The boy who beat ADHD is now an aspiring singer

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
The boy who beat ADHD is now an aspiring singer
LA loves music, especially OPM: ‘Music does have a great healing effect,’ says LA’s mom Florita Santos.

There’s a singing doctor (Nonoy Zuñiga), a singing nurse (Kuh Ledesma), a singing lawyer (Dot Ramos Balasbas-Gancayco), a singing sugar magnate (Jose Mari Chan), a singing McDo big boss (George Yang), a singing OFW (Rose Fostanes), visually-challenged singers (Jose Feliciano, Stevie Wonder, Norma Lapuz and Willie Garte, the last two now regaling angels Up There), a singing nun (the late Debbie Reynolds in the movie The Singing Nun), singing cooks and waiters (at a popular chain of restaurants) and a singing Miss World Philippines (Catriona Gray).

Don’t look now but there’s a boy who beat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) who is singing his way to stardom. He’s none other than LA (Leonard Antonio) Santos who, if you recall, was once featured by Korina Sanchez in her Kapamilya show Rated K. LA was born with ADHD and became cured when he was 12.

But before hearing LA’s inspiring story, let’s find out what ADHD means.

As per research, “A” is a basic disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity impulsively interfering with function or development. (Inattention means a person wanders off task, lacks persistence, has difficulty sustaining focus, and is disorganized, and these problems are not due to defiance or lack of comprehension.) “H” means a person seems to move about constantly, including in situations in which it is not appropriate or excessively fidgets, taps or talks. In adults, it may be extreme restlessness or wearing others out with constant activity. “Impulsivity” means a person makes hasty actions that occur in the moment without first thinking about them and that may have high potential for harm, or a desire for immediate rewards or inability to delay gratification. An impulsive person may be socially intrusive and excessively interrupt others or make important decisions without considering the long-term consequences.

When LA showed up Sunday night at Jet 7 restaurant (corner of Timog Avenue and Scout Ybardolaza, Quezon City) for the presscon of The Kings & Queens of OPM set to be mounted by Anna Puno at the Resorts World Manila (RWM) on April 29, he didn’t show any sign of ADHD; he was as normal and as cool and as responsive and as jolly as were Kings Rico J. Puno, Marco Sison and Hajji Alejandro, and Queens Imelda Papin, Eva Eugenio and Claire dela Fuente.

The movie writers didn’t detect (not that they were trying to) anything “unusual” in and about LA. Yes, the boy has licked autism. He is the guest performer on the concert directed by Freddie Santos.

It was Freddie who hinted at LA’s condition when, as he talked about the Kings and Queens, he added that LA has an interesting story, without elaborating, letting LA’s mom, Florita Santos, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) widow to tell the whole story.

It must be devastating for any mother to realize that her child is born with ADHD.

“It wasn’t until he was six years old did LA utter his first word,” related Florita who, like Claire who is her best friend and soul sister, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Restorative Medicine from University of Makati.

Asked what the first word was, LA said, “Hate late,” taken from the Pizza slogan about delivery.

 “Since then,” added Florita who has two other children, a daughter and a son who are both older than LA. “Talagang inalalayan ko siya until he was 12 when all signs and symptoms disappeared.”    

It was “emotional love” that greatly helped normalize LA’s condition, according to Florita.

“I encourage him to be preoccupied with something, especially after school. I would tell him to imitate his sister who is a model and to play basketball with his brother. More than the medicine he was taking, what’s important is family support.”

Children with ADHD are said to have a special talent in one field and LA’s happens to be music. “So I encourage him to sing. Music does have a great healing effect and LA owes his recovery to music.”

When Claire and Florita produced the Stylistics/Air Supply concert last year, they included LA as guest performer.

“Besides he is my godchild,” said Claire who is also a widow whose only son is into composing songs, “LA is also like a son to me,” adding, “Florita is right. Ang laki ng tulong ng music sa paggaling ni LA who loves OPM. “Ang biro ko nga, siguro pinanganak siya noong ‘70s because he loves the songs of that era.”

Now 17 and a senior student at UST High School, LA is releasing his eponymous debut album to be released by Star Records, composed of three covers (Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man, Sarah Geronimo’s Forever Is Not Enough and Angeline Quinto’s Hanggang Kailan) and six originals (Tinamaan, One Greatest Love, Miss Terror, Ikaw Kasi, Bakit Pag-Ibig and Mine which might be the carrier single).

Asked what advice he would give children with ADHD, LA said, smiling, “Don’t be ashamed of your condition. Don’t lose hope.”

And Florita to parents of children with ADHD, “Be patient. Don’t give up. Give your child love.” And, if I may add, maybe much more love than you give a normal child. “Your child can overcome the condition. Look at my LA.”

Give LA time and he could be an OPM king, an heir to Rico, Hajji and Marco’s shared “throne.”

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. You may also send your questions to [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on www.twitter/therealrickylo.)


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