Sunday, January 27, 2013

Whether or not I get published

Whether or not I get published

A professor stumbled upon my Legal Research Paper on Scribd (which link I posted in facebook). He asked me if I wanted to write a short essay about the PWD rights, that might get published in the Inquirer.

I gladly accepted the offer ofcourse! And to be endorsed by a professor-columnist would, I think, make more chances of getting published.

I wrote then an article for one whole night until 6am in the morning. I had my adrenaline rush!

According to my professor the title was heavy so I changed the title.  Thereafter I sent a second email correcting a typo on the first sentence. After sending my 2nd email, I talked to my professor and he said it was for Youngblood!

Youngblood?!? I made a mistake. The article I wrote was a commentary. More of a news and informative article and I DID NOT USE THE PRONOUN “I” which most youngblood contributors regular do - so there wasn’t any personal touch.:(((

I thought it was for a commentary since this professor has a column for the inquirer and his former students and fellow teachers who make articles which he endorses are all not for Youngblood but commentaries.

So this morning, I edited it for the third time and sent my professor a text message:

Sir good morning. I have been overthinking since I sent you the last email dahil nahihiya na ako mag edit pa ulit. But I edited this morning anyway. Reason why, when I wrote it I didn’t know it was for Youngblood and I thought it was for a different section like commentary. Since Its youngblood, I edited this morning and made use of the pronoun “I”, made the text just a bit lighter and showed the reader that I was involved in the research. That way it has a more personal touch. I sent the new one this morning and I don’t know if you can still tell them to change it and consider this instead. At any case the first emails will do but I hope they will consider this. Pacencia na po sa istorbo ulit. Naomi.

I was waiting for his response but he did not reply until this afternoon via email and said:

Naomi, I already sent them the last version before this one, and promised it was already the final revision. Let’s just wait and see.

I have strongly endorsed your article for publication, but we will have to wait when it is actually published. This is not unusual. I have endorsed UP law professors in the past, and we just wait when their essays appear. I will keep you posted. 

This coming Friday, I’m leaving for a month-long fellowship in Bangkok. Let’s just keep in touch via email.

I was disappointed he wasn’t able to send my last revision but I had no choice but to tell him, “Okay Sir! No problem!”

Anyway, whether or not I get published, I am posting the 3rd and last revision I made (which wasn’t submitted to the Inquirer) for posterity:

A misunderstood disease 

Naomi Therese F. Corpuz is a Junior at U.P. College of Law. She is a mental health advocate, a blogger and chocolatier. 

“If you will not give me a valid reason why you skipped the exam, I will give you a failing grade,” said Maricar Estrella’s professor. Maricar (not her real name), a college student from one of the prestigious schools in the country, responded, “Sir, I have clinical depression and anxiety disorder. I was not able to study. I have prescriptions, medical receipts and a medical certificate to prove it.” The professor then replied, “You mean to tell me, you can skip an exam anytime you want?” With the professor’s response, it can be concluded he did not understand what depression and anxiety disorder mean. Even with pertinent documents that Maricar was willing to show to prove her mental illness, the professor brushed it aside. 

While teachers can invoke what they call “academic freedom,” that even illnesses cannot be excused – where then and how is the state policy found in our Philippine Constitution, which states, “the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them,” put into place? Didn’t Maricar’s teacher violate this state policy of our basic law which is the supreme law of the land? 

If Maricar had another type of illness other than mental illness, would she have been given consideration by her law professor? In her interview, Maricar said it was likely she would’ve been excused due to sore eyes or high fever, similar to what happened to her other schoolmates. If other illnesses are given consideration, why not a mental disablity? 

Professor Patricia Daway in the college of law tasked us to write a supervised legal research and as a mental health advocate I chose the topic on mentally disabled Filipinos. And this is what I found. The mentally disabled are misunderstood. 

Worldwide, major depression is set to become second only to cardiovascular disease as the most diagnosed condition by year 2020. A World Health Organization document on Mental Health and Development in 2010 reports that one of every four households worldwide have members with mental health problems. Dr Lourdes Ladrido-Ignacio, a noted psychiatrist, said between 17 to 20 percent of the country’s adult population have psychiatric disorders. 

Mental disability is often misunderstood since its symptoms are only felt by the sufferer. Many relate mental disablity to the “sira ulo,” and are not aware of other types of mental disorders such as clinical depression, schizophrenia and bipolar among others. Such persons are not insane per se but fall under term mental disability and are considered Persons With Disabilities (PWD) protected by the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons. While people with mental disabilities are also PWDs who must be protected by the Magna Carta they are discriminated against in various forms. 

It is also important to note that there is no single mental health legislation for those with mental disabilities. The Department of Health (DOH) does have mental health policies, while the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (RA 9422), a Republic Act, is not specifically for mental disabilities. The Magna Carta provides special rights and privileges for the physically impaired — their mobility is enhanced through sidewalks, railings, ramps and the like; the hearing impaired are benefited with TV stations encouraged to provide a sign-language inset or subtitles and telephone companies are encouraged to install special telephone devices for them. However if we dissect the Magna Carta no specific right or privilege is given to mentally disabled persons but there is for the“mentally retarded” under the provisions in Education. Mental retardation though is not synonymous to mental disability. Mental retardation is only one of the kinds of mental disabilities. In fact there are persons with mental disabilities with superior intelligence which is the complete opposite of mentally retarded persons. 

The Magna Carta also grants PWDs at least 20% discount in all basic services, such as the purchase of medicines and payment of professional fees of dentists and doctors. It is a step in alleviating the financial burden of the disabled, but it is not without any disadvantages. To avail of the discount, a person with disability must present an identification card with the term “Person With Disability” on it. The mentally disabled who will present the I.D. may be identified as “sira ulo,” since their symptoms are not apparent. It is best to make use of other terms such as, “Persons With Special Discounts,” which will not identify the patient to be mentally disabled. 

In insurance coverage, the Philippine Health Insurance only covers acute attacks of mental illnesses, subject to confinement. Dr. Israel Francis Pargas of Philhealth whom I interviewed said, patients confined with chronic physical illnesses such as leukemia, or in need of dialysis for kidney failure, are covered by Philhealth. If chronic physical illnesses are covered, why not cover chronic mental illnesses as well? Medical research shows, early intervention and compliance to treatment for mental disorders — which can be done through the support of an insurance coverage – can result in lesser dosage of medication and length of treatment. This, in turn, will decrease the need for insurance benefits, which would be beneficial to PhilHealth. 

It is unfortunate that Filipino psychiatrists are found to have a passive role in mental health legislation. In a survey-questionnaire I distributed during a conference of psychiatrists in Dusit Hotel in 2011, 90 out of 95 doctors surveyed were not familiar with the contents of the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons. This means that they are also unaware of the 20% discount they must provide to their patients as PWDs under the Act. Out of the 95 respondent-psychiatrists, 51 out of the 95 did not know that Philhealth insurance for their patients exists. 90 out of 93 respondents also did not know about the contents of the pending House Bill 6679, which pushes for the establishment of a “Philippine Council for Mental Health”. Filipino psychiatrists, as primary mental health providers, need to be more involved in the crafting of health laws affecting their patients, as they are supposed to be the prime movers of their patients’ rights. 

The equal protection clause enshrined in our Philippine Constitution mandates that our laws must be applied equally to all. If special considerations are given to persons with high fever or sore eyes in school, why not a student suffering from a mental disorder? If people with physical impairment and hearing impairment are given specific rights and privileges, why not also the mentally disabled? 

Any act that favors only a few is discriminatory and unjust not only to Maricar Estrella, but all mentally disabled Filipinos who all cry for equal protection.

— Still hoping to get my 2nd revision published though I like the one above (my third revision) better (fingers crossed).

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