As I mentioned in the welcome post, I will be doing some posts in which I share some the tips and tricks I have learned over the years as to how to survive in Metro Manila, and for my very first one, I decided to take a look and talk about something I have acquired recently that has definitely been a great help over the past few months- a PWD (Persons with Disability Card).
Earlier this year, I had learned from a friend that it was possible for someone with mental health issues or is on the spectrum to get a Persons with Disability (PWD) card. At first, I was hesitant and unsure as to whether I should get one. Sure, I may look normal, but, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really think, feel or act like normal people at times. However, after doing some research, and weighing the pros and cons carefully, I decided to try and get my PWD Card.
After gathering the requirements that I needed, my mom and I headed over to the Department of Social Welfare & Development (DSWD) office at the Muntinlupa City Hall, filled out the necessary documents, talked to the person in charge, and in less than an hour, I was handed my PWD card and two passbooks (one for medicine, and one for food and basic supplies). Also, I was quite nervous that I would be interviewed by the person in charge, but she was more interested in communicating with my mom more than me, which was also alright as I was too nervous to talk.
Later on, when I first started using my PWD card, I was comfortable using it when I went out by myself or with my family. However, later on, I opened up to two of my friends, and began using it more openly with them around. I still worry about what others might think of me if I use my card in a situation wherein the people I’m with don’t know about my diagnosis, but I hope that in the future, I will be a little bit more comfortable with using it in public.
Interestingly enough, I don’t see my PWD card as something that gives me a label, but it’s another way of accepting who I am and the limitations I have, and in a way, that, in itself, is quite empowering.
As someone who freelances and doesn’t work a regular job, I have found that the PWD card has empowered me to be a little bit more financially independent; and I’m glad that I can somehow contribute to the family with the discounts I have at restaurants and movie houses. For me, this was also a way to help out and give back as my family has already given me so much. Another thing that I appreciate about the benefits of this card is that paying utilities and doing errands alone become easier as I’m able to go to counters that do prioritize Senior Citizens and PWDs. I have sensory issues, which come along with me being an Aspie, so being able to avail of this benefit greatly helps me cut down on how tired I get when I’m out, and lessens the stress of taking in everything around me and the anxieties that come with it as well. (Trust me, it is not fun being in a line for more than thirty minutes feeling like your freezing due to the aircon; distracted by other customers; and processing all the sounds, sights and smells all at once in what I call a more HD way than a normal person would.)
One thing, however, that I did find surprising and unexpected is that I got extremely non-plussed and normal reactions from the cashiers I handed my card to, and from those around me during situations in which I used it. I had this weird anxiety and fear that using my card would draw attention and that those who I were with at the moment would question it, and then I’d have to do the whole “I’m someone with an ASD coming out of the closet” sort of thing. However, it turns out that, once again, all my fears were unfounded, and that everyone treated it like it was a normal thing.
So, in a way, having my PWD card has empowered me in accepting my own limitations, becoming more financially independent, and allowing it to be what it is.
So, if you do have a medical condition or a mental health issue, I highly recommend that you do get a PWD card because it will definitely help you in the long run. Everyone has their own reasons for getting one, but I guarantee you that it will help you a lot.
Here’s a copy of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (RA 9442).
Now, here’s what you need to do to get your PWD card:
- Gather all requirements- Medical Certificate/Clinical Abstract, two 2×2 ID pictures, Barangay Clearance (get your Cedula first before getting this), accomplished form (you can get one at the DSWD branch you go to to apply).
- Go to the nearest DSWD branch office, which is usually located at your local city hall, and submit all the forms. Someone will either talk to you or your guardian, and after processing it, you will be given your card and two passbooks (one for food and one for medicine).
- Make sure you read what’s inside of your booklets to know the discounts you can avail of and what your rights are, and you are done!
I hope that this first Survival Guide will help convince you that as a PWD, you should avail of what the government gives you as benefits, and to not be ashamed of doing so.