We were recently invited to the media screening of “Yakap” (Embrace), a collaboration of Center for Possibilities founder Dolores Cheng and Director Danny Añonuevo. The 50-minute film brings to light the stories of 3 individuals with the primary goal of generating awareness about respect for persons with special needs.
“Yakap” is a film that gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to live with family and loved ones who have special needs. Not that I am clueless because my mom’s youngest brother who is more than 50 years old is special. He has been lovingly cared for by my younger sister and my brother-in-law.
“It was my own coming to terms with the condition of my son,” Ms. Dolores Cheng, founder of Center of Possibilities Foundation, Inc. shares, on how the center came about 10 years ago. 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,” Ms. Dolores adds.
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.
Ms. Dolores Cheng, Founder of Center for Possibilities
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.
Real stories of real people
“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,” Ms. Dolores Cheng said.
The stories are told from the points of view of the parents of the special needs children – nothing scripted. It was moving to hear their stories, their hearts, the struggles, their worries and everything that having to live with a loved one with special needs bring.
Sweet dear Gelli and her mom were present during the meet and greet before the media screening
These precious children’s stories were shared in the film, mostly from their parents perspectives. It was also refreshing to listen to the story of Kevin, the lone adult special needs person, who also shared his story. He remains to be functional and “enabled” in spite of his limitations. This is very encouraging for families who have special needs loved ones. Our support and love will make the whole difference in how they will manage to navigate life.
- 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
- Kevin Avelino, a 45-year-old with Global Developmental Delay
Music for “Yakap” was composed by Jessie Lasaten and the post production color grading was done by Issa Gonzalez. The 54-minute film is capped off by a music video with lyrics that Dolores wrote with music by Charo Unite.
“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.
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,” she volunteers.
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.
“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.
Special screenings of “Yakap” may be arranged through CFP at centerforpossibilities.asia or (02) 723-1242 or (0918) 888-1759.
“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.