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Para Power

By Lorraine LorenzoOctober 15, 2017

Pinoy PWD athletes savor success

ABILITY, NOT DISABILITY.  Differently-abled, not disabled. Parallel to the Olympics, and not just Paralympic Olympics — these are the endgame and perception that the Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) and the Philippine Sports Association for the Differently Abled (Philspada) aim to establish by discovering and strengthening the country’s pool of PWD athletes.

And this vision can’t be stressed more at a better time. Fresh from the success of the recently concluded 9th ASEAN Para Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where the Philippines landed fifth overall from last season’s seventh place standing, PPC president Michael Barredo strongly believes that the same – or even better performance – can be expected in the next few international tournaments such as this December’s Asian Youth Para Games in Dubai, the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, and the Para Olympics in Tokyo, so it is high time to further push the envelope and promote the cause of the country’s PWD athletes.

“It is a very good time for our PWD athletes, not only did we perform very well in the last Paralympic Games, but we’ve also been getting good support from the government,” said Barredo, referring to the 2015 law signed by former President Noynoy Aquino or the R.A. 10699 (which they have been lobbying for the past 12 years), the Expanded Incentives and Benefits Law which qualified national PWD athletes in getting the same benefits and privileges of athletes.

The law, which basically raised the monetary reward of athletes by as much as 500 percent and provided them with year-long allowance, is visibly inspiring national PWD athletes to give their best. And the support doesn’t end there.

Through a new project that will be launched next week, a new endeavor aims to raise more funds for PPC that will be used to streamline the association’s talent acquisition, training, and org structure. This project, called Alay Para Atleta, hopes to raise as much as P1 million via digital donations.

“Aside from the fact that we want to be sustainable and not depend on the government 100 percent when it comes to funding, we also want to use whatever we raise from Alay Para Atleta for the development of para-sports, and to raise the public’s awareness about the honor our PWD athletes have been giving the country for the past 20 years,” he said.  

Through the Alay Para Atleta funds, talent acquisition can be done at grassroots level – the PPC committee can easily travel through various regions and get the help of local governments in discovering new talent. To prove the point, 15-year old new athlete Cielo Honasan from Bicol, recently won three gold medals in athletics during the last tournament.

Aside from talent search, the project also aims to support other worthwhile causes such as acquiring better sports equipment, establish individuals and groups that will help classify athletes for tournaments, and strengthen the committee in general by improving relationships with other government units.

The PPC and Philspada were established to help raise the dignity of PWD athletes, and as part of a movement to provide more and better services to PWD athletes, not only to seasoned warriors but budding talents as well.

“We feel so strongly about sports because like every athlete, sports supports values like teamwork, discipline, perseverance, and fair play and these also rings true to PWD athletes. It strengthens the spirit of their competitiveness. Instilling these values, especially for people like us who have disabilities, it changes our perspective of disability – turning it into a challenge more than a problem,” Barredo said.  

Eventually, both groups aim to promote the Paralympic Games and sports early into the country’s educational system and further instill the values of sportsmanship that will last a lifetime.

PHOTO CAPTION: Philippine Paralympic Committee VP Tom Carasso (2nd, standing) and PPC president Mike Barredo (3rd from left), with the coaches and National PWD athletes.