DLSUPH and UNILAB Foundation Launch Javier et.al’s From Exceptionality to Exceptional

The DLSU Publishing House, in partnership with the Unilab Foundation Inc., launched the book From Exceptionality to Exceptional: Inclusion of Differently Abled Persons in the Workplace at the Bayanihan Center on September 16, 2014. The book was developed from a research about autism and other persons with intellectual disability and their inclusion in the workplace conducted by a team of researchers from the DLSU-Social Development Research Center led by the book’s authors Roberto E. Javier, Jr., Feorillo Petronilo A. Demeterio III, Raymund B. Habaradas, Melvin A. Jabar, and Ron R. Resurreccion.

Emceed by Unilab Foundation (ULF) Project Officer Grant Javier—himself the parent of a differently-abled child—the book launch program began with welcome remarks delivered by Unilab Foundation Executive Director Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi. She spoke of the Foundation’s three-year-old initiative Project Inclusion, which sought to build a healthier and more inclusive Philippines with greater options for Persons with Disability (PWDs) to live more fulfilling lives. Such an approach has been built from the need to define “success” in the context of people’s natural abilities. From Exceptionality to Exceptional, she explained, is thus a document of this continuing journey, and can be used as a sourcebook for Human Resources managers to build a more inclusive workplace.

She also announced to the audience that the launching, coincidentally, was being held on the 93rd birth anniversary of Unilab founder Jose Y. Campos.

The remarks of circumstance were rendered by Dr. Javier, who thanked Unilab officials headed by Executive Vice-President and COO Benjamin Yap, DLSU-Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Raymund Tan, the DLSUPH headed by Executive Publisher David Jonathan Bayot, SDRC headed by Center Director Maria Caridad Tarroja, and the parents of employed differently-abled persons with the trainers, therapists and all of ULF’s partners in the promotion of health and wellbeing, for enabling the research team to produce the book. He also thanked Dr. Habaradas in advance for pioneering the soon-to-be-released strategic HRM manual to operationalize inclusion in the workplace.
Dr. Javier began his remarks on the book by explaining that it presents the key findings in the study that can be used as bases for business development or a model for the design of a human resource program that promotes productivity and health in the workplace. These are identified as the HOPE factors: H for Human qualities or attributes, O for Organizational or for facilitative mechanisms (in terms of policy, structures, design), P for Processes (HR procedures and practices), and E for Environmental factors (stakeholders’ support i.e. parents’ involvement, special schools training provisions, advocacies).
In conducting the study and working on the book, Dr. Javier noted that the team discovered that health promotion must also address social exclusion in the workplace. As specialists from different disciplines—psychology, business, behavioral science, and policy studies—the researchers were bound by a common purpose to understand human exceptionality in the workplace. As a team they pursued the research despite the difficult task of finding a sample for the study. They studied not just the “what” and “why” of non-exclusion, but more so the “how” through which inclusion translates these persons’ exceptionality into productivity. The team constructed evidence to explain that moving differently-abled persons from the margins of society brings about both wellness and wealth.
Dr. Javier further shared that the book provides some lessons learned by the study team, which were drawn from similar case studies contributed by colleagues from the Ateneo de Manila University (Ms. Marika Melgar) and from DLSU-SDRC (Professors Mark Velasco and Cris Regadio).
Meanwhile, in his remarks, Dr. Bayot expressed that the University has once again made history with the publication and launching of From Exceptionality to Exceptional, it being an occasion to foreground the commitment of the Publishing House to be in partnership with institutions like the Unilab Foundation that share its aspiration to be worthy participants in the building of a global community “sustained by the élan vital of perspicacity, empathy, and passionate ingenuity.” Moreover, through this joint venture, DLSU has lived out the word “education” in its most embodied sense: It is reminded by the book and by one of its main architects, Ms. Palomar-Fresnedi, that “to really educate, one has to be willing to fulfill the mandate to bring in, to include, and to embrace others and the otherwise. Only in such acts of inclusion can one begin to speak of education, to speak of an examined life, to speak of an existence worth living, and to speak of being a true Filipino”.
Special mention was made during the program of the book’s cover, which features a mural painted by Victor Francesco “Vico” C. Cham, a PWD hired by the Foundation as an Administrative and Graphics Design Assistant. Together with his painting coach Nick Emocling, Vico worked on the mural over a period of eight weeks. The mural was unveiled in 2014 during the World Autism Awareness Day Symposium, and is now on display at the Unilab Foundation office in Mandaluyong.