Chilean start-up, ‘Wheel the World,’ broadens horizons for disabled

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 18, 2019   •   471

A Chilean start-up has been launched to open up some of the world’s most iconic tourist attractions to disabled visitors.

The idea for Wheel the World was borne out of an expedition three years ago to Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia by a group of friends from the University of California at Berkeley.

The group crowd-funded a special wheelchair for their friend, Alvaro Silberstein, who was left quadriplegic following a car accident when he was 18.

They documented their trip for those who had contributed to the fund and, spurred by the ensuing interest, began investigating other bucket-list vacations that could be adapted for the disabled.

Since its inception last year, Wheel the World’s seven-man team has arranged trips for more 900 people, including to Chile’s driest desert, San Pedro de Atacama, scuba diving off Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean, ziplining in Costa Rica and a trek along the Inca Trail to Peru’s Machu Picchu.

Today, the group has 16 destinations both in Chile and four other countries on its online platform, and aims to increase that to 150 by 2020.

Silberstein, the firm’s chief executive, said the Patagonian trip had made him realise that nothing was impossible.

“We realised that with the right equipment and the right information, we can help people with disabilities have these kind of experiences, to open their minds to see that we are capable of anything,” he said.

“There are many initiatives to make tourism more accessible because it’s a gigantic opportunity; in just the United States and Europe, $72 billion is spent on tourism by disabled people each year.”

“But no one is doing it on a global level, matching tourism services with the specific needs of disabled people. That’s what we do,” he said. (REUTERS)

(Production: Jorge Vega)

Duterte supports Chile’s decision to cancel APEC hosting

Marje Pelayo   •   November 3, 2019

BANGKOK, Thailand — President Rodrigo Duterte expressed support for Chile’s decision to cancel its hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit set for November 16 to 17.

“The Office of the President therefore expresses the country’s support for Chile as it made the hard decision of cancelling its hosting of the AELM, taking into consideration the interest and concerns of the Chilean people, as its country endured massive street protests that was propelled by a civil disobedience campaign over metro transit hikes,” Malacañang in a statement through Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Friday (November 1).

Due to the ongoing public unrest, the Chilean government earlier pulled out as host of the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting.

Duterte earlier confirmed his intention to attend the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting which was supposed to bring together heads of governments to discuss trade relations and investments within the region.

Panelo said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez were supposed to join the President in Chile to meet with their counterparts during this years’  final meetings of APEC Senior Officials, APEC Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministers and Leaders.

Panelo emphasized the Philippines’ trade and commercial relations with APEC economies which, according to the official, accounts for 84% of the total trade of the Philippines worldwide, 82% total exports worldwide, and 85% of its total imports and 64% of foreign direct investment into the Philippines, and 83% of tourist arrivals.

“It is also worth noting that 56% of Filipinos abroad call the APEC region their home, and our overseas Filipino workers in this region account for the 57% of the total annual remittances the we receive in the country. As such, there are 33 Philippine Government agencies engaged in the APEC process,” Panelo said.

“The Palace thanks Chile, which is currently the home to approximately 800 Filipinos, mostly women, for its hard work in advocating for inclusive and sustainable growth in the region, such as by prioritizing women empowerment and promoting micro, small, and medium scale enterprises,” he added.

The Philippine government also expressed its continued support in ensuring that the two countries’ citizens  enjoy the benefits of deeper regional economic integration.

Tara drawing tayo! 5 ways to make your long weekend memorable

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 31, 2019

It’s almost the end of the year, have you gone on vacation yet? Have you been anywhere else besides your bed or the kitchen?

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It’s not bad to unwind once in a while especially with all the stress from work or school. We have listed a few fun activities you can do with your friends, loved ones, or by yourself—self-love.

Take a hike!

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Spend time with nature. Hiking has been one of the popular activities today because of the breath-taking views to enjoy with good company. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about the local culture.

READ: Shinrin-yoku: How to remove stress through forest bathing

You can become a joiner through various hiking groups on Facebook and make friends with new people. This is also a good exercise but be sure to be well-prepared before hiking. Check the itinerary that will be given by hiking organizers and re-check your stuff before leaving.

If you’re uncomfortable talking to strangers you can just reconnect with nature without the need to become social, no one would mind.

Just dive in!

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If climbing mountains seems too tedious for you, just get the classic vitamin sea instead. Nothing beats a good old beach vacation. Imagine yourself dipping in fresh saltwater or making sandcastles. Also, budol fiigghhtt!

You can also enroll in free-diving lessons and enjoy an underwater experience. Be a mermaid for a day! Just make sure you have the proper training before diving in—safety first!

Nurture your culture!

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You can also try immersing yourself in art. The Philippines has interesting museums you can explore. Some of them are even offering free entrance—yay! Free stuff.

Spend your vacation touring Manila, track the roots of Filipino culture and appreciate the art that embodies it. Looking at art can also have a calming effect. Some museums even offer fun activities like painting, origami, or seminars.

Eat to your heart’s content!

If museum hopping isn’t triggering your excitement then try food exploring! Every city in the country has its own best food destination — it’s not just Maginhawa anymore.

Spend your vacation trying some of the best foods that the Philippines can offer. Imagine yourself as a well-known chef in search of the most delicious bites. Create a memorable culinary experience by going to the unfamiliar. Is there a food that you haven’t tried before?

Home sweet home

What else is there to say? Food, check! Entertainment, check! Comfort, check!—AAC

DFA urges Filipinos in Chile to stay indoors amid violent protests

Robie de Guzman   •   October 23, 2019

Hundreds of protesters participate in a demonstration at the central Plaza Italia, in Santiago, Chile, 22 October 2019. EPA-EFE/ALBERTO VALDES

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday urged Filipinos in Chile to remain indoors amid ongoing violent protests against the government there.

“Filipinos are advised to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel to affected areas, specifically in central Santiago and areas around submetro and bus stations,” the DFA said in a statement.

The advisory issued on Wednesday was a reiteration of the one issued by the Philippine Embassy in Santiago for Filipinos to take necessary precautions in view of the declaration of a State of Emergency in Grand Santiago on Oct. 19 which has since been extended to Chucabuco, Puente Alto, San Bernardo, Concepcion, Valparaiso, Iquique, Maipu, and other provinces.

The department said there are around 800 Filipino workers in Chile, which has been plagued with violent protests over a hike in public transport and other issues on economic equality this month.

“The State of Emergency is said to last for 15 days. No Filipino has been reported affected from the ongoing protests, according to Ambassador to Chile Ma. Teresita C. Daza,” the DFA said.

The DFA assured that its Embassy will continue to monitor developments of the State of Emergency in Santiago, and provide advisory on the peace and security situation in Chile, when necessary.

Filipinos in need of assistance in Chile may contact the Embassy Hotline number at +56-94-272-0320.

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