Positive vibes from my eldest son Ramon Amado, Junie, who now resides in Vancouver. He shared with me a brief report on the progress of my eldest grandson, his first boy, Ramon lll, now 21, whose favorite sport is swimming. Bear with me, dear readers!

You see, Monchu, as we all call him, was diagnosed with autism. Happily, it turned out to be mild and with proper care he would be a healthy boy. And so he has, thanks to the love and dedication of his parents, my son and his wife Coralyn Barte.

It was a blessing they decided to relocate to Vancouver, leaving behind their good jobs here, when their only son was two years old. In Canada, where the health care system provides proper guidance and education and medical attention to children who need them, Monchu “bloomed.”

It was difficult to see them move, but visiting them in later years and seeing the progress my “apo” made, we realized it was for the best. He has different therapists and teachers, who would guide and monitor him. His speech improved. He became less shy. He is very “malambing” with his daddy. And his gift for numbers and shapes and his excellent memory delighted his parents and teachers.

He went to a regular school with a guidance teacher always around. He was a helpful boy around the house. Growing up, Monchu was a sweet loving “kuya” to his younger brother Miggy, fetching him from school, riding home with him in the bus. Monchu could make simple meals and snacks for Miggy and keep him entertained until his parents came home. He did very well with the on-one on-the-job training he was assigned to at regular cafes. The goal was for him learn to live on his own. He passed with flying colors.

I’m so proud of Monchu who has turned out to be a healthy, happy young man who loves his faith. He was a regular communicant in his church and used to serve during masses. He feels sad they can’t go to Sunday masses physically now but he watches the live stream on his dad’s computer.  

Fear never builds a future, but hope does.

—US President Joe Biden

He began swimming regularly when he was growing up. It became more than just a hobby but a sport he chose to excel in.

Today, Monchu is one of the top bets of his swim club at competitions, even as far as Calgary. He is extremely focused on his style and speed and he was winning medals already!     

Monchu has again been recognized as the Swimmer of the Year for 2020 by his swim club, the Vancouver Pacific Swim Club (VPSC), repeating the feat he achieved in 2019. He has earned the most points for the club.

My apo has thrived with VPSC since he joined it in 2018. The quality of training he has been receiving has helped him improve and continuously achieve personal best times in all his events, which have put him in the top 20 Para-swimmers in Western Canada in 2019. He has been consistently invited to attend the para-swimming camps over the past three years.

Monchu qualified for the Speedo Western Canada Championship in 2018 and 2019 and would have done so too in 2020 and would have possibly also qualified for the Canadian Trials, depending on how he had performed in the meet, had the pandemic not cancelled everything. He represented British Columbia in the Special Olympics Canada National Games in Nova Scotia in 2018, where he made one gold, one silver, and two bronzes.

The club and coaches are phenomenal, headed by three-time Canadian Olympian Brian Johns, who pushes for excellence and a wholistic approach to developing the swimmers in and out of the pool. They worked hard during the first months of the pandemic to have the kids in the pool for the better part of the past six months. Monchu is continuously training with the club as Swim Canada and Swim BC continue to improvise and hold swim meets virtually.

With all the health protocols in place, not one of his parents, not even his dad, who used to do it, can watch him in early morning daily practice swims now. Only the swimmers are allowed in the covered swimming pool area. But Monchu loves the three-hour sessions. He understands they make him a better swimmer!

His big regret is that the family was not able to come home to Manila for a December break last year because of the pandemic. Monchu knows exactly how many miles the plane has to fly to reach his Ninang Sandee’s place. He looks forward to better days and swimming at the pool at his ninang’s building.

So do we , his family here. Cheers to our champion, Monchu! A “very special child indeed!”

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/04/11/a-very-special-filipino-canadian-para-swimmer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-very-special-filipino-canadian-para-swimmer)