31st NDPR Week Highlights

I have collected a few news articles about the recent celebration of the 31st National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. This event was observed nationwide and various local government agencies as well as Persons With Disabilities groups held their own activities and commemorations.

Although the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) is the lead government agency tasked for the celebration, local government units as well as other PWD groups also had their own activities. If you know of any NDPR Week celebration that was held, kindly post your comment below including the web links. I will definitely add them here. πŸ™‚

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RP Celebrates 31st National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week

The Philippines is currently celebrating its 31st National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) is the lead government agency tasked to oversee the celebration nationwide.

This year’s theme is “Tungo sa Katuparan ng Karapatan ng PWDs“. MCCID will take part in this activity by joining in the JOBS FAIR for PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES to be held on July 23 at the SM City North EDSA Annex. We will again be demonstrating the computer skills of our deaf students.

This year’s jobs fair is unique in a way. Instead of companies opening their booths for prospective applicants, it’s the employers who will be doing rounds to view the crafts and skills of the PWDs. They may then gauge their employability potentials.

Other activities lined up can be read at the NCDA Official Website. Para sa ating mga kababayan na may kapansanan, mabuhay po kayo!!!

List of cities and provinces issuing IDs for persons with disabilities

Republic Act 9442
Republic Act 9442 or the amendment of Magna Carta for the Disabled Persons and for Other Purposes (RA 7277) states that a Person with Disability shall be entitled to the following:

  • Twenty percent (20%) discount from all establishments like hotels, restaurants, etc.;
  • 20% discount on admission fees charged by theaters, concert halls, amusements, etc.;
  • 20% discount for purchase of medicines in all drugstores;
  • 20% discount on medical and dental services;
  • 20% discount on fare for domestic air and sea travel;
  • 20% discount in public railways, bus, etc.;
  • educational assistance through scholarships, books, etc.;
  • discounts in special purchases;
  • provision of express lanes in all commercial and govt. establishments; and
  • additional tax incentives.

However, persons with disabilities cannot avail of these privileges if they don’t present their special identification cards. According to the law and the Implementing Rules and Regulations, only the municipal, city and provincial government units are allowed to issue these IDs.

In my pre-employment preparation subject, I assist my deaf students in getting vital documents that they would be needed before they apply for jobs. Since most of them live in the National Capital Region, we were also able to visit some government offices of the surrounding cities. To my surprise, out of the seventeen highly urbanized cities, only six of them issue these IDs!

Special “thank you” goes to Quezon City government most especially to one of their well-loved officials, Ma’am Luz Cabauatan for assisting us. She said that our students simply show our school’s ID. That’s already a proof that they are a PWD. No need to submit any other requirements. Congratulations too to the mayors of cities of Manila, Malabon and Makati. Their processing procedure is very efficient and fast. Those who will assist you are PWDs themselves. Aldrin Gabriel and Ronald Joseph Santiago, two of our deaf school’s alumni working at Malabon City Hall, help disabled applicants. Aside from the benefits stated, Makati City also grants special free all-day entrance to any movie theaters for their PWD constituents!

I received a copy of the list from National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) office. To my PWD brothers and sisters, here is a list that will guide you in getting your IDs. Some LGUs require you to present your Barangay Certificate, ID photos and medical certificate indicating your disability or other proof of your disability as in the case of deafness. They will then give you a form which you can fill up and submit together with the other requirements I mentioned. As of October 2008, here are the cities and provinces that has issued special IDs:

  1. National Capital Region – Manila, Muntinlupa City, Malabon City, Makati City, Pasay City, Quezon City, Valenzuela City
  2. Region I – Dagupan City, Candon, Agoo, Aringan, Aringay, San Fernando City
  3. Region II – Enrile, Santiago, Kasibu
  4. Region III – Gerona, Olongapo City, Bulacan, Tarlac, Pampanga (all municipalities including Angeles City and San Fernando City), Palayan City
  5. Region IV – Binan, Dasmarinas, Sta. Rosa, Tagaytay City, Cavite, Cuenca, Calapan
  6. Region V – None
  7. Region VI – Iloilo
  8. Region VII – Cebu, Garcia, Talisay City
  9. Region VIII – None
  10. Region IX – None
  11. Region IX – Malaybalay, Gingoog
  12. Cordillera Autonomous Region – Baguio City, Ilogan, Atok
  13. CARAGA – Bislig, Surigao, Butuan, Tandag City
  14. Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao – None

Ito lamang po ang listahan ng mga mabubuting bayan at lungsod na nangangalaga sa kanilang mga nasasakupan na may kapansanan. Maraming salamat po sa inyong pagmamahal sa mga may kapansanan. (Here is the list of good cities and municipalities that care for their constituents who are disabled.) If your local government has begun issuing IDs and are not included in the list, kindly post a comment here so I can add it.

Dun naman po sa mga mayor ng lungsod na wala pa dito sa listahan, mahiya naman kayo! (For those mayors of cities and municipalities that are not on the list, shame on you!) This law has already been passed by the Philippine government since April 2007. Pebrero 2009 na po! Kailan pa kayo susunod sa batas at mangangalaga sa mga taong higit na nangangailangan? (It’s already February 2009. When will you follow the law and take care of people who need it the most?)

Are job fairs really fair?

Job Fair Booths
Two Thursdays ago (November 20), I was a witness to yet another one in a series of job fairs geared towards assisting Persons With Disabilities get employment. As far as I know, there were more than four job fairs of this kind held for this year alone.

A job fair is basically an activity where companies who are in need of workers assemble together in one place, normally in a mall or a government facility, make booths/tables, post their want ads and await for walk-ins and prospective applicants. It may be a whole day affair or sometimes even longer. After receiving their application forms and giving short interviews, the applicants would undergo further tests or what-haves in order for the employer to filter out and finally select the right person for the job.

I believe companies joining job fairs pay a certain “joining fee” before they participate. This is a win-win situation for them because they can immediately hire a person on the spot, thus lessening the cost compared to posting wanted ads on newspapers and other media. They can also use the venue as an opportunity to advertise their companies and promote their products and services to the general malling public. However, I think their fees are waived on this specific event because it’s sponsored by the mall owner, a non-government organization and two government agencies as part of their advocacy programs.

Me interpreting for Ms. Renee Bacani, SM North EDSA General Manager
Me interpreting for Ms. Renee Bacani, SM North EDSA General Manager

That’s basically what I experienced on this job fair. “JOBS 4 ALL, (Trabaho Para sa Lahat kasama ang mga may K) Local and International Hiring” at SM North EDSA Activity Center was a joint project of Rotary Club of Ramon Magsaysay District 3810 Manila, SM Supermalls and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA). The event was also in collaboration with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Quezon City Public Employment Service Office (QC-PESO), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

What’s unique in this job fair is that there was also a skills demonstration of persons with disabilities where our deaf students participated in together with other groups. They showed their talents in information technology specifically in web designing and graphics animation.

Deaf Applicants
Deaf Applicants

Now going back to my question, are jobs fair really fair? As I was moving around trying to mingle with the jobless crowd, I overheard that some companies were not really serious on accepting PWD applicants. (This is one of the advantage of people thinking you’re deaf. They unknowingly blurt out their thoughts. hehehe) They were just there to get free publicity or probably free food. Some were even disappointed and wondered why they ever participated.

A deaf applicant approached me and sought my interpreting assistance. He asked one company official about his chances of getting accepted. To my surprise, the officer replied that he would first ask his superiors if they are open to hiring disabled persons. Wow! Why would they join in job fairs for PWD in the first place if they are not really bent on accepting them? I almost reacted violently. However, I calmly asked him about their company’s purpose of joining this job fair if they are not sure of accepting disabled applicants. For which he answered safely by saying it’s not his decision.

As of my personal count, there were less than 50 companies that participated in the event. I learned from NCDA that as per their agreement, they would accept companies to join in the fair provided that they promise to hire at least one person with disability. I will try to follow up with NCDA if those companies really did what they promised. However, with the initial information I gathered, I doubt if they will. I still hope they will.

PWD Applicant
PWD Applicant

Is there some kind of a monitoring system where these companies would do what they promised especially on holding job fairs? Was there a research/survey on the benefits of job fairs in terms of percentage of people hired as compared to the total number of walk-in applicants? Paging, Department of Labor and Employment! I believe it’s your work to determine if job fairs are really effective. You could just imagine the sheer frustrations experienced by these helpless jobless PWD applicants in preparing for this activity only to find out that these companies are not really serious in hiring them!

I’m not pushing for companies to accept disabled people simply because they have to or they were forced to do so. I’m for equal opportunity for everybody regardless of disability and to focus solely on qualifications. But with some companies joining job fair capitalizing only on free publicity, it would really be UNFAIR for ALL.

Special thanks to the special people of NCDA led by Ma’am Nelia De Jesus, Dandy Victa and Rolly Fernandez and of course the newly appointed Executive Director Geraldine Ruiz. They really did a swell job in coordinating these people and staging this event. Organizing major events like this are no walk in the park.This blogger salutes you. πŸ™‚

PS: Kudos to Raph Torralba for the amazing photos. πŸ™‚

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Emilie Padullon, Deaf person working for Philippine President

Emilie with Philippine President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo
Emilie with Philippine President Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo

This is the first of a series of features that focuses on famous or notable Filipino Deaf. It’s my way of recognizing their feats and showcase their successes all over the world.

Emilie M. Padullon now celebrates her eleventh year working with the Philippine government under the Office of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Emilie with Presidential Daughter Luli Arroyo
Emilie with Presidential Daughter Luli Arroyo

It all started like this. After being one of the first batch of MCCID graduates in 1996, Emilie wanted to work immediately. But after more than a year of fruitless effort, we decided to ask for government’s help. So in early 1997, we emailed all the Philippine Senators during that time seeking for employment. We prayed that at least one would respond. God answered us because out of 24 senators, only the most popular one, Sen. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo replied through her daughter Ma’am Luli Arroyo. She asked if Emilie can go to her office in Port Area, Manila for an interview schedule.

We were so thrilled and terrified at the same time because this will be our first meeting with one of the highest government official in the country. When we arrived at Sen. Arroyo’s office, we met with Ma’am Luli and had a short but promising interview. “She was very beautiful, cordial, sweet and charming. We immediately had a good rapport with her.“, as Emilie remembered.

After a computer examination, Emilie was asked to come back on the 17th of the month to start working. We were very excited and thankful to God that she was accepted. She started doing clerical work and computer encoding. Later, they became close with Ma’am Luli. There were many occasions where Ma’am Luli joined her during lunch breaks. She even learned manual alphabet and a few sign language. She will never forget all her fond memories with the Senator’s only daughter.

Working with then Sen. Arroyo was also exciting yet frightening. She described Mrs. Arroyo as a perfectionist and businesslike yet motherly in most of her actions. Everybody was constantly on their toes. She warned all her staff to always do things the right way and with negligible errors. But she also reminded them that they are doing it for the people in need and not only for themselves.

Emilie with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo
Emilie with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo

She had many anecdotes about having a senator as her boss. One time, Sen. Arroyo was angry that Emilie had many typing errors. She immediately called her attention and started speaking to her about her mistakes. Emilie was petrified. However, the senator forgot that Emilie was deaf. So Ma’am Luli went to her rescue. She reminded her mother that Emilie cannot hear her voice. Sen. Arroyo replied, “Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot.”, then she asked her daughter to explain to her the errors Emilie made and told her to be careful next time.

When Senator Arroyo ran for Vice President in 1998 and won overwhelmingly, she brought Emilie with her. She transferred to the new office in Roxas Blvd. There she met with Atty. Jose Miguel (Mike) Arroyo who was very appreciative with her performance as an employee. He observed that Emilie is a good role model for other workers. Because of her, VP Arroyo hired four more deaf graduates from MCCID. They are Antonina Patricio, Christine Rivero, Arvin Castuciano and Pilipino De Luna. Arvin is very close and became basketball buddies of Presidential Sons and now Congressmen Dato and Mikey Arroyo. He was often called to do sports activities and charity work especially in their home province of Pampanga. When Antonina and Pilipino got married, they chose VP Arroyo as their godmother. I interpreted in their civil wedding and also became one of their godfathers. So President Arroyo and I are technically related (mag-balae). hehehe

Emilie with Presidential Son and Congressman Dato Arroyo
Emilie with Presidential Son and Congressman Dato Arroyo

In 2001, when the then President Joseph Estrada was ousted by a People Power II Revolution, VP Arroyo was installed in the highest position of the land. Emilie was then transferred to Malacanang Palace and continues to work there. She is under the Correspondence Office. The other deaf staff were placed in various government offices within the palace.

Emilie, now 30, was not born with hearing impairment. She comes from a poor born-again Christian family from Batangas. At age 12, she suffered from high fever due to meningitis. In the hospital, she was bombarded with strong antibiotics to make her fever go down. The doctors were successful in restoring her health but at the expense of her hearing ability. Slowly she lost her sense of hearing until it became none. This devastated her and made her depressed for many years. However, she slowly recovered when the whole family transferred to Manila and enrolled at Philippine School for the Deaf. There she learned how to sign and soon afterwards, she regained her courage to live.

MCCID Students Tour Malacanang Palace (Emilie in Middle)
MCCID Students Tour Malacanang Palace (Emilie in Middle)

President Arroyo’s field of expertise is the economy. In 1987, she was appointed undersecretary of Department of Trade and Industry during President Corazon Aquino’s term. But probably due to Emilie, Mrs. Arroyo started to develop a soft spot for marginalized sectors especially women and the disabled. When she was asked to join then President Estrada’s cabinet in 1998, she chose to be the Secretary of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) instead of a more high profile position. During her term as president, she pushed for the amendment of the 1994 Magna Carta for the Disabled Persons which added privileges to the sector similar to senior citizens. Republic Act 9442 was signed into law last 2007. She extended the observance of Philippine Decade of Disabled Persons from 1991-2002 to 2003- 2012. She also fast tracked the Philippine ratification of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Through her executive order, she renamed the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP) to National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) and transferred it from under DSWD to the Office of the President in order to personally supervise it.

Persons with disabilities became close to the President’s heart. She often mentions the deaf in her many speeches. The recent one was during her speech celebrating the 35th founding anniversary of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. (House With No Steps) last February held at Presidential Palace. The president proudly said,

We have been encouraging businesses to hire disabled but qualified workers. I myself when I was vice-president, I took in a number of PWDs in my staff and when I became president, they moved with me to Malacanang. And we’re very happy of the good work that they do.

I’m not sure if Emilie is the first deaf person who ever worked with a Philippine President because we don’t have any previous records. But, I believe she is the only deaf person in history who made a lasting impact to any Philippine President. πŸ™‚

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