Biyernes, Disyembre 14, 2012


How do parents feel when they are told that their child has some kind of “defect”?  When God assigns us the special task of parenting a child with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy or ADHD, our natural reaction is to feel disappointment, distress, and sadness.  There is worry, anxiety, and apprehension about the future, anticipating the need for special care, and much unconditional love, patience and perseverance.

I was at the Christmas Party of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines last Sunday, December 9, 2012, at the San Lorenzo Village Park, and met a new mother of a child with Down syndrome.  Bella (not her real name) gave birth to her son two months ago and I had the privilege then of visiting her at Cardinal Hospital.  When I was informed about her child, I had sensed a burden for her, that I should see her,  to comfort her and help her understand that God has a special purpose for her child’s life.  But no matter how I tried to encourage her, sadness and fear were written all over her face.

The Bible tells us that God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, a virgin pledged to be married to Joseph. Mary was young, and poor, and seemed unlikely to be chosen by God to carry out an important task.  A young woman was to bear the Messiah who was to come and save us from our sins. Through the Holy Spirit, Mary would be pregnant and would likely face shame and even threats of danger. Mary courageously accepted the task in spite of the great risks, and answered, “May it be to me as you have said,” Luke 1:38.

Re-reading the story of the birth of Jesus Christ and meditating on these verses in Luke’s Gospel made me ponder on these questions, “Did I willingly accept this special task that God was entrusting to me when He gave me a child with Down syndrome? Did I instantly obey Him -- or did I “make tampo” (hold a grudge) with God? Am I ashamed of my child’s condition?”  Like Mary, some of us as parents are also asked by God to raise children with special needs born for a specific purpose. Obviously, our special needs children were not created to save us from our sins; nevertheless, God gives these children to us to accomplish His purposes. He gives them as instruments to shape and mold our lives.  Through them we learn to seek God and pray to Him.  We become better people, and are given the opportunity to glorify God through our lives and the lives of our children with special needs. 

My daughter Clarissa, born with Down syndrome, hearing- and speech-impaired, physically handicapped and bipolar, is one of God’s greatest gifts to me. Through her I am drawn closer to God and through her I learned to surrender all my fears to Him.  God works through my daughter to strengthen my faith and mold my character, teaching me to rely on Him on a daily basis.  Clarissa is not an accident.  God chose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah who would save the world, and this same God chose me to be the mother of a child who has a special purpose in our lives. 

Clarissa has also been God’s instrument to comfort me most especially on important occasions such as Christmas.  Being separated from my husband for six years has truly been difficult, spending Christmas Eve’s alone in my room crying to God, asking Him to keep me company.  It is during these moments that I would experience God’s presence in a more intimate way.  On Christmas day, I look forward to seeing my children and grandchildren who come over to celebrate with me.  While my two older sons, Carlo Miguel and Claro Paulo are now both parents, I still have Clarissa to take care of for the rest of her life.  Clarissa is practically all I have left.  She is my best friend, my prayer partner, and we do a lot of activities together.  It is not always easy to take care of her specially when she throws a tantrum. But God blesses me with a special kind of joy when I’m with her and that encourages me to keep going. 

Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel is an inspiration for us as parents to trust God, for He knows that we are the best parents for our child with special needs.  And if God were to turn back time and gave me a choice: would I be the parent of a special needs child or not, I would still choose my daughter Clarissa.   This time I will tell the Lord, “May it be done to me as you have said.”

Author of “Embracing God’s Purpose for My Special Child”

Martes, Abril 17, 2012


"Sailing" Painted by Clarissa, enhanced by Mommy Malu.
Apostle Paul said, "To keep me becoming conceited because of these surpassing great revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh... to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"  2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Many people have asked me why Clarissa doesn't go to school anymore.  "What about her social life?" they ask.  How I wish she could do both, go to school and be home schooled at the same time.  I must admit that I envy other children with special needs who are able to talk, run, read books and even have jobs.  There were times I, like Apostle Paul, questioned God why He had given Clarissa a "thorn in the flesh." Apart from having Down syndrome, Clarissa's hearing impairment has hampered her learning abilities.  Because she is also bipolar, her mood swings have been so erratic for years now.

The artist while recovering from chicken pox.
In spite of her disability, I thank the Lord for giving Clarissa the gift of art.  Through her disability and weakness, we experience God's power being displayed.  Through her limitations, we learn to turn to God to seek pathways for effectiveness.  Clarissa's weakness not only helps us develop our character, it also deepens our faith and walk with the Lord, because in admitting her limitations, we affirm God's grace.  The Lord granted her a way to communicate not through words but through painting.  Her paintings speaks to us, touches our hearts and teaches us to be grateful.  

"I see a boat!"
This is one of the 18 paintings that Clarissa made while confined at home for two weeks because of chicken pox.  Initially, I was so confused trying to figure out what the painting is about.  But as I stared for a long time, I began to see a figure of a boat.  In fact, I think it looked like the boats we see sailing in the river in Hong Kong.  Quickly, I googled a picture of the boat and yes, it does look like it!

It's amazing how God make our minds and hands work together and be able to communicate with each other.  He is truly amazing!  To God be all the glory and praise!  

Martes, Abril 3, 2012


My daughter Clarissa's new series of abstract paintings is a reminder to us about the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  When she began painting them last month while confined at home due to chicken pox, I noticed that she did not paint one cross but three crosses representing Jesus in the center and the two criminals beside Him.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him:  "Aren't you the Christ?  Save yourself and us?"  But the other criminal rebuked him.  "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence?"  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.  But this man has done nothing wrong."

Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."  Luke 23:39-43

As we read these verses, we learn that we have a choice to believe and accept Jesus Christ or be like the other criminal who insulted Him.  These two criminals were about to die but one of them turned to Christ for forgiveness and Christ accepted Him.   This proves that good works does not save us.  It is our faith in Jesus that enables us to be saved.   We can trust that God is merciful and will forgive us  if we make the choice to receive Him as our Lord and Savior.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

Make that choice today and receive the free gift of eternal life by saying this simple prayer from your heart:

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for loving me.  I confess that I am a sinner.  Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all my sins.  Please come into my heart, forgive my sins and be my Lord and Savior.   I accept your free gift of eternal life.  With your help I will turn away from all my sins.  Thank you for forgiving me and for giving me eternal life.  By your power, I will live my life to please you.  I love you.  Amen.

If you just trusted in Jesus Christ, you now have the assurance of eternal life.

Martes, Marso 13, 2012


Clarissa caught a virus and is feeling sick
Recently, I blogged about my daughter Clarissa's latest paintings entitled "Abstract Attack."  Little did I know that she had a virus called "chicken pox."  Looking back and reviewing her photos, she started having red spots while doing her first abstract painting.  But this didn't bother her at all.  She continued to paint, enjoying the freedom to do whatever she wanted to do with her brush.  By the time she was done with her fifth painting, her chicken pox marks were full blown.  No wonder she laid on the floor, feeling weak but still stroking the brush.

Clarissa painting on the floor under yellow light

Days after, she starts a tantrum, cried and wailed due to boredom.  After all, who wouldn't be when you're confined inside the bedroom for five consecutive days?  I gave her the liberty to paint once again with a tray of acrylic paint by her side.  As I watched and observed her paint on the floor under the yellow light, I began to play with my imagination.  I saw an image of a woman in white long skirt and orange blouse entering a door.  From another angle, I see a woman facing a young girl with a door behind them.  Whatever it is, I thank God for giving me the eyes to see Clarissa's art works from different dimensions.

When I emphasized the image of the woman, this is how it looked...

Unfinished art work of Clarissa
Many people have asked me how my daughter is able to make beautiful modern portraits and now abstract paintings.  "Only by God's grace!"  I believe that the Lord created my daughter Clarissa to be born with a special gift in art despite her disability because He wants His name to be glorified through her.  I never intended to post my daughter's art works to boast about her "abilities" but to share how God is able to use her "disabilities."

Jesus' disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."
JOHN 9:2-3

Biyernes, Marso 9, 2012


Ever since the Down Syndrome Association's art exhibit at Rockwell last February 16-19, 2012, my daughter Clarissa has not been able to paint because of the many activities of DSAPI as we celebrated Down Syndrome Consciousness Month.  The seminar we conducted, "Ang Pera Na Hindi Bitin" for parents of special needs children, the art exhibit at UST Special Education Dept. and the parenting talk I gave at the Paco Catholic School kept us busy and pre-occupied.  

Clarissa's second abstract painting enhanced by Mommy Malu.
Yesterday, I brought out all of our art materials and set up an easel for Clarissa with the hope that I can encourage her to paint.  To my surprise, my daughter quickly painted the canvas directly without sketching her usual modern "mala-Picasso" portraits.  I did not bother to correct her or tried to persuade her to do her usual drawings.  Instead, I watched and quickly grabbed my camera, took pictures as she held the brush and stroke it on the canvas.  I was in awe!  I didn't realize that she can do abstract paintings!  Previously, my daughter painted a few portraits that look like Jesus Christ.  This time, she paints crosses.  Perhaps she had an encounter with Jesus Himself and has seen Him as well.  Is it possible?  

"With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible." MATTHEW 19:26

All glory and praise to God!

See the master at work....
Clarissa painting her first abstract art piece.

Clarissa about to finish her abstract painting.
Clarissa's painting with a little finishing touches by Mommy Malu.
Clarissa's thrid abstract painting enhanced by Mommy Malu.

Martes, Marso 6, 2012

February is Down's syndrome consciousness month | ABS-CBN News

February is Down's syndrome consciousness month | ABS-CBN News

Ngayon buwan ng Pebrero, ginugunita ang Down’s Syndrome Consciousness Month. Dito nabibigyan ng pagkakataon ang mga may down syndrome na ipakita ang kanilang talento at patunayan na kaya rin nilang mamuhay nang normal. Bandila, Pebrero 24, 2012, Biyernes

William Mobley: Breakthroughs in Down Syndrome Research

Miyerkules, Enero 25, 2012


Malu Tiongson-Ortiz and her daughter Clarissa
The Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines will have an art exhibit at the Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati, from February 16-19, 2012, featuring art works of children with Down syndrome.  Clarissa Ortiz, one of the young artists was not only born with Down syndrome but also hearing and speech impaired, and physically handicapped.  But God is good.  He gave her eye to see colors and hands to draw faces.  Her works have been exhibited here and in the U.S., two of which are now displayed in a house in Beverly Hills, California.  It's amazing how children with special needs like Clarissa can paint beautiful Picasso-like portraits in acrylic and oil pastels.  Clarissa's Mom, homeschool and art teacher Malu Tiongson-Ortiz, is a Fine Arts graduate from UST major in Interior Design.  She cleans and enhances Clarissa's art works.     

In John 9:3 we read that when Jesus was asked by His disciples, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind (handicapped)?", Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."  

Clarissa is God's instrument in displaying His mighty works.  Through her, many people's lives have been touched.  "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."  Matthew 19:26

Biyernes, Enero 20, 2012


As we learned Bible principles for practical living, God taught me and my husband Claro to set aside a substantial amount for our daughter with Down syndrome. Claro always make it a point to save for Clarissa's future. Saving for the special needs child’s future should be the concern of every parent. Who would want to burden their siblings or their relatives, should their special child outlive them? My husband has already assigned both Clarissa’s brothers, Carlo and Paulo, as the legal guardians and administrators of Clarissa’s savings while I have trained and prepared our sons to take care her.  The preparation include writing journals and keeping our daughter's medical records, doctors telephone numbers and clinic hours in case of future medical problems.  Though this may sound morbid, I have also prepared a Last Will & Testament to make sure that my daughter will be well taken care of.  

I believe it is also a wise principle to get a medical insurance card and life insurance for our special needs children. Some companies provide this specialized insurance. My brother Randell, a financial analyst and an advocate of life and finance, advised us to get a life insurance and endowment plan with Clarissa as the sole beneficiary.
The fear of not having enough money to raise a special needs child can be crippling. When I ask my son Carlo when he intends to marry, he always tells me, “Not until I’m 30 years old. I’m not financially ready yet.” I honestly think that nobody ever feels “ready” to get married, just as we are also never “ready” to take care of a special child. God purposely allows us to feel inadequate to be married, or to parent a special needs child, so we will learn to depend on Him for provisions.
I trust that the Lord will not put us in a situation that we cannot handle, with His help. Jesus said,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Matthew 6:25–27 

To learn more about planning for the future of your child with special needs, attend the seminar "ANG PERA NA HINDI BITIN," on February 18, 2012 at CCF Overflow Room, 4th Floor St. Francis Square, Mandaluyong City, from 8am to 12:30pm.  Register now!  It's FREE!  Simply text you name to 09178966258 or 09053784217. 

Huwebes, Enero 19, 2012


God takes care of His people even in the midst of crises. When He gave us a child with special needs, we need to sincerely trust and be assured that His provisions will come at the exact time we need them. He is seldom early, but He is never late. God’s timing is perfect.

When I felt the need to give up my work for Clarissa, I sought God’s wisdom from the leader of our family – my husband. Claro advised me to close my store and be a stay- at-home mom. And so I took a leap of faith and gave up my business in 2005. I was sad but excited at the same time for it meant that I would be spending more time with my family. A few months after, my husband was promoted at work and also received some financial blessings from his father.  

I realized that whatever income I had lost, God had given back, channeling it through many other ways. When I am in need, I am excited to see how the Lord will provide.  My trust in Him is growing. We sometimes speak lightly of God’s timing, but He truly gives help at the exact time when we need it.

There is hope. You can trust that the Lord will meet the needs of your special needs child. Although to quit working because of a special child may not be appropriate in your situation, you can be assured that as you place your life in God’s hands, He will put you right where He wants you to be. Because I was working too hard and dependent on myself, He took me out of my business in order for me to have order in my priorities and to completely rely on Him for provisions. I realized that my family should be at the top of my list, over my work. I realized too that being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t mean I will stop working. Since then, I’ve found ways to earn a living and yet be at home with my children. I continued to make bead jewelry and consigned these items to other stores instead of running my own store. God also bestowed upon my daughter Clarissa and I a special talent that generates income for both of us.  Clarissa makes modern portraits in acrylic and oil pastel and I enhance her works.  God is good. He gave me the wisdom to manage my time and spend quality time with my family. 

To learn more about financial stewardship and how to plan for the future of your child with special needs, attend the seminar, "Ang Pera Na Hindi Bitin," with Malu Tiongson-Ortiz, author of "Embracing God's Purpose for My Special Child," Ardy Roberto, author of "Ang Pera na Hindi Bitin," Randell Tiongson, an advocate of life & personal finance, and Atty. Robert Samarita, head of LAW Ministry.  See you at the CCF Overflow Room, 4th Floor, on February 18, 2012 at 8am to 1230Pm.  Register now by sending a text message with your name to 09178966258 or 09053784217.   

Biyernes, Enero 13, 2012


In our last parenting seminar for families of children with special needs at CCF, St Francis Square on September 2011, I was moved by the overwhelming response of almost 200 participants composed of parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers and therapists.  According to the survey form submitted to us, many were blessed by the message on biblical parenting, joyfully grateful to God for choosing them to be a parent of a special needs child despite the physical and financial burden it entails.

Because of this response, some concerned parents and I were burdened to organize a seminar particularly on "finances and our child's future" hopefully to give encouragement to those families who are going through financial difficulties in raising their child or for parents who simply want to learn about planning for adulthood of their child.

On February 18, from 8am to 12nn, we will be conducting a seminar entitled, "ANG PERA NA HINDI BITIN," a talk on financial stewardship and planning for the future of our child with special needs, at CCF overflow room, 4th floor, St. Francis Square.  We have invited financial gurus, legal and spiritual counselors to talk about God's original plan for money, how we are to spend, save, give, how to plan for our special needs child's future, investments and how to choose an administrator for them.  Be blessed by the testimonies of some parents who overcame financial difficulty and how the Lord faithfully provides for them.

I encourage you, parents of special needs children to come and attend this FREE seminar.  Register now by simply texting your name to 09178966258 or 09053784217.  Hope to see you there!

Linggo, Enero 1, 2012


Recently, my daughter Clarissa had her 8th art exhibit at the Boho Festival, Ayala Alabang Country Club featuring her latest paintings in acrylic.  One of the 30 paintings she exhibited is this very interesting piece of art.  When Clarissa drew this portrait, she was lazy to reach out and draw the eyes nose and lips in the middle of the face. I thought it was not one of her best art works.  But to my surprise, the big forehead and the facial features crowding below the face turned out really fantastic! It's amazing how she can draw and paint without any effort.  While it takes me days to figure out what to draw in a canvas, Clarissa takes 10-15 minutes only to draw a portrait like this.      

Indeed, Clarissa has a very special talent in spite of her disability. No matter how distorted her portraits look, God turns it into a beautiful masterpiece, having an extra ordinary impact on people.  Therefore, it will be unfair to give her all the credit or even to me for enhancing her works as I acknowledge that everything comes from the Master Himself, the one who created my daughter and chose to bestow her with this special gift.  

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."  
Matthew 19:26 
Although the art exhibit did not turn out as expected as it was held in a very private club, I am grateful to the organizers for choosing Clarissa's art works as the highlight of the event.  What is so unique about this exhibit is how the organizers of Boho (headed by Jun de Leon, a celebrity photographer, and Tessa Neri. a good friend), uniquely displayed her paintings in a white inflatable tent that looked like a giant igloo from a distance.  

Thank you Lord for another great opportunity to display your miracles through the life of my daughter Clarissa whom you've chosen to be born with Down syndrome.  As we start the year 2012, may you continue to use her in ways that will amaze and draw people to you.  Continue to bless her hands so she may draw and paint more portraits that will glorify your name.