Tag Archives: Manila

Preparing for the 2020 Para Games

The Philippines has started preparing to be among the Top 3 winners in the upcoming 2020 ASEAN Para Games in Manila.

“We’re preparing of course for the eventual 2020 hosting of the ASEAN Para Games,” Team Para Philippines chef de mission Francis “Kiko” Diaz was quoted saying in an article.

“Every time we engage and are given an opportunity to play in an international competition, dapat mahigitan na ang past performance natin so ‘pag gano’n thinking, hanggang No. 1, puwede natin makuha,” he added.

The Philippines has been ranked 11th place in this year’s para games with 10 gold medals from chess player Sander Severino and swimmer Ernie Gawilan.

It “leaped” from 23rd place in the 2014 ASEAN Para Games in Incheon.

“We’re looking at grassroots development. We need to improve on some younger players coming in, women coming in, other disability groups that have to be better represented,” shared Michael Barredos, president of the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC), in the same article.

“It’s going to be a challenge because we will need close to about 200 athletes in the ASEAN Para Games we will host.”

Eleven Southeast Asian countries would be competing for 16 sports in the 2020 ASEAN Para Games in Manila then.

Having said that, the PPC organized “Sports Without Borders,” a series of orientations on paralympic sports with a goal of attracting differently-abled Filipinos into sports.

“I think with this accomplishment and achievement [the national para athletes] have done, [they] will be able to show to all Filipinos that people with disabilities are to be looked at not for their disabilities, but for their abilities,” Barredos added.

“We showed that Asian athletes showed inclusion in the area of Asia, and I think in the Philippines, they have just proven that through sports we can make this an inclusive society.” ~ Michael Barredos

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ABS-CBN Sports

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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

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

Baguio

There’s more to Baguio than just being a tourist’s haven.

It’s also the spot for persons with disabilities (PWDs) who want some respite from the Manila heat. The Federation of Persons with Disabilities of the Baguio–Benguet chapter has pushed for the establishment of a law-mandated affairs office for PWDs in December 12 of last year, as anchored on the Republic Act 10070.

Ten days before that, there had been a public hearing to inform the PWDs in the city of the three proposed measures pertaining to them. The annual celebration of the International Day of the People with Disabilities worldwide should be localized, suggested Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, chair of the Council Committee on Employment, Cooperatives and Persons with Disabilities. There should be an affairs office for them that would be funded by the City Health Department as well as a committee that would oversee, advised Councilor Joel Alangsab. A free movie once a week must also be granted to the city’s PWD residents, recommended Vice Mayor Edison Bilog.

PWDs in Baguio City also underwent livelihood training through the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP). Among of the 67 participants were Michael Pascua of Bokawkan Road who survived an accident in 2011, and his wife Michelle who are blessed with four children.

The Rehabilitation, Skills Training and Livelihood Promotion for Persons with Disability was proposed to be funded by the GPBP with a local counterpart of P230,769.23 and P769,230.77 from the DSWD. It is being implemented under the department’s “Sustainable Livelihood Program,” a community-based program that aims to improve the socio-economic capacity of the poor by providing them with entrepreneurial and technical skills training.

But there’s no definite population figure of PWDs in Baguio. The city social welfare and development office (CSWADO) counted 1,654 PWDs in the city as of May 2014 while the Department of Social Welfare and Development listed 1,375 PWDs in December of the same year. Councilor Cosolan had to propose an accurate population figure to the City Social Welfare and Development Officer, City Health Services Officer and the City Schools Superintendent-Department of Education last June 10, 2014 “for legislative support, planning and program implementation purposes.”

Having a disability affairs committee was also already ordered by Vice Mayor Edison Bilog when he was the acting mayor of the city last August 3, 2014. The free movie viewing is open only to PWDs’ who are registered and holders of Baguio City PWD ID Card once a week—on either the first or second screening during Wednesday or Thursday only.

I must admit, though, that the proposal of Councilor Cosalan is a good step. The measure intends to create a committee that would be the one “to formulate, implement and monitor the various activities comprising the observance and in accordance with the current international theme for the particular year, as well as local programs and projects for PWDs.’” It could lead to awareness, long-winded as it may.

“…disabled persons are “part of the Philippine Society, thus the state shall give full support to the improvement of the total well-being of disabled persons and their integration into the mainstream of society.” ~ RA 7277

Of Young Voices

Proving their abilities beyond their physical incapacities are Angelique Vizorro, Brian Semeniego, Carla dela Cruz, and Daisy Panaligan. They are all members of the Young Voices, a global project of a United Kingdom-based health and welfare group that aims to fight work against poverty and social marginalization through film and music.1

Vizorro has been a part of the National Youth Commission (NYC) Government Internship Program that trained high school and college students alike for employment. She had graduated from STI College-Fairview and knew how to encode data, photocopy, scan, and file documents.

Semeniego has headed the YV-Iloilo Chapter and has represented the country in the workshop conducted by the he Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) in Colombo, Sri Lanka last August 2010, and in the National Human Rights Forum led by the Presidential Human Rights Committee in April of the same year. He has hosted the radio program K-Forum before he became the youngest board member of the Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-PINOY). To date, Semeniego intends to promote better accessibility for PWDs through his civil engineering degree.

Dela Cruz has undeveloped lower limbs. Despite of that, though, she was the one sent to Maryland, USA to study one high school year in 2004. She was the one sent to Ethiopia, Africa to attend a video filming workshop and she was the one of those awarded the Women Achiever of the Year last March 25, 2011. She is a cum laude of BS Education, major in Special Education, from the Trinity University of Asia.

Panaligan is an amputee since birth. She is a ballroom dancer as well, albeit on wheels. She is also an athlete and had won two gold medals and one silver medal in the 6th Asean Paragames in Solo, Indonesia.

1 Worldwide, there are 1200 PWD members of YV to date. They are from 21 countries and ages 16-25 years old. In the Philippines, YV is one of the core programs idealized by the LCD Foundation, involved as it was during the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Video courtesy of the LCD Young Voices

Maricel Apatan: the chef with no hands

She would need help when she has to move a hot kettle, transfer a large saucepan, or open a slippery bottle cap. But apart from those, Maricel Apatan can coat a cake with crushed nuts. She can grip a chef’s knife between her hip and elbow. She can slice fruits, arrange them on a cake, add fillings, and set chocolate curls. She can even pay for the rent of their apartment and inspire other persons with disabilities (PWDs) to “live a normal life” as well!

“When I first saw Maricel, I was worried she might hurt herself,” Sous Chef Ariel Reyes, manager of the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel was quoted saying. “[But] she works just as hard as the rest of the chefs.”

Maricel Apatan had lived without hands when she was 11. She was struck with a long knife and slashed in the neck by four men over a land dispute in Zamboanga City, Mindanao. She just went with her uncle to fetch water from the river then. But he was stabbed, too, and Maricel Apatan had to pretend she was dead till their slayers went away.

The doctors weren’t able to save her hands; it had taken four hours to traverse from her house to the highway. It was the most ironic gift a girl could have: Maricel Apatan turned 12 years old the next day.

The ‘celebration’ continued when they went home. Their house was ransacked and burned down by the goons. It was only through the kindness of a distant relative, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, that they were able to pay the hospital bills and put the criminals in prison. It was also only through the Tahanan Ng Walang Hagdanan that Maricel Apatan was able to finish her studies.

She eventually graduated from high school and enrolled in a two-year Hotel and Restaurant Management Course in Cagayan de Oro City. She was already in Manila to continue her studies when the managers in the hotel she’s working for now saw Maricel Apatan on television and hired her as part of its “Embrace: Care for People Project. “

As of January 19, 2011, Maricel Apatan’s three younger siblings are living with her in Manila and her parents were looking after their family farm in Mindanao.

“It is difficult to make ends meet but I don’t lose hope. I believe anything is possible if you dream, work hard and pray.” ~Maricel Apatan

Bahay Biyaya Student Hostel

There’s a place where persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the Philippines can stay when pursuing high school and college.

Within the 35-hectare commercial estate of the Araneta’s is the Bahay Biyaya Student Hostel. It lodges physically handicapped students studying in the different colleges and universities in Manila and Quezon City. There are 20-30 PWDs there currently endorsed by the parish priest in the locality where they are from.

They could also be recommended by missionary priests and nuns. High school students must maintain a grade of 80%, while college students must keep up a 2.5.

Bahay Biyaya Student Hostel only accommodates PWDs who are independent enough to clean their own bedrooms and bathrooms. The latter are given specific assignments in its kitchen and dining areas. Qualified theologians would conduct a “Bibliarasal” once a week with them and they could go out on excursions and picnics occasionally.

“A barrier-free environment should be introduced everywhere.” ~Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin