April Fools on Autism Month


My son turns 21 this month. He and her sister three years older were diagnosed with Autism that cost me a marriage. But he is legally an adult this month, which tells me how much I missed in the interim.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres set the signing of the proclamation of Autism month today, then moved it to yesterday, so though setting a Grade 1 classroom for WSR to decongest the overloaded four classes by the end of this assessment period, I took the time to be at the proclamation having been one of the originals when the autism society still gathered informally at a Resource Center.

I was there early at 9am; was informed that the signing was April 1 so I asked the front desk to check again. Sure enough, it was yesterday in the books at 10:30am, so since I was early, I went back to the office to sort out the maps I needed to bring to C-2 WSR and moseyed back to Capitol Hill at 10:15. I was told that I missed it by 20 minutes.

Being a strong proponent of coconut time (when it is ripe, it will fall), I shrugged my shoulders and went back to school.

Today is April Fools’ Day. Larry Bird of the Indiana Pacers, former player for the Boston Celtics, does not fool himself when he looks at the statistics and realizes that tall guys do not live long. Ailing from a heart murmur, the 59-year old backboard “giant” figures he has 16 years before his heart gives out. That’s about my pace.

My adult male neighbor gingerly walked his way to his room at 2am after a Friday night bout with the boys. He was up and about the following day bewailing the numerous aphids on his pepper plant, slightly nursing a hangover, and it would have been the perfect timing to say something smart, but I remembered the Pinoy saying: Pilawin mo na yong lasing, huwag lang yong bagong gising (say anything to a drunk but be careful on the newly awake).

Today allows for playing harmless jokes on friends and foes. This includes the Hilaria Roman festival on vernal equinox in honor of goddess Cybele. There is the festival of colors, or the festival of love, called Holi in India, also related to the vernal equinox when the full moon is on.

The Church and the Reformers condemned the Feast of Fools for excesses in orgies but it was a reminder to clergy not to take themselves too seriously. Remnants of it show up as recent as Victor Hugo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) in which the image of the Pope of Fools is bestowed on the hunchback Quasimodo.

Pinoys joke when under stress. Benigno Aquino, Jr. gunned down on the plane stairs at MIA on his arrival from Taiwan had Manila folks lit tires in the middle of the street, riled all kinds of substantive and corny jokes, replaced the characters with Ferdie and Meldie. Laughter came along with the tears. That was a natural “April Fool’s Day” in August.

President Marcos declared that he would call a “snap” election pitting him against Ninoy Aquino’s widow Cory. The published results were rigged; Juan Ponce Enrile of Defense and Assistant Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos withdrew their support of the Marcos regime. Cardinal Sin urged the public to protect them at Camp Aguinaldo and the People’s Power of EDSA occurred. Ferdie and Meldie hightailed it to Hawaii; Cory was sworn-in to the Presidency by SC Justice Teehankee.

Marcos was too ill to understand that he was headed for Hawaii (pronounced “hah-wai-ee”) when he left Malacañang on a helicopter; he thought he was going to his home to Paoay (pronounced, “pah wai”), up north in Ilocos Norte. Many Filipinos observed Gotcha April Fools’ Day that year.

April Fools’ Day is on us when we take promoting the cause of democracy beyond its being a handy metaphor that we use even on Saipan over the intrusive tactics of the casino industry in spite of two popular votes against it. Makati business was not spontaneous at EDSA; they protested the restricted ability to maneuver freely. The U.S. Embassy was “uninvolved,” obviously a “go ahead” signal.

Madame Suharto was referred to as Madame Fifteen Percent when she exceeded the tolerated 10 percent to the slush fund. Pea Eye’s charge was at thirty-five but business continued to thrive as only a portion of the rich mineral resource of precious metals was mined. The nation could sustain exploitation since the tropical weather outside the Metro centers supported self-sustenance.

April is autism month, no laughing matter. In 1995, I paid attention to Autism when my 4-year old was suspected of being one; incidence was one out of more than 1,000. By 2002 in Melbourne, it was one out of 400. A year ago, it was one out of less than a 100. Today, one out of 45 though Atlanta goes for 68.

Still, not a joke, but life allows us to laugh. An autistic boy above my dwelling screams often, a language common among the disorder. I told his Mom to heed those times he laughs, encourage whatever behavioral pattern he does at the time.

Autism month. My boy neighbor doesn’t care, but I giggle when he does!

Jaime R. Vergara | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Jaime Vergara previously taught at SVES in the CNMI. A peripatetic pedagogue, he last taught in China but makes Honolulu, Shenyang, and Saipan home. He can be reached at pinoypanda2031@aol.com.

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