The parent of a child with a disability or special needs doesn’t often imagine the future because it is painful. As you listen to them talk about it, you feel the fear, the helplessness, and the fierce need to protect their child.
The documentary film Yakap (Embrace) manages to capture the pain and uncertainties, thanks to three families who bravely shared their reality with a day-in-a-life treatment.
“The stories are told from the points of view of their parents. Nothing was scripted, everything that you will see is natural and unplanned,” says Dolores Cheng, founder of the Center for Possibilities (CFP) Foundation, which produced the film.
Aaron Joshua “AJ” De Quiroz, a 12-year-old with epilepsy, Autism, and Global Developmental Delay, shown here with his mom, is a scholar of a special school in Muntinlupa and now has two siblings who are typical children being taught by their parents to look after their kuya.
With a packet of tissues tucked inside the press kit during the media screening, you know there will be tears, but it's not all because of sadness. The film shows how these ordinary families, who come from different backgrounds, manage to tap into a well of courage and optimism, which has allowed their child to live with diginity, acceptance and, yes, a hopeful future. (The future is perhaps best embodied by Kevin Avelino, a 45-year-old with Global Developmental Delay, who is living independently from his family.)
As Dolores points out, “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.”
It took Dolores almost four years to finish the film because of financial challenges, and she had a hard time finding people willing to share their stories. Many parents of children with disabilities are fiercely private and guarded, which Dolores points out is due to “the feeling that there’s something not quite right about having a child with special needs.”
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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. “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.
“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,” she volunteers.
Dolores hopes the film can solicit support for CFP’s project to build and operate more Special Education (SPED) Centers for indigent and underserved communities, for children with special needs who are undiagnosed and untreated. Its Sagada SPED Center is now open, and hopefully Norzagaray, Bulacan SPED Center will open later this year. The Tacloban and Sorsogon SPED Centers are scheduled to operate sometime in 2017.