Aquino cites Apolinario Mabini during awards for PWDs
President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday handed awards to outstanding persons with disabilities (PWDs) and advocates for their welfare during the 2015 Apolinario Mabini Awards held in Malacañang.
The awarding ceremony coincided with the snowballing public discourse on the historical film Heneral Luna and its main characters, which include the ‘Sublime Paralytic” Apolinario Mabini.
Such discussions revealed that some Filipino students were not aware that Mabini was a PWD, who suffered from polio, which rendered him incapacitated
While lauding the PWDs who have succeeded in their endeavors despite challenges brought about by their disabilities, Aquino also expressed his disappointment at students who do not know Apolinario Mabini.
Aquino, a history buff, said it showed that historical knowledge of some students was clearly deficient. He said he would also raise the issue with Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
In his speech, he said Mabini used his mind as a “weapon to strengthen the foundations of our democratic institutions.”
The Apolinario Mabini Awards was organized by the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PFRD) in 1974 to recognize individuals and groups that have supported and helped the PWD sector.
Held at the Heroes Hall, which features a mural and corridor filled with portraits of Filipino heroes, the event was attended by over 200 people, including government officials and PWD groups.
The Mabini Presidential Award was given to two individuals and a company: Engr. Darlito Palermo, an engineer and youth leader from Agdao, Davao City who has pushed for equal employment opportunities and barrier-free establishments; Randy Weisser who has educated blind people in the Philippines for the past 26 years; and the SM Cares Program on Disability Affairs, which was cited for being a “catalyst for change” and going “beyond full compliance” of PWD laws.
Meanwhile, Liwanag Caldito was recognized as PWD Filipino of the Year for pursuing a career as a special education (Sped) teacher battling Parkinson’s Disease. A special award under the same category was given to Victor Francesco Cham who is a graphic arts designer. Despite being diagnosed with autism, he has been recognized as a model employee of Unilab Foundation.
Receiving Media Advocate of the Year awards were Myrna “Mirana” Medina who produced two films that advocated Filipino Sign Language and the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) – Manila Architects for Government Services (MAGS), which also released a documentary that addressed accessibility issues of PWDs.
ANZ (Australian New Zealand) Global Services & Operations (Mla) Inc. was awarded Employer of the Year for not only providing for workplace customization for PWDs but also prioritizing them when hiring new employees. Unilab Foundation was given a special award under the same category for hiring PWDs and encouraging other companies to do the same.
Chosen as Local Government Unit of the Year were the municipalities of Asingan in Pangasinan and Guimbal in Iloilo. Dasmariñas City in Cavite and Barangay Sto. Cristo in Quezon City were also chosen for the city and village categories, respectively. The local government of Carmona in Cavite also received a special award.
PWD Group of the Year was the Association of Differently Abled. Receiving special awards were the groups Las Piñas PWD Federation and AD/HD Society of the Philippines.
Volunteer groups were also recognized with the Philippine Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine being hailed Rehabilitation Volunteer of the Year.
The University of the Philippines Special Education (Sped) Council was given a special award for its volunteer students while Annette Lee-Esparaz, coauthor and publisher of Touch Books, was awarded as well for producing and donating books for visually-impaired students.
For Friendly Establishment of the Year, Holiday Inn & Suites and SM Aura bagged a silver award for complying with the Batas Pambansa 344 (BP 344) or An Act to Enhance the Mobility of Disabled Persons by Requiring Certain Buildings, Institutions, Establishments and Public Utilities to Install Facilities and Other Devices.
Establishments that received the Bronze Award are SM North Edsa (Dept. Store), SM Cauayan (Dept. Store), SM Bacolod (Dept. Store), SM Parañaque BF Homes (Dept. Store), SM City Clark (Supermalls), SM Makati (Supermarket), SM Tarlac (Supermarket), SM Mezza (Savemore), Ayala’s Cebu Center Annex, Fairview Terraces, UP Town Center, Robinson’s Place’s Calasiao Mall, Robinson’s Place’s Las Piñas Mall, Robinson’s Place’s Palawan Mall, and Panorama Tower.
Special awards were also given to SM Pampanga (Supermalls), Jones Lang Lasalle Management, JP Morgan Chase’s eBloc Cebu and Net Quad Taguig, and the Bonifacio Global City Estate.
Aquino said his administration was devoted to serving the interests of the majority, especially the needy. He enumerated the programs created for PWDs, including the establishment of special polling places for PWDs and senior citizens during the 2016 elections.