The ad, as we all know by now, features a blind retiree living in the Philippines, and able to, ehem, experience the warmth and wonder of the Philippines.
On GMA News-to-Go Tuesday, anchors Howie Severino and Kara David asked Department of Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre if he thought the Philippines was PWD-friendly, especially to the elderly.
His reply was: “We know how much we care for our elderly. I’d like to see the day that we totally give all the benefits to the disabled.”
When grilled about our facilities and infrastructure, ASec Alegre said it was “something we can bring up to a higher level.”
Which sounded a little funny for persons with disability. “The country has non-existent public infrastructure for PWDs,” Ed Geronia, a writer who has had polio since he was a year old, told GMA News Online.
“Inviting over PWD tourists, especially those who are vision-impaired and who are used to navigating themselves in a first-world country may find the Philippines to be a dangerous and hostile place.”
He then lists a number of things that PWDs need, that are lacking in our country:
· There are mostly no tactile paving on the streets for visually-impaired individuals
· There are no accessible pedestrian signals that give out an audio warning when it’s safe to cross the street
· There are hardly Braille markings on public signs, pedestrian crossings, and elevator buttons.
Some existing accessible structures are just made for minimum compliance and are not constructed in accordance with international standards.
Before we start inviting PWDs—and elderly PWDs for that matter—to experience the Philippines, perhaps we first better make sure they'll be safe in our shores.
'It's retirees we're referring to,' DoT ASec Alegre defends the 'Experience the Philippines' ad—GMA News
Plagiarism aside, many people are questioning the Experience the Philippines ad: Just how PWD-friendly is the Philippines?