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Rising above disability


Legazpi City – While some fresh graduates are having a hard time finding jobs, Jonel B. Cacares was able to easily get a job in spite of his disability that may hinder him reach his goals in life.

Twenty-five-year-old Caceres of Barangay San Roque, Legazpi City in Albay was one of the beneficiaries of the 2018 Job Start Program Philippines that opened doors for him to land a gainful employment at the present.

In June 2018, Caceres together with 79 out-of-school youth and senior high school graduates underwent a ten-day life skills training at Meriam College. He was then given an award as Differently-abled graduate and became the Extra Mile Awardee in their batch.

He shared that at first, he felt sensitive so he challenged himself during the training. “I can say that I did it! I learned a lot and developed encoding and communication skills which help me grow as a person and a professional in the future.”

Now, he is working with Simon of Cyrene Community Rehabilitation and Development Foundation, Inc. (SCCRDFI) in Daraga, Albay as an encoder right after his internship at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Bicol.

During an interview with the supervisor of Caceres, Mike Macandog, said that the SCCRDFI offered him a job ght after the graduation in the said program. However, Caceres was, at that time, absorbed by the DOLE Albay Provincial Field Office as a beneficiary of Government Internship Program and did some encoding tasks for the child labor program of the department. It served as a technical training for him.

Macandog added that Caceres was already part of the foundation prior to his engagement with the JobStart Program, but not on a full time.

“Parte na siya ng foundation prior to the JobStart Program Philippines. Umalis siya for the program. Gusto sana naming balikan siya, kaya lang nasa DOLE daw siya last year,” Macandog said. “So after ng internship niya sa DOLE, hindi kami nag atubiling balikan at bigyan siya ng trabaho. Masipag si Jonel at may initiative kahit deaf-mute siya, kaya kinuha naming ngayon.”

When asked about the learnings he gained from the training, Caceres shared with delight that it was an awesome experience to be part of the program along with other beneficiaries.

"I never experienced any discrimination from them," he added.


He continued: “Each of us was given equal opportunities. It was also a good platform to share our experiences, knowledge and skills with our co-beneficiaries."

It is seen in his current work that the program has helped him in honing his skills in encoding and communication. “It helped me land a job that will use my skills. I would not be a proactive person like now, if not with the self-confidence that the program has taught me,” he added further.

Caceres said that he is able to provide financial assistance to his family. Being the eldest among three siblings, he is striving hard to augment their family’s basic needs as well as education for his youngest sister who is an incoming college student.

“I’m grateful for the job that I have now because I am able to experience new things and be productive every day.”

But above all, Caceres is thankful for the opportunity to be part of the JobStart Program Philippines. “I thank all the local and foreign government agencies for the opportunities to be a productive member of our society.”

In his letter sent to DOLE, he left an inspirational message to everyone who may be dealing with hardship in life, be it in physical or emotional aspect.

“Do not take your disability as a hindrance to reach your goals in life; instead use it to your advantage. We can do other things like every abled person does, so don’t be discouraged. There were times when we will feel alone and discouraged but remember that we have big God who will never leave us no matter what the circumstances are," he concluded.

JobStart Program

JobStart Philippines is the DOLE’s youth employability enhancement program, pursuant to the Act (RA) No. 10869, entitled “An Act Institutionalizing the Nationwide Implementation of the JobStart Philippines Program and Providing Funds Therefor” otherwise known as the JobStart Philippines Act.

In Bicol Region, JobStart started its pilot program in LGU of Legazpi though its PESO in 2017. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided technical assistance, with funding from the Government of Canada. On the other hand, DOLE has served as the executing agency of the program.

 In its very essence, JobStart seeks to shorten the school-to-work transition of jobseeking at-risk youth by providing them with holistic employability enhancement interventions.



The program introduces add-on approaches to youth employment facilitation such as extended employer engagement mechanisms, life skills training LST), and establishment-specific technical training, and internship or work experience, to supplement the typical set of employment facilitation services that includes career guidance and employment coaching, labor market information (LMI), and referral and placement.

 According to Regional Director Alvin M. Villamor, these employability enhancement interventions are designed to enhance these youth’s knowledge and skills acquired in formal education or technical training, for them to become more responsive to the demands of the labor market.

 “We also seek to develop their personal attitudes, especially those relevant to the values of professionalism and work appreciation, and provide them with conducive and safe work environment or venue where they can apply relevant work theories and technicalities,” he highlighted.

 Qualified “JobStarters” will undergo ten days of life skills training, up to three months of JobStart-funded technical training and another three months of work experience with a “matched” employer/establishment. The interns in return will be receiving at least 75% of the minimum wage./ISO PR Code:2019_gud_July_18_ Rising above disability




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