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Disability in Filipino men

Among of the disabilities common in Filipino men are poliomyelitis, stroke, Freeman Sheldon Syndrome, blindness, chronic osteomyelitis, and deafness.

Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a disease that could cripple a person. Its virus (called the poliovirus) can spread from person to person and invade the infected person’s brain and spinal cord. It was what had afflicted Rico Marquez, a Leyte native who was still able to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology at the Baptist Theological College in Cebu. He was also still able to finish master degrees in Divinity and Educational Leadership at the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California then founded a church for the Filipinos in Pinole. He had a wife and two children.

Stroke, on the other hand, is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). It was what had caused paralysis in Fernando Kabigting’s right hand. It was also what had blinded the left eye of the painter. He just struggled to continue painting with his left hand using watercolor and had solo exhibitions at the United Nations in New York City, the Ayala Museum in Makati, and at the Italia Gallery in Bacolod.

A condition that primarily impinges on the face, hands, and feet, Freeman Sheldon Syndrome is the disorder that Raymond Martin had been born with. His unusually small mouth (microstomia) did not stop him to win gold medals, though, during the London 2012 Paralympic Games where he was recognized as the Sportsman of the Year.

Otherwise known as visual impairment, blindness refers to a lack of vision. It can be partial, which means a very limited vision; or complete, which means not being able to see anything, even light. People in third-world nations usually have poor vision and this was what Ronnel del Rio had been afflicted with. Despite his physical limitation, though, Ronnel still became a “voice of reason and awareness,” heading the Philippine Chamber of Massage Industry for Visually Impaired, the Federation of Disabled Persons in Lipa, and the PWD advocacy group Punlaka once. He also became involved with the Philippine Coalition on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Philippine Mental Health Association, and the Housing and Homesite Regulatory Affairs Office in Batangas. He has had a Master’s degree on Management Technology in De La Salle University in 2003.

Osteomyelitis is the infection of the bone and the bone marrow. It may be subdivided into acute, subacute, and—what power lifter and swimmer and mountain climber Arnold Balais is in—chronic stages. This phase did not deter him in competing for the Paralympics, ASEAN Paralympics, and the Malaysian Paralympiad, though.

Not being able to hear partially or completely has still led Romalito “Rome” Mallari to win the Best New Actor in a Movie during the 2010 Star Award for Movies. He was also nominated for a Golden Screen Award for his roles in Ganap na Babae and Dinig Sana Kita. Most recently, he was involved in the 2015 film Taklub, which was screened and well received at the Cannes Film Festival.

“Have faith that you have the potential, the capacity to succeed. God will give you strength to finish and accomplish your dreams.” ~ Rico Marquez

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of khanacademymedicine

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Counting Filipino PWDs

Back in 2010, close to 1.5 million people of the total household population in the Philippines have been persons with disability. Most of them live in Region IV-A and most of them are men.

It was clarified in the report, though, that there were more men age 64 years old below interviewed than women in the same age group. There were also fewer men age 65 years old above because of the higher survival rate of women than men.

Unfortunately, the survey wasn’t conducted until after six years and its results weren’t readily available online till now; the PWDs were said to have refused participation “because the same samples was used by other household surveys conducted on the same quarter.”

The Philippine Statistics Authority, for its part, conducted the National Disability Prevalence Survey/Model Functioning Survey in 2016 to provide “detailed and nuanced information on how people conduct their lives and the difficulties they encounter regardless of any underlying health condition or impairment.” It would have helped “identify the barriers that contribute to the problems that people encounter which in turn help guide policy and development as well as contribute in monitoring Sustainable Development Goals.”

“There is still a heavy reliance on World Health Organization estimates that 10 percent of the country’s given population have some form of disability. The Department of Education claims that less than 3 percent of children and youth with disabilities have proper access to education, due to a lack of teachers trained to handle students with special needs and inadequate allocation of resources for educational materials in alternative formats to accommodate their needs.” ~ Maria Isabel T. Buenaobra

Notes:

  1. The 2010 Census was released in January 10, 2013.
  2. The Region IV-A, otherwise known as Calabarzon, consists of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, and Lucena.
  3. Males with disability outnumbered females in the age groups 0 to 64 years. The largest excess in the number of males was in the age group 0 to 14 years with a sex ratio of 121 males per 100 females. On the other hand, there were more females with disability than males in the age group 65 years and over. This is because of the higher survival rate of women than men. In this age group, there were 70 males with disability per 100 females.

Turning Four!

Not everyone is still willing to give persons with disabilities a chance four years after The PWD Forum came about.

In Indonesia for instance, disability is still regarded as a punishment from God. PWDs must be exorcised, tied up at the back of the house (dipasung), confined to a small hut in the backyard, or tied at the wrists and ankles to a tree or heavy log. Disability is also seen as a matter of fate so there is little empathy for PWDs for whom ‘nothing can be done’.

As such, PWDs are excluded from most governments’ planning and support. In Bhutan in particular, its educational policy lack inclusive policy guidelines resulting in unequal opportunities.  Taiwan, on the other hand, has only programs for PWDs with “mild” conditions and the curricula just followed what is being taught in preschool classes.

In South Africa, teachers lack skills and knowledge. In South Korea, teachers know no culturally relevant curricula. In Malaysia, teachers are unprepared in terms of emotional acceptance and technical skills.

It is no wonder then that PWDs are still berated when seeking employment or at work; employers would definitely incur costs from hiring PWDs. Educating them alongside non-PWDs  would not be an easy feat especially that the term ‘inclusion’ itself has no fixed definition even in the western countries from which this concept was realized.

There are also parents who do not understand the meaning of inclusive education till now. Thus, the parents are still anxious with their children attending mainstream schools. Even governments are not sure what the concept really means and how it could be relevant within the local context.

If PWDs and non-PWDs study together, though, there would be no need to build exclusive educational institutions. Adjustment may also come naturally. Maricel Apatan had not been a burden anyway when she was studying a two-year course in Hotel and Restaurant Management in Cagayan de Oro City. She was even hired as a pastry chef at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Manila.

A polio victim, Marc Joseph Escora, had managed his training at the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center (NOLITC) in Bacolod City. Blind, Safiya Mundus had graduated from the Eusebio C. Santos Elementary School.

The PWD Forum could just imagine what else could have happened had Arnel Navales Aba, Godfrey Esperanzate Taberna, Emilia Malinowska, Jose Feliciano, and Mohamed Dalo finish school. Townsely Roberts had at The College of the Bahamas with an associate degree in Accounting and Computer Data Processing in 1995. Gary Russell had, too, at the same college with an associate degree in Law and Criminal Justice then at the University of Buckingham for his bachelor’s and master’s.

It was from his blind father that former interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo learned discipline. Protecting the integrity and honor of one’s family is of highest importance, his father had said, and children are expected to contribute their share in doing that. So Jesse launched the “Fully Abled Nation,” a program seeking to increase the participation of PWDs in the coming 2013 Philippine midterm elections, roughly three months before he died in a plane crash.

“Hopefully, one day, the notion behind “persons with disability” be somehow erased from the world’s vocabulary and usher-in a day when technology, private & public organizations, and the law work together to give each person equal rights and opportunities, regardless of the person’s impediment.” ~ Atty. Mike Gerald C. David

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Jozelle Tech

How SPED is in the Philippines

Educating persons with disabilities in the Philippines seemed to be more ideal than what The PWD Forum expected.

In 2012, the Department of Education (DepEd) has allotted P180 million for its Special Education program. That’s a 56% increase from its budget of P115 million only in the previous year!

It has also opened 69 more SPED centers then—from 276 only–where each one can get P500,000 subsidy from the fund for pupil development activities including training, educational trips, camp activities, sports and other events; procurement of instructional materials, supplies and learning assessment tools; and training of more teachers, school heads and SPED supervisors. Then-Education Secretary Brother Armin Altamirano Luistro has entrusted its implementation to division and regional offices.

The DepEd has continued to ensure providing “the necessary educational interventions for learners with certain exceptionalities through its Special Education (SPED) program.” In the program, there could be (1) a separate class for only one type of exceptionality, (2) a teacher who would travel—at home or in schools—to provide direct and consultative services, (3) a designated place where there is a specialized equipment, (4) a chance for a PWD to receive special instructions from a SPED teacher; (5) a possibility to be either partially or fully integrated, and (6) an opportunity for PWDs, regardless of the nature and severity of their disability and need for related services, to receive total education within the regular education classroom.

So for this school year, there would be 40,642 teachers for the  kindergarten and elementary level, 34,244 teachers for the junior high school, and 356 teachers for the senior high school. It will be charged against the new school personnel positions budget of the Department of Education (DepEd), which was allotted P553.31 billion in total this year

“We believe that special learners deserve special attention and specialized learning tools, thus the increase in funding support.” ~ Bro. Armin Luistro

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Leonard Cheshire

Notes:

Partial integration – the PWD enrolled in a special class is integrated with regular children during non-academic activities like work education, physical education, arts, school programs, etc, then gradually integrated in the academic subjects if qualified.

Full integration – the PWD enrolled in a special class is integrated with regular children in all academic and non-academic subjects.

Why Educating PWDs is Better

Learning is important and every individual—with disabilities or none—must have a chance for it. It is notable then that hearing-impaired Hilarion Daen Jr. and blind Edna Blacer would teach special education to students at the Rawis Elementary School in Legazpi City.

Daen Jr., 56, handles kindergarten pupils with hearing deficiencies for two decades to date. He believes that early childhood education is one of the most crucial parts of child development especially for children with impairments.

“Other than making them understand that they are part of the society despite their impairment, it is also important to make them realize that they are not just accepted, but they can also do something for the community, and I, being a hearing-impaired teacher, am the best example,” Daen Jr. was quoted saying in a report.

“Seeing each of my students learn new things every day satisfies me and makes me motivated to stay in this profession,” he added.

Blacer, 45, on the other hand, started teaching with a normal vision. After a decade, though, her vision regressed so she can only recognize letters in relatively large sizes now.

“The current inclusive learning strategy paves the way for these visually-impaired students to see the world in a different perspective, enabling them to take part in community development regardless of their visual disability,” Blacer was also quoted saying in the same report.

Recently, the Department of Education (DepEd) has tallied 471 SPED centers and regular schools catering to elementary students and 177 providing for secondary students. Rehabilitating persons with disabilities during early childhood is crucial because, like what Julia Rees, UNICEF Department Representative has said ,”good care and development during this time increases their chances of becoming healthy and productive adults and lessening the future cost of education, medical care, and social spending.”

“Early childhood intervention can fulfill the rights of children with disabilities in promoting rich and fulfilling childhoods and prepare them [for] meaningful participation in adulthood,” she added.

“I want to tell the kids that even though their situation is difficult, because of their visual impairment, they should not lose hope. They need to persevere. They need the determination to pursue what they want to be and achieve in their life.” ~ Edna Blacer

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of  Rappler

Education for Filipino CYNS

Children and youth with special needs in the Philippines may have a chance for a quality education in the country once the Senate Bill 1732 passes.

Tagged as the Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs Act, the SB 1732 seeks to “widen the access to quality education for children and youth with special needs (CYNS) in order to provide equal opportunities for all students.” It also aims to establish Inclusive Education Learning Resource Centers in every public school division in the country and ensure adequate pay to teachers.

Of the 649 special education centers that the Department of Education recognizes, only 471 can cater to elementary students and 177 to high school students. There were also only 2,600 elementary SPED teachers and 280 high school SPED teachers.

“Our current public education structure lacks the necessary tools and resources in better assisting children and youth with special needs in their learning environment, and the role of the government is to provide the essential devices and employ the right people who will aid them to do well in a natural learning environment,” Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on education, arts, and culture, was quoted saying in his sponsorship speech.

“Importanteng makapagbigay ng sapat na mga kurso para mabigyan ng sapat na training at kaalaman ang mga teachers upang sa gayon makuha natin ang eksaktong datos. Ilan nga ba at gaano karami yan upang makapaglaan din tayo ng sapat na resources para matugunan ang problema at pangangailangang yan,” he added.

Aside from Sen. Escudero, the other lawmakers that filed the SB 1732 last March 7, 2018 were Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva, Juan Edgardo Angara, and Paolo Benigno Aquino.

Notes:

  1. The bill considers equipping the education sector with “tools and resources to make it responsive to the needs of CYNS as it geared towards integration.”
  2. Children in the Philippines refer to person below eighteen (18) years of age or those over but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.
  3. Youth in the Philippines refer to those persons whose ages range from fifteen (15) to thirty (30) years old.

“While we acknowledge the fact that they are in need of special education and care, children and youth with special needs should also be given the chance to live like any other children in our country. It would be best to educate them in such a way that they will be able to interact and learn with children their age.” ~ Sen. Francis Escudero

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of aztecs1953