Clinical Depression

Worldwide, clinical depression is the most common disability.

Clinical depression (also called major depression) is a psychiatric disorder that “saps” an individual’s ability and desire to do what he or she used to. They would feel extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, and even thoughts of death. They would also be unable to concentrate, sleep sufficiently, eat right, and feel pleasure.

To treat it, technology has resulted in some actual medications. Tricyclic antidepressants were formulated in the 1960s till the 1980s. There were also the monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as the phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and isocarboxazid (Marplan).

In the past decade, there have been selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), venlafaxine (Effexor), and nefazadone (Serzone). The guideline in taking these kinds of antidepressants remain the same over the years, though: Medications–prescribed, over-the-counter, or herbal supplements—should never be mixed without a doctor’s advice; nor be borrowed from another person.

There is also a safer and more effective treatment for clinical depression now. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) enables a small amount of electric current to pass through the brain and cause a seizure to control mood, appetite, and sleep. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) also functions the same but is only opted if the clinical depression (1) has lasted for two years or more, (2) is severe or recurrent, or (3) is not alleviated after four treatments.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), on the other hand, uses a magnet instead of an electrical current to activate the brain. It was developed in 1985 and was approved last October 2008 by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States.

“The Internet has made it possible to deliver telemedicine care economically to areas and populations with limited access to specialist or culturally and linguistically congruent care.” ~National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the FSU College of Medicine


Bahay Mapagmahal

A “loving home” in English, Bahay Mapagmahal is a dormitory for  crippled children located at the back of the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC). It was established in 1973 and currently houses 22 persons with disabilities (PWDs).

These PWDs were able to study elementary and high school at the National Orthopedic Hospital School for Crippled Children (NOH-SSC) for free. They were also able to learn how to play musical instruments at parties, hotels, and concerts. They had actually formed a group that enabled Bahay Mapagmahal to extend the assistance given to them to bless other PWDs.

Dubbed “Rondalla on Wheels,” the group had generated funds for the Caring Hands to Inspire and Link with Differently Abled Children (CHILD), a project of the Great Physician Rehabilitation Foundation, Inc. (GPRehab). Rondalla on Wheels was established by Sr. Roos Catry, ICM, a Belgian missionary, and Prof. Antonio Tallada, a former band officer of the University of the Philippines (UP) in 1978 .

As of now, Bahay Mapagmahal can no longer accommodate PWDs because of limited space. It is still maintained, however, by the Philippine Society for Crippled Children, Inc. (PSCC), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Philippine Orthopedic Hospital (POC), and some civic-minded residents of Quezon City.

“They were able to raise the awareness of the community about the capabilities of persons with disabilities like them. One great lesson that the group was able to permeate to the public was the realization that even if they may have some physical disability, they are imbued with hope and enthusiasm, not to mention the joy they radiate within and among themselves.” ~Cecile Genove

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Mr1988000

Jesse Robredo: the man

Jesse “Pogi” Manalastas Robredo was the man for me.

He neither drank nor smoked. He cared for persons with disabilities (PWDs). He led and act. He respected his daughters and wife. He laughed and showed the world how to smile.

He mandated governors and municipal mayors in the Philippines to create a person with disability affairs office (PDAO). The office would update the national and local government agencies on what the PWDs in the country really need, as well as engage non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) in implementing related laws and policies on disability.

He was also the one who encouraged PWDs to register in the coming midterm elections. Only about 742,000 PWDs had done so (Comelec 2012 data) even though Article V, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution already guarantees a “procedure for the disabled and the illiterates to vote without the assistance of other persons.” There are nearly 9 million PWDs in the Philippines to date, 3.6 million of which are qualified to vote (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting).

Jesse’s father became blind when he had turned 39 because of retinitis. Jesse’s three siblings were also visually impaired. Still, Jesse grew up disciplined. He was accepted at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños but chose to pursue mechanical engineering and industrial management engineering instead at the De La Salle University. He had addressed the launching of 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.

“From both his parents, Robredo learned the virtues of caring for others and frugality and the value of a modest lifestyle. From his father in particular he learned that protecting the integrity and honor of one’s family is of highest importance, and the children were expected to contribute their share in doing that.”  ~ Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the NagaCityBicol

Photo posted with permission from the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation

Low Vision

Low vision is the most common disability in the Philippines since 1995.

It is the loss of eyesight caused by an eye disease, eye cancer, albinism, or brain injury. These conditions, although more common in older people, can occur at any age. It is not, however, affected by the normal aging of eye.

Low vision has four types. It is macular degeneration when one’s central vision is blurry. It is glaucoma when one’s peripheral vision is fading. A distorted vision characterizes diabetic retinopathy, while a hazy one typifies cataract.

Since low vision can’t be helped nowadays (and the Philippines has remained a Third World country), it will be wise to exert a little effort in mitigating its effects. Cover wood tables and shiny counters to reduce glare. Sit close to the TV to make things appear bigger.

Organize items in the refrigerator. Label medications with markers or rubber bands. Use electronic books, audio books, and other reading services. Do not be shy to ask for help and prefer using public transit systems.

Certain advances in consumer electronics also offer people with low vision an option to improve the quality of their lives. There are e-readers, which are more affordable than closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) that allow its users to adjust display settings or ‘hear’ thought its text-to-speech functionality.

Smartphones and tablets—both Apple- or Android-based—offer a range of applications and built-in functions to help people with low vision, too. iRead, iLoupe, and Magnify can illuminate text. EyeNote can scan and identify a US paper money.

SightBook can measure a visual function. MapQuest can provide voice-guided directions on where to turn. Siri can check the weather, email, or calendar of the user without him or her having to type.

Of course, these innovations in consumer technology are not a cure-all; Low vision is a permanent loss. It cannot be improved with eyeglasses, medicine, or surgery. Rehabilitating it could still perk up one’s outlook in life, however. Just make sure that the rehabilitation service offers regular low vision evaluation, prescription for devices, rehabilitation training, home assessment, mobility service, and resource groups.

“There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.” ~Helen Keller

Photos courtesy of

Deaf-mute beauty

A deaf-mute was just crowned a nationwide beauty!

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Megastar Productions

She is Princess Alanis Pura, an 18-year-old deaf-mute who had studied at the Philippine School for the Deaf in Pasay City. She has competed against 23 other candidates to be the Queen of the Philippines 2014, and would represent the country in the Face of Beauty International in Taichung, Taiwan on October 6 this year!

Not a veteran of beauty pageants, Pura was assisted by a sign language interpreter all throughout the competition. The pageant was reported to be produced and staged by the Megastar Productions held at the Subic Bay Yacht Club in the Subic Bay Free Zone last August 1.

But, as Norman’s Blog pointed out, Pura’s winning is ‘a good publicity angle for the contest.’ That shouldn’t be true so that Pura can very well claim to be country’s first deaf representative to an international beauty competition.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” ~ The Little Prince, 1943

Marc Joseph Escora: the polio survivor

He had worked as a jeepney barker since he was 12 to support his studies.

He had lived in a public market in Libertad for seven long years.

He had been among the 223,615 scholars assisted by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) through its Training-for-Work Program Scholarship Program.

He is Marc Joseph Escora, a 25-year-old polio victim trained at the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center (NOLITC) in Bacolod City.

He was featured in a three-minute video that the institution entered in the 1st Tatak Tesda Video Making Contest last May. It won in the Best in Video-School category and Escora was offered a scholarship in return. He took the opportunity to study the Finishing Course for Call Center Agents.

Escora is now a supervisor at a business process outsourcing firm, the PanAsiatic Solutions, in the aforementioned city.

“I was bullied and discriminated because of my condition. Despite this, I never stopped dreaming.” ~Mark Joseph Escora

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Tatak Tesda

Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled

The Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PFRD) had been organized in 1949 and was registered with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) on February 10, 1950.

It was launched as a rehabilitation movement that became the first local organization to be affiliated with the Rehabilitation International (RI), a global network that empowers the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs) founded in 1922.

The PFRD had hosted the Second International Conference on Legislation Concerning the Disabled where the former president Ferdinand Marcos signed the Presidential Decree No. 1509 and established the National Commission Concerning Disabled Persons (NCCDP).

That changed, however, during the administration of President Corazon Aquino. The NCCDP was restructured and reorganized into the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP). It was later renamed as the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) mandated to check if the laws* protecting the civil and political rights of the PWDs in the country are really implemented, and then transferred to the Office of the President of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Continuing On

But the PFRD retained its identity.

It launched the Apolinario Mabini Awards to recognize annually the individuals, groups, and agencies who have contributed in rehabilitating and promoting PWDs. It also began the Philympics, a national sports competition for PWDs integrating sports and rehabilitation.

Parents who deny that they neglect to intervene in the development of their children with disabilities were trained regularly by the PFRD as well. It has disseminated 3,551 wheelchairs to date with the help of both government and non-government organizations.

As of this writing, the PFRD has “redirected its policies and strategies to effectively accomplish its primary mission of promoting rehabilitation against a backdrop of unfavorable social and economic conditions.”

“PFRD has the distinction of being the oldest non-governmental organization (NGO) that has worked for the last 59 years to address the needs of disabled persons.” ~ From the PFRD website

*These are the Republic Act 7277 (Magna Carta for Disabled Persons), Batas Pambansa Blg. 344 (Accessibility Law), Republic Act 6759 (White Cane Act), and the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 159 (Vocational Rehabilitation of Persons With Disability).