Remembering: Eating with my face shield on

Find the person who will ‘sit with you in the dark’

By Ness Bantog

I remember the morning after my son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I woke up with eyes puffy from the night before and immediately started crying. I just could not imagine how we would figure this life out. I was so sad. And so mad. Why did this happen to us?

It’s been a year since.  A lot changes in the year following a diagnosis. Changes in routine. Changes in relationships. Changes in expectations. Changes in emotional strength. We are one of the families on this journey lucky enough to see progress on the first year. Our son is slowly meeting his therapy and IEP goals. And we are so grateful for the support of our school district!

If your family just received a diagnosis, I see you and feel for you. Take one day at a time. Find your strength and fight for your child, even if you are sure that everyone around you knows you are scared. Know that eventually the shock and resentment will wear off. But don’t rush this important stage of grief. Don’t let others try to rush you out of it either. Allow yourself to feel that sadness until you are ready to step into this world and be the warrior parent your child needs you to be. Think of Alice in Wonderland and find that person who will “sit with you in the dark” until you are ready. We took our time to sit in darkness and when we were ready, we stepped into the light and began our transformation into the parents we were meant to be.

Social media has turned us into spontaneous storytellers. Our new feature called “Remembering: Pinoy. Powerful. Personal” is a collection of short essays of memories pushed aside by time and making themselves apparent in the writer’s present. Some of the essays are contributed; others culled from social media posts. To send your essays, email

Eating with my face shield on

By Roberto Villanueva

Generally, I do not leave my apartment because of the pandemic. But I had a couple of, maybe, rigid rules. One was me wearing a face shield and propping a portable divider on the table for additional protection while eating out with a friend. None of my other friends will eat out with me because of that. Another one was after my surgery. I had a visiting nurse and visiting physical therapist. I told them they had to be in full PPE from head to toe and have disinfectant if they plan to enter my apartment. If they didn’t have any, I provided them—shoe cover, robe, face mask, gloves, alcohol wipes, etc. the same rule applies to my friends, so nobody wants to visit. Also, several friends have invited me to their homes for meals, I told them I would only visit if their home had an outdoor patio for dining. So, I no longer get invited.

Finally felt comfortable enough to have a restaurant meal outdoor for lunch. Thank you Donghwan Kim for tolerating my hypochondria and paranoia. I had to eat with my face shield on. I did practice at home beforehand. I also brought with me an unused grease splatter guard to protect our food from each other while eating. I know it seems over the top, but I live alone. My closest immediate family members are eight hours away. I don’t feel comfortable putting myself at risk for any chance of something terrible happening to me medically. I also don’t want to put my friends at risk. And, I wanted to show off my fifth self-haircut since the March lockdown.

NaFFAA continues to update its list of newly elected, re-elected Filipino American officials in 2020. Email for information.

(C) The FilAm 2021

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