I CAME ACROSS a digital ad — #DareToHire: Special — that struck me as truly being actionable, giving corporations a suggestion of great opportunities for hiring while at the same time exuding well-deserved compassion.

It’s a good commercial. It’s truthful, without a bit of exaggeration, and at the end inspires employers to think about the possibility of hiring someone different.

Project Inclusion and the Unilab Foundation’s one-and-a-half minuter opens with an extreme close-up of a pencil and a folder, which segues to a rather stern-looking female interviewer brusquely asking an interviewee why he thinks he should be hired. Dramatic lighting here where you are allowed to clearly see the man only after a couple of seconds.

“It’s true,” the man says, “Hindi kami marunong…” (we do not know) and he pauses. The succeeding frames slowly enumerate what people with disabilities (PWDs) “do not know”: the video shows a PWD waiting for his bus very early in the morning. “Hindi kami marunong ma-late sa work,” goes the voice-over. Other frames show a woman packaging some product in a store. Another shows a man on a computer. The scriptwriter is able to bring out the remarkable strengths of PWDs, dramatized by day-to-day routines in the workplace that these special people excel in — and which, let’s face it, many employees falter and fail at.

While the action is going on on the screen, we read messages in English of what PWDs are capable of along with the accompanying audio which has the interviewee describing their strengths in everyday vernacular.

“The traits that most people see as their disadvantages often turn out to be the factors that allow them to contribute and excel in the workplace,” is one message. “Persons with disability often work well with structured routines and habits,” is another. “They are sincere with their jobs.” “Hindi kami marunong magpabaya (We’re not capable of being careless),” goes the voiceover. “Hindi kami marunong mandaya (We don’t know how to cheat).” And onwards with other virtues: They do not lie. They are earnest and straightforward. They are focused and pay remarkable attention to detail.

The director’s pacing is good. And the music quietly accompanying the entire commercial adds particular credence to the goings-on. So, the viewer comes to the realization that he often rashly judges a PWD as broadly “hindi marunong.”

The material shows some of the PWDs in different industries, in their actual workplaces in retail, food and beverage, hospitality, and technology. A purchasing clerk who is also a person with autism, Gian Mendoza, very pleasant looking fellow, all smiles, carries a folder as he looks straight at the camera. Others separately shown working with concentrated energy are Mariet Enriquez and Ryan Dee, pharmacy assistants at Southstar Drug, who both have Down Syndrome; Paolo Diocera, a deaf man who is one of the IT staff at Abenson; and Randy Motoomull, a product brand management clerk of UNAHCO, a person with autism — all looking and acting like the next fellow in the office.

There is an interesting side story to all this, that of Vico Cham of Unilab Foundation, who is Project Inclusion’s first employee. The launch of the #DareToHire: Special commercial coincides with Vico’s fourth anniversary at work.

In 2013, Vico was a 22-year-old with a talent for painting and computer graphics in search of work. After interviews, he was hired on May 6, his first day as an administrative and graphics design assistant. Calling himself “Mr. Proudly Autistic,” he is a talented artist, a national awardee, and a global ambassador. He is an Apolinario Mabini 2016 PWD of the Year Awardee, and a recipient of the 2016 International Naturally Autistic People Special Recognition for Visual Arts in Vancouver, Canada. He is also a Best Buddies International speaker and ambassador, and an artist for the Fashion Arts Autism Benefit project.

Maia C. Melencio, Unilab Foundation marketing communications manager, revealed, “There are an estimated 10 to 15 million PWDs in the country. Approximately half of them are of working age. Despite the laws that protect their rights, PWDs continue to be an untapped human resource.”

“Project Inclusion is a program of the Unilab Foundation, focused on enabling the employment of PWDs. It has proven that given the right preparation, training, and support, PWDs can make unique contributions to the workplace and to society. The program prepares the job-seeking PWD and the employer for the job transition,” she said.

Take a low bow, Unilab Foundation and partners “that helped conceptualize and bring this video to life”:

Credits. Client-company, Unilab Foundation. Grant Javier, program manager for Project Inclusion, Roanne Duran, Unilab Foundation assistant communications manager; Maia Melencio, Unilab Foundation marketing communications manager. Creative agency, Over the Moon Communications: Joey Guison, managing partner; Betsy Baking, managing partner. Production: Dante Nora, producer; Ramir Tiamzon and Chewie Orellana, associate producers. 57 Studios Manila Co. LTD, production team: Shem Hampac, director; Junil Managbanag, production manager; Jofre Nachor, executive producer. Hit Productions, Inc., musical score producer. Salito Malca, chairman/CFO; Vic Icasas, president/managing partner; Arnold Buena, arranger/composer.

Nanette Franco-Diyco ended her 15th year advertising career as Vice-President of JWT, segueing into the world of academe, teaching communications at the Ateneo de Manila University.