Book Review: Big Brother by Grace Chong

8:59:00 AM

Big Brother won  second prize in the Short Story for Children Category, English Division of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature in 2006. I think the reason it won was because it tackled the experience of a family with a member who had a Down Syndrome. In the Philippines, some people think that this is a problem and a curse and that people with Down Syndrome are a great disappointment to their families. People make fun of them, but these people have not experienced how it is to live with someone who has Down Syndrome. They don’t realize that they, too, are human beings. Although they are developmentally delayed, and their cognitive abilities may not be on par with a normal person, they still have the ability to love. They still have the ability to express themselves. They may not be able to say it, but they can show it through their actions.

I think this story by Grace Chong is a wonderful piece. It does not only talk about how to live with a family member with Down Syndrome, but it also talks about parents who are forced to work abroad to sustain their family. The mother of Tinuy and Bunsoy has to work abroad to support her family, and because of this Bunsoy has to take on the responsibility of caring for Tinuy. It saddens my heart whenever I think of the countless Overseas Filipino Workers who have to leave their families to earn money abroad. This just shows the lack of decent jobs in the country, otherwise, why would Filipinos have to go abroad to support their families? They serve and care for foreign people, but they cannot do it with their loved ones and they are forced to be far away from their families, but these OFWs have to endure for their sakes. I hope in the future Filipinos will no longer have to go abroad to search for a decent job with good pay, so they can be with their families where they should be.

I was actually able to have Grace Chong sign my copy of the book. She said small brothers could be big brothers, too. I am so proud of Bunsoy because he is a lot younger that Tinuy,ut he manages to care for his brother, to become a parent for Tinuy, and to love him unconditionally. Bunsoy is a very responsible brother. Although he has a lot of things to do for school, he still gives time for Tinuy. Children that are developmentally challenged need a lot of care and support. They need guidance and special attention as they grow. I believe that Bunsoy is able to give this to Tinuy. He helps Tinuy with taking a bath and in eating. He even reads stories to Tinuy before going to sleep.

Speaking of Down Syndrome, I remember that there is a need for more developmental pediatricians in the Philippines. I believe there are a lot of organizations and support groups for patients with Down Syndrome in the Philippines. I pray that all people with these kinds of disabilities can have the proper guidance and support they need in order for them to grow normally. I hope we can show love for these people because they need it, most especially from their families.

This image is heartwarming: Tinuy and Bunsoy are thinking of their mother. It's really a difficult time for them because their mother is away. They miss their mother. There are several adjustments and challenges they have to face, but I affirm them for coping with their situation.

I admire Tinuy's Mom because before she went abroad she always read stories to Tinuy before he went to sleep. And Tinuy loves to hear stories. I believe this is also a great help in Tinuy’s normal development. I love this story because it increased my interest in developmental disorders like Down Syndrome. I found out that we have a Down Syndrome Association here in the Philippines. They provide support to families who have children with Down Syndrome. They also work to initiate, to develop, to promote, to encourage, and to support programs and projects concerning Down Syndrome. You can visit their website at

Love is in the air. We can see here how Tinuy and Bunsoy love each other. They only have each other since their mother is away from them. I hope all family members with Down Syndrome also receive the same love Tinuy received from their families. It will help them greatly. They need to feel that they belong, that they are not different, and that they are accepted by the people around them. If they are treated like this, I believe that they can live a normal life. They can develop like a normal person. There is power in love. I repeat, there is power in love.

This scene is very touching: Tinuy brings the picture of their mother during Bunsoy’s graduation. He graduates at the top of his class. Their mother must have been so proud. Bunsoy does not expect that Tinuy would bring their mother's picture. We can see here that people with Down Syndrome can also express their emotions. They can show love and they can do things to show how they feel. They might not be able to say it, but they can show it through actions. And actions speak louder than words.

I guess the reaction of the crowd says it all. It is very touching! Almost all of the audience cries. I was also in tears when I was reading this part of the book. I wished their mother could have been there to give the medal to Tinuy.

I like this picture at the end after the graduation. The dogs are so cute. Actually, I am afraid of dogs because I was bitten by a dog twice so I was really traumatized. But they seem so harmless and so cute in this picture. Hahahaha

Take-home point: This book should be read by children and by parents who have a child with Down Syndrome and even people who have no immediate family member affected by Down Sydrome. Let us love and respect the people with Down Syndrome as we would any other. This book can help them to show love and compassion for these people with disabilities. Let us love them for who they are and accept them wholehearted and wholly. People with down syndrome are happy and joyful persons. Let us learn how to enjoy life from them.

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