Tag Archives: Philippines

Disability in Filipino women

For one school of thought, women with disabilities face “double discrimination” because of their gender and disability. Another see it as a “triple discrimination” since women with disabilities also have to live in poverty as a result of inequality in hiring, promotion rates and pay for equal work.

In the Philippines, in particular, women with disabilities are more likely to be institutionalized. They experience difficulty in attaining access to adequate housing, health, education, vocational training and employment. There were conventions—the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the General Assembly resolution 63/150 of 18 December 2008, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to name a few—that ensure their rights and urges states to pay special attention to their needs but it hadn’t been enough.

Among of the disabilities common in Filipino women are poliomyelitis, blindness, and deafness.

Poliomyelitis—or simply polio—is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. It can lead to paralysis and debilitate a person’s brain and spinal cord. It didn’t dishearten Gracia Cielo “Grace” Magno Padaca, though. She has become the governor of Isabela since 2004 and has received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 2008.

A lack of vision brought about by a severe reaction to over-the-counter medications affected the eyesight of Roselle Rodriguez Ambubuyog when she was six years old. Despite her blindness, Roselle graduated with the highest honors from the Holy Infant Montessori in 1986, Batino Elementary School in 1993, Ramon Magsaysay High School-Manila in 1997, and Ateneo de Manila University in 2001. She is currently an access technology specialist working for software and hardware companies in Europe and North America while here in the Philippines.

Deafness is the complete inability to hear sound. Its only method of treatment is a hearing aid, a device worn in the ear that amplifies the volume of sound electronically. It’s what had afflicted Ana Kristina Arce when she was born, a class valedictorian at the Philippine School for the Deaf, a magna cum laude at the De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (CSB), and a degree holder at the Gallaudet University. She is currently the graphic artist in CSB.

Also deaf, Gilda Nakahara uses pen, paper, and the Filipino Sign Language to run the Nakahara Lodging and Travel Agency, a travel and tour business primarily for deaf people around the world. She has been recognized at the Go Negosyo Caravan for People with Disabilities in De Salle –College of St. Benilde in 2007 and has helped establish a deaf organization in  Eastern Samar.

“Everyone experiences disabilities one way or another; mine is just more obvious than yours. We are all fortunate to have loved ones, who help us bear the burdens brought about by our weaknesses. We may find ourselves in the dark, but we should not be afraid to move forward, because we have the light of our stars to count on, and to be thankful for.” ~ Roselle Rodriguez Ambubuyog

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Osmosis

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Molly Burke

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Howcast

Pushing for the PWDs’ education

Educating persons with disabilities in developing countries such as the Philippines calls for money and resources. As it is, many developing countries’ school budgets cannot already cover all of the mainstream students that need to be taught.

The teachers there also do not have any special needs training1. The schools’ buildings may not be wheelchair-accessible or the PWDs themselves do not even have wheelchairs. The books may not be enough for the sight-impaired students to share with their classmates without disabilities and the hearing-disabled students may not have the hearing aid resources they need.

Some developing countries deem PWDs to be cursed and, therefore, should be avoided. Educating them alongside students without disabilities could, therefore, present a problem for the parents of the latter.

But educating PWDs and non-PWDs together could let those with disabilities in developing countries fully assimilate into the culture of where they are. It is invariably “a way of giving disabled and special needs students2 access to an education and helping them become accepted into society as full, participating members.”

It is said that the greatest percentage of PWDs reside in developing countries; approximately 80% are in Africa, Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Some of them are among the countries that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This goes without saying that they adhere to inclusion and inclusive education, which is one of the key provisions of the UNCRPD3.

Educating PWDs alongside non-PWDs in developing countries should be considered now so that there will soon come a time that helping PWDs will just come naturally. There would be no need for rules anymore and education for PWDs will cease to be an “unaffordable luxury” or “non-crucial” because of the degree of financial expenditure and human involvement.

Arguably, a lack of education is the greatest disability of all, and these disabled individuals must suffer the deprivations of educational disability along with physical or mental disability.”

1If they do get training, it is based on a special education needs model, where the focus is on separating a PWD from their peers to segregated classes and schools.

2Aside from PWDs, inclusive education also encompasses to heads of households, former child-soldiers, street children, orphans, child prostitutes, and children of war and displacement.

3Article 24 commits State parties to developing an inclusive education system, where disability should not prevent people from successfully participating in the mainstream education system.

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

Opening, Minds, Opening Hearts

With the end-goal of promoting inclusive education in the Philippines, The Teacher’s Gallery is going to hold a summit—the first of its kind—that would empower teachers’ role in nation building.

“There are two main purposes for the summit. The first is to promote awareness for inclusive education in the Philippines, primarily for PWDs so that people are aware that we are people like them and that with the right support we are capable of learning and bettering ourselves and contributing to society just like persons without disabilities. This is part of our theme, I Am You,” shared Benjamin Almeda-Lopez, special projects officer of The Teacher’s Gallery, in an email.

“The second is to form a community out of teachers, education administrators, advocates, businesses and politicians by bringing many of them together for the first time at our event. We hope that by uniting all of these groups at our summit, we can form many new working partnerships between them beyond the three days of our conference,” he added.

The Teacher’s Gallery aims to “address the current challenges confronting the educational system in the Philippines.” It is advocating interaction between students with disabilities and to those without in “normal” schools.

“For one, the students without disabilities are able to interact with PWDs on a daily basis. This lets students without disabilities become familiar with their PWD peers and hopefully helps them become more accepting, tolerant and understanding as a result. Interacting successfully with students without disabilities can also help PWD children develop greater belief in themselves.”

“From an academic standpoint, inclusive education can prevent cases that still occur  where ‘separate but equal’ facilities for PWD students are actually below what is required to meet the needs of PWD students. It ensures that all children of the Philippines have the same opportunities to succeed and prevents alienating and disadvantaging PWD students socially, academically and emotionally provided both teachers and fellow students are willing to accommodate them.”

“The biggest change in the education of children starts through transforming the lives of teachers. Teachers have the power to positively change the lives of children. Every student’s success in learning is a step to contributing towards a better future for all.” ~ The Teacher’s Gallery

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of W-Dare as suggested by Benjamin Almeda-Lopez

Standard label?

How could the members of the world’s largest minority be known in a variety of names?

The Philippines has officially referred to them as “disabled persons” last July 22, 1991. Section 4 of the Republic Act No. 7277 has defined them as “those suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.”

Fifteen years later, though, the law that was otherwise entitled as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons was amended and Section 4 of the Republic Act No. 9442 renamed every disabled person in the country as a “person with disability.” The title of Republic Act No. 7277 was changed to the “Magna Carta for Persons with Disability” and all references to “disabled persons” to “persons with disability”.

This must be the reason why Americans with a disability are labelled as “individuals with a disability”; Canadians and Vietnamese with a disability as “people with disabilities”; and Indians with a disability as “persons with disabilities.”

Moldovans with a disability are “invalid,” though—a portrayal that The Rhythmic Arts Project has claimed to “elicit unwanted sympathy, or worse, pity toward individuals with disabilities.” TRAP has further advised to use the terms person with a disability; people with disabilities; has a disability; or have disabilities instead.

If someone is using a wheelchair to move around, describe her as a “wheelchair user.” What some may classify as a “birth defect” or “affliction” is actually a “congenital disability” or “birth anomaly.”

There’s no need to describe someone as “a victim of [the physical condition]” when you can just say “has a [the physical condition]”. It could also be “has had [the physical condition]”; “experienced [the physical condition]”; or “has a disability as a result of [the physical condition].”

A “person with Down Syndrome” is different from a “Down’s person” or “Mongoloid” (the last two terms are simply derogatory). A “person who has epilepsy/people with seizure disorders or epileptic episodes” is also not the same as an “epileptic.”

Those that some in the society claim “the mentally ill,” “crazy,” “psycho,” or “mental case” should just be termed “people who have mental illness” or “person with a mental or emotional disorder.” Those it call “blind-hearing impaired,” “deaf-mute,” or “deaf and dumb” should be identified as “people who are blind,” “visually impaired,” “person who is hard of hearing,” “person who is deaf,” or “the Deaf.” Deafness is a cultural phenomenon and should be capitalized in this particular instance.

“The use of outdated language and words to describe people with disabilities (PWDs) contributes greatly to perpetuating old stereotypes.” ~ The Rhythmic Arts Project

Video taken from the website of the Disability Horizons

SPED for All

Special education (SPED) refers to classroom or private instruction involving techniques and exercises for persons with disabilities (PWDs) whose learning needs cannot be met by the standard school curriculum.

Its inclusion in the United States started after the Second World War. Then it was introduced in the Philippines by David Prescott Barrows, an American anthropologist who had established the Insular School for the Deaf and the Blind in Manila (later renamed as School for the Deaf and Blind).

In the United Arab Emirates, an agreement was signed with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in November 2006. There’s also the Federal Law 29/2006 that assures every PWD in the country, and the UAE Disability Act that promises its nationals with special needs of ‘the same rights to work and occupy public positions, special facilities at airport and hotels, access to public vehicles and parking, and equitable access and facilities into all new property development projects,” among others.

It also mandates both public and private schools to accept a child with special needs (SN) who wishes to enroll in them. There would be vocational and rehabilitation centers and every effort would be made to take in special needs students in mainstream educational settings.

One of its emirates, Abu Dhabi, has partnered with the New England Center for Children to establish a comprehensive education program in either English or Arabic. Its fourth largest city, Al Ain, has a sports club that could train PWDs for the Special Olympics.

I still think, though, that integrating SPED in the basic and secondary curriculum is necessary, beneficial, and practicable. I had hinted about that in my first post and mentioned it particularly in the introduction of this blog.

“I discovered early that the hardest thing to overcome is not a physical disability but the mental condition which it induces. The world, I found, has a way of taking a man pretty much at his own rating. If he permits his loss to make him embarrassed and apologetic, he will draw embarrassment from others. But if he gains his own respect, the respect of those around him comes easily.” ~ Alexander de Seversky

 

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of GreatSchools

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