hiv blogs in the philippines

80. Disabled

I’ve had the card for more than a month now and it’s turning out to be quite of a help. I’m talking about my PWD card.

Just to get it out of the way, and since I’m going to direct all questions about the card in this entry in the future, let me first tell you how to get one.

I learned about it through one of my pozzie friends (and SETmate) who happens to have one. I later asked him how he learned about it and he told me it’s through another pozzie.

So apparently, if you have HIV, you are eligible to have a PWD card (or Persons With Disablity card). So I asked him how to get one and he graciously instructed me how to.

What you will need are the following:

1. a copy of your Confirmatory Test (that you indeed have HIV)

2. a Barangay Clearance (proving that you live in that city)

3. a photocopy of 2 valid IDs

4. 2 1x1 picture

5. fill up a PWD form (that will be provided to you in the Municipal Hall)

Once you have the first four requirements, you need to bring these to your Municipal Hall. Ask the ever friendly lady guards where the PWD section is (I was told that it is usually located in the DSWD section).

Once you find the area, just tell the people there that you would be applying for a PWD card. Naturally, they would ask you what your disability is (although I was never asked that myself) and a friend told me to just reply with “I’ll just tell it po to the person in charge.”

What happened with my application is that I immediately asked where the DSWD section is and I was instructed where it is. I asked the first person I saw who I can talk to about PWD cards and I was pointed to a very accommodating lady. I told him I want to get a PWD card and handed him my two documents that I had at the time, the Barangay Clearance and the Confirmatory Test Result. she then told me that I would also need a photocopy of 2 valid IDs and 2 1x1 pictures and asked me to fill up the PWD form.

The name that I had on my Confirmatory Test Result is different from what I had on my IDs and on my Barangay Clearance but it apparently was not an issue. She didn’t even bother commenting about it. So I guess they understood why it was.

On the form, there are a list of disabilities that you would need to tick. I ticked “Psychosocial” only because it was the same thing I saw written on my friend’s card. 

It was a Friday when processed it and the lady asked me to come back for it exactly a week after. So the following Friday, I went back for it and it was ready.

It was very easy. I was informed by other pozzie friends though that other municipalities are much stricter with providing the cards than others. In Makati City, for instance, I was told that they would consider your occupation or financial status before they grant you with the card. Many people think it’s because Makati gives a lot of free benefits to PWD card holders (such as free movie passes).

So there.

I’ve been using the card quite extensively, I must say. The very first time I used it was in a fastfood chain. I felt I was very privileged. Twenty percent discount on food is a very good deal.

I know it’s a bit abusive of me to do it but I actually used it to park on the reserved parking space for PWD. I don’t think I will ever do that again ‘cause I felt a bit guilty after. What if someone who really really needed that parking space came. It felt robbing someone else’s right of something. It feels good to know that if I really really need a parking space though (and I feel extra bad. lol) I can always resort to use my disability card to my advantage. Evil Iam, evil! 

 I went home to my province last month and I also used it for my fare. 

As I am writing this, I’m actually sick (I have a flu) and just this morning I got the most discounted thing I got from using my disability card. I bought the medicine the doctor asked me to take and I got to use the PWD card. One hundred forty one pesos and three centavos is quite a lot of help.  

Most of the time, when I show people my PWD card, they don’t have any qualms of giving you the discount straight away. It’s not always that way though.

For instance, when I was coming back to Manila from the province, the person taking the fare looked at me from head to toe and asked in a very suspecting tone: “Ano naman disability mo?” (What’s your disability?) I looked at him in the eyes and answered him with: “Psych.”

Quite honestly, I felt a bit embarrassed. But what the hell. Twenty percent discount is twenty percent discount.

There are times when the manager of a fast food chain (when asked by a cashier person to approve a discount) would look at my card, then at me, then at my card again as if calculating if I’m doing something fraudulent. They never decline it though.

One funny story. So, I also use the PWD card at cinemas and one time, my partner and I went to a movie house which PWD discounted tickets look exactly like the one of a senior citizen. When we were entering the cinema, the lady at the entrance looked at both of us, wide-eyed in disbelief and uttered: “Senior Citizen po?!” It was so funny how she reacted. I just said “Ay, hindi po. disability po ‘yan. Baliw po ang isa sa amin.” (Oh no. That’s for disability. One of us is crazy.) We laughed so hard even after we were already sited. Crazy!

So, as you have read, Having a PWD card is quite a privilege. It really is. Again a 20 percent discount on a lot of things is such a huge deal.

My partner at one point actually asked, “Don’t you feel guilty?”

I actually did a bit. But then I thought, if the government actually thinks we deserve to have one, then why should I? And then I would think of the difficulty I have to go through when I’m taking my ARVs, I would then say to myself, I think I deserve it.

It makes sense that my disease is actually categorized as “Psychosocial.” Again, for one, my meds does make me a bit crazy for a few hours every single day. And I’ve been going through it for more than two years now and I don’t think the side effects will be going away any time soon.

Also, although the community has become a bit more understanding and accepting about the disease (thanks to the numerous efforts of the government and NGOs to educate the public) we can’t deny the fact that there are still a great deal of stigma going on.

I still hear stories of people living with HIV who would have a hard time with their jobs or forced to resign in fear of being judged. Some people living with HIV are still not comfortable disclosing their status even to their family. There are people who can’t have the job that they desire just because they have the virus. So I guess that’s the “social” part of the disability.

Now people without HIV might say things such as “You don’t deserve that priviledge” or “It’s not fair” or “If they have that just because of having the virus, then I want the virus too.” The first two statements I might understand but the last one, that would be crazy to say.

What I can only say is that, see it as an assistance for people living with the virus. Having HIV is expensive. Yes, right now our ARVs are free, our consultation at treatment hubs are free but that’s not all that there is to it.There are a lot of laboratory examinations that we are asked to take to monitor our health status and a lot of them are not free. We are prone to having sickness a lot more and we have to buy medicine for diseases for common colds and cough and fever or whatever.

And there will come a time that this will be a public knowledge, that people with “Psychosocial” PWD card most probably have HIV. So just imagine the look on other people’s face every time we would use it in public. That’s exactly why it took time for me write about the PWD card. I was contemplating if I really want to help the dissemination of this knowledge. But then I thought, I wouldn’t be doing it for the judgmental people who don’t have it. I’m doing it for the people who are living the same life as I am and I know how much it will help them.  

So yes, take my 20 percent discount. I would definitely exchange it in a heartbeat with not having the virus.