SM Prime was recently honored at this year’s the 2023 Apolinario Mabini Awards for its efforts in empowering and uplifting Persons With Disabilities (PWDs). The organization took home multiple awards, conferred to it by the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PFRD), at a special ceremony held at the Heroes Hall in Malacanang Palace, last 18 July 2023.
The awards bestowed include the Empowerment of Persons With Disabilities Award given to SM Cares, SM Supermalls’ corporate social responsibility arm, along with the Disability-Friendly Establishment Award given to several SM Malls and SM Offices. Special distinction was conferred to SM City Grand Central being the sole Gold winner, while SM City Urdaneta Central and SM City Telabastagan both received Bronze.
Special citations were also given to SM City Tanza, SM City Dasmariñas, SM City Iloilo, SM City Bacolod, and SM City Cagayan de Oro Uptown for partial compliance with Batas Pambansa Blg. 344, or An Act to Enhance the Mobility of Disabled Persons by Requiring Certain Buildings, Institutions, Establishments and Public Utilities to Install Facilities and Other Devices.
SM Offices was also recognized under the Disability-Friendly Establishment category, with SM Cyber Two Makati receiving a Bronze award, and special honors awarded to One E-Com and Three E-Com Centers.
Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri graced the conferment with their presence. SM Supermalls President Steven T. Tan was also in attendance, alongside SM Supermalls SVP for Operations and Director for SM Cares Program on Persons with Disabilities Engr. Bien C. Mateo and SM Prime VP for SM Offices Alexis L. Ortiga.
“It is indeed an honor for SM’s efforts to be recognized by the PFRD,” said Tan. “We work hard to ensure that our SM Malls cater to the needs of our fellow Filipinos who live with disabilities because we want to facilitate a safe and inclusive space for them. We are humbled to be consistent awardees at the Apolinario Mabini Awards because it only reassures us that we are fulfilling that goal.”
“SM believes in advocating for a more inclusive environment for the disabled community, which is clear through the initiatives we push forward,” said Mateo. “More than creating projects for the benefit of disabled persons, we also want to spread awareness and encourage compassion among those of us who are able-bodied. We believe that is what is needed to create a society that is truly inclusive of Persons With Disabilities.”
Established by the PFRD on its Silver Anniversary in 1974, the Apolinario Mabini Awards is a biennial program named after one of the country’s most well-known heroes. Also known as the Sublime Paralytic, Mabini’s disability did not hinder him from playing a major role in the Philippine revolution. Thus, the awards are given to professionals and organizations that have empowered and rendered outstanding services to persons with disabilities, and are considered to be the most prestigious prize for Persons with Disabilities-related organizations and programs in the country.
SM Prime is a strong advocate for persons with disabilities, with many notable programs under SM Cares designed to uplift and empower this sector of society. Several initiatives for disabled persons include the award-winning Emergency Disaster Preparedness Forum, which aims to equip persons with disabilities with the knowledge and skills to become more resilient and better prepared during natural disasters, as well as The Blackout Zone, the first experiential exhibit that simulates blindness and encourages sighted individuals to develop a deeper understanding of the struggles and challenges faced by the those who are visually impaired community.
SM Cares’ initiatives also reflect the organization’s support for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly “SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities”. Other advocacies of SM Cares include Programs for the Environment, Women & Breastfeeding Mothers, Children & Youth, Senior Citizens, and the SM Bike-friendly initiative.