Monday, August 19, 2013
Standing up for Pinoys with disabilities
Everyone, regardless of ability or disability, deserves to be treated equally with the same dignity and respect.
On December 2005, I was finally discharged from the hospital after two months of being sick. I was hospitalized because my health deteriorated and I became very weak. I was rapidly losing my hearing and my poor vision in my right eye worsened. I completely lost my balance. From then on, the wheelchair started to become a part of my life.
At first, I wasn’t fond of going out in a wheelchair. I would only be seen in it whenever I go out for my doctor’s appointment and therapies. I prefer staying home than sitting in a chair when my vision’s not that good. I used to think that because I’m in a wheelchair, it would be hard for my family to bring me to places as they had to know first if it provides accessibility to persons in wheelchairs. I was afraid that my being in a wheelchair might cause discomfort for others, until my friends brought me out to go malling with them.
That trip made me realize that I could still go to where able-bodied people are without causing much of a hassle. I saw that there were ramps for wheelchairs, parking spaces for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), priority lanes, to name a few. I really had a great time. Since then, I started going out again just like before when I could still walk. Now, I would even joke that at least I can stroll for hours without having feet sore from walking too much.
I used to not like going out until I experienced going up and down from sidewalk ramps. I used to not like commuting until I rode a taxi with a PWD sticker. I used to worry about how my wheelchair will fit public restrooms until I got inside a spacious one for PWDs. Now, I can still get to enjoy what was meant for everyone because even with disabilities, I am still part of this society.
Being an optimist, I can find out something positive from the most negative things and occurrences. I can easily identify negative vibes too but I choose not to focus on it. Instead, I do something about it. Although most of the time I can’t, it comforts me to know that I did something to make it right in my own little way.
While I enjoy all of the PWD-friendly places and facilities I benefit from, I also get disappointed whenever I see the opposite. So my mom and I got used to bringing a printed copy of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons or Republic Act 7277; we would give it to establishments or people who are still unaware and won’t honor our PWD rights. Since then, my mom and I have become PWD advocates in our own ways, doing what we can to make things right.
THE PWD VOICE IN CYBERSPACE
Sometime in July, Arpee Lazaro, a food blogger, technical writer, and documentation specialist invited me to join PWD (Pinoys With Disabilities) Phil. PWDPhil.com is a website dedicated to raising awareness for the plight of PWDs. It gives them a voice in cyberspace and initiates measures that aim to improve their quality of life.
I immediately said, “I’m in!”
The website was launched last August 1 and was attended by National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) commissioner Nelia De Jesus and director Carmen Zubiaga along with a couple of supporters. We discussed about our plans, where we are headed and what we are going to do. We know this is a long road to take so we prepared a four-stage plan of action.
Stage 1 is to spread PWD awareness. We want people to be aware that the PWDs can be productive citizens. They should focus on the “ability” in the word disability. An amended Republic Act 7277 states that persons with disabilities deserve to be treated equally, free from discrimination. Stage 2 is to institutionalize our efforts by putting up a foundation. Stage 3 is to raise funds from non-government organizations and other interested parties. Stage 4 is to build a shelter or training center for the PWDs. Currently, we are still on our starting point and the beginning of a new mindset.
Apart from Arpee, other members of PWDPhil are Peewee Kapunan, co-founder of the Celebral Palsied Association of the Philippines and a fellow PWD; Azrael Coladilla, a blogger, event organizer and promoter for pop culture; Russel Patalinghog, a new media strategist, social media consultant, technical writer, multimedia developer and photographer.
We are not affiliated with any political party or existing organization, but we have pledged our time and efforts for protection of the welfare of the Pinoy PWDs. After a successful launch, now is the time to join us and speak up for the rights and needs of Pinoys with disabilities. Together, we can definitely do a lot of great things for them.
Join us in making stand for PWDs by posting a photo of followers and violators of Republic Act 9442 (Magna Carta for disabled persons) on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram under hashtag #9442watch and tag @pwdphil.
I have always believed that no matter how small or insignificant we think we are, as long as we stand up for what is right, that’s already enough to start initiating change. (For updates, visit www.pwdphil.com and like PWD Philippines on Facebook.)
Thanks to everyone who supported and attended our launch event. Thank you to our sponsors – Melo’s Restaurant, Virtuoso PR, Ogilvy, One Pacific Place, Sun Life and Greenwich. After a successful launch, now is the time to join us and speak up for the rights & needs of Pinoys With Disabilities.