Tag Archives: Quezon City

“PWD-friendly” and “disabled persons”

Just how PWD-friendly the Philippines can get?

Not much, Amierielle Anne A. Bulan had said in an article. Her grandmother who had colon cancer and difficulty in walking had to be placed in a monobloc chair and carried by four men (whom her family paid P100 each) to attend to her medical check-up in a six-story building with no elevator in Quezon City. That is far, in Bulan’s opinion, from what the Department of Tourism is trying to convey in its latest campaign: that the Philippines is “destination-friendly.”

But it is trying. The Muntinlupa City has recently partnered with The Birthright Educators Foundation Inc. (TBEFI) and established—finally—a Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO)1. Ten hotels were also recognized for being “barrier-free” and friendly to persons with disabilities (PWD) during the World Tourism Day2 and 15 business establishments were awarded by the Makati City Hall for promoting the rights and welfare of PWDs3.

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has urged public buses to modernize4. The National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA) has reiterated the importance of facilities like ramps, toilets, and handrails in all public places5.

In the Oxford Dictionary, there is no such term as “PWD-friendly” but “disabled-friendly,” an adjective “that caters to the needs of the disabled, as by offering wheelchair access or services for those with impaired vision or hearing.”6 Recognizing the term, though, could instill the necessary attitudes people must have towards PWDs: thoughtful, tolerant, and instinctive.

“We need to inspire the persons with disabilities to stand up for their rights, and this is one way of exercising that, recognize us as people and not for our impairments,” Leila Benaso

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Harthy Satina








Accessibility and more

Local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines have been doing what they can for persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country.

In Antique, for instance, the Provincial Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) in Antique has held an accessibility audit in the establishments and schools in the city. It was headed by Paolo Castillo who visited the Eagles Hotel, Land Bank of the Philippines, Special Education and Development Antique Integrated School, Antique Christian Center Incorporated, and Advance Central College together with the Association of the Municipal Engineers of Antique, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In Marikina City, on the other hand, Vice Mayor Jose Cadiz has worked on a software so that PWDs can be picked up from specific points in the locality.

It also launched a PWD-friendly tricycle–a first of its kind in the Philippines—which is inspired by the units in Tokyo and Hong Kong. The tricycle has a larger space that can accommodate a passenger in a wheelchair and three persons more. It also has a ramp and straps to easily draw the passenger into the vehicle while securing the wheelchair on board.

The city government has one unit only, though. It was hoping the private sector will contribute in producing more units. The so-called PWD-friendly tricycle will cost P10,000 more than a regular tricycle but there will be no terminal membership fee of P50,000 anymore since the units do not have to be parked in a terminal.

“We are not fighting for pity. What we are asking is for them to respect our rights regardless of our disabilities. Because, in a way, we are all equal.” ~ Charito Manglapus

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler

On Miggy

Amidst a genetic disease that affects the nervous system and controls voluntary muscle movement, Alexander Michael “Miggy” Bautista has still managed to graduate cum laude in business administration at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.

He has not been alone anyway. His parents, Gabriel and Soledad, would wake up at five o’ clock in the morning to get their son from their home in Tanay, Rizal to the university in Quezon City. Together, they would carry Miggy to the car, transfer him to the wheelchair, and wheel him to his classes in different buildings inside the campus.

Security guards, utility and maintenance personnel, teachers and even a passing “sorbetero,” would help carry Miggy up and down the stairs. Nelia Hermogino, the security guard at Virata School of Business (VSB), would memorize Miggy’s class schedules so she can update the next guard where “their student” is.

Even the university chancellor, Michael Tan, would keep his eyes on Miggy. He has formally written to Dr. Ivy Suan, undergraduate program director of the UP Virata School of Business (VSP), when Miggy decided to shift to a business course from political science. In response, Dr. Suan has ensured that Miggy’s classes were located or transferred in the first floor of the building.

“His main challenge was his mobility,” Dr. Suan recalled. “[But] we did not see any issue in his classes, where he excelled as a group leader,” she added.

Miggy claimed to have learned patience and perseverance during his years in UP. He also realized then how privileged he is to continue his studies. Hopefully, the university’s plan to “build a campus that is highly sensitive to the needs of students with disabilities” would take fruition soon.

“I believe service is not a question of capability but of will, mind and heart.Even if my disability sometimes barred me from doing some things, it did not stop me from being the UP student that I want to be.” ~ Alexander Michael Bautista


  1. Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a genetic disease affecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. Its primary effect is on muscles, which gets smaller day by day, and involves the loss of the motor neurons in a person’s spinal cord.
  2. Miggy has joined competitions and business ventures while being an “Iskolar ng Bayan.” He has even organized a financial literacy talk for PWDs in Cainta, Rizal.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Alexander Michael Bautista

*Miggy has his own blog you can read, too! He has recently written about depression, a mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness.

Meeting Pope Francis: A PWD’s Experience

It was on a drizzly Sunday morning.

Wearing a white shirt—the color assigned to persons with disabilities (PWDs)—I braved the January sky hoping to see personally the head of the Roman Catholic Church since 2013. Of course, one may argue (as I myself would) that seeing a pope is just another act of religion. Still, I tried to see Pope Francis in either of his visits in the Philippines from January 15 to 19.

It had not been easy; I have moved to the United Arab Emirates right after my college graduation. To add to the ‘problem’ is the possibility that not only one person would want to see him. There’s also his tight security and—of course—my disability.

So I wrote to my editors Karl Kaufman and Veronica Pulumbarit; to the members of the Papal Visit Central Committee; to every affiliated organization of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in Facebook; to the priests and their respective parishes listed in the website of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila; to the papal visit website; to the CBCP Media Office; and to the Manila Cathedral.

Only nine replied to me, however: the Department of National Defense (DND), the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY), the Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish, the San Antonio de Padua Parish, Magsimba.com, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Radio Television Malacanang (RTVM), and the Manila Cathedral.

The Department of National Defense, the Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish and the San Antonio de Padua Parish have acknowledged my letter but regretted that they cannot help me. The ECY Secretariat pointed me to the Archdiocese of Manila. Magsimba.com suggested that I wrote to my parish priest and ask him to refer me to a bishop. There might be a chance if he would be the one to refer me. I did that but got no reply again.

Both the MIAA and DFA gave me the contact details of Archbishop Socrates Villegas. It was also the DFA who suggested that I write to the Apostolic Nunciature of the Philippines.

The Manila Cathedral also replied to say that it is not in-charge of the would-be guests. The Commission on Youth of the Archdiocese of Manila said it has only limited information. The Apostolic Nunciature directed me to the Central Preparatory Commission of the CBCP.

I also communicated with Bishop Antonio Tobias and Fr. Antonio Labiao, the bishop of Novaliches and the director of the Diocesan Pastoral Office respectively. There had been a report that each archdiocese and diocese was asked to send at least five PWDs from their respective jurisdictions during the mass at the Luneta. Much as I do not want to take advantage of my plight, I grabbed the chance and wrote even to the administration of the San Roque Cathedral. I may be a resident of Quezon City at the present but I have lived in Caloocan for almost 20 years.

Neither of them replied, though, as well as Msgr. Edgardo Pangan, the president of the Canon Law Society of the Philippines.

Then two days before Christmas, I received an email from Fr. Jade Licuanan of the Archdiocese of Manila. He told me he was the one who asked Ms. Maria Luisa Garcia of the Commission on Youth of the Archdiocese of Manila to contact me. I could get into the event that will be held at the University of Santo Tomas! Pope Francis will be addressing the youth there. What just remains uncertain was how far or how near I will be from the stage.

Then two days before the papal visit, Fr. Licuanan informed me that I could be in the section where PWDs like me would be. How joyous had that been! I reached the venue—all because I was accompanied by my mother (who I call my “human tungkod”), my two aunts, and my two cousins. There was also a woman who tried to make a way for me through the packed crowd, a man who helped me ‘jump’ off the sidewalk, and another who let me ‘squeeze’ in between two posts.

Unfortunately, I got drowsy after the rain began to fall. It was only dropping occasionally before the program started but poured continuously as soon as Pope Francis spoke. Probably, too, waking up at 1:30 in the morning and walking from the ‘Welcome Rotonda’ roundabout to the UST grounds have finally taken its toll on my body and I could not do anything more about that.

It had not been upclose even. There were two rows and a flight of stairs between Pope Francis and me. My mother and I tried to move upfront but, since I am not on a wheelchair, we were advised to go back to our original lane so I would not be easily shoved if ever Pope Francis goes down.

But a line from Pope Francis’ message still stood out: To think, to feel, to do. I used to wonder if I really have been ‘lucky’ because I’ve experienced what it’s like to be normal before becoming a ‘full-pledged’ PWD. I’m now sure that I really have been.

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

Sinagtala Home

In 1966, a “star of hope” was formed.

It was called “Sinagtala,” the first institution under the Philippine Cheshire Homes Sinag-Tala Association Inc. It was founded by Concepcion Magsaysay-Labrador, the sister of former President Ramon Magsaysay.

Sinagtala Home first opened its doors to 11 “severely disabled” men. Two years after, it started to house female paraplegics that the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) has already discharged. There are currently 21 male PWDs and 11 female PWDs in Sinagtala.

But even though physically disabled, the residents were taught to fend for themselves. They can do mouth painting, charcoal portraiture, design and manufacture of religious items, solihiya (seat cushion) repair, watch repair, and mobile phone repair.

Last March 23, 2010, Sinagtala Home collaborated with the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine to organize the “Phi Sets Sinag-tala in Motion: Adding Color To Their Lives…One Step At A Time.” There had been a medical mission at the 123 Sinag-Tala Road, Barangay Bahay Toro, Project 8, Quezon City; a physical assessment by Dr. Melissa Zamuco-Mercado, head of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Makati Medical Center (MMC) and Dr. Estrella Sebe Sanchez-Fernandez, specialist in obstetrics and gynecology; a demonstration of some therapeutic exercises; and a wall-painting activity.

The said event was sponsored by the Sangguniang Kabataan of Magallanes and the Universal Robina Corporation. Sinagtala Home, however, is financially supported by a group of charitable Filipinos and through the earnings of the residents themselves.

“But the vision of the organization doesn’t just stop there – more than giving them a place of stay, the residents are encouraged to live productive lives through pursuing their own livelihood” ~ Phi Lambda Delta

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of winkedee