Just days after the culmination of the Philippine National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week, the U.S. Embassy held a forum to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) act. The forum, entitled “PWD Rights: Diversity and Social Inclusion”, served as an avenue for inclusive dialogue between PWD advocacy groups and various stakholders like the academe, the government, and private companies.
Distinguished members of the panel included Senator Sonny Angara, Honorable US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) Executive Director Carmen Zubiaga, Executive Vice President and CEO of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (TWH) Joy Cevallos-Garcia, Be-medaled Paralympian Powerlifter Adeline Dumapong, and SM Vice President for Operations and Program Director of Disability Affairs Bien Mateo.
US Ambassador Goldberg expressed his gratitude to all the stakeholders present during the forum, with special mention to SM, which according to him has done so much in the area of disability affairs.
SM VP Mateo affirmed during his talk that SM is strongly advocating for PWD inclusion and that several programs under SM Cares underscore this advocacy. Some of the projects he mentioned were the Angels Walk for Autism, the Happy Walk for Down Syndrome, the earthquake resilience briefing for Senior Citizens and PWDs, and the SM Supermalls’ special screening of audio descriptive movies for the blind and the deaf.
The forum concluded with the agreement that providing equal opportunities and helping PWDs to become active and contributing members of the community are necessary in creating a caring, nurturing, and more sustainable society.