The Oldest Story We Can All Relate To

Inspiring stories about parenting, its challenges, and how people are able to deal with it are all over but there is one particular story that has become my favorite.

There once lived a couple who never had a child. They were already old and the idea of having one seems more impossible as years go by. The day, however, came when someone paid a visit and who then told the husband that they will soon have a son.

His wife who overheard the conversation couldn’t believe her ears. The news to her was unreal. She believed that she cannot bear a child anymore but her husband who is a man of big faith knew otherwise.

And a miracle did happen. The once childless couple soon became a parent of a son. He was a gift and they love him so much.

Years passed and something would put them to the test. The man was told that their most cherished son needs to be offered and he received instructions how it would be done.

The fateful day arrived. Overcoming sadness as well as reluctance the man proceeded as planned. Taking his son with him he climbed the mountain where everything would take place. All set, the altar ready and his son tied up, the man raised his knife to execute the ultimate sacrifice.

Just as he was about to take his own son’s life, a voice from heaven soon thundered as an Angel ordered, “You have proven yourself. Let go of your son and from the bushes you will find a lamb. Use it instead as your offering to God.” This is the story of the couple Abraham and Sarah and their son, their only son, Isaac.

I never knew that a story from the biblical period, one that I have read to our son several times before, will soon be the same as our condition sans the altar and the need to slay a son–even a poor lamb. The similarity is in how an unexpected situation would test our faith.

It was how it felt like when my wife and I first learned about Marcus having a progressive crippling condition. We questioned God, we asked so many questions. We asked why us. We asked why of all children, why Marcus. We hoped that we would soon find the answers.

For now we cannot do anything but accept the fact that this predicament we are in is a test–a rather difficult one–that we need to pass. It is our own cross that we need to carry and a monster that we should face boldly. We must remain steadfast with the heartbreaking fact that we will eventually lose our only son because of Duchenne Muscle Dystrophy. I know that this is also the same feeling that others have whose lives of their loved ones are threatened by conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Such unfortunate circumstance made the recently concluded Father’s Day more meaningful to me. While until now I continue to strive to be that ideal father, I know that I have found my purpose in life: to be a good father that Marcus needs to have whether or not that angel from heaven comes down and tells us, “You’ve passed, you will have your beloved son back.”

***

Mood: 6/10 Honks! (He told his mother that he finds it hard to wake up from bed.)

Living in an Acacia for Two Days

When I was a little boy we lived in a place that has this big acacia tree. It was the landmark of that place from which we’ve heard stories about a kapre living in it who would take children who are nearby when nighttime falls. During daytime we would play under it but we have to watch out for the seasonal hairy caterpillars that could give anyone a bad itch that stays for days.

Years later I would find myself at an acacia again. This time it is taller, bigger, and a lot different from the one I used to know. This acacia neither has any hairy caterpillar dangling from it nor does it have scary folklores. It is the acacia where I would want to be at anytime. It is the Acacia Hotel Manila in Alabang.

The acacia sans the hairy caterpillars.

Thanks to online promos, and wifey’s knack to find one, we once again got a good deal from dealgrocer.com that allowed us to be closed to the Lawsons who were then booked in Bellevue. The deal landed us a discounted accommodation in Acacia Hotel which I say must is one of the most strategically located hotels in the area.

On Saturday, June 6, we got a room that has something the previous ones do not have. The sparkling blue water peeking in through the wide glass window immediately got our attention. Marcus loves swimming pools so the fact that there is one right outside our room on the third floor was a welcome sight. With our bag unpacked halfway, Marcus and I were on our swimsuits in no time.

Because Spongebob is a stuffed toy so he got Batman in the pool instead.

Looking down from the pool area I confirmed the hotel’s proximity to other establishments. From there the new Commercenter (that recently opened its cinemas) is a few steps away with its Yellow Cab Pizza Co. branch clearly visible. Right across on the other side of the Acacia Hotel are McDonalds and IHOP restaurants. And anyone who needs some medicines, like I did due to a nagging toothache, the Mercury drug store is just right behind the hotel. At the same area are banks that you could use especially if your account has more than enough to purchase an Audi which by the way has nearby a showroom. Another car dealership along Commerce Avenue is BMW. (I haven’t been inside any of it but I dreamt about entering one. If only dealgrocer.com offers car discounts that we can’t refuse.) The Acacia Hotel is also in the middle of two popular malls in Alabang. The Ayala Town Center is located about a kilometer away and on the opposite direction one would find the Festival Mall.

Night at Acacia Hotel Manila
Busy night traffic shot from the pool area.

Dining at the Hotel Acacia Manila is definitely something to look forward to. The dining area is surrounded by glass windows with a high ceiling that isolate anyone from the noise of traffic outside yet at the same still get the hotel guests see the activities of the commercial district while they enjoy a romantic dinner or a sumptuous buffet breakfast.

Breakfast at Acacia Hotel Manila
Buffet breakfasts never fail to make us smile

The friendliness and service of the staff are also remarkable. Worth mentioning is the pool attendant who checked if there is something he can do to help when he saw Marcus trip in the pool during our nighttime dip. And then there’s the teamwork of the hotel receptionist and room service who made sure that they find Marcus’ Spongebob stuffed toy which we forgot to pack on our last day. You never know how your gestures made our two-day stay something that we will remember.

The breezy pool area did not stop us from taking a night dip.

***

The initial plan was just for an overnight stay but we soon learned that my sister and family aren’t leaving for Bacolod on Sunday. It was a good thing that wifey found another discount through dealgrocer.com that made us avoid paying P8K plus for another day. She made the deal using the HP Envy she got from the Lawons. Thanks!!!

Incidentally, we checked out Monday, June 8, which was exactly a week after we had Marcus’ EMG/NCV session at Asian Hospital and Medical Center.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (I am hoping that these inquiries about our house will translate to a sale soon.)

Saturdays with Needles

It has been a week since I got inked for the very first time and as most people who do it, there is an inspiration behind each tattoo. Mine comes from Marcus and one of his favorite games, Minecraft.

That’s Minecraft’s Steve on my left chest.

The tattoo shop’s size and ambiance were not close to those of Miami Ink–a show that wifey and I used to watch back when we still have cable TV. However, I know that the experience I felt that day was the same as anyone who had their tattoo for the first time. It was a mixture of pain, excitement, and the dilemma if I could still back out and say “forget it.”

Same cannot be told of Marcus’ day with a different needle. Today, we finally accomplished his first test–among several ordered by his doctor–that requires blood extraction for CKMM which is a procedure that will determine the extent of damage to his muscles. Watching him cry was painful but what breaks my heart more was his question after the extraction, “Daddy, would I be able to jump soon?” Result comes out this Monday.

Marcus with Yaya (known to others as Frankenbob) thru good times and bad times. There’s my next tattoo idea.

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Still wondering why him.)

Are Tablets Good for Children?

April 23, Thursday. We were in a developmental pediatrician’s clinic. Our main purpose that day was to have Marcus checked for his unexplained frailty–he falls, he trips for no apparent reason. And among the factors we believed that contribute to his abnormal condition is just his lack of physical activities compared with other children of his age.

Immediately after being checked by the doctor, Marcus went to his cousin who is seated just across the doctor’s desk. Jed was occupied with Minecraft (they have been playing this game most of the time since day one of Jed’s one-week vacation) on our PLDT Telpad. They were quiet–as I have advised them–but the gadget captured the doctor’s attention. We didn’t expect what she said next.

“Were you ever aware about the effect of that gadget to your kid?” the doctor asked. “We’ll I’ve read about it,” I replied defensively. Obviously, she has a lot more to say about it, she went on with her lecture.

According to her, these gadgets impact our children big time. Kids nowadays who start to learn, some as young as six months old, how to use smartphones and tablets exhibit at least one of the following characteristics: impatience, short attention span, excessively possessive, and snaps easily. She added that electronic gadgets have been observed to cause ADHD and even trigger autism. While she was spot on regarding the characteristics–it was everything we have observed from Marcus, I was skeptic about ADHD and autism.

Nevertheless I swear that day that there will be lesser gadget time for Marcus. I felt more convinced that he needs to get more physical activity. I thought it was time to pump his green bike back to life. But it was a plan that would change quickly the following day.

Are smartphones and tablets good for children then? Given the effects of these gadgets, would we want to keep our kids away from them? Of course, this where parenting comes in. The key here is appropriate control as well as being good role models. Parents must also have the awareness that different kids have different needs which for my wife and I right now is the most important thing.

After April 23 we are back to allowing Marcus to have more gadget time. My wife and I have agreed that we will not force him anymore to get engaged in physical activities. We will let him play Minecraft more where he can build his own world and move around any terrain without falling down, without getting hurt. The doctor won’t probably understand but hopefully someday she will.

***

Mood: 7/10 Honks! (This toothache is killing me.)

Lift Marcus

I am on my second year of frequenting the gym a lot more than before. My personal goal when I started once again to sweating it off in the gym was just like anyone else–try to burn fat. Just that. Besides it was either I kill time reading a book or lifting weights at the gym right across Marcus’ school while I wait for him to step out of his class.

Recent turn of events, however, changed everything. The goal now is to become stronger physically as well as mentally and spiritually. For the three of us, for Marcus. Time has been ticking, time will come to lift Marcus. When that time comes, God willing, we should be ready.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (We draw our strength from prayers, from everyone.)

Why I am For Embryo Editing

There are things happening around us that we tend to ignore and it is perfectly normal. We only care if something affects us–the economy, gadgets, car models, fashion, entertainment, career, etc. In our health-conscious world, we also would talk about fitness in general. Everyone considers activities like going to the gym, start running, and acquiring that first bike. The concerns of the average Joes, at the very least.

If you belong to this crowd, then you are lucky. It means that you are gifted with a sound mind and body that allows you to be involved in normal physical activities.

But not everyone can be physically active,  let alone do simple tasks. For some people, simply standing up or talking small steps are challenging enough. Like children with muscular dystrophy, specifically Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD.

Children with DMD are innocent victims of a genetic disorder. According to online resources, DMD is caused by a damaged or mutated dystrophin gene on the X chromosomes resulting to the muscles not to develop properly and, worse, to degrade over time. DMD will cripple anyone at a very young age.

So what if science can correct this problem? What if there is a way to edit the genetic code so that a normal baby comes out. Would you approve? Do you think God will approve?

Yes, there will always be questions regarding the ethics of tweaking the genes. Lots of it actually. The fear of having only perfect babies will always linger. The thought about something similar to the Nazi’s genocide happening all over again or even imagine the fictional movie Gattaca becoming real would surface. Will this breakthrough eventually result to inhumane elimination of the weak and anyone with inferior genes? What a scary thought, right?

There are chances though that some are willing to take. These are the people who are in this situation. Those who are, and their loved ones, inflicted with a disorder that science currently have not resolved. They are people who are the intended beneficiaries of the cure that are still in the works.  They are the ones who, while scientists experiment with animals and while lawmakers debate on ethics, continue to suffer and with time working against them.

It won’t be a big surprise though to learn that not everyone will agree to embryo editing. For one, this may contradict religious beliefs as it could be seen as playing God. There will always be people who would not want to oppose the will of God. There are people who believe in nothing but divine miracles. But what if embryo editing is the miracle that we have been waiting for?

For me, this is a miracle. It may be selfish for me to wish Marcus could have avoided DMD, as the doctor has recently diagnosed, had embryo editing been available before and to not think about the long-term impact of the technology in case some scientists dare to push the envelop. We are that desperate right now and our immediate concern is for a cure to ultimately produce healthy babies as well as cure those with genetic disorder so that they could be just like most of us, regular Joes.

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks! (In Batangas, Marcus with his tablet.)