March 4, 2024
Rehearsals of the University of Baguio Voices Chorale under the baton of Maestro John Glenn Gaerlan  aka “Igorotti Pavarotti” at the Hill Station singing favorite selections like: I dreamed a Dream, All I ask of You, Impossible Dream, When you Believe, Better than I, True Colors, This is Me and Circle of Life at the Hill Station.

“See the world through my eyes, it changes shape and it changes size. It’s not quite the world you see. If you could find a way to look around inside  my mind, maybe you would understand me.” so goes the autism advocacy song -Through My Eyes.

“ I’m not blind, but I can’t always see. I’m not deaf, but things can sound strange to me. I’m not trapped, but it’s hard to feel free. Imagine what it’s like to be me…”

Samantha Kaspar, a  non-verbal neurodivergent patient of Dr. Dimalanta renders  a heart wrenching autism advocacy song entitled,  “Through my eyes” ending with “imagine what it’s like  to be me…”

What a beautiful song and how apt that Samantha Kaspar a neurodivergent patient of Dr. Francis Dimalanta sang this song during  the  20thanniversary dinner,  to commemorate the 20 years of the “A Child’s Dream Foundation.”

“Neurodivergent, from Google definitionmeans differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal, frequently used with reference to autistic spectrum disorders.” 

How often do we misunderstand a neurodivergent child? How challenging  is it for parents to have special children?

Dr. Irene Dimalanta and Dr. Francis surrounded by family, the University of BaguioChorale, supporters and volunteers each espousing  to make the neurodivergent child’s world a better one.

Siblings Francis, Mita Angela, Anne Marie and Edmund took the challenge to change the world of these children, empowering them to achieve their full potentials. To change their world is a team effort.

According to Dr. D (as we call him) It’s a team of allied health professionals: occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists and teachers all rolled into one equipped with an enormous amount of compassion, talents, skills and care.

Launch of the Cookbook “A Taste of Dreams: 20 Years of Flavorful Connections”. A unique publication of 20 of the Philippines’ most celebrated chefs focusing on healthy, farm to table recipes crafted from natural ingredients. One of them is Mitos Benitez Yniguez who owns the chain of Hill Stations in Baguio. The book  hopes to inspire  families to cook together and highlights the power of collaboration.

“A Child’s DREAM Foundation” was founded 20 years ago  by Dr. D after undergoing various trainings in the United States. Inspite of the laurels he achieved and the jobs being offered to him, he still chose to go back to the Philippines to help our very own children. Siblings Mita Angela, Anne Marie and Edmund put their chips together and the DREAM Foundation was born.

Mita Angela Dimalanta went down the memory lane of how Dr. Dimalanta became the first from the Philippines  who trained in 12 special clinics and hospitals in the United States and how he started to help children with special needs in the Philippines instead of staying in the U.S., the beginnings of the foundation, the  transfers it undertook and the support it got from the community for the last 20 years.

Anne Marie went back to the Philippines to be its directress after also 20 years. What as auspicious number.

DREAM stands for D- develop self-reliance; R – respect the uniqueness of each child; E- empower parents to be the core of intervention; A-advocate for all children with special needs; and M- motivate the child to reach his full potential.

Dr. Francis Dimalanta explained the vision and mission of the A Child’s DREAM Foundation and thanked the  families,  donors, supporters, and volunteers for the past 20 years. He also recognized  the team of health professionals  who helped the DREAM foundation  take care of  the neurodivergent children. Remember him during the visit of Pope Francis?

It offers the prescription of SMART which standsfor sports, music, arts, reading, and  theater.

The Dimalanta siblings were  inspired by their late father Johnnie and mother Dr. Irene (she was everybody’s pediatrician) as they embarked on a journey with a clear vision and mission.

Its vision, to build relationships that nurture both the creative spirit and social contribution unique to each child.

Well-trained Anne Marie Dimalanta expounds on the needs of special children, worked in the United States for 20 years and came home to be the foundation’s Directress. She is also the National President of the Children’s International Summer Villages (CISV).

Its mission,  through comprehensive assessments and customized programs, it aims to empower every child to achieve their full potential.

Basically, “A Child’s DREAM Foundation, Inc., is “Baguio City’s first pediatric therapy center for exceptional children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, autism spectrum disorders, behavioral problems, cerebral palsy, developmental language disorders, down syndrome, giftedness, hearing and vision problems, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, or sensory impairments.”

Youngest of the Dimalanta siblings, Edmund explains on their family  training  to follow without asking, “Nadadala ka lang sa tingin.”.

Dedicated to its vision, it moved from location to location:  from Palma to DPS Compound to the City Lion’s Building at Gov Pack, to a temporary clinic at their home, to Barangay Bakakeng thru the generous help of Mayor Benjamin Magalong and the Podium Botique.

“It has already assisted less than 11,000 children and about 20,150 parents, guardians, siblings, teachers and caregivers from the Philippines and around the world.”

The matriarch of the Dimalantas, 93-year-old Dr. Irene Dimalanta with founder of A Child’s DREAM Foundation Dr. Francis Dimalanta, Emily Bogayong, and Lilia Bautista.

“To date, the foundation has held over 476 public community workshops, administered seminars to business and social groups throughout the region, and has worked with city officials to draft ordinances that benefit families with autism.”

Let me end with the song written  and composed  by Mack David, “A dream Is a wish your heart makes, when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches, whatever you wish for, you keep”. This is from the Walt Disney film Cinderella (1950). Let all children with special needs and parents  dream big! Hitch your wagons to the stars and overcome the challenges.

Congratulations to your 20 years, A Child’s DREAMFoundation.

Here’s to wishing you 20 more years! (Photos by Ric Maniquis)Stella Maria L. de Guia