NVAP is a cancer prevention, person with disabilities (PWD) and tobacco control advocacy group based in the Philippines. It is composed mainly of throat cancer victims or people without vocal cords but speak through alternative means. Voice-impairment is one of the recognized disabilities in the Philippines. NVAP actively participates in PWD sectoractivities. NVAP is also active in Tobacco Control since most of its members attribute their cancer to cigarette smoking. NVAP effectively shows the real effects of smoking by the mere presence of its members. NVAP is also involved in international cancer control programs since its president, Emer Rojas was chosen in April 2011 as a Global cancer Ambassador by the American Cancer Society.
In 1996, the officers of the Asian Federation of Laryngectomee Associations (AFLA), the umbrella organization of laryngectomee associations in Asia, visited Manila and held a symposium on Esophageal Speech at the East Avenue Medical Center. A year later, inspired by the AFLA visit and seeing the need to provide support to people who have lost their vocal cords due to cancer, the Philippine Laryngectomee Club (PLC) was established. It initially held office at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center from year 1997 up to 2004. In the year 2005, the organization transferred its main office and is now conveniently located at Martino 1 Bldg. #52 Libertad St. Mandaluyong City, Philippines.
In 2007, the PLC board saw the need to expand the leadership of the organization in order to extend the reach and broaden the support given to the society as well as adapt to the demands of the changing times. Thus the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) was founded in March 2007. NVAP was formed to address cancer support and prevention, tobacco control advocacy and persons with disabilities (PWD) issues while the PLC is focused on the implementation of activities and volunteerism work. Both organizations share the same office, logistics and membership base.
NVAP activities revolve around the following three main issues:
1. CANCER SUPPORT AND REHABILITATION OF SPEECH-IMPAIRED PWDS
2. TOBACCO CONTROL ADVOCACY
3. PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ADVOCACY
CANCER SUPPORT AND REHABILITATION OF SPEECH-IMPAIRED PWDS
NVAP addresses the need to raise the awareness that cancer is preventable through proper diet and nutrition as well as through a healthy lifestyle. NVAP interacts with other allied organizations both here and abroad in order to enhance its knowledge base on cancer, its prevention, cure and rehabilitation. The major regular activity is esophageal speech training wherein laryngectomees or speech-impaired Persons with Disabilities were taught how to speak again despite the absence of their vocal cords. A total of eleven speech-impaired PWDS were sent to Tokyo and Bangkok in year 2000, 2002 and 2004 to become AFLA-certified esophageal speech instructors through a program grant from AFLA. Since then, these trainors teach esophageal speech for FREE to all those who wish to learn the technology on how to speak again without vocal cords. Almost a hundred PWDs have benefitted from this technology through the years. On November 22 – December 6, 2010 and on February 14-28, 2011, NVAP invited the officers and speech trainors of AFLA. AFLA is based in Japan and all its officers and trainors were Japanese nationals. They conducted a comprehensive esophageal speech training for beginners as well as trained additional NVAP-member Filipino speech instructors. A total of forty-two (42) speech-impaired PWDs were given this specialized training in this recent program. Through these training programs, PWDs are given the chance to overcome their disability, return to their normal lives and become useful members of the society once again. To date, only NVAP offers such FREE specialized training to PWDs.
The organization was awarded in 2006 the prestigious Shigehara Award as the Most Outstanding Laryngectomee Organization in Southeast Asia by the AFLA for its exemplary performance in esophageal speech training. On July 12, 2010, The UP-PGH Department of Rehabilitation Medicine celebrated the “32nd National Disability and Rehabilitation Week” with their annual Recognition Award of Outstanding PWDs. This is to honor valuable contributions and selfless efforts of individual Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and organizations to support the rehabilitation and recovery of new PWD patients.
For 2010, DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman as UP-PGH special guest, led the awarding of Engr. Emer Rojas, president of NVAP. The award cited his all-out support in the rehabilitation of speech-impaired persons for the past seven years.
NVAP members also conducts regular hospital visits, monthly membership social meetings and assists in the medical, funeral and spiritual needs of its members. Such activities boost the morale as well as provide the necessary support to fellow PWDs at the time when they needed it most.
TOBACCO CONTROL ADVOCACY
Smoking cigarettes or tobacco use is the single most preventable means of having cancer. Cigarette smoking kills 240 Filipinos each day. To recall, NVAP members became PWDs because they lost their vocal cords due to throat cancer. Most of the members of NVAP attribute the loss of their vocal cords and eventually their cancer to excessive smoking. Because of this, NVAP members believe that they have a social responsibility to raise the awareness of the general public, especially the youth, on the hazards of smoking and thus, minimize the occurrence of throat cancer. Since 2006, NVAP members are being invited as far as Philex Mines, Benguet in the north up to Davao City in the south to share their stories and provide a living testimony on the effects of smoking. NVAP members actively participate and spearheaded several activities in tobacco control activism. NVAP filed a petition at the Makati RTC on Sept. 7, 2010 in support for the DOH AO 2010-13 which mandates picture-based warnings on cigarette packs. NVAP also joined the Phil. Medical Ass’n. Fun Run on Sept. 25, 2010 in support to the PMA’s thrust of limiting doctors who are smoking. NVAP also staged a march to the Commission on Human Rights on October 4, 2010 requesting support from CHR on the Right to Health of every Filipino. This rally is the first and only tobacco control activity that landed the headlines of a leading broadsheet newspaper.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ADVOCACY
In the past two years, NVAP have played an active role in the programs and activities of the PWD sector that are of national concern. We have been involved in the monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). On Sept 1-4, 2010, Emer Rojas, the NVAP president joined Mr. Lauro Purcil to represent the country in the Convention of State Parties on UNCRPD at the United Nations in New York City. Issues of international importance with regards to PWDs were discussed. Emer Rojas also represents NVAP to various PWD organizations such as the League of PWD Leaders (LPDL). LPDL is a 16-man team of PWD leaders from various PWD organizations which aims to craft the policies and direction of the PWD sector in the Philippines. NVAP is also a non-board member of the Akap-pinoy executive committee. In January 2011, NVAP president Emer Rojas is designated as board secretary of the House with No Steps Inc., the sister organization of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan. NVAP was voted last December 2010, as the PWD sectoral representative at the Quezon City Development Council. The QCDC suggest ordinances and programs for the benefit of PWDs in the city.
NVAP president Emer Rojas chaired the International Disability Day celebrations on December 3, 2010. It was one of the successful events supported by more than 1,200 PWDs from all over the nation. On July 19, 2010, NVAP together with two other PWD groups spearheaded a rally to raise the awareness on the violations of the RA9442 or the Magna Carta of the Disabled Persons, specifically on the granting of the 20% discount on medicine purchases of PWDs. The activity heralded the start of several lobbying activities at the House of Representatives which eventually culminated in the granting of the said discount by Mercury Drugstore Corp. on March 1, 2011. This landmark event marks the success of the sector in the recognition of its rights and in the implementation of the law that benefits the PWDs.
From its humble beginnings as a mere club that supports cancer stricken PWDs, NVAP has evolved into a multi-tasking organization wearing three hats at the same time. As a tobacco control advocacy group, NVAP addresses the need to prevent the occurrence of cancer that eventually makes a person a person with disabilities. Thus NVAP aims to reduce the number of PWDs through awareness campaigns and through healthy smoke-free lifestyle.
NVAP recognizes the need to support the hapless victims of cancer, more specifically the speech-impaired PWDs who had throat cancer. Through the esophageal speech training, NVAP helps the PWD in overcoming his speech disability and gives him the opportunity to gain employment and become useful members of the society once again. Countless PWDs have benefitted from this noble activity.
NVAP believes that it has the capability and capacity to help in the betterment of the PWD sector as a whole. NVAP shares its resources and talents in the pursuit of the rights and privileges that PWDs must enjoy as the marginalized and underprivileged sector of the society. NVAP believes that through a concerted effort of the various PWD sub-sectors, the PWDs shall be able to contribute to the progress and prosperity of the country.