Autism Society Philippines Laguna Chapter was awarded as the Most Outstanding Civil Society Organization during Los Baños' commemoration of its 400th year as a town last 17 September 2015 at the covered court located inside the old municipal compound in Barangay Baybayin. The theme “Pagkilala sa Kasaysayan, Pagpupugay sa Kasalukuyan, Pagtanaw sa Kinabukasan” reflected the mood of the quadricentennial celebration. The commemoration of the town's founding anniversary was part of the annual Bañamos Festival, first held in the year 2001 and usually held on the third week of September.
A civic parade was held from Olivarez Plaza to Paciano Rizal Park in the same barangay, which started at 6 in the morning and ended at 9 in the morning. It was followed by the quadricentennial program, which was started by the entrance of colors by selected Philippine National Police- Los Baños. It was followed by a doxology lead by the Church Among the Palm and Los Baños Hymn was sung by Tunog Accapella Singing Ambassadors. Hon. Mayor Caesar Perez gave the welcoming remarks preceeded by an inspirational message by Mark T. Lapid, Chief Operating Officer of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority. Congressman Joaquin Chipeco, Jr. and Vice Governor Karen Agapay also gave their messages during the celebration.
ASP Laguna Chapter, along with other organizations, institutions, companies and people from Los Baños, were awarded. In between the awarding ceremonies, those present during the quadricentennial program were entertained by Los Baños resident and The Voice of the Philippines Season 2 contestant Mackie Cao.
ASP Laguna Chapter President Catherine Lopez, along with ASP National President Mona Veluz, received the Most Outstanding Civil Society Organization award on behalf of the organization. According to the citation, the chapter was awarded due to its “wholehearted and unwavering dedication to its community service, for their commendable invaluable and selfless assistance resulting to the establishment of the Los Baños Community Center, Therapy Intervention and Support Services [(LBCC-TISS)] through fund sourcing schemes which immensely contributed to the welfare of the less privileged, particularly the rehabilitation of children with special needs and their families”. LBCC-TISS celebrated its first year anniversary on the same day.
About the author: Ian Ferdinand Lopez is a scholar of the provincial government of Laguna, studying BA Sociology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Diagnosed with autism when he was three years old, he benefitted from the care of loving parents and early intervention professionals; and was successfully mainstreamed from pre-school up to high school. His started his advocacy as part of the Autism Resource Center and represented the PWD sector in the Philippine National Children’s Conference, the PWD Empowerment Seminar, the ASEAN Children’s Forum and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (AMMSWD).