Featured Participant: JP Maunes

By Brian Canever February 24, 2017

The GSMP helped me to see the bigger picture. It provided me with mentors that didn’t exist for me in Cebu. Before I left the U.S., my mentors worked closely with me to expand the scope of my organization’s services to blind people, amputees, and wheelchair users. We didn’t want to only have sports programs and services for the Deaf. As we made this shift, we’re planting new seeds in our community. Because I’m not an athlete, putting on my GSMP hat gives me an open door with athletes, the sports commission, and local leaders. I have never been more excited for the future in 10 years of working with people with disabilities.

Since returning home from the 2016 GSMP: Sport for Community program, JP Maunes has been working diligently toward ensuring rights for people with disabilities in his community and throughout the Philippines.

Prior to coming on the program, JP founded Philippine Accessible Deaf Services (PADS), which organized sports, health, and advocacy campaigns for the Deaf community in Cebu and neighboring communities. Driven by his time spent with mentors Stephanie Kanter and Derek Daniels at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, JP returned home last May and changed the name of his organization to include people of all disabilities (changing “Deaf” to “disability”).

Over the past several months, JP has been very active as a speaker around Cebu, one of the Philippines’ largest cities with a population of almost 3 million people. His biggest event was in August, when he was invited to speak before an audience of 300 people at the Third Annual Persons with Disabilities Conference in Cebu. Altogether, he has given 15 presentations of his Action Plan, disability etiquette and awareness training, and run mini adaptive sports clinics at local universities, government meetings, at the Cebu Young Leaders Summit, and in meetings with sports federations, reaching more than 1,000 people with his message. JP’s activity in the city culminated in February 2017, when he was named one of the commissioners of the Cebu City Anti-Discrimination Commission.

On top of his new role with the commission, JP has actively worked with local government and organizations to promote disability rights. In December, he organized a workshop in Cebu on Voter Education and PWD Sensitivity to promote the participation of people with disabilities in the electoral process. His organization also partnered with SM Supermalls for special adaptive movie screenings catered toward the blind and deaf.  He also continues to partner with local television station ABS-CBN to provide deaf sign language services for viewers, and is working with the network to air footage of boccia, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, and dragon boat activities to spread the message of adaptive sports.

In the adaptive sports arena, JP made headlines in January when he founded the first cross-disability dragon boat team in Filipino history. With his organization, JP recruited dozens of local athletes with a range of disabilities, including amputees, blind, and deaf people, and began training. He partnered with 2012 GSMP alumna Geraldine Bernardo, a former national champion dragon boater, to provide training for the athletes. Their hard work paid off when the team was invited to participated in the 2017 Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races in June—their first international competition after less than one year competing as a team. In order to prepare, JP collaborated with a local dragon boat club and the Cebu provincial government to organize a Cebu Dragon Boat Festival for April. The event will feature 40 local and national teams, as well as invitees from the United States, Guam, and Hong Kong. The festival’s proceeds will go to support PADS’ work.

In less than nine months, the impact of JP’s participation in the GSMP has been felt by thousands of people in his city. He maintains a close relationship with fellow alumni in the Philippines and the U.S. Embassy. In October, he collaborated with Geraldine, Adeline Dumapong, and Sports Envoy Eric Hodgson of USA Volleyball to host sitting volleyball clinics in Cebu, where he reached more than 250 athletes, trainers, and community members. He also was awarded a Follow-On Grant, with the money received used for purchasing equipment and uniforms for his dragon boat team to continue its preparation.

In March 2017, JP will organize the largest event since his return home: a Break the Silence 5k run to increase awareness of assault and abuse of people with disabilities, especially those in the deaf community. With 10,000 runners expected to participate, PADS is partnering with organizations to mirror this event in Manila, London, San Francisco, Melbourne, Ulaanbaatar, Barbacena and other cities across six continents.

Through the power of sport, JP is making history in the Philippines as he impacts thousands of lives at home and around the world.