Text and photos by Ofelia Empian, VERA Files
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—She whirls around the room with her apron on. She wipes the table clean,then stacks the yellow plastic plates, and forks and spoons in the basket.
Her teacher beams and praises her student: “Very good!”
Celina Sakiwat smiles, sits and waits for her sister to fetch her from school.
It’s a routine Sakiwat, 17, and born with Down Syndrome, has been doing for the past five years.
“She is one of the most diligent students we’ve had here,” said Violeta Santos, adviser of the Vocational Class at the Benguet Special Education (SPED) Center here where Sakiwat is enrolled.
Read More »from Learning about Down Syndrome from Celina
In their class, Sakiwat is among the oldest and the only one with Down Syndrome. In a country where one in 800 children is born with the genetic condition every year, the awareness of the disability remains low. For Sakiwat’s parents, it took years before they knew what their daughter had, and many more years before they could send her to a proper special