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).

State of Filipino PWDs this 2014

Amidst the law that was legislated five administrations ago, some buildings still violate the Batasang Pambansa 344 that facilitates people with disabilities (PWDs) inside them.

Ferdinand Rañosa, an architect from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH 11), disclosed that there are private building owners who still violate the code. They would have their plans checked by the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) but would not implement them.

In a nutshell, the BP 344 is meant to “enhance the mobility of persons with disabilities by requiring certain buildings, institutions, establishments, and public utilities to install facilities and other devices.” Established last December 7, 1982 and approved last February 25, 1983, it has “no clear sanctions for [its] violators” till today although the CEO can cancel the latter’s certificate of occupancy or certificate of completion once its office is violated.

Remaining bills

There are bills that have remained as bills even though they were proposed since the 15th Congress of the Philippines.

Filed last June 6, 2012 by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, the “Children with Special Needs Education Fund Act of 2012” (SBN 3226) was drafted to increase the Special Education Fund received by the special education centers. It would be pooled from the proceeds of the additional real property tax plus a certain portion of the taxes on Virginia-type cigarettes and imported leaf tobacco.

It was last October 17, 2012, on the other hand, that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV suggested to give the country’s national athletes, coaches and trainers with disabilities with the same benefits that the “normal” athletes who win in international competitions receive. He was eventually joined by Sen. Pia S. Cayetano, Sen. Francis “Chiz” G. Escudero, Sen. Manny B. Villar, and Sen. Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid. Sen. Vicente C. Sotto III supported the bill at first but abstained from it when the bill was approved on the second reading with certain amendments last February 6, 2013.

A bill to protect those afflicted with HIV and AIDS was also passed as well as about one requiring operators of television shows, home video programs, and motion pictures to broadcast with closed captions.

As of this writing, there is still no current information how many PWDs are benefiting from the regulations favoring in the Philippines and how many of them can access public tertiary education and hospitals.

“The Philippines has a legal obligation to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.” ~ Handicap International


Malabon is a city in the Philippines where persons with disabilities (PWDs) can have ‘special’ privileges.

They can have 20% discount from hotels, restaurants, theaters, concert halls, drugstores, hospitals, dental clinics, travel agencies, and public transportation. They can study through scholarship grants, get into all of its commercial and government establishments as quickly as possible, and have tax incentives.

These are provided the PWDs have IDs, of course.

There are also schools here—both public and private—that PWDs can go into, particularly those with hearing impairments, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, autism, global developmental delay, cerebral palsy, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, behavioral problems, mental retardation,

These schools are the Amang Rodriguez Elementary School, Malabon Elementary School, Ninoy Aquino Elementary School, Potrero Elementary School, Bright Beginning Center for the Young, De La Salle Araneta University, Higher Ground Baptist Academy Foundation, and Total Aural-Oral Lesson for Kids Learning Center for the Deaf (T.A.L.K.) Learning Center, Inc.

The problem

But Malabon is a city a meter below sea level. It is the catch basin of floodwaters in the northern part of Metro Manila during the rainy season. Most of its barangays (villages) are submerged in sea water during high tide and are often impassable to heavy and light vehicles.

It is the primary reason that the city lags in its development, which causes multi-million damage to Malabon every year. It doesn’t help that its flood control facilities are aging and its residents would throw their garbage in esteros and canals.

So the city implemented a foreign-funded P3.5 billion mega flood control project last July 30, 2001.

Then in September 11, 2005, P15 million was allotted to construct of at least 14 pumping stations in the city’s low-lying barangays, erect river gate valves, and improve the major canals and waterways. Malabon’s engineering department would have 60 days to ease the city’s perennial problem.

About P3 billion was loaned again from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on March 28 last year.

It completed the Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuels (Camanava) Flood Control Project by 99% last June 28, 2013.

“Complaints are mounting that PWDs are experiencing discrimination when it comes to the 20 percent discount accorded them by the law, especially when buying medicine in drug stores.” ~ Malabon City Rep. Jaye Lacson-Noel