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BLIND SPOT: Instincts of Intimidation

While establishments are engrossed on empowerment through education and employment, common folk entreat for elementary equality in social exchanges. Last September 20, 2017, a Dialogue with the Blind Community was held at the Resource Center for the Blind, Naga City Hall, mainly facilitated by Ronnel del Rio of the Philippine Chamber of Massage Industry, with Lisalyn Lopez and Zenaida Sacdalan of Center for Advocacy for Learning and Livelihood CALL Foundation, and Preciosa Macasaet from DepEd Bureau of Learning Resources, all of whom are with visual impairment. In attendance in the event were stakeholders in the PWD and visually impaired community: Philippine Blind Union President and NACIVIA President Butch Robredo, Naga City PDAO OIC Chris Molin, DepEd Naga EPS for SPED Eduardo Laureles, SPED teachers, parents of children with visual impairment, and persons with visual impairment themselves. The dialogue’s primary objectives were to present updates on procedures of access to and acquisition of learning materials for pupils/students with visual impairment, of school textbooks in formats accommodated to their exceptionality: Braille for learners with total blindness, and large print books for learners with low vision, and to report the status of the practice of massage as a livelihood by persons with visual impairment, which in recent years has been subjected to uncertainties due to a DOH administrative order requiring massage therapists including those with visual impairment to secure a license which would be acquired after undergoing costly training in exclusively DOH accredited training centers (which is unfriendly to blind massage therapists, the population of which are considerably unschooled and earn modest income). The order has recently been suspended; however, measures are under way for its re-imposition, which in turn would be countered by the national community of blind masseurs. However, it was notable in the dialogue that the concerns dominantly raised by persons with visual impairment, and parents of children with visual impairment were about bullying. Parents were deeply concerned on bullying and the probability of going through cases as their children progress through life. Individuals with visual impairment themselves raised concerns about bullying from their colleagues and members of the community. So, this is 21st century; centuries after the Dark Ages, decades after the Holocaust, decades after the civil rights movements. Intolerance still lurks its ugly head in the corner. Apparently, this seems to be a trend in the strata of society. In many parts of the nation (or is it just in Caloocan?), there are troubling indications of summary murders of adolescent males in the guise of campaigns against illegal drug trade and abuse. Of course, one would argue that guilty parties would naturally deny involvement; but evidence in their favor is disturbing. A week ago, the Senate held hearings on this so-called “fake news”; a term coined by the US President Donald Trump. It is just interesting to note that victims of these “fake news” are individuals and organization that are unaffiliated and/or in hostile relations with the current administration. What is more interesting is that the authorities seem to have developed a visual impairment for these injustices. In Myanmar, Rohingya Muslims are fleeing to Bangladesh, from murderous abuse and persecution of Burmese military. Reports of death, disease and disability continue to appall the rest of the world. What is mind-boggling about this is Aung San Suu Kyi, the highly celebrated champion of human rights is now in Myanmar (not anymore in exile) holding high public office in the nation; and she has been mysteriously silent all along. Has not she championed freedom and human rights for so long a time? One would only wonder. Africans and West Asians who intend to migrate to Europe (illegally though) sink aboard ships in the middle of the Mediterranean, suffer inhuman conditions in North Africa, or become listless outcasts in Europe. President Trump intend to deport the “dreamers” to the nation of their parents. “A 2005 multinational study that spanned 28 countries across North America and Europe revealed how commonplace bullying is and how consistent its effects are.” “No matter where you go in the world, from the Mbuti of Central Africa (Turnbull, 1961) to Suburban children in the United States (Wang et al, 2009) there are individuals and groups that target others with tactics designed to intimidate, coerce or harm them. There is ample evidence that many other animals, including other primates, engage in bullying-like behaviors.” “Among baboons, one of the best-known, non-human primates in the world, bullying-like behaviors are common.” “Male chimpanzees regularly intimidate each other with bluffs, displays, charges and aggression, which can range from making another male move from a resting spot to physical violence.” ( But humanity is so much more above and beyond these natural urges. The Filipino (I hope) is so much more above and beyond these instincts of intimidation. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” 2 Timothy 1:7

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