De Lima celebrates eldest son’s birthday in detention

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has celebrated the 36th birthday of her eldest son, Israel, in a simple gathering attended by families, friends, and her staff today, August 19.

Fr. Robert Reyes officiated the Holy Mass along with Father Albert Alejo S.J. inside the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

During the mass, De Lima shared that she feels blessed to have Israel in her life.

“I consider Israel and my grandson, Brandon, who also has autism, as my angels. They are God’s gifts to us. They are my constant source of strength and inspiration,” she said.

“I never had any difficulty in adjusting and accepting the fact that we have a unique child. Israel is a blessing; he’s my lucky charm. He is highly disciplined and talented; an artist and a painter,” she added.

The 36-year-old Israel who was born with nonverbal autism regularly visits his mother at the Custodial Center. According to the Senator, despite her son’s situation, Israel is fully aware of her incarceration.

Last February, Israel and his half-brother, Michael Bohol, held a public exhibit entitled “My Art, My Brother, and I” at SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City. The exhibit showcased their pieces since they began studying the arts in 2012.

De Lima, who will also be celebrating her birthday on August 27, thanked the people who celebrated Israel’s birthday with them.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa inyong lahat, sa pagpunta ninyo para makibahagi sa munting selebrasyong ito ni Israel. Sa lahat po ng pagsubok na pinagdadaanan ko, gaano man kalungkot at kasakit para sa isang ina na mawalay sa kanyang anak, ang ganitong mahalagang okasyon na maipagdiwang kasama sila at ang aking pamilya ang nagbibigay sa akin ng panibagong lakas para magpatuloy sa aking mga ipinaglalaban,” said De Lima.

The Senator from Bicol, a staunch advocate of rights-based approach in empowering persons with disabilities, earlier filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1433 or the Autism Care Act — a measure she considers very personal to her.

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