Picked a chair

Red wheel.

This must be the most striking Your Memories On Facebook picture I’d ever have. This was three years ago today when we picked Marcus’ red wheelchair in Festival Mall. He can still stand and walk back then. Time flies, time sucks.

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Mood: 6/10 Honks! (What the future holds.)

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Fight For PWD Access

It’s another payday weekend, malls would be packed once more, and when this happens parking becomes more challenging than usual. No big deal if you think about it as sooner or later, a slot frees up and it could be yours. Its proximity to the mall doesn’t matter. We could just walk.

Sadly, not everyone has this luxury to just walk. Not everyone could just park their car somewhere, take a hike to the mall, and on rainy days like today, make a dash to the nearest covered area. Not everyone.

Image by Robert Mark Santos as posted on Facebook.

If you still don’t know it yet guys, people with disabilities (PWDs), specifically those in wheelchairs exist. Young and old alike, whether they can wheel themselves on their own or not, they exist. And if you still aren’t aware of it–by ignorance, poor upbringing, or plain insensitivity–PWD parking slots exist and should be respected.

PWD parking spaces are supposed to be reserved for folks who lack mobility. These slots are specially marked, wider than the regular ones, and are normally located close to PWD access ramps. While not all PWD parking spaces are “intelligently” designed, being aware that these are made to serve a specific purpose–and therefore must be used only by its intended patrons–is already a good start in showing that we are sensitive to others who need the PWD parking spots the most.

Not all PWD access look like easy access but don’t block it anyway. (Credit to owner.)

So if today you plan to enjoy your weekend, be sensitive and kind. At least before you enter the crowded mall. Don’t be that guy who parks in PWD slots just because you find it available when you arrived at the parking area or just because you figured your compact car or motorcycle fits the spot. People in wheelchairs will appreciate it a lot if you make their life less stressful by giving them the access that they deserve.

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The struggle to get a PWD parking slot is real and to understand why people who seem fit and abled continue to use it.

Whenever I see a party of abled individuals getting out of a car parked in a PWD slot I couldn’t help but wonder if either one of them qualifies as PWD. Someone once disputed that definition of disability is broad which makes it hard to judge if a person who appears fit should be allowed to use the PWD spot.

Pregnant women, elderly, and those who lack mobility are apparently the ones who need to be prioritized in using the PWD slots. But what about those with other conditions that aren’t obvious physical disability?

Then there’s also inconsistency in implementing Republic Act 10070 which protects the welfare of PWDs. There are still establishments that lack PWD access and there are places wherein nobody regularly checks if a person using the PWD parking space is indeed a PWD or with one who needs assistance.

There’s still so much room for improvement in dealing with PWDs. We just can hope and pray the day would come when more, if not all, people recognize and respect the needs of people with disabilities.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Internet drags.)

Getting Used to Fancy Cinema Seats

When Marcus was smaller he almost got stuck in a cinema seat when the foldable chair tilted back in place. Since then he would hesitate to be seated alone for fear of falling in the gap once more. So it did come as a surprise when he immediately loved the first time he experienced watching a movie in a stable and comfy recliner seat. It was back in 2016 in California. It was a Star Wars film.

With our recent preference to avoid Alabang traffic we discovered that Cinema 3 of Solenad in Nuvali also offers such luxurious seats. For P400+ (approx USD7) per person it’s a win-win regardless if I like the movie or not. The recliners make comfy beds when boredom or effect of graveyard shift takes over.

Uptown Mall’s ultra cinema knows how to spoil a kid.

Two days ago we found a better movie deal. Uptown Mall in BGC has what they call ultra cinema which likewise offers recliner seats except that for almost the same price tickets already include refillable snacks of soda and popcorn. Take note, refillable. Soda. Popcorn. Besides the regular buttons to control the seat’s positions, there’s a summon button for the attendant when snacks run out. Thankfully that didn’t happen and our Incredibles 2 started and ended without interruption. Sort of.

Coming out of a short nap, thanks to the spicy Scott PNC burger and the free cheese popcorn and 500ml Coke, I had to excuse myself for a pee break. But what did I miss? None. Not only that the cinema’s toilet is clean, it also has speakers that play clearly the movie’s audio. I could have stayed longer in there and wouldn’t have missed any except watching Mr. Incredible play regular parent for the most part of the movie. This is how all cinemas should be like.

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New rings after 19 years.

We stayed for three days and two nights in F1 Hotel Manila, BGC to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. The hotel was average and our room is similar to what we had in A Venue Hotel wherein there’s a separate room from the suite’s receiving area.

It’s not an issue that the bathroom didn’t have a tub but it took time for housekeeping to provide a chair for Marcus to use while taking a shower. So his first shower was done seated on the floor. Lesson learned for us: bring our own monobloc chair next time.

The hotel has three pools but the lap pool was under maintenance. Two options left weren’t really good and pool area was quite tight considering Marcus has a wheelchair.

A couple of treadmills in the gym were also down. Towels aren’t readily available unlike in Acacia Hotel. I had good sessions though and what kept me going back was what I like the most in this hotel.

What the hotel lacks in its room and service, it makes up for in its breakfast buffet. F1 Hotel Manila serves remarkable food. I liked everything I had on my plate–veggie curry, Frankfurter, omelette, tortang giniling, Danish, pancakes, etc. My MyFitnessPal app recorded about 1000 calories alone for each free breakfast which was more than enough to fuel my treadmill runs and weight training. FYI, I returned home with just three pounds more.

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It rained hard so we sought shelter and learned we can afford Denny’s.

The hotel didn’t stop us from enjoying wedding anniversary though. We tried new things like our first Grab car ride and we discovered that we can afford Denny’s. It was also nice to set aside my phone for most of the day while I give more attention to Marcus, watched cable TV movies with him and listen to his perfect impression of his mommy sleeping. Trust me, he nailed it. Good times.

Glad we grabbed a Grab.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Uneventful return to reality.)

Avengers: Infinity War 2X

Skip the Avengers: Infinity movie and save money. Besides that the sentence rhymes, it was my plan this weekend after our company treated us employees to a blocked screening at the nearby Vista Mall coming from a Friday night shift.

Other than having a bag of bland popcorn–I passed on the salt and flavoring–and a warm bottle of orange soda for breakfast, the movie treat was a deviation to my normal weekend diet, it also wasn’t Marcus’ idea of how his Sunday would be like.

I thought he and his mom already worked out an alternative when he said before going to bed Saturday night that he discovered he could pre-order Avengers: Infinity War on Xbox Live. Sounds like a plan, a cheaper plan of just $15. All he needs to do was wait until the movie becomes available online.

But I should’ve have known better that waiting doesn’t work for him. I learned sooner that Marcus is still looking forward to watching it in the cinema. Wifey relayed the message minutes before I hit the sack that night. “Your son asked if I could carry him to the seats if it’s just the two of us and I answered yes, of course. That’s his concern,” she said but left her statement hanging.

“So what’s your concern?” I asked, fishing for unstated needs–force work of habit kicking in. “That if I could actually carry him,” she replied half firm, half joking. We had a good laugh out of it. I know my wife’s humor as much as I know her hidden strength. I know she can carry Marcus no doubt.

So I went to bed that night still with the same initial plan–drive them to the mall, wait for them outside until the movie ends. I was ready to kill time with my Netflix downloads and spare purchasing another Avengers: Infinity War movie ticket in the process.

That last conversation stuck though. Our routine in the cinemas we’ve been following for the past years since the wheelchair kept playing inside my head until the next morning while I eat my oatmeal-raisin-peanut butter-banana combo to compensate for the other day’s toxic choice.

He came prepared for the cold.

Buy popcorn for Marcus, get snacks for us, transfer him to his movie theater seat, carry him to his wheelchair if he asked to go the toilet, then settle back again to enjoy the film. It’s been like that most times. And lately he’s gained more weight.

I need to be in the cinema. Period.

So that’s how I ended up watching the same movie twice in a row. Good thing the comfy Solenad Cinema 3 allowed me to snooze every now and then and to see Marcus enjoying everything–the Avengers and Guardians characters, Stan Lee’s cameo, Blazing Cheddar popcorn, and his favorite reclining seat–was worth spending an extra 400 pesos.

Weekend mission accomplished.

***

The Avengers: Infinity War is a dark movie and it could disappointment people especially those who expect a triumphant hero at the end. This movie is a game changer. Thanos has to die.

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Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Busy week ahead.)

Ten and Counting

There’s no stopping time as Marcus turns ten. He’s become smarter and continue to be more expressive. He now knows what he wants and if he had his way, he wants things to happen.

Color of the day.

Even before 2018 started he was already specific with his plans for his birthday this year. He asked if he could celebrate it in Acacia Hotel Manila with just the three of us–introvert parents breed introvert kids, don’t we? Wifey tried to offer other choices but Marcus has made up his mind. Must be the pool or the rooms or maybe it’s the hotel’s proximity to Festival Mall or ATC, his comfort zones since then. Or maybe it made a mark on him when we almost lost his favorite plush Frankenbob toy the last time we were here but staff found and returned it. Whatever, he just loves the place no doubt.

Acacia pool, Frankenbob, Elmo

His affinity for this place in Filinvest Alabang over the others seemed to prove worthy once again. A grand welcome greeted him when we stepped in our room which would be our home in the next three days and two nights. Staff prepared the room for Marcus with balloons and a whole chocolate birthday cake. It was the most number of balloons he ever had. Staff spoiled him more with complimentary desserts they delivered to our room in the evening.

This birthday would have been a whole lot better if only we could promise to give him his special wish he made the morning before we set off on our staycation.

“What’s your wish?” we asked him before blowing his Homer cake–a pink sprinkled Krispy Kreme donut wifey designed as a cake with one birthday candle in the middle. Still in his pajamas with his ruffled newly dyed golden hair, he said, “That I could walk and a PS4.” I smiled and cheered but I know that wifey too silently wished and felt the same thing I did as I finish the video recording. It was something we both expected our son would say but one of it just won’t happen in this lifetime however hard we’d want to. A miracle is all we could wish for.

Happy birthday son, we still love you, we are here for you.

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Marcus skipped his therapy this week but he left his physical therapists some pizza the other Friday to celebrate this birthday.

Marcus and wifey with staff and interns of St. Frances Cabrini PT center.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Hope Marcus doesn’t catch the bug. Wifey and I got the sniffles.)

Run With Marcus

It’s been my dream to do something physical with Marcus, run with him. But his wheelchair sets some limits among others. Weather and outdoor condition are other factors as he’s had history of allergic reactions.

Yesterday seems to be the perfect condition although it was a bit windy late in the afternoon. We set off anyway, stepped out of the house with my running shoes and Marcus looking forward to see the goats along the way.

I ran and pushed at the first kilometer until the goats appeared. Then it was mostly run-walk from then onwards. I let Marcus cherish the moments to see nature and animals beyond Ultra HD 4K.

We conquered 200 meters. Flaring nostrils not shown.

If only we had this Adaptive Mobility Freedom Push Chairs which I saw first on Facebook page of Athletes in Tandem. This push chair would allow me to run with Marcus better and safer. His current wheelchair rattles and it poses a challenge when going uphill thus the need to take extra care not to over tilt him backwards. The mobility chair’s price is stiff though at $900 excluding shipping since it would come from USA. Maybe soon.

We covered seven kilometers yesterday so this red wheelchair is good enough for now.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Today’s agenda: Learn the floss. (No) thanks to kid’s Fortnite game.)

Alcohol-Free, Almost

Me according to Marcus.

As parents, we play different roles. At some point we are either any or a combination of being a superhero, a soldier, a doctor, a nurse, a driver, a bank teller, a teacher, a preacher, a clown, and a friend. Our children expect us to be as flexible as Mr. Fantastic and our children keep a keen eye on us day in day out. What we do is what they would become.

It is imperative that we pay attention to our actions. The sooner we realize that we have greater responsibilities the moment a child becomes part of our lives, the better. Parenting is complicated, I know, and it is normally easy on theory but a whole lot different when everything happens right in front of your face. Kid cries, kid wants food, kid poops, kid pees, kid makes a mess. And kid gets sick. And some kid, later on, would have special needs.

There is no turning back. Hard truth. It takes someone strong, wherever that strength may come from, to say “I can do this.” A good parent commits, a good parent loves…without condition. Child first, everything else takes a backseat.

It took some time to get my acts straight when it comes to alcohol. Several times I was behind the wheel under influence with Marcus inside the car, I had days I missed getting him to bed because I can barely hold my own, and there was one day I missed him blowing his birthday cake because I’ve passed out. Been that bad father.

This was a sign.

Honestly, I somehow miss drinking with friends. Those days when cheeks would get warm and tight. Those days when eyes drop halfway, then the world starts turning. Those days when inhibitions are lost and words come out freely and without care. All for the heck of doing it. In vino veritas. But perspectives and priorities changed.

I haven’t stopped drinking entirely but since the red wheelchair came the drinking became less and lesser. Occasional isn’t even a close definition. I could count with my fingers the number of times I went drinking especially last year. Running and working out helped me avoid the urges. (FYI, six bottles of low-calorie beer is equivalent to one meal or a third of a day’s calorie allowance. That’s excluding finger foods!)

I am alcohol-free, almost. I’ve made myself 24/7 for Marcus as much as possible. I’m his fireman who would jump the pole and would be there for him in no time. I would only drink if Marcus is not around or if I know Marcus’ needs are all taken care of. I think I could now qualify as best parent yet not. Others have far challenging stories. So to all of you out there who continue to make sacrifices and continue to love their kids with special needs, hats off to you. Happy Sunday.

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Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Just in time for the adobo.)