June 1, 2023

As part of the continuing advocacy on advancing the well-being people of people with autism spectrum disorder, two Baguio-based groups have launched last week exhibits that will benefit the sector.
First is a photo exhibit organized by the Baguio chapter of the Autism Society of the Philippines with the support of the Baguio Photographers Club (BPC), SM Cares Foundation, SM City Baguio, Carlos and Friends, Harvey Chua Adphoto, Jet Bookstore, Podium Hotel, Visco’s, Northern Blossom Flower Farm, Amathea Educational Systems, the Office of Councilor Art Allad-iw, and Persons with Disability Affairs Office.
The photographs currently on exhibit at SM City Baguio Sunset Terraces showed the picturesque views of Northern Blossom Flower Farm in Atok, Benguet that were captured by 12 mentees with autism spectrum disorder and who were mentored by members of the BPC led by its president Ompong Tan.
The exhibit is the 13th mounted by the ASP and BPC since the latter started teaching photography to people with autism.
Sold for P8,000 each, 100 percent of the sales from the photo exhibit will go directly to the photographer.
The photographs were also used in the desktop calendars sold for P300 each to raise funds for the production of posters and other information materials about autism to be distributed in barangay halls around Baguio.
ASP Baguio president Bernadette Palicdon said the project is part of its continuing advocacy of not just to make society aware about autism but also educate them about genuine inclusion – that people who have autism also need to be accepted, accommodated, and appreciated.
“Let us build an autism-OK Philippines where people in the autism spectrum will be accepted, accommodated, and appreciated,” Palicdon said.
ASP national chairman emeritus Dang Uy Koe said in the campaign for an autism-OK Philippines, they aspire that even those who do not have sons or daughters with autism will accept the sector as part of society.
She said they are also hoping for more businesses to include in their corporate social responsibility providing autism-friendly spaces in their establishments.
Koe said government, on the other hand, should come up with institutional mechanism such as laws, policies, or ordinances that would help recognize that those with autism are also capable if provided with the proper facilities to make them functional members of society.
In hiring for instance, Koe said those with autism may also be employed based on their abilities, not out of pity.
Photographers in the photo exhibit are Carlo Banez, Josef Noli Vizcocho, Keefe-Everett Sebio, Patricia Anne Cuna, Onel Osbert Gundran, Sebastian Paolo Miguel Moll, Andres Joaquin Tano, Raghnall Cire Garay, Vincent Troy Bayeng, Manuel Martin Teodoro, Dylan James Chua, and Danielle Louise Ku Marquez.
Their mentors are Michello Co, Olen Co, Eliza Consul, Lui and Fulgent Fagela, Red Fernandez, Ren Munoz, Jose and Vanessa Olarte, Lino Tabangin, Ompong Tan, and Jerry Telva.
The desktop calendars are for sale at Jet Bookstore, Porta Vaga Mall in Baguio; Northern Blossom Flower Farm; and at select outlets of National Bookstore in Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, the Camp John Hay Development Corporation and Autism Hearts Foundation also unveiled during a benefit dinner at The Manor garden on Nov. 12, an 8 feet x 8 feet painting made by nine artists under the auspices of Fashion Arts Autism Benefit.
The painting called “Elkat: an Enchanted Forest” is part of the annual of Christmas theme of the Manor, which, this year, depicts humans, nature, spirits, and fairies living in harmony.
The artists worked for six weekends to complete the painting, which is also the first collaboration between FAAB and SPED Center under the guidance of SPED teacher and artist Yvonne Almazan-Malaga.
FAAB Chair Lissa Sobrepena and AHF member of the board of directors said the art therapy program aims to improve the quality of life of people with autism so they become self-sustaining and to help more people with autism become productive members of society.
Artists who made the painting are Ian Jones Almazan, Talek Jose Ilagan, Andrei Nisperos, Emarnel Pasana, Leila Michelle Reyes, Paulo Brent Ricardo, Keefe-Everett Sebio, Jhomir Shontogan, and Justin Raymond Zambrano.
Their mentors are Robert Joaquin, Gladys Ann Labsan, and Ged Alangui. – Rimaliza A. Opina