May 1% Ka Ba? Meet Raph of the DFA!

Among the staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), a special individual works tirelessly as an advocate for Persons with Disability within the agency: Raphael Torralba, the Assistant for Person with Disability Programs of the Human Resources Management Office. Under his careful watch, forty-five Persons with Disability spread out across the wide DFA network can integrate and work well with the agency, its operations, and the rest of its workforce.

Raph, a Person who is Hard of Hearing, first began with the DFA as part of the Office of Consular Affairs (OCA) before taking on an extensive range of responsibilities in various areas. He applied at the DFA as per normal hiring procedures, with guidance from the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA).

“When I first entered the halls of DFA, a mixture of happiness and uncertainty greeted me,” Raph explains. “I was glad to be shortlisted for a job interview while at the same time, I feared being rejected due to the communication barrier, which usually starts in the recruitment process. It makes life difficult for Person who is a Hard of Hearing person like me. Surprisingly, during my interview, the interviewer never made communication so hard for me. That was the moment I began to feel at ease, knowing that DFA really cares for Persons with Disability. Afterwards, the fear inside of me dissipated.”

The DFA is very supportive of employing Persons with Disability, exceeding the 1% Person with Disability employment rule mandated by RA 10524. It also maintains programs that specifically look after the well-being of its Persons with Disability employees and coordinates regularly among its varied embassies and related offices, with Raph’s meticulous support. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing employees are employed in the OCA, while other Persons with Disability are in other units, embassies, consulates, and regional consular offices.

Raph has had other productive work engagements over the years, and he is more than satisfied with the supportive atmosphere in the DFA. “I'm happy with my work. Considering that the DFA is a Person with Disability-friendly agency, it makes me feel at home. It makes me feel I'm a part of the family. DFA doesn’t leave their Persons with Disability employees behind. They provide them opportunities for career growth, just the same as what other employees are receiving.”

Acknowledging the growing trend of inclusion in workplaces, Raph feels strongly about how employers should give Persons with Disability the chance to shine. “Awareness inside the workplace is the key. It creates a ripple that passes to other colleagues, as seen in how we, the Person with Disability employees, educate our fellow colleagues: the lessons we teach them are continually passed on,” he points out.

“I want to share what one of my favorite ambassadors once said, that all of us are potential diplomats and one diplomat can change the world,” Raph underscores, firmly optimistic about how the public can support inclusion. “In that case, anyone can be an ambassador for PWD awareness. Be that one.”

This is the first in a series of special features on Persons with Disability in a variety of workplaces, both in the private and the public sectors. Stay abreast of the “May 1% Ka Ba?” campaign’s features and updates via https://www.facebook.com/ProjectInclusionPH/.

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In Pursuit of Inclusion in the Workplace: “May 1% Ka Ba?”

A different labor conversation

This Labor Day, the Fully Abled Nation and Unilab Foundation’s Project Inclusion, will out the spotlight on workplace inclusion through “May 1% Ka Ba?”, an advocacy campaign promoting access to the workplace for Persons with Disability (PWDs).

The campaign’s eponymous one percent (1%) draws from Republic Act 10524: An Act Expanding the Positions Reserved for Persons with Disability, which specifically amends Section 5 of Republic Act 7277, the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, with this provision:

“At least one percent (1%) of all positions in all government agencies, offices or corporations shall be reserved for Persons with Disability: Provided, that private corporations with more than 100 employees are encouraged to reserve at least one percent (1%) of all positions for Persons with Disability.”

May 1% Ka Ba?

“May 1% Ka Ba?” is a comprehensive media campaign that will feature stories of PWDs employed in different capacities such as administrative aides, deputy directors, teachers, and architects from diverse workplace environments, including Special Education (SPED) centers and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).  The stories will highlight the triumphs of PWDs and the gains and benefits to those who employ them.

The campaign encourages employers to look beyond the disability and to see the contributions that PWDs can achieve in the workplace. It also urges them to embrace workplace inclusion and go beyond compliance to the 1% mandated by law.

The campaign is endorsed by the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) with support from the Australian Embassy and The Asia Foundation Partnership in the Philippines.

The “May 1% Ka Ba?” features will be released to various media outlets and online venues over the next few months. Watch the first video, “Inclusion” here: (bit.ly/May1PercentKaBa-Inclusion) or follow Project Inclusion on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ProjectInclusionPH/).