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  • Mary Alice Sucaldito

A Parent's Pride and Joy

Among the 111 Persons with Disability (PWD) that Unilab Foundation has placed through Project Inclusion, we asked three parents of hired PWDs about their children’s successes, and how they progressed in their work, and in their daily lives.

The joys of both parent and child

Ryan Dee, Sara Ungson, and Ian Borleo are three different people, but are tackling the same path towards independence. Ryan is a diligent worker who’s always on time, Ian talented singer who’s great with numbers, and Sara a showbiz fan who loves posing for photos. Ryan and Sara are both have Down Syndrome, while Ian has autism.

All three of them are now full-time employees at South Star Drug. Ryan is a Merchandiser and Pharmacy Assistant in Pasig, while Sara is a Pharmacy Assistant/Customer Relations in Quezon City, and Ian is an Accounting Clerk at the head office.

Growing up with special needs, they have been a source of happiness and pride to their parents. Their employment—Ryan since January of 2017, and Sara and Ian since December of 2016—has provided their parents new joy.

Nagbigay siya sa amin ng envelope with P1,000, may nakalagay na, ‘Nanay, Tatay, pang-shopping’. Then, trineat niya kami ng dinner, Korean dinner. The whole family ha, including her brother and sister-in-law,” shared Daddy Rudy Ungson, recalling the first time Sara received her paycheck.

(“She gave us an envelope with P1,000, with a message, ‘Mom, Dad, for shopping.’ Then, she treated us to dinner, Korean dinner. The whole family, including her brother and sister-in-law!”)

Like Sara’s parents, Mommy Igid Borleo was also surprised by what Ian did he got his first salary. “Pagdating ko may pera. Sabi ko, ‘Ian, what’s this?’” (“When I arrived, I found some money. I asked, ‘Ian, what’s this?’”)

“That’s my salary,” Ian replied. “I give it to you.”

“I told him, ‘No, no. I’ll just get your allowance and the balance we’ll put it in your bank.’”

Hindi naman ako nag-e-expect na ibibigay niya sakin ‘yun. Kaya sabi ko sa kanya, next time, if he wants something, he just needs to tell me para mabili naming, (“I wasn’t expecting that he will give his salary to me. So I told him that next time, he wants something, he just needs to tell me, so we can buy it”),” Mommy Igid added.

True potential

For the parents, seeing their children earn for themselves is already a gift. But more fulfilling is seeing the improvements in their kids. For the past few months, they witnessed how employment unlocked their children’s true potential. As parents, they are enthusiastic to see more.

Kasi dati late sleeper yan ‘eh, she sleeps at 2:00am, gigising ‘yan ng 10:00am. Ngayon, she sleeps at 11:00pm, gigising ‘yan ng 5:45am without us waking her up,” shares Daddy Rudy about Sara. “Tapos ihahahanda niya sarili niya, breakfast then baon niya at pinapa-save niya pa salary niya sa bangko niya. Tapos yung iba, sabi niya para may pera siya sa wallet niya. Hindi naman niya dinadala, gusto niya lang may money siya sa bahay.”

Dati kasi nagwo-work na siya sa kompanya ng sister-in-law ko, so parang alam niya na nephew siya ng may-ari kaya feeling proud. Pero ngayon at least alam niya talaga na sa labas siya nagtatrabaho. Iba talaga ang confidence level na na-a-achieve niya,” explains Mommy Rossana Dee. Aside from the confidence Ryan gained, she says that working has encouraged Ryan to dream for his future.

Sabi niya mag-o-open daw siya ng sarili niyang business. Hindi ko pa alam kung ano exactly, pero siguro may ibebenta, yung ganun. Ngayon, he’s very happy and feeling satisfied.”

Mommy Igid shared that even though Ian was diligent before, now he is more enthusiastic at work. “He’s more responsible, tinatapos niya talaga kung anong pinapagawa sa kanya, and I don’t know if he brings this attitude at work or only with me, but he is very concerned. Kung napapansin niyang malungkot ako, he asks me what’s wrong.” (“He’s more responsible, and he finishes what he is tasked to do. I don’t know if he brings this attitude at work or if it’s only with me, but he is very concerned. When he sees that I’m feeling down, he asks me what’s wrong.”)

New challenges, better opportunities

Employment is a big step towards independence for Ryan, Ian, and Sara. Now that they are full-time employees, the parents face a new challenge: missing their children. But the parents agree this challenge is more than worth it, if it means better opportunities for their children.

“It is not the fear of losing him, but more na nalungkot ako kasi wala na akong kasama dito sa bahay, (“It is not the fear of losing him, but more like I felt sad because now I’m alone here in the house),” Mommy Igid. “Dati kasi lagi kaming magkasabay kumain, ngayon pag breakfast na lang.” (“Before, we were always eating together, now we only have breakfast together.”)

“We missed her presence at home during the first week, but the feelings of joy and gratitude to Unilab Foundation and South Star Drug, Inc. were stronger. Seeing her home from work, and being happy with how her day went always brings a special kind of joy.”

Letting go and letting love

The parents of Ryan, Sara and Ian are very happy with their progress, and they hope to see their children become independent individuals over time. And they hope parents of other persons with special needs, parents who have raised their children with so much love, faith, and patience, perform yet another brave and selfless act: let their children go.

Mommy Ceny and Daddy Rudy share what they did with Sara, “Never underestimate the capabilities of your children. Teach them to dream, to develop goals and aspirations, and to explore opportunities to make such dreams or goals come true. Be resourceful. Build children's capabilities and at the same time expand your reach. Network with strategic parties or organizations who may be able to help. Lastly, love, love, love, and trust that God will bless your children in more ways than you can imagine, and enable them to live fulfilling lives as productive members of society.”

They hope that other parents will do the same.

Mary Alice Sucaldito is a graduating Journalism student from St. Paul University Manila. She likes to binge watch Kdramas, grind through dungeons and read books which take her to other worlds.

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