Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Carla dela Cruz...Exceptional Filipina

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We need to give a clear message that people with disabilities are capable and should be integrated into the world. (Heumann, 1994, p1)
Yesterday we attended a children’s party and we had a blast! My daughter was able to reunite with her Filipino friends whom she gets to see occasionally.

I had another extraordinary experience with another achieving , but she’s different because she’s handicapped. I never noticed her condition while she was watching TV with my husband behind the sofa. But what was striking with her was how she beamed to everyone with a big smile. It was my first time to see her but she waived to me and said “hi, Ate!”

I saw that she was different when it was time to partake the food on the table. She is orthopedically impaired, having a birth defect called “club feet”. I was so impressed with how she skillfully maneuvered her wheelchair around, getting independently what she needed, never needing anybody to assist her. Very highly functional, not letting her handicap be a limitation to do the major activities in her life. I got the chance to stay with her during dinner and we exchanged our personal stories.

Her name is Carla dela Cruz, 17 years old, was sent here last year on an exchange student visa. She recalled how she was chosen among 230 applicants all over the Philippines; she was the only handicapped among the 41 able-bodied exchange students who got accepted. She reminisced how President Arroyo invited them to Malacanang to honor them before they left the country, slightly disappointed because there were no accessibility in the Palace for handicapped people like her. She was carried up and down the steep stairs (3 floors) of the Palace while her wheelchair was brought by somebody else behind her. She’s the 9th of 11 children in the family. She is very reluctant to go back to the Philippines this July, hoping that after 2 years she can come back to the US again.

How is she treated here in America?

“I noticed how free I am to do everything I want here in the US especially in my leisure time. I like how the people here treat a disabled person. While I am here in the US, I try to show other people how independent I am. I was able to perform in the different States here in the US for the theater arts”. Carla is also an achiever and an active Girl Scout in her school in Maryland. She’s also trying to get herself involved in sports. “I am very fortunate because I became one of the 41 exchange students from the Philippines. It encouraged me a lot to be able to do everything in my life”.

When people with and without disabilities live, work, play and go to school side-by-side, people with disabilities get noticed and accepted for their contributions just like everyone else. They don’t get singled out for their disabilities. With this acceptance, the barriers to inclusion begin to disappear. (“Inclusion Works Here”, 1993)


arvin said...

very nice story ! more power to you carla delacruz.

Isabela said...

This is a heartwarming story. Dapat siguro kasali si Carla sa grupo ng mga exceptional people hindi lang dahil Pinay siya.Wala nang kinalaman 'yon at wala nang boundaries ang ganitong accomplishments at attitude ng isang disabled kahi't anong lahi pa siya. Natuwa ako at lumawak ang mundo niya, she was given the chance, kahi't na siya ay may kapansanan.I am truly proud of Carla and people like her.


ARVIN, kamag-anak mo sya? Pareho kayo ng apelyido eh...hihihi

ISABELA, isa syang huwarang Pilipino. Tuwang-tuwa ako talaga sa batang ito. napakasipag at mapangarapin!

Patrice said...

My friend (NJ) has a son who has the same condition but he (half-pinoy)is very active in sports. My friend finds it actually that for a boy in a wheel chair, he has travelled the most in their family going around the US for competitions. In fact they are coming to FL this July for special olympics. will ask my friend the org of her son and maybe Carla can get in touch with them if she wants to engage in sports :)

Patrice said...

oops...typo error. masyadong mabagal ang daliri para sa utak. hehe..meant "my friend finds it funny..."

dre said...

One thing about this is... can you imagine how HARD it is to impress onto some other disabled people who are depressed about their situation something as SIMPLE as having a "never say die" attitude?

It's also a thought that human emotions, powerful as they are, are just stuff secreted from a part of the brain. Prozac and stuff.

Great Teacher Sol! Apir! I'm back and ranting!


PATRICE, I am involving myself in the Special Olympics next school year as a volunteer, and my students as participants. When I was still a special ed administrator of a school in the Philippines, I have a 23 yr old students with Down's Syndrome who garnered medals since he was young and started joining special olympics. Tinatalo nya mga delagates sa iba't-ibang bansa. Kamusta na kaya si Kuya Alfred (tawag ko sa kanya). Isa rin syang huwarang Pilipino and I'm so glad to ba able to work with him. Ifi-feature ko sya dito sa blog ko pag nagkaroon ako ng communication sa kanya ulit.

DRE, You are right, they have very low self-esteem and the more we should be tactful when dealing with them. Carla told me, "ate, alam mo mahina talaga ang loob namin ng mga katulad ko dahil sa kapansanan namin. masyado kaming naaapektohan sa hindi magandang reaksyon ng maraming tao sa mga tulad kong may kapansanan". We are so lucky we are able-bodied, but how come many of us dwell in negativity than optimism? Let's be like Carla, simple, masipag, mapangarapin sa buhay!

bing said...

hi, sol, i should say thank you for blogging about this.

handicapped people are not different from everybody - they feel, they move, they think, they relate, etc. the only difference is the handicap, or the illness, or the injury.

the reason why they are confident is because there are people who are confident that they can deliver like normal people do. in Papsie's case, like Carla, there are times he feels depressed, but the love that he feels makes him forget that he is a stroke victim and has a paralyzed his left body.

cheers to you!

Naomi said...

what's even more exceptional is for these foreign countries to give chance to the disabled. In Toronto, u can see them around Walmart, McDonalds and elsewhere, working and enjoying the days of their lives. They're not only were given a chance but being treated as normal people too. Sa atin sa Pilipinas.. sad to say, wala. They're considered as baldado and useless. =(

Zarelle said...

This is my favorite Goethe quote: "If you treat an individual as he is, he will stay as he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be, he will become what he ought to be and could be."

I made a teacher's creed out of that quote when i took adjunctive therapy class in UP and I believe in that. I apply it not only to my students but to other people as well. A person's abilities are boundless and no one should set limits for what they can accomplish.

Two thumbs up Carla!

Isabela said...

Makisagot kay pichapie at nao,
What a beautiful quote, pichapie.
What's in a name? Nao, dito sa atin, kung mao-obserbahan nyo, kakaiba talaga. Diyan sa inyo ang tawag sa mga baldado ay physically challenged. Consider the word "challenged". Para bang kung ikaw yung nasa wheelchair, pipilitin mong tumayo dahil sa word na "challenge, 'di ba? Dito sa atin ang tawag sa pilay "si Pilay" o kaya "si Pilantod", sa harelip, "si ngongo", sa naputulan ng kamay, "si Putol", sa hindi makakita, "si Bulag", sa hindi makarinig, "si Bingi".
Eh, paano ka nga ba namang di made-depress sa disability mo kung ginawa nang pangalan mo 'yon? Sa inyo it will be considered a slur kung kakausapin mo yung bulag ng ganito "Hey, Blind, wazzup?" Pero dito okey lang yung "Hoy,Ngongo, saan ka pupunta?" sabay ngising palihim.'Yung mga African Americans nga gugulpihin ka kapag tinawag mo silang Negro (eh, maitim naman talaga sila).
Apt yung quotation ni Pichapie sa weird na ugali natin. Kailan kaya matututo ang karamihan sa Pinoy na hindi tamang ipangalan sa isang tao ang uri ng kapansanan niya? Nag-iisip lang, Sol.


BING, what you said is true. My father-in-law, whose body is half paralyzed because of a stroke, is always looking forward for fun days with his grandchildren. When we were still there we made sure we brought him around wherever he wanted, his favorite restaurants for his fave food, his memorable places like UP etc. working with exceptional children made me realize that, just like the regular children, they need attention and someone to make them feel important.

NAOMI, same here in the US. Federal Laws mandates to end discrimination against individuals who are exceptionally challenged, including all public services, transportation, employment, communications. Sana sa Pilipinas may ganyan din.

Ka Uro said...

carla's story is very inspiring. good luck to carla. i only hope that she be given the chance to go back to the US. if not sana bigyan siya ng parehong treatment sa atin tulad ng natamo niya diyan. it sometimes sad that our country has not progressed as much as other countries in our treatment of the disabled. kung minsan yung attitude ng mga kababayan natin ang dapat baguhin. unahing baguhin ang mga pelikula at tv shows na ginagawang katatawanan ang mga kapintasan o disability ng ibang tao. doon ako naiiinis.


PICHAPIE, here's another teacher who advocates for exceptional children...I'm with you, girl!

ISABELA, I understand what you are saying. "Everyone differs from everyone else in some way. The issue is not merely 'difference' but rather the type and extent of the difference To address the differences, every society creates descriptors to identify people who vary significantly from the norm".

Direct quote ang mga terms ko from the book at kay Carla ("disability", "disabled", etc.). Pero kung sa akin lang, hindi ko sila matatawag na ganyan. They can do better than some of us who are dependents, parasites, and emotional vampires. Mas politically correct ang mga terms like "exceptional", "special", "physically challenged"...dahil ganon naman talaga karamihan sa kanila.

Totoo ang quotation ni Pichapie, research based yan. Once a label has been affixed to an individual, the two may become inseparable. And the environment in which we view someone can clearly influence our perceptions of that person.

Oo nga, kailan kaya susuportahan ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas at ng ating mga kababayan ang mga taong katulad ni Carla?

watson said...

Hello Teacher Sol! This story hits closer to home. My father was smitten by polio when he was a kid, rendering both of his legs useless. So he has used crutches ever since. But he was able to send us to school (and a good school at that), with the dream that he will see us succeed.


KA URO, when I was still in the Phils two years ago, there were very few of us advocating for the exceptional children or the handicapped. At opo, napansin ko rin ginagawang comedians at katatawanan ang mga may kapansanan sa mga sit coms. Napansin ko rin na bihira nga ang mga gusaling may accessibility para sa kanila. Sabi nga ni Carla disappointed sya dahil kahit ang Palasyo ng Malacanang hindi friendly para sa mga tulad nya, walang accessibility man lang kahit elevator. Sad nga talaga...

WATSON, welcome to my blog, which we can call our "cyberclassroom" *wink*! Feel free to join the discussion, let us know your thoughts about the ideas I present here. How's the new baby? Thanks for sharing, your father must be really proud of you now. People like Carla and your father never cease to amaze me. They remind me to never let a problem be an excuse. Hats off to your father!

nikki said...

i agree po w/ isabel. nakakalungkot nga dito sa pilipinas kasi ang nakikita lang madalas ng tao ay yung kapansanan nila hindi yung kung ano yung tao.

may kilala akong 2 doctors na parehong physically challenged pero that didn't stop them from being very good doctors. maski mga patients nila nagugulat kasi despite their limitations, natitingnan pa din sila ng mabuti ng mga ito. kasi ang problema naman ay pisikal, hindi sa puso at utak.

to carla, keep up the good work. hearing about inspiring people like you tells me that we should never give up dreaming! God bless!

Anonymous said...

Sad to say that my experience in the Pinas is that the disabled are still seen as second-class citizens by some. My dad hired a man with a cleft lip (ngongo) and the other workers teased him. They never called him by his name he was just always "yun, yung ngongo". Kawawa naman siya. He never commented or showed reactions but he was the best worker there. Even worse was that the guys doing the teasing were my relatives.

But at least in the Pinas, even way back when, there have always been facilities and schools for those who are diabled and mentally retarded. In many other countries, people with problems like that often have to beg or are institutionalized because there is nothing resembling rehabilitative care.



NIKKI, "nakakalungkot nga dito sa pilipinas kasi ang nakikita lang madalas ng tao ay yung kapansanan nila hindi yung kung ano yung tao". To treat a person as a label (like, si ngongo, si bingi, si pilantod...) rather than a person is an injustice. This is not encouraged by advocates; that is not tolerated here in the US. The 2 doctors that you mentioned should at least be recognized so they could be good examples that other people could emulate.

PHISCH, yes, the Philippines is now getting ready to accept these people and give them the right to education. But they are still segragated, not included in the mainstream. Although when I was in UP they were talking of inclusion of special ed during Teacher Conventions at the College of Education. It is not alright for him to be labelled as such, I commend him for his patience, he was being challenged a lot by the society in which he lives in. When will other people understand that they're doing injustice to these special people when they call them names.

live_laugh_love31089 said...

I know Carla . she lived in maryland with my best friend. and went to my high school and was my best friend. Carla is an amazing person she always had a smile on her face even if it was at 7:00am on a monday. Such a good person I miss her<3

Anonymous said...

Hello po. I'm a friend of Carla and went to the states with her. In fact, Same state kami, sa Maryland. I went to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School while sya ay sa Poolesville. Carla is one of the nicest persons and friends I've ever had. She's funny and very inspiring. I witnessed her struggles as well as her triumphs while in the states. I remember watching her during their Musical play, she was the only handicapped among the casts. Right now, Carla and I still communicate, though the last time I saw her was way back in 2008, during the AFS 50th Anniversary. We shared bitter,sad and of course memories while in the states. I was her date in the prom hehehe. Miss you Carla!

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