What is it about persons with disabilities (PWDs) that evoke ambivalent emotions from people? For one, these individuals certainly do not beg for pity; rather, they would want to be accepted by society and assimilated into the mainstream just like everyone else. However, even if the last thing they would ask for is pity, the very fact that somehow they seem to be different from us, already brings attention to themselves.
The plight of PWDs or, as some people are wont to call them, differently abled individuals or people who make a difference has never been more pronounced as it is today with the eventual passage of the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities. Already, they make up a large percentage of the voting population, thus, more attention is given to them today.
This week is, in fact, devoted for these people who, despite of or because of their disability, are considered as special, although they would be the first to counter that they do not have special needs. As AnalouSuan, executive director of the Great Physician Rehabilitation Foundation, Inc. (GPRehab) in Dumaguete says, “For purposes of being politically correct and to abide by how they are referred to in legislative documents, we call them persons with disabilities.”
But, for these individuals, it is not the disability that counts, it is the ability that does. As a State policy enshrined in Proclamation No. 1870, the week from July 17-23 is commemorated as the 34th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week. It aims to primarily stimulate public awareness on issues and problems of disability, thereby encouraging every citizen of the country to take active responsibility in the amelioration of the economic and social conditions of PWDs in society. This year’s theme, “Mainstreaming PWD in Economic Development,” is extremely appropriate as it underscores the role of PWDs in helping uplift the economic conditions of the country, short of saying that all Filipinos alike have a stake towards helping the country reach its goals and targets.
The celebration culminates on Monday, July 23, which happens to be the birth date of ApolinarioMabini, dubbed as the Sublime Paralytic, whose bravery and heroic acts during the Philippine Revolution of 1896 has greatly influenced his compatriots in fighting against the tyrants who ruled the Philippines, despite his disability. Considered as an outstanding icon of PWDs, they draw strength and courage from the example set by ApolinarioMabini, thus, this remembrance.
Various groups working for and with PWDs in Negros Oriental, specifically the GPRehab, Dumaguete City Handicapped Association (DUCHA), and the Ten Outstanding Persons with Disabilities in Negros Oriental Alumni Community, have outlined activities geared towards making the week-long celebration a meaningful activity not only for the PWDs, but for the entire community with whom the PWDs interact. Among these activities are: panel discussion at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 18 at Bethel Guest House; livelihood training on cooking and massage on July 18-19 by the Technology and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) at the GPRehab Center; Kapihansa PIA on July 18 at the Dumaguete City Women’s Center; jail visitation at 3 p.m. on July 18; aerobics for disability at the Valencia Ballfield on July 18-23; quiz bowl, extemporaneous speaking, and poster making contests for elementary and high school students on July 20; recollection and fun day on July 21; “Tayadasa Plaza” at 5 p.m. on July 22 at the Quezon Park; wreath laying for ApolinarioMabini on July 23 at the Quezon Park; “PaugnatsaKusogAlangsa PWD” basketball and volleyball competition at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 23 at Robinsons; and, a congress for children with disabilities on July 23 at the Dumaguete City Women’s Center.