Meet the Novelistas

The Novelistas
The Novelistas

Maria Victoria B. Lucio


Maria Victoria Lucio's photo
Photo of Maria Victoria Lucio

“All human beings are born equal regardless of race, color, and background. Therefore, they should be given equal opportunities and enjoy the same rights.”
This is the basic principle that our amiable President, Maria Victoria Lucio, believes in. Ten, as she is fondly called because she was born on the tenth of October (10/10), is an advocate of independent living for persons with disabilities especially the visually-impaired individual.
One of the daughters of Mr. Ernesto Lucio, who is well-known in the local PWD community as an advocate of rights for the visually-impaired, Ten is a graduate of Computer Engineering from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila, which is no mean feat for someone who has been blinded due to retinal detachment. She is currently working as an operations analyst for a United States-based e-commerce outfit which specializes in the sale of artificial and luxurious Christmas trees and seasonal décor, among others.
Outside her duties as NOVEL President and her full-time job, Ten is engaged in outdoor activities, among others hiking, trekking, wall climbing, mountain climbing, biking, rowing, and long walks; when not outside, she is found sleeping for she believes that getting complete hours of sleep is very important in fulfilling her duties. She can eat almost anything and is game for food trips, except if the destination is a restaurant or any food joint which serves “exotic” food. Most of all, she loves dogs and is looking forward to owing a Saint Bernard as her pet.

She attended various trainings and short courses in the Philippines, Malysia and in the United States, which have themes of improving the socio-economic status of persons with disabilities. She has a vision that through her skills and experiences, she would be able to lead and advocate more in the promotion of UN CRPD. Moreover, this will further enhance her analytical thinking and leadership skills, especially in managing NOVEL. After her previous volunteer works in local and national organizations, her leading qualities were roused. As NOVEL’s president, she is fully committed to bring their goals and advocacies on a higher ground and make sure that it is effective and elicits great impact to people.

Leonora T. Sunit

Vice President and Auditor

Photo of Leonora Sunit
Photo of Leonora Sunit

Aya is a graduate of Nutrition – Dietetics from the University of Santo Tomas in 1987. What adds to her excellence in the field is, she is also a board passer which made her eligible to be regarded as a Dietitian. She worked in the government for so many years, particularly served the department of health as Nutritionist Dietitian officer 2. Moreover, at the crowning years of her career, she was very active in community based campaigns for proper nutrition specifically advising mothers how to keep babies safe from unnoticeable growing bacteria in feeding bottles.

Her visual disability is caused by Retinitis Pigmentosa, but she can still manage to cross the street and read printed materials in large print because her residual vision remained adequate, which enables her to do a few highly visual things, like reading with a magnifier and dancing. When her vision is rapidly fading, it prompted her to change course in her career.

She may have gotten married slightly away from the typical age range of our so called, “marrying age”, but her married life is filled with so much joy. She is busy doing no – bake pastries and sometimes cater to some occasions.

Aya, “the dancing dietitian” of NOVEL group believes that life is Short no matter how long you live. She does her best to please
Everybody and it seems to be a good and working formula.
“Before you give me advice, make sure I need it”. This is falsely perceived as condescension, but she is simply rational and matured enough to handle different
Situations due to her varying life experience.

Aya loves old songs and movies from 50s and 60s as well as Hip-hop and
Rap music. This fondness had always attracted her to her greatest
Dream and that is to become a professional musician and performer.

She communicates well with diverse group, and whenever she is around,
NOVEL laughs a lot; she likes to teach them to dance. It is very
Significant to what she believes, so as much as she can, she wants to
spend her days gladly, making friends, hear their stories and listen
to their opinions and leave them with a happy face. .

Aya, understand that life is more beautiful if you have good
Relationships with yourself, with your family and with your friends.
She doesn’t want to spoil relationships with blames because as she
always say life is too short, why digress for anger and rancor.
Enjoy life to the fullest and love as much as you can!

Shiela May I. Aggarao

Secretary General

Photo of Shiela May Aggarao
Photo of Shiela May Aggarao

Open- Angle Glaucoma caused Shiela’s inability to see things through a perfect sight, but she has a brighter outlook in life for being high spirited, stunning and cheerful. This is what the youngest member in NOVEL is known for. She fondly sings but only in bathrooms and Videokes. Her favourite food is fried chicken, and this dish mysteriously makes her smile unfailingly.

She is a fan of a wide range
Of movies from genres of mystery, suspense thriller, comedy and girl power. In terms of music, she loves Avril Lavigne, Juriz, Maroon 5 and Linkin Park. Sheila’s ultimate dream is to travel the world.

Shiela successfully completed and Associate Degree in Computer Technology at Asia Pacific College last 2010. She was not a stark student during her primary and secondary years;hence she was an Editor of their school paper. Her combined inclinations in technology and writing got her very empowering careers since she finished college. “Perhaps
being a secretary is already written in my fate.”Shiela fondly recalls.

For three years now, she works as a Secretary for a Senior Sales Associate
Affiliated with BPI/MS Insurance Corporation. She is one of the founding members of VISIONARIES, an
organization formed last 2011, who aim to uplift the quality of living and self-conceptof persons with .disabilities through economic empowerment and independence.

“Help yourself and the
Heaven will help you” is her most valued principle. Guided
by this maxim, she strongly believes that if women with visual impairment
implores change then they should be the ones in action and not just mere
spectators. Like the title of her favourite movie, Miss Congeniality:
Armed and Fabulous portrayed by Sandra Bullock, women with visual
impairment must be dynamic, equipped with knowledge and skills but at
the same time gorgeous and confident.

Gina Rose P. Balanlay


Photo of Gina Rose Balanlay
Photo of Gina Rose Balanlay

Gin earned a degree in Psychology from the
University of the Philippines, Tacloban Campus. She worked as a Human Resource personnel in one of the leading retailing and manufacturing company of canned viands in the country. A chemical accident caused her sight impairment, and made it difficult for her to read without magnifiers and walk without a white cane.

Gina is a devout Roman Catholic. She was astonished by the value of humility expressed in her favorite song, “Who Am I?” By Casting Crowns. Her long-term goal is to be able to set up a business that would help in the social and economic emancipation of persons with disabilities. Gina Rose lives by the following quotes as her guiding principles in dealing with daily challenges:

“We are women, and my plea is let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.” – Womanhood quote by Elisabeth Elliot
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Quote on service by United States President Barack H. Obama, from Audacity of Hope

She is an active and enthusiastic person who enjoys dealing with
People and advocating for her fellow PWDs. Someone who easily conquers challenges and fears. Her skills and expertise in human resources are highly utilized in managing organizations. Gina is currently engaged and working with varying DPOs that promotes the rights of person
with disabilities. She found overwhelming joy in serving her fellow PWDs and happy with her position, which elicits satisfaction and a sense of

Janine C. Cruzet

Public Relations Officer

Photo of Janine Cruzet
Photo of Janine Cruzet

Janine, or “Neng”, as what her friends fondly call her, was diagnosed with glaucoma after graduation from college, while busy applying for jobs related to pulmonary therapy. She is very inclined with Medicine that is why she took up the said course at Manila Doctor’s College, and graduated last 1996. One of the scariest and most painful thing had ever happened to her is, the sudden shift of being fully sighted person to legally blind. In the first few years of her new life as a visually impaired individual, it gently cuffs her, and those people who once admired her so much were all gone. All admirations and inspirations she gains now bring out a good self-esteem. And these are all because of her loving and supportive family and friends.

Now, she realized that she had started to build a renewed world with new friends in the PWD community. She no longer refers herself as able- bodied individual but a person with disability. She discovered that a person with impaired vision has many drawbacks as well as advantages. The first hardship she encountered was, choosing a career, but she strongly proved that nothing is hard when you are filled with determination.
She found success working in the virtual industry as appointment setter and web content article writer though it is irrelevant to the field she have taken, compared to the potential opportunities she may have if she would work as a medical practitioner, but she enjoys the work very much. An additional burden to this issue is how to live independently notwithstanding her disability. However, she remains positive, out-going, and happy with every little work she accomplished. In fact, she is very active in their ecclesiastical community as motivational speaker to their youth leaders. With the love and support of her family and friends, she continues to fulfill her dreams. A negative thought that says, “All things are hopeless” never appears in her head.

She knows that all is not doom and gloom. And whilst the negative impact of living with disability is very real, there is also a more positive angle stemming out from living with impaired sight. Apart from spiritually matured and happy family life, Janine lives more productively and she shares herself more with other circles of people. She sings and plays guitar in the religious community where she and her family belong. Her disability opens a whole new world of possibilities before her and somehow, life is no longer as bleak as her eyesight anymore.

Life with disability has ups and downs. The process is rewarding and painful. It comes with joy and sadness. This transition is experienced once in every lifetime, and Janine appreciates this situation with a deeper sense. Her positive outlook in life and to the advocacies she supports weighs more, and more meaningful than lost eyesight.

Maria Criselda M. Bisda

Communications and Linkages Officer

Photo of Maria Criselda Bisda
Photo of Maria Criselda Bisda

Being afflicted with retinitis pigmentosa didn’t stop our Communications and Linkages Officer, Maria Criselda Bisda, from living an active and fulfilled life in the corporate world and outside. The achiever that she is, Krissy, as her loved ones and friends call her, hurdled all challenges that stood in her way to reach the proverbial summit in her career.
Following her graduation from the Philippine Women’s University in Manila in 2004, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree, Krissy started her career in the corporate world with Teletech, one of the major players in the local business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, and stayed there from May 2005 to October 2011. She wore multiple hats while with Teletech, first as a Human Resources Recruitment Assistant and later Talent Acquisition Specialist for the country marketing team, which entailed a bigger role in handling the recruiting and marketing activities of Novaliches service delivery center, and was a borrowed resource for their Pampanga branch. Because of this landmark hire, Teletech was awarded the Employer of the Year in the 2008 Apolinario Mabini Awards, and opened the door for more employers to hire deserving and qualified persons with disabilities. She also served as Human Resource Specialist for an American – based retail of luxurious Christmas trees and other lavish home décor from May 2012 to January 2013,
Krissy was awarded as one of the Outstanding Visually Impaired Individuals during the celebration of the 2009 White Cane Safety Day, and was recently named one of the visually-impaired achievers by Atriev in 2012. She is also an accomplished speaker for equal opportunities and respect for PWD rights, among others for the Malaysian National Council for the Blind Malaysia held at Kuala Lumpur last July 2008. She is also awarded as the “Female Swimmer of the Year” during summer camps conducted by Resources for the Blind from 1999 and 2001, and also was a national athlete herself.
Despite her impairment and her busy schedule, Krissy still finds time with little pleasures in life, such as backpacking and going places, reading and appreciating literary works, and swimming. She is scared of cats for no justifiable reason, always eat fried peanuts sold in streets, loves to collect fragrances, appreciates green mango shake with milk and a coffee addict. She is also a freelance writer and is active in social media and blogging, and is computer-savvy, utilizing tools for accessibility such as JAWS and reading e-books, e-magazines and e-newspapers in the process.

Teresita E. Mendoza


Photo of Teresita Mendoza
Photo of Teresita Mendoza

Teresita “Tess” Ergina-Mendoza, NOVEL’s Adviser and Consultant, is no stranger to the persons with disability sector. Tess, who has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, has been wearing different hats in the sector in the aim of being able to serve and uplift the rights while getting the message across.
Tess is concurrently a member of the Board of Directors of Visually-Impaired Brotherhood for Excellent Services (VIBES), which has been providing massage serviced led by visually-impaired masseurs and masseuses in malls across Metro Manila and suburbs, and the Manpower Development Officer III at the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (NVRC), an agency under the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
She is also with the Women Advocates in the Visually-Impaired Community for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which she also lectures to PWD groups, and is a founding member of the Philippine Coalition on the UNCRPD as representative for visually-impaired women. She also represents the same for the Government Union for the Integration of Differently-Abled Employees (GUIDE), and represented the Philippines in the Asean Disability Forum Conference held in Jakarta, Indonesia on December 2010.
Outside work, Tess loves cooking and singing in choir. Her favorite quote is “Let God and let go.”


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