children is important in forming healthy bathroom habits and preventing constipation. Sometimes children are so preoccupied with play that they delay using the toilet. Let them know that it is okay and

When there is fever, vomiting, weight loss, abdominal swelling, and similar worrisome indications, it is important to consult a doctor. 18 FamilyMatters


important to respond to their urge. Encourage and support their efforts. Children can be given small rewards for their efforts, in the form of a game, stickers, a nice book. Never punish a child for soiling his or her underwear. Promote physical activity. Regular physical activity stimulates normal bowel function. Know their medications. Inquire about any possible side effects of the medications being prescribed to your children. Ask about other options when constipation is one of the side effects. .

Q&A: Will taking laxatives help? Taking enemas or laxatives (over-thecounter medicine) on a regular basis to have a BM is a common mistake that some people make. Your body can get used to needing them to move, so it’s usually better to avoid them most of the time. Ask your doctor before you decide to use these treatments.


The Right to Decide Help your child learn how to make the right decisions. BY AILEEN CARREON

Do you ask the little ones what snacks they want to bring to school? Do your children have a say on how the family will spend summer vacation? Will you let your teenager choose what course to take in college? Many parents often wonder how to strike the right balance between making

decisions on behalf of their kids and allowing them to decide for themselves. The key to doing the right thing lies in understanding the two primary parenting functions as they relate to the developmental stage of your child, says Lester John Lim, faculty member of The Department of Family and

Child Development, College of Home Economics at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. The first parenting function is to provide structure, with the aim of equipping our child with the means to regulate his or her life, Lim says. An example would be teaching whether a





certain behavior is acceptable or not. This includes setting schedules for your children to follow, like when to watch TV on a school day or when to play with the neighbourhood kids. “Structure involves helping children develop healthy habits in thoughts and actions, acquire healthy character traits like being respectful of elders, being honest, and being responsible for their actions,” adds Lim. The second parenting function is to provide nurturance, achieved by giving your children the time, attention, and care they need. “This aims to respond to the children’s need for love and affection, which are important in a child’s development and well-being. Kids who grow up in a nurturing environment will have more self-confidence,” says Lim.

“Structure involves helping children develop healthy habits in thoughts and actions, acquire healthy character traits.”

Levels of decisionmaking

The formula for giving a child the freedom to choose should be adjusted according to the child’s age and need for structure and nurturance. Babies or toddlers. They have a high need for nurturance as they are completely dependent on their parents. Level of decision-making. None. Because they cannot yet comprehend things, there is still no need for structure at this early stage of development, only total nurturing.

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Parental Guidance

Two moms relate how they increasingly turn over the reins of decisionmaking to their kids. Aimee Luab-Abaricia, whose daughter is 12 years old, believes parents should decide for their children when they are still very young, but should encourage independent thinking under their guidance when the kids grow older. “This way, children get used to the process of weighing things before deciding... The process takes time because, obviously, at various stages and for various concerns, children will still need the guidance of parents.” Aimee says that the parent who wants to raise independent-minded and critical thinkers “should spot and maximize opportunities for the child to make his or her own decisions while growing up.” Juris Landicho-Reyes, mother to an 18-year-old boy, is all for training kids to form their own choices. She recounts how her parents sheltered her and her siblings from challenges and difficulties while they were growing up. “As a result, all three of us had a very difficult time being and trying to be independent,” she says. “So as a mom, hard as it is, I let my son decide on his own. We just voice our concerns or guide and advise him.” She believes that a child who is trained to make proper decisions will grow up to be an independent, resilient, and responsible adult who is able to face the consequences of his or her choices. “It toughens you up. I don’t want my son to be always fearful like me. I encourage him to be daring, but without throwing caution to the wind,” she says.

Preschool children. They are beginning to explore their surroundings by touching objects. They can already understand verbal cues and have started to communicate verbally. Level of decision-making. All these require providing a strong foundation for structure, but you can also start introducing the concept of making choices. For instance, you can ask your little boy to choose between two shirts you’ve pre-selected: Which does he prefer—the one in plain, solid color or the one with stripes? School-age children. Their need for both structure and nurturance is high but decreasing. Level of decision-making. You can start involving your youngster in the decision-making process while still providing structure and nurturance. For instance, when buying a toy, you can let your child pick his or her choice,

provided that it does not cost more than your allotted budget of, say, P300. Adolescents. At this stage, your child’s need for structure significantly drops, and the need for nurturance is now more in the form of support and assurance. Level of decision-making. While you continue to offer care to your child, you allow him or her the freedom to accept or reject your offer. “As teenagers, your children start to individuate. They would request for more space and privacy. They begin to try solving problems or situations on their own as they prepare to become adults. This requires you to re-evaluate house rules and structures,” says Lim. He cites as an example consulting your kids regarding plans for the weekend. Ask them if they have anything scheduled for the weekend because Mom and Dad plan to bring the entire

Owning Their Mistake

Children, due to their youth and immaturity, are bound to make bad decisions sooner or later. What should you do if your child makes a poor choice? According to Jim Taylor, Ph.D., in his parenting article on, parents should allow their children to take responsibility for their mistakes. He explains: “The fact is it’s part of your children’s ‘job’ to do stupid things. Bad decision making is an essential part of their road to maturity. A problem arises, however, if their poor decision making continues. This usually occurs when parents don’t hold them responsible for their poor decisions, instead, bailing them out of the trouble their children get into. These children learn that they aren’t responsible for their decisions and can continue to do stupid things without fear of consequences.”

“Kids who grow up in a nurturing environment will have more self-confidence.” family to visit Grandma. This way, you’re still providing structure, but at the same time allowing your children to express their opinion on matters that concern them.

Choosing responsibly

“Part of taking care of our children is making decisions for them. However, we have to be conscious about their developmental stage,” says Lim. “The younger your child is, the bigger your obligation is to make decisions for them. But as they grow older, parents should continuously evaluate how much they have to insist on decision-making. Sooner or later, your children will become adults. We don’t want to raise children who cannot make decisions on their own.” By allowing your children to make decisions, you allow them to be responsible for their actions, adds Lim. “Whether the consequence of the decision is positive or negative, you as parents should always be there to help your child process the whole experience.” He continues: “Remember that experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher. And that’s where a good parent comes in. It is your role to help your sons and daughters, so that making decisions becomes a meaningful and significant experience for them.” Lester John Lim holds a degree in Bachelor of Science in Family Life and Child Development from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, where he currently handles courses on marriage and family relations, parent-child relations, adolescence and adulthood, ethics and values for families and society, and family life and societal development.





People who live with PWDs discover one of life’s great truths: Special persons can teach us the real meaning of faith, family, and being truly blessed. BY RUTH MANIMTIM-FLORESCA

with Life

James or the past 17 years, people have been telling my husband and me that they can’t imagine doing what we do—taking care of our son who has special needs. My usual reply is that any loving parent, given this challenge, will always find ways to deal with the circumstances. I don’t think anyone can ever be prepared to accept immediately having a family member with disabilities. We definitely weren’t, and struggled for years to come to terms with our son’s fate. I personally went through phases of sadness, anger, and despair before I finally felt acceptance, hope, and joy.

22 FamilyMatters


To this day, I can still recall the neonatologist’s question while we stood beside the incubator where our then 27-day-old Gideon James was fighting for his life. “Have you had him christened already?” I remember staring at her and shaking my head as the impact of her words sank in. James was born via normal delivery during my eighth month of pregnancy. My water bag broke early so my obstetrician had to induce birth. The pediatrician we unfortunately trusted to “catch the baby” came only the day after to first tell us she was in a rush because her car was double-parked downstairs. She then examined my son in less than five minutes, gave us a prescription for his shots to be given within the next few days, and cleared us to go home. The year was 1997. I hadn’t heard about the Internet, and parenting magazines were yet to become a trend. All I knew about taking care of an infant I’d read from brochures about baby products and my mom’s old copy of Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care. The

When I look past the trials to focus on my child, I can honestly say that one of the best things to happen to our family is having James as he is. pediatrician did not instruct me on caring for a premature baby, so I simply took care of him the same way I raised my first two full-term sons. It was much later that we learned that James’ underdeveloped and very sensitive immune system would make him extra prone to serious infections, even just from his brothers’ coughs and colds. Before he turned one month old,

we found ourselves in the emergency room with a baby who wouldn’t wake up and was having internal hemorrhage. James spent 10 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he used up several huge tanks of oxygen, acquired meningitis, and had two cardiac arrests before being transferred to a private room for another 30 days. Months later, he was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy.

Focusing on the silver lining

Life with a special child is not easy. There are huge medical bills to pay, numerous specialists to consult, and advocacies concerning PWDs (persons with disabilities) to fight for, among many other things. However, when I look past the trials to focus on my child, I can honestly say that one of the best things to happen to our family is having James as he is. After we decided to stop hiring a helper or yaya in 2010, our three other sons learned to help with the various chores at home, as well as alternately take care of their brother whenever my husband and I were at work or spent time together just to recharge. I’ve observed how Rey (21), Gab (19), and Daniel (16) have matured faster for having been given responsibilities not normally thrust upon boys their age. They have become reliable young men who are gentle with kids and who have a high level of tolerance and understanding when dealing with people who have disabilities. Yes, life can sometimes feel so overwhelming, but seeing my son smile because one of us said something funny, or his eyes light up when hubby or I arrive home after being gone for several days on a work-related trip is worth all that we’ve been through with him. We believe he has greatly helped strengthen and unite our family through the years, as together we found ways to help each other out and work around each other’s schedules.

The TheFloresca Florescaclan clancelebrating celebratingChristmas Christmastwo twoyears yearsago ago(standing, (standing,left leftto toright): right):Gab, Gab,Ruth, Ruth, and andNonoy Nonoy(seated); (seated);Rey, Rey,James, James,and andDaniel Daniel





It is always heartwarming to see the way our firstborn greets James first thing whenever he arrives home from work, tousling his brother’s hair and saying “Hi!” even before he changes clothes. Equally heartening is knowing that our second son can always be relied on to change James’ diaper or prepare his feeding tube in case my husband and I are not around. Our youngest, likewise, can confidently say, “Ako’ng bahala, Mommy (I’ll take care of it, Mommy)!” every time he’s the one assigned to stay home alone with James.

Staying positive

James cannot talk or sit up by himself. He needs to be propped up with seat belts in a car seat or stroller to stay upright. Thankfully, he is still able to express happiness or dissatisfaction through facial expressions and incomprehensible babble. It is a precious moment to hear him laugh while watching his favorite DVDs or catch him pointedly looking at his feeding bag and pump to let us know he is already hungry. As we celebrate our other three sons’ accomplishments, we are equally grateful for every small development in James and every little thing he learns to do. We rejoice in those tiny achievements no matter how few and far between they come. As parents, we know we just have to continue providing for his needs as much as we can to make

his life more comfortable. Many of us, I’m sure, can’t even begin to imagine being stuck in a chair day in and day out, unable to move around or verbalize what we need. So when I encounter any kind of difficulty, I think about my son’s life. If he can overcome his frustrations and smile above it all, I should be able to do the same so much more! Of course, I don’t think everything we’ve been doing would have been possible without our faith in God. He has been our constant guide and No. 1 cheerleader. He has taught us that trusting Him for all our needs will always see us through. My husband and I may not earn as much as we want to, nor are we able to buy things like a vehicle so we can bring James out more often. Yet God has blessed us countless times and in many other ways, so that we still get to enjoy memorable outings with our whole family every now and then. Life is good. We have to remember that. We just need to choose to see its positive aspects and not allow the negative ones to ruin this perception. A family member with a disability should never be considered a burden. These special people have a lot to teach us in terms of patience, contentment, happiness, and faith. Allow them to touch your heart. Our James did, and we are much better for it.

Seeing my son smile because one of us said something funny or his eyes light up when hubby or I arrive home is worth it all. Another family photo taken this year

24 FamilyMatters


Anya (lower right) with her loving family: mom Krissy, dad Chito, sister Toni, and baby Katy


Jessy and mom Rainne

“My daughter Jessy inspires me to always be good and kind. Her condition taught me to appreciate the most simple blessings because there are people like her who are born with a cross to bear. She inspires me because it’s amazing how [people like her] inspire others to be kind as well.”

- Rainne Lorenzo, mom to Jessy Isidra, 1, diagnosed with Apert Syndrome, in which the seams of the skull close too early, causing facial deformities

“Anya has taught us how to see double—double the joy, double the celebration, double the triumph. The little things we once took for granted, we now appreciate with much greater intensity. We now have time to notice the beauty of God’s creation and plan in everything. Who [knew] that a bumpy car ride is something to laugh about; traffic and traffic lights are entertainment in themselves; and blowing bubbles should be a sport to play? We are so grateful for the way she has changed our perspective in life. We are so blessed that oftentimes, we can behold beyond what our ordinary eyes can see. Thanks to our daughter who has transformed us from within, we wouldn’t have life any other way.” - Krissy Racho-Orobia, mom to Anya, 6, diagnosed with Lissencephaly (smooth brain) that caused her epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, and low vision


When our

parents need us most A daughter only has gratitude for the chance to serve her ailing parents. BY ANGELA N. SEVILLA

ive years ago, on October 10, 2010, nobody in our family had the slightest inkling of the turn of events that was to change our lives forever. That day started out well. We headed home in the afternoon in great mood after eating together at our favorite fast-food chain. In the evening, while the rest of the household slept, my mom, who was watching her regular nightly programs on TV, began to feel ill, experiencing weakness and difficulty in speaking. The next morning, we brought her to the hospital and found out she had suffered a stroke. While bringing her home, I felt so helpless and sad to see our mother—just recently so active, ever cheerful, and seemingly strong—suddenly turn frail and look distraught. The doctor prescribed physical and speech therapy to speed up her recovery, so we entered her in a nearby clinic for recuperative sessions three times a week.





At the back of my mind, I knew this was not going to be easy since our dad also has a medical condition that causes his eyesight to deteriorate. For years now, our family has grown accustomed to supporting our dad’s daily needs as a person with a visual disability. Understandably, a big chunk of that responsibility was shouldered by our mother. And now, with her medical condition, our biggest concern was how to cope with this unexpected development. Fortunately, after two months, our mom was able to stand on her own and walk around. Her speech gradually improved and her memory began to slowly return to normal.

Even as dark clouds have hovered over our family for almost three years now, we always find the silver lining— the positive things that come out of our situation.

Serious setback

The year that followed was one full of hope and promise as our mom seemed to steadily regain her health. But in January 2012, she started to experience dizziness again. Another set of hospital tests showed she had another stroke. The doctors also found a mass in her thyroid gland that obstructed swallowing. Normally, surgery can fix this condition, but it was too risky for my mom to be operated on because she also has an enlarged heart and hypertension. The only option left was to have a nasal gastric tube inserted through her nostrils where food would be passed. Sadly, my mom, a foodie who loved to try different pastries and delicacies, would from then on no longer be able to eat normally. We had to accept the truth that she is forever infirmed. Taking care of Mom’s needs was a daunting task, and her current physical condition was financially demanding. My siblings had to muster enough courage and humility to ask for assistance both financial and in kind from friends and relatives. On my part, I decided to quit my regular job to serve as a full-time nurse and caregiver to my mom. God definitely works His miracles when we least expect it. He has blessed

26 FamilyMatters


CARE-GIVING REWARDS Experts say caring for an aging parent, while challenging, can have many positive effects on the whole family. These include an added sense of purpose, the forging of stronger family bonds, and the knowledge that you’re making a difference in the life of your parent.

us with an enormous outpouring of love and support from friends and relatives that allows us to make both ends meet. He also sends his angels in the form of compassionate strangers who are ready to lend a helping hand. All throughout this crisis, God gave us His steadfast grace to continue on this journey with lightness in our steps and hope in our hearts.

A chance to give back

I believe God has a reason for permitting these challenges to happen to us. Even as dark clouds have hovered over our family for almost three years now, we always find the silver lining—the positive

FIGHTING CAREGIVER STRESS The demands on a person who is taking care of an old or ill parent are immense. If unrelieved, the pressure can impact on the caregiver’s own health and well-being. Signs of caregiver stress include depression, withdrawal, anxiety, anger, insomnia, exhaustion, health problems, and smoking or drinking. Here are some tips for reducing stress from care-giving: • Accept help and ask family members to contribute their fair share. • Set realistic goals

Let us show our love for our parents not only while they are still youthful and energetic, but more so when they have reached their senior years and have grown physically weak.

• • • •

and break large tasks into smaller steps. Prioritize, make lists, and establish a daily routine. Join a support group for caregivers. Keep in touch with family and friends and make time for yourself. Exercise regularly, even if it’s only a

things that come out of our situation. Our parents’ health issues have given us more time to be with them, sparking a genuine need in my brothers and sisters to visit them more often. It has also brought us closer and strengthened our family relationships inasmuch as we get to bond at home every weekend. We also find ourselves planning together for special events like our parents’ birthdays and anniversaries, and these face-to-face meetings were infrequent when Mom was still healthy. With our pooled efforts and the support of concerned people, we are better able to deal with the demands of addressing the various needs of our mom and dad. Our mom’s and dad’s illnesses also present a great opportunity for us to be more loving children. Our parents showered us with love and care, and

short walk. • Eat a healthy wellbalanced diet and get enough sleep. • See your doctor regularly for checkups. • Keep your sense of humor and practice positive thinking. • Say “no” to draining, frivolous, or timeconsuming requests.

never tired of helping us in any way they could while we were growing up. Now, our roles are reversed, and it is our turn to reciprocate by giving them the love and care they deserve. Let us show our devotion to our parents not only while they are still youthful and energetic, but more so when they have reached their senior years and have grown physically weak. Let us tell them we are truly blessed to be their children. Let us act and speak up before it is too late. More importantly, we should not regard our sick and aging parents as unwanted burdens and additional responsibilities. For me, what I consider one of the greatest achievements of my life is being able to give my whole time and energy to the care of my parents. I regard it as a privilege and an honor to serve them in their twilight years.





A child


A special boy grows up bringing immense cheer, love,and grace to his family. BY CECILE N. NONATO

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Mommy Cecile quit her job to take care of Raymund full time, knowing her love and support was crucial to his development.

elcoming a newborn is always a time for celebration, a time of tremendous joy for the mother. But mine was a different experience. I felt like my world had shattered. When I gave birth to my 7-pound baby boy on January 1, 2003, I was told he has Down syndrome. Usually, a new mother will shed tears of joy upon seeing her baby after going through intense labor pain. But the arrival of Raymund Dominic Nonato only filled me with sadness, disappointment, and distress. I wept during my two-day stay in the hospital. I had not the slightest idea what Down syndrome was, nor did I know what to expect from or how to react to a child with such a condition.

At night I would lie sleepless, asking myself: Why did this have to happen? I went through the initial stages of anger and denial. But surprisingly, these stages lasted for only two weeks before I reached the stage of acceptance. Little did I know at the time that Raymund’s coming would turn out to be the biggest blessing for my family. He soon started to bring so much joy, love, and peace to the family. He was literally a bundle of joy, an angel sent from heaven to guide and mold us into becoming better persons.

Little did I know that Raymund’s coming would turn out to be the biggest blessing for my family. Instead of worrying about my son’s future, I tried to focus on the positive, particularly on what I could do to support his development.

Unlocking God’s purpose

Now I am convinced that God gave him to us for a purpose. I believe that Raymund is His instrument for drawing our family closer to Him and to one another. Raymund taught us the importance of quality time with the family. He reminds us to be thankful for whatever we have, to live a humble life, to express love unconditionally. Instead of worrying about my son’s future, I tried to focus on the positive, particularly on what I could do to support his development. For a start, I had to quit my job in order to provide my son’s needs 24/7. I wanted to focus full time on building a deeper relationship with him. I wanted him to feel that I love him and will always be with him. Almost from the start I knew that with his family’s support he can accomplish things and make a difference even with his limitations. What he sees from us is what he learns from us. If Raymund sees positive things, he will be inspired to live his life to the fullest and be the best that he can be. With our family’s love for God, he never fails to pray before mealtime and bedtime, even leading the prayer. He loves going to church and aspires to be an altar boy someday. Today Raymund is very friendly and affectionate. A charming boy, his charisma is reinforced by the be-dimpled smile he greets every person he meets, who in turn would smile back, kiss, and

Raymund getting to try what it's like to be a fast-food service crew

hug him, feeling as though they have known Raymund for a long time. He is so malambing that he will plant many kisses on your cheeks to show you that he likes you. He is not shy around people. As early as 1 year old, Raymund has displayed

an ability to entertain people. His love for dancing and singing is exceptional! Family gatherings are not complete without Raymund showcasing his killer moves on the dance floor. And he is smart. When he entered school at the age of 5, Raymund showed





It requires a lot of patience, perseverance, and abundant love for a family to achieve God’s purpose in sending a child with Down syndrome to them. so much potential that his teachers commended him for his classroom participation. His grades are above average. Just recently, he graduated from preparatory mainstream with a body smart award and third honors in academics. This is proof that children with Down syndrome can be trained and educated.


• • • • •

Down syndrome is a congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect, causing intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities like short stature, a small nose with low nasal bridge, slanted eyes, a round face, and a straight crease on the palm. A child with Down syndrome is born in the Philippines every four hours, according to the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines. Down syndrome is a common genetic disorder that affects one in every 800 Filipino children. Children with this condition have mild to moderate cognitive disability, but with love, support and close monitoring and intervention, they can live normal lives. There is no known cause or cure for the disorder. 80 percent of babies with the condition are born to mothers aged 35 and below, but the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome increases as a woman grows older.

30 FamilyMatters


Raymund's winning moment—he graduated from mainstream preparatory level with third honors in academics.

12 special years

From being with Raymund for 12 years, what my family has learned is that a child with Down syndrome is not a burden but a blessing. Every child who has Down syndrome is unique in his or her own special way, and God has special plans for each of them. It requires a lot of patience, perseverance, and abundant love for the family to achieve God’s purpose in sending a child with Down syndrome to them. For us, Raymund is a constant reminder of the truth that humans have limitations, but that we have God to rely on for the strength to accomplish the seemingly impossible. I strongly believe that I was handpicked to be Raymund’s mother because the Lord knows I can be transformed into the best mother to take care of His little angel. Indeed, I cannot thank the Lord enough for the gift of Raymund, our family’s source of joy, love, and affection.

Youth Talk-Behaving

3 Ways to Cure Shyness Tired of lurking at the back of the classroom or hiding in the library? Family Matters lets you in on the secret of conďŹ dent people. BY STEPHANIE MAYO




Youth Talk-Behaving You dread going to school—

not because you hate learning but because you’re afraid to interact with your teachers and classmates. You don’t raise your hand in class for fear of getting humiliated. Your circle of friends is very small. At parties or social events, you stick close to your mom or a friend. You badly want to socialize, join in, meet new friends, but you believe that others will find you boring and foolish and make fun of you. So you keep your mouth shut. You plug in your earphones, grab a book, and retreat from the world. While this approach provides you with some comfort, you can’t deny the feelings of frustration and loneliness that creep in. You know you can be happier, perform better academically, and have more friends—if only you could break out of your shell. Sound familiar? If you suffer from shyness or social anxiety, you are not alone. In fact, a lot of shy kids grow into adults who still exhibit timidity. “Forty percent to 45 percent of adults say they are shy,” says Bernardo Carducci, Ph.D., director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast.

“Do not assume that lack of confidence will disappear with age. Feed confidence and shyness will disappear.” amazing stories to tell and be the life and soul of the party. But consider this: People love you when you find them interesting,” says therapist Mark Tyrell. “Overcoming shyness isn’t about suddenly thinking you’re great. It’s more about forgetting yourself and focusing outward.” “Ask questions and cultivate genuine curiosity,” Tyrell suggests. “If you are at a party with strangers, try to connect how everyone knows each other. You can ask questions such as ‘How do you know Kathy?’ (if Kathy is throwing the party) or ‘I live next door. Are you one of Kathy’s tennis friends?’”

3 confidence boosters

Shyness is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you feel that it is hindering your full potential, then it’s time to help yourself. “The bottom-line with shyness is a lack of confidence,” says Shawn Anderson, a motivation author and inspirational speaker. “Do not assume that lack of confidence will disappear with age. Feed confidence and shyness will disappear.” 1. STOP FOCUSING ON YOURSELF Shyness, according to Carducci, is all about the self: “Excessive selfconsciousness, excessive negative self-evaluation and excessive negative self-preoccupation.” It is not true that people are thinking about you round the clock. In fact, in a roomful of people, you are the only one putting yourself under a microscope. “Most people don’t care about you,

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they care about themselves,” Carducci says. “Instead of being self-conscious, be other-focused—be concerned with other people.” “Shy people can feel they have ‘nothing to say’, that they should have

2. NEVER COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS No matter how brilliant you think some people are, remember that there are also things they cannot do. Even celebrities or billionaire nerds don’t have everything. Realizing that everyone has flaws and insecurities will help you stop feeling less about yourself. “I was super shy when I was a kid.

I would rather stay inside my room when there was a party at home,” says Honeylette Brillo, a medical doctor who owns the blog “I studied in an expensive school where my classmates were mostly pretty, handsome, rich, and intelligent. It was easy to get intimidated and insecure.” Dr. Brillo eventually saw the mistake of comparing herself to others. “I realized one day that I should take control of my life. I learned to love myself and accept myself. I realized that my shyness would hinder me from becoming the best version of me.” Today, Dr. Brillo says she’s no longer shy. “I might not be 100% confident. But there is such a huge difference in how I conduct myself in public and with other people now compared to when I was younger. I can make friends easily with any race and age. I do public speaking and initiate conversations with strangers.”

“Instead of being selfconscious, be other-focused— be concerned with other people.”

When parents reinforce shyness

Do you have a hand in making your child mahiyain? Parents may unintentionally be contributing to their child’s low self-esteem. Ask yourself if you’re guilty of these deeds. Over-protection “Our friend, a SPED teacher, pointedly made us realize that we might have been the cause of our son’s shyness,” says Pier Angeli B. Ang Sen, author of and parent to a 7-year-old boy. “Our friend saw that we seemed to be doing so many things for our son, things that he himself could already do, like opening his water bottle, opening his bag of cookies, or even eating on his own.” The couple would also answer for their son when he was asked his name and age, not giving him the chance to reply. “My husband and I decided to step back. We now let him do things on his own,” says Pier. Ridicule and Criticism “Probably most typical is shyness as a response to influential adults, e.g., parents,” says life coach Edwin Soriano. “Someone in the family always called me ‘baluga’ or ‘Bachelor’—a bus line in our province. She always teased me that my eyes were as big as the Bachelor’s headlights,” says Mary Jane Dionela, a stay-at-home mom and author of “I grew up believing that I was not beautiful and was a second-class human being. I was in the honors class from elementary to college but I opted to join the last section to be at ease.” Only after college and living on her own did she manage to overcome her shyness. She started by telling herself that she was not in the shadow of that mean person anymore. “I believed in myself. I told myself I am good enough and I am beautiful even with my flaws.” Soriano says that publicly labeling your child as shy can also reinforce this belief. When a parent tells the child “Mahiya ka nga!” or “Nakakahiya ka!” it can have a very negative impact, warns Soriano. “This can result in misplaced behavior, like not striving to be better, not taking responsibility, or not asking for help.” Projecting Disappointment Soriano recalls how a mother kept showing her child her exasperation and disappointment for being too “shy” to make decisions, to the point of making the child look “abnormal.” Soriano had to tell the mother that her energy was being picked up by the child. “The child understands non-verbals more than we think. If we’re expressing disappointment, the child will think she is a failure.” Parents, it’s never too late to mend your ways. Yes, you may need to discipline your kid, but always do so gently. “Reassure your kids of your love,” advises Soriano.




Youth Talk-Behaving

Realizing that everyone has flaws and insecurities will help you stop feeling less about yourself.

Never think you have no value in this world. God has given each of us a different gift to help one other and contribute something to the world. Learn to appreciate your own unique self and what you can do.

3. FACE YOUR IRRATIONAL FEARS You alone are manufacturing your own fears that keep you locked in a prison of shyness. Edwin S. Soriano, a life coach since 2009 and the founder of

Teacher to the Rescue

We asked Galilee Nudos, a teacher at Universiti Utara Malaysia International School and author of, with 15 years of teaching experience, how she handles shy students: “I get shy students every year especially at school opening. Aside from the usual newbie status, some students are timid because of feelings of inadequacy due to language barriers, social status, physical appearance and sometimes race. What usually works for me is when I let them know from Day One that I am here for them.” Nudos finds that “pairing” shy students who have common interests works well. “I pair them and send them off to a chore. Chores can be anything like getting me a box of tissue from the store room to returning a book for me at the library. These chores can be a great opportunity to build confidence between the pair and with third-party individuals they come in contact with.” Meanwhile, Mary Tinio Narvasa, a digital marketing specialist, was very shy all through elementary school. She envied her classmates who’d go up the stage to receive awards, but she was too scared to participate in class. But one teacher in high school reached out to her and talked to her every day after school—literally changing her life. “She got me out of my shell and helped me to see that I could be anything I wanted if I have the courage to speak up,” she says. She worked on mustering that courage until she was able to eliminate her shyness. “Today, I do digital marketing for international clients and am a proud member and lead of the Cebu Blogging Community. I’ve gone to different parts of the country as well as abroad, representing my blog”

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SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015, recommends making a list of the things you fear doing. This list could include the following: Ask for a discount at a tiangge, talk to the opposite sex, converse with the boss, greet a crush, and ask for or offer help. “The challenge is to convert this list into a task list. [ Then] you can discover that you won’t die from doing these things!” says Soriano. You cannot cure your shyness overnight. But you can try following these three confidence boosters and taking small steps toward gaining courage. Soon, you’ll start seeing positive changes in your life!

Youth Talk-Balancing

School Smart All study and no play makes Juan a dull—and stressed—student. Learn useful tricks to prevent or deal with study burnout. BY GABRIEL JOSHUA M. FLORESCA




Youth Talk-Balancing

Attending to a nonstop stream of school requirements can affect our health and rob us of the energy to cope with challenges.

Once in a while, exhaustion hits us

as we go about our daily school activities. As students, we are likely to experience a kind of exhaustion bordering on study burnout, especially when we go into deep review for our upcoming exams. And I, currently in college, have noticed that, as we advance to the higher academic levels, the risk of study burnout can increase because school subjects tend to become more difficult and exams more challenging. Curious to find out more about study burnout, I asked one of my professors, Chrissy Cruz Ustaris, a faculty member in the Department of Communication at Far Eastern University, for enlightenment on why this happens. Ms. Ustaris opines that, from observing her students, burnout can occur when requirements pile up, especially approaching the grueling midterms and finals. In times like these, students not only have to prepare for these major exams, they also have to work on papers, projects, presentations, and other requirements for different subjects, frequently with overlapping or conflicting deadlines.

Fatigue or burnout? How will you know that it is not just temporary tiredness but study burnout already? A common sign is prolonged physical and mental fatigue. When we have to attend to a seemingly nonstop stream of school requirements, it can affect our health and rob us of the energy to cope with all the challenges that come our way. In my case—and I suspect many students also go through this—my daily commute adds to my stress. I have to commute daily for almost two hours to reach my university. On most mornings, I have to join long queues at the bus terminal and suffer through the dense traffic on my way to class. Physical exhaustion influences our mental health, leading to intellectual

Study burnout 101 • Study burnout results from emotional and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. • Contributors to burnout are piles of school work, lack of sleep, poor eating habits, concurrent family demands, limited or no physical exercise, poor time management, and unrealistic goals. • Study burnout reduces productivity and saps energy, and may leave you feeling increasingly helpless, cynical, and resentful. • Study burnout does not happen overnight, and it is difficult to fight once it has gripped you. • Study burnout does not happen overnight, and it is difficult to fight once it has gripped you. Recognize the early signs and head it off.

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fatigue and the inability of the brain to absorb more knowledge. This can throw us off balance so that we may suffer from lack of sleep, have no time to do physical exercise, feel emotional stress, and go through other negative feelings that together could lead us to feel a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness at times. Prolonged physical fatigue and mental stress, according to Ms. Ustaris, can result in study burnout that will eventually affect a student’s academic performance. Even those who are usually attentive in class discussions can turn distracted, disinterested, or lethargic if they are unable to find solutions to sustained academic pressure, she says.

Burnout flags

• Long-term fatigue • Intellectual exhaustion • Inability of the brain to absorb more information • An unwillingness to study further • A decline in academic performance • Apathy toward educational topics

Stay cool To prevent or overcome study burnout, Ms. Ustaris shares the following tips: 1. Ask your professor early on for a list of activities for the term. Ms. Ustaris says her approach is to give her students a timetable of presentations, projects, and exams that will be coming up over the next few months. “I always suggest that, since I have given them the important dates ahead of time, they start early with their research, reading, filming, or whatever the requirements are, to avoid schedule conflicts, work pile-up, and cramming.” 2. Plan and organize activities well. Ms. Ustaris points out that when you have numerous requirements, it will not help to run around and try to be everywhere all at once. This indicates poor planning, she adds. Pace yourself

and take much-needed breaks, but don’t procrastinate such that you would have to do tasks at the last minute. 3. Use a calendar. For Ms. Ustaris, she prefers writing schedules down on paper instead of entering them on mobile phones, tablets, or other electronic devices. She says she used a physical calendar when she was doing her M.A. thesis, as she found it more helpful in remembering details. Find a calendar with big space allotted for each day so you can write down not only the deadlines, but also the game plan to follow as you complete your various projects, she says.

Pace yourself and take muchneeded breaks, but don’t procrastinate such that you would have to do tasks at the last minute.

4. Wake up early to avoid rushing. “I really believe in calm mornings. I’m a morning person who wakes up way ahead of my first activity for the day, so that I can relish the quiet of this early part of the day. Preparing coffee is slow, reading is relaxed, nothing is rushed,” says the educator. “I believe how one starts the day sets the mood for the whole day,” she explains. “Beginning it in a rush, like bathing for two minutes, skipping breakfast, then literally running to one’s classroom anticipating the teacher’s murderous glare is not ideal.” When you set off for the day relaxed and calm, whatever you encounter will not affect you too much. Your mind will be clear and your heart at peace, she says.

More burn-proofing tips • Don’t read the entire textbook. Focus your study around what the teacher has planned so as not to overly fill your brain. • Messy notes won’t help. Pay attention in lectures and write down only notes you think will come in handy in tests or term papers. • Don’t leave everything till the last minute so you don’t overwhelm yourself. • Get adequate sleep. When you’re tired and sleepy, you won’t retain information so well. • Take time-outs. For example, if you study for two hours, take a 15 minute or so break. • Begin early. Start studying for tests as soon as you move into new material. • If possible, study with someone who is committed to academic success. • Be reasonable in your expectations. Go for results based on reality, not on an ideal situation.




Youth Talk-Starring

James Reid’s story is an inspiration to all—you’ll never know how far you can go unless you’re willing to conquer your fears and face the world. BY MARIDOL RANOABISMARK

From Shadow to Limelight Six years. That’s how long it took Fil-Aussie James Reid to journey from shy

teenager to confident actor, singer, dancer, and songwriter. When he accompanied his sick dad, Robert Malcolm Reid, to Manila in 2009, James had mixed emotions. Although he was happy because his father (separated from James’ mom, Maria Aprilyn Marquinez from Bolinao, Pangasinan) started getting better once he was in the Philippines, James felt sad about leaving his friends back home in Sydney, Australia, where he was born. It didn’t help that James had to cut short his cooking studies in Australia. In the Philippines, he enrolled in a home school instead of a regular high school since “I felt that I would not fit in if I did.”

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Back then, he regarded himself as an ordinary student who preferred to stay in the background. “I hung back. I was very average in school and I only had a small group of friends.” Thus, James had no expectations from himself and no inkling he could sing and dance—talents that now make young people swoon and sway, especially whenever he performs with screen partner Nadine Lustre. “I didn’t think I had any talent. I couldn’t sing or dance. I was just going to school like an average kid. I was never overly smart. The only thing I knew how to do was play the guitar, something that I had learned on my own.”

Joining Kuya’s house

So when he entered Pinoy Big Brother Teen Clash 2010 on a dare from his dad and Cavite-based relatives, James didn’t even aspire for the grand prize. He felt that other contestants who were less privileged would benefit from the cash and material prizes more, and that his difficulty with Filipino put him out of the running. The teenager didn’t even think he’d last four weeks in the PBB house, and told his home school he’d be away for only three weeks. Even when people were telling him he was a shoo-in as the big winner, James didn’t believe them. “I was so scared of dreaming big. I was scared to win.” Only 16 at the time, all James really wanted was to belong and make friends. He said, “I don’t need [the prizes]. I got what I wanted—friends [like Ryan Bang and Bret Jackson].”

“I didn’t think I had any talent. I couldn’t sing or dance.”

“Being a celebrity and having fame are just bonuses. My goal is to unlock my full potential.” In the end, it is this utter selflessness that made James win the grand prize. He also got something else—he discovered a knack for singing. After all, music is in his genes, his mom being a former singer. One day, James approached Viva Entertainment big boss Vic del Rosario and asked for a possible album. Del Rosario said yes, on the condition that James take up acting, too. In 2014, Diary ng Panget was shown, a sleeper hit that threw James and his onscreen partner Nadine Lustre into public consciousness. Now that he’s one of today’s most popular young stars—with a teleserye entitled On the Wings of Love and hit albums—James admits to still feeling queasy about fame. “The attention, the limelight are out of my comfort zone,” he says. Today, despite 826,000 followers on Instagram, the growing JaDine (JamesNadine) fan base, the big endorsements and countless mall shows, James remains the same shy guy who feels pre-stage jitters. But when he reaches for the microphone and starts singing, something magical happens. “I feel invisible,” he says.

Pushing himself further

His inborn sense of rhythm powers his dance moves and makes his audience sway to the beat as well. What drives James these days, however, is not the thrilling

sound of his fans screaming his name over and over. It’s the voice of Kuya, or Big Brother, still ringing loud and clear in his mind, five years after the man spoke to the insecure teenager. Kuya, says James, taught him to dream big and aim for the sky. “I still have that I-don’t-care attitude. But now, I have a goal, I have drive.” Yes, he appreciates his fans. Without them, James will not be where he is now. But his rewards spring from within. He—and his dad—is his worst critic. They argue a lot about his performance, and James appreciates his dad’s constructive comments. This, James believes, will make him fulfill his one big dream. “I wanna improve as a performer. Being a celebrity and having fame are just bonuses. My goal is to unlock my full potential as a performer, as an actor.” He’s bent on expressing himself and improving his craft. After all, James knows that no matter how good people think you are, “there’s always room for improvement.”

Looking after his family

The loving brother has decided that he’s not the only one who should improve. His seven siblings also need to lead better lives. James is flying in his 17-yearold brother from Australia to the Philippines to study high school in Manila. Older brother Tom, 24, is also coming over to work, while a sister, Lauren, 21—inspired by James’ success—wants to join showbiz as well. That’s James—sticking his neck out not for just for himself, but for those he wants to help. First, it was his sick dad, who has since regained his good health. Then, he wanted to give way to more needy PBB housemates. And now, James is looking after his siblings. It’s this big heart that gives James the good fortune he’s been enjoying all these years.  You reap what you sow. And Mr. Nice Guy is reaping a bountiful harvest after years of planting good seeds.




Youth Talk-Choosing

A Pinoy

Pharmacist in the US

She is proudly providing the Filipino brand of TLC to her patients in the States. BY EXCEL V. DYQUIANGCO

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Peewee Cruz once dreamed

of becoming a doctor or a business tycoon someday. But when her parents started a pharmaceutical trucking business, they saw how well an independent pharmacy was doing, and urged her to become a pharmacist so they could set up their own business one day. “In order to open a pharmacy, the law requires it to have the supervision of a licensed pharmacist,” says Peewee. “Being the eldest, I decided to take the path that my parents wanted me to pursue, so I took up Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Centro Escolar University, thinking that this was also a good preMed course.” After graduation, she passed the licensing exam, and at age 21, Peewee landed a job right away. She described being both excited and nervous to be hired right away as a dispensing pharmacist at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, where her work consisted mainly of filling in and dispensing medications to in-patients. It was during her stint at the hospital that she heard about the good opportunity opened to pharmacists wanting to work in the United States. She learned that such was the shortage for these professionals that U.S. companies were willing to sponsor foreign graduates. “The rates were competitive,” she says. “So without any doubts in my mind, I decided to stick to being a pharmacist

and not pursue medicine anymore, which requires a lot of time and money to take up, too.”

The overseas chase

However, the road to finding work as a pharmacist in the United States wasn’t easy. For one, Peewee had to pass a lot of required tests, such as the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination, and had to fly to and from the country to take the two English examinations called the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the TSE (Test of Spoken English). While waiting for the results of her tests, she also took the time to look for prospective employers. During that period of waiting and searching, many questions were running through Peewee’s head. Was quitting her job in the Philippine a good move? Did she make the right decision about trying her luck in the States? What would she do if she was unable to get in? “Fortunately, Rite Aid Pharmacy, which is one of the largest retail pharmacies in the U.S., got my file and started to discuss employment opportunities with me,” she says. When she learned that she got accepted, “I just really fell down and cried to the Lord because He answered my prayer,” she says. Peewee then sought an interview at the U.S. embassy in Manila and passed the evaluation, enabling her to secure a work visa. She then flew to the U.S. to start her internship at Rite Aid in Morro Bay, a small and beautiful town in San Luis, Obispo, California. But that wasn’t the end of her journey, as she needed to take two more examinations—the NAPLEX (North America Pharmacist Licensure Examination) and the Pharmacy State Law in California. “It was really a tough test for me because, first of all, I am a foreign graduate,” she says. “Second, their practice and medications are totally different from the Philippines, considering that I worked already in one of the best institutions in the country.

Peewee on a work break in Alberta, Canada with husband Mark Danan and daughter Chloe

But my God is more powerful, and He granted my prayer to become a fullfledged California pharmacist.” Since she is working in one of the busiest stores in the district, it requires a lot of energy to be able to stand eight to 12 hours a day, five days a week, she says. What makes it even more physically and mentally draining is having to deal with different kinds of patients, too. “I am known to be a soft-spoken and super nice person, but when I started work in the U.S., I’ve learned to be tough and strong; otherwise, the people surrounding me will put me down,” says Peewee.

Finding fulfilment

On arriving in California she happily discovered that the state gives pharmacists great flexibility, which has allowed her to take on more clinical responsibilities. Unlike in the Philippines, where much of her practice was limited to filling in and dispensing

drugs, in California she works with doctors in prescribing drugs and giving immunization to local patients. This, she says, imbues her with a feeling of being important to the community. At the same time, Peewee also specializes in managing a patient’s medication history and making sure the patient is getting the right medications with no severe drug interactions. “We do really feel that we are the drug experts, and the U.S. doctors really respected us in that sense,” she says. Since surveys show that pharmacy is one of the highest paying jobs in the United States, Peewee acknowledges that financial stability is a given for her, but the perks are countered by a lot of challenges. The hardest part is dealing with angry patients and pleasing the management, she says. “If there are complaints about the pharmacy, the pharmacist is the one responsible for fixing it and making sure that the patients leave the store happy.” As an example, since medications are not covered by insurance, pharmacists need to be involved in and familiar with how insurance works. As for work pressure, Peewee says, “The company monitors us closely on how many prescriptions, consultations, immunizations, management therapy treatments, and others we do, on top of our regular duties of filling in and dispensing medications. You need to master the art of multitasking in order to do everything.” At present, Peewee is entertaining some plans she’d like to realize someday, including setting up franchised pharmacy chains in the Philippines, just like her parents had dreamed of years ago. She’s also hoping to discover new drugs, as she wants to make a difference in the field of pharmacy. And to those who also want to make it big in another country, she has this advice: “You have to seek God’s guidance and His will then just go with the flow. Work hard, but you also need to learn how to relax. You need to learn how to enjoy the fruits of your labor and share it with people.”




Youth Talk-Growing

Secret Admirer Having a crush on your teacher is natural, but accept that it’s just a phase you will soon outgrow. BY ANNABELLIE GRUENBERG

One of the most sacred relationships a person will have in

life is the student-teacher relationship. In class, small children look up to their teachers with reverence and love because they look after their well-being outside of the home. We always hear children say “because Teacher said so” in their arguments. They believe everything that Ma’am or Sir says and does. And as they grow older, children’s expectations of their teachers likewise

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grow. When pupils reach the upper mid-school (around 14 years old and above), the teacher becomes a role model, an inspiration, a representative of the ideal companion in a life journey. Once students enter the “feeling” phase of youth, however, things can turn tricky and complicated. This is when some youngsters start to develop romantic feelings for their mentors, regarding them as a knight in shining armor or an ideal lady love.

What the student can do

Having a crush on your teacher is normal and can even serve to motivate you to do well in class. If it remains an admiration for someone older and wiser, then it’s all right. Focus on the positive

motivation it brings, like wanting to go to school every day to attend the teacher’s class, and studying hard to impress Teacher with your well-prepared school work or high test scores. This is the correct relationship to establish with the teacher—one that involves showing respect, being responsible, and doing what is right. Things become wrong when you start fantasizing and obsessing about having a romantic relationship with the teacher. Pursuing these feelings can have serious consequences—it may cost the teacher’s job, open both of you to intrigues, cause great discomfort for everyone inside the classroom, and make the teacher feel her or his boundary has been trespassed. In addition, stalking your object of

affection in or outside of the school or on social media is a big no-no. Respect the private life of your teacher. For boys in particular, refrain from romantic gestures like sending flowers or gifts, writing love notes, or asking her out on a date. These will only complicate matters. Do not try to seduce or flirt with your teacher, as such actions might lead to regret or shame on your part. If you find yourself thinking of your teacher a lot, the key is to keep yourself busy by spending more time with your peers, or getting involved in extracurricular activities and hobbies. Keep reminding yourself that the romantic relationship you are dreaming of may be impossible. Perhaps the teacher you are infatuated with is already involved with someone else. Value yourself by not becoming a third wheel or a relationship wrecker.

What Teacher can do

At the adolescent stage of a person’s life, hormones can go haywire and get in the way of reason. A young person might “crush” on the educator the same way he or she might crush on a movie star, only the teacher is more “real” and within reach. Spotting a student with a crush on you is fairly easy, so it is possible to act immediately to nip it in the bud. Constantly remind yourself that diverting the attention of the student and signaling an end to his or her romantic aspirations lies with you. It is important to do this gently because the student is in the “feeling” phase and may be emotionally hurt by the rejection. The trick is to establish boundaries and show from the start of the school year that your relationship with your students is purely professional. The way you carry yourself will also define your relationship with them. Here are practical steps you can do if the episodes below should occur: When you receive a love letter. Just say a gentle thank-you to the student and don’t make a big deal out of it. In fact, you don’t even have to reply or confront the student as whatever you

say or do may be taken against you. But don’t ignore the student in class and instead, treat him or her the same way you do everyone. If you don’t respond to the overtures, the student will likely get the cue and give up. When you are harassed or stalked. If things reach this point, it is time to inform the guidance counselor or the school head. Again, do so discreetly so as not to embarrass the student. To avoid such incidents from even happening, never give out to your students your personal information like contact number, address, or social media accounts. If you need to communicate with them through email or Facebook, it is best to open a page for the whole class where everyone can be a part of the conversations. Ideally, hold discussions with the kids within the premises of the school. Never meet on a social basis outside the campus since this can be misinterpreted. If a student you know has feelings for you requests to have a talk with you, do it within sight of other people and always

put a safe distance between you. More than on the student, the responsibility of discouraging these amorous feelings falls on the teacher. Be very careful of your actions. Never instigate or encourage inappropriate conversations inside or outside the classroom, and make an effort to dress decently and appropriately. So as not to be carried away by the adoration, develop a healthy social life outside of the school grounds. More importantly, keep in mind that whatever this young romantic is feeling at the moment, it is going to pass. Sooner or later your admirer will look for someone nearer her or his age who has the same interests. As for the school, it is advisable to include in the school code, the students’ handbook, and the teacher’s contract laws or policies that strongly discourage romantic—especially sexual—relations between student and teacher. The faculty, together with the guidance office, can come up with guidelines for handling and managing situations when students fall for their teachers.

Establish boundaries and show from the start that your relationship with your students is purely professional.




“God’s Gift to the Young”

In celebrating the 200th Birth Anniversary of St. John Bosco, the Salesians of Don Bosco Philippine-North Province organized a Nationwide Art Contest for young people entitled “God’s Gift to the Young.” Out of the sixty eight entries, the top twenty are now being toured around the country in all the Ayala Malls as the centerpiece of the Don Bosco Mall Tour Exhibit. In this issue of Family Matters, we share with you the Top Twenty Entries. At the side bar, you will find the Ayala Mall Tour Schedule that already started last August 01 at Trinoma Mall. We are inviting you to come and see this Don Bosco Exhibit and appreciate more the works of these young people as they honor the Father and Teacher of Youth through their God-given talents.


First Place

John Michael Cortez Don Bosco, Bayanihan Sa Kabanalan Kasama Ang Kabataan

Dominic G. Sanchez St. John Bosco’s Zeal For The Youth

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Second Place

Christian Dinglasan Si Don Bosco Mensahero Ni Maria Sa Kabataan

Christian Go Don Bosco Sa Tulong Ni Maria Papuntang Langit

Third Place

Marvin Taras Kabanalan Kalakbay Si Don Bosco Kasama Si Maria

Mark Jay Bambao St. John Bosco, Mula Noon Hanggang Ngayon

Nadine Monina Bayot St. John Bosco, Inspiring The Youth To Build A Better Tomorrow

Bryan H. Adviento St. John Bosco, Children’s Guide For A Better Future

Reynaldo Claudio Don Bosco For The Youth, Youth For Don Bosco

Johny H. Adviento Don Bosco, Giving Colors To Children’s Lives

Ma. Angeli Gabriele Dimalanta Don Bosco, Playing In Holiness

Jimmy Aniflauni Si Amang Don Bosco At Ang Mga Anak Ng Diyos

Nel Rosete Dream Come True

Juan Rafael F. Galang Salvation Of The Young

Sofia Chantal R. Perez The Heart Of The Young




Jovan A. Ramirez

Ma. Angeli Gabriele Dimalnta Don Bosco, Teaching With The Heart

Vincent Leonardo Lapuz Shine Above The Rest


Guillermo Bungato God’s Manifestation Of Love For The Youth

At the mall...

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Clark Atento Groupie With The Young


Special Touch 13 coping tips for a special needs parent

The U.S.-based National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities gives these suggestions for parenting a child with 1. Talk with your partner, friends, and family. The temptation to close up emotionally is great, but it helps to have reliable friends and relatives to share the emotional burden with you.

2. Rely on positive sources in your life. Go to those who have been a strength in your life, like a priest or a minister, and find the new sources that you need now. 3. Take it one day at a time. Worrying about the future will only deplete your limited resources. 4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It will be your first step in beginning to

understand more about your child. 5. Don’t be afraid to show emotion. So many parents, especially dads, repress their emotions because they believe it to be a sign of weakness. 6. Maintain a positive outlook. Focusing on the positives diminishes the negatives and makes life easier to deal with. 7. Keep in touch with reality.




Nurturing Recognize that there are things you cannot change. But there are also things you can change, and you can go about doing that. 8. Remember that time is on your side. Time heals many wounds and, as time passes, a great deal can be done to alleviate the situation. 9. Find programs for your child. While doing so, keep in mind that programs are also available for the rest of your family. 10. Take care of yourself. Get sufficient rest, eat as well as you can, take time for yourself, reach out to others for emotional support.

“The greatest barriers to inclusion of children with disabilities are stigma, prejudice, ignorance and lack of training and capacity building.” -Unicef “A very fine counselor once gave me a recipe for living through a crisis: ‘Each morning, when you arise, recognize your powerlessness over the situation at hand, turn this problem over to God, as you understand Him, and begin your day’.” Patricia McGill Smith, “You Are Not Alone: For Parents When They Learn Their Child Has a Disability”

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By the Numbers • Over a billion people—or about 15% of the world’s population—live with some form of disability. • The number of disabled people is increasing due to population aging and the global rise in chronic health conditions. • Students with disabilities are 2 to 3 times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers.

• Disabled children are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience violence and sexual abuse than non-disabled children. • Disabled children are significantly more likely to be out of school than non-disabled children in every country. • Women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience domestic violence and other forms of gender-based and sexual violence as nondisabled women.

• Employment rates for disabled people are lower than for non-disabled people in 12 out of 15 countries studied by the World Bank in 2011.

11. Avoid pity. Self-pity, the pity of others, or pity for your child is actually disabling. Encourage empathy—the ability to feel with another person— instead. 12. Decide how to deal with others. Think about how you want to deal with stares or questions. Try not to use too much energy being concerned about people who don’t respond in ways you might prefer. 13. Keep daily routines as normal as possible. Practicing this habit seems to produce some normalcy and consistency when life becomes hectic.

Remember that this is your child. Your child’s development may be different, but this does not make your child less valuable, less human, less important, or in less need of your love and parenting. Love and enjoy your child. The child comes first; the disability comes second.

Resources: Children and Young People with Disabilities Fact Sheet, May 2013, Unicef; News Digest 20, 3rd Edition, 2003, National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities; Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center; World Health Organization

Family Matters September-November 2015  
Family Matters September-November 2015