UNILAB FOUNDATION PRESENTS THE CHAMPIONS OF INCLUSION
“Masayang-masaya ako dito! Dapat talaga magsipag, at kakayanin ko lahat.”
This is Magiting Gonzalez’ mantra. Something he enthusiastically tells himself and his family everyday as he sets off for work. Magiting is an Admin Aide 1 at the Child Development Center of the National Children’s Hospital (NCH). He handles clerical tasks, diligently and consistently. His superior and colleagues are pleased with his performance.
He has autism.
Gonzales is only one of hundreds of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) whose lives have changed, thanks to being given access to employment.
Unilab Foundation passionately champions this as evident in Project Inclusion, an advocacy that aims to break the typical hiring mold. Project Inclusion enables PWDs with work opportunities in the corporate landscape by raising awareness on the benefits of employing these special, purpose-driven individuals.
“It’s a win-win situation for all,” Angela Santiago, Program Officer for Project Inclusion, states. “Employment helps PWDs by improving how they independently take on common demands in life. In turn, by working with PWDs, their colleagues become better people managers, and their teams from stronger bonds. ” She adds, “When we give equal opportunity to all types of employees—men or women, with or without disability—we reap rewards.”
And nobody enjoys these rewards quite like family. Jean, Gonzalez’ mother, can attest to that. “I am very happy Magiting’s quite independent, living a full life,” she proudly says of her son. “Working, being with other people, Magiting has become more sociable. He has many friends, he joins other employees for teambuilding, and that’s what it’s really about. He’s living a regular life as an advantage of being employed,”
Since its inception in 2013, Project Inclusion has provided improved work access to over 600 PWDs. More than 200 of them are employed in various industries. Some of them tirelessly advocating for the program via the media campaign, ‘May 1% Ka Ba?”.
The 1% echoes Republic Act 10524: An Act Expanding the Positions Reserved for Persons with Disability, which specifically amends Section 5 of Republic Act 7277, the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, with this provision: “At least one percent (1%) of all positions in all government agencies, offices, or corporations shall be reserved for Persons with Disability: Provided, that private corporations with more than 100 employees are encouraged to reserve at least one percent (1%) of all positions for Persons of Disability.”
The ‘May 1% Ka Ba?’ campaign was developed by the Australian Embassy and The Asia Foundation partnership in the Philippines, through Fully-Abled Nation, and Unilab Foundation’s Project Inclusion. It tells the success stories of working PWDs and the satisfaction of their employers. Then, challenges other companies to be onboard.
One advocate for ‘May 1% Ka Ba?’ is Raphael Torralba, Assistant for Persons with Disability Programs under Human Resources at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Despite being hard of hearing, he has 45 DFA PWD employees under his careful watch. “DFA is a Person with Disability-friendly agency. They don’t leave their Persons with Disability employees behind. They provide them opportunities for career growth, just the same as what other employees are receiving.” Optimistic, Torralba addresses the public, “Awareness in the workplace is key. Anyone can be an ambassador for PWD awareness. Be that one.”
Unilab Foundation knows that there are no words to express the joy of being able to belong and be valued. But these exceptional employees still have these to say…
“I can still smile, joke around, and work with people who are sighted. No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of anyone else. Walang sinuman ang pwedeng mag-claim na wala kang silbi”
- Tina Medina, Career Educator of the Laguna Resettlement Community School, Blind
“I travel, I go up and down the stairs, I do regular things. In a way, that’s empowering --that I can do what most other regular people do. Here, nobody treats you differently.”
- Jay Amatong, Deputy Director of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ Corporate Affairs Office, Above-knee amputee
“They are so nice. Everyone here is good to me, and my teammates are my friends.”
- Ryan Dee, Southstar Drug, Person with Down Syndrome
“Minsan, ‘pag mga Senior Citizens ang customers, ako ang taga-pirma, taga-bigay, taga-balot, at taga-sukli. Tapos, masaya rin ako.”
- Mindy Kilkenny, Southstar Drug, Person with Autism
PANA recognizes that the Unilab Foundation brought life to Project Inclusion with Responsible Brand Building in mind. A responsible brand builds bridges, creates a more inclusive society, and values everyone’s skills and uniqueness. What’s more, Unilab Foundation creates a ripple effect as Responsible Brand Building becomes a shared vision among other establishments who wish to take part in this life-changing endeavor.
“We create equal opportunities for employment when we replace the barriers in our organizations with open doors.”, Santiago says in closing. “When we choose to look past the disability and see people with abilities, we build workplaces where everyone can be successful,”
Through Unilab Foundation’s Project Inclusion, the narrative on PWD employment can finally change from a charity case to a business case.
The ‘May 1% Ka Ba?’ campaign is supported by the National Council of Disability Affairs, Civil Service Commission, and the Department of Labor and Employmen. Endorsed by the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Civil Service Commission (CSC). Backed by the Australian Embassy and The Asia Foundation Partnership in the Philippines.