Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Alvin Smit-Amor came from a poor family in Pangantucan, Bukidnon. For those who stay home, options are few. But for somebody who experienced poverty, there is no other way but to leave. He had an ardent wish to change his life and make it big abroad. To fast-track his economic condition, he went to the Netherlands for good personal reasons. For greener pastures, as the oft-repeated line goes. He was undocumented for eight years and lived in fear for so many years.
Alvin lived in the perceived threat of detention and deportation. He did not let this totally consume his thoughts and take energy away from everything else in his life. He worked hard and supported his family back home as a house cleaner. He made friends and never gave up. Then, he met the love of his life and they got married in 2015.
With his dreams of becoming a pastry chef, Alvin bolstered himself and took larger leaps. He baked cakes, pastries, and Filipino bread and sold them online through Amor Kitchen. Just when he thought everything is going well, he was diagnosed with X-linked dystonia-parkinsonism before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
X-linked dystonia parkinsonism is a neurodegenerative movement disorder that has been found only in people of Filipino descent. Over 500 cases of XDP have been reported so far, all in the Philippines in Panay Island.
The 38-year-old pastry chef considers his relationship with XDP conflicting. However, he considers himself as a person with great willpower because despite everything he never let his trembling hands stop him from doing his passion.
This illness can affect everyone but still has little recognition because diagnosing it is difficult. Alvin’s condition gave a new meaning to his life. He turned his life around. He did not abandon his dreams when he had had every reason to lose hope and quit. Alvin is guided by his experiences and struggles. He found meaning in his pain. The adversities were his wake-up call to do the things that will help him become an instrument to other people to accept their illness and still enjoy life.