Author with Baby Cheska

My Baby Cheska’s journey
(The Philippine Star) - June 17, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - Graduation day 2017 was extra special for me and my family this year. Not only did I witness my daughter (Baby Cheska as I fondly call her) graduate from grade school with honors, it also allowed me to finally tell her wonderful story.

Baby Cheska was barely six years old when she was first diagnosed with dyslexia. The next years were very challenging for her. She struggled in her school and her self-confidence was at an all-time low. She hit bottom when we were informed that she would struggle if she remained in her current school, and it would be better for her to move to another one.

Baby Cheska also started her twice-a-week therapy session. Week-after-week, her mom and I saw how she painstakingly did her therapy after school and got home in the evening to finish her schoolwork. Here, I saw her frustration as she tried to adjust to the interventions of her therapy and the demands of her schoolwork. But, despite the frustration, I noticed she fought on to make sure she would finish each and every assignment she had.

As her parents, my wife and I showed our support through prayers and stronger words of encouragement. We spent more time with her, egging her on to never give up and always push forward.

The turning point in my Baby Cheska’s life came as two major milestones came her way. After months of searching for a new school, we approached teacher Joy Canon Abaquin, school directress of the Multiple Intelligence International School. At first, she was being careful in assessing the application, given Baby Cheska’s condition. Finally, teacher Joy agreed to accept her but she needed to be in a special remedial class.

My wife and I thought this would be another low point as Baby Cheska now had to watch her peers and relatives move ahead while she “stepped down.” But the school served to be a catalyst to her moving forward. The school environment was very nurturing, where the teachers and the school exuded a more family-like atmosphere. Baby Cheska adjusted well, her confidence level developed, and she hit her stride. As the latter years of grade school came, she started getting almost straight A’s and getting honors. Come graduation, Baby Cheska finished eighth in her class with five medals in tow. Teacher Joy described it as an admirable turn-around situation.

A second milestone for Baby Cheska came in the area of sports. Through the years, she had tried one sport or art form after the other. I always wondered if she would ever find the right sport for her. Then one day, while strolling around SM Megamall, she was fascinated by people trying their luck with ice skating. She asked us if she could try it and her love affair with ice skating began. First, it was just lessons and barely being able to keep her balance on the ice. Then, her confidence developed and she started joining competitions.

Her SM Ice Skating coaches encouraged her to pratice hard and do her best to perfect her craft. Today, she competes in her category and is a consistent medal contender in every tournament. Proudly, I can say that she has more than a handful of medals today.

There were times that I felt there was no light at the end of the tunnel. But what made me, and my wife, go on was seeing how my six-year-old little girl would fight through all the frustration, work endlessly at school and sports despite her disability, and soldier on to succeed in both. 

Now, she is well on her way to scaling a new mountain called high school. And I’m confident my little fighter will once again succeed. As for her Daddy, my challenge will be how to keep the boys away! For, as I always tell her, “Daddy will be your one and only boyfriend, forever!”

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