I have mentioned my son Chris many times on this blog. Chris is 15 years old, and will be 16 later this year. I have mentioned here before that Chris is mentally retarded, and that was part of the reason why we moved here to begin with. We felt that on a personal level there was more available here for somebody with the problems that Chris has, and in the 7 years that we have lived here, I think that our feelings have proven correct.
When we moved here, Chris was 8 years old. He was a good kid, but had problems like I mentioned above, and actually other problems too. One of the most severe problems that Chris had in the USA was allergies. His allergies were very severe there in the States. We lived in an area where a lot of hay was grown, and that really affected him. During the summer months, even if Chris would go outside for 5 minutes or so, his face would be covered in welts, and his eyes would be swollen shut. Sometimes the hay allergy would affect him by giving him a severe nose bleed. The nose bleeds were so bad that he had to have surgery on his nose to try to stop it, although that proved unsuccessful.
Over the years of Chris’ life, we had a pediatrician who was from Puerto Rico. He was a very good doctor, and we loved the guy. Being an immigrant himself, he always seemed to have a special understanding of issues that faced a family like us that had mixed-race kids. He offered a lot of great insights for us. As Chris became a little older, maybe 4 to 6 years old, we mentioned to Dr. Rivera that we might move to the Philippines in the coming years. Dr. Rivera was very open to the idea of us moving here, and he gave us special advice. He told us that our kids, including Chris were not getting younger, and that making such a move would be better for all of us the younger the kids were. Having grown up in a family where we moved a lot to different parts of the country, I understood this. Facing an international move was particularly harder on kids too. The younger the kids were when we moved, the easier it would be for them to adjust.
So, we moved in May of 2000. The first thing that happened for Chris was that his allergies practically disappeared. All I can say is that the kinds of trees and plants here are different from in the USA, so the pollens and such are also different. Apparently, the pollens here agreed with Chris more than the ones back in the States! The nose bleeds that Chris had experience were basically gone too. Chris could go outside and play without paying a price!
One of the huge surprises for me was that within only a month or so, Chris was speaking Cebuano, and doing a pretty good job at it. I would say that in a month he was at least 50% to being fluent, and after about 6 months he spoke Cebuano like he grew up here. He can also speak some Tagalog as well, but mostly Cebuano. It amazed me (and still does) that Chris, with his mental disability was able to learn a new language so easily! Something about being around a whole bunch of cousins and friends in the neighborhood helped Chris learn the new language quickly, and seemingly very easily. I am proud of Chris for that, and it helps show me that Chris has abilities that go beyond what professionals have told us are within his means.
Of our 3 boys, Chris is the one that looks very Filipino. A lot of people would think that Chris is purely Filipino, rather than a Mestizo. Chris has made a great adjustment to living here, and I can’t imagine that he will have the desire to live in the USA ever again in his life. For a person like Chris, there are many things available to him that would be hard to reach in the States. I am talking of the way that he is treated by other people, the friendships that he can have with others here and such. People like Chris are, in many cases not treated well in the States. I don’t mean that people in the USA are mean, but a lot of people there don’t have time to spend helping somebody like Chris, and that is one of the best things here for him.
Chris is well adjusted here, and happy. Moving to the Philippines was certainly one of the best things that ever happened to Chris. I am proud of my son!