My Life as a Comic Book, An Autobiography: His life’s journey with Asperger’s Syndrome

My Life as a Comic Book by Gabby Atienza

My life is as complex as anyone’s. in order to keep tabs or focused on the story of my life, I intend to view it as a comic book.

          I was born in Manila. I’m the 9th member of 11 siblings. At age 3, my memory banks became attuned to the world I live in. I remember my Heavy toy metal truck from TONKA toys. I recall vividly riding it while it rolled down the steep driveway in my old home at Mandaluyong. I remember very well the many hiding places in the garage and the garden when I play TAGUAN with my brothers, sisters, and cousins of my age.

          I recall the shocking trauma of injury – one instant when I accidental kicked the bedroom window with my barefoot – another, when the heavy piano chair fell on my toes – still another when a big splinter got stuck in my big toe’s nail.

          I first went to school at Theresiana, the school we now call POVEDA. I was afraid – my mother had to slap me hard to make me leave her car. I was moaning as I watched her car speed away. I instinctively entered the main hallway where the teachers and faculty brought me to my section. I simply embraced my new life there, listening to storybooks, songs, and recitals. I recall the huge waiting chambers, where kids wait to be picked up by their yayas, yaya’s children treasure them well in the absence of their parents. My yaya was Ronnie, she’s carrying my bag to the car that’ll send me home. I saw big yellow buses. I envied the other kids who ride hem. My envy compelled me to ride one at random. I was fascinated by the trip which perhaps the bus’ conductor upset at knowing I was a stowaway. It was my first adventure to unknown territory. This incident convinced my parents that I’m fit to ride the bus so they paid the school to do that.

          I’ve been having trouble with my hearing when I was 4 years old. My bad hearing’s hampering my school work. My folks brought me to DR. BAUTISTA at Lourdes hospital – where I was born – I was to be operated on my sinuses. Barely do I remember, lying on a cold rolling stretcher, a big green door, and a cold operating table surrounded by masked surgeons. Everything went blank-when I came to, I was back in my hospital bed – with a Black and White TV before me – watching very old POPEYE cartoons. I was being fed vegetables, watching the sailor man eat his spinach and gaining super strength. I suddenly found my 1st HERO!

          I watched every morning on CHANNEL 7 popeye fighting BLUTO or BRUTUS, I laughed at seeing him punching a real villain, Adolf Hitler, and enjoyed seeing him sink giant battleships with his bare fists.

          I was five when I first found the desire to draw cartoons. Other cartoons come to my knowledge; BEANY & CECIL, Mr. Magoo, Dick Tracy, and many Hanna Barbera Cartoons. My brother introduced to me their collection of Superman Comics.

          Ah, the medium of comics, TV & movie. There was the B&W TV with the wooden paneling and sliding door cover. The late great Rizal Theater with curtains that are actually used to open and close a film.

          I was five when my family moved to a very Magallanes Village. Our street San Carlos – we were among the earliest occupants of this barangay. Few, however – lots of open spaces. We can clearly see the railroad of South Superhighway. We get an excited hearing and seeing the long long trains.

          Moving to that new house actually thrilled me. Our first night there – I remember one of our yayas – Claring – at the new kitchen, by the cooking range. Cooking ranges in that 60s were really huge. In that _____ oven – a big chicken was spinning in the rotisserie. The stoves are electic powered. Look like big katols – mosquito coils. The floor was newly paved with the finest linoleum. Our pet poodle Bon-bon would push the door when there’s great food. We had a dining table – big round wooden, in a big dining room for Sunday dinner.

          In the adjoining sala – was the heavy brown wooden piano facing our houses’ big wooden front door. Surrounding the front door, 2 sliding glass doors.

          Big house it was bigger than our old one at Mandaluyog. The driveway was even lengthened beyond it – our garden, where we kids would play ball or parlor games on. There was a makopa tree and guava tree which we had fun climbing. Around the house, al linear garden with hollow block walkways with a little gate leading to our lavandera’s section where two big LPG tanks stand, leading to another small gate which leads to our garage area, where we had more than one car. This big house was my new playground. It had more places to hide and seek.

          In our upstairs living room was an even bigger wooden TV, a Zenith. On this TV, we eventually watched the APOLLO MOON landing in 1969.

          I’m in Prep at six…repeating it when I flunked it at five years old.

          My Ateneo grade school days.

          I fondly remember that every October – Ateneo has a big fair… The ferries wheel, the Octopus and the carousel…Each classroom had a party. I would bring to the party a package of BARBECUE, prepared by YAYA Claring and eating shared food with other kids.

          My gradeschool days. I was 4½ when I had my sinus operation…I still the effects of bad hearing.

          I had to undergo therapy every week at SAN JUAN under the supervision of MISSUS SILVA the speech therapist. I still remember that in her house garden, stood an orange golf flag. I was undergoing therapy for a condition that’s somehow ruining my education.

          The bigger boys in class would make fun of me, my inadequacies. If I slipped and fell on my knee, they’d laugh at me for my lack of coordination.

          I remember still with embarrassment at age six…eating champorado at breakfast, then drinking Milo before leaving for school, drinking CHOCOVIM at recess, and Chocolait at lunch…I had a bowel attack…the big kids again made me a butt of their jokes.

          I’d see in the grade school toilets – abandoned underwear and be puzzled why they’re there at all…that embarrassing moment still persists in my memory. I was a child so naïve…maybe more naïve.

          When I watched Popeye-I wished I had his superpowers and beat up the big kids. I was so distressed at seeing how my little hands can’t even seem to beat the big kids…I never did eat spinach…But when I ate snack foods like popcorn – I pretend that they are spinach.

          Strangely – at the time – I didn’t like bugs bunny…I had two front teeth protruding from my mouth…and the big kids again found another way to make fun of me.

          Strangely – only when I got older did I really understand BUGS BUNNY. He was a little guy who actually knows how to outsmart his enemies. Maybe…maybe if I was already intelligent when I was small…I could have outsmarted the bullies I encountered…but that is past and I can’t undo that anymore.

          I was in grade 2 two times. My grades were falling behind. At ages 7 & 8…I still had the effects of poor hearing…my ears would itch badly…that my Yaya would put eardrops in my itchy ear and cotton.

          My buzzing ear is hurting my grades. I would bring home report cards with lots of red marks.

          I sometimes hated myself for my weaknesses. There was one time – my school bag was locked in the classroom. My classmate…one Michael Lopez laughed at my predicament and left me by the locked door…I didn’t know who to ask to open the door…finally-then school principal father Malassmer saw my trouble – and had the door finally opened……….

Buy the comic book to read the whole autobiography of Gabby Atienza.

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