The Korean-Philippines Educational and Cultural Exchange Center (KOPEC) together with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office celebrated the 9th Anniversary of Disability Day with the theme “Touch of Love” last March 5.
The activity implies that the people with disabilities should be given the same rights as those of the normal people to be involved in the community. It also builds an engagement between the government and KOPEC in helping people with disabilities, especially children.
The event also served as the awarding ceremony for the winners of the art festival competition for school children with disabilities and the day to showcase their talents.
“I am an educator myself and I commend our special education or SPED teachers for their patience and the understanding they poured into their job,”Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said.
The vice governor also expressed her gratitude to KOPEC President Dr. Choi Hun Yong for initiating the activity. The organization has been in a partnership with the Cebu Provincial Government through the office of the Vice Governor.
There were 19 participating SPED centers and representatives from the Department of Education who graced the event.
KOPEC has been visiting these centers but it was just this year that they managed to gather the children, teachers, and key persons from DepEd and Cebu Provincial Government in one occasion.
‘Love means time’
Choi believed that to be able to let a person feel loved, one must give his time. He hoped that the SPED teachers and the children with disabilities felt loved through the event.
“When we love, we give time. We find time,” Choi shared, adding that as their organization made this act of love, may it also teach the children to love back by reaching other children with special needs.
Jovyp Baraquia, a SPED teacher in Lipata National High School-SPED, has been teaching for almost six years. He has forgotten his first dream to go abroad and decided to stay in the country. He fell in love with his students and even helped them learn how to dance.
“My students were all mute and deaf. They need me to get their routine done. As the music plays, they have to focus their attention on me as I give them the signals and the beat of the music,” he said, showing how his students were able to present a dance number during the event.
He desires that the children with special needs will have more opportunities to serve in the community and hopes that the sincerity of the people who are helping the children will continue.
“Witnessing this act of kindness inspires us (teachers) to work even harder in our field,” he added.
Girl of Hope
Grace Escruplo, a second year high school student who was born without arms and legs never felt that she was different from the other kids until she was in Grade 4.
“Matingala man ko di ko paapilon sa akong mga klasmeyts ug duwa (I began to notice when my classmates would not allow me to play with them ),” Grace said.
During the event, she offered a song number and even managed to go up in the stage without the help of her mother or her teachers.
Grace is still thankful to God because she can still speak and hear. Singing is her favorite past time and an outlet to express herself.
She is even a great help in the house. She proudly shared that she can cook, fold clothes, and clean the house.
Grace dreams of finishing high school and hopefully enrol in college as a computer science or an architect student. Grace is the grand prize winner in the painting category in the event’s art competition.