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Family Circle - Testimonials
A Mom's Story on Tough Love
by Mommy Lourdes M.
( This speech was delivered on the occasion of SFFI's 11th Commencement Exercises and 12th Anniversary Celebration held last May 15, 2010 at the Tower Ballroom, The Bellevue Manila)

Actually, my assignment is to share with you my experiences with my one and only son, Ronnie, who is, I am blissfully happy to announce, one of the candidates for graduation tonight. However, I also feel great apprehension now that he will be let loose in the world again especially since he has relapsed after each of his 2 previous rehabilitation treatments.

Ronnie is the 4th and only boy of 5 children whom the Lord entrusted to Rene & me. Rene is my late husband and Ronnie’s dad of course. We love and cherish all 5 children dearly, and with God’s help instilled in them the importance of love and respect for each other which was a real struggle for everyone to practice mostly because of Ronnie’s addiction. However, with God and lots of love I believe anything is possible. Although the birth of every child was always a joyous blessing to Rene& me, Ronnie’s arrival was differently exciting. Imagine his Dad’s pride for having sired a son at last! I, too, could not contain my happiness. Of course we never suspected he would be a “heavyweight” in his later years.

Growing up Ronnie was a darling, normal and “cute” little boy, although already quite hyperactive. He had minor injuries from minor accidents like a cut on his head which had to be stitched up, another cut on his ankle ( also stitched up ) from a dog bite and for which he had to have anti-rabies shots. This is maybe why his brain functions differently. He swallowed an ice cube, which got stuck in his throat and had him gasping for air. Twice he got lost ---- in a movie house and in a supermarket. He walked home from school which was about a kilometer away and had to cross a busy street. All these happened before he was 5 years old.

To our delight our dreams for Ronnie were being realized at the right time and period of his life. With flying colors he was accepted in Prep at the Ateneo de Manila and was constantly at the top 10 of his class. He also became a member of the varsity team in soccer ---- and a star player too.

To our despair and disappointment in his 5th grade his academic marks plummeted to just passing and, by the end of the school year, to not passing. He was apprehended for several misconducts and was even involved in brawls during their soccer games, thus earned demerits up to borderline level. Rene & I were monthly visitors at the principal’s office, but were unsuccessful in getting to the bottom of his problems. Apparently he would be seen hanging out in the school campus with older boys and seemed to enjoy their company more than that of the boys his age. At the end of the year he was a candidate for repeating Grade 5 and for being kicked out with just one more demerit. We opted to pass him out and transferred him to another school.

Then followed a succession of schools along with his rollercoaster ride through marijuana, downers, shabu etc. Very slowly he progressed through high school and earned his H.S. diploma through DECS homestudy program.

Although Rene & I were aware that he had drug problems, we felt so helpless. We tried to monitor and watch his every move. With the help of a close relative who was a priest, we put him in a seminary where he was confined for a few weeks. Deep in our hearts we hoped that he would be inspired to become a priest. We later learned from Ronnie himself that he shared some drugs with some of the seminarians. No effect!

Ronnie has been to 2 rehabilitation centers and 3 basement confinements within a span of around 15 years. He’d be sober for a few months after each treatment but relapse and with more vengeance everytime.

After his 2nd rehab we became very hopeful that he was finally going to remain sober for good. He was able to put up and manage a dormitory and a food business and made good money. This lasted for about 2 years. However when Rene passed away in July, 2006, Ronnie went into depression and had another relapse. This was the worst we have seen him. He was on denial for almost a year.

As in the past, the family was in constant fear and worried about his getting into trouble and killing himself and even others. Through a very good friend Tok C., Ronnie’s co-resident in his last rehab, we learned about Seagulls. A quick visit to the facility here in Tagaytay and a very convincing talk with Ed Castillo and Jun Tan greatly helped in our decision to let Seagulls help us get back on our feet.

Today, after 15 months in his program and almost 2 years of being in the fold of Seagulls and with God’s help Ronnie is almost what I have always wanted him to be and to do in life what I wanted him to do. I say almost because he still has to work harder to be able to make a good life for himself and his family.

I will forever be grateful to Seagulls and its staff, including of course the Inner Circle, to Ed and Chit Castillo for their efforts in making Seagulls effective, to my family and all other families and most especially to Jun Tan for his patience, understanding and perseverance in supporting Ronnie’s program.

So graduates, after tonight you will be facing the next chapter in your lives. It’s not going to be easy. You will encounter temptations and other difficulties but with the help of the tools which Seagulls has instilled in you, you will be able to cope. And with God’s help, you’ll manage with flying colors. And to the youngers, before you know it, you will also be having your own graduation ---- just follow your program.




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