Service Beyond Disability




The growing number of hotels means bigger opportunities for persons with disabilities in the industry.


Romalito Mallari recalled his first job at a graphics design firm. A graduate of multimedia arts from the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (DLS-CSB), he enjoyed the design aspect of the job but found it difficult to communicate, particularly when concepts are being formed. He lasted for six months, and found work at a totally different industry – hotels. He hinted no plans of leaving.


Mallari, or Rom as colleagues call him, has been deaf for 33 years. He is the first PWD member of the Holiday Inn and Suites Makati, due for opening in April this year. When the human resources department accepted him into the hotel, he had three potential jobs in mind: F&B, marketing, and housekeeping. The first one entailed intensive communication with guests while marketing involved the same difficulties as he had in his previous job. The HR eventually assigned him as a uniform and linen attendant, a position that can maximize his strengths.

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“Gusto ko ng trabaho dito kasi madali,” he cited in one of the times he spoke during HNM’s interview, mainly done in writing, as he described how more productive he can be in the new interest. He admitted that dealing with his co-staff has been difficult, but they gradually manage using a mix of sign languages, oral, and written forms.


Holiday Inn is one of the hotels that employ people with disabilities. Neighbor Makati Shangri-La is also known to employ PWDs and even involve them in internships. In 2011, it forged a deal with the Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation Inc., a PWD group, to train and create more employment for disabled persons. This was on top of a previous partnership with the School of Deaf and Applied Studies of the DLS-CSB.

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The industry’s employment of PWDs sit at the backdrop of laws that bans discrimination in recruitment on the basis of disability. The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities specifically prohibits employment discrimination. This was adopted domestically through Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.


As an incentive, the Magna Carta provides a tax deduction on private companies that employ disabled persons equal to a quarter of the aggregate wage received by the PWD employees.


“How do you see yourself in five years?” HNM asked Mallari.


A housekeeping supervisor, he signed. He hopes to build his own hotel someday.

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