My Journey Towards Becoming a Stronger Person with the Disability Community

By Della Leonor

In September 2017, I was re-elected as President of the Roxas City Federation of Persons with Disabilities through secret balloting. My re-election signaled for me the start of more in-depth planning at the local, regional and national settings. Here in Roxas City, Philippines, we are pushing for a City Council for Disability Affairs with the goal towards the realization of a more resilient, inclusive Persons with Disabilities Council to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. The Council would consist of the City Mayor as Chairman, and in close partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government, City Social Welfare and Development, City Planning, City Budget, City Health, and other key agencies that can support persons with disabilities in our city, our province and our region.

On December 4, 2017, we celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities through a motorcade program at Robinsons Mall. The event began with my Advocacy Speech and ended with a Commitment Signing Ceremony. I also attended the Persons with Disabilities Summit in Iloilo City, Philippines on the same day to push for the following: Social Pensions for persons with disabilities; Mandatory Philippine Health Insurance and full implementation of REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10070 (AN ACT ESTABLISHING AN INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISM TO ENSURE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PROGRAMS AND SERVICES FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN EVERY PROVINCE, CITY AND MUNICIPALITY, AMENDING REPUBLIC ACT NO. 7277 OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE “MAGNA CARTA FOR DISABLED PERSONS,” AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES).

One month before in November 2017, I was also nominated for the Cameleon Heroes Award for Children and attended a Profiling Seminar in order to enhance data collection on persons with disabilities in all areas of my region.

These are some of my most recent advocacy efforts with the disability community in the Philippines, which I have long been an active member of. It will be a long journey for me, but I hope we will be able to fully realize the rights of persons with disabilities here in my country one day, beginning with local efforts towards greater implementation.

The opinions expressed on this blog by authors and those commenting are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of IDPP, our sponsors or staff. IDPP is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by the bloggers. Any reproduction of this article must be credited to author and linked to the original. 


NDPR Week in Las Pinas, Philippines

by Eloisa "Louie" Zepeda-Teng

Time flies so fast. The last time my city, Las Pinas, located south of Manila in the Philippines, hosted the National Disability Prenvention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) week was almost seven years ago. I got a chance to see it being hosted in my city again this year in the third week of July.

The NDPR week is funded by the national and local governments and organized by a rotating government agency with the support of local disability federations. I remember helping the formation and legalization of the Las Pinas federation and requesting to be the one to do the city dialogue with the Local Chief Executive to organize the first NDPR week. I sat in a chair in front of the Mayor's door, and I remember telling the secretary that I wont leave until I talk to him. I explained, to the officials of my city, the need to implement the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and the applicable local laws. The rest, as they say, is history. My disability federation currently serves 21 districts, and is the first federation to produce a data base of all its members in the city in the country.

NDPR week started this year on July 15, 6am, in a local multi purpose area in my district. Unlike last time, this time I brought my husband, who serves as my guide, and my 4-year-old daughter with me. The activity for the day was a Sports Fest for children with disabilities. There were allotted spaces for wheelchair racing, blind and deaf tandem running, and some disc thowing games. The program was facilitated by the district officials and the President of the Disability Federation. I remember my daughter asking why the kids were sitting on chairs with wheels. I know that it will take a while for her to understand the disability community but I want to make sure to expose her to the community through events such as these where persons with disabilities were enjoying their time and had smiles on their faces. She even asked me if I could participate in the race as a blind person with a sighted partner. At a young age, she knew that her mom could not see, and understood that I needed reasonable accommodation, if I chose to run as well. It was very comforting to know that she sees these connections. 

On July 18, Robinson's Place, a mall nearby, held an Art Competition that was judged by an officer from the Department of Education. There was representation from all the Federation districts and participants could choose to participate in a number of competitions: the drawing and coloring competition where participants were asked to symbolize their disability; the flower arrangement competition; and a competition to propose ideas for recycling which is a part of the city's mission of cleanliness. Finally, there was a photo exhibition of pictures of the event.  

My husband, an architect like me, described the contestant' creations. He mentioned that the participants were mostly adults with autism and developmental disabilities and that their works were mostly abstract. I could imagine that their creation would need deeper analysis than a usual work of art. Before the announcement of the winners, each of the participants were given a couple of minutes to explain their work. Most of them saw their work as a symbol of the importance of the disability federation, that it is a working and functioning group. One even said that the federation is something that they can say they own. They might have no jobs and not many friends who understand them, but they have this federation.

The disability federation might have humble goals, but I know that it is enough to be respected by the rest of the community. These activities will have to be conducted every year, until we really do see some change.

Louie Zepeda-Teng is a Program Associate at the Institute of Disability and Public Policy and is based in the Philippines.

The opinions expressed on this blog by authors and those commenting are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of IDPP, our sponsors or staff. IDPP is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by the bloggers. Any reproduction of this article must be credited to author and linked to the original. 


Attending COSP-10 as a Student Rapporteur

by Safiya Zenobia Mann

From the 13th to the 15th of June 2017, the 10th annual Conference of States Party to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  I flew into New York City from the UK two days before the Monday introduction to the other student rapporteurs; volunteering responsibilities training at the UN; and the June 12 Civil Society Forum meetings. 

Despite how quickly I had to adjust and get ready for the week ahead, the volunteer training was enjoyable and very informative. In addition to the instructions given by the volunteer coordinator, the Director of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Division for Social Policy and Development (DESA/DSPD), Ms. Daniela Bas, came to speak with us. It was great to see in real time how UN staff collaborate with one another and brainstorm with students about potential ways that educational programs, the next COSP, and the “UN family” (the UN and affiliated international organizations) can make their platforms more inclusive. 

I had not been at the UN for three years; so it was wonderful to be there especially to participate in a conference on a very pertinent issue that is globally, personally and academically relevant! For my Master's dissertation, I am focusing on the topic of how disability is approached within international development. So I was excited that outside of the side events run by IDPP, there were several other side events on a broader range of topics, issues, developments and technology than I could have anticipated. They were all hosted by different organizations and chaired by panelists who were experts, persons with disabilities, business or international organization representatives.

An event I found particularly interesting was IDPP's "Monitoring and Evaluation of CRPD and SDG implementation using Big Data Analytics and Text Mining" side event. The abundant data being created through the extensive usage of Internet platforms is a huge resource for data analysts to create user tailored (app) content that focuses on accessibility. For example, the “AXSMap” app where other users can tell you which restaurants or public places are wheelchair accessible using crowdsourcing. The creator of AXSMap, Jason DaSilva likened it to TripAdvisor for persons with physical disabilities. I also found the "Deinstitutionalization" side event hosted by YAI interesting.  New York and Tri-state area disability service organization coordinators were in attendance as well as other professionals dealing with the subject of transitioning people with intellectual disabilities out of institutionalized settings. It was very informative, and heartening to hear what the next steps might be for ending the isolating reality of institutionalization.

Overall, it was wonderful to be able to attend the conference, hear about the newest innovations and developments in outlook, programs, and services for persons with disabilities across all walks of life and geographic locations. It was great to see that so much can get done when knowledge exchange is facilitated! 

I was also pleased that as a student rapporteur, you were able to genuinely be a participant. If you were not helping that particular session or collaborating with another student with a session’s summary notes you were able to go to side event sessions of your choice, ask questions, meet leaders in the field face to face and hear about the latest research in the area of disability, which was invaluable. 

Thanks very much to IDPP, Maya Aguilar and Dr. Cogburn for facilitating such a great experience.

Safiya Mann is a Research Associate at IDPP and a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh. She attended COSP-10 as an IDPP student rapporteur. 

The opinions expressed on this blog by authors and those commenting are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of IDPP, our sponsors or staff. IDPP is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information provided by the bloggers. Any reproduction of this article must be credited to author and linked to the original.