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GOOD PRACTICES IN DISABILITY INCLUSION: A Collection of Experiences from People with Disabilities, Practitioners in Disability Inclusion, and Allies of the Sector in the Philippines

Copyright Š 2017 Center for Disaster Preparedness All rights reserved. Any part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, even without permission of the publisher as long as it will be properly cited. Researchers: Kria Normaine Q. Jopson, Santina Joy B. Lora, Jesusa Grace J. Molina, Gabriella G. Pontejos, and Lakan Umali Design and Layout: Michael Vincent Dc. Mercado For more information please contact inquire@cdp.org.ph.

GOOD PRACTICES IN DISABILITY INCLUSION: A Collection of Experiences from People with Disabilities, Practitioners in Disability Inclusion, and Allies of the Sector in the Philippines

Contents Acronyms 6 Foreword 9 Overview 12 Introduction 12 The Organizations


Methodology 13 Participants 13 Map of Research Sites


CBM International: Fostering a Culture of Partnership and Commitment 16 CBM’s Strength in Building and Supporting Partnerships 16 The Partner Assessment Toolkit 16 Capacity Development for Partner Organizations 16 Partnership as a Strategy for Sustainability 17 The Rise of the Emergency Response Unit in the Philippines 18 Integrating Inclusion: Excerpts from the Everyday Responsibilities of Practitioners


Philippine Coordinating Center for Inclusive Development, Inc.: At the Forefront of Contributing to the Building of Inclusive Philippine Communities 23 Coordination and Partnership 23 Capacitating for Inclusion 24 Promoting and Supporting DIDRR Partnership 24 The Municipality of Cervantes has Planted the Seeds for Development: “I can only say that I am included if you are included” 25 KASAMAKA CBR: Empowering Communities through Community-Based Mechanisms 28 DPO-to-DPO Approach 28 Mother to Mother Approach 29 A Vision of a Bright Future for Persons with Disabilities: Dennis Garcia’s Leadership Journey


Loving Presence Foundation, Inc.: Providing Platforms for Capacity Building and Partnerships to Localize the Delivery of Services for Persons with Disabilities 34 Community Organizing and Empowerment as Steps Toward Sustainability 34 Empowering local actors through BISPAI 34 Impacts on the Lives of People with Disabilities in Bislig 35 Working together across boundaries and scales 35 Collaborating with village authorities to advance disability inclusion 35 Working in synergy with the City Government of Bislig 36 Localizing services towards ownership and sustainability 37 Provision of special education (SPED) scholarship 37 Capacity building of communities and local governments through CBR 38 Treading the path towards disability inclusion through organizing and institutionalization: An inspiring story of a person with disability working in unison with the local government 40 Sorsogon Integrated Health Services Foundation, Inc.: Mainstreaming Disability Inclusion in Community and Government Processes through the CBR Program 42 Empowering children with cerebral palsy; enlightening their carers 42

The Plight of Parents with Children with Disabilities 43 Enabling children 43 Enlightening carers 43 Empowering families 44 Strengthening communities and government towards localization and sustainability 44 Capacitating CBR volunteers as frontliners in disability inclusion 44 Making services and funding available for persons with disabilities 45 A Mother’s Efforts to Ensure the Well-being of her Child 45 Bethsaida CBR Services for the Disabled Inc.: Providing Education, Rehabilitation and Support to Persons with Disabilities in Quezon Province 50 Community-based Rehabilitation Programs 50 Special Education Program (SPED) 50 Forging Forward 52 Hero Teachers: The Story of Mamerto and Psyde, Teachers of Children and Youth with Hearing Impairments who Devoted their Lives for their Students 53 Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV): Digital Inclusion: Bridging the Digital Divide 55 ATRIEV’s Organizational Journey: Forging Partnerships for Success 55 Pioneering adaptive technology for persons with vision impairment 57 The Challenges of a Training Institute for Persons with Vision Impairment 59 Sustainability through Media Visibility 57 Tony and His Vision: Empowering Persons with Vision Impairment in Times of Disaster 60 Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc.: Helping Persons with Disabilities Become More Resilient through Organizing, Strengthening and Capacitating Persons with Disability Organizations and Promoting DIDRRM 62 Barangay Sto. Domingo and San Juan, Cainta, Rizal 62 Organizing Persons with Disabilities through DPOs 63 Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Activities 64 Accessibility and Inclusivity at Reach: The Story of Wendell Candelaria of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. 65 Center for Disaster Preparedness: Integrating Disability Inclusion in Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management 68 Initiatives to embrace Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DIDRRM) 66 Development of disability-inclusive manuals 66 DIDRRM in action 69 Internal capacity building for disability inclusion 70 Capacity Building Efforts for DPOs 71 DI CBDRRM Resulting in Awareness, Inclusion, and Empowerment 71 Committing Oneself to Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DIDRRM): A Practitioner’s Story 73 Forging Ahead 74 Moving Forward Together References 76




Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program




Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired


Adaptive Technology Training Resource and Access Center


Bislig City Committee for the Welfare of Special Persons


Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee


Basic Instructor’s Guide


Bislig City Special Persons Association, Inc.


Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management


Community-Based Inclusive Development


Formerly Christoffel Blindenmission or Christian Blind Mission; now known as CBM International


Community-Based Rehabilitation and Coordination Office


Community Based Rehabilitation


Center for Disaster Preparedness


Civil Society Organization


City Social Welfare and Development Office


Department of Education


Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management


Disabled People’s Organization


Disaster Risk Reduction


Disaster Risk Reduction and Management


Department of Social Welfare and Development


Emergency Response Unit


Early Warning System


Food and Agriculture Organization



Family Development Session


Handicap International


Inclusive Community- Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management


International Non-Government Organization


Local Government Unit


Loving Presence Foundation, Inc.


Municipal Health Office


Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office


National Council on Disability Affairs


National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council


Non-governmental Organization


Office of Civil Defense


Overbrook/Nippon Network on Educational Technology


Office of Persons with Disabilities Affairs


Philippine Coordinating Center for Inclusive Development


Philippine Center for Water Sanitation


Persons with Disability Affairs Office


Parent Mobilization Action Group

RA 10121

Republic Act 10121


Regional Social Welfare and Development Office


Samahan ng may Kapansanan ng Bulusan


Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Diwa ng mga Gubatenong May Kapansanan, Inc.


Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office


Sorsogon Integrated Health Services Foundation, Inc.


Samahan ng Mga may Anak na may Kapansanan





Sorsogon Medical Mission Group Hospital and Health Services Cooperative


Special education


Systems Technology Institute


Technical Education and Skills Development Authority


Training of Trainers


Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc.


United Nations


United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Water, Sanitation and Hygiene



n the recently concluded Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Cancun, Mexico, recognized by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) as the global level main forum for strategic advice, coordination, partnership development and the progress review of implementation of international instruments on disaster risk reduction, Carlos Kaiser words on inclusion is worth reflecting and could serve as guide in transforming words into action: “That’s what we call to change the world. Beautiful words are not going to change it. Actions do. The things that we say must be followed up by our actions”. Carlos Kaiser, GNDR Member, ONG Inclusiva, Chile An event on “Inclusive and People Centered Disaster Risk Reduction” Actions create a lot of difference in working for disability inclusion and among disabled people’s organizations (DPOs). The vision is for persons with disability to be helping to shape and influence the course of inclusive disaster risk reduction and development as they demonstrate their empowerment and development towards achieving resilience. Today, the work among persons with disability and at-risk population within the frame of all of society and inclusivity is surely one of the most important and relevant efforts and initiatives at this critical juncture. At the same time, it is also one of the many great challenges that all development practitioners and experts are facing today. ‘Disabled persons are those suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being’.1 They include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’.2 Estimates revealed that there are at least 15.5 million people living with disability in the country today. They are in general part of the at-risk section of the population who have less opportunity for education, are most likely unemployed, cannot participate in social functions, have no information and low access to health services. They are denied of their rights. The women and girls in particular with disability become even more disadvantaged because of combined discrimination based on disability and gender. 1 2

Magna Carta for Persons with Disability UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

CBM’s work on disability inclusion together with its partners is through community based rehabilitation (CBR) program and projects that involve people with disabilities, their families and communities. As a costeffective strategy, the existing community services are utilized and promote inclusion to reach out to persons with disabilities in their communities. As a result, people with disabilities realize their rights and responsibilities and provided with the opportunity to lead their lives with dignity and fulfillment. Considering the improvement in the lives of persons with disabilities, CBR goes beyond the individual. The program works in an organized and systematic manner to eliminate society’s barriers and negative attitudes to inclusive development which include access to all services and opportunities such as health services, education, poverty alleviation and livelihood programs, social justice, cultural and religious events, and social relationships. As has been the stark observations in many cases of disasters, the event impacts the population disproportionately, with at-risk population living in condition of marginality suffering the most from such disastrous events. People with disabilities are ‘the first to be forgotten, and the last to be remembered’3 even from among the most marginalized groups. The invisibility of persons with disabilities not only in disaster risk reduction processes but in development practice as well, has resulted in their further exclusion that contributes to putting them at higher risk in disasters. In Haiyan post disaster settings, the intersectionality of gender and disability has increased the vulnerability of women and girls with disability to physical and sexual abuse including trafficking. Collaborative initiatives among civil society organizations, government agencies and local governments and disability people’s organizations need to be forged and promoted for disability inclusion in national and local disaster risk reduction and management programs and policies at national and local levels. Persons with disabilities have the capacities to help develop the resilience of their respective communities, therefore, can very well contribute to make disaster risk reduction and management more effective and inclusive. This documentation of good practices of CBM and its partners serves as an input and contribution of CBM to the promotion of disability inclusion in development and in disaster risk reduction and management in the Philippine context. It is a step forward towards promoting 3 Statement of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Disability Inclusion in the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Beyond, 2014



and boosting the work among persons with disability and disabled people’s organizations and encouraging multistakeholders to collaborate and work with them. The documentation is a collection of good practices of CBM and its eight partner-organizations. All the nine organizations in total share in narratives how their organizations have started, developed, and progressed in the work on disability inclusion. It is inspiring to see changes in the organizations, among the people in the organizations and their partner DPOs, including the families and communities where they are working. The work of the nine organizations has transformed them to assume varying roles which include enabling, facilitating, training, mobilizing, advocating and promoting from among persons with disability and with duty bearers in order to make an impact in the lives of persons with disability. The documentation unveils common threads that bind the organizations in a common path to development which include: organizational development and enhancement; the value of building partnerships; building the resilience and empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities; and the continuing challenges of sustainability. It is heartwarming to see the following important areas in the documentation: a. The utilization of partnership as a strategy for sustainability b. How capacitating partners contributed to empowering them towards building resilience c. The DPO to DPO approach and the Mother to Mother Approach d. How community organizing achieved the empowerment of local actors towards sustainability e. The localization of services that contributed to ownership and sustainability f. The enlightenment of carers and the empowerment of families g. The strengthening of communities and government towards localization and sustainability h. How to make services and funding available for persons with disabilities i.

The pioneering efforts of adaptive technology for persons with vision impairment


Disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management activities

The journey of the different organizations in working for disability inclusion in DRR and development has reaped bountiful harvests through the stories of triumphs of persons with disability, the people working for them either the carers or development workers and practitioners. Such inspiring stories prompts us to see the light of day; the beauty of life; the wonders of relationships and partnerships; the significance of investing in capacity development; the travails of working together and the empowerment and resilience achieved by individuals, families and communities. The mainstreaming of disability inclusion in the local government agenda through the CBR Program ensures that persons with disability are prioritized in the budgeting processes of barangay and municipal government. It is important to have an annual budget dedicated and allocated for the needs of persons with disabilities that can come from a defined percentage of the internal revenue allotment of local government units. Moreover, the CBR program contributes to strengthening the disabled people’s organizations as the local government plays an active role in making and keeping these organizations active and functional at the local level for their wellbeing and empowerment. This contributes to sustainability including the efforts at investing in community participation and ownership of programs.



This documentation of good practices is an attempt to document CBM and its partners’ experience and practice at the local level in order to share insights, reflection, and lessons learned to fellow disaster risk reduction and development practitioners for inspiration and mirroring of their very own experiences and practice. In the same manner, more practitioners and organizations are encouraged to do the same for purposes of advocacy and raising awareness on the relevance of pursuing the rights of persons with disability and contribute to providing them an enabling environment to develop and become empowered. This documentation would not be at all possible without the inputs and contributions of CBM as one of the longstanding organizations in disability inclusion. The cooperation of their partners in this collaborative endeavor made all the difference as they humbly shared what they have been doing to develop and empower persons with disability and their organizations that brought forth the sensitization of families and communities to inclusion, partnerships and community resilience building. The documentation is a must reading for trainers and disaster risk reduction and development practitioners for awakening and enlightenment on disability inclusion. CDP encourages everyone to share the stories contained in this documentation to make known to the general public that persons with disability are first and foremost human beings; that they have inherent human rights and have the capacity to chart their own course of development. Journeying and partnering with them contributes to promoting human dignity, resilience and peace in this world in this most trying and critical times. Finally, they have an important role to play and can contribute to their community, society and nation towards achieving resilience, development and a more sustainable future.

Loreine B. Dela Cruz Executive Director Center for Disaster Preparedness



Overview Introduction


he field of disability-inclusion is a continuously growing area of development in the Philippines, with local actors striving to fully realize the rights of persons with disabilities through inclusive and empowering programs and projects. This publication aims to surface and highlight these initiatives through a collection of narratives and cases about the good practices of CBM International and some of its partner organizations in the Philippines. Good practice, in the context of this manuscript, is broadly defined as, “…Not only a practice that is good but a practice that has been proven to work well and produce good results, and is therefore recommended as a model. It is a successful experience, which has been tested and validated, in the broad sense, which has been repeated and deserves to be shared so that a greater number of people can adopt it”4. Similarly, it is “a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven reliably to lead to a desired result”5. Good practices “distil innovative and validated approaches”6 which can be pertain to “the implementation of a program, a project, a policy, a legislation, a strategy, an activity, a manual, and others”7. It is critical that these initiatives are documented and shared in order for organizations to learn from concrete experiences which they can replicate, or adopt into more effective interventions. Likewise, good practices also highlight lessons learned during the implementation— what interventions or steps may not have worked and why—which can serve as points for moving forward. The following criteria adopted from the UN FAO Good 4 UN FAO. (2016). Good practices template. Retrieved from http:// www.fao.org/3/a-as547e.pdf 5 WHO Regional Office in Africa. Guide for Documenting and Sharing Best Practices in Health Programmes. Retrieved from http:// www.afro.who.int/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=1981 6 UNICEF. (2011). Evaluation and good practices. Retrieved from UNICEF: Unite for Children: http://www.unicef.org/evaluation/index_goodpractices.html 7 Serrat, O. (2008). Identifying and sharing good practices. Retrieved from https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/27598/identifying-sharing-good-practices.pdf

Practices Template (2016)8 were used to guide the selection of good practices: Effective and successful: A “good practice” has proven its strategic relevance as the most effective way in achieving wa specific objective; it has been successfully adopted and has had a positive impact on individuals and/or communities. Environmentally, economically and socially sustainable: A “good practice” meets current needs, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poorest, without compromising the ability to address future needs. Gender sensitive: A description of the practice must show how actors, men and women, involved in the process, were able to improve their livelihoods. Technically feasible: Technical feasibility is the basis of a “good practice”. It is easy to learn and to implement. Inherently participatory: Participatory approaches are essential as they support a joint sense of ownership of decisions and actions. Replicable and adaptable: A “good practice” should have the potential for replication and should therefore be adaptable to similar objectives in varying situations. Technically feasible: Technical feasibility is the basis of a “good practice”. It is easy to learn and to implement. Inherently participatory: Participatory approaches are essential as they support a joint sense of ownership of decisions and actions. Replicable and adaptable: A “good practice” should have the potential for replication and should therefore be adaptable to similar objectives in varying situations. Reducing disaster/crisis risks, if applicable: A “good practice” contributes to disaster/crisis risks reduction for resilience.

Infused into the narratives of the good practices are case stories which reflect the concrete experiences of people in the field of disability inclusion. Entitled “Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion”, these case stories 8 UN FAO. (2016). Good practices template. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/a-as547e.pdf



demonstrate the impacts of the efforts of organizations towards advancing the rights of persons with disability.

aspects, and recommendations.

The Organizations

More in-depth interviews were conducted with persons who have had unique experiences in the field and their stories are featured in boxed sections entitled, “Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion”.

This publication showcases the good practices of 9 organizations: CBM International and eight (8) of its strategic partners:


QQ Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) QQ Bethsaida CBR Services for the Disabled, Inc.

QQ Staff from the covered organizations (i.e. managers; heads, implementers, and coordinators of programs and projects; administrative staff)

QQ Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) QQ KASAMAKA CBR QQ Loving Presence Foundation, Inc. (LPFI) QQ Philippine Coordinating Development (PCCID)


A total of 155 stakeholders, 69 male and 86 female, took part in the documentation of good practices. The participants are comprised of:



QQ Sorsogon Integrated Health Services Foundation, Inc. (SIHSFI) QQ Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. (TWHI).

Methodology This documentation utilized qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. Data gathering activities were carried out over a 10-month duration, from September 2016 to June 2017. Initial data collection activities involved desk reviews covering documents, reports, and other publications pertaining to the covered organizations. These were followed by field visits which entailed the conduct of participatory methodologies, specifically key informant interviews and focus group discussions with key stakeholders knowledgeable about the covered organizations’ good practices. In these activities, the stakeholders were asked to identify the organizations’ good practices, the contexts of these, details about the implementation, the impact and concrete results resulting from the good practices, success factors, challenges, lessons learnt, sustainability and replicability

QQ Officials from local government units (i.e. local chief executives; members of community councils; staff from city and municipal social welfare and development offices; staff of persons with disability affairs offices; focal people for persons with disabilities; staff from provincial, city, and municipal disaster risk reduction and management offices) QQ Members of various organizations (i.e. civil society organizations, peoples’ organizations, persons with disability organizations, homeowners organizations, parents’ organizations) QQ Community members belonging to different sectors (i.e. women, men, youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, parents, teachers, students, fisherfolk)



Research Sites The participants were interviewed from various areas in the country, based on the offices of the covered organizations as well as the latter’s partner communities.




CBM International


Philippine Coordinating Center for Inclusive Development (PCCID)




Loving Presence Foundation Inc (LPFI)

Agusan Del Norte Surigao Del Sur

Sorsogon Integrated Health Services Foundation Inc. (SIHSFI)


Number of Participants Male











Butuan City



Cabadbaran City



Bislig City





















2 5

Sorsogon City


Quezon Province




Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV)


Quezon City



Tahanang Walang Hagdanan Inc (TWHI)





Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP)


Quezon City

Eastern Samar


Bethsaida CBR Services for the Disabled Inc.


4 2 69





CBM International: Fostering a Culture of Partnership and Commitment


BM is an international organization that is committed to its mission of empowering people with disabilities and improving their quality of life. CBM is one of the oldest and most established in its field and has grown exponentially from its early beginnings at the hands of Pastor Ernst Jakob Christoffel in 1908. Though originally focused on children with blindness, CBM has expanded its service to include interventions for people with all types of disabilities. CBM International is currently implementing projects in sixty-three (63) countries across the globe. In Asia South East Region, the organization established its base in the Philippines in 1993 and has provided a wide spectrum of health services, education programs, and livelihood interventions for and with Filipinos with disability. CBM applies the Community Based Inclusive Development approach to its programmes thus reaching out to people in need in the communities where they live. CBM together with its strategic partners composed of local agencies and institutions, advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities in the framework of the UN Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and works towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

CBM’s Strength in Building and Supporting Partnerships The organization considers its relationship with its partners as one of its best practices. CBM currently has around 25 partner agencies composed of civil society organizations, religious groups, cooperatives, and local government units. These partners are usually local-based institutions or organizations in the Philippines. CBM supports financially and with technical expertise programmes that cater to the people with disabilities in an area while the local partner takes up the role of implementer. Through this partnership, specific interventions—such as health services, community-based inclusive development (CBID, formerly community-based rehabilitation), and education and livelihood assistance—reach the intended beneficiaries and, ultimately, make an impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

The Partner Assessment Toolkit CBM considers its partnerships as the most effective approach in empowering people with disabilities and their communities. The organization invests a significant amount of resources in the form of funding and technical support into the operations of their local partners. In order to ensure that these partners have the capacity to implement their programs, CBM has developed a strict screening process when assessing other organizations. According to Suzette Yao—head of finance, administrative, and HR operations—the partner assessment toolkit crafted by CBM is used for screening new partners as well as evaluating the capabilities of existing partner organizations in the implementation of new projects or activities. The toolkit is primarily a checklist that assesses all aspects of an organization. This checklist looks into an organization’s governance and leadership, systems and processes, validity, compliance with requirements for CBM, and compliance with the law. Other factors, such as the geographical location of an organization, financial and human resource, and principles in terms of disability inclusion, are also carefully considered.

Capacity Development for Partner Organizations Aside from identifying new partners, the toolkit is valuable for pinpointing the gaps and needs of existing partners that CBM can address through appropriate capacitybuilding activities or funding. CBM’s position as donor and international NGO gives it the opportunity to support its partners not only through the financial backing of projects but through capacity and organizational development. “Addressing the needs of the partners can be challenging,” said Syed Muhammad Ali Shah, Emergency Response Unit (ERU) Programme Manager for CBM. One example is the predicament of small-scale organizations in far-flung areas. Some of these organizations do not have the necessary equipment—such as computers, internet connection, and printers—that are vital in the implementation and


management of a project. In other cases, some longtime partners of CBM need additional training in order to be qualified to implement certain projects. Ali cited that in these cases, CBM would tap own technical experts or other agencies to conduct the appropriate capacity-building activities for their partners. CBM has developed other forms of support for their partners. Rainer Guetler, Regional Director of CBM, cited the establishment of field teams as one of CBM’s good practices in maintaining its relationship with partners. CBM deploys field staff that can provide technical support to partners in project areas. This practice was developed during the implementation of the ERU and, because of its success, was emulated into the regular programing of the organization. Through the establishment of field teams, CBM can work more closely with its partners and more effectively support project implementation and monitoring and evaluation of project activities. These practices of evaluating and capacitating partners ensure that local organizations will be better equipped in handling the programs and providing the services needed in project areas. In this manner, partners will be able to provide relevant and appropriate services to people with disabilities and their families.

Partnership as a Strategy for Sustainability “Capacitating partner organizations will ensure that the partners will be able to continue implementing programs in the community even after the engagement with CBM has ended,” states Erly Ocasiones, Asia South East Programme Manager for CBM. The organization’s unique approach to partnerships sets it apart from other INGOs in the field of development. Unlike other organizations, CBM reaches its beneficiaries on the ground indirectly via its partners. According to Ali Shah, this strategy empowers local organizations and communities and discourages the dependency of communities on aid and short-term relief, which is not viable in the long term considering the constantly shifting foreign aid policies and priorities.


Although CBM has little direct contact with beneficiaries, it meticulously oversees the implementation of programs through monitoring activities and reports from the field. These reports are financial and project documentation of activities and the extent of impact they have on the communities. In the end, the successful relationship between CBM and its partners boils down to respect and similar beliefs. Erly points out that the partner organizations are autonomous and have their own systems and beliefs. However, CBM has learned to respect these differences, address the necessary gaps, and trust that the partners possess the same commitment and dedication for the empowerment of people with disabilities as CBM does. To this day, CBM continues to link with local organizations and forge partnerships with agencies that work with the sector through different initiatives. The following narratives encapsulate the breakthroughs that CBM and its partners on the frontline have achieved for—and with— people with disabilities. Suzette Yao adds, “[We work with] partners that share the same values and mission as CBM. This is the key to everything the organization is doing.”

The Rise of the Emergency Response Unit in the Philippines


n 2013, Supertyphoon Haiyan struck, changing the landscape of the Philippines and the needs of Filipinos affected by the storm. People with disabilities were particularly affected by the storm. In order to cater to the needs of the sector, the organization developed the Emergency Response Unit (ERU). Despite being an emergency response program, ERU has a variety of projects under its helm; these include shelter, livelihood, mental health services, and community-based capacity building services to communities affected by disasters. The leap from service-oriented programs to emergency response and recovery projects is a logical step forward especially when viewed in the context of people with disabilities during disaster situations. People with disabilities are disproportionately affected by disaster situations in comparison to those without impairments (ESCAP, 2014). Syed Muhammad Ali Shah, ERU Programme Manager of CBM, states, “Persons with Disabilities are more vulnerable to the effects of disaster and already in non-emergency settings more marginalized.” According to him, it was important for the program to integrate disability inclusion in its emergency services. “All ERU projects are geared towards empowering persons with disabilities and their families.”

The Legacy of the ERU In the past three years since its establishment, the ERU has responded to two major disasters: typhoons Haiyan and Nina. The impact ERU projects have had on people with disabilities and their families is immeasurable. Apart from the physical advantages and support that shelter and livelihood services provide, the beneficiaries and their families also experienced a change in attitudes towards disability. According to Ali, the program emphasizes the rights of people with disability as the main beneficiaries to these services. Rainer Guetler, Regional Director of CBM, also states that through mental health services and interventions, parents with mental health conditions are given the opportunity to receive treatment, in turn enabling them to take care of their children and their families. The ERU of CBM will reach its end on June 2017. The program achieved numerous successes during its three-year implementation. As a pioneer in the organization, the program also served as a venue for learning and organizational growth. Rainer has shared that one of the lessons learned during the implementation of the program is the need to support and capacitate local partners especially when an element of time pressure is in play. Technical support, financial management, and organizational management are some of the most common means of support that CBM has provided to its partner agencies. Another challenge for the management of the program has been the process of urgent hiring for emergency situations. The organization believes that this can be solved through the development of a pool of potential hires and partners that can be tapped in the event of an emergency situation. Lastly, Ali stated that, as an organization, CBM continues to find opportunities to enhance its competencies and the capacity of its staff members. Other organizations, such as the Center for Disaster Preparedness, have been engaged to conduct Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management workshops and capacity building activities for CBM staff and partner organizations in the field. Through these engagements, CBM and its partner agencies gain new skills and knowledge that can contribute to the ongoing advocacy towards the empowerment of people with disabilities.


Moving Beyond the Program With the program end in sight, CBM has been working on strategies to ensure that the milestones achieved by the ERU don’t go to waste. Ali explained that the sustainability of program gains can be achieved through the localization of services to partner agencies that are already established in the project areas. Although CBM takes on the roles of provider of financial and technical support, much of the implementation of its projects falls under the responsibility of its local partners. “This strategy empowers local organizations and communities and discourages the dependency of communities on aid and short-term relief.” Despite the end of the ERU, CBM continues to serve people with disabilities through its regular programs and projects. The lives that have been changed by its ERU are proof of its good practices and strengths as an organization. Such practices can be emulated by other organizations and agencies in the local and national sphere toward a more inclusive and accessible future for people with disabilities.


Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion Integrating Inclusion: Excerpts from the Everyday Responsibilities of Practitioners


isability inclusion is a process,” says Erly Ocasiones, Programme Manager of CBM in the Philippines. The statement is unexpected coming from an organization whose roots in the service and advocacy of people with disabilities date back since 1908. The international organization is respected for its services, advocacy, and the numerous advances it has made for people with disabilities and their families. Despite this prestigious background, the leaders in CBM Philippines remain humble when discussing the lessons they have learned in the course of their involvement in the field of disability inclusion.

As Programme Manager, Erly oversees the programme development in the Philippine office. Her department also works closely with local partners, guiding them and providing them with necessary technical support. CBM has always credited its strong and dynamic partnerships with local organizations and institutions as a significant factor to the successful implementation of its programs. In order to ensure that partners have the necessary capacity to implement these programs, Erly makes sure that partners comply with CBM requirements and go through the due assessment process. “We look at the number of persons with disabilities who benefitted, the outcomes, and the impact of the project.” According to Erly, CBM evaluates the quality of its programs through project and budget reports, field visits, and evaluations. In this manner, CBM can measure the impact that their programs are making on the lives of people with disabilities and their communities. However, she still believes that there is room for improvement. Since the organization engages with partners at manifold levels—from national to local—CBM is in an advantageous position in terms of advocacy. The establishment of its Emergency Response Unit program has directed the organization towards opportunities in disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management. Of this, Erly says, “DIDRRM is the niche of CBM. Not many organizations are promoting this. We need to work more on policy influencing.”


Utilizing the Twin-Track Approach “Basically, we follow a Twin-Track Approach to disability. One part represents services that empower persons with disability. The other signifies advocacy and our work establishing the rights of persons with disabilities.” This, a statement from Rainer Guetler, who has been working with CBM for eighteen years. He is currently Regional Director and is ultimately responsible for implementing CBM’s programs and incorporating its strategies in the region. The Twin-Track Approach provides CBM with the opportunity to touch base and provide services directly to beneficiaries through local partners. At the same time, CBM also targets individuals and institutions at the policy-making level. In this manner, the organization promotes the rights of people with disabilities through advocacy-centered activities and engaging with various duty-bearers. CBM’s global strategy prioritizes persons with disabilities who live in more impoverished areas in developing countries. The organization acknowledges the importance of developmentcentered actions in order to empower the sector and their communities. “Ultimately—and this is the big theme for the Philippines in particular because we are very pleased and blessed of having access to a very vibrant civil society—we are trying to work in a community-based approach. So our main approach to development is community-based inclusive development or CBID.”

Sustaining the Impact of Inclusion in Communities Community-based inclusive development has been a successful strategy in implementing projects. Various stories of change can be gleaned from project reports from the field and through these stories, we can measure the impact that these projects have had on the lives of people with disability. In one case, a community-based approach to inclusion led to better livelihood opportunities and medical treatment for a person with disability in Basey, Samar. “Last November, we received good feedback from a beneficiary. He wasn’t given a bangka [local fishing boat] because of his seizures. Instead, he was given capital. He buys the fish from the shore and earns by distributing and selling it to the community,” says Woody Jay Apa, ERU Project Coordinator for CBM. Through a community-based approach and consultations, the beneficiary’s medical condition, livelihood, and specific needs were considered in determining the type of intervention or support most appropriate for his situation. According to Woody, the beneficiary is now able to put his son through school and support his family. It is imperative that the gains made during the project implementation continue despite the end of a project. Woody states that localizing programs and establishing a strong partnership with the local government unit is a significant step toward sustainability. In order to build strong ties with the LGU, CBM invested in raising the awareness of local leaders on people with disabilities, their rights, and the responsibilities of the LGU as duty-bearers. Woody explains,




“Before the project started, we conducted social preparations involving the LGU and the community. During the meeting, we discussed the project details, rights of persons with disabilities and the LGU’s involvement and support that can be extended for the project for its sustainability. We were also able to get the commitment of the mayors and always see to it that they were updated on the project activities and results, and involved them in addressing the challenges encountered during project implementation. The LGU will then own the program and continue give support even we phase out. These are just some of the insights practitioners in CBM have garnered over and knowledge on inclusion, the staff of practice of disability inclusion both in

and lessons that the disability inclusion the years. Despite their proficient resources CBM continue to aim for a better grasp and its programs and at an institutional level.



Philippine Coordinating Center for Inclusive Development, Inc.: At the Forefront of Contributing to the Building of Inclusive Philippine Communities


he CBM Community-Based Rehabilitation Coordinating Office (CBM-CBR CO) in the Philippines was set up in late 2004 due to a deep appreciation that various community development processes are happening in different places in the country leading to significant changes in people with disabilities’ contribution and enrichment at the community level. As a budding institution, CBM-CBR CO approached their development through a “learning together” strategy, forging open communication and learning from their partners throughout their years in service. Moreover, the CBM-CBR CO in the Philippines was established in order to foster and coordinate collective action among CBM Partners and all key players including government agencies, DPOs and NGOs to promote, develop and implement CBR as the main strategy in delivering comprehensive services for people with disabilities, and in working toward their inclusion in society. In 2013, the CBM-CBR CO formally began its transition from the CBM-CBR CO into the Philippine Coordinating Center for Inclusive Development (PCCID). The organization continues to build what it has achieved in the past years. They have partnered with persons with disabilities, families, organizations, and communities in building communities that include everyone through developing shared understanding of CBR and inclusive development concepts and principles, enhancing capacities of its partners in working with local government units, organizations of persons with disabilities and other community stakeholders, and supporting the generation and sharing of learning in support of inclusive development. PCCID continues to evolve and recognize the need to pursue initiatives that will improve the status of persons with impairments in society. This also highlights the necessity of effecting changes in society to increase respect for and tolerance of diversity and differences. With over thirteen (13) years of collaboration and alliance building with partners of CBM, organizations of persons with disabilities, local government units (LGUs), national government agencies, academic institutions and other

international and local organizations, the PCCID was able to contribute to continuously making communities better, in line with the organization’s vision of “better communities that include everyone”. The following initiatives serve as good practices of the organization: coordination with stakeholders, policymaking and advocacy, development of resources for persons with disabilities, local government support, capacity development, solid strategic direction, strong interest in Community-Based Inclusive Development (CBID) at local government level, a capable and committed team, the emergence of organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) as development partners at grass roots level, a strong and diverse network of CBID partner agencies and Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR). Today, PCCID is focusing on 6 strategic program areas: (i) Reducing Prejudices, Managing Differences, Promoting Interdependence; (ii) Continuing Education; (iii) Reinforcing Partnerships, Cooperation and Convergence; (iv) Learning Together; (v) Disability-inclusive Climate Change Adaptation/Disaster Risk Reduction; and (vi) Organizational Management, led by Paul Edward Muego as the Executive Director. The organization aims to contribute to the building of inclusive Philippine communities where all participate and equitably share in the processes and benefits of development towards improved well-being for all.

Coordination and Partnership Among some of the notable achievements of the office throughout the years of working with various stakeholders are: the success in the issuance of laws such as the


Executive Order No. 437, encouraging the LGUs to adopt CBR as a strategy; CBR orientations and trainings on CBR planning, implementation, m o n i t o r i n g and evaluation conducted for various levels of government; lobbying activities for the signing of the Philippine Government in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD); and the organizing of dialogues, consultations, and network building with partner organizations, among others. Examples of these activities include consultations on setting up the CBR Network, participation in the 1st Asia-Pacific CBR Congress in Bangkok in 2009, 2nd Asia-Pacific CBR Congress in held in the Philippines (2010); organizing provincial and regional CBR gatherings together with community members in order to share their experiences at the 1st CBR National Congress in 2008, promotion of mainstreaming of disability-inclusiveness to different organizations all over the country, and providing support for CBM partners coming from various sectors and organizations to further their collaboration with LGUs and organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs). More importantly, the creation of the CBR Manual for the implementation of CBR in cities and municipalities, not to mention their achievement in gathering stakeholders for meetings, consultations, and congresses, is a testament to how their coordinating capacity has led to the increased participation of partners in initiatives for inclusive growth and development. The strength of their alliances with different partner organizations, as well as their coordinating capacity that spans all sectors and all levels of government, has led to their success in promoting CBR and CBID, and advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities with other organizations and partners nation-wide and at the global level, enabling DPOs, communities, and families to become self-reliant.

Capacitating for Inclusion As one of their primary initiatives on capacitating for inclusion, PCCID uses their strong partnerships to facilitate organizations, duty-bearers, organizations of persons


with disabilities, and communities adapt CBR through developing their capacities. For communities to be better prepared against the impact of natural hazards, PCCID believes that capacitating for inclusion is even more relevant, making their work even more important, as the need arises to make DRRM initiatives disability inclusive.

Promoting and Supporting DIDRR Partnership PCCID has been supporting the Emergency Response Unit of the CBM International Office (IO) as member of the Emergency Assessment Team responsible for supporting and conducting first assessment of the disaster situations and in designing programs for first phase emergency responses. PCCID is on call if needed by CBM-ERU for deployment anywhere in the world with short notice when disasters strike. Moreover, PCCID as member of the CBM ERU Team assists in conducting Rapid Needs Assessment (RNA), mentoring partners in conducting RNA, assist in developing, designing, implementing Pre- and Post Emergency Response Projects for CBM Partners, i.e., Typhoons Sendong, Pablo, Ondoy, Habagat in 2009, Super-typhoon Yolanda, Bohol Earthquake and the Nepal Earthquake) At present, PCCID in partnership with KASAMAKA CBR Foundation, Inc. and Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. leads the implementation of a programme on DIDRR in urban communities in Metro Manila and neighboring areas. It aims to ensure that people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups in the communities are better prepared against the threat of natural hazards and are included in the implementation of DRRM initiatives in order to lessen the loss of life and reduce disruption of livelihood enabling the communities to bounce back after a disaster. The program is being participated by organizations of persons with disabilities, local communities and government institutions and authorities responsible for disability affairs. It is currently being implemented in eleven (11) barangays: (i) Brgy. Luz Kitang II, Limay, Bataan; (ii) Brgy. Gabon, Abucay, Bataan; (iii) Brgy. Palihan, Orani, Bataan; (iv) Brgy. Bagong Silang, Caloocan City; (v) Brgy. La Paz, Makati City; (vi) Brgy. Sto. Domingo, Cainta, Rizal; (vii) Brgy. San Juan, Cainta, Rizal; (viii) Brgy. San Isidro, Cainta, Rizal; (ix) Brgy. 1st District, Jala-jala, Rizal; (x) Brgy. Sipsipin, Jala-jala, Rizal; and (xi) Brgy. Bayugo, Jala-jala, Rizal.

Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion The Municipality of Cervantes has Planted the Seeds for Development: "I can only say that I am included if you are included" by PCCID


estled in the towering mountains of the Cordilleras in Northern Luzon is Cervantes, a 4th class municipality with relatively lwo population, spread over several mountains and valleys. The region is breathtaking in its beauty and freshness, where indigenous people have eked out a living for many years. Life is simple where people rarely travel further than the nearest lowland town. Every Wednesday, people gather to catch up with each other – they call it their "market day". But during the rainy season, the town becomes cut off from nearby villages because of severe landslides, flooding of the river, cutting off the only narrow, winding road to the town. It is here that the town leaders have embraced CBR as a key strategy in their governance, using the CBR Matrix as a tool to ensure every marginalised person is included in activities of the municipality and the community. This is the town which has defied the naysayers who believe CBR cannot be done in impoverished, isolated areas, for where there is a strong belief in including everyone, anything can happen. After all, the mantra of the municipality is: “everyone benefits from the fruits of development – and everyone contributes to development”. Mayor Benjamin



Maggay is convinced that CBR is one of the best strategies to attain its development agenda. Through CBR, the diversity of their population can be taken into account: indigenous people, children, women, senior citizens, as well as persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the LGU is doing this for its constituents, together with the DPO and other sectoral groups. In 2013, the Mayor and his council ensured that 5 million pesos were given as budget for activities to ensure inclusion of vulnerable groups. Now the town’s executive-legislative committee which includes elected officials, the legislature, people’s organisations, civil society and government line agencies are meeting as a local committee on disability affairs. CBMCBR-CO was invited to guide the members on assessing existing policies to ensure that they are more inclusive, including service delivery, and making sure all children go to school and learn. With the Philippine CBM-CBR Coordinating Office as a key resource, the municipality’s leaders, key workers, persons with disabilities, and family members have gone through a series of workshops on community organising and project development. Also included in their agenda are trainings in eye and ear screening, identificaton of physical impairments and early intervention, and wheelchair measurement. CBR-CO also helped the municipality to expand their referral and network systems. For example, many older citizens have now had cataracts removed, enabling them to see again. One of the significant outputs of that training was the registration of all persons with disabilities in Cervantes. The organization of persons with disabilities was also organized, trained, and formalized. They started by just providing assistance to persons with disabilities on whatever needs were identified by them, for instance, scholarships. Funds were regularly set aside from the annual budget for their specific needs, and initial capital was lent to them on a zero interest loan basis. The LGU has prioritized the employment of persons with disabilities in the Municipal Government, who finished college and passed the civil service exam. Skills trainings have also been provided to persons with disabilities based on their choice, using local existing government training schemes.

The following are some of the achievements of the local government in providing health services: QQ All health services reach out to persons with disabilities – those who cannot go to the clinics are visited at home. The doctor is trained in herbal remedies, acupuncture and has trained through CBM on inclusive physiotherapy, with these services incorporated into local health services. QQ Financial assistance is given to persons with disabilities who need to be referred to hospitals for further treatment. QQ Medical missions are also organized annually for the community, including persons with disabilities. QQ The water system in the different barangays was also repaired to conform with accessibility concerns voiced by the persons with disabilities, so they can get water close to their house, especially during calamities. QQ The collection of data on numbers of persons with disabilities rose from 200 to 894 in Cervantes after the LGU committed to CBR. However, they still need training on identification. QQ Assistive devices were also distributed in 2012 in partnership with the provincial government of Ilocos Sur, with Latter Day Saints and through the networks of CBM-CBR-CO. Local personnel



were trained to measure “wheelchairs that fit”, and these individuals have since been training counterparts in neighbouring towns. QQ Because the whole region is prone to landslides and flooding of their rivers, the Mayor also sought the guidance of CBM-CBR-CO in mainstreaming disability into their existing DRRM program. The municipality has since received training on including persons with disabilities, with their specific individual needs, in DRRM programmes. Since then, the Mayor has lobbied neighbourhood municipalities to also incorporate disability needs into their DRRM program.

Mayor Ben says: "In most cases, persons with disabilities took pity on themselves hid themselves and we learned about them only when they were already at the stage of dying. So I told myself, as Mayor, I own the problem, the persons with disabilities also own the problem, so we should work together as owners of the problem, so that we can do better in the future. If I will not do something for persons with disabilities, it is as if I am discarding them as my constituents. Under the law, we have the same rights to be respected; for survival we have the same stomachs that need food. Therefore I must deliver the services that the person with disability need on an equal footing with other persons." “The DPO is considered both a beneficiary of programmes and a partner because I do not decide – they do, and are consulted. When we have meetings concerning the programs, they sit with different line agencies during planning of programmes and during decision-making. The municipality is running CBR on their own but also in partnership with CBM and other NGO partners. At first persons with disabilities were ashamed to approach and ask for help, but now when we organized and involved them in decision-making, the group asked me if they could be present during their town fiesta, during community activities, during planning. There are now also persons with disabilities running for elections.” “On sustainability, we enacted a resolution which will be passed as an ordinance as well – but by ensuring everyone is included and contributes to activities, services and development agenda, then it will be sustained.” “With regard to the implementation of accessibility law, we need to find money to renovate our existing building but hospitals is now disability friendly and we are repairing the market place now.” “During provincial meetings, I share CBR with other mayors and LGU leaders. Many have other priorities and are not interested, but I have already convinced 3 municipalities to replicate the programme.” On being asked at CBM’s partners’ meeting (September 2013) on how NGOs can influence LGUs to take on – and sustain – CBR and include persons with disabilities into existing services and also provide specialised services, Mayor Ben replied: “Approach the mayor directly, not the MSWD officer; counsel them that persons with disabilities have their rights which need to be respected and they are also your voters - so include them and they will be getting all the votes of persons with disabilities and their family members.”

As one of the partners of PCCID, KASAMAKA is focused on disability-inclusive projects in the grassroots, especially community-based initiatives that they have built over the years. The following good practice in the next section elaborates these engagements and successes.



KASAMAKA CBR: Empowering Communities through Community-Based Mechanisms


ASAMAKA CBR was founded by Barney McGlade, the current head of Community-based Rehabilitation Coordination Office of CBM in South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office, together with Irish priests from the Columban Congregation, as well as mothers of children with disabilities. As a child psychologist, one of the founders, Barney was interested in doing community work with children who have intellectual and other forms of disabilities, in the hope of understanding their condition and their needs. First gathered is a group of mothers who had children with autism, hydrocephaly, cerebral palsy, and down syndrome. They became the core group who were trained and assisted in understanding the specific needs of their children. Following the success of the core group training, the founding members began to involve the barangay in identifying and gathering parents, especially the mothers of children with disability. From a small handful of mothers, the numbers grew to thirty (30). The organizers were themselves surprised that these families have been living alongside each other without even knowing that they were going through similar circumstances. KASAMAKA or “You Belong” has been at the forefront of Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) since 1989. Today they have 11 partner barangays concentrated in the Luzon area : three (3) in the National Capital Region, three (3) in the Province of Bataan, while the other barangays are located in Rizal Province. KASAMAKA attributes the sustainability of their organization to two (2) key pioneering approaches they have employed throughout the years, and these are the DPO-to-DPO Approach, and the Mother-to-Mother Approach in CBR. KASAMAKA also cites their community immersion and passion for service as key methods in CBR that have maintained the success of their approaches. Today, KASAMAKA or “You Belong” CBR continues to employ community-based mechanisms that rely on mobilizing families together with persons with disabilities, to speak about their rights, and become the next leaders in their communities. Though KASAMAKA has grown to organize Persons with Disability Organizations in municipalities and barangays all over Luzon, the four mothers who served as the primary trainers of KASAMAKA 27 years ago still remain in their own communities, a testament of what the

organization has stood for throughout the years – instilling the same empathy, love, and passion for service that have brought them to train over hundreds of mothers in the span of more than 2 decades.

DPO-to-DPO Approach The strength of KASAMAKA is in empowering persons with disability organizations to become independent and functioning organizations that can, in the future, stand on its own. One of their strategies to encourage this is the DPO to DPO Approach (Disabled People’s Organization to Disabled People’s Organization). This process starts with capacitating organizations by pooling together individuals interested in joining a DPO, training them in CommunityBased Rehabilitation, and helping them gain access to resources from the local government. KASAMAKA also employs help from their other partners, such as civil society organizations (CSOs), religious groups, and other people’s organizations. From there, KASAMAKA would take stock of the best practices and lessons from the organization’s management experience, and move on to organizing other organizations from other communities – applying the same principles, but making sure that they fit the profile and need of its members. KASAMAKA also organizes discussions between leaderships of different organizations so that they can learn from each other’s experiences, as well as build alliances. In the governance aspect, KASAMAKA is involved in assisting barangay level organizations to coordinate with the municipal government, and subsequently the provincial government in communicating their needs, providing them with medical and educational resources, and helping organize projects with them. Dennis Garcia, 44 and Rogelio “Rolly” Flores, 47, share some of the activities usually done by KASAMAKA in their DPO to DPO Approach, “We go from one area to another, and the [persons with disabilities] share to me what they need.” They cite identification, prevention, intervention as the core foundations in their community organizing activities. First is the identification of the persons with disabilities and giving them Identification Cards (IDs) to gain access to



rights and privileges mandated under the law; on the other hand, prevention and intervention refer to activities that help prevent further decline in health and disposition, as well as necessary and immediate interventions that improve the well-being and condition of persons with disabilities. Dennis and Rolly also mention the Twin-Track approach as another strategy: “The organizations and the local governments are strengthened simultaneously.� In strengthening them together, persons with disabilities see the results much faster, and they are even more empowered to join, convincing others along the way. Aside from this, they also recommend that rehabilitation programs and community organizing are done concurrently, as it is more efficient and effective. Through this, persons with disabilities are more motivated, as their health and disposition improves, while at the same time receiving institutional support from the local government.

Mother to Mother Approach Another community-based mechanism pioneered by KASAMAKA is the Mother to Mother Approach in CommunityBased Rehabilitation. This approach started way back 1989 in Malate, Manila. After a series of changes in strategy, such as moving from an English-based means of communication to Filipino, and shifting from a lecture-type to a more participatory approach, the Mother to Mother Approach became more comprehensive, yet personal. From a group of four (4) mother trainers, the numbers reached up to thirty (30) in a span of a few months, as these mothers themselves served as trainers and community organizers, traveling from one area to another, and moving from household to household, searching for other mothers who had children with disabilities, and convincing them to undergo training for CBR. Through various capacity development activities, the mothers gained knowledge on how to take care of their child, what needs are to be met for their child, and where to get the necessary help and resources for them. These activities were done in cooperation with local governments and national agencies such as the Department of Social


Welfare and Development. Today, this method has evolved into a Parent to Parent Approach, recognizing that it is not just the mothers who should be involved in CBR, but parents and families as a whole. In capacitating families and communities, the society is able to move towards greater inclusion for persons with disabilities. Through all of these approaches pioneered by KASAMAKA, several changes have been observed in the partner communities they handle. According to Rolly Flores, “[The persons with disabilities] are no longer reluctant to go out and fight for their rights.” Furthermore, “They now know where to find resources…they know where to seek help from…and which agencies they can get the help they need.” When asked why they succeeded in their mission and goals, they share that community immersion and a compassionate approach to dealing with persons with disabilities are the fundamental reasons to their effective strategies. “We become one with communities. We live with them in their homes, and we have conversations with them…sometimes it is in these intimate moments where we find out their real issues and concerns…” shares Michaela Ramos, a Project Assistant at KASAMAKA.


Indeed, KASAMAKA has gone a long way in capacitating and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. After decades-long of experience in CBR, they are now moving to other projects that can further their goal of inclusion, and one of them is the Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management project, which only started in 2015. This project aims to guarantee that persons with disabilities are safe from harm and makes sure that disaster risk reduction and management mechanisms are disability-inclusive. They also target persons with disability organizations to participate in identifying their needs, and lobbying for the full implementation of laws that govern their sector, especially when it comes to building resilience in the midst of disasters. As on-going project, KASAMAKA hopes for the success of its implementation, as they already have the necessary tools and learnings which they have collected in their years of experience. Indeed, the future is bright for persons with disabilities with organizations like KASAMAKA working alongside them.

Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion

A Vision of a Bright Future for Persons with Disabilities: Dennis Garcia’s Leadership Journey


n 1999, Dennis Garcia was climbing a tree when he fell down and hit his head on the ground, damaging the occipital part of his brain. He was 26 years old during that time, and was about to marry the love of his life. A few months from his accident, he began experiencing blurred vision, and started visiting doctors all over Metro Manila to consult with his condition. In the eve of his wedding day, he was only able to see colors and outlines of all shapes surrounding him. On May 29, 1999 he fully lost his vision. That day was also his wedding day and the birthday of his wife. Now at 43 years old, Dennis recalls how afraid he was to go out of the house and experience the world. Gradually, he began to move slowly, memorizing the places around him which are important, such as his home and his neighborhood. Today, he is confident to travel alone, moving from one town to another, organizing persons with disability organizations and speaking about their rights. However, his transition did not go very smoothly in the beginning, as he spent many years cooped up in his household. In 2006, Dennis was invited to attend a meeting called for by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office to gather persons with disabilities, where KASAMAKA was part of those in attendance. It was there where he met other persons with disabilities who were active in community work and are current members of different organizations. He could recall how amazed he was to see persons with different impairments who were empowered and not afraid to speak. One person who amazed him the most is a woman with phocomelia



without hands who could use her cellphone to send text messages and write with pen and paper. He was filled with courage, having witnessed such gathering, and resolved to himself that he would also become a leader for persons with disabilities himself. A few years after, during a meeting for persons with disabilities in his hometown in Barangay Gabon, Bataan, the constituents decided to elect him as the president of their organization. Shortly after his stint as the barangay level president, he moved on to lead in the municipal level. Year after year, his resolve only became stronger as he received more trainings and gained new friends from his network. When the provincial government called for representation for persons with disabilities in the Provincial Council on Disability Affairs, Dennis was the first to be recommended given his track record in leadership. After successfully turning over his management position in Bataan to a new breed of leaders, Dennis came to KASAMAKA to further his mission of coaching and mentoring organizations and persons with disabilities. Today, he works as a facilitator on Community Based Rehabilitation, training partner organizations in various cities and municipalities in Bataan and National Capital Region. When asked what his motivation is, Dennis replies “[What motivates me is] when other [persons with disabilities] see me as a person who is blind, coming into the open as a leader, and they are motivated to do the same.� Indeed, Dennis Garcia has fulfilled his mission of becoming an inspiration, and his journey will remain relevant for those who are reluctant to take the path of leadership.

Localized service delivery is an important aspect of capacity development, as rehabilitation, education, and other forms of assistance are brought to persons with disabilities and their families. In the next section, LPFI shows us that similar to KASAMAKA, these initiatives go a long way for inclusive development.



Loving Presence Foundation, Inc.: Providing Platforms for Capacity Building and Partnerships to Localize the Delivery of Services for Persons with Disabilities


ince its inception on June 29, 1999, the Loving Presence Foundation, Inc. (LPFI) remains driven in mobilizing communities to address the needs of persons with disabilities through a holistic approach. It has demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm in implementing its various programs such as community-based rehabilitation; skills training and livelihood assistance; learning center for special children; provision of assistive devices and medical assistance; legal assistance and advocacy and; sports and cultural activities. According to the organization’s founder, Gerard R. Rikken, LPFI was initially established with the aim of providing access to services for people with disabilities. Although the local government unit possessed a functional Social Welfare and Development Office, people with disabilities, especially those who were living in far-flung areas, had difficulty traveling to the city center and claiming services and support. “For people with disabilities, it is very difficult to look for services far from where they reside,” says Gerard. To successfully reach persons with disabilities from various communities in the entire CARAGA Region, LPFI has capitalized on community organizing, capacity building, and establishment of partnerships to provide opportunities for persons with disabilities to access the necessary services and develop their innate potentials to have a dignified place in the society. Such strategies have also contributed in sustaining the gains of LPFI and its partners towards inclusive development.

Community Organizing and Empowerment as Steps Toward Sustainability From its earliest years, LPFI has recognized the importance of multi-stakeholder involvement and participation. It has worked closely with the LGU as an essential partner in pushing the agenda of people with disabilities forward. Through the efforts of CBR volunteers and LPFI staff, local government units at the city, municipal, and barangay levels were encouraged to include people with disabilities

in the different local, decision-making committees. Discussions with CBM and the Training and Development Center under the National Commission on Disability Affairs also brought on a shift of emphasis from direct CBR work to components of organization and advocacy.

Empowering local actors through BISPAI The Bislig City Special Persons Association, Inc. (BISPAI) was established in 1999 by Marlon C. Advincula, a local leader and champion of the sector. As a federation, BISPAI oversees chapter organizations in all twenty-four (24) barangays in the city. All people with disabilities in the barangay are automatic members and are encouraged to register through the barangay chapters. In 2005, the sector established another ally in the form of the Parent Mobilization Action Group (PMAG). PMAG also has chapter organizations in all twenty-four barangays and is composed of parents whose children have disabilities. Through PMAG, parents with disabilities are enabled to access health, medical, and educational services through partnerships with the LGU and LPFI. LPFI is currently focused on capacitating its local allies in the field of disability inclusion. Through its partnership with the Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO), LPFI has conducted trainings on childcare and leadership, skills development and livelihood assistance, and offered financial support for health service and education. Most recently, members of BISPAI and PMAG have received capacity building in disaster risk reduction through orientations on disaster preparedness and on handling and evacuating people with disabilities during a disaster. “The best things about LPFI is its continuous service and partnership. The organization works together with other entities that have the potential to help the sector. LPFI, PDAO, BISPAI, and PMAG—they are all connected as partners. They develop different programs that consider the capacities of people with disabilities,” says Sherry Ann Ramos, BISPAI president.



Impacts on the Lives of People with Disabilities in Bislig LPFI has made a massive impact on the individual lives of people with disabilities and on their standing as a sector. “[For people with disabilities] the biggest challenge after discrimination is being able to go out,” says Sherry Ann. Raian Marañan, BISPAI federation member, credits the provision of assistive devices and the capacity building activities for the changes in his life today. “I wouldn’t leave the house before. I didn’t go out. After receiving crutches, I started joining activities and became BISPAI president. Participating in seminars and meeting other people with the same condition as me further encouraged me.” Benecio Cagas, BISPAI federation president, also added that the livelihood development trainings provided by LPFI gave many people with disabilities a means of earning a living and resulted in an increase of self-worth and independence. At the end of the day, LPFI continues to work together with other local stakeholders for the development and complete inclusion of people with disabilities in the area. Through a community-based approach to development and through its collaboration with the local government, as well as other non-government and private agencies, the organization has reached numerous milestones on its goal for a more empowered sector.

Working together across boundaries and scales Besides building strong linkage with actors from the community through organizing, LPFI also liaises with the local government in advancing the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities, both at the barangay and city levels. Through its steadfast work, LPFI was able to influence various local government bodies in its areas of operation to give priority to persons with disabilities in its development processes that include decision-making, planning, and budgeting. The local government of the cities of Butuan and Bislig are among those that LPFI actively engages with.

Collaborating with village authorities to advance disability inclusion In Barangay Doongan, one of the villages comprising Butuan City, LPFI became instrumental for the Barangay Council to invest on disability-inclusive programs and activities. Prior to the entry of LPFI in the area, the sector of persons with disabilities was neglected and least important in terms of government support. Through the technical assistance provided to the Barangay Council beginning 2015, LPFI served as an eye opener for local authorities to embrace an inclusive approach to development. Apart from the medical assistance such as eye and ear screening and surgeries for children with cleft palate, orientation and trainings led by LPFI played a fundamental role in sensitizing the Barangay Council. Such efforts prompted the council to organize the disability sector through appointing a focal person for persons with disabilities. The formation of a disabled people’s organization (DPO) was successfully carried out with 197 active members at present. The DPO has a set of officers and constantly receives trainings towards its development and strengthening. A survey was also conducted to come up with a database of persons with disabilities in the barangay, which is fundamental in designing appropriate projects and programs for them. As of February 2017, there are 296 persons with disabilities living in Doongan, covering both adults and children. Along with this, the Barangay Council allocates a yearly budget for the needs of persons with disabilities. In particular, .5% of their total income is apportioned to them. For a more strategic approach, leadership training and planning for the DPO was also initiated by LPFI with financial support from the Barangay Council. From the planning activity, provision of livelihood support emerged as the priority of persons with disabilities. To have a sustainable source of income, the establishment of a bakery and offering of manicure /pedicure services were among the identified livelihood options.



The partnership between the Barangay Council and LPFI became an effective channel for persons with disabilities in Doongan to gain visibility and become empowered actors in the village. Despite challenges relating to the dependent attitude of some persons with disabilities, the sector, through the DPO, is able to participate in planning processes. In general, the community people are receptive to the participation of persons with disabilities as they show support in developing programs for them. The Barangay Council manifests its strong commitment to promote their welfare through continuously monitoring the progress of the plan that the DPO crafted with LPFI. The focal person for persons with disabilities helps them in closely monitoring the operation of DPO, which is fundamental for ensuring sustainability.

Specific sustainability measures were recommended to build on the gains of the partnership between LPFI and Barangay Doongan as follows: QQ A regular planning activity involving persons with disabilities needs to be institutionalized. The presence of a context-specific plan is necessary to ensure adequate budget allocation for the needs of the persons with disabilities. QQ Influence other authorities from higher government levels to advance a disability-inclusive development agenda recognizing the right of persons with disabilities. QQ Partnership with different stakeholders from the government, civil society, and private sector should be nurtured. The presence of networks would help in promoting the voice of persons with disabilities to a greater audience.

Working in synergy with the City Government of Bislig Through the commitment and hard work of LPFI in collaborating with the local government of Bislig, the establishment of Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) was realized in 2013. With the strong support of Marlon Advincula, a former city councilor who happens to be a person with disability, LPFI’s influencing effort at the local government level through the Mayor led to the formal formation of PDAO. The office serves as a focal body in formulating plans and programs for those with disabilities in the city. Its creation also adheres to the provisions of Republic Act 10070, a national legislation on establishing an institutional mechanism to ensure the implementation of programs and services for persons with disabilities in every province, city and municipality9.

“The persons with disabilities already have an identity in the barangay. The community people, especially the barangay officials, learned the importance of acknowledging their rights and needs. This was evident during the celebration of Doongan Day wherein the disability sector was at the center of the program. For the longest time, they were taken for granted. Now is the time that we prioritize them and address our (Barangay Council) shortcomings in the past. The persons with disabilities should be with us as we journey the path to development. ” -Gilberto Enriquez, Barangay Captain of Doongan

The establishment of PDAO as a separate office is deemed as an important vehicle for persons with disabilities to be given autonomy in development processes as well as in advocating for their basic rights. In the past years, PDAO played a key role in doing organizing work for DPOs, CBR volunteers and PMAG. At present, PDAO is focused on strengthening the DPOs in all 24 barangays and LPFI has been a constant ally on this. Specifically, LPFI conducted trainings on leadership and childcare for parents, provided livelihood assistance (e.g. woodcraft production center), and offered financial support. To date, there are 5,285 registered persons with disabilities in the entire city. To support the operation of PDAO, the city government of Bislig allocated a budget of Php 2.9 million for the disability sector in 2017. 9 NCDA (2010). Republic Act No. 10070. Retrieved from http://www. ncda.gov.ph/disability-laws/republic-acts/republic-act-no-10070/



“Collaboration, along with courage, plays a big role in sustaining the initiatives of the city for persons with disabilities. Sustained partnership between LPFI and LGU is necessary to continue its efforts for the sector and be able to influence others through its good practices in disability inclusion.” -Joselito Buenaflor, PDAO Head

Localizing services towards ownership and sustainability Through the years of its operation, LPFI made efforts to strengthen local capacities to achieve ownership and sustainability in program implementation. To localize service delivery for persons with disabilities, the participation of local actors from the city and barangay levels was ensured. LPFI invests in different initiatives through educational assistance, community organizing, and training activities to enable locals to become agents of change themselves towards the survival, development, and protection of persons with disabilities. “The locals realized that persons with disabilities could contribute something for the betterment of our community. They should not be treated as objects of discrimination and ridicule but rather regarded as able actors in development.” -Joselito Buenaflor, PDAO Head Another venue that enabled LPFI to nurture its linkage with the city government is the presence of Bislig City Committee for the Welfare of Special Persons (BCCWSP). The BCCWSP was created from the Office of Persons with Disabilities Affairs (OPDA) that was under the management of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO). Its formation was adopted from the approach of the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) to engage more offices and have a discussion with wider stakeholders in developing and implementing programs for persons with disabilities. Chaired by the City Mayor, the BCCWSP is comprised of 22 offices which include Health, Engineering, Education, Social Welfare, and Accounting among others. Serving as the Vice-Chair of the BCCSWSP, LPFI actively works with various groups to promote the agenda of the disability sector. The presence of the abovementioned governance mechanisms paved the way for persons with disabilities in Bislig to feel empowered. They were able to feel their worth as individuals and realize their potentials as they work and serve their fellow persons with disabilities.

Provision of special education (SPED) scholarship One of the key efforts of LPFI to localize its services was the provision of scholarship for select locals to acquire knowledge and skills in special education (SPED). Under the SPED program, the scholars were taught how to manage and take care of children with multiple disabilities. Further capacity building activities were also given to them, such as training on the use of sign language, teaching techniques for handling persons with disabilities, and disaster preparedness. Five of LPFI’s scholars are now working for the BCD SPED Center, a public elementary school in Bislig City managed by the Department of Education (DepEd). Currently, the center accommodates 84 children with disabilities, both girls and boys, such as those with autism, hard of hearing, and intellectual impairment. The teachers follow the K to 1210 curriculum and children are taught on the following subjects: Filipino, HEKASI, Values, Math, English, Science, and sign language. 10 The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School ) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship (Source: http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/k-12/#section-1).



their child’s welfare. This underscores the reality that family is very crucial in the development of persons with disabilities. To sustain the gains of this initiative, one of the recommendations is for DepEd to develop SPED subsidy guidelines that will include budget allocation for children with disabilities, especially for their school supplies and transportation.

Capacity building of communities and local governments through CBR

“Children with disabilities at the BCD SPED Center have learned to overcome their shyness. Prior to attending school, these children tend to be timid because of their impairment. But now, they are able to interact and play with others. They became exposed to a bigger environment other than their homes.” -Darrylie M. Dela Costa, SPED Teacher in Bislig City The initiative of LPFI to provide educational support to produce SPED teachers is anchored on its vision of education for all. It recognizes that everyone has a right to education regardless of disability, status, age, and gender. LPFI constantly makes referrals to the SPED center to allow children with disabilities to learn and maximize their potentials towards development and growth. From 2004 to 2006, LPFI even provided bus transportation for children with disabilities, especially those from far areas, so they can go to school independently. In the past, LPFI also paid the salary of some teachers who taught at the BCD SPED Center. Making education accessible to children with disabilities has resulted in positive outcomes. Change in attitude among the SPED students was evident. The children with disabilities have better disposition and are happier since they get to interact with teachers and fellow children. Further, the parents are now more supportive and are able to recognize the role they need to play in securing

Another commendable initiative of LPFI to localize its services is the provision of capacity building activities for communities through the CBR Program. The presence of a CBR Coordinator in the person of Marife Tabamo from LPFI was instrumental in doing organizing work for the successful conduct of the program. The coordinator plays a fundamental role in mobilizing CBR volunteers in the areas covered by LPFI operation. At present, the CBR coordinator works in the CARAGA Region particularly in two (2) provinces covering 17 municipalities and 7 cities. In Bislig City, every purok (zone) has 2 volunteers. To date, the city has more than 1,000 CBR volunteers working in 24 barangays. The CBR volunteers are comprised of parents, teachers, barangay council members, barangay health workers, midwives, and DPO members among others. They are guided and mentored by the coordinator who is very hands-on and does house-to-house visit. To make the CBR volunteers capable of delivering programs and services for persons with disabilities, various trainings were implemented by LPFI and these were the following: CBR basic course, childcare and management, values formation, leadership, and advocacy on the rights of persons with disabilities. Special trainings for parents of children with cerebral palsy were also provided and these included massage therapy and motor exercises.

“I remain committed in helping persons with disabilities since many of them are discriminated and not given priority. There are parents and teachers who do not know how to handle them. As carers of children with disabilities, they need support. It is also important to continue our advocacy work to encourage more local government offices to adopt the CBR program and push for the establishment of PDAO.” -Marife Tabamo, CBR Coordinator of LPFI


To ensure that the CBR volunteers are able to perform and apply their learnings from the capacity building activities, the CBR Coordinator conducts regular monitoring. The continuous equipping of CBR volunteers enabled them to influence the community, especially parents, to have a better perception towards persons with disabilities. The community became aware of the rights of persons with disabilities that they have to protect and respect. For the sustainability of these efforts, LPFI also closely works with the local government to endorse the services and programs. With this arrangement, the CBR volunteers also report to the City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office. The CBR volunteers are able to communicate to the government the concrete needs of the sector in their respective barangays. Such helps in identifying priorities which is essential to effective and responsive program implementation. LPFI still does close monitoring and mentoring to guarantee that the persons with disabilities are served well while partnerships across scales are nurtured.


Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion Treading the path towards disability inclusion through organizing and institutionalization An inspiring story of a person with disability working in unison with the local government “I am a person with disability myself. I am not different from them. It has always been my advocacy to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities and transform their marginalized status in the society. When I was still a City Councilor, I really advocated and pushed for programs that would respond to their needs such as regular funding and legislative measures. “


arlon C. Advincula is among the pioneers in advancing the agenda of persons with disabilities in the city of Bislig. An accountant by profession, Marlon is a commendable champion in disability inclusion as evidenced by his dedication in public service. He presently works for the local government as the Assistant City Accountant. During the early years of his political career, Marlon served as a Barangay Councilor from 1997 to 1999. Given his unwavering commitment to serve the people of the city, he continued his stint as a public servant and became a City Councilor from 2001 to 2010. Working as a City Councilor for nine years, Marlon had focused on promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in various development processes within the local government. As a devoted advocate of protecting the welfare of those with disabilities, he demonstrated a significant role in accomplishing major milestones for inclusive governance to be realized. Together with LPFI and other relevant stakeholders, Marlon was very much involved in pushing for the establishment of PDAO in 2013; annual allocation of 5% for persons with disabilities from the general appropriations of the city beginning 2003-2004; and creation of the Bislig City Committee for the Welfare of Special Persons (BCCWSP). Apart from his efforts on institutionalizing disability-inclusive governance, Marlon also exhibited laudable efforts in organizing work. As an active leader of persons with disabilities, Marlon founded the Bislig City Special Persons Association, Inc. (BISPAI) in 1999. BISPAI is the local federation of DPOs in the entire city. Another noteworthy initiative of Marlon was the organizing of Kamp Paraiso for persons with disabilities in partnership with LPFI. The activity is an annual summer camp that serves as an awareness raising campaign about persons with disabilities, their rights, and disaster preparedness. Further, the camp enables children with disabilities to experience living with host families. The members of BCCWSP and City Councilors become foster parents and adopt a child with disability.



“LPFI played a meaningful role in organizing persons with disabilities and in influencing the local government to prioritize their agenda. Persons with disabilities should be involved in the local development council and in disaster risk reduction and management given that they are one of the most vulnerable sectors.� -Marlon Advincula, Assistant City Accountant, LGU of Bislig From 2008 to 2011, Marlon served as the Executive Director of LPFI which further exposed him to different disabilityinclusive services and programs. As Marlon continues his journey in creating a safer and just society for persons with disabilities, he gained valuable lessons as follows: QQ Organizing the persons with disabilities is fundamental to have a voice in decision-making and policy-making processes. QQ Educating the sector of persons with disabilities is a must. They have to be informed of their rights and needs. QQ Making the government feel the presence of persons with disabilities is encouraged. This is necessary to make the government commit and allow the disability sector to be involved in program implementation. QQ Continous partnership with NGOs and private sector is one of the best strategies to sustain current efforts. QQ The issue of persons with disabilities is everyone’s business. The disability sector is part of community and must not be marginalized.

Indeed mobilizing local actors, through organizing, capacity building, and formation of partnerships, is a critical mechanism for sustainability. The experience of LPFI proved that participatory and people-centered approaches remain fundamental in getting the commitment of relevant actors and encourage them to work together towards a common goal, which is to recognize and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Similar efforts are also evident in another CBM partner, the Sorsogon Integrated Health Services Foundation, Inc. (SIHSFI) that actively operates in the province of Sorsogon to achieve mental health promotion, prevention of disability, and empowerment of persons with disabilities.



Sorsogon Integrated Health Services Foundation, Inc.: Mainstreaming Disability Inclusion in Community and Government Processes through the CBR Program


s an organization committed to disability-inclusion, the Sorsogon Integrated Health Services, Inc. (SIHSFI) has worked with families, communities and local government units to ensure effective implementation and sustainability of their programs that relate to capacity building, community mental health, outreach physical therapy, advocacy, and partnerships with public and private sectors. In the implementation of the Communitybased Rehabilitation (CBR) Program, one of SIHSFI’s core programs, it has partnered with local actors from the communities and local government units to promote the rights and agenda of persons with disabilities. Through the CBR program, initiatives on community organizing and institutionalization of disability-inclusive development were realized which are both vital in achieving ownership and sustainability. One of the concrete efforts of SIHSFI to mainstream disability inclusion in the communities was strengthening parent groups and carers to care for children with disabilities such as those afflicted by cerebral palsy. On the other hand, at the government level, SIHSFI secured the commitment of the barangay and municipal LGUs in the province of Sorsogon through passing a resolution adopting CBR. The presence of such a legislative measure created a space for persons with disabilities to push for their right to participate in development processes at various scales. It served as an instrument for the local government to institutionalize the implementation of programs for persons with disabilities. Among the municipalities in Sorsogon that have actively adopted CBR were Magallanes, Irosin, Gubat, and Bulusan.

Empowering children with cerebral palsy; enlightening their carers Lecile Dagangon’s daughter Tin is quiet but friendly. As a toddler, Tin could not move like other children her age. She has cerebral palsy. “In the beginning, I really pitied my child,” said Lecile. Her feelings are shared by more than a dozen other parents in the municipalities of Magallanes and Irosin in Sorsogon, whose children are afflicted by cerebral palsy—a motor-neuron condition that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills. Apart from

restricted movement, many of these children suffer from other health complications related to the condition. These children face a myriad of physical, medical, and societal barriers because of their disabilities. These are the challenges that SIHSFI tries to fight against through its CBR program and health services. According to Agnes Caballero, SIHSFI’s Project Director, the organization offers a variety of health and medical services to address the different kinds of disabilities. People with visual impairment can apply for medical consultation, eyeglasses, and even minor cataract surgery for a minimal fee. The organization also provides assistive devices like canes and crutches in coordination with the city government. These activities continue to make a significant impact in the lives of people with disabilities in Sorsogon; however, one of the biggest highlights of SIHSFI’s programs caters to its youngest clients.



The Plight of Parents with Children with Disabilities Many interventions for disability often zero in on addressing the immediate needs of a person with disabilities and often overlook the person’s family or carers. This is especially true for parents whose children have impairments or health conditions. According to Agnes, taking care of children with disabilities can be especially challenging given the child’s specific needs. There is also the problem of health complications that may arise. “People with disabilities are vulnerable to illnesses and health issues,” she says. Some parents were not able to have their children diagnosed at an early age and many admit that they did not know how to handle the particular needs of their children.

The physical rehabilitation classes have also brought about an unexpected change in the lives of the parents. Lecile states that meeting other mothers and their children has been a great source of emotional support for her. “Seeing the condition of other children, I stopped pitying my own child,” she comments on her change of attitude. “It gave me hope,” she says.

In addition to this, some children with particularly severe conditions require extra care and time from their parents—time that is taken out of a parent’s work. “People with children with disabilities are often confined to taking care of their children with disabilities. Because of this, their livelihood or opportunity to work suffers,” says Agnes.

Enabling children In 2012, a group of parents in Irosin started meeting once a week for physical therapy sessions for their children. The activity was implemented by SIHSFI to focus on the rehabilitation of children with problems in mobility as part of the organization’s service delivery program. A physical therapist from the Sorsogon Medical Mission Group Hospital and Health Services Cooperative (SMMGHHSC) would visit the barangay to conduct exercises and massages that can help improve the condition of children with cerebral palsy. For the children in Magallanes, physical therapy began a year later in 2013. Some of the children have been religiously participating in the physical therapy sessions for years and the results have been life-changing, to say the least. Lecile’s daughter has only been attending the session for a little over a year, but she can already see the impact it has made on Tin’s life. “I can see her improving. She couldn’t do much before. Slowly she learned how to sit, then crawl, kneel, and eventually stand with some support.” In the municipality of Irosin, Adriana Abiera, mother to Angela, is equally thankful for the significant developments in her daughter’s abilities. “I’m thankful towards SIHSFI. It’s something I cannot repay. Ela has grown up and can now attend SPED classes.” In Adriana’s case, physical therapy developed her daughter’s capabilities and gave her the opportunity to go to school.

Enlightening carers SIHSFI employs CBR as its main approach to advocacy. According to Agnes, the approach includes people with disabilities, their families, and their community in determining and implementing necessary interventions and services. Utilizing the approach during physical therapy sessions, the physical therapists engaged with parents and taught them various therapeutic exercises for children with cerebral palsy. In this manner, parents would be able to administer the exercises at home. This practice is a step toward ensuring sustainability and continuous treatment, which are both especially necessary for the case of children with cerebral palsy.



Apart from these exercises, parents were also given additional capacity-building. SIHSFI capacitated its beneficiaries through orientations and awareness-raising activities with the aim of enhancing the knowledge of parents. Some of these orientations highlighted the different types of cerebral palsy and various ways in caring for children with cerebral palsy. In line with disaster preparedness, SIHSFI also conducted trainings that focused on ways of handling and evacuating children with disabilities in the event of an emergency or disaster. Parents were also taught first aid since they are considered the first responders to the needs of their children. “This is important,” says Lota Llado, grandmother of Sofia. “They taught us how to take care our children, what to feed them, and what to do in case of a seizure.”

Empowering families “Two people are affected by disability. Usually, this is the parent and child,” says Agnes. In a family, the condition of parents with disabilities can affect the well-being of their children. Likewise, the disabilities of children can be a challenge to the livelihood of their parents. The project director of SIHSFI points out that, ultimately, the goal of physical therapy is to develop the independence of children to the best of their capability and allow parents to eventually earn a living, manage the household, or care for their other children. In effect, SIHSFI and its rehabilitation program does not only empower an individual with disabilities, but entire families and communities.

Strengthening communities and government towards localization and sustainability Capacitating CBR volunteers as frontliners in disability inclusion Other than parents and families of persons with disabilities, the CBR program also played a significant role in organizing and building the capacities of community volunteers. Through the help of the municipal local government, the volunteers comprised of barangay health workers, barangay nutrition scholars, daycare workers, and DPOs, have contributed substantially in achieving inclusive governance. Based on the accounts of social workers in Bulusan and Gubat, a systematic and clearer division of work became feasible between the LGU and communities through the program. Ownership of the endeavors for


persons with disabilities was also evident as locals themselves work together to achieve the targets. The CBR volunteers work closely with the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) and are able to help the office in identifying specific needs of persons with disabilities in their respective barangays. Among the needs that they try to respond to include provision of assistive devices, transportation assistance for SPED students, capacity building through awareness raising campaigns and trainings, referral to hospitals, and livelihood support. The strengthening of DPOs was also evident in the CBR program as the local government played an active role in keeping them active and functional. In the case of Bulusan, the MSWDO led the organizing of Samahan ng may Kapansanan ng Bulusan (SAMAKABA) in 2015. In partnership with SIHSFI, the organization has elected officers and carried out a planning session. A training on leadership was also organized for them. At present, the organization is in the process of formulating their constitution and by-laws. Such effort was also undertaken by the MSWDO of Gubat as it works with Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Diwa ng mga Gubatenong May Kapansanan, Inc. (SANDIGAN), the federation of persons with disabilities in the municipality.

Making services and funding available for persons with disabilities Besides the strong engagement of families, CBR volunteers, and DPOs, another major outcome of SIHSFI’s engagement with the local government of Gubat, which is vital for sustainability, is the active operation of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Sorsogon. The association runs therapy sessions every week, from Tuesday to Thursday, and benefits not only the children with cerebral palsy of Gubat but also of other neighboring municipalities. Two (2) physical therapists provide service to children in need of assistance.


Further, the institutionalization of CBR also helped in ensuring that persons with disabilities are prioritized in budgeting processes. An annual budget from the municipal/ barangay income is allocated for the needs of persons with disabilities. “The municipal LGU does monitoring and supervising of activities under the CBR program. Quarterly meetings with CBR volunteers and DPOs are conducted to guarantee that they are guided and the program implementation is on track. My commitment as part of the government is to help uplift the condition of persons with disabilities. When I help them, I feel a sense of fulfillment. Seeing them improve and in good disposition motivates me to do my job better.” -Salvacion Gacos, Social Welfare Officer II, LGU of Bulusan

Notable changes have been observed as a result of the SIHSFI initiatives with the local government. At the individual level, persons with disabilities became more vocal as they were encouraged to participate in different activities. The discussion on laws relating to disability (e.g. Magna Carta) made them aware of their rights as well as the programs they could access to support their needs. On the other hand, for families and communities, the orientation activities and trainings enabled them to learn about their obligations and responsibilities to create an inclusive environment for persons with disabilities. “Individuals dealing with persons with disabilities need to have genuine dedication in the work that they do. Specifically, the LGU should have compassion towards them as they deliver the programs and services. Patience is also key to successfully address the needs of the disability sector. It is important that you are able to explain things well. This is crucial for you to realize change in the mindset of your target beneficiaries.” -Jean Fabilane, CBR Coordinator, LGU of Gubat


To sustain the gains of the CBR program, representatives from the local government of Gubat and Bulusan have recommended the following: QQ Strict implementation of national and local laws that would promote the rights of persons with disabilities to development QQ The persons with disabilities should be made selfreliant in the economic aspect through provision of livelihood programs QQ Tap experts who can transfer technical support and skills in livelihood and DRR to persons with disabilities QQ Funding for specific needs of persons with disabilities (e.g. medicines and expensive medical treatments) should be made available QQ Building linkages with different stakeholders across levels for resource and knowledge sharing


Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion A Mother’s Efforts to Ensure the Well-being of her Child


driana Abiera is no stranger to taking on multiple roles. She works as both a liaison officer and clerk at EFGK Cable TV in the Municipality of Irosin and has been with the local company for the last eleven years—a testament to her commitment. However, she considers her most important role as mother to Angela Denise, her nine-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy. With a voice that was—at first—meek, Adriana began to weave the story of her daughter, her daughter’s condition, and the extents she took in order to provide a better future for her child. Adriana first noticed that there was something different about her daughter’s development when Angela was one year old. As a baby, Angela had difficulty controlling her movements, and she was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Like any devoted mother, Adriana immediately sought medical attention in Sorsogon Medical Mission Group Hospital and Health Services Cooperative (SMMGHHSC) in the city. Aside from medication, the doctor suggested that Adriana put her daughter through physical therapy thrice a week in order to improve her chances of functional mobility. And so began Adriana’s tri-weekly commute to and from the hospital in Sorsogon. Unfortunately, she could no longer afford the cost of physical therapy and travelling to the city center. After three months, she had to stop.

Adriana first heard about Sorsogon Integrated Health Services Foundation Inc., (SIHSFI) from a friend at the hospital. Not wanting to waste any time, she immediately linked up with the organization, which then provided her daughter with free physical therapy sessions. Although Adriana no longer had to pay for the physical therapy her daughter was receiving, she still had to travel back and forth to the city for several times a week. “I was really determined. There were days when I skipped work and couldn’t receive my salary because we had to attend PT sessions, but I went anyway.”



In a short span of time, Adriana recognized the impact that physical therapy could have on the well-being of her daughter. In an act of innate advocacy, Adriana decided to share the benefits of physical therapy with her neighbors whose children also had cerebral palsy. “Don’t lose hope. Let’s not waste this opportunity. If we do not come together, we might lose the opportunity that SIHSFI is providing us.”

Through her personal and informal means of invitation, Adriana was able to gather other parents in Irosin whose children have cerebral palsy. SIHSFI began to take notice of the need for more direct interventions in the municipality and soon moved the physical therapy sessions to Irosin. This made things easier for Adriana and the other parents; they no longer had to spend money for the commute to Sorsogon City. The proximity of the therapy sessions also encouraged more parents to come forward. Soon, thirteen children in the municipality were receiving treatment through physical therapy and the necessary mobility devices. SIHSFI recognized Adriana’s capacity for leadership and encouraged her to lead the parents of the Irosin. To date, she is currently the president of the organization for parents whose children have cerebral palsy. The informal organization gathers every week to participate in the rehabilitation activities for the children. During the physical therapy sessions, parents and guardians are also taught different techniques and therapeutic exercises that they can apply at home with their children. Through this practice, parents and other members of the family become active arbiters in the improvement and welfare of child with disability. This wasn’t the only skill the parents of Irosin gained from SIHSFI. According to Adriana, the parents were given different trainings with the aim of capacitating them to address the specific needs of their children. The parents of Irosin were taught how to evacuate their children



in the event of an emergency, how to conduct CPR on a child with disability, and how to administer first aid on their children. Apart from these, SIHSFI provided a holistic approach to the empowerment of people with disabilities and their families through the provision of trainings in livelihood. Adriana looks back at the difficulties she experienced during the beginning of her daughter’s journey. She notes that, despite the challenges she faced, she would do it over again with the same gusto and perseverance. “I’m thankful. Before, my daughter could not walk. She could only lie on her back. Her hands were stiff. And now, she’s going to SPED. Now, she isn’t shy anymore.” Angela’s drastic improvement may be attributed to the rehabilitation she continues to receive. However, it was through her mother’s perseverance, natural leadership, and tireless efforts that Angela and thirteen other children with disabilities were able to link with SIHSFI and receive the support they need to move forward.

The work of SIHSFI demonstrates a solid evidence that investing in community-based initiatives is imperative to achieve localization and sustainability of programs and services. Engaging local actors is an effective strategy to design and implement context-specific plans and interventions that are responsive to the needs and conditions of persons with disabilities. This reality is also reflected in the case of Bethsaida CBR Services, an active organization working for the empowerment and development of persons with disabilities in Quezon Province.



Bethsaida CBR Services for the Disabled, Inc.: Providing Education, Rehabilitation and Support to Persons with Disabilities in Quezon Province


ethsaida CBR Services for the Disabled Inc. began as Lingkod Banahaw in 1996, a CBM-supported project based in Candelaria, Quezon Province. In 2003, it was re-established in the same province, moving to the municipality of Tiaong. Now led by Rev. Benjamin Hugo as the Executive Director, Bethsaida runs two (2) important programs. One of them is the Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Program, while the other is a Special Education (SPED) program for children with disabilities.

Community-based Rehabilitation Program The CBR Program of Bethsaida is offered to children and youth with disabilities aged 0-25 years old, and are provided in the several towns of Quezon Province, namely: Candelaria, Dolores, Gumaca, Lucena, San Antonio, Gumaca, Sariaya, and Tiaong. The Program includes referrals both for medical check-ups and local government support, trainings for teachers and facilitators of CBR and family development, as well as tutorials for persons with disabilities. Bethsaida also provides assistance to the local government through the provision of facilitators for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a conditional cash transfer program that aims to alleviate poverty in the Philippines through financial provision in exchange for capacity development of families, and education of children and youth. Facilitators

from Bethsaida have assisted in the conduct of Family Development Sessions (FDS) with topics that range from family planning and caring for newborns. The scope of the projects of Bethsaida spans the whole Quezon Province. The organization has coordinators for the 1st, 2nd, and 4th districts, where they help in the provision of resources from different communities such as bringing to them assistive devices, information on the scholarships and promoting various medical checkups for their specific disability. On the other hand, cases that could not be handled by Bethsaida are referred to local governments, private companies, and other non-government organizations for support. In terms of resources, Bethsaida gains support from the barangay, through their longstanding partnership. Part of Bethsaida’s grassroots engagement is in organizing parents of children with disabilities from the barangays, through the Samahan ng mga Magulang na may Anak na may Kapansanan (SMAK), a federation spanning the whole province. They have also organized the Municipal Council on Disability, of which the Mayor is the Chairperson, and some of their members include the heads of other department units and other NGO representatives. The LGU, the parents, NGOs and other persons with disability are helping promote the projects in the local level. In terms of challenges, not all LGUs are open when it comes to providing help for persons with disabilities, especially in the area of accessing basic government services, an area that still needs work in terms of coordination and partnership.

Special Education Program (SPED) The SPED Program of Bethsaida is offered through the Bartimaeus Center for Alternative Learning to children and youth who have hearing impairment and intellectual disability. The Bartimaeus School has offerings for elementary, high school, and college Special Education. The children studying at Bartimaeus school previously had difficulty accessing education, with few public schools


offering Special Education for persons with disabilities in the whole province. The mothers of these children admit that in the beginning, their children suffered a lot of discrimination from other people in the community because their children were perceived as “different”. Things changed for the better when they enrolled their child in the Bartimaeus School. Marichu Dailia, 37 years old, is a stay-at-home mother and volunteer at SMAK, while her husband is a farmer. She recalls how her child with hearing impairment was refused many times by different schools in Quezon Province because of her child’s disability. “Before, I experienced being rejected by teachers. To see my child excited to go to school but being rejected is so difficult. I didn’t know where to send her to school. My child is supposed to be in the 10th Grade now, but she has already been delayed for 2 years. Before, whenever classes started, she asked me why she does not have any school uniform, no bag, or school supplies. It was a blessing from the Lord that I got to know Bethsaida.” It was also through Bethsaida that her child was provided with a hearing aid, and became proficient in sign language. Now, her child’s hearing has improved, and as a result,


she can now utter a few string of words. She remains very thankful to Bethsaida for not giving up on urging her to send her child to Bartimaeus School. Marichu shares that area coordinators from Bethsaida have knocked on her door, yet she and her husband rejected them many times before they agreed to enroll her child. At that time, they were wary to trust anyone. But because of the persistence of Bethsaida’s staff, she and her child are now in a better place. Jeannette Loreto is a 50-year-old barangay health worker and volunteer at Bethsaida. As a mother of a youth with autism, she shares that she has encountered many challenges in raising her son. Despite financial constraints and emotional struggles, she urged her fellow mothers not to lose hope and tells them that it is important that they send their children to school. Through her perseverance and her child’s education at the Bartimaeus School, her child is now independent and aware. “I always tell my fellow parents, be persistent. It was through my persistence, that [my child] has learned a lot. Now, he can be left alone anywhere and he would know his name and address. He will not get lost, because he knows the things he is supposed to know. You just need perseverance.”



Siony Castillo, 42, and Emilita Tarlac, 68, also share how education has helped their child learn new skills and gain new friends. Siony’s son has a hearing impairment, and through the Bartimaeus school, he is able to learn sign language and meet his best friend, who also studies there. He claims to enjoy going to school to socialize with the other students as well as learn new lessons. Emilita shares that before his son was able to go to school, he was discriminated in the community because he does not have hands and feet. “They say that my child will never succeed. I told them that it does not matter. What matters more is learning how to read and write.” Emilita’s son was able to finish four years of college education, studying computer technology.

Forging Forward Having experienced many challenges just to give the best to their children, the mothers recommend the involvement of the local government in providing financial support to parents of children with disabilities, as most of them leave their work so that they could devote their time to caring for their children and sending them to school. Furthermore, a large amount of the families’ resources is allocated for medical needs and educational fees. It will be of great help if families can benefit from the support of the local government.

Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion Hero Teachers: The Story of Mamerto and Psyde, Teachers of Children and Youth with Hearing Impairments who Devoted their Lives for their Students


amerto Cortez, 51, has been working at Bethsaida for fifteen (15) years, serving as a high school and college teacher, while his wife Psyde Cortez, 49, has been teaching elementary and high school for eleven (11) years. Mamerto and Psyde both developed hearing impairments when they were children. They met each other while they were both teaching in Cavinti, Laguna at the Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation Inc., a school for persons with hearing impairment in Laguna. Today, they have 2 daughters and one son, all of whom learned sign as their first language, taught primarily by their father, Mamerto. Currently, Mamerto and Psyde’s children serve as their interpreters for occasions when they need to communicate with people who do not know how to sign.

Mamerto and Psyde both believe that educating young minds is their passion. While Mamerto teaches Filipino, Math, Physics, and Chemistry; Psyde teaches Values Formation and Christian Learning Education. When asked about their students, the couple only had good things to share about them – that they love their students very much and they treat them like their own kin. They serve as anchors to them, open to conversations and advice any time. Sheena, 17, is one of their daughters. She mentions that her parents even help other children with hearing impairments to go to school, by contributing payment for their tuition fees. Despite experiencing life’s hardships and difficulties, the couple remain devoted to teaching children and youth with hearing impairment. “Even when they are both very tired, they still continue to help, as long as a student is in need.”, says Sheena.



Mamerto and Psyde believe that it is not only in the classroom that children with hearing impairment can learn. Moreover, it is also in letting them experience the world through traveling, meeting new friends, and facing new challenges. Mamerto shares that he likes to organize field trips for his students. “I want to take them to museums so they could learn”, Psyde adds. Many youth who have hearing impairment experience discrimination from the community, or bullying within the school, and sometimes, it is even heightened by the fact that their parents could not understand them because they do not know how to sign. Some of these youth turn to their teachers for support and understanding. Mamerto and Psyde counsel their students who run away from home, giving them advice and telling them to remain strong. Sometimes, the couple help these youth find jobs so they can be independent. “There are students who run away from their homes and their families, and my parents help them find jobs. My father sees himself in them. He understands what they are going through, that is why he is willing to help them.” Sheena explains. From the moment they started teaching, the couple have devoted their lives for their students, spending more than a decade of their careers in service to children and youth with hearing impairment. This passion for education has also rubbed off on their children, who are all proficient in sign language. Sheena, at Grade 10, serves as an interpreter when she does not have classes, while their other daughter also does the same. Their son also works in an educational institution, developing resources for persons with disabilities.

In the next section, we will see other initiatives in educational opportunities, and bringing empowerment to persons with disabilities through bridging the digital divide for persons with vision impairment, another platform similar to the community-based initiatives of Bethsaida.



Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV): Digital Inclusion: Bridging the Digital Divide yet utilized as widely as they are now; however, he already recognized the opportunities this kind of technology could bring, especially for those who had vision impairment like him. Ever since his childhood, he had observed how the sector is marginalized and discriminated upon in society. He realized that they do not receive the same opportunities as those who are sighted are given, especially technological opportunities which were gaining ground. “Vulnerable are those excluded from digital opportunities,” he said. Thus, ATRIEV as Tony’s brainchild became the pathway for persons with vision impairment to maximize their potential through the acquisition of digital knowledge and its application in the work setting.

ATRIEV’s Organizational Journey: Forging Partnerships for Success


nvisioning itself as the “Prime mover in trailblazing life-changing opportunities for the blind through technology”, the Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) is a non-governmental and non-profit organization that works at the national level. ATRIEV was formed when in 1994, five technology enthusiasts, bonded by their mutual desire to help persons with vision impairment, put up a small computer center in a backyard in San Andres Bukid, Manila, zealously imparting their technological knowledge to others. One of the founders was Reverend Antonio “Tony” Llanes, Jr., who is now sitting as the organization’s Executive Director. Two and half decades ago, computers were not

From its humble roots in San Andres Bukid, ATRIEV soon grew as an organization, when it partnered with the Overbrook/Nippon Network on Educational Technology (ON­NET) in 1999. ATRIEV proposed for an institutionalized computer training program for persons with vision impairment, which was soon given approval by ONNET. The latter was able to provide ATRIEV with adaptive equipment and operational expenses. During this time, Carol Catacutan, one of the founding members and also one of the first beneficiaries of ATRIEV



Subsequently, ATRIEV partnered with IBM Philippines on an online information research project which aimed to capacitate students with vision impairment on conducting online research and data synthesis.

(now she sits as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer), wanted to showcase the profile of Rev. Tony. Carol wrote an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which then landed on the cover of the page of Sunday Inquirer Magazine for that year. The said broadsheet has a wide readership, and Rev. Tony’s profile caught the eye of Systems Technology Institute (STI), one of the then leading information technology based colleges in the country. STI was inspired by Rev. Tony’s story, which narrated his determination amidst difficulties as a person with vision impairment. Rev. Tony was also a former student of theirs, who had previously taken a basic  course  on DOS. STI approached ATRIEV and gave them the opportunity to institutionalize what the organization had been doing. STI was willing to provide ATRIEV’s students with classroom and facilities. Utilizing the support of both ON-NET and STI, ATRIEV was  able to carry out the Adaptive  Technology  Training Resource  and  Access  Center  or Project  ATTRAC, the first comprehensive computer literacy training program for persons with vision impairment. Project ATTRAC offered courses on basic computer literacy, English communications proficiency and life skills to high school graduates and professionals. The government agency Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) came to support Project ATTRAC two years later, providing scholarships for graduates of the said project. Another two years passed, and ATRIEV forged a partnership with a Christoffel Blindenmission  (CBM). Through CBM, ATRIEV was able to conduct training of trainers; moreover, CBM gave ATRIEV a five-year grant which supported the organization’s endeavors.

In the following years, ATRIEV was able to amass many more fruitful partnerships both local and international: APEC Digital Opportunity Centre (ADOC), which provided braille displays in ATRIEV’s Training Centre; Liliane Foundation Philippines (LFP), which provided direct and small-scale assistance to ATRIEV’s clients and their families; I-PointEast Solutions, which provided tuition fee sponsorships to ATRIEV’s contact center tele-sales training programs; and other partners including Abilis Foundation, the Philippine Centre for Entrepreneurship, IBM Philippines, Samsung Electronics Philippines, and more. What has contributed to ATRIEV’s establishment of key partnerships? “We continue to equip ourselves as well, we continue to learn,” Carol answered. “That is why we always participate in workshops our partners provide. We continue to explore other partnerships, we’ve been trying so hard to develop partnerships with the local government.” Carol admitted that while adept in partnering with corporations, establishing partners in the local government units has been a difficult process. However, she believes that this kind of partnership is essential. “To us, we can really sustain the organization and the programs as well if we can partner with the local government who can continue what we’re doing,” Carol stated. “We cannot be there in every municipality. We try to partner with LGUs through the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). In terms of national government agencies, this is where we are rooted. We are trying to cultivate our roots with the Department of Education.” Aside from this partnership with donors and funders, one of the most essential partnerships that ATRIEV has forged is with those close to its hearts: its teachers and students, as well as the communities which they serve. “We are very strong in our thoughts and mindset that the success of our organization can be rooted, not only from our donor partners, but also from the support of our students, teachers, and communities. We don’t look at them as beneficiaries, we look at them as partners for success. We really collaborate with them,” said Rev. Tony.


Pioneering adaptive technology for persons with vision impairment Indeed, ATRIEV’s reputation as a capable training institute in touch with the needs of its students and communities has served it well. ATRIEV is now widely known as the pioneer in providing adaptive technological services to persons with vision impairment. Starting with its trainings on basic computer literacy, ATRIEV has expanded its menu of services. “As technology advances, we were able to meet the demands of the technology,” said Carol Catacutan. ATRIEV now provides a myriad of center-based trainings. Its core program is digital literacy training using the Microsoft Office suite. It also offers website accessibility training, English language communication training; jobspecific trainings such as computer refurbishment, telesales, and online content writing; and specialized training programs including training of trainers, web accessibility workshops, and scripting courses. “The current trend is that


information technology (IT)-enabled jobs are getting the market,” declared Rev. Tony. “Portals are now IT-enabled and have become the meeting venue for service providers and recipients. The most wanted job nowadays are online Zumba teachers; the most wanted tacticians are the social media practitioners.” All of ATRIEV’s staff have visual impairment. A former student, Chito Pabia, serves as their lead instructor, accompanied by three laboratory assistants and volunteers who are also graduates of ATRIEV. ATRIEV, through its services, provides its students with the necessary technological tools to help them in their schools and in employment. However, ATRIEV goes beyond digital capacitation. “Students experience things differently here in ATRIEV,” he said. “We don’t just teach computer skills; we teach them communication, life skills, leadership, and selfaffirmation. It makes them well-rounded people who can work in a team environment and who can be ready to stand work-related pressure”.



Aside from these, ATRIEV also offers training in job hunting, simulated office environment, and mock interviews. “We take a look at the top 10 industries and what are expected from those,” said Rev. Tony. “Our students should be able to deliver those kinds of expectations, and their blindness should not be an excuse.” Carol believes that ATRIEV’s trainings aid in the cultivation of leaders. “Whenever I spot someone with potential, we give them Training of Trainers. I make it a point to be part of the training team. I try to give them more responsibility. We give conscientious leadership; it is not authoritarian. We want to showcase them. Their success is our success.” This sentiment was echoed by Chito. “I am happy that I see the students learning,” he said. “I am overjoyed to see them grow and go beyond their boundaries.” ATRIEV eventually recommends these graduates for full time jobs. “When they are absorbed by other companies, they last,” Carol said. Their graduates have gone on to become IT specialists, contact center agents, human resource associates, and special education (SPED) teachers. Asked where Carol attributes the success of ATRIEV’s students, she responded, “It’s our standards, it’s the training that we give them. As much as possible, we remove them from their comfort zone. We have a set of rigid evaluation that they have to go through and pass. We like to achieve that level of excellence. If you pass ATRIEV, that means you are a proficient computer user.” “ATRIEV equips its students to be globally competitive,” Aljun, a student-turned-trainer of ATRIEV, chimed in. “ATRIEV opens the minds of students to develop selfdetermination and a positive outlook in life,” he added. Aside from its center-based trainings, ATRIEV goes beyond the four walls of the school to capacitate people in the communities. In coordination with the Department of Education and the Persons with Disability Affairs Office in

cities and municipalities, ATRIEV provides 5-day and 10-day Windows and Android operating system trainings for students who are blind, sighted, and for rehab specialists. ATRIEV has also expanded its service to schools and industries through the conduct of sensitivity trainings. Through this initiative, ATRIEV is able to raise awareness about the situation of persons with vision impairment, and foster mutual understanding among those who are blind and those who are sighted.


The Challenges of a Training Institute for Persons with Vision Impairment While teaching in an institution such as ATRIEV can be rewarding, the instructors admitted that it can also be quite challenging. “For some of our students, it is their first time to touch a computer. They do not want to click anything in fear that it will malfunction,” said Jaelene Mina, another instructor who is an ATRIEV graduate. While the instructors usually cater to students who have vision impairment, they have also had students with multiple disabilities such as hearing, intellectual, and mental disabilities. This can undeniably be tough. Jaelene said that during these times she would usually request a shadow teacher who can assist her. Aside from attending to those with multiple disabilities, however, some students are simply hardheaded. Chito said that in this case, understanding and patience is important, “We have to consider how they learn to help us become better teachers to those students.” However, Carol acknowledged the reality that not everyone may be fit for the IT-based training ATRIEV provides. “We have to consider the job match. We still have to look for more opportunities for them,” admitted Carol.


Sustainability through Media Visibility While ATRIEV continues to thrive as it sets out for new frontiers for persons with vision impairment in the technological world, the concern for funding has been a constant stumbling block. “It’s very tough. You have to align your programs with the focus of the funding agencies,” said Carol. “There are also unbudgeted and unforeseen expenses and circumstances,” Rev. Tony added. To aid in the organization’s sustainability, Carol recognized that being constantly visible and present is key. She said, “Visibility has to be sustained. Although we are visible, we have to be visible always, which is hard.” Fortunately, Carol has had considerable experience in media work which has aided in the organization’s steady presence. “Although word-of-mouth is still our number one way of promoting ATRIEV, we can reach out to a wider set of people through different kinds of media: radio, television, social media”. Tony added, “Through social media, more people can be a witness to our success stories and our development and perseverance.” Indeed, ATRIEV has been featured in an assortment of radio and television shows, newspaper articles, and online pieces. Moving forward, ATRIEV plans to conduct more research in mainstreaming their curricula, strategies, and training materials. The organization also plans to expand their reach to more areas in the country to help more persons with disabilities in far-flung communities. Carol shared, “It’s really a work in progress. We really have to continuously improve what we are doing. We have to meet the demands, especially since technology is fastpaced, we have to keep in step with that.”

Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion Tony and His Vision: Empowering Persons with Vision Impairment in Times of Disaster


t’s just a natural thing to do to try to save people,” said Rev. Antonio ‘Tony’ Llanes, Jr, Executive Director of ATRIEV, when asked to explain his keen interest in disaster risk reduction and management. Rev. Tony was one of the most active and vibrant participants during a Training of Trainers activity for Disability-Inclusive Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management sponsored by CBM International and the Center for Disaster Preparedness. He exuded his eagerness to help persons with disability and his advocacy to enable them to be included in the processes of disaster risk reduction and management in the country. Knowing that persons with disability, such as those who have vision impairment like him, are one of the most vulnerable sectors when it comes to disasters, he has been pushing for initiatives which can better prepare them. He found the answer in one of his childhood passions: electronics and radio communication. “When there is a major disaster, all cellular systems will collapse, but the 2-way communication radio will survive,” he said. Envisioning blind and visually impaired amateur as radio volunteers for disaster and emergency situations, he has crafted a project which will capacitate and certify them in this regard, and render them as accredited volunteer partners by the Office of Civil Defense, the Metro Manila Development Authority, and other local government units. Of course, this kind of project would require adequate finances, hence his call to international organizations. “If I have US$25K, I’ll train the blind to become amateur radio operators. When disaster strikes and mobile phone systems crash, the blind will keep communication going— with their families, friends, and the community,” he said in a 90-second Youtube video pitch.


Truly, it is Rev. Tony’s aspiration that persons with vision impairment become empowered members of society not only during peace time but in times of disaster as well. Alongside this, Rev. Tony aims for disability sensitivity orientations in disaster-prone cities and communities in the country. Rev. Tony chose this kind of strategy as he believes that the community-based approach in disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management is the most ideal. In this way, the interventions would be responsive to the needs and situations of the people, especially the most vulnerable. Likewise, the efforts would have a higher chance of being sustained as they would be embedded within the community structure. “My heart has always been with the community,� he said with a smile.

As ATRIEV seeks to delve into more community-based work, particularly in disability-inclusive communitybased disaster risk reduction and management, it may gain inspiration from partner organizations which have established this as their mandate. Two of these organizations are Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. and the Center for Disaster Preparedness.




Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc.: Helping Persons with Disabilities Become More Resilient through Organizing, Strengthening and Capacitating Persons with Disability Organizations and Promoting DIDRRM TWHI are Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) Program, educational assistance, microfinance, mobility aid assistance, physical therapy, rehabilitation and vocational therapy, and sports and recreation. TWHI is also known for their successful social enterprise component wherein persons with disabilities are trained to produce and market various kinds of wooden handicrafts, economicallyfriendly products, educational tools and materials, as well as souvenirs, among others.

Barangays Sto. Domingo and San Juan, Cainta, Rizal


ahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc. (TWHI) was established in 1973 by a Belgian nun named Sr. Ma. Paula Valeriana Baerts, ICM, who belonged to the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Assigned to serve at the Philippine Orthopedic Hospital, Sr. Valeriana witnessed the hardships of persons with orthopedic disabilities who have been abandoned by their families in the hospital. From there she began a mission to help similarly situated Filipinos by building inclusive shelters for girls and boys with disabilities, and providing workshops based on those provided by the Cheshire Homes of United Kingdom. At the World Rehabilitation Congress (1972) held in Sydney, Australia, Sr. Valeriana met Mr. Lionel Watts, the founder of House with No Steps in Australia, whom she invited to visit the Philippines to help her further her vision of providing support, rehabilitation, and shelter for persons with disabilities in the Philippines. With support coming from the Archdiocese of Manila and the Belgian government, an accessible, 4.2-hectare property located in Cainta, Rizal, was leased to build TWHI. Today, TWHI is led by Manuel V. Agcaoili, who serves as its President. TWHI is a center for rehabilitation, skills training, and social enterprise for persons with disabilities, more commonly those with orthopedic disability. It has five (5) workshops and six (6) dormitories for trainees coming from various parts of the Philippines. Among the services provided in

TWHI help communities become more sustainable and resilient through organizing persons with disability organizations and capacitating them to lead, train, and serve in their respective barangays. Sto. Domingo and San Juan, are two (2) barangays in Rizal Province that have been organized by TWHI to have a functional People’s Organization (PO), as well as a Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management capacity.



Barangay Sto. Domingo is one of the largest barangays in Cainta, Rizal. Located near the center of the municipality, it is surrounded by Barangays San Andres in the south, San Isidro in the north, and Sto. Niño and Sta. Rosa in the east. Barangay San Juan on the other hand, can be found at the eastern side of Cainta, bounded by the Cainta river, which separates it from barangays Sto. Niño, San Andres and San Roque.

Organizing Persons with Disabilities through DPOs Barangay Sto. Domingo Persons with Disability Organization was formed in 2014 with the help of TWHI. Among the first members of the organization were persons with disabilities who were staff from TWHI as well. Gradually, they gained membership from other community members as well. Today, their leadership is composed of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Auditor. The laws of their organization are patterned after the municipal level persons with disability organization in Cainta. To make organizing their constituents easier, the members of the DPO in Sto. Domingo identified several clusters in their barangay which are grouped according to their area. Every month, they coordinate with representatives from these clusters so they can establish a dialogue with them about their concerns, as well as relay to them the initiatives of the local government. They have also coordinated with the Person with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) to schedule medical check-ups, physical therapy, provision of assistive devices and psychological counseling available in the barangay for free. They have also set up an Information Desk in their barangay hall, and gave Persons with Disability Identification Cards (IDs) to persons with disabilities in the barangay. The organization helps in visiting households to find other persons with disabilities so their numbers can be recorded to help the local government in addressing their concerns. As of 2017, they have recorded 35 adults, and 202 children who have disabilities. Through their houseto-house method, they were able to extend the persons with disability’s access to IDs and resources. For greater efficiency, the DPO also process these papers for them. To monitor their progress, they follow up on the households who have not yet submitted their requirements. Asked on how they achieved their success in organizing, Renante

“Rain” Maranan, 34, a member of the organization and a Barangay Health Worker shares: “The service must come from your heart. You should explain the rights of persons with disabilities carefully, and most of all, you should not pressure them.” The Barangay San Juan Persons with Disability Organization is relatively newer than the one in Sto. Domingo, as they have only been organized in 2016, and have assumed leadership in January 2017. They have a batch of officers consisting of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor, and ten (10) Public Information Officers/zone leaders. The members of the DPO expressed that they are still in the process of structuring their organization and creating new projects for their constituents, with the help of TWHI. But in terms of partnership with the barangay, they share how supportive the local government is towards persons with disabilities. Today, the San Juan DPO is increasing their membership and listing all identified persons with disabilities in their barangay. With the current list given by the local government, they plan to validate this information by doing a houseto-house visit, similar to the one conducted by Barangay Sto. Domingo. In their visits, he organization would like to focus on giving persons with disabilities insight about their rights and encouraging them to apply for a Persons with Disability ID. To improve their partnership with the barangay, they are planning to hold regular consultations with them. Aside from these practices, they are also very proud of how well documented all of their activities are. As a starting organization, it is important that data are collected in order to track their progress and to serve as evidence for the provision of resources. Every year, they strive to update this information and follow up on their community members.


Reflecting on the progress done within almost two years’ worth of efforts, the members are happy at how much has changed since they organized themselves with TWHI: “Now, we already have a ramp in the barangay. Its other parts are improvised, but it is functioning. We can see some progress in how the barangay has improved its accessibility, and we are grateful that we can approach them anytime.” – Benjamin “Ben” Lagunom, 58, and a Treasurer of the PO

Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Activities The respondents share how important Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DIDRRM) is, as it saves the lives of many persons with disabilities if they are earlier identified, capacitated through trainings, and when local governments are prepared for disasters.


Since the great Damage of Typhoon Ketsana (Philippine name: Ondoy), Helen Casbadillo, 61, Vice President of Sto. Domingo Persons with Disabilities Association, shares how grateful they are for the help extended by Tahanan in terms of DIDRRM trainings. They felt included in every step of the way. “The organizations all over Cainta are very grateful for the Di-DRR initiative of Tahanan. We feel more included – we are not separated.” Currently, TWHI and their partner barangays are also doing mapping activities together, to help them identify the risks and hazards surrounding their communities as well. In San Juan, Manuelito “Manny” Cuenco, 73, a Board Member of the Barangay, shares that the Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (BDRRMC) is functional since risk reduction activities are being conducted, however, collaboration between them and the person with disabilities organization is not yet fully established. That is why the role of the organization is to actively coordinate with the BDRRMC so that they are informed about what is happening and at the same time, they can advise the barangay on how to be more disability-inclusive. Manny and the rest of the group also shares that since San Juan is by the creek and flood way, the households are more vulnerable. Through their data gathering, they found out that there are persons with disability living near the creek, the reason why the group is prioritizing them and concentrating on capacitating them. One of their initiatives with the local government is marking the homes of persons with disabilities with a sign identifying them so that basic services would prioritize them in terms of assistance when a disaster strikes. When asked what they learned from their DIDRRM experience with their organization, Ben Lagunero describes: “What we learned is that we should be the ones approaching persons with disabilities to give the help directly to them, through the local government. Since the barangay already works closely with our organization, then it is easier to coordinate. Through this, we are able to help those in need.”

Accessibility and Inclusivity at Reach: Accessibility and Inclusivity at Reach: The Story of Wendell Candelaria of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc.


endell Candelaria started working for TWHI in 2013; however, his advocacy for persons with disabilities extends even prior, as he previously worked under international organizations specialized in the field of disability. In October 2015, as DI-DRR (DisabilityInclusive Disaster Risk Reduction) Program Coordinator for TWHI, he was able to synergize two critical advocacies: disability-inclusion and disaster risk reduction. To do this, he collaborated with the municipal and barangay local government units, gathering baseline data and situational analyses that are inclusive, and ensured the availability of quality processes and resources. One of his goals is to make sure that organizations are strengthened, inside and outside the scope of the organization, to hopefully create new and helpful partnerships. Most importantly, he emphasized the significance of a consultative process when creating DIDRRM policies, strategies, and program designs. He does not just consult persons with disabilities, but other sectors such as women, children, and senior citizens, to ensure that DIDRRM programs remain relevant. He said this was especially necessary, because oftentimes, programs are pre-made, without any input from the constituents they would affect. He acknowledges that his tasks as DI-DRR Program Coordinator can be daunting. As such, when he learned about the conduct of a Training of Trainers on Community-Based DisabilityInclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management under a partnership project between CBM International and the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP), to be attended by CBM staff and CBM partners including TWHI, his interest was piqued. The first activity under the project “CBM and Partners Capacity Development on DisabilityInclusive Disaster Risk Preparedness and Emergency Response�, the 6-day comprehensive training in September 2016 delved into the concepts of inclusivity and disaster risk reduction and management and how these are practiced in the field. As an active



participant in the training, Mr. Wendell manifested his fiery enthusiasm for the opportunity, “We are indeed overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction in the demonstration to us of CBDRRM as we integrate it to our community-based DIDRR program,” he said. “In a simplified form and processes, we have seen the whole picture especially on the how’s of working with our communities.” Mr. Wendell continues to engage all kinds of opportunities to help persons with disabilities, especially initiatives in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, as these are key for his role as DI-DRR coordinator.


Despite all these, Mr. Wendell maintains an optimistic attitude. “Stay positive,” he shared is his mantra. Being the lead for DIDRRM engagement with communities covered by TWHI may seem like an overwhelming task for most people, but it’s a challenge that Mr. Wendell takes with admirable strength and happiness.

Like TWHI, CDP also has their hearts in the grassroots, promoting disability-inclusive community-based disaster risk reduction and management with their partner communities. The next story tells us how CDP has remained true to their goal of promoting safe, resilient, and sustainable communities.




Center for Disaster Preparedness: Integrating Disability Inclusion in Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management


he Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) has been actively working in the field of disaster risk reduction (DRR) for more than three (3) decades in the Philippines and across the globe. Since its establishment on January 4, 1999, CDP remains strong with its commitment to promote Community- based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CBDRRM) as its core competency. The CBDRRM approach encouraged the center to engage with different vulnerable sectors that include persons with disabilities. Through the support of various disability-inclusive organizations, both from international and local levels, CDP was provided with opportunities to strengthen its commitment to create platforms for persons with disabilities to be more visible and empowered in the agenda of vulnerability reduction and resilience building.

Initiatives to embrace DisabilityInclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DIDRRM) Development of disability-inclusive manuals In 2015, CDP has partnered with the sector of persons with disabilities and ventured into the development of “Lahat Handa” (Everyone is Ready), a training manual that focuses on the integration of inclusive approaches to CBDRRM, which also addresses other at-risk sectors such as children and youth, women, and older persons. The said material is a supplementary module to the CBDRRM Basic Instructor’s Guide (BIG) of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council- Office of Civil Defense (NDRRMCOCD). The conceptualization of the manual was overseen by a technical working group composed of organizations leading the affairs of persons with disabilities such as Handicap International, AKAP-PINOY, Christian Blind Mission, Coalition of Services of the Elderly, Office of Civil Defense, NORFIL Foundation Inc., National Council on

Disability Affairs, and World Vision. Handicap International (HI) primarily engaged CDP in this endeavor given the latter’s involvement in the creation of the BIG module. HI also helped CDP in building its capacity on disability and inclusion through the conduct of orientations on disability and inclusive facilitation. Further, CDP has committed itself in the integration of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Inclusive CommunityBased Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (ICBDRRM) through its partnership with Malteser International Order of Malta under the project, “Enhancement and Training of Adapted Learning Materials on ICBDRRM.” In the said project, CDP has developed a guidebook on ICBDRRM with WASH focusing on the concerns of persons with disabilities, older persons, women and children and youth with inputs from Philippine Center for Water Sanitation (PCWS). It has also conducted back-to-back Training of Trainers (ToT) on ICBDRRM with WASH to 13 communities within the municipalities of Catarman and Laoang in Northern Samar.


DIDRRM in action Other than development of disability-inclusive manuals, CDP has also implemented projects on the integration of inclusivity in DRR. The first was entitled, “Building Community Resilience and Preparedness for Effective Disaster Prevention and Response: Twin Approach”, in partnership with Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB). The first phase of this project was referred to as, “Project Persons with Disabilities: Empowered, Engaged”, that focused in four (4) pilot barangays in the municipalities of Balangiga and Lawaan in Eastern Samar. Using the Twin-Track Approach, the project was comprised of two components: strengthening the resilience of local communities through CBDRRM and engaging with various multi-level stakeholders for the inclusion of people with disabilities. During the course of the project, the project team linked with the local Disabled People’s Organization (DPOs) of Balangiga and Lawaan. Members of both DPOs were invited to participate in several communitybased disability-inclusive DRRM activities held in the communities. These activities involved participants from the community, barangay and municipal LGU, and


representatives of at-risk sectors such as women, youth and children, older persons, and people with disabilities. The members of both organizations were also invited to awareness-raising orientations that focused on the rights of people with disabilities and benefits and privileges for sector. Some officials of the DPOs were asked to observe the Typhoon and Flood and Typhoon and Storm Surge simulation exercises held in Barangay Guinmaayohan and Barangay Guinob-an, respectively. In this manner, the DPOs were given the opportunity to evaluate the capacities of the barangay in evacuating and handling people with disabilities during a disaster. During the course of project implementation, challenges were encountered by CDP specifically in the conduct of capacity building activities. With this, the team made adjustments to accommodate the different conditions of the participants such as hearing impairment, problems with seeing, and mobility limitations. CDP trainers developed new and innovative ways to ensure an enabling environment that recognizes the evolving capacity of the participants given their context.



Nikki De Vera, Head of CDP’s Training and Capacity Building Program, shared that, “The institution deals with these challenges through constant learning and adjustment. The organization’s trainers are learning to be more disability-conscious in their methods and approaches to facilitating workshops. Adjustments to powerpoint presentations, exercises such as Disaster Dodgeball, and facilitation techniques take into account the learning curves and sensory impairments of the participants. Certain standards for the venue of trainings have also been considered to guarantee its accessibility to participants with mobility impairments. Even adjustments to the attendance sheet were made to consider the specific needs of participants. These changes may be considerably minor in comparison to the grand scale of change that the sector needs. However, they still make a significant impact and ensure that CDP develops a more inclusive environment for its participants and partners.” CDP has continued its desire to promote disability-inclusive DRR through partnering with CBM, in the implementation of another project entitled, “CBM and Partners Capacity Development on Disability-Inclusive Risk Preparedness and Emergency Response,” that aims to capacitate the local partner organizations of CBM in different provinces in the Philippines namely Quezon, Sorsogon, Agusan del Norte and Surigao del Sur. The project implementation is ongoing and involves two primary components: capacity building and knowledge management.

Internal capacity building for disability inclusion To further promote DIDRRM in the organization, CDP led the conduct of staff development sessions focusing on the sector of persons with disabilities. One of these sessions was the Training on Washington Group of Questions held on October 6-7, 2016. The project team in Eastern Samar led this undertaking to provide the staff with knowledge and skills to identify persons with disabilities and their needs. A one-day sensitization activity was also organized to have an elaborate discussion and holistic understanding of DIDRRM. CDP was also able to join a two-day capacity building activity for DIDRRM entitled, “Disability-inclusive Development”, facilitated by Life Haven. The activity enabled select CDP staff to understand various concepts related to disability inclusion such as (1) barriers, impairments, and poverty cycle; (2) international and national laws and policies; (3) disability-inclusive development; and (4) disabilityinclusive project management. In this activity, CDP was also able to present its good practices from the implementation of Project Elevate. This has inspired fellow DIDRRM

practitioners to further advocate and fight for the needs and concerns of persons with disabilities. Apart from country level engagement, CDP was also able to take part in an international undertaking for inclusive DRRM. The center joined the Dhaka Conference that was initiated by the government of Bangladesh. The said event was conducted with the aim of gathering 18 countries to discuss, plan, and strategize the national implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR in the lens of disability inclusion. The activity provided an avenue for CDP to present its experiences and lessons learned on DIDRRM as an organization. Louielyn Morada, head of the Projects and Partnerships program and representative of the organization in the activity, shared that the event was also an opportunity for CDP to gain the perspective of other countries, their efforts towards empowering persons with disabilities, and the challenges along the way.


Capacity Building Efforts for DPOs A year after the implementation of the ASB-funded DIDRRM project, it was followed by a second phase dubbed Project Elevate: Marig-on Estehanon! which covered more communities, having 13 barangays in Balangiga and 16 barangays in Lawaan. In this phase, the team recognized the importance of capacitating the local DPOs of Balangiga and Lawaan. Despite the establishment of an organization for the sectors, the visibility and involvement for people with disabilities was considerably low. “Before, during campaigns or when the election period drew near, we would be organized by the municipal LGU. Only during times of election. After that period, nothing happens,� says Mario Ellema, president of the DPO in Balangiga. The project team decided that interventions needed to be conducted in order to strengthen both organizations. In order to do so, CDP directed a team from its Research, Knowledge Exchange and Management program to conduct a scoping study on the capacities and needs of the organizations. The team conducted separate interviews and focus group discussions with members of the DPOs, DPO officials, and offices concerned with the state of the sector. Through these consultations, the team was able to develop a comprehensive plan in building the capacities of the organization. The team was able to invite key speakers from the field of disability inclusion in order to deliver trainings on the Magna Carta and Disability Law, leadership, management, and organizational development. The team


also conducted a workshop on conducting the Washington Group of Questions as a means of more comprehensively collecting disability data from the community. A training of trainers for DIDRRM was also conducted. The result of the training produced a well-represented pool of dedicated trainers who are knowledgeable on DIDRRM. The pool of trainers is composed of community members and volunteers, barangay and municipal LGU officials, and DPO members.

DI CBDRRM Resulting in Awareness, Inclusion, and Empowerment The project has produced numerous results in the span of two years. One of the most significant and concrete impacts of the two-year effort is the development of disability-inclusive local DRRM plans and contingency plans for the partner LGUs. This is a huge step considering the lack of visibility for the sector just a year prior. Another important outcome is the increase in the identification and registration of persons with disability at the barangay level, which is largely due to the barangay-level organizing of the partner DPOs.


“During the two years with CDP, the project has made such a huge impact. Many are no longer ashamed to leave their homes because they know our rights,” says Norly Cordero, president of the Special Differently Abled Persons of Lawaan (SDAPOL). The DPOs in Balangiga and Lawaan still have much further to go in their goals for the sector. Through dynamic and committed partnerships with the LGU, the DPO members believe they can sustain the gains of the past two years and continue to push for complete empowerment. Capacity building in DI-CBDRRM was not just an avenue for their involvement but provided people with disabilities with the opportunity to contribute to the resilience of their communities. According to Mario, “From Project PWDEE [Persons with Disabiltiy: Empowered, Engaged] until Project Elevate, they have been a great source of help in disaster preparedness. People with disabilities are invited to participate and contribute not just for themselves but for the entire barangay.”


Triumphs of Humanity in Disability Inclusion Committing Oneself to Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DIDRRM): A Practitioner’s Story


he Center for Disaster Preparedness began its journey in Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DIDRRM) in 2015. Its first step to DIDRRM project implementation was under the “Building Community Resilience and Preparedness for Effective Disaster Prevention and Response: Twin Approach”, in collaboration with Arbeiter-SamariterBund (ASB). This project, locally known as Project ELEVATE: Marig-on Estehanon!, is led by one of its staff who gained exposure to the different institutional programs such as Training, Capacity and Development; and Advocacy, Partnership and Networking. After a year of being with the organization, she began working on the project under the Projects and Partnerships Program. “For almost 1.5 years now, I have been managing the DIDRRM project of CDP in partnership with Arbeiter Samariter Bund (ASB) and Aktion Deutschland Hilft (ADH). It is now on its second phase which built on the successes of phase 1. Right now, the project focuses on capacitating the municipal LGUs and barangays in DICBDRRM and empowering the persons with disabilities and their organizations,” says Kessica Bersamin, project manager of ELEVATE, states that she faced many challenges in her supervision of the undertaking. Kessica states the experience of running a major project has brought her a number of unexpected lessons—both professional and personal. In terms of disability inclusion, Kessica explains the importance of working with the sector. According to her, in order to have a stronger understanding of the needs and capacities of people with disabilities, it is crucial to learn from persons with disabilities and their organizations firsthand. She also stresses the importance of involving the community in the advocacy for people with disabilities. “It is highly important to educate and sensitize the community (family, school, workplace) where persons with disability belong to in order to reduce the barriers to their participation and inclusion.” Aside from these lessons, Kessica also reflected on how the initiative has helped her become a more committed development worker. “I have missed anniversaries & date nights with my girl, bath times with my dog, birthday celebrations of my nephews and niece, dinner with my ladies, inuman [social drinking] nights with friends, reunions with “orgmates” [fellow members in an organization during college], rallies against the injustice that we›re living in, outof-town vacations, board game nights, fast internet connection, a tidy kitchen, and all those food cravings that I can›t possibly have while I›m here in the fields of Eastern Samar. "I have missed all the things above for a year now, and I’ll keep missing them for at least 9 months more because of the work that I have grown to love so much. Being with CDP  through our project of working with persons with disability in increasing their role & participation in governance and DRR, has occupied a sizable amount of my work and personal life. (And oh boy), the experience has changed me and continues to influence me.



"Some people live for the glitz, glamour, money, and power. I used to dream about having all of these too. Most people in my circle are on their way there to the top, and sometimes it’s very tempting to follow that path as well. "But I’m glad that I have found my niche, my own green pasture where I’m taking in so much more than what I have bargained for. For all the things I have missed and temporarily gave up, I received tenfold more: compassion, kindness, hope, and inspiration. "I’m dedicated to make this country safer and more resilient, and working hard to empower the people who have spent all their lives in the sidelines. This is the path that I’m choosing, the path of a scholar-activist who is serving the nation and leading with passion.” She has fully embraced the pains and sacrifices of a development worker to promote the welfare of persons with disabilities. She has reached the pinnacle of selflessness reflected from the lessons she has embodied in serving the communities covered by the project. Truly, she is an inspiration not just to the advocates of persons with disabilities but also to all who are wholeheartedly offering their commitment to humanity.

Forging Ahead To continuously advance the agenda of DIDRRM, CDP has to embark on activities and efforts toward institutionalization. As mentioned by Nikki, changes with the most impact happen inside the institution and between the members of the office staff. “Those involved in DIDRRM projects, their attitudes toward disability have changed. The most strategic way to maintain the gains and learnings from the projects is to institutionalize them. The institution can move forward in DIDRRM if it takes DIDRRM seriously and in all its engagements.” Further, Louielyn underscored the importance of really integrating disability inclusion in CDP’s work at various levels. She shared that the organization possesses great potential as a catalyst for change because of its engagement with both duty-bearers and right-holders. “CDP has a wide influence,” she said. “It is important that CDP be keen in institutional learning. Inclusion is a new concept to the organization and we still have much to learn, but it is also a big opportunity for CDP.”

Indeed, CDP can play a fundamental role in helping persons with disabilities and their organizations to uplift their condition through continuously strengthening their capacities and raising their awareness. Such endeavors will enable persons with disabilities to advocate for their rights and realize their potentials not only as individuals but also as significant part of the society.



Moving Forward Together


he good practices exhibited by CBM and its partner organizations have truly made an impact on the persons, organizations, and communities they have worked with. Their effective and innovative services, programs, and actions have facilitated in addressing the inequality of rights and opportunities experienced by persons with disabilities and have aided in lifting the barriers experienced by the sector all over the country. The narratives highlight the criticality of building and developing inclusive organizations, fostering partnerships with multiple stakeholders, empowering persons with disabilities and communities, and sustaining the gains of disability-inclusion in various areas whether it be in community-based rehabilitation, community organizing, education, technology, or disaster risk reduction and management. The case stories featured in this manuscript are also indicative of how humanity can triumph amidst adversity, especially with the multiple challenges present in society. While poverty, corruption, inequality, and disaster risks continue to afflict the country, the human-interest

accounts show how tireless dedication and advocacy to the cause of persons with disability can have fruitful and meaningful outcomes. It is hoped that these success stories have provided inspirational lessons to fellow practitioners and advocates to motivate and encourage them to continue striving to promote and uphold the rights of persons with disability. An inclusive society can be attained if both duty-bearers and stakeholders work hand-in-hand in increasing persons with disabilities’ access to education, health and rehabilitation, and social activities, providing them with platforms to enable their full, equal, and meaningful participation in society, and continuing to address the attitudinal, environmental, and institutional barriers in the country. Together, we can do more to amplify the movement towards an empowered and inclusive nation. In this manner, a developed, resilient, and sustainable future can be within our reach.


ATRIEV. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from http://www.atriev.org.ph/ ATRIEV. (n.d.) News and features. Retrieved from https://atriev.wordpress.com/ Cainta Government Website. (2016). About Cainta. Retrieved from http://www.cainta.gov.ph Faith Christian Community Church. (2016). Know more. Retrieved from http://www.fccc.org.au/ Global Disability Watch. (2015). Paul Edward Muego. Retrieved from https://globaldisability.org/our-team/paul National Council for Disability Affairs. (2012). Tahanang Walang Hagdanan Inc. Retrieved from http://www. ncda.gov.ph/2012/06/tahanang-walang-hagdanan-inc/ Philippine Coordinating Center for Inclusive Development Profile. (2017). Retrieved from PCCID Organizational Profile Submitted to CDP. Philippine Coordinating Center for Inclusive Development. (2017). About us. Retrieved from http://pccid.org Tahanang Walang Hagdanan. (n.d.). New Arrivals. Retrieved from http://tahanangwalanghagdanan.shopinas. com/ Tahanang Walang Hagdanan. (2012). The founder. Retrieved from http://twh.org.ph/about.php Ugnayan. (2012). DSWD partners with Bethsaida CBR for the conduct of FDS in Quezon Retrieved from http:// www.ugnayan.com/ph/gov/DSWD/article/2R29

Profile for Center for Disaster Preparedness

Good Practices in Disability Inclusion: A Collection of Experiences  

A Collection of Experiences from People with Disabilities, Practitioners in Disability Inclusion, and Allies of the Sector in the Philippine...

Good Practices in Disability Inclusion: A Collection of Experiences  

A Collection of Experiences from People with Disabilities, Practitioners in Disability Inclusion, and Allies of the Sector in the Philippine...