May 1% Ka Ba? Meet Raph of the DFA!
Acknowledging the growing trend of inclusion in workplaces, Raph feels strongly about how employers should give Persons with Disability the chance to shine. “Awareness in the workplace is the key. "
Among the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is a special individual who advocates tirelessly for Persons with Disability within the agency: Raphael Torralba, the Assistant for Person with Disability Programs of the Human Resources Management Office. Under his careful watch, the forty-five Persons with Disability spread out across the DFA network can integrate and work well with the agency, its operations, and the rest of its workforce.
Raph, a Person who is Hard of Hearing, started out in the DFA as part of the Office of Consular Affairs (OCA), before taking on an extensive range of responsibilities in various areas. He applied at the DFA through normal hiring procedures, with guidance from the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA).
“When I first entered the halls of DFA, a mixture of happiness and uncertainty greeted me,” Raph explains. “I was glad to be shortlisted for a job interview, but at the same time, I feared being rejected due to the communication barrier, which usually starts in the recruitment process. It makes life difficult for a Person who is a Hard of Hearing person like me. Surprisingly, during my interview, the interviewer never made communication hard for me. That was the moment I began to feel at ease, knowing that DFA really cares for Persons with Disability. Afterwards, my fear dissipated.”
The DFA is very supportive of employing Persons with Disability, exceeding the 1% Person with Disability employment rule mandated by RA 10524. The agency also maintains programs that specifically look after the well-being of their Persons with Disability employees, and coordinates regularly among the varied embassies and related offices, with Raph’s meticulous support. There are Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees employed in the OCA, while other Persons with Disability are in other units, embassies, consulates, and regional consular offices.
Raph has had other productive work engagements over the years, and he is more than satisfied with the supportive atmosphere in the DFA. “I'm happy with my work. Considering that the DFA is a Person with Disability-friendly agency, it makes me feel at home. It makes me feel I'm a part of the family. DFA doesn’t leave their Persons with Disability employees behind. They provide them opportunities for career growth, just the same as what other employees are receiving.”
Acknowledging the growing trend of inclusion in workplaces, Raph feels strongly about how employers should give Persons with Disability the chance to shine. “Awareness in the workplace is the key. It creates ripples that reach other colleagues, as seen in how we, the Person with Disability employees, educate our fellow colleagues: the lessons we teach them are continually passed on,” he points out.
“I want to share what one of my favorite ambassadors once said: that all of us are potential diplomats and one diplomat can change the world,” Raph says, firmly optimistic about how the public can support inclusion. “In that case, anyone can be an ambassador for PWD awareness. Be that one.”
This is the first in 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 via https://www.facebook.com/ProjectInclusionPH/.
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 http://www.unilabfoundation.org/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.