ALL-EMBRACING. Annika See, a Grade 12 student at Ateneo de Manila Senior High School, founded Adhaya Philippines to advocate for persons with disabilities as she believes that they are "just as capable as anyone else." PHOTO COURTESY OF Adhaya Philippines

Reader. Writer. Scholar.

by Amaranth Xena Soleil Saludar

“Iisang Adhikain, Sama-Samang Kakayanin!”

Atenean Grade 12 student Annika See advocates for the fight against ableism, so she officially launched Adhaya Philippines on September 1, 2020, with the help of 14 fellow students from Ateneo De Manila University, Ateneo Senior High School, University of the Philippines – Diliman, GCF International Christian School, and Assumption College San Lorenzo HS.

The team behind Adhaya PH ought to battle the unfair treatment towards a person with disability (PWD) due to the mindset that they are inferior.

Thus, through “Adhaya” – from the Tagalog words “adhikain” meaning advocacy and “kaya” meaning able – See desired to spark change by advocating for PWDs and showing that she believes that PWDs are “just as capable as anyone else.”

The Adhaya PH slogan fortified the team’s belief that “[the] goal can be achieved if we are all together, fighting for the same advocacy.”

Advocating for anti-ableism, See opened about her late brother, who had microcephaly and cerebral palsy. Growing up with him, See discovered the difficulties that PWDs encounter.

“Being surrounded by kids like my brother made me very sensitive to the ways that our society would discriminate against [PWDs], and how difficult it is to be disabled in the Philippines… I realized that it was even more difficult for those who don’t have the means for the various therapy sessions and medications needed by people with disabilities,” said See.

Because of her experiences, See, together with her team, established Adhaya PH to educate people to better advocate for PWDs and to alleviate the difficulties of being a PWD in the country.

To better promote their advocacy, Adhaya PH allied with Kaisaka Inc. (Kaisahan Ng Magulang At Anak Na May Kapansanan), which is a community of parents who have children with disabilities. The two organizations currently work together for a fundraising project in late October.

Also, Adhaya PH partnered with Move As One Coalition, an alliance of Filipino organizations and individuals advocating for a safer, more humane, and more inclusive public transportation system in the Philippines. Both take part in the petition and hashtag campaign #MobilidadParaSaLahat for the said advocacy.

On behalf of Adhaya PH, See left a word for everyone to help fight ableism and further inclusivity.

“…being disabled isn’t something that needs to be cured. Society continues to teach us that we are the norm and that those who deviate are inferior. [But], the only reason they are considered inferior is [that] our society isn’t tailored to their needs. As people, we are very able-centric, and many of the needs of PWDs [are] secondary,” the founding chairperson emphasized.

“We want to show that disability…should be normalized and that [the] steps towards creating a more inclusive future start now. This can only be done if we are one [in this] good fight. We still have a long way to go, and we hope that you can join our journey as one Adhaya family,” she encouraged.

*To follow their journey and support their cause, like and follow Adhaya’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. You may also reach them through Gmail.

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