One of the most remarkable things about the Internet and social media is how it offers a look into things that people don’t normally see all day. Take for example, the life of Marlon Fuentes, a Grab driver who has Tourette’s Syndrome.
Tourette’s Syndrome or TS is a condition of the nervous system that causes people to have tics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes tics as sudden twitches, movements, or sounds that people do repeatedly.
Symptoms of TS usually begin when a child is 5 to 10 years old. “Nag-start ‘yung mga tics ko mga 7 years old ako,” Marlon said in a Summit OG interview. “Ang alam lang namin noon, parang mannerisms.”
The first symptoms of TS are motor tics that occur in the head and neck area. There are also vocal tics, which include humming, clearing the throat, or yelling out a word or phrase.
TS can be diagnosed if a person has both motor and vocal tics and has been experiencing symptoms for at least a year. “Hindi siya nakakahawa [pero] pwede siyang mamana,” Marlon explained.
Instead of letting his Tourette’s Syndrome get him down, Fuentes decided to drive awareness about the condition instead. “Parang ikinukulong ko ‘yung sarili ko sa isang kulungan na ako lang ang gumawa,” he said. “Bakit hindi ko palayain? Bakit hindi ko ilabas? Siguro, hindi naman ibibigay sa akin ito kung hindi ko kaya,” he added.
He decided to study driving so he can work to earn a living for his family. At first, he wasn’t given that many opportunities. “Marami ‘yung huhusgahan ka base sa nakikita ng kanilang mga mata,” he admitted. “Nahirapan din akong maghanap ng trabaho kasi alam mo sa sarili mo na kaya mo pero hindi ka pagkakatiwalaan.”
Marlon has been driving for a while now, but he still gets a lot of questions, stares, and doubts from his passengers. Some have even gone as far as opening the car door just to get out even while the car is moving.
“Mahirap kapag may Tourette’s ka, ‘yung hindi ka mauunawaan ng mga makakasalamuha mo,” he said. “‘Yun ‘yung mahirap. ‘Yung paano mo ipapakita, paano mo ipapaunawa sa kanila na kaya mo rin ‘yung nagagawa nila.”
The hardworking dad revealed that although he’d get hired for a job, whenever there’s a retrenchment, he’d often be the first choice to be laid off. “Kasi, ang lagi nilang sinasabi, ‘Baka magkaproblema tayo diyan,'” he revealed.
Fuentes knows that it will never be easy for people to understand his condition, but he’s sure that he can do his job well. “May makakaunawa, may maiintindihan ako, pero alam kong may mga matatakot pa rin,” he said.
That’s why he always reassures his passengers that they will reach their destination safely. He explains his condition even before they start the journey.
“Hindi ko naman gagawin ‘yung trabaho ko kung alam ko namang hindi ko kaya,” he said. “Ang iniingatan ko, hindi lang ‘yung sakay ko, pati ‘yung sarili ko,” he added. “Kaya ko, magtiwala lang kayo sa akin.”
All Marlon asks is kindness, understanding, and a chance.
Watch the full Summit OG interview here:
Looking for more good vibes? Check out Summit OG’s YouTube channel here.
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