GENETIC ANCESTRY, MY …!


(On the prompt, “What Percentage of Who You are is Genetics Versus Your Choices?”). I would rather prefer to think that I am more ‘me’ because I ‘chose’ to.

What and how I am now I should thank my genetics for. Err… Huh? Says who? As far as I’m concerned, I don’t owe anyone or anything in this matter, anything at all! So there’s no point for the thank-you; the extension of gratitude is of no consequence. And ‘genetics’ isn’t even a person, d’uh.

But, wait! How about in the biological sense? For sure I must have come from somewhere (or from something even!). Ahhh, yes. Although it is true that I owe my existence from genetics, I would rather prefer to think that the greatest part of me, about 95%, came to be because I consciously steered myself this way and that to be the ‘me’ now. Which means: genetics has little to do with my present existence; but a deliberate effort, however, has the most dominant catalytic force in myself.

But since the case requires for some quantification, I’ll say I am just five percent due to genetics; and I am 95% me otherwise is because of my choices. As much as possible, I prefer to think that my biological ancestry has nothing to do with me at present. So, 5% is the most I can genetically account myself with in terms of valuation.

Because that is how I choose it to be.

If, on the other hand, I ‘choose’ it to be the other way around, well, who the hell would dare stop me from twisting and turning my contentions anyway? Fact is, for as long as you can justify it, particularly if you can justify it ‘good’, you can get away with it. That’s making a choice; genetics has nothing to do with that.

And, whichever contention I may uphold and strongly assert with the best of my ability (so help me God?), it will ‘be’; because, again, I ‘selected’ it. My preference will be palpable; it will come out clear, objective. This will be evident on the conscious taking of a specific task or function. There is command, and the infallible orchestration of the will is apparent. This goes to show that in effect, genetics becomes dormant while choice predominates in people as they grow to be more and more aware that they have the power to do, and thus, be.

Furthermore, it’s like: in the beginning of life, or at conception period (or is it the embryonic stage already?) in the womb, Genetics starts to take the center stage. Fast and furious, bathing in fame and fortune, it plays a very big role in the drama of life that’s about to unfold.

There are stages in one lifetime; and when the age of maturity is reached-at 18 years old-a person’s growth spurts gradually cease playing the ukulele. Yep, people stop increasing in height around this age; the breasts are fully formed (what if women’s breasts don’t stop growing? hmmm… I just can’t imagine!); and it is said that the brain stops growing at this point. This is when adulthood is reached.

When people mature, or when they are adults already (is this when they get to be allowed to avail of things for adults only?), they develop the capacity to think better, like weighing the consequences of a future action or thinking for the best in everything they opt to do. In short, they generally make the most use of their faculties to think (and discern and decide and perceive…). From 18 years of age onwards, the trend never stops.

Eventually, Genetics lost his shine. Great opportunity for Will; he takes over. Gene (My nick name for Genetics, if I may?) got depressed and faded away, and ultimately died a fatal death. And that’s always the trouble with Gene-18 years tops, never further. Clearly a quitter; too bad.

From the age of maturity until around the end of a lifetime whenever it happens to be, Will gets to be captain, pilot, mother(or father?) majorette, mother (or father?) superior, pope, prime minister, president, king, you name it.

Will gets to be anything as long as he thinks it, decides he wants it, and boldly takes action for it. Seems like a good recipe for a meaningful life, don’t you think?

No wonder Will always gets what he wants and totally deserves it, too!

WHAT MAKES SOMEONE BEAUTIFUL?


A gesture of kindness, a thought, a sincere smile, a warm welcome-all these and more that makes my heart melt when it’s thrown my way, with genuine intent, I think makes the giver beautiful. We may consider someone beautiful by a variety of criteria; but it’s that sincerity and purity of intention that counts the most.

True, beauty is skin deep; but what I abhor the most is the thought of someone despicable on the outside and even more despicable on the inside. My skin crawls for this kind of people. Pathetic.

True beauty emanates from inside I guess; and we can feel it. Likewise, we can also feel when there is malintent. Best option: never dwell on the ugly and the bad; instead, cherish and focus on the good and the beautiful– we lose nothing and gain so much that way.

THE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED: a race forgotten, misconstrued


We call them freaks. We pay money to see them make fools of themselves.

We make fun of them as if their feelings don’t count. As kids, we harass them the first

chance we get. Because we have no tolerance for the askew, the crooked, the odd and

the physically gross or absurd. We think of them as non-human. Maltreatment and

injustice are only a common form of torment. .. (in this era wherein ‘beautiful’ is

defined by the perfection as to physicality, elegance and sophistication,and largely

depends on the carats of gems on the bejeweled class of the society where the rich and

the famous choke on over dosage of fame and overwhelming wealth).

In an age and time where everything gets fixed or “converted” into

something new and beautiful (at the right price) in the ultimate quest for the

preservation of youth and for aesthetics’ sake, some of us born rather ‘differently’ seems

to have been thrown in the backstage. Amidst the clamor and din of this fast and furious

rat race, these least of our brethren have been, since time immemorial, considered

second class citizens.

 

We tend to forget that amongst us, between the living and the dead, there

thrives a breathing, feeling faction of our race that silently, in the shadows, desperately

struggles to outlive a cruel, indifferent civilization where only the best, the brightest

and the most able have the privilege to rise up and hear the bells.

What does it mean to be congenitally defective today? True, more and more

consideration for the physically disabled and/or “special people” have never been better

with the rise in growing social awareness for the physically challenged members of our

society. Special seats, lanes, marked lavatories, especially designed walkways and

tracks, custom- made prosthetics, gadgets and what-have-yous became commonplace in

our feeble attempt to show them we care and that they count.

 

Truth is, these attempts are just to quench the guilt deep inside us. We

should be convicted and hanged for enjoying so much while they suffer in the shadows,

out of the limelight, unwillingly bathing in shame at the mercy of the bonds of

insecurity, hopelessness, envy and hate-forever stuck, forever needy and forever

irrelevant and useless. We should be fined and punished for the awesome feeling after a

nature trail hike where we got the chance to bask in the glory of seeing the world from a

different light and being able to fully experience all of its wonders. We should be

tortured and made to suffer for the awesome sights and sounds that travel makes

possible.

 

In the end, nothing can ever make up or suffice even, for the feelings of

deprivations and the pain and suffering of the physically unfortunate. These are beyond

reimbursement. Nothing can ever make up for the torment, grief and the sorrow that

inability and disability gift wraps them with at birth.

 

But everything gets to be alright

when we are loved. The world seems better, brighter. To quote anew, LOVE is the KEY.

MASSKARA FEVER


Last night was the first time I got to see the Bacolod Public Plaza in its ‘splendour’ for the Masskara Festival (since it stopped raining). The plaza is the most accessible among all the venues where the Masskara fever can be ingested. It’s also where the Masskara dance competition will be high-lighted.

Vendors were everywhere selling novelties, souvenir items, miniature masks, and things from ready-to-wear apparels, to food, food, food!

You can smell the wisp of stewed or grilled corn, the mouth-watering skewers of barbecue (chicken feet, gizzard, and other entrails, anyone?), and the peanuts, pickled pork skin (yes, we got that here- only in the Philippines!), chicharon, and balut and penoy were abound.

The scenario was that of a typical fiesta. Although makeshift urinals were set up, the whole plaza reeked of piss (holy guacamole!) from beer-drinking. Old and young people alike were enjoying the food and the sights and sounds, or simply hanging about drinking with friends, relatives, or classmates and office mates.  Music reigned and some people were dancing.  There was even a crazed woman who danced like she was a burlesque dancer. My nine-year old daughter and I heard someone say she used to be a japayuki who got herself messed up with drugs. Modesty aside, she wore some alluring, flimsy, come-on outfit. She was quite a sight; and every passer-by looked amused-stupefied, even.

Groups of teenagers were abuzz.

Quasi check points at points of entry were manned by men and women in uniform, on guard and visible for ill-meaning persons; and they also checked people for guns and other contraband.  It was okay; to keep the peace-and to somehow let people know they can have a good time without worrying about their security. It has been reported that each year, there’s always a casualty.  Some price to pay for the ultimate merriment, huh?

Nevertheless, it seemed everybody was having a good time.  The festive air can be felt; and just a walking distance away,  the carnival rides, games and other attractions brought satisfaction and smiles to kids and families. The bargain stalls proved to be a good alternative for shoppers. And the loud frenzy of people and music seemed to mark the celebration of a very fun-filled Masskara Festival.

Mambukal



      Located just outside the city limits of Bacolod City in the next town of Murcia, Negros Occidental, this eco-tourism hub has been sought after by foreign and local tourists and excursionists alike.
      It is a pristine environment where man and nature merge.  An ideal getaway spot for those weary of the hustle and bustle of the city.  Perfect as a place for R&R (Rest and Relaxation), the resort boasts of its waterfalls and hiking trails aside from the many amenities and features especially maintained to give the guests a wonderful time.
      Whether with kiths and kins alike, the Mambukal phenomenon is an invigorating opportunity for bonding and other social activity. Geared towards wellness, most activities in the resort are fun, and there’s just an endless list of things to do.
      One of the many attractions of the resort is the dipping pool. It’s a therapeutic bathing experience of a lifetime.  A dip takes your cares and worries away;  almost magical, as guests claim.  It is fenced off to limit distractions;  the natural steam refreshes the soul and cleans the mind and body.
      The butterfly farm, on the other hand is a stellar experience.  Butterflies are reputed to be angels’ feathers, and so it seems. To see such varied and colorful creatures is amazingly heart-warming. It’s almost like you’re in a fantasy world where everything good abounds.  Being among them brings serenity to the soul and enlightenment to the mind. Don’t miss these wondrous winged creatures in case you get to see Mambukal; they’re truly heaven-sent. After all, what would have the gods at Olympus fed on off if they weren’t responsible for the ambrosia?
      The Mambukal Mudpack Festival, held annually, is an exciting event to look forward to.  Various groups whose advocacy is towards ecological preservation and environmental awareness, get together for a pre-planned weekend fun highlighted by the drum-beating competition.
Mambukal Resort:  your home, your safe haven in the City of Smiles.


			

ADAMS-OLIVER VS AMNIOTIC BAND SYNDROME


Special people, like the mentally retarded and the physically disabled, in the olden days, were considered second class citizens who ought to keep out of sight.  Despicable and shameful, they were treated like animals, left to rot in oblivion to live out their lives in misery and suffering.  Whether they are indeed accidents of nature, borne of the scourge of  the gods, or some kind of genetic anomaly, one thing is for certain:  it’s not their fault how they turned out to be.

It has been a long time that I have been messing with the web, but it never occurred to me to seek out people with the same condition, or to even just research about it. Having been born with a congenital defect, at 37 years old, it was just last week that I decided to explore the world where one-half of me is an endemic inhabitant.

Initially, I surfed, read, followed links, to no avail.  My oddity, so to speak, cannot be found. Images, images, images- my eyes watered and I burnt candles for nights-but, nada. The gross and the macabre were in front of me (thank God I only have this kind!);  my heart broke to see worse persons than I am.

Browsing for images yielded no positive result, so I turned to reading until my eyebags got swollen and my eyes bulged like burbots‘.  It’s so elusive- there must be something! What, I’m not even among the categories and types? Later, I realized that I had a hard time because I wasn’t using the right tags.  But how could I, since I myself was at a loss as to what my deformity was called like!

Finally, I got to Adams-Oliver Syndrome and then eventually to Amniotic Band Syndrome.  I could fit in to either of them, but I still need more time to delve deeper.  One fact, though;  whichever syndrome I get to ‘fit in’, I am the only one with this kind of foot defect.  For, NO TWO CASES ARE EVER ALIKE.

Consequently, I will be spending more time learning about my deficiency.  Prior to last week, I’ve never encountered both syndromes before.  I guess I didn’t really give much thought to my defect as much as I should have, in my feeble attempt to ‘belong’ with the masses. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for having had such understanding family and friends to have had the chance to be considered ‘normal’ in spite of what I truly am.

For that, I am very grateful;  and I feel truly blessed.

JASMINE GARCES


When Jasmine was born, everybody gave thanks for the wonderful gift of a new child in

the family. Like any other baby, she was cherubic and her smile never failed to warm the

heart.  She was the center of attention; a princess everyone adored and just can’t get

enough of.  So cute and cuddly!

When music emanates from the family radio, Jasmine gets carried away.  Music would signal a

moment of jolly good time-full of laughter and merriment. When Jasmine dances with

the music, (oh how good she can move- so flexible, so in time with the beat, so

inventive for moves) she’s awesome.  Music and dancing takes her to planes and

dimensions she alone understands. She’s taken by the music like a feather taken by

the soft wind. Time stops when she hears music or dances with it. Almost surreal,

almost sublime.

Jasmine’s congenital anomaly is rather chromosomal in nature. Persons with Down

Syndrome may vary in levels and thus their personalities differ.

The realization that a child is suffering from Down Syndrome can be devastating to the

parents. The best way to contend with it, is to accept it and give the child all the love,

care and understanding more than doubly afforded the typical child.

It has been observed and well-studied, that the majority of congenitally defective

individuals are very sensitive people. They are easily provoked, and the least

unintentional action may be easily taken as a threat or intimidation. They can

exaggerate reactions deliberately or without any much thought.

Persons afflicted with Down Syndrome, however, are mostly quiet, contented and

extremely happy. For Jasmine’s parents, they didn’t mind at all that their daughter was

different. They were proud of her in fact. She is sweet, loving, kind, graceful, easy and

above all, always happy. They love her as she is; they take her everywhere; people are

fond of her jovial, peaceful nature; and her being happy 99% of the time is very

infectious.

Being 18 years old now, Jasmine started to menstruate at 13, like any other girl. It was a

mess at first but later she had learned how to take care of herself when it comes every

month. She wouldn’t even bother anyone for a napkin; she buys it herself and fends for

her well-being during the period.

She is also amazingly more independent of others than most persons like her. She takes

a bath by herself, takes care of her baby nephews and nieces, sets the table and eats by

herself, and even washes the dishes and throws away the garbage and does all other simple

house chores.

Antics cannot be avoided. For these people, they never run out of silly, cute, and odd

mischiefs. Keys are not where they are anymore, the food disappears and appears on

the table; wallets, all sorts, are in the second drawer of her cabinet; slippers don’t have

their pairs anymore, and a bear hug, a quick kiss or sudden pat in the backs can startle

members of the family; and a huge, warm, hearty laughing streak would ensue for sure.

For Jasmine, her circumstances are the most ideal for someone like her. She can be

considered lucky-particularly in this part of the world. For, her lifetime is one with a

lot of love and understanding; one that has learned how it is to be truly loved in spite

of what she  ‘happened’ to be.

KYLA


I saw her on teevee today.
I almost thought, “how cruel God must be”.
I almost cried; seeing her was just like your heart was crushed.
Such fragile ‘thing’… It must be very hard for her mum…

Kyla was auditioning for a teevee show.

The show is the local equivalent of America’s Got Talent television program. She was auditioning! Before her turn to show-off, nobody would ever believe she was there for the screening. SCREENING!

Did you say, screening? Screening as in like auditioning? As in: a trial performance to determine suitability for a contest? A try-out? An elimination exercise?

Yes. And for a prestigious national television show, at that.

Because Kyla looked like she’s just a baby, you can never tell otherwise. Her mother carries her around. She doesn’t have the capacity or functionality to walk. Her legs couldn’t support her. All her extremities seemed very fragile, although her hands looked ‘normal’. I couldn’t see her legs and feet, though. She was wearing stockings. But I could clearly discern her legs’ length and how useless they are.

Kyla is 11 years old.

When it was her turn to ‘try-out’, she was on a chair. A microphone was already set up for her. She sang a song that made her get in. She did it! She’s gonna be joining in the contest proper! Bravo! Kudos!

Whatever the turn-out of the contest proper doesn’t matter. For, at this stage, it cannot be determined yet. But one thing is clear: her strength of spirit is amazing. The mere fact that she went through the eye of the needle is an extremely awesome feat.

Good luck, Kyla!

ABOUT ‘SPECIAL PERSONS ARE PEOPLE, TOO!’ BLOG


Special Persons are People, Too is a literary hub where everyone is welcome to interact with persons with congenital physical deformities or defects, give advice, offer opportunities, or just simply to give support and show they care.

Being provided a fantastic site you can call your own is simply irresistible.  Best of all, you can do whatever you want with it (for as long as you don’t go over the boundaries). It’s like winning the lottery;  a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you feel you have to really take care of and make the best of.

Thanks to the kindness of all the staff at wordpress.com and the community and other outfits that support them. Words can never suffice to show our gratefulness for these selfless people. Without them, Special Persons are People, Too could not have come into existence.

People like me-bloggers, authors/writers, companies, associations, and other organizations geared towards sharing and community interaction to foster goodwill among those who believe they can make a difference, now have a great avenue where they can impart insights and other important stuff to the world.  It’s simply awesome!

Here, we hope to discuss about, and share experiences of, people who have physical deformities- their adversities, exploits, and most of all, their TRIUMPHS over their misfortunes.

Also, we will be posting about Bacolod City as a gateway to extend a glimpse about where we hail from, and we hope to feature articles about individual persons, entire organizations, government agencies, and other professionals somehow akin to our city and our advocacy.

We’re a newbie in this endeavor, and whatever help we can get, we would appreciate it very much.  Kindly feel free to contact us for any suggestions, literary contributions, advice and other relevant things we need (like topics, articles, or links that can further help us improve).

Thank you.