Text and video by EIMOR SANTOS
SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—Two years ago, a big change happened in this small village.
It transformed into a special place for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
In 2010 Barangay Sindalan launched the Alternative Learning System for Differently Abled Persons (ALS-DAP) to educate PWDs in the village and nearby places.
ALS-DAP uses the Basic Literacy Program to improve the PWDs’ cognitive, physical and social skills. PWDs are taught to read, write, count, play sports and socialize.
To date, 21 students with different disabilities are enrolled in the special school. Most of them have mental retardation, autism and intellectual disabilities.
A small Community Learning Resource Center (CLRC) within the Sindalan compound serves as the PWDs’ second home today. But soon they are moving in to the newly built Barangay Library located within the compound, which also houses the barangay hall, day care center, CLRC and other facilities.
ALS is a free education program under the Department of Education Bureau of Alternative Learning System. It provides both formal and informal education to out-of-school youth, indigenous peoples and PWDs.
Sindalan ALS-DAP is a collaborative effort of ALS and the Pampanga-based Inocencio Magtoto Memorial Foundation Inc. (IMMFI).
For 20 years now, the foundation has focused on advancing the welfare of youth with disabilities.
But there is no age limit at ALS-DAP, which accepts any interested PWD, said Lord David, who is the program’s facilitator and a member of IMMFI’s board of trustees. The oldest PWD enrolled this year is Alpeya Tiongson, 33.
David said the battle does not end with educating the PWDs.
“It’s because they are still discriminated. They are not accepted in jobs even if they are qualified,” he said. “We can only rest when the day comes that they are all given equal rights and opportunities.”
(Read the script.)
The author is a senior journalism student at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. She submitted this story for the journalism seminar class “Reporting on Persons with Disabilities” under VERA Files trustee Yvonne T. Chua.