by Monica Mirjana Cruz
These days, Mommy Mayette frequents the Physical Sciences Building (PhySci) of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). Wearing denim jeans, t-shirt, and a backpack, she may even be mistaken as a student. But Mommy Mayette is in UPLB not to earn another degree, but to help his son Carl Adrian earn his BS Computer Science degree and live his dream.
Since 2011, Mommy Mayette has accompanied Carl Adrian in his classes. As students scurry for their next class, Mommy Mayette pushes his son’s wheelchair out of the crowd and on to his next class. In between classes, she spends most of her time in building corridors outside her son’s classrooms. She passes time by catching up on her reading and making calls to her family to keep in touch. When she is allowed to sit in classes, she encounters familiar concepts and is able to answer some of Carl Adrian’s questions about his lessons.
Carl Adrian has been diagnosed with duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a rare disease occurring primarily in males and is characterized by rapid and progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles.
Carl Adrian dreams of becoming a computer scientist someday. His family is committed in helping him pursue his dreams. Their day starts at around 5 AM in their Brgy. Batong Malake apartment to prepare for his 7 a.m. class. Mommy Mayette and Carl Adrian spend the weekdays in Los Baños and the weekends in Batangas City. Mommy Mayette is a mother of three. She is blessed with a daughter and two sons. A former market research analyst in a big corporation, she stopped working and has since dedicated her time nurturing her family.
Carl Adrian was seven years old when Mommy Mayette noticed that he was often tiptoeing and wobbling. At first, the family thought that his condition only needed corrective shoes. But a doctor told them that Carl Adrian has DMD.
It was a family decision to help Carl Adrian live a normnal life despite his condition. The family knew that it would be far from easy. When Carl Adrian was in grade school, Mommy Mayette accompanied him to school and fetched him at the end of the school day. It was only when Carl Adrian reached sixth grade that he needed to use a wheelchair. It was also the time when she already hired someone to assist her son in school.
Mommy Mayette admitted that it was difficult for her to accept that there is no cure for her son’s condition. She is worried about the difficulties that Carl Adrian would encounter in the future. “I just had to keep in mind that he needs assistance [and] that I should always be there for him to not lose hope or drive,” Mommy Mayette said.
Although there are times when worries seem to overcome her, she just remembers Carl Adrian’s determination to reach his dreams. For Mommy Mayette, this is enough for her to face another day. Mommy Mayette said it was Carl Adrian’s decision to study in UPLB where his older sister is also studying to become an electrical engineer.
Mommy Mayette also sees her son’s determination to become a professional. There are also times, however, when he is panic-sticken with the requirements that he has to complete, especially during “hellweek”. Being a UP alumna, Mommy Mayette is familiar with the demands of a UP education. She said that it is during these times that she should be there for him. She explained that their relationship is give and take– her son draws courage from her but she also draws courage, inspiration, and drive from her son and her whole family. “Very caring, responsible, and willing to sacrifice for us,” this is how Carl Adrian describes Mommy Mayette.
Although the buildings in UPLB are not suited for people with physical disabilities, Mommy Mayette shared that the faculty members and staff make up for this. She said that there were instances when they were able to negotiate for the transfer of a class in a room located in the first floor. She added that faculty members have been understanding and considerate.
For group meetings, Mommy Mayette would volunteer their apartment to be the meeting place if they could accommodate the group. She added that she makes it a point that there is someone to assist Carl Adrian when he goes to activities like film showing at the D.L. Umali Auditorium as there was an incident when he almost fell.
The family’s dedication has paid off. Carl Adrian has consistently been in the list of honor students in the University. In the first semester of academic year 2013-2014, he garnered the ninth highest general weighted average (GWA) among BS Computer Science students. For his internship this summer, Carl Adrian was accepted in a company based in Taguig City.
Mommy Mayette shared what has kept her going through the years: “…He [God] will not give me something that I cannot handle; support and understanding extended by family and friends; and the great courage that my son has.”
Inspiring other mothers, Mommy Mayette said that, “Lahat naman tayo may pinagdadaanan at kanya-kanya din tayo ng faith. Kung nakikita mo na yung sinusuportahan mo positive naman siya, so dapat positive ka din para mag-tuloy tuloy din siya (All of us face challenges and rely on our faith. If we see that the person we are supporting remains positive, we should also remain positive so they would go on).”
Just like other mothers, Mommy Mayette would like to see his son reach his goals in life. No matter how difficult the future might be, Mommy Mayette will always be a constant source of inspiration for Carl Adrian and her family.