Tag Archives: New Zealand

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


  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 New Zealand

New Zealand has two proofs that it cares for the persons with disabilities in the country: the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ and the St Theresa’s School.

BLENNZ is a Ministry of Education-funded national school that provides educational programs and specialist support services to children and young people who are blind, deaf-blind, or with visual acuity of 6/18 or less. It offers unique immersion courses from its Homai campus in Manurewa to those aged 0 to 21 from all over New Zealand.

Each course targets particular skills and group together students according to age, skill need or eye condition. The specialist teachers referred to as the resource teachers: vision (RTVs) are the ones who assess a child’s needs then team him or her up with the other staff to provide the best support possible.

St Theresa’s School, on the other hand, integrates deaf education and culture into its institution. It also hosts sign language classes once a week (every Monday).

Also known as Aotearoa, New Zealand has begun showing concern for its PWDs in 1877. It has introduced then a centrally funded system of regionally controlled schools for all children from 5-15 years old. Then in 1993, it signed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and has aimed to achieve a world-class inclusive education over the following decade. This was congealed in the New Zealand Disability Strategy in 2001 comprising of 15 objectives­, one of which is about providing the best education for disabled people.”

It was also required by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote access, inclusion, empowerment, equality, and the right to education upon its ramification to the agreement in 2008. Disability has nothing to do with the impairments persons with disabilities in New Zealand have, anyway. It is more of the process that happens when the “normal” ones design the world only for their way of living. (Ministry of Health, 2001).

Through the New Zealand Education Act, children with disabilities in the country have been entitled to free enrolment and free education at any state school from five to 19 years old (Education Act, 1989, section 3). They have the same rights to enroll and receive education at state schools as any other child in New Zealand (section 8).

The New Zealand Ministry of Education has also developed the website Inclusive Education: Guides for Schools to support the government’s vision of all schools demonstrating inclusive practices by 2014. It is actually one of the initiatives of Success for All that envisions a fully inclusive education system to result in confident educators; parents, families, whänau and communities.

The goal of educational inclusion is not to erase differences, but to enable all students to belong within an educational community that validates and values their individuality.” ~ Stainback, Stainback, East, and SapponShevin (1994)

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of vanAschTV