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  • The ULF Team

Gourm-A: Celebration of Great Food, Exceptionality, and Workplace Inclusion

“We want PWAs to be hired not because it’s a charitable thing to do, but because it’s where they can excel and shine,” said Mona Magno-Veluz, President of Autism Society of the Philippines. “They are A-okay to work,” testified Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco, executive chef of GourmetGypsy

Any meal prepared with love is special. A dinner in a fancy restaurant—extra special. But a three-course gourmet meal prepared by Persons with Autism (PWA)? Now that’s exceptional!


That’s exactly what Project Gourm-A offered: a dining experience featuring adults with autism as chefs and servers, held last May 9, 2015 at GourmetGypsy Art Café in Quezon City. The event was meant to “showcase skills of individuals on the spectrum in the restaurant industry.” The project is an initiative of the Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP), in partnership with Open Hand School for Applied Arts and GourmetGypsy.


“We want PWAs to be hired not because it’s a charitable thing to do, but because it’s where they can excel and shine,” said Mona Magno-Veluz, National President of Autism Society of the Philippines, and mother of a young adult with autism.

“They are A-okay to work,” testified Chef Waya Araos-Wijangco, executive chef of GourmetGypsy and founder of Open Hand, as she welcomed the guests. She should know; 30% of her staff members in GourmetGypsy are people with intellectual disability (PWIDs), with two in the kitchen, two as servers and entertainers, and two in the administrative office.


Backing Veluz, she said that hiring people with special needs “makes good business. They can really do the job.”


Unilab Foundation (ULF) believes that given the right conditions, PWIDs can excel at work. Through Project Inclusion, ULF proves in the book “From Exceptionality to Exceptional: Inclusion of Differently-Abled Persons in the Workplace”, that hiring PWIDs is good for the PWID, good for the team, and good for the company.

Kudos to companies who create environment where disabilities are turned into exceptional contributions in the workplace.


With more companies like them, we can build a healthier, more inclusive Philippines, one Person with Disability at time.


Know of other groups, companies or business who hire PWIDs? Share their story with us! Email us at healthierPH@unilabfoundation.org.


Project Inclusion is Unilab Foundation’s employment program for Persons with Disabilities, specifically those with autism and Down syndrome. Project Inclusion works with other organizations like Autism Society of the Philippines, who believe in workplace inclusion.


Read the story of one of GourmetGypsy’s special cook here.

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