IL Activity Report from HACI Cebu in Philippines

Report by: Teresa “Tess” Chua

1. During the 3rd week of September, I and Ella Clark, our VSO (Volunteer Service Organization – a Non Government Organization based in England) volunteer professional met with Dr. Jorgen Lim, a rehab medicine doctor for referrals on clients. We are referred to the chief of clinics of Vicente Sotto Memorial Hospital, the Provincial hospital of Cebu. We were not able to make an appointment yet. Will work on it next week.

2. On October 8, 2007 Johnny, Ella, Irah and I visited a client, TS, who underwent surgery on her spine. We will visit the family and discuss IL to the family once the father is available. She is a referral of Dr. Jorgen Lim. The father is working in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, a city outside Cebu City, thus he is available only during weekends.

Prior to our visit last October 8 in the hospital, I have met TS and her parents at Dr. Lim’s clinic. Dr. Lim introduced me to the family and told them about Independent Living program. The parents wanted to know more on the IL concept. Besides, Johnny had made few phone calls with TS.

3. On October 9, 2007 Johnny and I had a meeting with our partner, the Redemptorist Fathers, represented by Ms. Armi and Mr. Karl Quisumbing. The survey they conducted within their parish showed only one possible candidate for IL. Thus we are requesting the Redemptorist if we can use their fund for the city wide IL program instead of Parish based. Ms. Armi is the one to convey the request to Fr. Leo, the Parish Priest during their weekly meeting on Thursday.

4. We are preparing an article for newspaper release with Johnny as our success candidate on IL program. We have also asked the permission of the Redemptorist Parish to allow us to post the article of Johnny’s story in their bulletin and also asking for volunteer PA.
Please refer to the write up about Patrick “Johnny” Cacanindin Jr. below

5. There is another client, the person had swimming accident, similar case with Johnny. I need to call for visit.

My Name is Patrick Mutia Cacanindin Jr. “Johnny”

My name is Patrick Mutia Cacanindin, Jr., I was born on June 8, 1969 in Oroquieta City, Mindanao but I grew up with my parents in Cebu City where I had my elementary, high school and half of my college days. I am now 38 yrs. old, weighs around 165 pounds and with the height of 5 feet and 10 inches.

I had a very active life before my accident. I used to go to the gym and had my Progressive Resistance Training (PRT), play soccer and was a captain ball in our school soccer team and a YMCA trained swimmer. I basically aimed to stay in tiptop shape because I wanted to become a part of the US Navy Paramedical crew. I took up and finished Bachelor of Science in Nursing for the same reason.

All dreams and hopes ended when I met a diving accident February of 1991 at the age of 21 in Mindanao that dislocated my cervical four and five. A spinal cord injury which made me a quadriplegic, meaning, paralyzed from the upper chest going all the way down; my lower extremities can’t move while I got few movements left in my upper extremities but none on my fingers because they are almost clenched. My life took a 180 degree turn from a very active lifestyle into an inert and dependent existence. I was once a health buff and now a struggling health seeker, so, when you come right down to it, an energetic life which took an uncontrollable fierce turn and then hastily halted.

I live an extremely different life after the accident – it revolved and evolved inside my room for several years. I never bothered to get involved with the outside world for I was thinking that it would be awfully intricate for me to adjust knowing that I will be on a wheelchair and at times need to be carried, accessibility was also one of my immediate concerns During that time, I never talked to people aside from my parents and close relatives for I was still trying to get through the depression stage.

Though a lot of people like my parents, relatives, Nonoy Concha and Minda Zoriaga (HACI members) have tried to encourage me to go back to mainstream society, I never really bothered. Nonoy Concha and Minda Zoriaga introduced the HACI (Handicapped’s Anchor is Christ Incorporated) organization to me but I was never interested in becoming a member with the notion that there’s nothing I can do if I join in because I can barely move. Until the time came when Tess Chua (also a HACI member) invited me to a Peer Counseling Seminar conducted by trainers from Human Care Association. Though I only had a smidgen of confidence that I can finish the training, I still attended.

That was the first time I stayed over a week away from my parents and away from my comfort zone. I thought I’d never finish the seminar because I had a lot of concerns and apprehensions. It was not really that tough for me but I was not really that comfortable because of a pressure sore. But I learned lots of things that made me what I am now. It opened my then closed world to which heaps of people especially my parents really appreciated.

It was then that I became a member of HACI. Realizing that if I could’ve joined at an earlier time, I could’ve done so much with my life; given my life a purpose and live blissfully.

Fortified with the confidence that I gained from the seminar even though I know that situations will not be as easy as the first seminar workshop that I’ve attended, I accepted the immense opportunity offered by Asia Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD) of Thailand in cooperation with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) of Japan to undergo a training/seminar on Independent Living (IL) Program and Peer Counseling in Bangkok, Thailand last February 27 to March 18, 2006. It was my first trip abroad. I also had the same predicament this time like the first seminar I have attended, a pressure sore but a bit bigger yet I came home with two certificates at hand.

As I have expected, I learned, discovered and ascertained vast things for a (Person with Severe Disability) PWSD to pursue his life and live contentedly. I am very lucky that I have gone through that seminar workshop because it has empowered and endowed me the basics of Independent Living Program, how essential Peer Counseling is and the vital utilization of Personal Assistant (PA) Service. The latter has an enormous effect in my life because with the consequence that I am in presently, PAs serve as my arms and legs on carrying out my daily activities and other things that I want to do. Especially now that I am living alone with my PA because my parents moved back to Mindanao after we decided that I would try out living independently away from them and apply what I have learned from the training.

It has been over a year now since my parents moved back to Mindanao sometime April, 2006 that is about 3 weeks after I got back from my training in Bangkok, Thailand. So far, I am doing quite okay. I could say that I have taken off loads of burden off from my parents’ back since they do not have to worry too much on me for I can now manage my life alone. I owe so much gratitude to all the people behind the trainings and seminars, (the trainers, interpreters, personal assistants, staff and colleagues). I appreciate their efforts for reaching out to persons with severe disabilities (PWSDs) like me who’s struggling to go back to the community. I know they will be blessed exceedingly for touching and making other peoples lives a whole lot better.

Right now, our IL (Independent Living) team here in Cebu is trying our very best to propagate the IL program and its services locally. I hope and pray that we would be successful in our advocacies for I know that there are many PWDs out there that can still live a happy and meaningful life.

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