I don’t usually write about “social” issues since I’m not the SJW (social justice warrior) type. So when a friend invited me to a screening of Yakap, a film about people with special needs, I almost turned it down.
I’m glad I didn’t, because watching the film and seeing the actual people in this situation made me see things in a different light. Generally, when we see people with special needs, we tend to think of them as “others”, as people who need to be kept under constant supervision, and who can’t be a part of normal society.
The film, Yakap, does not bully anyone into being politically correct. With people from all letters of the alphabet screaming to be recognized, most of us have become really jaded about it. If this is your fear, rest assured that Yakap is no such thing.
The aim of the film is to make us see people with special needs as part of society. It is about inclusion. In the film, we see three families with special needs children. We see their daily lives.
We learn about adorable and bubbly 4-year old Gelli, whom we got to meet. We also learn about 8-year old AJ, and also learn about 45-year old Kevin, who has adjusted well into mainstream society, taking buses and jeepneys all over Metro Manila by himself, and he even has a job!
When you watch the film, you’ll see that they are not demanding that people bend over backwards to provide special treatment for them. All they want is compassion and understanding for their child. Just because they are special needs children doesn’t mean that there is no way for them to shine.
Particularly touching for me was Kevin’s story. You can see that he really wants to be independent, and he’s not afraid to work. Watching him take jeepneys and buses by himself all the way to Antipolo for work (I think he’s from Mandaluyong) had me so worried that someone might take advantage of him. Thank the stars that everyone seems to be a decent human being, and that’s basically all they are asking for.
Yakap is produced on behalf of The Center for Possibilities (CFP) Foundation, an organization built to provide support for families with special needs children, with the aim of promoting inclusion into mainstream society.
CFP hopes to bring the film to different places and generate more awareness for the need to respect the potential and promise of persons with special needs. “We would be very happy to do special screenings. We can visit schools and would be more than willing to tie up with community organizations,” says CFP founder Dolores Cheng.
If you or anyone you know is interested in viewing the film, please contact the CFP.
Special screenings of “Yakap” may be arranged through CFP at centerforpossibilities.asia or (02) 723-1242 / (0918) 888-1759.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CENTER FOR POSSIBILITIES FOUNDATION
Ten years ago, Dolores Cheng formed The Center for Possibilities Foundation (CFP). “It was my own coming to terms with the condition of my son,” she shares. Andreas, now 22, was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay when he was 3 years old. “There were no support groups for his particular type of disability, I didn’t know where to go, who to see, where to find what I needed to know. I wanted to understand what it meant to raise a child with special needs. So I thought that maybe if I formed a group of my own, I would be able to ring a call to other people who might be in the same boat and need some help,” Dolores continues.
The vision and mission of CFP revolves around inclusion, having a compassionate society that includes persons with special needs into the mainstream population. Even the way CFP is set up reflects this vision of inclusion. “We come from different backgrounds, different types of families and family lives, it represents how the world is,” Dolores points out.
The CFP board is composed of finance expert Renato Reyes, educators Cynthia and Lito Gonzalez; restaurateurs, car enthusiasts, and civic leaders, Vangie and Dieter Jaehn; mommy blogger Michelle Ressa Aventajado, jeweller Geeta Chulani, producer Yvonne de Paula, co-parent of a special child Totoy Garcia, publisher Maricris Lim Pineda, accomplished netizen Mark Ignacio, and spiritual adviser Fr. Gerard Deveza.
For the past decade, CFP has engaged in teaching skills and promoting inclusion in underserved sectors through support groups, literature, film showing, and orientation. They’ve published books regarding persons with special needs and organized events such as special football tournaments that allow the athletic inclinations of the kids to shine.
Their biggest project to date is “Yakap”. Produced by Dolores and directed by Danny Añonuevo, the film provides a glimpse into a day in the lives of three people: Evangeline “Gelli” Aventajado, a 4-year-old with Down Syndrome; Aaron Joshua “AJ” De Quiroz, an 8-year-old with epilepsy, Autism, and Global Developmental Delay; and Kevin Avelino, a 45-year-old with Global Developmental Delay. “The stories are told from the points of view of their parents. Nothing was scripted, everything that you will see is natural and unplanned,” describes Dolores.
“More than a film, we are presenting profiles of true courage. Courage of the children whose disabilities are the only reality they have ever known, and who live their lives the only way they know how, in spite of curious stares, pointing fingers, and hidden smiles. And the courage of parents and family members who may have grown up thinking normal was everything but ended up learning that different can be the new normal”.
“Yakap means to embrace. In line with CFP’s vision, we wish for all children with disability to be embraced into the mainstream of our lives and to be treated the way we treat each other — with compassion, respect, dignity and acceptance,” says Dolores.
SPECIAL EDUCATION CENTERS
The group is also on a quest to build and operate Special Education (SPED) Centers for indigent communities, for children with special needs who are undiagnosed and untreated. Their Sagada SPED Center is now open. The Norzagaray, Bulacan SPED Center is expected to start running later this year. And the Tacloban and Sorsogon SPED Centers are scheduled to operate sometime in 2017.
The Centers are brick and mortar structures with tables, surrounded with stimulating materials, equipment, and learning tools that can be used to teach children the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Each SPED Center will be operated by a teacher trained in the SPED division of Reach International School.
“In many parts of the country, especially in remote areas, there is no government center dedicated to the identification, recognition, much less support and treatment for persons with special needs. Many special children are physically mature but have cognitive and behavioral challenges so it is imperative that we create centers of learning that can teach them some skills with which they can live with some form of independence and dignity,” elaborates Dolores. Enrolment in the SPED Center is free so it helps alleviate the cost of taking care of special children from the families. These centers will also include parent support groups.
“Yakap” is supported by Rustan’s Commercial Corporation, Gruppo Mobili Philippines, Inc., AY Foundation, Inc., Royal Duty Free Subic, Marks & Spencer, Mamou Restaurant, Ralph’s Wines & Spirits, Rustan Marketing Corporation, Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc., Leslie Corporation – Clover Chips, Miladay, Orogem, The Phinma Foundation, Inner Peace Foundation Inc. Manila, Music Master (Music School & Recording Arts), nananadal Public Relations & Events Management, Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star, Crossover 105.1 FM, and Retro DCG –FM – 105.9.
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