Saturday, September 8, 2018

Art workshop unites persons with different disabilities

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—The spacious air-conditioned auditorium of the Laoag City Hall opened its doors on July 17, 2019 for people with different disabilities as they filled every corner with art.

Initiated by the Autism Society Philippines-Laoag Chapter in partnership with the City Government of Laoag and the Ilocos Norte National High School-Special Program in the Arts, more than a hundred persons with different disabilities expressed their thoughts in the world of art.

From a blank page of coupon bond, participants blended different colors and turned these into unique creations. Their face lit up as they accomplished one thing. Some of the captivating display on the wall are shades of colorful sunset, trees, rivers, animals and some abstract paintings.

In seeing the ability rather than the disability, Genevieve Arcangel, ASP-Laoag City Chapter president said “awareness and acceptance of these children with autism should start from us parents.”

Having a child with autism herself, she shares many families with children with autism go through difficult challenges.

“If our regular children are being bullied, how much more of our ‘special’ children? Sana, bawas bawasan natin ang paggamit ng mga salitang ‘abnormal’ or ‘hindi normal’ kasi masakit sa amin ‘yon na magulang ng bata. Maliit lang na bagay but it has big impact on us,” said Ms. Arcangel.

As president of the newly-created organization of the ASP in the city, she said she is thankful for the support of a growing number of autism advocates in the country.

In the Philippines, ASP estimates about 1.2 Filipinos belong to the autism spectrum. In 2012, there were reportedly only about half a million.

“We need more support and collaboration because we can’t do it on our own,” said Ms. Arcangel as she reported they have prepared a series of activities in support for the celebration of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week.

As a nurse by profession, she said it is easier to manage a child with autism with early detection.

“The first three years of life of a child is the most crucial. Once there are indicators of a child’s neurological disorder or disease of the brain, we should seek professional help already in order for the child to catch up,” she explained.

For Ms. Archangel’s 16-year-old son, signs of autism showed when he was younger. He is non-verbal but he can utter words.

So, on Tuesday, the art workshop, with at least three public and private schools in the city joined hands to instill public awareness about autism and for the persons with different disabilities to showcase their creativity through art.

The Autistic community however prefers to treat autism not as a disorder or sickness, but an inborn condition.

“Seeing these angels doing their obra maestras truly captivated me. I always dream living in a world that is fair and equal and now I am starting to see this kind of world,” said Rogie Balino, a youth volunteer in Laoag City.

IN dad throws support
The ASP also thanked Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Matthew Joseph M. Manotoc for “his willingness to support the ASP; for being open and for having a ‘big heart’ for the youth” as also he joined the workshop.

Ms. Arcangel shared, “Sabi niya, [Mr. Manotoc] ‘How can I help?’ We’re overwhelmed, kasi hindi namin ine-expect; pinarating po niya ‘yong suporta niya sa amin as he came to this program. Nakakatuwa, the fact that he is so willing to come and see us.”

She also expressed their thankfulness to the Ilocos Norte community, “We feel the acceptance and mas naramdaman naming wala na yung stigma nila sa mga bata and those who have disabilities. Mas open na po yong mind nila.”

Normalyn Carreon, INNHS master teacher II added that activities like the workshop “Bring out really the creativity of the students. Although they are really extraordinary, they have their hidden talents too.” (With a report from Queenie Rose Baltazar)

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