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2015 IDPP Fellows

Mr. Jethro Vergara photoMr. Jethro Vergara

Mr. Jethro Vergara received a bachelor of Elementary Education (Special Education) at the University of Baguio in May 2015. As an advocate for persons with visual disabilities, Mr. Vergara has participated in several disability-related workshops and conferences, including the Computer Literacy Training and Workshop for the Visually Impaired hosted by the Institute for Inclusive Education in Baguio City, Philippines. He is also an active member of the Northern Luzon Association for the Blind. 

Career Goals: To become an influential disability-focused policymaker with regards to disability in the Philippines and to make recommendations for better implementation and monitoring of such policies.

Mr. Mark Matthew "Markus" Operiano photoMr. Mark Mathew “Markus” Operiano
Mr. Mark Mathew “Markus” Operiano is a database and communications manager for the Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation. Previously, Mr. Operiano was a Project Implementer at Young Eyes on Winterthur, where he worked on promoting diversity and inclusion in Winterthur, Switzerland. He also participated in several international disability conferences, namely the UN Conference of States Parties (New York, 2014); UNESCO Workshop on Support to Policy Making and Planning for Social Inclusion of Disadvantaged Groups and Communities in Southeast Asia (Bali, 2014); and Disability Rights Advocates Trainers’ Training (Manila, 2013) among others. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Visayas State University in 2013.

Career Goals: To formulate disability-inclusive sustainable development policies and strategies at all levels of government.

Ms. Jane Derecho photoMs. Jane Derecho
Ms. Jane Derecho served as a special education teacher at Progressive Learning Activities for the Young in La Paz, Iloilo City, Philippines. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Special Education from West Visayas State University in 2013. Following graduation, Ms. Derecho completed her teaching certification requirements and began her career in special education. She also serves as a National Council Member of the National Anti-Poverty Commission for Youth and Students, where she represents the Visayas Region of the Philippines. In 2011, Ms. Derecho was chosen as the Philippines’ representative to the 2011 International Study Program for Global Challenges of Youth with Disabilities in Seoul, South Korea. She also served as a representative from the Philippines to the 2012 Ambassadors of Goodwill for Children with Special Needs sponsored by the Liliane Foundation in the Netherlands. 

Career Goals: To better implement policies pertaining to the discrimination of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Raymond Manding photoMr. Raymond Manding
Mr. Raymond Manding serves as the deaf advocacy program coordinator at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (CSB) in Manila, Philippines. He also works as the secretary and advisor for the Deaf Boholanos Society and serves on the Board of the Visayas Philippine Federation of the Deaf Youth Section. He was also the secretary the Philippine Federation of the Deaf Youth Section from 2008 to 2011. In addition to his extensive disability-related professional experience, Mr. Manding has participated in several international conferences and trainings, including the “Inclusive Deaf Education and UN CRPD” Deaf Leadership Summit hosted by the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies at De La Salle-CSB (2014) and two Post-Secondary Education Network International Summer Leadership Institutes hosted by the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies, De La Salle-CSB (2008-2009 and 2010-2011). He received a bachelor’s degree in Applied Deaf Studies (Multimedia Arts Track) at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and graduated Cum Laude in 2010. 

Career Goals: To pursue a career that combines passions for multimedia graphic design and deaf advocacy, and to increase awareness of the concepts of universal design and accessibility for persons who are deaf in the Philippines.

Mr. Knuehlvirn Hautea photoMr. Knuehlvirn Hautea
Mr. Knuehlvirn Hautea received his bachelor’s degree with Cum Laude in Special Education from Central Philippine University in 2014. His passion for learning and academic accomplishments are mirrored in his active involvement in several disability advocacy organizations, including Breaking Barriers for Young Adults with Disabilities Project (2008-Present); National Federation of Young Adults with Disabilities Philippines (present); and Active Youths with Disabilities in Iloilo, where he currently serves as group president (2011-present). He was also elected to the National Youth Parliament as a representative for Tagaytay City in 2008. Mr. Hautea has participated in several local and national-level disability conferences, including Teaching the Digital Generation: Powerful Teaching Strategies for 21st Century Learners, Central Philippine University (2013); Better Lives For Person with Disability using AACs, Central Philippine University (2013); and Accessibility and Inclusion for People with Deaf-Blindness in Everyday Life CRPD for Everyone Everyday (Tagaytay City, 2014). 

Career Goals: To empower youth with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments, through ICTs and assistive and adaptive technologies.

Mr. Fritz CepeMr. Fritz Cepe
Mr. Fritz Cepe is a data decoder within the Municipal Planning and Development Office of the Municipal Government of San Jose Buenavista, Philippines. He also serves as the vice president of the Association of Persons with Disability in San Jose de Buenavista. He received his bachelor’s degree in Science and Computer Engineering from St. Anthony’s College in 2008.  

Career Goals: To become an expert in the field of technology and use knowledge/skills to help other persons with disabilities improve their lives and live independently. 



Mr. Emerito Rojas photoMr. Emerito "Emer" Rojas
Mr. Emerito “Emer” Rojas is an electrical engineering graduate from Mapua Institute of Technology in the Philippines. He also holds a master's degree in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management. In December 2002, he lost his vocal cords due to laryngeal cancer. In April 2003, Mr. Rojas joined the Philippine Laryngectomee Club, a nonprofit, non-government cancer support group and became its president a year later. In 2007, he founded the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) in order to focus on issues concerning persons with disabilities (PWD), tobacco control, and cancer prevention advocacy. NVAP has evolved into a highly effective advocacy group and its members are frequently invited to speak on issues from a victim’s perspective. On December 11, 2010, out of 441 candidates, Mr. Rojas was elected to serve as one of fifty sector representatives to the Quezon City Development Council. On January 31, 2012, he took an oath as the PWD sector representative at the National Anti-Poverty Commission. In April 2011, Mr. Rojas was chosen by the American Cancer Society to be one of eighty-seven Global Cancer Ambassadors. In 2012, NVAP was honored with the Shigehara Award in Beijing, China during the AFLA convention for its exemplary service. Mr. Rojas has represented the Philippines as its official civil society representative at the United Nations on two occasions.

Career Goals: To further enhance professional skills in developing disability-related policies, review existing laws related to persons with disabilities in the Philippines, and suggest amendments to harmonize policies in accordance with the UN CRPD.

Ms. Maria Jesusa Charisma NofiesMs. Maria Jesusa Charisma Nofies
Ms. Maria Jesusa Charisma Nofies is a library assistant at the Quezon City Library and Information Center. She is also a member of the Benildean Deaf Association (BDA) and a contributor to the Bridge Deaf Magazine & Deaf-E News Center for Partnership and Development. She graduated from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Deaf Studies. Having focused on entrepreneurship and business management within her bachelor’s degree program, Ms. Nofies is seeking to pursue a Master’s degree in Political Science to round out her education and learn more about international governing bodies and disability law. 

Career Goals: To become a teacher/professor for college students who are deaf and to work in the Filipino government and improve access and good treatment of persons with disabilities.

Ms. Ida Maryono Putri photoMs. Ida Maryono Putri
Ms. Ida Maryono Putri serves as a community organizer for the Institut Hak Asasi Perempuan (Institute for Women’s Human Rights) in Indonesia. She is also a freelance writer for Diffa Online Magazine and Solider Online News, where she writes news about persons with disabilities in her community and around the country. She is also a member of the Forum Komunikasi Difabel Boyolali (Boyolali Communication Forum on Persons With Disability) and the Indonesian Difabel Care Community, and was also a participant in Mobility International USA’s International Women’s Institute on Disability and Leadership program in 2010. Most recently, Ms. Putri received an “Asia-Pacific Journalism Centre and the Australian Fellowship Award” for her contributions to the journalistic profession (May 2015). 

Career Goals: To increase awareness of disability issues, become a consultant on disability issues, and gain skills to formulate more appropriate ways to advocate for and empower persons with disability in Indonesia.

Mr. Jesdelton Romo photoMr. Jesdelton Romo
Mr. Jesdelton Romo received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Holy Name University. He currently works as a contractor for the Bohol Provincial Government as an encoder in their Local Government Affairs department. Mr. Romo is an active disability advocate, holding several offices in local and national DPOs, including president of the Deaf Boholanos Society and secretary of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf - Youth Section. He is also the Visayan Representative in the Sustainability Sub-Committee of Philippine Federation of the Deaf, and has been working on the Program Development and Evaluation phase of USAID’s expansion of its activities in the Philippines (2015). As an avid advocate for the rights of the deaf and hard-of-hearing in the Philippines, Mr. Romo has participated in several national and international events on disability rights and policy, including 6th World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section-Asian Regional Conference Meeting in (2014, Macau) and the US Empower Exchange Program, an initiative of the US State Department which brings promising disability rights advocates from around the world to the US for an international interchange of ideas and practices (2013). 

Career Goals: To teach politics and advocacy to college students who are deaf to help them become future leaders.

Ms. Victoria Sakilayan photoMs. Victoria Sakilayan
Ms. Victoria Sakilayan worked as an interactive consultant at the Communication Foundation for Asia for two years prior to her role as a web designer and interactive eLearning in education at Educational Outreach through eLearning under the Sandiwaan Center Learning. Most recently, she worked as a faculty member teaching digital illustration, web, animator, portfolio design, and capstone projects at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, School of Deaf Education and Applied Deaf Studies (SDEAS) in Manila, Philippines for six years. Ms. Sakilayan also volunteered in Bohol City and Smokey Mountain, Philippines to teach elementary and high school deaf students on education and values. With the help of her deaf studies teacher, Ms. Sakilayan and her peers founded a Benildean deaf club on campus. She is passionate about serving and empowering persons who are deaf and people with disabilities.

Career Goals: To learn the skills and knowledge of eLearning technologies and to work for persons with disabilities to help outreach with public and private schools and organizations.