How to improve lives for PWDs? These para athletes have some ideas

Dec 10, 2021
PHOTO: PHOTO: Olympic Information Services

"PARALYMPICS" was among the Philippine trending Google searches for 2021, particularly in the Olympics category.

It has surpassed the phrase "Olympic Games Tokyo 2020" which came in second, and the country's first-ever gold medalist "Hidilyn Diaz", whi sits at no. 3.

"Olympics" and "Olympic medal tally" is at no. 4 and 5, while the names of Tokyo-medalist boxers "Carlo Paalam", "Eumir Marcial", and "Nesthy Petecio" were also in the top 10.

While Google search volumes are perhaps nothing more than the numerical reflection of the Filipino's casual curiosity, this simple recognition is a big of a deal for the country's para athletes, who, for the longest time, craved for some limelight.

Just last week, the 20-man contingent in the Asian Youth Para Games recorded their best finish in the quadrennial meet with one gold, six silvers, and two bronzes.

Much has been said to claim that the future is bright for para athletes.

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Fittingly enough, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was also celebrated last December 3.

What PH para athletes want to see

As they strive to make the most of this newfound spotlight, here's what the country's top para athletes continue to plead for.

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"Para sa akin, pagtuonan sana nang pansin 'yung mga livelihood para sa mga PWDs. Para may pang-araw-araw sila, 'yung angkop na trabaho para sakanaila," PH's top para swimmer Ernie Gawilan told SPIN Life.

Meanwhile, wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan bared in a previous interview that 'accessibility' is still their biggest concern to date.

"Biggest issue sa amin 'yung accessibility, pero over time, napapansin ko na pinapa-priotitize na nila 'yung struugles namin, and napapansin din ng gobyerno," he said.

Meanwhile, taekwondo jin Allain Ganapin hopes to shed light on increasing the public awareness on the different conditions of PWDs.

"Sa tingin ko kailangan dito sa atin ‘yung mas pagkilala pa sa mga ibang persons with disability," he said. "Kasi karamihan sa mga tao dito sa atin, ‘yung mga naka-wheelchair lang ang [nakikilala as PWD], sila din ang priority sa pagbibigay ng tulong. Paano naman ‘yung iba na hindi naabutan ng tulong? Increase awareness para lahat makikinabang at walang naiiwan."

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Gawilan, Mangliwan, and Ganapin were three of the six Filipino sent to the recent Tokyo Paralympics alongside discus thrower Jeanette Aceveda, swimmer Gary Bejino, and powerlifter Archelle Guion.

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PHOTO: PHOTO: Olympic Information Services
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