We come across a number of people on a daily basis but there are only a few who leave lasting impressions.
I met Nicey Ignacio over two years ago and was easily enamored with her positive, vibrant, and engaging personality. I wasn’t feeling my best when I met her but spending just a few minutes with her instantly brightened my day.
She was all about celebrities, taking selfies, and even kikay stuff like make up and clothes. She could have been just like any normal teenager but she was not.
Nicey was extraordinary for she was born with Down Syndrome.
The condition is not entirely foreign to me because my Aunt Lenny had it too. Still, Nicey surprised me because she was so excited about life. She was obviously a happy child raised in a happy home and my short encounter with Nicey soon turned into a friendship with her family.
Born to Tita Irma and Tito Rey, Nicey is the youngest of four children. Tita Irma recalls that from the beginning it was already a difficult pregnancy due to the fact that Nicey’s lungs were collapsed and her heart had a hole in it. The doctors asked Tito Rey and Tita Irma to be ready for anything but the first of the many miracles occurred, Nicey’s lungs expanded immediately after she was born. But almost immediately after the miracle, the doctors informed the couple that Nicey was born with Down Syndrome.
Tita Irma recalled, “I felt the world tumble upon me. I cried the whole night while my husband comforted and encouraged me to accept her as she is. He reminded me that Nicey is a manifestation of God’s love to us and by accepting her, it would encourage others to accept her too.”
But understandably so, Tita Irma was still apprehensive to see her daughter for the first time. It was actually her elder daughter, Maica, who encouraged her to visit Nicey in the nursery.
She remembered, “Here is a young girl accepting her sister for who she is and seeing the beauty of her sister beyond appearance which I can’t do as a mother.”
Thus began the beautiful journey of raising Nicey by getting involved with the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines. Tita Irma said, “It was the president, Tony Pasia who called me and helped me at the beginning when I was still going through the rollercoaster of emotions.”
It was this sense of community that fueled the couple to find ways to raise Nicey in the best possible way. “I was scared at the beginning of how I will raise her especially because of the high cost of therapies that her condition will need,” explained the mother who lifted her worries and concerns to God. “I relied on His promises and took comfort in His loving words.”
They then attended the Early Intervention Program of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines and went to the best doctors like Dra. Carmencita Padilla, Dra. Alexis Reyes, and her first physical therapist, GeeveeRivadelo. The various therapy sessions also became a source of bonding within the family.
Because of the love her family invested in her, Nicey has grown up to be an open, funny, witty, and loving young lady who was recently crowned as Miss Possibilities Asia. She now also attends mainstreamed classes in Community of Learners and even attends Kumon.
Nicey leaves a lasting impression in spite of her condition inspiring us all to believe that no matter what life throws our way, we can still choose to enhance what is good.
“Life can still be a struggle but Nicey is a fighter. She continues to charm people with her bravery and her sense of humor. Everything comes easy because of her attitude. God is true and faithful to His words. He never left us nor abandoned us. He provided for all her needs. Nicey is truly a blessing in disguise,” Tita Irma concluded.
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