Wish Music Awards Beneficiary on Spotlight: Autism Society Philippines on Going Digital in the Time of Pandemic

Dec 24, 2020

Somewhere in the crowd of thousands who witnessed the 5th Wish Music Awards earlier in January, there were representatives of the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) who attended as part of the event’s roster of potential beneficiaries.

As what the awards show has done since its inception, each nominee will have the chance to pay it forward by donating Php100,000 to their chosen charitable group once they take home an award. Having been selected by P-pop phenomenon SB19, who went on to win two major awards, the organization was able to receive a cash donation worth Php200,000. 

Autism Society Philippines Chair Dang Koe and Vice President Peng So take a photo with SB19 during the 5th Wish Music Awards held on January 20, 2020, at the Mall of Asia Arena. Photo from ASP’s Facebook page

For SB19, this philanthropic endeavor of Wish 107.5 helps them “intensify [their] group’s purpose.”

“Apart from bringing OPM to the world stage, our main goal is to help listeners — especially those who need it most,” the group said in a recent interview.

READ: Charity Wins at the Wish Music Awards

However, barely two months after that eventful evening, Filipinos — like many other people across the globe — would face an unprecedented public health crisis: the Covid-19 pandemic. Life, for many, seemed to have come to a pause. The streets became almost empty. And staying home was (and remains) one of the simplest ways of saving lives.

The ASP was no exemption. 

With safety in mind, the group has stopped its office operations. Up to now, they continue to work from home, making do with what the current situation offers in order to uphold what they’ve been doing since their establishment in 1989: to look after the well-being of people on the autism spectrum disorder.

‘Different, not less’

Autism is “a spectrum condition that may affect an individual’s ability to communicate and to socialize.” Experts say that this condition has no single cause but can be attributed to genetics and environmental factors. 

In the country, it is estimated that at least 1.2 million Filipinos have autism. 

During this year’s National Autism Consciousness Week Celebration, the group has emphasized the importance of seeing the “humanity in individuals on the autism spectrum.” While they may be different, these people should not be viewed as less of a person. And the organization is at the forefront of bringing this matter to light. 

People with autism showcase their unique gifts and talents in this video released by the ASP for the National Autism Consciousness Week 2020 held in January. Video from ASP’s YouTube Channel

For over three decades now, the ASP has been adamant in sustaining initiatives for people with autism (PWAs) and their families — from holding workshops and seminars to conducting sports, arts, and other leisurely activities.

Shifting online

Now that an infectious disease in the form of Covid-19 continues to threaten the lives of many, the group has gone digital to continue providing support for the members of their community.

We spoke with ASP National President Mona Magno-Veluz to know about the initiatives of the organization during the pandemic. 

Due to Covid-19, the past months have been really challenging especially for the healthcare industry. How has the pandemic affected the organization’s operations? How are you coping with the new normal?  

The Autism Society Philippines has stopped its office operations since the pandemic began.  Our staff are working from home and we continue to support our community through online meetings and other events.

What are your most recent projects and advocacies? Can you tell us more about these endeavors? 

During the pandemic, we have focused on the following initiatives. 

  • ASP Autism Works. The ASP Autism Works creates genuine, sustainable, economic empowerment opportunities in compassionate workplaces nationwide. First launched in 2016 as an employment initiative, ASP’s CBR-inspired model empowers PWAs and their families towards success at work and guides enterprises toward a sustainable process of assimilating persons with autism into the workforce. During the pandemic, we have been successful in finding work-from-home opportunities for many jobseekers, who were terminated from their previous work. 
The ASP teams up with the Department of Trade and Industry to provide economic empowerment to the organization’s members. Photo from ASP’s Facebook page
  • ASP Education and Empowerment. The ASP Education and Empowerment Program serves as a platform to educate Filipino parents and professionals on the various interventions, modalities, and theories surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorder, through monthly seminars and workshops — which are now all online. 
  • ASP Homepowerment. The ASP HOMEpowerment provides occupational, speech, and non-traditional therapy sessions to children on the autism spectrum from economically vulnerable families. Parents also receive training on how to continue their child’s program at home, empowering them with the knowledge and skills to confidently care for their child with autism — through tele-therapies and online training. 
  • ASP PweDay. The ASP PweDays are activities that aim to provide enrichment for persons on the autism spectrum — to learn new skills, to socialize with non-family members, and to have fun — in a happy, inclusive environment. Since the pandemic, we have moved this online. 
Members of the organization participate in the sandwich-making ASP PweDay session in November. Photo from ASP’s Facebook page
  • Member Assistance. ASP families hardest hit by the pandemic and by calamities this 2020 have also been recipients of financial assistance from ASP, thanks to the donations of other members and their friends.

You received cash assistance from Wish 107.5 for having been selected as the beneficiary of one of the 5th WMA’s winners, SB19. How has this helped you in supporting your cause? 

The grant from the 5th Wish 107.5 Music Awards helped our team keep the critical programs running, even without our usual revenue streams from face-to-face training. Thanks to Wish, we are able to give free webinars to families who are struggling to handle their children on the spectrum during the pandemic.

Wish 107.5 has always believed in the importance of granting the big and small wishes of our fellowmen through music. The aspect of philanthropy is incorporated into our every endeavor, including the Wish 107.5 Music Awards. What can you say about this lifetime advocacy?  

We commend this advocacy! We are also believers in the power of music to inspire change.  For our children, music is a powerful medium for self-expression and a potent source of joy.

The live events industry has also been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis. What do you want to say to the members of the music community who use their platform, to not just earn a living, but also to spread compassion and hope among people through musical fundraisers? 

We hope that they continue to find creative ways to bring their music to people needing upliftment. The Autism Society Philippines is ready to support these endeavors.

On January 17, 2021, the Wish 107.5 Music Awards will once again honor the country’s finest musical acts. Apart from the cash prizes that will be given to major accolade winners, the award-giving endeavor will also be handing out cash donations to the artists’ chosen charitable groups. You can support your favorite actsand their handpicked beneficiariesthrough voting via www.wish1075.com/wishawards and the Wish 107.5 app (for both Android and iOS users) until January 15, 2021. 

See the full list of nominees here.

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