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  • The ULF Team

May 1% Ka Ba? Meet Mayor Dahlia of Carmona, Cavite!

One of the leading local government units of the Philippines in terms of engagement and inclusion of Persons with Disability (PWDs) is the municipality of Carmona, Cavite. Led by its charismatic mayor, Dahlia Loyola, Carmona is an inspiring example of how enabling support for PWDs from the level of local governance can make a compelling difference in the lives of the entire community.

One of the leading local government units of the Philippines in terms of engagement and inclusion of Persons with Disability (PWDs) is the municipality of Carmona, Cavite. Led by its charismatic mayor, Dahlia Loyola, Carmona is an inspiring example of how enabling support for PWDs from the level of local governance can make a compelling difference in the lives of the entire community.


Carmona’s advocacy for the holistic integration and enhancement of PWDs in all possible levels of the municipality, ranging across governance, employment, entrepreneurship, and education, owes much to Mayor Dahlia’s commitment to PWD advocacy. “Siyempre, kapag ika’y isang namumuno, ang gusto mo, makapaglingkod ka sa lahat ng sekta ng komunidad,” she says. “Inclusive growth: ibig sabihin, nobody should be left behind. Kaya ang mga persons with disability, bahagi ng inyong komunidad, tama lamang na bigyan natin ito ng programa.”


As of May 2018, there were 1,801 registered PWDs of various ages in Carmona, according to their Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO). The PDAO spearheads Carmona’s PWD support and service framework, pursuing center-based rehabilitation via their Comprehensive Approach for Responsive Education (CARE) Program and community-based rehabilitation through inclusive development along designated matrices of education, health, social integration, employment, and empowerment. It also manages the livelihood program for PWDs and supports the initiatives of NGOs such as Kilusang Kabalikat ng may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan (4K), Person with Disability Organization of Carmona, Cavite Inc. (PDOCCI), and Buhay Autismo.


Makikita mo na ibang-iba ang Carmona sa ibang bayan,” explains Angelo Macha, the resident IT officer of the Carmona LGU, and the direct supervisor of Raychan, a person with autism in their department. “Kasi dito, [ang PWD], tanggap na tanggap sila. Parang walang difference. Hindi sila tinatago. Hindi tulad sa ibang bayan, talagang parang pinapahiya, binu-bully, pag may nakita, pinagtatawanan. Dito, hindi. Pag nakita [ang isang PWD], automatic, kapag wala pang intervention, alam na agad kung saan siya dadalhin, gawa ni Mayor, talagang advocacy niya yun e. At kaming mga taga-Carmona, alam na namin kung paano makitungo [sa mga PWD], kahit saan ka pumunta dito sa government agency, dahil trained na kami ng PDAO.


The residents of Carmona are firm believers in the effectiveness of Mayor Dahlia’s advocacy, particularly because of how it has helped shift their perspectives. “Noong araw, pakiramdam [ng mga magulang], katapusan na ng mundo kapag magkaroon ka ng anak na may disability,” she admits. “Kasi, hindi nila alam, ano ba ang magiging buhay nitong mga ito? Noong masimulan ng pamahalaang bayan itong holistic approach sa pangangalaga sa mga batang may kapansanan, hindi lamang mga magulang ng mga PWDs ang natuwa, kundi lahat ng mga constituents namin. Marami kaming groups dito sa Carmona na tumutulong at bahagi sa paglilingkod at pagbibigay ng programa sa aming PWDs.”


The holistic service framework that Carmona implements is built around a comprehensive understanding of what works best for any given PWD, starting from the basis of education. “Nakita namin na hindi lahat ng PWD ay pwedeng ipasok at i-mainstream sa regular education,” Mayor Dahlia notes. “So paano gagawin mo, kundi doon sa iba, na hindi pupuwedeng mag-benefit sa normal education? Ginawa namin yung service framework, in the sense na hanggang sa end, malaman namin, ano ba ang end point ng bawat isang individual na PWD? Kung pwede ba ito sa regular education, diretso ba ito hanggang sa kolehiyo? Kung hindi talaga capable, hindi naman namin ito pwedeng tigilan. Hindi naman pupwede lamang turuan namin ng regular na day-to-day living. Kailangan, since tatanda din yan, turuan mo din ng livelihood, maging entrepreneur yan kung capable.”


Carmona has faced its own challenges over time while pursuing its PWD advocacy framework: a fact that Mayor Dahlia admits, but she considers them natural hurdles that can be overcome, especially with sufficient political will. “Mahirap sa simula, pero kung ikaw ay isang local chief executive, na yung vision at mission mo ay talagang nakatutok ka sa welfare nitong mga [PWDs], maglalaan ka ng pondo para sa kanila,” she points out. “And the rest, darating yan, maniwala ka, with God’s grace, maraming tumutulong na national agencies. At hindi lang national agencies: private individuals, private institutions.”


Moving forward, Mayor Dahlia is enthusiastic about not just continuing Carmona’s efforts to empower its PWDs but capacitating other LGUs as well. “Other local government units, they don’t need to spend, they don’t need to work [on a new framework],” she declares. “Ipahihiram ko na, and I am more than willing to train. Padala nila rito [yung personnel nila]. Ipahihiram namin yung service framework na makikita kong applicable.”


Angelo underscores that same sentiment: “Proud ako [sa Carmona], pero dapat, etong ibang bayan, gayahin nila kung ano yung nagagawa ng Carmona, kasi hindi lang naman tayo umiikot sa Carmona.”


Kapag sinabi mo na ikaw ay inclusive na munisipiyo, maraming magtitiwala sa iyo e,” Mayor Dahlia concludes. “Kasi ibig sabihin, performing ka, isa kang gobyerno na wala kang iniiwanan. Lahat ng miyembro ng sosyodad mo ay mahalaga, gusto mong maging produktibo. So ibig sabihin niyan, maraming taong magtitiwala sa iyo na papasok at magbigay ng negosyo, paunlarin ang ekonomiya, dahil nakikita nila na may pinupuntahan ang kanilang ini-invest at binabayad sa ating gobyerno. At higit sa lahat, masaya ang lahat ng constituents namin dito, dahil sa pananaw nila, mahalaga sila.”

This is a part of a series of special features on Persons with Disability in a variety of workplaces, both in the private and the public sectors. Stay tuned to the “May 1% Ka Ba?” campaign on Project Inclusion's Facebook page.


This 2018, the Australian Embassy and the Asia Foundation partnership in the Philippines, through Fully Abled Nation and Project Inclusion, shines the spotlight on workplace inclusion through “May 1% Ka Ba?”, an advocacy campaign promoting access to work opportunities for Persons with Disability.


Fully Abled Nation (FAN) was established in 2011 as a multi-sectoral coalition with constituents from various government agencies, civil society organizations, disabled peoples’ organizations, and the private sector. In the 2013 and 2016 elections, FAN partnered with COMELEC and made elections more accessible for PWDs. This year, under the Coalitions for Change (CfC) program of the Australian Embassy and The Asia Foundation Partnership in the Philippines, FAN focuses on inclusive education and inclusive employment.


Project Inclusion is a program of Unilab Foundation, Inc. that enables access to work opportunities for PWDs. Since its inception in 2013, the program has provided improved work access to over 600 PWDs, more than 200 of them are now employed in various industries. For more information on Project Inclusion, visit www.unilabfoundation.org or contact projectinclusion@unilabfoundation.org.

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