Arhjessa Espiritu (left) and Czarinah Mercado (right)[/caption]
Nationwide Organization of Visually Impaired Empowered Ladies (NOVEL) and Philippine Blind Union Committee on women partnered with ESAC and Runway Productions, staged public awareness on social equality. One of the segments of the Philippine fashion week was dedicated to do public education about the rights of persons with disabilities, and emphasize equal opportunity not charity.
Last May 31, 2014, visually impaired models posed in the catwalk with their white canes, dressed by renowned designers, Audie and Lyle Ibanez, at SM mall of Asia SMX convention hall. Indeed, fashion is for everybody and the show explicitly tell the audience that each of us regardless of our race, color, gender or disability deserves a fair ground at any endeavor like ramp modeling. Persons with disabilities are often socially expelled on the basis of disability not by ability, but this upsetting fact vanished during the event.
Coco Chanel said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” True enough, fashion is not confined with your chic clothes and voguish bags, a deeper sense and astounding beauty was revealed when the blind models, Arjessa Espiritu and Czarina Michaela Mercado independently navigated the stage with their white canes and posed with confidence. It was the instance where bigotry on disability petered out, and the audience endlessly applauded the models because of astonishment. Their presence on stage was a symbolic language conveying that beauty is beyond stunning looks and sexy body.
This creative advocacy of NOVEL and PBU introduced and promoted the United nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities (UNCRPD) especially the realization of its 30th article which says, “Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sports”. This project aims to defend the abilities of persons with disabilities as well as social equality. It expounded the huge difference between being objects of mercy, and persons exercising their Rights. This social campaign merely explains that disabled people do not need hearts filled with charity, hence, heart that understands, and elicits fair opportunities.