NEVA ARBOLEDA-SANTOS

Having a daughter with special needs, I immediately connected with Neva.  She is wife to Dan, and mother of two adorable little boys: David, 6 and Noah, 2. When their youngest, Noah, was born, he was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Neva has been blogging since early 2000. What started out as a project between her and her brother, has now become a valuable resource for mommies searching for more information about parenting, especially when it comes to dealing with the joys and challenges of having children with special needs. 

I stumbled over Neva’s Facebook page when a friend “liked” one of her posts. As I read more about her and her family through her blog, I knew I had to get in touch with her. I was inspired by her family’s love and support for Noah as well as her advocacy of creating awareness about her son’s condition. 

Here's what happened when I had the pleasure of meeting the whole family one Saturday morning.

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Noah brings a different kind of joy. Yung gratitude, it’s just magnified . . . When we see Noah, we’re so happy that he’s here. There could’ve been so many things that could’ve gone wrong.
— Neva
I was in a bad place. The first week was really bad for me . . . Everything looked dull. For some reason, I couldn’t see any colors that would brighten my day. Everything was dark, everything was tasteless. I don’t know what happened . . . I guess I just needed to go out and see the world in a different light. And then all of a sudden, I just realized: Masaya naman ako ah. Nandito si David, nandito si Noah.
— Dan
It’s because of Noah we found new friends, we found a new community, we have teachers na talagang passionate about helping Noah. We found you.
— Neva
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Easier said than done. One day at a time. Because if I always keep worrying, hindi ko na naeenjoy yung mga anak ko. Hindi ko na naeenjoy si Noah.
— Neva
With David, very inquisitive siya, very curious . . . When he has questions, we answer with age appropriate answers. He is very protective of Noah. Nagagalit siya kapag kami ang nagpapatahan kay Noah. Gusto niya siya. Last night, he said: Mom, Noah was crying, I hugged him and Noah stopped.
— Neva
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Being parents of a child with special needs, it’s really very challenging. It’s going to be hard but the work will be worth it. Don’t underestimate your child.
— Neva
Some parents in DSAPI (Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines), they found out about DSAPI through the blog. Nakikita mo yung relief na: Okay, someone gets my story. I want people to know that they are not alone.
— Neva
I want the blog to be positive. And I want people, when they come to my blog, what they read about is real, authentic. There are challenges. When you get the diagnosis, it’s really shocking, but it’s not a death sentence. It’s not the end of the world.
— Neva

It is because of people like Neva that the world is a better place. 

Having a child with special needs can be quite challenging. You can either choose to live life to the fullest, or just focus on the obstacles that make you fail to appreciate what you already have. I choose to live my life making valuable memories with my loved ones, memories that I will never be able to replace. 

I am a better person because of my daughter, Bern. She has been our little fighter. She has taught me a lot about life. She is the bravest little princess I know and I am so proud to be her mom.