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Jan 7, 2010

Posted by in Advocacies, Autism, Featured | 10 Comments

Apparently, not every Juan can fly with Cebu Pacific after all

Apparently, not every Juan can fly after all.

Contrary to Cebu Pacific‘s tag line that it’s time everyone flies (or every Juan as they so creatively coined), there are exemptions to who they are willing to fly. This is the message they gave to the public when they so insensitively tried to coerce a mother and her son to disembark from the plane they were taking because the son had special needs. The incident took place last December 23, 2009. According to news reports, Mrs. Mylene Alcantara was told by the flight crew that they cannot go on with their flight after finding out that her son was a special child. More specifically, she was informed that the company policy was that no two special needs passengers can be on the same flight. Apparently, there was another child with Down’s Syndrome already aboard the aircraft. They reportedly were insisting that her son was mentally ill, thus they could not travel. I applaud this mother’s strength and courage as she not only refused to be coerced and intimidated by these crew members but also for continuing the fight against the airline. Mrs. Alcantara is now filing a multi-million lawsuit against the carrier.

This is not the first time Cebu Pacific has displayed obvious descirmination towards PWD’s or Persons with Disabilities. In a previous incident (which if not for a blogger’s Plurk I would not have known about), Cebu Pacific refused to board a group of  deaf passengers because of a policy against having two unescorted passengers that require special handling. They explained further that “special handling” pertained to passengers who were pregnant, had disabilities,  medical cases, minors travelling alone and individuals whose physical, medical or mental conditions need special or individual attention (read the entire response via Filipino Deaf from the Eyes of a Hearing Person here and here).

Granted that having unassisted and unaccompanied individuals who need special attention may tax the resources of the cabin crew in case of emergency and increase the carrier’s liability, this seems to not be the case in the situations of both the group of hearing impaired tourists and Mrs. Alcantara’s son. For one, the child was accompanied by his mother who clearly is able to care for her son and attend to his needs. Secondly, as heard over the radio this morning, the lawyer of the family pointed out that special children are not considered mentally ill.

What ignorance on the part of a company! Just because someone has special needs does not make them less of an individual nor does it mean they do not deserve opportunities granted to everyone else. So long as they have their support system on hand, there should be no problems or issues at all. Conrtary to the belief that children with autism or mental retardation cannot behave and act inappropriately, they can be just like other kids in many, many ways. In fact, a lot of times it is the so-called “normal” population that acts inappropriately in-flight. The Cebu Pacific crew‘s behavior takes us back to a time when children with autism, Down’s Syndrome and other physical, mental or other handicaps were institutionalized and hidden from the rest of the world. I, for one, am not willing to go back to that kind of a mind-set. I enjoin a fellow autism advocate and another brave mom of a child with autism as she calls for the airline industry to accommodate individuals with special needs. If I may add, this accommodations should be done with no questions asked!

In the last year alone, I have read so many gripes and rants about the airline, from faulty online bookings to poor customer service, and now this. It is time that the airline started making changes about their policies and procedures. Further, their training of their staff should be revamped. I remember on my Davao trip last year, I had taken another carrier but my friends had taken Cebu Pacific and they had a major rant about one of the crew. I don’t remember what it was exactly anymore, but the point is Cebu Pacific should work on better customer service. While the airline has made apologies to the family, it is not enough. The damage is done.

Cebu Pacific does offer low fares. But their claim on great value? This is something we now have to think about.

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Jul 12, 2009

Posted by in Autism | 2 Comments

Be an Angel for Autism and Help Save Their School!

I wasn’t really planning to check out my Plurk timeline this morning as I needed a time-out for myself but I’m glad I ended up doing so. I came across a thread from a good friend of mine appealing for help to save her daughter’s school from losing their lease. This Center for Intervention and Development Foundation Inc. is one of the few centers that caters to Children with Autism. I beleive that WE NEED TO MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD! There are millions of Filipinos affected by this developmental disorder and it is time our government gave it the attention it needs.

Below is the article written by Earth of earthlingorgeous.com:

In April 2010 the lease term of my daughter’s school for special children especially children with autism (CWA)  in Quezon City, the Center for Intervention and Development Foundation Inc. (CIDFI) will be over.  Our school principal and the members of the board of trustees are not sure if they will still be able to secure a renewal of lease contract since they were told that the government has plans to put up a 6 story building at that lot they are leasing that will be used for the medical tourism plans for the country.

In 2010, if the election will push through, a new president will be in place, a new health secretary will be installed and a new chairman of Philippine Children’s Medical Hospital (PCMC) will be appointed. Will all the new officials that will be installed the CDIFI board of trustees are not sure if they will still grant a renewal of the lease.

CIDFI has been a school for special children for more than 20 years, they were put up in 1987 by doctors/neurologist/developmental pediatrician from the PCMC because they want to be able to completely monitor the case of their patients, since during that time there were no special schools or schools for children with autism (CWA) and other related diseases that involves learning disability.

Do we really need to become a tourist destination and cater for the tourist medical and health problems and leave our countrymen to worry on their own and find somewhere else to go regarding their health and welfare?

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My daughter’s school will hold another board meeting by the end of July to find some solution and think of a way to lobby for a renewal of contract if not find a new place to relocate and lease.

Yesterday, we held a Parent Orientation and Parent meeting with the school principal and she told us about this problem and asked for our prayers and support.  Today I am asking everyone to pray and help us.  If you know people who got influence from the government, can you whisper to them to have compassion for the special children, the children with autism, who are benefits from CIDFI to renew their lease contract? (Here is the country’s present situation regarding autism welfare in the Philippines) (here is what the government can do regarding autism welfare)

CDIFI is a private school but it was located beside the Children’s hospital to be accessible for the doctors who referred children with special needs to study there so that they can monitor the child’s improvement and be able to hold a doctor, teacher, therapist and parent conference.  Since the school was put up by doctors from the children’s hospital they were given a low lease price of more than P203,000 a year.

  • If the school will move out this year the fees we are paying for their sessions will shoot up to 500%.  With the present situation of this school which is put up by a non-profit foundation that amount is expensive. Parents with children with autism who have their child study there are mostly averaged income families, while some work so hard to be able to have their child’s intervention push through.
  • If the school will move out and pay a higher rent the fee we pay will shoot up to amounts no average person can handle.  More child with autism will not be able to learn and develop.
  • If the school will move out there will be children with autism who will not be able to get intervention and education they need to become independent and a helpful member of the society.
  • If the school will move out there is a possibility that the good teachers helping us there will rather go out of the country to have better income.  It’s a sad fact that most of the good special education teachers choose to go abroad because the income is greater abroad than here.
  • And the most dreadful of all if the lease contract will not pursue there is a possibility that the school will close down since the school does not have any funds for it. Some parents were not able to pay for their kids fee  but the school still accepts them and the teachers still teach them as their moral responsibility.  But still the school has bills to pay especially the teachers salary.  They already have a more than a million deficit since last year.

My daughter has dramatically improved since she started her sessions at CDIFI.  I love how my doctor and my teacher can talk about my daughter’s improvement and what areas they need to focus on.  I love the fact that the staff in the food kiosk in that school are CWA’s.  I love how accessible the vicinity of the school is to the hospital.  I love how intensive their programs are.  I love the fact that they are helping CWA’s for more than 20 years now.

Please help save my daughter’s school.  Please be an angel to my daughter and other CWA. Please be my angel.  Pray that my daughter’s school be saved.  Please tell God that whoever becomes the new leader of the country to have a heart for special children.

If you support this cause please grab this button drop by Earth’s site and place it on your sidebar and become an Earth’s Angel for Autism

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Jun 5, 2009

Posted by in Autism | 3 Comments

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities.

Living with a disability, be it physical, cognitive, psychosocial or language disabilities, can be trying, not just emotionally but also financially. Doctors visits, tests, therapies and medication definitely place a strain on the family’s budget.  It is nice to hear that as of March 2009, the Persons With Disability ID is available in many local municipalities, as reported by the Autism Society Philippines. These ID’s entitle PWD’s to avail of health and medically related discounts in all drugstores and medical facilities.

On May 20, 2009, the Department of Health issued Administrative Order 2009-0011 which outlines implementing guidelines to RA 9442 (otherwise known as “An Act Amending Republic Act No. 7277, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and for Other Purposes,” for the provision of medical and related discounts and special priviliges). This ordinance will surely make the lives of Persons With Disabilities (PWD) somewhat more manageable. This will also allow them to avail of services, amongst others, that they surely need. It’s kinda sad that this was not publicized or given as much attention as it should have been given. As with the ConAss issue, this seems to have been overshadowed by the controversial Hayden Kho-Katrina Halili sex scandal. I’m glad I am on the mailing list of the Autism Society Philippines, thus I was able to be informed about this.

With this order, persons with disabilities shall be entiled to at least 20% discounts on medicines in all drugstores, 20% discount on medical/dental services and laboratory fees in all government facilities (subject to guidelines by DOH and PhilHealth),  and 20% discount on the same services plus professional fees of attending physicians in private hospitals, again, based on guidelines set by DOH in coordination with PhilHealth. The rules further provide that express lanes for PWD’s shall be provided in all private, commercial and government establishments. The directive provides services not only for the physically impaired, but also includes psychosocial disabilities.

As I read through the guidelines, it seemed to me that the process of availing of the Senior Citizens discount (including getting an ID and purchase booklet from the local municipality) is the same as how the PWD discounts will work.  In the latest e-newsletter of the ASP, they pointed out PWD’s residing in Quezon City can now avail of their PWD ID card and medicine purchase booklet.

Click here for more information about REPUBLIC ACT 9442

Click here to check if your municipality is issuing PWD ID’s and purchase booklets.

UPDATE:

Thank you to Earth for clarifying that this law has been in exsistence for some time now. Read more about it here.

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Apr 24, 2009

Posted by in Autism, Featured | 0 Comments

Angels for Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by speech/communication and social impairments in individuals with the disorder. It is a lifelong disorder that affects not just the individual with autism, but their families as well. Estimates show that approximately 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with autism. Although more prevalent in males than females, autism can affect anyone: it knows no gender, age, no race, nationality, and socioeconomic status.

It truly takes an Angel to embrace Autism. I invite you to be one of them too!

This month, I undertook a campaign for Autism Awareness as a project for my birthday. I was pleasantly surprised at the success the project attained! As a birthday present to me, I asked my friends and family to support my cause by pledging at least Php 50.00 (a little over $1) for an Angel Baller Band from the Autism Society Philippines. Proceeds will benefit the ASP’s provincial chapters which in in turn provides support and services to underprivileged families afflicted with autism.

How can you help?

Well, for one, you can make a donation to the ASP to help support their programs. You can get in touch with them through autismphil@pldtdsl.net.  If you have a special talent or skill that can be of help to these individuals, why not volunteer? I understand a major need for many individuals with autism is socialization. By sharing your time, they can have just that. If you are a business owner, why not employ one or two young adults who have autism? Many of them are high functioning individuals who can handle rote tasks like filing, shelving, and similar repetitive tasks.  More importantly, however, you can help by spreading awareness about this disorder to people around you. As the ASP beleives, Autism is not a tragedy. IGNORANCE IS THE TRAGEDY. By building awareness in the community we can help others understand what autism is all about. This can also pave the way for inclusion of individual with autism into mainstream society. I remember with sadness a story a friend told me that she overheard a parent complaining about her daughters ballet class having accepted a child with autism. Let’s try to get rid of that ignorance!

Although my campaign is just about over, I am committing myself to continuing building awareness for autism and individuals and families living with this disorder. I hope to be able to feature inspirational stories written by parents, professionals, and perhaps individuals with autism. If you have a story you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at yapatoots@gmail.com.

For donations, support and inquiries about how to obtain an Angel Baller Band, please check out my post on my Campaign for Autism Awareness here.

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