Your Embrace, My Hope Program
Persons with Disablity Affairs Office

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The years before 2000 were very bleak for the persons with disabilities in the Philippines. Despite the ratification in 1992 of R. A. 7277, also known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, there was a debilitating neglect of PWDs in terms of education, rehabilitation, and integration into the mainstream society. There were only three major schools for the blind, deaf and mobility impaired, namely, The Philippine National School for the blind, Philippine School for the Deaf and the National Orthopedic Hospital’s School for Crippled Children, which were all located in Metro Manila. The necessary services needed by the PWDs were inaccessible for the estimated 992,580 PWDs representing 1.22 percent of the nation’s population (2000 Census of Population and Housing, NSO). At the time, PWDs were mostly kept at home by parents for fear that the PWDs might be ridiculed and ostracized by insensitive children and people, who were not tolerant of the PWDs deficiencies. Tracing back the history of the physically and mentally challenged persons in the Municipality of Carmona, when other people just shrug-off when they see them and others just utter words of sympathy on how pitiful their fate might seem in that sad state of life. CARMONA's past local government did not focus on creating program and advocacy to deliver various services to persons with disability. Sending their children to SPED schools is very expensive. The absence of facilities in Carmona and in neighboring towns to foster center-based development among PWDs was definitely an issue. Due to dire financial constraints and the inaccessibility of SPED Schools, the interventions necessary for the PWDs to lead a fruitful life became at the discretion, patience and limited knowledge of parents and siblings. It was not until around 2010 that the private sector invested in SPED Schools but at an unaffordable price for the poor who were nevertheless unfortunately affected by the phenomena. In terms of livelihood, opportunities were rare, owing to the PWDs lack of education and skills, as well as, the structural and mechanical inefficiencies of establishments to make their workplace disabled-friendly. PWDs in our community suffer from social anxiety and low self-esteem. Coupled with the parents' attitude and belief that their dreams for their children have shattered, life for these people were indeed devastating. For example, communication barrier among hearing-impaired individuals and the hearing community makes it impossible for the former to engage themselves into mainstream education and employment; less social interaction decreases what they can achieve in life. For orthopedically handicapped individuals, the feeling of uselessness and worthlessness may cause depression. For people with visual impairment, lack of opportunities to get employed may increase family expenses over household income. The economic impact of having a PWD in a family should not be underestimated. So there was really a great need to create a breakthrough that would open the doors in order to uphold the rights and welfare of our PWDs.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Local Government Unit of Carmona, through the initiative of then Mayor Roy Loyola, now the Congressman of the 5th District of Cavite, took to heart the implementation of R.A. 7277 and enacted Municipal Ordinance 003-02, which established the Disabled Persons Coordinating Office in September, 2000. With only 13 learners in a borrowed classroom and 4 personnel, the office reached out to the physically and mentally challenged members of the community. Since then the DPCO has painstakingly metamorphosed into the Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) which currently undertakes the “Your Embrace, My Hope” Program for the care, rehabilitation, empowerment and integration of 167 center-based and 785 community-based PWDs as abled individuals, ready to take on the challenges of life and making a living as conscientious and productive members of the community.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The initiative solved the problem by providing PWDs free access to assessment, special education, health services and skills training. PDAOs current thirty-four (34) staff and PDAO-trained parents work hand-in-hand to provide the special needs of the PWDs. Through the parent’s desk at the barangay level, PDAO consistently monitors the PWDs and their families in the community- based program. Where before the PWDs were shunned by the communities, heightened awareness and sensitivities through the campaigns of PDAO have given the PWDs avenues by which they can build confidence and responsibility through socialization with both special and normal children, friendly competitions, and simulated work settings. With acknowledgment by PDAO, the PWDs now enjoy all the benefits accrued to them by the laws. The very essence of the PDAO “Your Embrace, My Hope” Program is encapsulated in the word E-M-B-R-A-C-E, which stands for: 1.) E -empower PWDs, 2.) M- map, monitor and mentor people with special needs, 3.) B- build centers for development and livelihood, 4.) R- render quality education and health care service, 5.) A- adopt effective approach for development, 6.) C- challenge communities and 7.) E- enrich the lives of PWDs and their Families. While other local government units may stop short at providing education and health care services to PWDs, the PDAO’s mission to reach out to the poor PWDs and their families has been expanded to not only train PWDs for the workplace but also to provide them means of livelihood. PDAO has an extensive Entrepreneurial Program where the PWDs are given work competencies by training them in tasks appropriate to their interests and skill levels in a normal setting. Sheltered Workshops, that are conducted in a structured work setting, include bread and pastry making. Livelihood Programs, which are undertaken in semi-structured work settings, include work at the Photocopy Center, 4K Sari-Sari- store, Supot-Making, and Bag’s Life Production. Work Placement Program, which is either undertaken in an actual company or LGU-setting, would include employment at the LGU Treasury Department, Information Technology Office, Civil Registrar Office, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, PDAO canteen and Reciclar de Carmona – Bags/Paper Mache making. For Community-Based Livelihood Programs, the PWDs and their family are given opportunities to make a living through home-based small scale businesses as in bigasan, charcoal repacking and the making of peanut adobo, peanut butter, paper bags, meat loaf (embotido), rags (basahan) and dishwashing liquid. The journey from the first day of assessment to the actual integration to society is strewn with challenges for both the PWDs and their families. But in the fulfillment of its vision and mission, the PDAO staff and stakeholders have shared the joys of the PWDs in their and their families’ empowerment and uplifting from poverty. Looking clearly at the edge of time between the past and the present, Carmona's PDAO can proudly say that we are on the right track of serving the physically and mentally challenged individuals for a better and fruitful future. Carmona's PDAO is not just an edifice where our physically and mentally challenged members of our community to come and go everyday. It is a place that has become an instrument where these people can change or rename the perception negatively labeled to them by their society to the better label we all want them to be known - AN ABLE DISABLED AND CHALLENGED HUMAN BEING by creating breakthrough and opening special doors that will answer to their special needs.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The greatest asset of PDAO is its capability of maximizing the learning potential of all center-based learners through its functional and contemporary approach in the implementation of its SERVICE FRAMEWORK FOR EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION, the only one of its kind in the Philippines. Another outstanding asset is the creative and innovative way of mobilizing people to achieve a singular goal. The staff have been augmented by different stakeholders and parents who are likewise trained with the PDAO staff through countless seminars and workshops in disability detection and basic therapy. Through the 4K or Kilusan Kabalikat ng may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan, an organization established by PDAO, linkages from various sectors namely; family, community, non-government organizations (NGOs), civic-minded individuals, scholars of Carmona, corporations, local and national government agencies were established and strengthened to safeguard its development and longevity. Volunteer parents, receiving meager allowances from the barangay, act as monitoring agents that keep PDAO abreast of the condition of PWDs and the participation of their families in abiding by the requirements of various interventions. Parents are also encouraged to participate in PWDs livelihood program to open up opportunities to generate income and address the financial needs of the family.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Submitting to the mandate stipulated in the Republic Act 7272 of 1992 known as Magna Carta for the PWDs and the strong conviction of inclusive growth where nobody is left behind, this initiative is spearheaded by the local government unit from year 2000 up to present with support of the 4K organization or the Kilusan Kabalikat ng may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan and the PDOCCI or the Persons with Disability Organization of Carmona, Cavite Inc. The implementing office, Carmona PDAO under the Office of the Mayor is clearly equipped with substantial technical know-how and concepts on how to detect; make diagnosis and referral in order to determine the necessary intervention needed. The Municipal Health Office, Department of Education, Public Employment Service Office and Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office serve as front liners in the delivery of basic services to the physically and mentally challenged member of the community. Strong linkages from various stakeholders such as family, community, non-government organizations, civic society groups, professionals, national government agencies became working and lubricating dynamics of PDAO services that continue to touch the lives of 7,617 individuals representing over 10% of the Municipality's population. Formation, strengthening, and instituting people and community participation, capacity build-up and partnership with other groups were done to ensure smooth implementation of the program. Currently, there are 167 center-based PWDs enrolled in special classes and 785 community-based PWDs; the majority of these 952 PWDs belong to low-income families with an average of 6 siblings. With average incomes of Php2,500.00 - Php6,500.00 per month, parents simply cannot afford the enrollment of their PWD children to private SPED Schools. PDAO, through its “Your Embrace, My Hope” Program, helps parents of PWDs alleviate fears for the future and allows them to dare dream for their special children.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
To realize its commitment to be a PWD-friendly municipality, LGU Carmona established the Persons with Disability Affairs Office in September 2000. The construction of PDAO Learning Center which serves as second home for our PWDs was definitely a milestone for LGU. It paved the way for the birth, growth, and stability of PDAO's "Your Embrace, My Hope" Program. The vision was supported by local policies and agenda upholding the rights and welfare of PWDs and the equalization of opportunities for children in Carmona, such as Local Development Plan for Children, Child and Youth Welfare Code, Annual Investment Plan for Children and State of the Children Report. To establish a sustainable education and rehabilitation curriculum, consultants were hired to formulate the Service Framework for Education and Rehabilitation, with these components: 1.) Surveillance and Detection – PDAO staff, BHWs, and volunteers were trained and mobilized for PWD mapping; 2.) Diagnosis and Referral – developmental pediatricians, occupational and physical therapists, speech pathologists administer diagnosis; children are then endorsed to corresponding Educational and Rehabilitation Programs. 3.) Educational and Rehabilitation Programs – Early Intervention Programs, Special Education (SPED) Tutorials, Bridging Programs, Normalization Programs, Adaptive Skills Programs and Entrepreneurial Programs; The total amount of services rendered for free like occupational, physical and speech therapies, assessment, education, school service, assistive devices and medicine based on monetary equivalence in private setting for SY 2016-2017 for the 167 center-based learners is approximately 17.6 Million Pesos. Because of PDAO's "Your Embrace, My Hope" Program, their families don’t have to generate money to send these children to private SPED centers outside Carmona. For entrepreneurial programs, PDAO finances screening and training fees of each student, e.g. in Sheltered Workshops (structured work setting for developing good working behaviors and skills in the context of controlled but sustainable livelihood), total cost was Php775,200.00; in Livelihood Programs (semi-structured work setting for less-supervised work), it was Php 161,850.00. Furthermore, LGU employs 34 personnel in PDAO. In 2016 alone, approximately 7Million was allocated for salary and wages and maintenance and other operating expenses. Construction of buildings and facilities is also financed, and donations from other stakeholders are outsourced. To increase the capacity of PDAO personnel and families in addressing special needs of PWDs, LGU subsidizes their attendance to seminars and training. Continuous coordination with DepEd and National Council on Disability Affairs Office is conducted. PDAO promotes family involvement in livelihood programs. Some parents work under PDAO enterprise Reciclar, manufacturing bags and furniture using paper-based technology, and in PDOCCI tofu-making. PDAO facilitated the formation of people's community-based structure and involvement of private organizations as key players in enhancing program efficiency and strengthening advocacy: 1.) “Tatay Ko, Nanay Ko!” Program; 2.) Group Organization for Persons with Disabilities 3.) Kilusang Kabalikat ng may Kapansanan para sa Kinabukasan (4K); 4.) Local Committee on Disability Affairs (LCDA); 5.) Autism Society of the Philippines – Carmona Chapter; 6.) Persons with Disability Organization of Carmona Cavite Inc. (PDOCCI); 7.) LGU Clusters on Social Services – MHO, MSWD, PESO; 8.) Department of Education – School Administrators, Teachers, Students; 9.) Barangay Councils and CBR Volunteers; 10.) Carmona Business Club – Industries; Innovations were initiated for program stability: 1.) Executive Order directing “Iskolar ng Bayan ng Carmona, Cavite” to render tutorial services and assistance in Mainstreaming Program; 2.) Compliance with Accessibility Law particularly in design and construction of new facilities; 3.) Classes on Sign Language for families of learners; 4.) Computer Literacy Training through the Technology for Economic Development (TECH4ED) Program; 5.) Active Home-School Collaboration; 7.) Acquisition of service vehicles and educational materials for the center; 8.) Conduct of summer classes and educational field trip; 9.) Registration of PWDs of legal age as voters

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The strategy was formulated and implemented at the initiative of the Local Government Unit of Carmona, through: a.) its former Mayor, Atty. Roy Loyola, b.) current Mayor, Dr. Dahlia Loyola, c.) council, d.) various LGU agencies for social services – MHO, MSWD and PESO, e.) DepEd, f.) Ms. Rosebelle Mercurio and staff of PDAO, g.) Mr. Archie David, OT Consultant, h.) Dr. Joel Lazaro, DP, i.) Dr. Maria Rochelle Pacifico, DP, j.) Dr. Maria Theresa De Castro, DP, k.) Dr. Ananias Gilbuena, Physical Physiatrist, l.) Kristine Rae Balayo, OT, m.) Ms. Kathy Reyes, Speech Therapy Consultant, n.) Jonah Buwalan, Speech Aide and o.) Groups and Partners who helped to make the strategy successful: • Autism Society of the Philippines • National Council on Disability Affairs • Link Center for the Deaf • Carmona Business Club Inc. • Latter-Day Saints Charities Philippines • Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines Inc. • ROHM Mechatech Phils • On-Semiconductor Phils. • Nidec Phils. • Tomas and Betty De los Santos Foundation • Carmona Water District • Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired (ATRIEV) • TESDA • DTI • DOST • St. Therese, The Little Flower Sign Language Center • Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation Inc. (LCDPFI) • Victory Christian Fellowship Church • UPHSL • PGH • Iskolar ng Bayan ng Carmona, Cavite • Liliane Foundation • DSWD • Resources for Blind Inc. • General Emilio Aguinaldo Medical Hospital • Rotary Club of Carmona • Provincial Government of Cavite • Taiwanese Chamber of the Philippines • Busan Cheong Ryoung Lions Club • Hamlin Industrial Corp. • Rotary Club of Geo Chang • Hearing Aid Ear Take Care Center • Norfil Foundation • Gruppo Medico International Inc • Phil Bond of Mercy Foundation • PAGCOR Tagaytay

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The five most successful outputs of PDAO’s “Your Embrace, My Hope” Program are centered on the provision of a better and more normal life for persons with disabilities. From the shy unacknowledged members of society, PWDs have blossomed into useful and important members of the community. First, the program has provided much-needed services that give equal care and recognition to PWD children as their normal counterparts in terms of health and education. They are afforded special education at no cost, which otherwise was impossible if they had to rely on very expensive private SPED schools. In fact, the PDAO has ensured their class attendance through the procurement of two service vehicles that transit PWD enrollees from home to school and back. The PWDs also undergo medical check-ups and assessments yearly to ascertain they are qualified to move to the next level of their intervention program. Second, through the establishment of 4K and PDOCCI, PDAO has ensured the responsible participation of parents and siblings in the progress of the PWDs’ intervention. Whereas before, family members often hid the PWD in their homes due to shame and fear of the community’s rejection, now the PWDs are acknowledged as equally important members of the community with rights and protection provided by law. Third, the community has become more compassionate of the challenges faced by PWDs and their limitations. This is envisaged in their participation in the activities of the PWDs such as appreciation for their presentations, parades, patronizing of products made by the PWDs and protection. Fourth, more people and organizations have become partners of PDAO in its efforts to sustain the program. Donations in service, in kind and in monetary value have kept the program more responsive to the needs of the growing PWD population under the care and tutelage of the office. Fifth, and perhaps the most important output of the program is the empowerment of the PWDs who have realized the extent of their capabilities and the benefits afforded by the government. Through independence, they can enjoy life to its fullest and become happier members of the society. The inclusion of their families in the program through livelihood programs has assured them of a better home life. The practice of their voting rights gives them a voice in the management by government of their small yet important sector. Moreover, provision of job opportunities gives them confidence in facing the future.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
First, when the program started in 2000 there was the problem with the facilities wherein the students will be housed for their classes and tutorials. The LGU worked with the Department of Education to be able to temporarily use one classroom inside the elementary school. Eventually, because of the importance of the program, the LGU was able to subsequently appropriate funds for the building of its own structure and livelihood center where 4K and PDOCCI projects were housed. Second, there was great reluctance from parents to enroll their PWD children to the program of the LGU due to financial, mobility and time constraints. To address this, the office provided vehicles that will transport the PWDs from home to school and back. Also, through the creation of organizations for parents and PWDs, the government was able to convince parents that the program was free and that their only contribution was to participate in activities needed for the interventions. Third, there was a question of manpower and competent staff. The office is understaffed at the onset of the program, so the LGU offered scholarship grant to teachers and municipal employees to pursue special education class. Volunteer organizations were encouraged to help in the operations and an executive order was issued mandating all scholars of the LGU to render tutorial assistance in the center. Continuous attendance to seminars and training were also given. Fourth, the prevalence of poverty in the homes of the PWDs was a stumbling block in the desire of PDAO to give their clients a better life. This was solved by the office by initiating livelihood programs for the parents, siblings and the PWDs. Today, through the 4K and PDOCCI, the parents generate income through the making of bags, paper mache, tofu, adobo peanuts, peanut butter, rags, etc.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The impact of PDAO’s “Your Embrace, My Hope” Program is evident in the lives of the persons with disabilities and their families. First, the program has granted our indigent PWDs access to free special education and rehabilitation services, that would have been expensive if private services were availed. From 13 exceptional learners in 2000, the current population is 952 center and community-based PWDs. Second, the PDAO serves as avenue for honing PWDs' talents socialization and sports skills. The center sends our student athletes to Division, Regional and National Special Games of the Department of Education. During Palarong Pambansa 2014 (Sta. Cruz, Laguna), Reanie Claire Altarez (ADHD) won 2nd place in Running Long Jump. In 2014 Philippine National Games (Ultra Pasig Manila), Clarriz A. Pinuela (Visual Impairment) won 1st place in 100-m run. Third, PWDs now participate and are more socially concerned on awareness campaigns on their welfare. Some events include National Autism Consciousness Week Celebration by the Autism Society Philippines, National Down Syndrome Month and Mental Retardation Week, Cerebral Palsy Walk, White Cane Day for Visually Impaired learners and International PWD Day Celebration. Fourth, graduation from the program means new opportunities for them. The center has produced 50 graduates, 22 of whom completed mainstream program, and some were able to pursue college education. 22 from entrepreneurial program became employees under center-based livelihood projects. It is notable that two graduates, Raichan Mark Dearoz and Jomarie Espinosa (autism) were absorbed by LGU as employees, assigned in I.T. Department and Treasurer's Office correspondingly. This makes LGU Carmona an Autism-OK LGU. Fifth, from 2014 to 2016 PWDs outside the center received aids from the program, such as financial and medical assistance, college educational assistance and assistive devices for orthopedic cases like wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, quad cane, and cane. Sixth, through collaboration with barangay councils, PWDs under CBR program put up small-scale enterprises to augment family earnings. PWD workers from Barangays 1-3 sell roasted peanuts, and those from Barangay Bancal sell paper bags; PWD workers from Barangay Maduya and Barangay Mabuhay are into peanut butter and embutido business respectively. Seventh, more establishments in the Municipality of Carmona have become PWD-friendly. Ramps were added to provide access of persons using wheelchairs and other assistive devices. Among the PWD-friendly establishments are Carmona Elementary School and WalterMart. Eighth, PWDs are able to exercise their right to vote. The program advocates for equalization of opportunities and emphasizes on PWDs being stakeholders in the process of community development. Ninth, PWDs avail privileges as provided by local pro-PWD laws. With their identification card, PWDs receive (20%) discount in their medical and grocery purchases, transportation, cinema, etc.; and, exemption from twelve-percent (12%) VAT imposed by government on goods and services. Discount for 2015 and 2016 amounts to approximately Php 1,079,798.55 for medicines, fast-food and groceries. Lastly, numerous recognitions received by LGU Carmona's CBR program somewhat transformed PDAO's “Your Embrace, My Hope" from being a mere CBR approach into a crusade that challenges communities to foster PWDs in the most compassionate way possible.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
PDAO’s “Your Embrace, My Hope” Program is a testament to what public service could be when the stakeholders work together, a proof that people’s participation improves accountability in public service. The strong relationship between the community and local government has caused the program to flourish and promote the culture of transparency. The resonating integrity of the LGU has motivated PDAO staff to give their extraordinary commitment in executing the mission of the program with tireless dedication and love. The quality of their work with the PWDs has never been compromised their commitment is reciprocated through various seminars and training to ensure that they confidently and adequately address the needs of the PWDs. The LGU efficiently and systematically uses its resources to deliver the best service that it can possibly offer to PWDs. In fact, in terms of funding, budget for the operations of the office is given utmost priority, hence even if the law requires the allocation of at least .5% for PWD programs from Internal Revenue Allotment, the local government has exceeded this percentage since 2007 because appropriation for the plans and programs of PWD is based on actual need as reflected in the Gender and Development Plan of the municipality. In this way, the LGU has surpassed the obstacle of maintaining the operation of the center-based and community-based program for PWDs. The honesty and reliability of the people behind this program have touched the lives even of outside sources and inspire them to give their share in bringing hope to this sector. Benefactors continue to give financial and technical assistance because of the credibility of the LGU; distributions of donations to PWD beneficiaries are properly documented and records may be openly showed to sponsors and stakeholders. Therefore, from total dependency to local government sources, PDAO’S program for livelihood, in particular, has become self-sufficient and has survived the test of time. All expenditure of PDAO is closely monitored by the LGU’s Accounting and Treasury Department and checked by the national government through the Commission on Audit to ensure that they are properly disbursed. This is the very reason why the LGU has been a consistent recipient of the Seal of Good Housekeeping and Seal of Good Local Governance of the Department of Interior and Local Government since its launching and has perfected all the parameters of governance where transparency and accountability is one of the most critical.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The program does not discriminate in gender when accepting PWDs into its threshold. Girls and boys are accepted to the program depending on the need of the individual. In so doing, the program has not actually done measures to ensure that the girls are preferred beneficiaries. However, as the burden of caring for the PWD in the home lies mostly on the mother and older sisters, we can say that PDAO’s “Your Embrace, My Hope” Program has benefitted a sizable sector of women. In training PWDs to be behaviorally motivated, independent and adept at adaptive skills, the program has lightened the load of women in the home. Given more knowledge on how to manage their PWDs, mothers have more time to care for their other children, do household chores and make a living, particularly, for very poor families. Women are given opportunities to learn business by attending entrepreneurial and livelihood seminars and workshops at the expense of government. Some of these workshops include meat preservation, candle making, beads work, marketing basics, food safety, packaging and labeling and business plan. In extending much needed public service to 952 PWDs of the community, PDAO has likewise served the women of their homes.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Persons with Disablity Affairs Office
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Rosebelle Mercurio
Title:   Youth Development Officer  
Telephone/ Fax:   +63464301001
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   PDAO, Carmona Elementary School, Barangay 8
Postal Code:   4116
City:   Carmona
State/Province:   Cavite

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