Interview by Nicole Gusto and Text by Dane Raymundo
Photos by Christine Marie A. Rabano
O n November 20, 2016, the first ever “Shop and Share: A Bazaar for All” was organized by Communicare, a therapy center for people with special needs, to showcase over 70 different brands, stores, and companies at the BF Homes Clubhouse Basketball Court in Paranaque City. Compared to those ordinary bazaars that happen during the holiday season, Shop and Share spelled out difference as it was laden with an advocacy to employ people with disabilities (PWD). Their aim is not just for the consumers to buy and for the stores to offer their products, but also for the shop owners to see the skills of the PWDs to encourage hiring in the future. True to their cause, the bazaar provided employment for a day for 22 PWDs with different medical conditions such as hearing impairment, Down Syndrome and autism. Each PWD employed were given tasks and were compensated for their service that day.
According to Mrs. Marie Palafox-Pascua, program director of Communicare, the event aimed to “encourage people to celebrate inclusion of PWDs, not only in the workplace, but also in the community.” She added that they wanted to let people “see that the ability is always greater than the “dis” in disability”.
Though the planning was described as “unimaginable in the beginning”, tedious efforts of almost 80 people for more than 2 months bore amazing fruits, as Mrs. Palafox-Pascua described it as “the ambition fell short of the outcome”. With the overwhelming support it has received, even from big companies like Jollibee, Metrobank, Philippine Star, Toyota Bicutan, Nissan Sucat, and Honda Cars Makati, the entire event turned out to be more than what the organizers expected it to be.
Shop and Share: A Bazaar for All. The event was overflowing with guests and bazaaristas.
Organizers from Communicare Therapy Center, morning crew.
Organizers from Communicare Therapy Center, night crew.
Stores showing support for the bazaar
Mrs. Marie Palafox-Pascua, program director of Communicare Therapy Center, poses with one of her students at the Shop and Share Bazaar.
Different stores supported the cause of the event including big companies like Jollibee, Metrobank, Philippine Star, Toyota Bicutan, Nissan Sucat, and Honda Cars Makati.
Some of the “Shop and Share” employees of the day greeting everyone with their warm smiles.
People with Disabilities (PWDs) wearing the ‘celebrate inclusion’ shirts were provided with job experiences such as selling chips and drinks to bazaaristas, collecting bazaar tickets and stamping the guests, and maintaining cleanliness in the venue, to provide an opportunity and promote a more inclusive workforce.
For the country, these may be initial steps. But it is from starting somewhere that we gain high hopes that things will follow-through. And as we look forward to a society embracing inclusion, we thank people with good hearts and a passionate vision to see PWDs be given equal opportunities in our society. PWDs can be equally or even be more dedicated, passionate, and hard-working individuals that should not only be given a chance, but they should also experience the same rights as others can. After all, in the words of Mrs. Palafox-Pascua, “possibilities for the PWDs are inexhaustible.”