My exposure to Pinoys with disabilities allowed me to learn new things everyday. I realize now how they take a lot of sass from us and the trauma that we can sometimes unknowingly cause them. So here is my list of five things you should NEVER say to a Pinoy with disabilities.
- Sayang, ang (compliment) mo pa naman. I heard this a million times being said about gay people too. I hear office girls this about gay men, ay bading, sayang gwapo po naman. That just takes the cake doesn’t it? Statements like that are more insults than compliments. Same thing with a PWD. If a person is smart, good-loooking or creative, whether he/she is in a wheelchair or not makes no difference. If you think the PWD did a great job then compliment his/her artistry or creativity or what not, then just say so without the need to ruin it by inferring that the disability cancels out the compliment. This demeans the person and you ultimately give the message that however good the PWD might be, you will not see him/her as an equal. Marunong ka nga mag appreciate, sayang, ang insensitive mo naman.
- Pano po kayo nagto toilet? Such an insensitive and offensive remark. Unless the PWD volunteers the information, it is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. If someone asks you how you go to the toilet, wouldn’t you feel insulted too? Also never try to accompany a PWD to the toilet unless you are asked to do so. They deserve their privacy as you deserve yours too.
- Yung asawa nyo po ba (disability here) din? Depending on the conversation, be careful with such questions. Even worse is the comment, ay may asawa po kayo? Ang cute naman! That lady who said that thought she was being cute. The tail of that comment was actually she was surprised that someone without disability had married the PWD, or that maybe both of them were PWDs and they would look “cute” together. Such mean things to say. I pity that lady’s husband.
- Talking to a PWD like they’re children or stupid. I’ve seen this a few times and maybe I might have been guilty of this too. If the PWD is an adult then treat him like an adult. It incenses them more, actually it will incense anyone, if you talk to them like they’re stupid. Saw this once in a restaurant when the headwaiter was talking loudly and slowly to a lady in a wheelchair. The PWD replied while signaling to her ear, “bingi ho ba kayo?” to which everybody laughed. I admire the PWD’s ability to make a possibly embarrassing moment funny and light. It’s positivism through the roof. I honestly believe restaurants should give their employees sensitivity training for assisting PWD customers.
- Ay bingi! Bakit ano nangyari sa yo? This is the mother of the most inappropriate and insensitive things to say. It’s like the quintessential “ano ginagawa mo?” when you meet a friend, where you obviously can see what the person is doing. You want them to explain themselves to you? Really? Unless you are a relative or someone close, you need to be careful with such comments because no one, with or without disability, needs to explain themselves to you upon first meeting.
Humor is a good way to relieve tension and make any moment light and informal. However, you need to be extra careful with the jokes as you might offend other people’s sensibilities. Be mindful of what you say, to anyone for that matter.