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Empowering Filipinos with disabilities, tuition-less school offers career training

Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Filipino trainees with hearing impairment undergo a cooking class conducted by Lerma Gonzales, second right, at the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC) in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, on Dec. 3

Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Filipino trainees with visual impairment use abacuses for calculations during a basic math class at the NVRC on Dec. 3.

The National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC) has been providing developmental services for persons with disabilities for 58 years, empowering individuals who have chosen to overcome their impairment and enhance their capacities in the Philippines. According to informational material from the NVRC, skills in areas such as consumer electronics servicing, computer software and hardware operations, garments trade, scientific massage and commercial cooking are being offered.

Filipino Edna Panganiban, a social welfare officer at the center, says that no tuition fee is required and that applicants are welcome all year. Trainees are provided free learning materials and receive a daily allowance of 100 Philippine pesos (about $2.48).

A total of 77 persons with disabilities are currently training at the center. On each training day, trainees and staff workers come together to create an environment of learning, acceptance and empowerment. The NVRC operates with a staff of 28 people, some of whom have disabilities themselves and are former trainees.

-- European Pressphoto Agency

Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Filipino garments trade instructor Gina Antenor, right, oversees trainees with hearing impairment at the NVRC on Dec. 3.

Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Filipino orthopedically impaired trainee, Mark Alcantara, exercises in a gym at the NVRC on Dec. 3. Mark Alcantara, 26, is an electronics trainee who also spends time in the center's gym with dreams of becoming a weightlifter. Alcantara recalls that he underwent a medical operation at the age of five years to remove a tumor near the base of his spine. Despite the operation and two years of therapy, he was unable to walk upright by the age of 15 years and has since been using a wheelchair.

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Filipino computer software instructor Marivic Kitan, left, checks on visually-impaired trainee Patrick Sobreviga on Dec. 3. Kitan, who was stricken with polio at the age of three, is a former trainee and has been teaching for 13 years. Filipino Patrick Sobreviga, a 35 years-old with visual and hearing impairment, is a college graduate who had worked as an insurance consultant in the past. He is now training in computer software operations with hopes of landing a job in the future.

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Filipino trainees with hearing impairment gather in a hallway during a midday break from class on Dec. 3.

Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Filipino trainees at the NVRC play volleyball at the facility grounds on Dec. 3.