Photo courtesy of Ms. Possibilities Facebook page

Cerebral palsy didn’t keep Jennica Garcia from fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher.

The 24-year-old Garcia finished her Teacher Certificate Program from the College of Education in 2017 despite having athetoid cerebral palsy with spasticity, a movement disorder characterized by stiff muscles and abnormal, involuntary movements.

Her condition, however, did not limit her from passing the Licensure Examinations for Teachers last November.

“Gusto ko patunayan na we are not just persons with disabilities, we are persons with different abilities,” Garcia told the Varsitarian.

Garcia initially doubted her capability of being a teacher, so she took up Financial Accounting instead for her bachelor’s degree at Universidad de Manila.

After graduating in 2016, Garcia was granted a scholarship from the Philippine Business for Education, a non-profit organization, to take up the Teacher Certificate Program in UST.

The program was intended for non-education graduates who wishes to pursue a teaching career.

Garcia worked as an administrative staff at the Philippine Center for Cerebral Palsy, Inc. (PCPI) where she also had physical, occupation and speech therapy and treatment while attending her classes on Saturdays.

She is now qualified to teach Social Sciences to high school students and plans on being a Special Education teacher soon to encourage children with disabilities to keep learning.

“Para makita rin nila na kahit ganito ako, na-fulfill ko ‘yung dreams ko. Gusto ko sila i-encourage na ‘wag silang susuko na maabot ‘yung mga pangarap nila kahit na may disability sila,” she said.
Garcia is yet to apply for a teaching position since she is still an employee at the PCPI.

Miss Possibilities
Garcia bested 11 young women with disabilities in the 2017 Miss Possibilities pageant at the Ateneo de Manila University last Dec 2. Candidates of the pageant are women with special needs.

The pageant included talent and question-and-answer portions.
Garcia admitted that aside from the difficulty in movement and speech, she also had to face bullying during her childhood.

She was not able to play sports and always received sideway glances everywhere she went. Companies were also hesitant in hiring persons with disability; she had to apply to more than 40 companies before being hired at the PCPI.

Marife Garcia, Garcia’s mother, is a witness to her daughter’s plight with disability.

“[Noong] bata pa siya, takot siya na mapag-isa kasi bakamabangga sya ng iba o baka saktan at asarin lang sya… Madalas [rin siyang] ma-discriminate lalo na sa pag-aapply ng trabaho dahil sa kanyang kalagayan,” the older Garcia said.

“Hindi siya nahihiya sa kung anumang kapansanan niya. Kaya niyang makipagsabayan sa mga normal na tao,” the mother added.
Jam Anain, one of Garcia’s classmates in UST attested to Garcia’s dedication to studying.

“I find her so dedicated. She does her best in every school activity despite of her busy schedule since she’s working during weekdays,” Anain said. “Being a differently-abled person, she manages not to ‘feel different. She talks as normal people does… She makes sure to get along with everybody.”

Garcia continues to push for her dreams, unencumbered by her disability, and serves as an inspiration not only to persons with disabilities but also to people who doubts their capabilities.

“Pahinga ka lang pero wag kang susuko. Kahit ilang beses ka pang madapa, ‘wag kang magsawang bumangon,” Garcia said.


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