‘Puppetherapy’ works for boy with ADHD

Published February 15, 2018, 4:05 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

JUST A THOUGHT: ‘Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times and many disappointments – but all of this leaves no permanent mark. And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.’ – Paulo Coelho


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INSPIRED BY PUPPETS: “Find time to study, or you won’t get to play with your puppets.”

Elijah Lunaria with his puppet
Elijah Lunaria with his puppet

Master ventriloquist Wanlu Lunaria uses his son Elijah’s love for puppeteering to inspire him in his school work.

9-year-old Elijah was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at age 4. ADHD is a condition where a child finds it very difficult to focus.

Elijah’s parents, Wanlu and Debbie, sent him to speech and behavioral therapy sessions thrice a week for several years.

Also at age 4, he started showing interest in puppets, clearly influenced by his father. Wanlu is a Hall of Famer awardee of TV5’s “Talentadong Pinoy,” a seasoned ventriloquist, who represents the country in international puppetry festivals around the world.

The Lunarias found out that for Elijah, playing with puppets everyday served as a form of additional therapy. It became an inspiration for the boy to study well. Wanlu jokingly calls his home-styled technique as “Puppetherapy.”

Elijah is currently in Grade 3 at Angels of Mary Academy in Antipolo. He caused a sensation in school recently when he impressed TV viewers as featured star on ABS-CBN’s “Little Big Shots,” where he performed with his juggler and Elvis marionettes.

He is also featured artist on “Yey Channel” as Batang Yey for the month of March.


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ALREADY AN INTERNATIONAL PERFORMER: When Elijah turned 6, he started performing with marionettes or string-operated puppets dancing to the songs of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. It was amazing how, despite his condition, he could concentrate on pulling the strings up and down, this way and that, as he controlled, manipulated his puppets.

He performed in school events and family gatherings. He was having a ball.

Elijah’s interest in puppetry and marionettes heightened in 2015 when he joined his very first international puppetry festival at age 7. At the International Marionettes Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam, Eli and his family brought home the silver award.


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CLOSE SUPERVISION, ENOUGH INSPIRATION: Also in 2015, Eli performed in Kuching, Malaysia for the Rainforest World Puppet Carnival where he got the Youngest Puppeteer award. His family, on the other hand, won the Best Cabaret Puppet Show award.

Together with his family of puppeteers, Eli performed in 2016 in Phuket Thailand for the Phuket Town Festival; at a fundraising show the same year for the Kumamoto earthquake survivors organized by Japan Ventriloquists Association; the Harmony Puppet Forum in Bangkok, Thailand in 2016 and 2017 through a travel grant from the National Commision for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

The latest international festival where Elijah performed was at the Korat International Youth Puppet Festival in Korat, Thailand only last January 2018. At the end of his 15-minute act, Thailand’s Minister of Culture approached the boy to congratulate him.

Through all of these, Wanlu and Debbie hope to inspire other parents whose children have the same condition to discover their hidden talents. Elijah is living proof that things can get better for those with ADHD through close supervision and enough inspiration.