The Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc. (DSAPI) is a non-stock, non-profit organization, founded in 1991 by a group of dedicated and committed parents and concerned physicians. It aims to offer support to families who have a child with Down Syndrome and to initiate, develop, promote, encourage and support programs and projects concerning Down Syndrome. DSAPI believes that the initial reactions of new parents that typically bear disappointment, sorrow, fear, guilt, confusion and anger can be replaced with positive attitudes of warmth, love, understanding and hope.
DOWN SYNDROME ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. (DSAPI)
2nd Floor, 6372 Agrifina Building Camia corner Meleguas Streets
Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City, 1211 (near Rockwell)
Contact Numbers: (63-2) 895-36-06 or Tel/Fax: (63-2) 895-96-42
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dsapi/
Office Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00AM – 6:00PM
DSAPI – Davao Branch Office:
c/o Trinitas EENT Health Clinic, Cembrano Bldg., 412 Malvar Street, Davao City
Tel/Fax: (82) 305-51-96
DSAPI – Cebu Branch Office:
8th Floor, Cebu Holdings Building, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City
Tel.: (32) 415-83-30 local 807
1X1 ID Photo of Parents/Guardian
3R Solo Photo of the Child with DS
Fee: P6,000. (Lifetime) or P400. (Annually)
PROFESSIONALS (Medical Practitioners/SpEd/Others):
1X1 ID Photo
Fee: P6,000. (Lifetime) or P400. (Annually)
CORPORATES (Hospitals, Schools, Therapy Centers, Companies, etc.):
1X1 ID Photo of Contact Person
Brochure Fee: P6,000. (Lifetime) or P400.00 (Annually)
Birth of DSAPI
The Birth of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines
A Very Personal Story
By Gerry Walmsley
Dr. Alexis Reyes is a developmental pediatrician, working exclusively with special children. Fortunately for the Philippines, she had just returned to the country after practicing for many years in England. She had been referred to us by a wonderful doctor, Dr. Carmencita Padilla, the geneticist who had given us the “news: about Christopher.
My wife Baebie had met Dottie Pasia at Dr. Reyes’ office and arranged the dinner in which I was to meet her and her husband Tony. It was August 1991.
It All Started With Dinner
Baebie and I arrived at the restaurant early and I nervously gulped my drink realizing that I was about to meet, for the first time, other parents of a child with Down Syndrome.
How would they be? Would they share our pain and our hopes? Did they share our frustration over the unavailability of information? Were they frightened, too? Would we like them? Would they like us and understand us?
When we entered the restaurant, I searched their faces and their eyes for a clue. I saw ourselves, as if in a mirror, and as we rose to meet them, we all instinctively embraced each other as if to silently communicate that we all understood each other’s fears.
We could hardly know it then but as we sat at dinner, pouring out our feelings, oblivious to our surroundings, the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines was being born.
Our very special son, Christopher, had been born six months earlier at Makati Medical Center. The Pasia’s lovely daughter, Vicky Lou, was born a few weeks later. Two little infants with Down Syndrome born at the same hospital a few weeks apart, would cause a fire to burn within their parents to help others who were similarly affected.
When Christopher was diagnosed by Dr. Padilla in January 1991, our world was turned upside down. Down Syndrome, my God, what’s that? What will he be? What will we be? What about our other children? Why us?
Hitting a Blank Wall
Our thirst for information was insatiable. A vivid memory from that time is being behind the wheel of the car, racing from bookstore to bookstore, searching for information. I couldn’t find anything. It was maddening. I wanted to comfort Baebie with something factual so she wouldn’t despair.
Finally, I phoned the 800 operator in the U.S.
“Hello, I’m an American living in the Philippines.
Our son has a condition called Down Syndrome. There must be some organization in the States to help us.”
“Hold on, sir…here it is, the National Down syndrome Association in New York.”
Voice Out of the Darkness
I immediately phoned them and a faceless angel came on the other end of the line.
“Relax, Mr. Walmsley, it’s going to be O.K. Children with Down Syndrome are great kids, capable of so much. They’re much closer to normal than abnormal. Congratulations on the birth of your child.
My heart soared. “Can you send me information?”
The angel spoke, “I’m sending you a complete package of information by courier. And Mr. Walmsley, relax. You son is going to be fine, once you are.”
Into the Light
Two days later, the package arrived. The most welcome package of my life. Booklets, pamphlets, pictures, stories by other parents. Baebie and I devoured the information.
Somehow then, the seed was planted in the back of my mind that other parents in the Philippines shouldn’t go through the agony we were going through in the lonely search for hope, information, inspiration and encouragement. The inner voice told me that this should all be available here.
We followed this up with a trip to Hong Kong to visit a school we had heard about that dealt with children with Down Syndrome. Chris was now one month old. As we talked to the administrator, I blurted out, “I want to see some kids with Down Syndrome,”
And then she said, “Here comes one now.”
A little boy about five years old came around the corner bouncing a ball. “Hi,” he said.
“He has Down Syndrome?”
“Are you sure? He looks so, so … well, normal.”
The boy threw the ball.
“Baebie, he wants to play catch, look…”
Baebie looked at me with tears in her eyes, and we knew, at that exact moment, that Christopher and we were going to be fine.
The school taught us about early intervention programs and gave us books. We returned home and Baebie, immediately and with great dedication, started Chris on his programs.
It was some five months later when we had that fateful dinner with the Pasias and learned that they had gone through everything we had.
Tony said, “There must be other parents who feel like we do.”
Baebie and Dottie looked at each other and said, “There are.”
In October 1991, the first gathering of parents with children with Down Syndrome was held. Joining us and the Pasias were Buenaventures, Dees, Rodriguezes, Tans, Ilics, and Mrs. Davadilla. Also attending were Dr. Padilla, Dr. Reyes and Robin Tong, a volunteer committed to our cause.
We each told our stories, some with great pain, and we agreed then to band together to help other families with children with Down Syndrome. We passed the hat amongst ourselves, opened a small office and officially incorporated in January 1992. We were on our way. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of activities, accomplishments and challenges.
So … thanks to Chris, Vicky Lou, Gelo, John-John, Rick-rick, Ninette, Cherry, Stojan, Luke, Miko, Paolo, Bradley, Randy, Clarissa, Francis, Karen, Mark, Ryan, Timmy, Angelo, Samantha, Ronald, Jonner, Melanie, Isabel, Bryan and so many of our other special children, for coming into our lives and teaching us the most basic lessons about ourselves and life. And especially, for giving us a reason for helping other special children through the Down Syndrome Association.