"Ang Bilis Nating Humusga sa Kapwa": Viral FB Post Sheds Light on Autism

"It takes more than being 'normal' to truly experience life," the poster writes.
by Patricia Baes
May 29, 2023
Facebook/Pancake House

(SPOT.ph) We encounter folks from all walks of life in our day-to-day lives. Some of these encounters are brief and transactional in nature that it becomes all too easy to form judgments at first sight, and perhaps forget they're human. But—as a viral Facebook post of a diner's eye-opening encounter with an autistic waiter at Pancake House goes—it's important to look beyond a person's cover.

Also read: Are Servers Just Supposed to Take This Cake?

A Facebook user brings the issue of autism to light after an encounter with a waiter at Pancake House:

Jose Enrico V. Libunao talks about the incident in a now-viral Facebook post published on May 25. It was already 1 p.m. and they were down with a stomachache, for which reason he and his spouse decided to dine in at Pancake House in Magallanes. He relays how they were initially frustrated with how their waiter took their orders—and how this led to them "learning a valuable lesson."


"Mabilis ako pumili [ng order]. Usually papunta pa lang sa kakainan may order na 'ko sa utak... Ako [nag-]order agad, tinuro ko pa 'yung litrato para sureball na gets agad ng waiter... 'Isang large spaghetti', sabay turo sa litrato sa menu," he writes. "Nakatingin lang 'yung waiter. Parang nag-hang."

The reaction was the same even after they repeated their orders slowly, and as his partner gave her order as well. "Wala, ganun pa rin.. Pero nakatingin siya sa menu, parang nag-loload talaga bago magsalita. Napipikon na ako." He eventually spoke to confirm their orders, albeit "hindi to confirm, more like nagtatanong. Susmaryosep!"

In his hunger, Libunao reiterated their orders with a firmer tone—"halos galit na"—to which the waiter was able to repeat the right orders but slowly, and in a manner Libunao describes as "...Parang bata. Iba ang tono niya. Basta mahahalata mo na iba talaga. Pero nagawa niya yung dapat gawin."

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Libunao noticed something different about the waiter, however. "'Parang may iba talaga sa waiter natin, 'no?,'" he told his partner. "Tumango siya. We both felt it. Sa dami ng waiters na nakausap ko sa buhay ko, iba talaga si Giancarlo." Giancarlo, he shares, is the name the waiter had on his nametag. Another notable detail? That Giancarlo had a button pin on his chest that said, "A-OK."


As it turns out, Giancarlo is part of the Autism-OK Pancake House (also called the A-OK Dining Experience), a joint project between Pancake House and the Autism Society Philippines. Libunao stumbled upon a social media post on the partnership, with Giancarlo being among the folks featured. "Nakita ko ang isang pamilyar na mukha: si Giancarlo. Kasama pala siya sa programang ito. May interview pa nga sa kanya kung saan sinabi niya na gusto niyang magsilbing halimbawa sa ibang may kaparehas na kalagayan na pwede at kaya rin nilang maging produktibong bahagi ng lipunan." It didn't take too long before their orders finally arrived—"walang labis, walang kulang. Just like any waiter would do. Giancarlo did it perfectly. Kumain ako na may ngiti sa labi at bagong kaisipan."


The initative has been around since 2019, with the restaurant hiring nine employees from the Autism Society for full-time roles, over the course of six months. 

Cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Philippines have been on the rise in the past decade, going from around five hundred thousand in 2008 to one million in 2018, according to DOH statistics as stated by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. No cause or cure has been identified for the neurodevelopmental condition (note that this is distinct from mental health disorders), which can affect one's ability to communicate and interact with others—possibly entailing taking longer to process information, but this does not mean they cannot comprehend said information. Autistic people can also be stronger in certain areas (e.g., seeing patterns) compared to those without autism. Senators are now pushing for a bill to set up the Philippines' first government-funded Center for Autism.


"[I] thought of sharing the story on social media because I think (almost) all of us are guilty of losing our patience when things don’t go our way—not just when ordering in restaurants, but life in general," Libunao shares in an exchange with SPOT.ph. "[I] also felt like it’s a welcome break from all the negativity on social media. [It's] easy to take these things for granted in this fast-paced world we live in."

Libunao ends the post with his realizations on the subject—and how he "learned a valuable lesson." "Madalas, ang bilis nating humusga sa kapwa. Walang preno kung magsalita at manlait kahit hindi natin alam kung ano kwento ng buhay nila. Guilty ako diyan. Malamang kayo rin. Lahat tayo... [but] Giancarlo didn’t just take our orders. He took our hearts and made us realize that it takes more than being 'normal' to truly experience life."


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