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UP-PGH Department of Pediatrics Screened ALYANA

April 6, 2014
Dr. Alexis Reyes

Dr. Alexis Reyes

APRIL 1. I received an unexpected call from Dr. Alexis Reyes, one of the top developmental pediatricians in the country requesting for the showing of my docu, ALYANA — A Study of Autism in the Philippines. Cecil Sicam, one of Autism Society Philippines’ founding members was with her at the time. Syempre, YES! agad especially when I was told that the viewers would be the staff and interested patients of PGH. That’s how I had envisioned the film to be anyway — to be shared to as many in order to disseminate knowledge not only on autism but on the plight of persons with autism and their families. Dr. Alexis and Cecil are both featured in the film as my primary sources of information. [To see Alyana and Gio Koe’s latest photo, please click, Autism Walk 2014. Photos of Dr. Reyes are found under the segment: “Special Guests”]

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And so it was that as part of the Autism Awareness Week activity of the UP-PGH Department of Pediatric’s “continuing education and development” held in connection with the celebration of World Autism Day 2014, “Alyana” was screened last Friday, April 4 at the Emergency Room Complex [ERC] “theater” of the Philippine General Hospital.

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It was my first time to show the film to an audience largely consisting of doctors! Since 2006, all film showings were targeted to families of persons with autism, teachers and students mostly of sped education, nursing, and other allied fields, and laymen.

Soft-spoken Dr. Rita Villadolid, came on behalf of Dr. Alexis who was attending an important meeting at that time. I learned from Dr. Rita that she was present in the film premiere of Alyana’s longest version [2 1/2-hr] at the UP Film Center in 2006, or nearly eight years ago. She was under training then she told me.  In 2012, she saw the  film again when ASP-Marikina screened it. It was in fact the shortest version made in 2007 that she saw. I was led to do it when I came to know as student of Filipino Sign Language that the Deaf sign for PWA’s was quite similar to a sign meaning “crazy” people. So, I made the third and shortest version of the film. I subtitled it for the Deaf with the aim of changing the misconception that persons with autism [PWA] are “crazy.” After watching the film and understanding what autism is, the sign was changed that same night by Deaf teachers of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde Sch. of Deaf Education and Applied Studies. That’s where I studied FSL. They now continue to use the revised Deaf sign. From then on, I subtitle all my films for Deaf access.

Yun ang impact sa naturang partikular na sector. Iba rin naman ang epekto sa magulang [click to read A Sped Parent’s Reaction to “Alyana”]

At dahil interesado akong malaman ang dating ng dokyu, kung may impact pa ito at halaga bilang informational material para sa isang DOKTOR laluna pagkalipas ng marami-rami ring taon, tinanong ko ang reaksyon ni Dr. Villadolid pagkatapos nyang panoorin ito — for the third time. Sabi nya:

…Seeing the film for the third time, pareho pa din. Nandun pa din yung impact nya kasi nakikita ko dun napakalawak e — from the diagnosis, nakikita mo kung papano naaapektuhan yung family even yun community, yung mga resources, so it has been almost how many years??—the issues are still the same. What the family is going through are still the same. The challenges also are still the same. Siguro nag iiba lang yung characters… Nakikita ko dito kung [ipa]pareho siguro sa ibang bansa, it is really the family..being the  strength; yun ang pagkakaiba siguro kung makikinig ka sa programa in other countries. Di ba dito it is really the family and the shared responsibility which makes it very unique but also questions: “what have we been doing for the past years may nagbago ba?” Sana may kaunting pagbabago pero kung halos wala pa din, since siguro being parte sa mga professionals na tumutulong sa mga pamilya ni Alyana na isa lang sa napakadami at dumadami bilang – yung challenge sa amin na maintindihan kung ano ang pinagdadaanan nila at matulungan sila nandun pa din. ..

Iba din kasi ang perspective pag doktor ka na napapanood mo yun nakikita mo ano yung nangyayari talaga diba? yung impact ng kondisyon sa buong buhay nila…at yung mensahe na nahaharap ka sa isang kondisyon na hanggang sa ngayon hindi mo alam kung ano sanhi nya. Wala pa talagang isang cure na nakukuha..papano mo sila tutulungan??…ang LAKING challenge…!!!

Dr. Larah Galvante on the other hand said that the film should be seen by parents of PWA’s especially those with newly diagnosed children to know the importance of COMMITMENT and INVOLVEMENT in dealing with and in rearing their children with autism. On her part, what struck her after seeing the film was learning what some parents actually undergo after hearing the diagnosis. Dr. Lara said that she’d be more “sympathetic.”

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The Members of the Organizing Committee: [from R-L]: Dr. Larah Galvante, Dr. Sheryll Palami, Dr. Rita Villadolid, [3rd from L] Dr. Mark Talatala and Dr. Emme Evangelista [extreme left] – all precious developmental pediatricians in the country because of their “rarity” in number, dedication and commitment to the Filipino patients

I guess compassion and concern are truly quite important in a doctor-patient relationship as bluntly declaring the truth may, to some patients find “explosive” and could really be devastating, as what Dr. Alexis said in the film.

Truly, for the little over 40 developmental pedia serving the growing numbers of PWA’s in the country, the challenge is undoubtedly ENORMOUS!! At tulad ng appeal ko sa mga sped students and teachers: “Wag sana kayo mag-abroad! o kung mag-abroad man, bumalik kayo agad dito dahil kulang na kulang ang tulad nyo.”

Big thanks to Dr. Alexis and all the doctors who assisted me: Dr. Mark, Dr. Larah and Dr. She who turned into trial and error technicians because of the technician’s absence!!

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