Tag Archives: Malaysia

Filipino PWDs this January 2019

The onset of the year has been promising for persons with disabilities in the Philippines.

For one, the education department’s secretary has called on them to register.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones has issued this in DepEd Order No. 3 series of 2018. The Early Registration, which is based on the “Basic Education Enrollment Policy,” covers incoming kinder, grade 7 and grade 11 learners in public schools. Out-of-school children (OSC) and youth (OSY) in the community are also invited as well as those living in an off-grid community, in a barangay without a school, in a geographically isolated area, in an armed conflict area, in an area with high level of criminality/drug abuse, in conflict with the law, and on the streets.

Those displaced due to natural disaster could also register even the victims of child abuse or economic exploitation, stateless or undocumented, and those who are no longer in school but interested in going back to schools.

Letting persons with disabilities study alongside non-PWDs has been my suggestion since February 19, 2016 when I’ve written about Austria and how it’s taking care of PWDs in the country. It has legislated integrative schooling in 1993 during the first eight years of a child. This is also what is being observed in Spain and Malaysia.

The PWD Forum has pushed for the integration of special education in the basic and secondary curriculum in the country. It has reiterated that after The PWD Forum turned one in the blogosphere and even after it turned twoThe PWD Forum has also made a case on the necessity, benefit, and practicality of sign language if only it is taught to every one.

In the Philippines, this has been the case at the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite. Education is an equalizer, pointed by Atty. Liza D. Corro, chancellor of University of the Philippines-Cebu, in a post.

The government has also implemented the value-added tax (VAT) exemption on sale of medicines—regardless of brands—for diabetes, high cholesterol,  and hypertension as mandated by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, or TRAIN law.

And, most important of all, the law that could provide affordable mental health services for Filipinos–the Mental Health Law (Republic Act 11036)–has been signed after more or less 28 years. It could secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs, provide services for them even in barangays, improve mental healthcare facilities, and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.

“Disability is one of the many forms in which human life occurs: it should be accepted as such and the people concerned should not be excluded in any way from participating in society.” ~ Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in co-operation with Österreichische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Rehabilitation

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of GMA Public Affairs

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On PADS-Cebu

During the 9th Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Carnival held at Pier 10 of the Central Harbour in Hong Kong, the PADS Adaptive Dragon Boat Racing Team won in the 400-meter standard boat international paradragon division. It topped during the first heat of the race at 1:35 and during the second heat at 1:33.913.

The team bested 160 other teams consisting of 4,500 athletes from all over the world to rule the event for the second year in a row. The second place went to Hong Kong’s Golden Eagle while the third place went to Taiwan’s NAAC Top Brilliances Dragon Boat Team.

It wasn’t the first time the Philippine Accessibility Disability Services (PADS) brought victory to the country in dragon boat racing. The team, which was headed by JP Ecarma Maunes, is composed of 14 men and four women that are either blind, deaf, or amputees. In June 5, 2017, it already competed in the said carnival against teams from Hong Kong, United Kingdom, and Singapore. It won in the final round by seven seconds.

Like other organizations dedicated to PWDs, PADS aims to “enable the PWD community to grow and develop as independent, integrated, fully human and empowered citizens in society” through promoting social inclusion and human rights of PWDs. It has succeeded to (1) increase the participation of the PWD in Filipino electoral and governance processes, (2) educate communities on PWD human rights, and (3) develop opportunities to promote Filipino Sign Language 12 years after it has started.

“We dedicate this victory to the plight of thousands of Filipinos with disabilities. We also want to dedicate this triumph to the Filipinos in Hong Kong who took care of the needs of the team, took a stand to leave their day jobs, and cheered side by side with the team. May this win uplift their hearts and national pride.” ~ PADS

Notes:

  1. The 9th Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Carnival happened last June 22 to 24. It was organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Hong Kong China Dragon Boat Association.
  2. The other teams include those from Australia, Canada, France, Israel, Japan, Korea, Macau and Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines, and the United States.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of MyTV Cebu

UPDATE (August 26, 2018): The Cebu-based Philippine Accessible Disability Services (Pads) Adaptive Dragonboat Racing Team have been recommended by the City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission to be this year’s recipient of the Modern Day Hero Award.

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

Inclusive Education in Malaysia

In Malaysia, persons with disabilities have their own name: “orang kurang upaya.”

They enjoy regulations that define how inclusive education is implemented there such as the National Special Needs Education System of the Malaysian Education Act in 1996 and the Education Regulations in 2013.

The country has already laid out the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) to move more students with special needs towards the Inclusive Education Programme (IEP) as well as raising the overall quality of provision. It even provided a guidebook prepared to direct its implementation.

Malaysia’s move towards inclusion was given impetus by its participation in the “The world conference on education for all” spearheaded by the UNESCO last 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand. Then, inclusive education was introduced through the Education Act 1996 as part of the continuum of services available for children with special needs.

As early as 1993, though, the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) has come to offer the pre-service teacher preparation program so that the students can have a Bachelor of Education degree in Special Needs Education. The University of Malaya has also offered a Master’s degree with the integration of disability-related content.

In 2008, the Malaysia’s Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act was enacted and mandated that government-run and private education institutions are responsible for providing infrastructure, equipment and teaching materials, teaching methods, curricula and other forms of support to enable children with disabilities to pursue education.

To date, the Malaysian primary teachers have a concept of inclusive education as merely placing all children identified by the Ministry of Education with learning difficulties into mainstream classes, either part-time or Rill-time. The teachers were of the view that the structure of primary schools will need to change in order to support the Ministry’s plan, or else the plan itself should be modified.

 “We are Malaysians and nothing can differentiate us as long as we have the heart and hands to listen and express ourselves.” ~ Lovira Jospely

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Tedx Talks

Godfrey Esperanzate Taberna: the club-footed cyclist

Like any other kid in Nueva Vizcaya in the 80s, Godfrey Taberna has wished to be a part of the province’s rich history in cycling.

“Natuto ako sa sarili kong sikap kasi nahihiya na rin ako magpahawak kasi malaki na ako noon. Sa umpisa, balancing muna. Saka naman sa pagpepedal,” shared Godfrey in an interview via Facebook.

But unlike any other kid in the town, Godfrey is club-footed. His father said it was because Godfrey’s mother used to crave for ginger when the latter was pregnant. The doctor believed, however, that it could be because of a medicine her mother should not have taken. Godfrey did not blame them, though. He believes—till now—that God has a plan for him.

Clubfoot, medically labeled as congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV), is a general term used to describe a range of unusual positions of the foot. The foot could be pointing downwards; the foot could be pointing upwards. The foot’s heel could be smaller than normal or, in Godfrey’s case; the foot’s toe could be rotated toward the other.

“Hindi ako sumuko kahit lagi ako sumesemplang hanggang sa natututo na at maayos na ang pagba-bike. Hinihiram ko ang bike ng aking mga pinsan—yun maliit, parang semi-mountain bike lang para kapag hindi ko ma-balance, matutukod ko ang paa ko kapag tumumba.”

Early on

Godfrey was born around the time there was an ongoing war in Mindanao. His father, a soldier, had been assigned in Jolo, Sulu so his mother, a housewife, joined in the barracks.

After sometime, his father was reassigned in Luzon and Godfrey had four siblings more. Godfrey was also able to continue his studies even after his father retired. He could recount, however, how he was treated by the other children then.

“Maraming kumukutya sa akin lalo na kaparehong bata sa edad ko noon. Tiniis ko lahat ‘pag naririnig ko pangungutya. Nilalabas ko na lang sa kabilang tenga.”

That was only when Godfrey got to ask God why was he born club-footed.

When Godfrey turned high school, they moved back to Mindanao. His parents have to live within the farm given them, which was farther from where Godfrey and his three sisters live. They either have to walk around a mountain for 10 kilometres or swim in a brook for four kilometres when getting their allowances. So Godfrey strove to learn how to use a bicycle. His father eventually bought him one upon seeing him able to do so.

“Tuwang-tuwa ako kasi may sarili na akong bike. Kahit saan ako mapunta na gusto ko, mapupuntahan ko na. Hindi na rin ako mahihirapan sa pagpunta sa bukid. Malaking bagay rin ang makatipid sa pamasahe.”

Godfrey learned how to bike when he was already in college. He has also come to overcome his self-doubt amidst the rebuke he would often hear. He gained friends and learned his rights as a person, a citizen of his country, and a person with disability. He started to join in various sports such as basketball and volleyball.

Unfortunately, though, when it would be time for the important competitions, Godfrey would be excluded because of his condition.

“May konting galit sa puso ko at pagsisi sa kalagayan ko. Lahat yun ay kinimkim ko na lang at di ko na lang inilalabas. Inaamin ko, naiinggit ako sa kanila. Kung wala akong kapansanan, sana naglalaro ako ngayon. Naipapakita ko ang aking husay, napapanood ako ng maraming tao at napapalakpakan.”

But Godfrey persevered. He continued building his dream to be a cyclist that those watching in TV or reading the newspapers would know about.

“Sa una kong kompetisyon sa bayan namin, nanalo ako. Nagulat sila sa pinakita ko hanggang marami na akong naging kaibigan. Pagkatapos ko ng pag aaral ay nag-bisikleta muna ako kasi dito ako naging masaya. Nag-training kami sa Baguio, Aurora, Manila, Ilocos at at iba pa. Maraming humanga sa akin hanggang sa nagugol lahat sa pag-bibisekleta ang buhay ko.”

Godfrey Taberna (1)

He also met his wife around this time. She supported Godfrey but eventually got fed up when they have nothing anymore to sustain themselves. The situation compelled Godfrey to stop biking. He became an insurance agent, waiter, executive secretary, project manager, and encoder.

After four years, though, Godfrey stumbled across an ad from the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled (PHILSPADA) looking for cyclists like him.

“Parang nabuhay ulit yun dugo ko sa sports. Nagpunta ako sa Manila, nag-present ako ng mga requirements sa PHILSPADA at naghintay ng approval ng Philippine Sports Commission. Magandang balita at natupad din ang pangarap ko na mapabilang sa mga national athletes!”

Godfrey’s first competition was in the 1st Asian Para Games held in Guangzhou, China last October 2014. He won fourth place then. It was followed by competitions in Malaysia, India, and Korea where he won silver and bronze medals. He had struggled against able-bodied athletes in the Ironman 70.3.

“Mahirap lang maging athlete lalo na sa amin na may kapansanan. Hindi pantay ang benefits sa mga able-bodied. Naghihintay rin lang ng laro para magka-allowance.”

He was also greatly challenged when his father died—not from the vehicular accident the latter was caught in but from blood loss.

“Mahirap maka-move on lalo sa isang katulad ng aking ama na siyang nagpadama ng suporta sa aking gusto. Proud na proud siya sa akin at proud na proud din ako sa kanya.”

At present, Godfrey is lobbying for a bike lane to be regulated. He believes ‘bawat nagbibisekleta ay may karapatan na hindi matakot sa daan’. He is also working in a private company in Greenhills when there are no competitions to support his wife and three children.

“Hindi ako sumuko.” ~ Godfrey Taberna

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the GMA News and Public Affairs

Photo provided by Mr. Taberna