By Nel Andrade
ANTIPOLO CITY – A group of disabled persons in this city and nearby towns of Rizal continue to role models for the differently-abled individuals who want to become independent and productive members of the society.
The Persons With Disability Antipolo Consumers Cooperative, (PWDACC) led by Eljoy Lagan, a visually impaired former judo national player turned massage therapist, said his group has been providing livelihood to fellow PWDs in the province as massage therapists since his group started nine years ago on July 17. The group became a cooperative on Nov. 4, 2014.
Lagan, who is married to a fellow visually impaired massage therapist, said his group’s vision is to help more fellow disabled but goal-oriented PWDs become productive through massage and music services.
The PWDACC employs about 20 PWDs, who are either blind or orthopedically-impaired as massage therapists. From its original massage area at the gazebo of Sumulong Park in Antipolo, cooperative’s massage group has branched out to the New Antipolo Public Market and the City Mall of Antipolo.
With assistance from the city and provincial governments, the group has helped the PWDs and their families by providing a venue for massage services, massage training, job referrals, and medical assistance for sick members and relatives.
Lagan said the success of another massage group, the Vibes Massage, led by Dante Tiosan, provided the inspiration for him and fellow disabled.
On Wednesday, Lagan’s group paid a courtesy call on Mayor Andrea Bautista Ynares and Gov. Rebecca Ynares as part of the activities lined up for the 41st National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week celebration.
“Like Tiosan, who has employed around 700 visually-impaired in his many branches all over Luzon and Visayas as massage therapists, our group would also want to continue giving livelihood opportunities to our fellow PWDs,” Lagan said in an interview at the gazebo during their massage group’s 5th anniversary Wednesday.
During the group’s meeting with Mayor Ynares, the local government unit executive has assured the massage therapists of the city government’s support to their causes and visions for the PWDs.
Other members of the PWDACC who are not into massage are either self-employed as aircon technicians, utility personnel, vendors, and musicians.