Coconut trees chime with the mountain breeze cooling this country school in a cozy town known as the ‘fruit and flower basket of South Cotabato,’ a province an hour and a half plane ride from the Philippine capital of Manila. Children were queuing up to get to their classrooms when I got in for a friendly business chat with the principal.
Cashew Fia, girl in white shirt and sneakers, far left, runs to greet CJ (little boy blue with his back to the camera) who was late for flag ceremony. They are classmates in first grade. Srifle, the Red Riding Hood holding CJ’s hand, is a girl I hired to help (the Grandma who is official guardian) look after CJ. Cheeky, my niece’s dog escorted the duo. That must be his way of saying thank you for the free breakfast I gave him that morning.
There’s a class entrance protocol that is new to me. Each child takes the teacher’s right hand to have it touch lightly on his forehead, and then give the teacher a peck on the cheek before he enters the classroom. The teacher in turn hugs each child and says words of blessing before letting him in. It is done quickly and then the children settle in comfortably on their chairs. They start the class with a song, a Bible verse and a prayer.
Almost three decades have passed since I studied briefly in this school. Corn and lemon used to grow on the front yard. A couple of my family elders have since retired from the school board. Computers now work in the offices, no more yummy ube jam in the canteen, but the christian country charm continues to warm the heart. I will always like it that way.
~ This post is shared with ABC Wednesday ~
Julie Andrews allegedly sang a parody of the Sound of Music tune My Favorite Things at an AARP benefit to commemorate her 69th birthday. I thought it was fun and interesting, even though there was no confirmation that Julie Andrews did sing it. Thus, ‘allegedly’ as About.com-Urban Legends put it.
I was thirty-five then, and getting conscious of the fact that in five years my life would begin. I like believing in “life begins at forty.” To mark my 40th birthday last year I did my own lyrics revision. And came up with this:
If you are not familiar with my blog: CJ is my son, Mozart is my fur kid (picture on sidebar), my mother is a soprano, and I am usually her piano accompanist. My father’s second wife, RIP Father, was the chess; and my mother beat him in scrabble mercilessly. I grew up watching an uncle’s ballroom dances and staring in wonder at his trophies. My pet peeve is internet/computer inaccessibility. I hate a runny nose with fervor and although I am stuck in the city, I am a country girl at heart. And oh, in case you were wondering about the three ***, that is deliberate as I haven’t yet found the person who will take the place of those asterisks.
I tried singing my own lyrics to the tune. It was crazy, but fun.
Let me begin with an observation on the latter. Developmental pediatricians in the Philippines are a rare breed. Or that’s what I noticed. From society and organization websites, to forums, to word-of-mouth, to my own experience, they seem to be outnumbered by people who need their expertise. A parent of a child with developmental delays has to wait weeks or months to see one developmental pediatrician.
Only thirty are listed on the Philippine Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Twenty-five in one Filipino autism blog, and that is not purely DevPeds. A child psychologist, child psychiatrist, and pediatric neurologist are mixed in the list, although they certainly are a big help too.
At my son’s speech therapy and psychology center I hear the same account from other parents – securing a time slot with a DevPed is hard. They are all fully booked throughout what could turn into a year. You may be lucky if someone withdraws but that rarely happens.
I’m playing this by ear: I guess the picture is different in the west where for every special problem there always seems to be a corresponding expert. The perk of advance knowledge. Advance research. Wealth.
Back then I never heard of DevPeds or children with developmental issues were just undiagnosed. Recalling those years in the grades there were indeed a few who could have benefited from relative specialists. There was this practice among elementary school teachers, of assigning a child who knows well ahead to tutor a classmate who is behind lessons. Poor Christina. She would shed tears of frustration as she struggled with simple phrases. And poor me. I would frown in exasperation as I sat with her wondering why she crawled through sentences.
Dyslexic? I hope at least now Christina doesn’t mind being in glamorous company. There are more than rare of them, like some listed on dyslexia the gift site list.
Among actors and entertainers: Whoopi Goldberg and Keanu Reeves
Among inventors and scientists: Alexander Graham Bell and Pierre Currie
Among artists and designers: Leonardo da Vinci and Tommy Hilfiger
Among athletes and political leaders: Muhammad Ali and John F. Kennedy
Among entrepreneurs and business leaders: Richard Branson and Ted Turner
Among writers and journalists: Agatha Christie and Byron Pitts
Here’s looking forward to third world DevPeds becoming as less and less rare as dyslexics around the rest of the world are famous contributing members of global society.
It happens in church and in church school
Children are taught that praying is cool.
God loves you, He took the cross for you
Talk to Him, He’d love a feel
Kneel in prayer and seal the deal.
This post is linked with ABC Wednesday.