Posts Tagged ‘Alyana: A Study of Autism in the Philippines’


Home for Individuals with Special Needs (ISNs)_First in the Philippines Opens Its Doors on December 15

December 2, 2018

A unique residential community to address the growing needs of Individuals with Special-Needs (ISNs) as they grow old and their elderly parents as they further advance into their senior years, HAPPY HOMES envisions a community with two major house types for its members: one small house and one big house called “MY BIG HOUSE”. As the living room for the community, MY BIG HOUSE sets the initial impression for visitors about what HAPPY HOMES is – as well as, our community values. “MY BIG HOUSE” is a house, a school and a mini-hotel where the community programs and services are held. It is our community’s treasure which all members enjoy and maintain. It is our social center, our place for dining, celebrations, educational fora and entertainment. It has a large social hall, a big teaching kitchen, a children’s room, a teens’ room, guest rooms, library, art studio, a hydrotherapy room and a training room. More importantly, MY BIG HOUSE forms part of the families’ estate plan for the ISN as it is 100% owned by families and advocates of ISNs. MY BIG HOUSE and its allied services like travel and tours, staycation packages, transportation service, housekeeping services, among others, shall generate income, dividends and patronage refunds which shall go directly into the ISNs savings, to assure the ISN of a secure supported living. MY BIG HOUSE will also provide them opportunities to become productive members of the society through the sheltered employment program by working as service crew. By creating MY BIG HOUSE, the HAPPY HOMES Community is ensured that each need is addressed, and the persons with disabilities enjoy a meaningful and productive life.

On December 15, Happy Homes will open the doors to MY BIG HOUSE. Gift-giving to the students of its adopted schools, including the showing of my documentaries: PULE: Utak ng Rebolusyon and ALYANA — A Study of Autism in the Philippines are scheduled during the event. See the program below:



It is the first in the Philippines and will not be the only one as HAPPY HOMES is currently working on its expansion/replication in Antipolo City. Acceptance of members is based on queuing so it is important that a family consider becoming a member as early as the planning stage for the next community.

Envisioned are business and employment opportunities for ISNs within the community, while financial savings schemes and income-generating projects will be available to every resident for needs sustenance. Moreover, it will surely benefit each member as the mission is to provide continuous care and support to create a fulfilling community life, administered by Resident Service-Providers (RSP): teachers, therapists, caregivers, and service paraprofessionals who live in the same community. This is a self-help project whose funding comes from membership fees, grants and donations.

For inquiries, contact Mrs. Glecilda Rances at (0943) 129. 1846 or email


Post-World Autism Awareness Day in Rizal 2018

April 20, 2018

The presidents of Autism Society Philippines [ASP] – Rizal Chapters: Barbara De Guzman of ASP Taytay, Laarni Francisco of ASP Cainta, Esperanza Marzo of ASP San Mateo and Victoria Cabason of ASP Marikina in partnership with the Rizal Provincial Government and ASP National represented by former ASP National President Mary Janette Pena will be conducting the “1Rizal Auto-Sympo” on April 27, 2018, Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm. The event will be held at the Provincial Multipurpose Center, Antipolo City, Rizal to raise the level of awareness, understanding and empowerment of parents, professionals, and government on urgent agenda relevant to the autism community of Rizal.

As part of the Understanding and Advocacy for Autism program slated from 8 – 10 a.m., my documentary ALYANA – A Study of Autism in the Philippines shall be screened. It will be followed by lectures on “Nutrition and Autism” and the “Philippine Health Circular on Benefits for Children with Autism” in the afternoon from 1-4 p.m.

ASP hopes that the documentary will be able to enlighten and educate our community on the nature of persons with autism and provide helpful guides in overcoming the challenges of autism


Out of Making Special Films_Psychic Rewards

March 29, 2017

There are times when I stare at the ceiling and look beyond it while shuffling footage from my memory bank … like today. Fleeting moments as my mind flashed back in 2006 when I premiered my first docu on special children, “ALYANA– A Study of Autism in the Philippines” at the UP Film Center in Diliman, Quezon City. I vividly remember a mother with her family members in tow rushing to me as viewers flocked out of the theater after the viewing. With the look of deep gratitude in her eyes, she held my hands and warmly shook them. It lasted longer than the usual momentary and ordinary handshake. She did not say a word but I strongly felt what she wanted to communicate. Joy was in her heart and mine as well knowing how it impacted her as a mother of a child with autism. ALYANA featured  many mothers of CWAs like her. One other Mom later emailed me to say: “Hindi pala ako nag-iisa!” [I realized I am not alone!] She thanked me for making a documentary on it.

In Iligan City, Mindanao, I happened to sit down beside a woman during one of its road show screenings conducted by Autism Society Philippines in major cities. She whispered to me to say: “Thank you for giving us hope.” I later came to know that she has two sons — both of them with Autism.

Those moments are memorable and they are the very reasons why I still work on Persons with Disability — subjects not usually dealt  with. Eventually, I ended up working with Deaf performers, choreographer and videographer; a Music Scorer with Autism;  a Physically Challenged Person, and a Blind Architect as active part of my production staff or as resource persons. They are for me, gems, whose friendship, I’d forever keep. I consider these special people as more “real” and quite sincere. Inspirations too for showing how good they are when their potentials are tapped, and their capabilities tried. Undoubtedly, people like them who are labeled as “disabled” proved wrong a lot of people through the special films we did together.

Anyhow, we both get encouragement from each other leading me to carry on making special films with the intention of shifting the viewer’s thinking against myths or beliefs that they still have out of ignorance regarding the subjects that I tackled and would focus on in the future.

“What do you gain from doing all these?” some of my friends ask. “Psychic rewards,” I tell them.


Meeting the Empowered Women of Dasmariñas City

March 27, 2015

The Venue at Barangay San Simon, Dasmariñas City, Cavite

Last Tuesday, I went to Dasmariñas City, a place located an hour away from Manila. It was for the third-sponsored screening of my documentary on autism, ALYANA as part of autism awareness campaign being conducted in the area. The City Social Welfare Office supported by the Hon. Mayor Jennifer Barzaga once more initiated the activity. Women leaders called the Kababaihan ng Dasmariñas sa Bagong Milenyo [KDBM] attended. As the venue is small, the screenings were held in the morning and in the afternoon. Both showings were preceded by Jan Peña’s lecture on “Early Detection of Autism.” She is the president of Autism Society Philippines-Dasma Chapter. Her son Muneer, an adult with autism participated by singing a birthday song for his Mom, who celebrated the day before the event. Muneer is suppose to be non-verbal, but according to Jan, he has started to speak little by little.

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Dasma4_Group foto

Anyhow, after the lecture and screening, participants were asked to react, comment or share their feelings towards the activity and the film. One of those who came forward was a tearful woman who sounded somewhat remorseful for not having given importance and taken good care of her son because of lack. And I believe, more so because of ignorance of autism condition. The lecture and the film showed what autism is, the plight of parents and their families, and what they should do in case they see one as community leaders. Learning about the condition for sure would have made her realize what she should have done had she known about it. Click below to see the reactions of some of KDBM members:


For 165 Women Presidents of KDBM, “Alyana” in Dasmariñas City

March 8, 2015

Received an invitation from Dasmariñas City Welfare and Development Office Head Ms. Rosalita Abuan for the screening of ALYANA again in their city, this time intended for 165 Chapter Presidents of Kababaihan ng Dasmariñas sa Bagong Milenyo [KDBM]. In the afternoon, Barangay Nutrition scholars of the city will be the target participants of the Seminar on Early Detection of Autism.

It is a coincidence that they are holding it this March since the film is my tribute to Mothers of Children with Autism, and was originally targeted to be shown during the International Women’s Day years back.

The two previous screenings of Alyana according to Ms. Abuan “have inspired lots of women / mothers and public servants to become more loving, caring and understanding…” Touched by the film when it was first shown in the city, she surely must have seen, in fact, experienced the impact of the film herself. There was thus that immediate decision to re-show it to day care workers, and other interested groups. Because of the information and first-hand testimonials documented in the film, the day care workers for example, either confirmed some questions in their minds regarding children they are dealing with, or come to understand better those children so they would know what to do in case they encounter those who are likely having the condition. And with Jan Peña, Autism Society Philippines-Dasmariñas City Chapter president around with her son who wouldn’t get inspired? Ka-tandem kami uli…

The showing will be held on March 24, 2015 at Little Sunshine Day Care Center, Barangay San Simon.  The mayor of the city, Hon. Jennifer Barzaga will give her inspirational message to the participants.

Below is what they call their Time Plan:

Dasma tk3 invite

Happy International Women’s Day to All!


Alyana Reached Out to 108 Barangay Day Care Workers, DLSU-Dasma Students and Parents of Children with Autism

March 5, 2015

Ms. Rosalita Abuan, City Social Welfare and Development Office Department Head speaks before the 108 day care workers

108 Barangay day care workers from 108 Day care centers of the City of Dasmariñas in Cavite under the City Social Welfare and Development Office headed by Ms. Rosalita Abuan, RSW attended a Seminar on Early Detection of Children with Autism last February 17. Autism Society of the Philippines-Dasmariñas City Chapter president Jan Peña enlightened the captive audience about autism.


Bubbly, energetic, inspiring Jan Peña, ASP-Dasmariñas City, Cavite Chapter President explains to the health care workers what autism is — signs and symptoms, etc.

It was followed by the showing of “Alyana— A Study of Autism in the Philippines” which further helped them understand what autism is based on testimonials not only of mothers of children with autism, but also those who are working for their welfare such as a developmental pediatrician, and sped teachers. As always, the film touched some people in the audience. Alyana by the way is my grandniece…

Day Care

The showing of Alyana to seminar attendees


The activity ended with picture taking such as this one x 12 groups. Front row: [3rd fr left is Marie Shiela Antenor-Haloc who coordinated with me, Dave, 2nd from right is the city’s PDAO president]

In the afternoon of the same day, I was dropped by the DSWD group to De La Salle University-Dasma to show the film to College of education students, especially those who are taking up sped education, parents and relatives of children with autism, and some professors. The film viewing was held at Felipe Calderon Hall.
Felipe Calderon
HPIM0059When the lights were switched on, I was an eyewitness to seeing almost all the parents of children with autism [CWA] wiping their tears after viewing the film. Nakasakay daw sila with all the moms who gave their testimonies. If I were in their shoes, I would understandably be touched by the segment on Denial and Acceptance, especially so, if the viewer has a newly-diagnosed child with autism. At the same time, they must have felt good somehow in seeing that they are not alone. In fact, they must have felt luckier because there are support groups like ASP, and there are expert doctors, not psychiatrists who are attending to their children’s needs. Parents of CWAs in the 80’s up to the 90’s had to go to psychiatrists for treatment.

It is March. When I was doing the film I was targeting to have it shown during the International Women’s Film Festival at the UP Film Center. As I featured mothers of CWA’s, I thought I would show it as my personal tribute to them. For a couple of years I have failed for I took so long to finish it! I had no camera when I decided to work on it. I just borrowed from friends. It became sort of a challenge eventually as hurdle after hurdle came my way. Anyhow, with perseverance, I finally finished the film after two-and-a-half years and have it shown not during the Women’s month which I targeted but in July 2006. Nevertheless, I still succeeded in showing its shortest version at last during the Women’s International day the following year. From then on, up until now, it continues to show. In fact, I received today another invitation to show it — for the third time at Dasmariñas City under the auspices of the super-active DSWD of the city.

The documentary is dedicated to parents whose unconditional love for their children never ceases… to all others who are working for their welfare, and of course, to all persons with autism so that our society would embrace them like anyone else in this world.


ALYANA in Dasma_Feb 17: Day Care Workers in the Morning; Students in the Afternoon

February 14, 2015

ALYANA – A Study of Autism in the Philippines, my documentary which has been showing for nine years since 2006 in different cities and provinces all over the Philippines will revisit Dasmariñas City, Cavite on Tuesday, February 17. The film aims to help raise awareness on autism and break attitudinal barriers towards persons with autism by providing the right information and truth about it through testimonials by persons directly involved in looking after their welfare.

It is slated to have two free screenings in the city. In the morning, it is scheduled to be shown as part of the Seminar on Early Detection of Children with Autism to be conducted by the City Social Welfare Department led by Ms. Rosalita Abuan. For details of their activity, please see their program below:


At 1 p.m., it will be screened to education students of DLSU -Dasmarinas and parents at the Neurodevelopmental Center of De La Salle University Medical Center. Venue is Felipe Calderon Hall Rooms 106-107. The showing hopes to enlighten and inspire the students to accept and help empower individuals with special needs especially persons with autism, and to encourage them to become advocates for the protection and recognition of their rights. Ms. Elena Mercado has initiated the activity at DLSU.

Both screenings will have officers of Autism Society Philippines as resource persons.




ALYANA Goes to Taguig City in Celebration of Philippine National Autism Week

January 27, 2015

Got the confirmation today!

ALYANA, my first feature-length documentary focusing on children with autism will be shown this Saturday, January 31, 2015 as part of Philippine National Autism Week Celebrations. The showing will be held at Senator “Compañero” Renato Cayetano Memorial Science and Technology High School located at 31st corner 51st St., Pamayanang Diego Silang, Ususan in Taguig City.

Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm; 3:00 – 4:30 pm.

The screening is being initiated by Taguig PDAO.

ALYANA continues to screen and hop around towns and cities to help raise autism awareness. The original version was first shown in 2006 at the UP Film Center. It was last shown in Naga City, Bicol Province last December 2014 under the auspices of Autism Society of the Philippines Naga Chapter. Alyana, my grandniece with autism sparked me to make the documentary.


ALYANA Screening at Bicol State College_December 13

December 12, 2014

As part of Autism Society Philippines-Naga City Chapter’s autism awareness and advocacy campaign, Alyana — A Study of Autism in the Philippines, my documentary on autism will be screened at the Bicol State College of Applied Sciences and Technology in Naga City, Bicol Province. The showing is scheduled tomorrow, December 13 from 8 am. To represent the National Office is Jan Peña, ASP Board of Trustee member. She left Manila last night for Naga City.

Mr. Santos Braga, president of ASP-Naga City Chapter is hosting the event. The group believes that the film will help raise their community’s awareness on the condition of persons with autism. And just like them, I know that our society will find it easier to embrace their children once they get to know what exactly autism is.

Alyana, by the way is my grandniece with autism. The film however, is not only about her. It is about ALL children/persons with autism. It covers from low function to high function / Asperger Syndrome cases like Gabby Atienza. He interestingly described his own condition as an aspie. Symptoms and causes, the plight of parents, even the doctor’s explanations and thoughts are included for better understanding of autism.

It will be the second time around for Alyana in Naga…



February 20, 2014

ALYANA–A Study of Autism in the Philippines described by current President of ASP, Ms. Jan Pena as “…a touching reminder that with the growing presence of autism in our midst, our society is faced with these glaring challenges: first, acceptance, understanding, unconditional love for persons with autism; and next, opportunities, services and support for affected individuals and their families..” will be shown to Cavite residents next week on February 26, through the initiative of Autism Society Philippines-Alfonso Chapter led by Ms. Jeanette Vidallon in collaboration with the College of Education, Special Education Department of Cavite State University. The activity is part of their advocacy campaign program and the continuous social awareness of Cavitenos. Mr. Jason Maniacop serves as coordinator.


Alyana_CSU_AVRmThe screening schedule are as follows:

9:00 – 11:00am;  11:30 nn – 1:30 pm; 2:00 – 4 pm

Venue: Audio Visual Room, college of Education, Cavite State U

The screening is also open to the public.


The Cavite State University is located in Indang, Cavite. Over five years ago, I first went there to show my docu “TIGA ISLA.” It is about the lives of Filipinos and Americans on pre-war Corregidor Island, my father’s birthplace. The showing was sponsored by the Philippine National Historical Society.