“Psychosocial Disability arises when someone with a mental health condition interacts with a social environment but presents barriers to their equality with others.” – NSW Health
Chiqui Sy-Quia Mabanta, the owner of a vegetarian restaurant in Makati, drew flak online after she dismissed the legitimacy of two customers who presented their PWD cards for “Psychosocial Disability”.
What made people online even more enraged is despite Mabanta’s myopic understanding of what persons with disability mean, it did not stop her from worsening the already stigmatized condition of people suffering from mental illness by ranting online, and assuming that because the customers left the restaurant in a motorcycle and are “able-bodied”, makes them a hoax for earning the benefits of having PWD cards “easily”.
“I don’t know…I somehow feel this is being abused. It’s becoming too easy to get PWD cards, these 2 young people left in a motorcycle. They looked pretty able-bodied. Could be wrong and they could’ve been legit but the fact is, as seen on this thread, it is very easy to get one now.” Mabanta said.
This posts an assumption that “all disabled people have visible manifestations” and that “the ‘more disabled’ they look, the more they deserve support”, said a Facebook user who reposted screengrabs of the already-deleted post of the restaurant owner.
Receipts from the same account showed the screengrabbed comment section where Mabanta together with other users, was seen making fun of said illness — “psychosocial disability that prevents them from paying full price.”
Mabanta even posted the PWD cards while blurring the rest of the personal information leaving “psychosocial disability” visible to prove her point. “They get 20% off. Bummer”, she said.
Mabanta’s post has drawn the ire of many online, with some who do have psychosocial disabilities calling out Mabanta for being ableist. Others also explained why the PWD ID for psychosocial disabilities is actually very helpful to the cardholders — for those who have medication for their disabilities, a 20% discount is actually very helpful because their prescription medications plus fees for consultations really don’t come cheap.
Despite the government support for Filipinos suffering from mental illness, it does not change the fact that the maintenance is expensive, the availability for treatments is not accessible to everyone given that most facilities that provide psychiatric treatments are mostly in Metro Manila, and that not everyone experiencing this problem has the courage to be upfront with the fact that they are not okay because of the stigma with mental illness.
The benefits that persons with disability get from PWD cards is the least the government can do to assist with their costly medications and fill the gap that cuts them short in our imperfect society.
The least you can do for them is educate yourself properly.
With Mabanta’s public apology a few days after her initial post saying “I apologize for unfairly judging (in my initial post) the 2 customers who may have been legit. I should have given the benefit of the doubt,” exposes how our society still complains for the “inconveniences” they encounter from the measures that help those who never choose to be in their position in the first place.
Mabanta’s reaction is so common, we see it echoed everywhere on social media. On one highly-engaging story of POP! about the resurgence of a local burger joint brand, there is a comment like this:
We want to chalk it up to ignorance, but wow, it takes a lot of guts to bring your pointless thoughts out for everyone to read.
The Philippines has a long way to go in terms of disability education. Let’s start taking the first steps now, so we can stop opinions like the ones above.
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