The very first week after graduation, I cried. A lot. Everyday. My mother came to witness a young adult throwing the ugliest tantrum just because her mind was coming to terms with the “no-more-waking-up-in-my-dormitory” kinds of mornings. Forgive me. I was 20. And for only 2 months, I was trying my best to absorb everything and to adjust to the biggest transition of my entire life: to be a working young adult. And a responsible one at that! But to fulfill that would mean packing up 4 years of precious college and dormitory memories – among books and clothes, in 5 huge boxes – and going home.
I was then reminded of why I needed to transfer to another UP unit (Manila) after having learned that I got accepted in UP Los Banos; of why I needed to take an additional 6 units of subjects outside my curriculum – I was in the BA Development Studies (BA DevStud) program initially – in order to align my subjects with that of BS Speech Pathology (BS SP), even when I wasn’t sure that I was going to make it; of why I needed to shift from BA DevStud to BS SP (this is it!); of why, one day, I found myself sitting in front of Dr. Joyce Marzan and Professor Joane Rabang-Mata, who asked me the most basic question in the application process: Why do I want to be a Speech Pathologist?
So I headed home.
I chose BS Speech Pathology because my 20-year-old brother was diagnosed with Autism when he was 3. My entire family was left dumbfounded, clueless and helpless all at once. “Broken” was an understatement. But God is great! He led us to the right professionals, to the right team. The journey doesn’t always come easy, though. There was only one Speech Pathologist in Batangas at that time and her clinic was 1 hour away. Other kids going to therapy experienced the same plight of a 1-hour commute just to receive the much-needed services. This was when I made up my mind that, should God lead ever me to a path in becoming a Speech Pathologist, I’ll be practicing my profession in Batangas.
And then I got home.
I worked full-time in two different settings: in a school and in a clinic. My very first patient was a neighbor, the son of a family friend. As a “probinsya therapist”, I found myself shaped into a better person. I was humbled and became more grounded. I witnessed families of children celebrating joys and successes. I fondly remember handling one kid who would constantly speak to me in his most fluent Batangenyo accent that I had to use “puntahe” and “pumarine” instead of “go to” and “come here”.
Stories of victories over the struggles were the ones which marked deeply, though, such as when I received a simple token one time after a day’s hard work: a “bilao” of hand-picked vegetables from a backyard. One family had to sell their cow in order to send their child to the center for speech and language intervention. One kid even had to take regular ferry rides from Mindoro to Batangas every Saturday just to see me for therapy. Being the only Speech Pathologist in Western Batangas, some of my other kids had to commute for 2 hours to receive speech and language services. There are times when I would have to schedule arrangements with some kids who could only come to therapy once a month or once every 2 or 3 months because of either financial or geographic constraints – not to mention other internal family issues.
And I am home.
Establishing the Speech Pathology profession – as well as all other allied medical professions – in the province might be a long road to trek, but the fruits reaped are sweet and fulfilling. I know that my job as a Speech Pathologist does not end with working just with the child alone. It branches out into educating family members, into promoting awareness in the local community at the grassroots level, and into advocating for my clients’ rights and privileges. With the help of my sister (an Occupational Therapist), I conducted free seminars to teachers and families in the community. It even came to a point where we had to talk to the classmates and teachers of one adolescent with Autism who was constantly bullied in school. In order to get the community to know these wonderful kids better, I would render visits to different establishments, riding local transportation vehicles – even befriending the whole barangay! It all comes as a process and, as family and community empowerment becomes instilled, one also begins to experience the overflowing and genuine love coming from the people around. Parents and caregivers would make improvised hand-sewn weighted vests and would learn how to customize tools and materials for their children. Stories would be exchanged about better relationships among siblings, and of increased acceptance among people. More than the progress in a child’s speech and language skills (or any aspect of development, at that matter), families would always long for empathy, where you put yourself in their shoes and to walk with them; to celebrate their successes; to understand their struggles; and to cope up with the differences of each family member.
This narration of my journey finds its cause in my heartfelt wish to encourage Speech Pathologists hailing from provinces (especially those from the Visayas and Mindanao regions) to return home because you are needed there. It may be a difficult transition that takes a whole lot of perspective to think about but, I promise you, it will be worth it. We may have different options, different choices or we may fight for different advocacies but I do hope one of those choices would include you advocating for the practice of Speech Pathology in your own province.
Here, where I am, I have learned much more than what I had hoped for in imparting myself with these children, their siblings, their parents, and their families. And I will persist – because every family I’ve met became an extension of who I am as a Speech Pathologist, as a sibling of a child with special needs and as a local community member who aspires for an accepting and loving environment for these children.
With all these, I stayed home and I hope and pray that you would, too!
Dear incoming speech pathology student clinicians,
I do not consider myself an expert on any field in Speech Pathology. Like many others, “marami pa akong bigas na kakainin”. But, I am most comfortable working with individuals with hearing impairment and their families. My heart is with aural habilitation among many things. That is the reason why I applied for the position as a clinical supervisor at the Philippine General Hospital-Ear Unit (PGH-Ear Unit) and chose to pursue graduate studies in Clinical Audiology. I am actually relatively new to teaching. I started just in 2013 as a clinical supervisor for UST-SLP (University of Santo Tomas-Speech Language Pathology) student clinicians at CLASP Auditory Verbal Center, Inc. And, it has only been a year since I have been with the faculty of the College of Allied Medical Professions at the University of the Philippines Manila.
In my undergraduate and graduate years, I was not what you would consider as an ideal student. I wasn’t the ideal speech pathology intern as well. But, I am most willing to share with you some of the things I have realized from my experiences during my clinical internship year up until now that I am a practicing clinician and clinical supervisor.
Before I tell you the expectations that I have on my students, let me tell you some of the things that you should expect on your training.
I think it is safe to say that the clinical internship year will not be a walk in the park. You will be challenged—a lot. Things will be tough that sometimes, you might question yourself. Prepare to have sleepless nights as there will be tons to do. And maybe, it will not help that this will happen during a phase in your student life that you will have to actually do the things that have mostly been abstract to you since your very first introductory course to speech pathology.
The life of a speech pathology intern includes, but is not limited to, the following:
1. Seeing scheduled clients on weekdays for therapy and trying to provide the best intervention for each of their unique needs;
2. Educating and training the families and caregivers of your clients to help make the intervention a success;
3. Working with other individuals from other disciplines to ensure that the intervention is holistic;
4. Dealing with your clinical supervisors who may have different perspective on things, teaching styles and personalities;
5. Working with your co-interns; you will not get to choose who to work and be with at your clinical affiliation sites;
6. Having administrative tasks and housekeeping duties to help your centers operate smoothly;
7. Accomplishing paperwork, tons of them; this includes evaluation reports, goal lists, therapy plans, running notes, monitoring sheets, progress reports to name some;
8. Presentations, presentations, presentations: case presentations, journal reports, evidenced based practice presentations;
9. Projects, projects, projects: creating therapy materials and organizing events for the benefit of your clients;
10. Convincing yourself that you can do all of these things especially because you have to juggle clinical duties with tasks for your undergraduate thesis (fortunately you have your Fridays and/or weekends for that) while trying to keep your sanity.
I am not saying all of these things to scare you. Rather, it is my intention to prepare you for things to come. In line with that, I would like to orient you with how you will be graded. In general, you will be evaluated by your clinical supervisors based on three major domains: knowledge, skills and attitudes.
For the knowledge component, you will be assessed based on what you know—basically your theoretical knowledge. This will be tested on how you analyze your cases, your rationale on doing things and how you plan your intervention program and sessions.
The skills component will include how you put into action the things you have planned (both clinical and non-clinical tasks) and how you adjust when things don’t go as expected. At CLASP and the PGH-Ear Unit, your use of acoustic highlighting techniques will be a priority along with proper administration of assessment procedures in testing audition skills.
As for the attitudes component, you will be rated based two major areas: attitudes regarding the learning process and your professional behavior. Your attitude on the learning process will include (but again, is not limited to) your willingness to learn and your efforts to maximize your learning opportunities. As for professional behavior, this will include how you treat people you will be working with—other professionals, clinical supervisors, co-interns, families and most especially your clients. Your judgments regarding along with your application of the ethical principles will also be considered. Moreover, punctuality in terms of patient care and submission of requirements will be graded.
Having said all these things, these are my personal expectations from interns:
1. I expect you to be prepared. Read up on your lectures.
2. Do not limit yourselves to what has been taught in your major subjects. There are lots of other information out there.
3. Read up on your assessment manuals and do your best to follow them. Reliable assessment of your clients’ skills will depend highly on your administration of evaluation procedures.
4. Be creative. Understand that your clients will be unique. Do your best to create learning opportunities that are functional and fun. Nobody likes a boring teacher.
5. Be critical. Not all information that will be presented to you may be accurate. Sometimes, your teachers may question you or apply the “sabotage” technique on you as you do with your own students. Its primary objective is for you to develop better processing skills, not to confuse you.
6. Do your part in the teacher-student relationship. Learning is a two-way thing. Help us teach you the best possible way. Your teachers are not perfect. We do not know it all too. I am personally looking forward to learning from students as well.
Among all three domains previously mentioned, it is attitudes that I most value. This is in line with the belief that improvement of knowledge and skills will follow if you have the right attitudes. Here are additional thoughts on how to show it.
· In the clinics, you will encounter different types of people. Not everyone will be that easy to work with. This includes your clients. Treat them with outmost respect. They are your top priority. When you graduate, they will be your bread and butter. Always put your clients’ needs in mind.
· Be honest. Be honest most especially when things go wrong. Own up to your mistakes. Be honest with your findings and observations. I know that sometimes, it is hard to admit mistakes but I tell my students, there is no better time to commit them than during your internship year. If you will not be honest, you will miss learning opportunities. Isn’t that what your internship is about?
· Follow your centers’ rules and regulations. They were made for a reason.
· Do not be greedy. Share things you know and have learned. One of the major things that helped me through my clinical internship year was support from others. Help one another. Do not deny others of your knowledge and skills. Share and good things will come your way. Think karma.
· Be open. Welcome new things as well as criticisms. Any box will remain empty if it is always closed. Okay, baka may pilosopo, pwedeng may air particles o kung anuman ang box kahit na walang laman na visible sa human eye, but I hope you get my point.
· Take your time. As all clients are unique, so are students. You may need more or maybe less time to learn. If ever you fail (though I hope no one will), you are entitled to grieve for a short time but move on afterwards. Do not compare yourself to others. Think about your learning more than your grades. I was pleased to know that I share the same sentiments with Dean Marzan of UP-CAMP that "grades do not equate to how good a clinician you will become".
Consider all these things and hopefully, you will graduate from college equipped with things you need as an entry-level professional. Yes, entry-level professional. Becoming a speech pathologist is one thing while staying as one is another issue.
The transition from being a student to a professional is an exciting but sometimes confusing phase in a speech pathologist’s life. After marching at your graduation ceremonies, you have been set free from the prying eyes of your supervisors and are now potential earners. However, being the newbie in the profession may come with some struggles—struggles that you will have to face without the support that a clinical supervisor can give.
Basically, professional life is like internship life (client care, family/caregiver training, etc.) now with the financial benefits and greater responsibilities. No one will be accountable for whatever decisions and actions you will make on your clients but yourself. Also, no one will make sure that you keep on improving but yourself too. In short, you are mostly on your own.
The good thing is you can create or take learning opportunities to further improve. For one, you may opt to undergo additional training from institutions or mentors. There are also seminars and conferences that you can attend to. You may also do independent reading, researching, organizing group discussions, asking colleagues for help or simply observing others during sessions. You could also go back to school and enroll for graduate studies. The possibilities are endless. You just have to remember and keep the things that were instilled to you, especially the right attitudes, during your internship year. That’s why I hope that you will make the most out of it.
To end, let me reiterate that things will get tough so do your best to deliver. However, do not forget to take a breather every now and then, you will need that. Do not be too hard on yourselves. Enjoy and best wishes! See you at the clinics!
Jaymilyn V. Catangay, MClinAud, CSP-PASP (Teacher Jaymi to her students) is a graduate of BS Speech Pathology of UP College of Allied Medical Professions in 2009, and Master of Clinical Audiology from the UP College of Medicine / UP-CAMP in 2015. She is a clinician, an administrator, and a clinical supervisor for student clinicians of UST-CRS and UP-CAMP.
Photo Credits: 1) Internship Rotation at CTS-Pedia - CTS-P co-interns, 2) PGH Ear Unit - Pibs Solis, 3) Auditory Verbal Therapy Workshop - Judith Simser, 4) With CLASP Therapists - Leah Labrador.
Dear Tita Kaye,
On my 18th birthday, you were one of the significant persons in my life who gave me a special birthday message. Yours was a very beautiful and heartwarming message! I bet there wasn't a dry eye left in the room. Of all the things you said though, the one that I distinctly remember and that kept playing in my ears years after was what you said about Speech Pathology. With so much emotion (if I remember correctly, you even teared up on this part), you said that "Speech Pathology redefined me as a person and it changed my life for the better" and that you're confident it will do the same for me. At that time, I did not completely understand what you meant. I just finished freshman year and my knowledge was limited to finding x (Math 11), balancing chemical equations (Chem 14), and making sentence outlines without committing a fatal format error (Comm 1). Nonetheless, your words made an impact on me. It left me feeling excited to discover this profession that my aunt speaks so passionately about. Perhaps in my heart, I was quietly looking for something that will change me for the better.
Three years later, I think I'm starting to understand what you meant. After experiencing actual patient handling, I've realized that few things could be more life-changing than being a Speech Pathologist. Little by little, I felt the change creeping in- rigidity giving way to flexibility as I was faced with an unpredictable human being; indifference being replaced by empathy as I listened to a father lamenting about all the sacrifices he has done for his son with special needs; weeks of frustration being conquered by a moment of gratitude and joy as I watched a student finally able to communicate in the way she needed to. These were the unexpected encounters that shaped me to be more patient, more caring, more appreciative of the small victories that resound in the lives of the families we committed to helping.
Change is difficult and more often than not, painful. Internship year, rife as it was with learnings, was not easy as you truthfully told me at the beginning. You have always known me to be that girl who's always up for a challenge; optimistic and determined to see things through no matter what. But there were times when I found myself asking if I had the skills and more importantly, the heart for this profession. There were times when I so desperately looked inside myself for the raison d'être, my reason for striving in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Tired, dejected, and extremely uninspired, I shared to you all my doubts and you told me that it was during moments like these that you wrote the open letter for*. I read the letter again and was reminded that "it will be more than worth it".
Today, it has been two weeks since our batch, SP 2015, graduated. In your letter, you said "see you at the finish line!". And here we are! It came so fast, didn't it? With that much dreamed-of (and hard-earned!) title of 'Speech-Language Pathologist' now finally affixed to our names, all I can think of is that indeed, it was all worth it- the sacrifices, the mistakes, the million and one times we stood up from a fall, not allowing ourselves to be defeated by the thought that we have reached our limit. The experience was enriching, humbling, and nothing short of redefining. The personal growth as much as the professional one defines our profession and I'm so glad I ended up here.
Truth be told, when I look on the horizon, my heart trembles and my knees shake a little bit, quite unsure of my first step. What do I do? Where do I go? What now? There are no fast answers but I know that the future is promising and that the world is waiting for us to make a difference, "one word at a time". The excitement, anticipation, and hunger for more redefining experiences weigh more heavily than the uncertainty. Yes! We survived internship. We are ready for the bigger challenge. And we have no doubt that we will always have you and all the other SLPs before us to teach us, inspire us, and help us realize our potential. I believe that a lot of us will stay here to selflessly serve the country as we ought to. I hope that with much dedication and commitment, many of us will take part in the organization's efforts to improve and safeguard our practice. As for me, right now I'm just proud to say that I have finally found an answer to your student's question.
“You think God already made the perfect girl for me?”
"Yes. God has made the perfect plan for all of us."
*An Open Letter to a Future Speech Pathologist by Mae Catherine Sadicon: http://www.pasp.org.ph/Articles/3153030
Marilag Sadicon is a graduate of BS Speech Pathology from the College of Allied Medical Professions, University of the Philippines Manila in 2015.
Photo Credits: 1) CAMP College Recognition Ceremony- Marilag Sadicon, 2) Research Symposium and Internship Rotation Sites (PGH Ear Unit, CBR Bulacan, CTS Pedia) - Paolo Mangune, Lorenzo Bueza, Jessica Reyes , 3) University Graduation - Jessica Reyes
I grew up as an asthmatic child which I never overcame until now. Since adolescence, I suffered regular onsets of Dysmenorrhea every time I have my monthly period. I was also diagnosed with Scoliosis late in my college years. I usually sought for medications for temporary relief and alleviation of pain whenever there were sudden attacks. But these are the painful realities I have to live with, moving on with my busy and aggressive life. Realization has one day taught me to take my lifestyle into another dimension, the gift of Yoga.
My very first yoga experience was a personal practice at home. Access to Yoga Classes in my hometown, Pampanga was nowhere to be found; yet my eagerness for a healthier me provided the spark and got me started. I easily fell in love with it as I immediately enjoyed its health benefits. Indeed, it was love at first practice.
In 2013, Radiant Child Yoga held its first Yoga Teacher Training: Radiant Child Yoga Program 1-3 and Adapting Yoga to Differently-Abled Children in Manila. Excited, I inquired and enrolled in the program. Getting certified was like hitting two birds with one stone. It definitely helped me deepen my yoga practice and belief, at the same time gave me the opportunity to share my happiness and the gift of Yoga experience especially to the kids.
Radiant Child Yoga believes that “A child is naturally radiant, joyful, and full of innocent wisdom. The deeper purpose of teaching children yoga is to help them maintain their natural wisdom and radiance; or if their light has been dulled by events in their lives, to help them regain their inherent state of being.” Many are aware about Yoga, but Kids Yoga is a novelty to most people. So, “What is Yoga for Children?” People often ask, “How do you teach Yoga to kids if they are fidgety, rowdy and lack focus?” “Are they ready for Yoga?” or “Can they really do Yoga?” My answer is ABSOLUTELY! Yoga for Kids is a bit different to that of Adult Yoga but its benefits are the same. It is Fun and Engaging because it involves games, songs, stories, and a whole lot of imagination.
I introduced and started Yoga for Kids-Teens in my hometown, Pampanga. I already held classes for different age groups and also hosted a Free Yoga Event. The Kids and Teens were so radiant, joyful and amazing! In this generation, where gadgets play a big role in their everyday lives, seeing them sweat, become more aware of their bodies, chant and sing from their hearts, work together and appreciate meditation was just PRICELESS!
In my Yoga Teacher Training I also learned more about Yoga and how it can be connected and applied in my work as a Speech-Language Pathologist. Some of the important factors linking Yoga to Speech-Language Therapy are breathing and posture. In yoga, breathing exercises (Pranayama) and poses (Asanas) help improve posture, deepen mind-body connection and also relax the mind. Furthermore, breathing & posture are as important in speech-language therapy because they are essential foundations in speech production.
In my practice as a Speech-Language Pathologist, I always provide multi-sensory & holistic teaching approach because most of the children also have motor planning concerns and sensory issues aside from having speech & language difficulties. When I started incorporating Yoga, I observed its immense benefits. Whenever the kids feel stressed, anxious or frustrated, I remind them to do "Balloon Breathing" which provides a calming & relaxing effect thus helping them regulate their emotions better. In addition, Yoga Poses (Asanas) like the tree, snake, crow and dog poses heighten their body awareness, help organize their sensory system and improve their body coordination consequently, improving their focus & concentration on the activities or tasks. Furthermore, Imagination, Critical thinking and Social skills can be targeted during Yoga stories, games and creative/fun activities. Yoga hand-in-hand with Speech Therapy can further the child’s speech, language, motor, cognitive and social development.
Yoga totally changed my life. I call it my miracle and happy pill! I was able to benefit from it not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. I want to share the overflowing euphoria Yoga has given me and hopefully inspire more people to live a balanced, healthy, mindful and happy life. Yoga is for Everyone and Happiness is best when shared.
Aira Kristina "KARA" M. Basmayor, CSP-PASP, is a full time Speech-language Pathologist, a Certified Yoga Teacher for Kids & Differently-Abled and also the Center Director at Let's Talk and Learn Therapy Center. She regularly posts informational and helpful articles for parents and teachers at the Let's Talk and Learn Therapy Center FB Page and LTLTC Blog.
Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) in the country has been oriented to target individual clients and their families. However, a vast majority of Filipinos needing health and social services cannot afford to do so. The national and local government has recognized that most persons with disabilities and their families are included in this marginalized group thus necessitating the need to develop more public policies and programs targeting to serve their needs.
Recent international laws and treaties, like the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Incheon Strategies to Make the Right Real, were signed by the Philippine Government and is reflected in their call to action as the third Asia-Pacific Decade on Persons with Disabilities was launched last year. They recognized that certain adjustments should be made to ensure persons with disabilities are able to participate and avail social services and programs.
Health programs are being reviewed to ensure that EVERYONE including persons with disabilities have access to affordable and quality health care. Training of new trainors for community-based rehabilitation programs initiated by regional Department of Health (DOH) centers were done. It was emphasized during the training that SLP professionals are committed to building the nation thus are open to partnerships to support local government efforts to provide services such as public education on communication and feeding disabilities as well as direct service provision.
DOH has launched its campaign to encourage the development of wellness programs for persons with disabilities. Last November 6-7, the First Public Health Convention on Health and Wellness for Persons with Disabilities was held at the Trader’s Hotel, Manila. Speakers were emphasizing the need for better data gathering to ensure that there is systematic collection of data that would reflect the incidence and prevalence of persons with disabilities for each type to assist the government in planning policies and programs that would generally serve their needs.
Another upcoming government program which can potentially engage and recognize practicing speech-language pathologists working at PHILHEALTH-accredited centers is the expanded Z-MORPH package of assistive devices. Three subprograms are being proposed under this package and these are the wheelchair provision program, hearing aid provision program and visually impaired devices program. Lobbying efforts are still being done to ensure that there will be post-device fitting training, rehabilitation and other after-care services are also provided by PHILHEALTH to maximize the benefits of having these assistive devices.
The abovementioned movement by government agencies as well as efforts of non-government organizations are complementing endeavors towards supporting the call of persons with disabilities to include them in development efforts. We, speech-language pathologists, are also being asked by the person with disabilities sector to heed the call to build capacities of Filipinos with communication and feeding disabilities through various means. It is with fervent hope that we will able to help develop their voices so that they themselves can communicate what they need and what. In the next five years, we hope that more SLPs would work with individuals, families and groups towards true inclusive development.
We see iPads everywhere. These and other similar tablets have already become ubiquitous in everyday life. Many students have turned to using iPads for reading textbooks in e-format and for taking down notes. Doctors use it to access patient records. Businessmen turn to their iPads to check on files and keep track of the stock market. At a violin concerto I once went to, the maestro used an iPad to view his musical score. Instead of swiping on the screen, he used a bluetooth foot pedal to turn to the next page.
By this time, we are no longer strangers to these devices. Many of us have one. Whys is it so compelling to acquire a mobile device for work anyway? Here are several of the advantages of using mobile device technology in our work:
As with every tool, the iPad does come with a few disadvantages:
Between a parent/caregiver and a mobile device, we are all very aware that the lure of the latter is much stronger. It is good practice to ascertain that for every child who uses an iPad on a constant basis, allot one parent-teacher meeting and walk the child’s parents through the advantages and disadvantages of using mobile devices. Many use these devices as virtual nannies, and as clinicians we are only too aware of the cognitive consequences such habits may bring. Emphasize the need to ‘sit with the child’ while he/she uses the device in order to facilitate its use and mediate between the device and the child. Specific time limits may be suggested to parents regarding their child’s use of the mobile device. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) policy statement had laid out recommendations for parents on managing the use of media. Emphasize, too, that in the child’s (or adult client’s) sessions, the use of mobile devices are kept at minimum since actual human interaction and communication exchange trumps any app that technology may offer.
Want a specific app featured in our website? Got questions on which apps to use for specific cases? Wondering when the next app sale will be? Shoot us a note!
*The author declares that there is no conflict of interest with the companies of any of the devices, applications or products that are mentioned in this article.
It was late in 2002 when I got a phone call at work from a friend of a friend. Around then I’ve already started a clinic with my partners and was focusing on working on building the practice. She introduced herself as Dr. Glenda de Villa and that she was forming a cleft team and needed a speech pathologist. Having a full load, as was typical of us SP’s, I told her that I would look for another SP for her team but I’ll see her patients in the meantime.
During subsequent meetings , I and the rest of the small team of 2 surgeons, an orthodontist, and an ENT got to share in Dr. De Villa’s vision of a new service delivery model for cleft care and how a multidisciplinary team can provide world-class cleft care even to the poorest of the poor. By then we were hooked. We started seeing patients at a small charity hospital in Paranaque in March of 2003. That year we operated on 35 children and adults and provided dental, ENT, and speech therapy for many more.
Today our small team has grown into a foundation (the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation Philippines, Incorporated or NCF) that treats hundreds of patients each year. We also provide training for professionals to ensure that the treatment we provide is top-notch and state-of-the-art.
Personally and professionally, I feel I have gained much more from my volunteer work at NCF than what I have given in terms of time, money, and expertise. I have grown much more as a professional both in skills and outlook. Aside from the natural high we get when helping a fellow human being , I get a sense of fulfilment that I in my line of work can make a difference.
I highly recommend volunteering as a speech pathologist for a worthy cause. Be it one day a week or a few days a year, give your services for free to someone who needs it. Do it and do it regularly for yourself and for speech pathology as a profession.
Each individual SP’s volunteerism further legitimizes our chosen profession since we, as practicing professionals, believe in the value of our work that we deem it worthwhile to give it for free because doing so makes the world a better place to live in.
The good news is, in our line of work, one needs only to look around to find a cause worthy and dear to their heart.
A month ago, one of my students with Autism, who is in college already, treated me and his dyad mate for his birthday. He opted to bring us to Viking’s (hello, happiness!) Mega mall and was considerate enough to schedule it on a holiday because he knew how busy I can be. What he forgot to do, though, was to reserve a table for us. I know. I know. Your control freak aunt should have anticipated that. But it was a holiday, hence my guard was down.
So that you can picture the dire circumstances of that oversight, I give you the numbers. 12:30 pm. 53rd on the walk-in waitlist. 2 famished students. Correction…2 very famished students with special needs. 1 harassed speech pathologist. Then, I realized that the priority lane for PWDs can be our express ticket! So I talked to the front desk officers and with admirable sensitivity, accommodated our request but cautioned that we still had to wait for a short while. Seeing that my students were perplexed why we went ahead of the others, I explained the concept of the PWD lane to them. The birthday boy then leaned close to me and asked with all seriousness “Bakit, Teacher Mae? Sino ba ang PWD sa atin?”.
Marilag, it is moments like this when I am most grateful for my job. Times like this when I cannot imagine myself doing anything else except to be immersed in that moment – hungry, at my wits’ end and immensely amused. I know, in my heart, that this will be your story too. One of many that will unfold before you and shape you. Others might think ‘such brazenness!’. Future speech pathologist and she is not even half-way through her internship?! I am claiming it. Such is God’s generosity that He will give this blessing to our family twice.
I also know that you and your classmates need this. Traversing this final year, you will be at your most vulnerable and at your lowest. Doubts will set in. You will question yourself if this is really worth it. I was just a month away from completing my internship when I thought of packing my bags and going home to Mindoro. Marunong naman akong gumawa ng kandila kakapanood kay Nanay Belen. Drama rama!
Let me tell you that it will be more than worth it. The steadfastness, resilience, and resolve (coated within endless case presentations and mounds of paperwork) that the university is teaching you? These will be your vehicle. These are personal logos of Filipino Speech Pathologists all over the world.
As I write this letter, I cannot help but think of certain things on hindsight. And now, I realize, you are my hindsight! So here you go… do not just aim to finish. Learn as you finish. Study again (what?!) and do not sit on this plan too long. You are brilliant and then you are not. You may be brilliant but there are others who are way more brilliant than you. Have the humility to accept this and move on. And stay and work here. I am not saying stay in the Philippines forever. After all, you have your own adventures to pursue. But serve even for a while. Your country needs you.
The hindsight list is long but I want to end with this. Please be a part of the association. It is my lament that never have I seen a group of people with numerous skills and talents yet bereft with collective commitment and will. Given the opportunity, work with Weng, Susie, Ken, Bernice, Dane, Aileen, Paul, Sam and Jeri. They are in this for the long haul. And oh, the things that they can do! The places they can bring us to!
May God bless and protect you, Marilag. See you at the finish line! And by then, you can help me answer questions like what my 11-year old student asked last Friday - “Teacher Mae, you think God already made the perfect girl for me?”.
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