The Autism Society Philippines (ASP) is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to the well-being of persons on the autism spectrum disorder. We envision a society where Filipinos on the spectrum become the best of their potentials -- self-reliant, independent, productive, socially-accepted citizens of an Autism-OK Philippines.

23 April 2014

PWD Convention: PWeDe Nating Gawin

The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), in partnership with Miriam College and the United States Embassy Manila, held a conference on enriching education and empowerment for persons with disabilities (PWD) on 22 February 2014 at the Marian Auditorium of Miriam College, Quezon City.

Titled “PWeDe Natin Gawin!,” the conference gathered together a diversity of people from the education, industry, and disability sectors in a forum that aimed to discuss best practices and experiences in education, poverty reduction, employment, accessibility, and inclusion for PWD.

During PWeDe Nating Gawin

The conference was graced by resource speakers from both the public and private sectors. Among them was Dr. Cecilio Pedro, Lamoiyan Corporation President and CEO, who discussed the value and responsibilities of PWD in the workplace and emphasized the importance of skills-based training. Dr. Wendy Ashby, a professor from the US who has been sent on various missions, discussed the importance of connecting with different cultures, particularly the PWD culture, and understanding the world from their perspectives.

Also present to discuss their experiences and insights were members and stakeholders of the disability sector, namely: US Ambassador Philip Goldberg; NCDA Executive Director Carmen Zubiaga; Atty. Jesusa Magbanua of the Office of the Solicitor General; Dr. Rosario Lapus and Dr. Ronaldo Motilla, President and Wellness Center Head of Miriam College, respectively; Dianne Salazar of the Link Center for the Deaf; and Fiel John Meria and Susan Pe of the AD/HD Society of the Philippines; among others.

During one of the fora at the conference, yours truly had the opportunity to ask questions to the speakers. I directed at John Meria, himself an AD/HD self-advocate and a brother to a teenager on the autism spectrum, an issue I believe is facing the developmental disability sector: amid the proliferation of self-advocates with physical disabilities, there are only a handful of self-advocates with developmental disabilities.

John discussed that there is indeed a very small but growing population of individuals like ourselves, and that there is a big opportunity for our respective organizations to cultivate and develop self-advocates. After the conference, John and I, together with another AD/HD self-advocate Nikki Pe, discussed a possibility of a self-advocates’ alliance. At the time of writing, we have been joining hands and gathering our fellows in the aim of setting the direction of our advocacy.

It was a spark of a new hope for autism and other developmental disabilities that despite the apparent negative perceptions of our respective conditions, there is a great outlook in the trend of individuals with developmental disabilities to be able to speak out and advocate for ourselves, all toward acceptance. This conference has proven its title correct: Yes, we can. PWeDe Nating Gawin!

This article is a contribution of Gerard Joseph Atienza, Secretary of ASP Bacoor Chapter and an adult with autism.


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