Melchor C. Tumbos, a resident of Punta Taytay, Bacolod City may be considered as a hero in our time because of his strong advocacy for all disabled persons.
Despite being totally blind himself, this has not deterred him in any way towards helping his fellow disabled persons and in becoming a responsive and responsible citizen of his country, the Philippines.
He was born in Bacolod City on January 1, 1966 and at the age of eight, he contracted meningitis which led to his blindness.
At the time of his ailment, he was then a student studying at Sum-ag Elementary School, where, despite his major handicap, successfully graduated from the intermediate level, with his distinction. He went on and studied at the Sum-ag National High School where he graduated in 1983. In the same year, he enrolled at the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos and graduated Cum Laude with a degree – Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 1988.
Since then, there have been no impediments that confronted him as he applied himself to continue his studies in all facts of the information technology field. He mastered skills that made hi very proficient in the use of the “Talking Computer.”
While still studying at the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos, he began to study the plight of all persons with disabilities and how he could help them after he graduated from college. He became very active in the Association of Persons with Disabilities (APWD) by vigorously engaging himself in information – education programs to inculcate among the disabled in the City of Bacolod on their rights and responsibilities.
His dedication and commitment towards the plight of Bacolodnons with disabilities (APWD) by vigorously engaging himself in information – education programs to inculcate among the disabled in the City of Bacolod on their rights and responsibilities while appealing to the public and private sectors that they become considerate towards persons with disabilities.
His dedication and commitment towards the plight of Bacolodnons with disabilities earned for him in 2002, the distinct honor of being presented the APOLINARIO MABINI AWARD AS THE DISABLED FILIPINO OF THE YEAR. The award was presented to him by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in ceremonies held at Malacañang.
The City of Bacolod also honored him by presenting to him the ANG BANWAHANON AWARD on October 19, 2004. He was also honored with the GAWAD AGILA AWARD in February, 2005.
His efforts in working to alleviate the plight of the disabled persons in Bacolod City, coupled with his talents in the information technology field did not go unnoticed as he was hired by the Department of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) in 2007 to be an instructor of Computer Science and assigned to the Bacolod City National High School. His students are all blind young men and women.
Bacolod City is also noted for its concern for the disabled, especially in the field of education. However, we have yet to see any program for them to learn money – making skills as there are no statistical data as to the number of persons with disabilities that are Bacolod residents. The same holds true also in the entire Province of Negros Occidental.
Like one of our national heroes, Apolinario Mabini, the sublime paralytic, Mr. Tumbos has become a productive citizen of our country.
When queried in what he considers are the major problems in this sector, he stated, “I am sad that many establishments in Bacolod City are not disabled – friendly, as they are not complying with the laws that have been enacted since the tenure of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.”
He laments that many sectors in our society, public or private, are not complying with the mandates of Republic Act No. 7277, otherwise known as the MAGNA CARTA FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. That this is the motherhood of all legislations which are supposed to benefit persons with disabilities. This law was enacted during the term of President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
He said that in 1983, Batasan Pambansa No. 344 was passed by the Batasan Pambansa passed this law, otherwise known as the Accessibility Law where government offices as well as private enterprise are enjoined to give opportunities for employment to persons with all types of disabilities.
The passage of Republic Act No. 9442 elated persons with disabilities as they are now supposed to receive the same privileges as Senior Citizens, who get twenty percent on their purchases of certain commodities as well as entitling them discounts in restaurants, hospitals and other establishments. Tumbos bewails the fact that right here in Bacolod City and for that matter also in the entire province of Negros Occidental, many drugstores, restaurants, shopping malls, even hospitals, hotels and malls are making it very difficult for them to avail of discounts as mandated by R.A. No. 9442.
Right now, there are many buildings in Bacolold City and even in the entire province that are not complying with the laws promulgated especially on the building of ramps, parking areas and handrails for disabled persons. That the building officials of Bacolod City are apparently ignorant about these laws. Tumbos opines that all national and local officials should be made aware of these laws so that they can compel owners of buildings to put up the necessary infrastructures that would benefit disabled persons. Better still, to have these laws amended so as to give it more teeth for compliance. He said that it is unfortunate that the Comelec did not approve the application of disabled persons so that they could set up their own party list. This could give them the opportunity to be represented to the Congress. In more advanced countries, persons with disabilities are gainfully employed, however in the Philippines, it seems to be impossibility for them to be hired, either by public or private enterprises. There are already several laws which could benefit the disabled, however, they are not being implemented.
Yet with all the deficiencies that are affecting the welfare of the disabled, Tumbos has not lost hope that someday soon, they will get their just desserts, and with the grace of the Lord Almighty, their day will come! (WHOS) Reference: NDB 50th Anniversary Issue, Sept. 9, 10, 11, 2010, p.12
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