CLARK FREEPORT—Born deaf, Crisanto Santos, 23, never found a job since finishing a computer course four years ago. Miriam Guiao, a 21-year-old Aeta, briefly worked as a saleslady despite being an education undergraduate.
On Monday, Santos and Guiao were among those who trooped to the job fair that Clark Development Corp. (CDC) organized for people with disabilities (PWDs) and indigenous peoples.
As of 3 p.m., a board showed that 38 applicants were hired on the spot from the 466 registrants with 37 locators in this free port. At least 323 of the applicants were Aetas, who competed for 300 job vacancies in manufacturing, information technology and tourism.
This was the first time that the state-owned CDC mounted such an event since it began converting Clark from a US Air Force base into an economic zone in 1992, said Rodem Perez, head of the CDC customer service department.
Guiao came all the way from Sitio Bana in Barangay (village) Villa Maria, Porac, Pampanga, at the foothills of Mt. Pinatubo to get a chance to be hired for a better-paying job.
“If I had finished college, I would have been a teacher now. To me, it is poverty, not my being an Aeta, that is in the way of my dream to get a better life for my family and me,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Interviewed through a sign language interpreter, Santos said the obstacles were his disabilities.
“I know how to encode data. I can communicate through sign language. I can be productive. I can be depended on. I can be hired,” he said.
“Providing equal opportunities” drove the CDC and the Clark Investors and Locators Association to mount the job fair, said Arthur Tugade, CDC president and chief executive officer. He said around 400 Aetas and PWDs are employed in maintenance, landscaping and construction projects in Clark.
Overall, the employment of PWDs and Aeta in Clark barely reaches one percent of the 71,000 workers currently employed from Mabalacat, Porac and Angeles City in Pampanga; and Bamban and Capas in Tarlac, CDC data showed. At least 51 percent of its employees are women. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon