Transport is an ordeal to the wheelchair-bound. They can be independent, they struggle to be independent, in many cases had been fully independent before affliction or old age had assailed them. But the few centimeters putting a vehicle’s cabin on a different plane from pavement is what always brings them back to needing the intimate kindness of others.
There’s the innate altruism, of course, there’s always someone willing to help, some family member, friend, or even the occasional bystander suddenly beset with the impulse to assist although seldom having the knowledge how to. That isn’t really the problem. In fact, ironically and unfairly to those who would volunteer to help, it’s the readiness of good souls to help that’s the rub. Already disabled, them needing to be carried into and out of a vehicle, their presumption of such help, further and repeatedly hobbles their dignity.
This continuing ordeal for a mother was what pushed her children to set up PBC Car Adapt, Inc. in November 2003. Thrice weekly she had to go to hospital for therapy. A minimum of three times a week and each way, she braved having to be carried onto and off a vehicle seat, casually separated from a wheelchair that had become her legs.
The family found a solution, a system that objectified the process, replacing servile help with servo mechanics. The Carony wheelchair system offered a way to automate their mother’s boarding and disembarking from a vehicle, turning it into a pushbutton affair, empowering her with the ability to push that button herself.
The system centers on a modular wheelchair, its chair meant to be disengaged from the wheel chassis, and lifted and swivelled into or out of a vehicle. The chair-bound passenger no longer has to be separated from what is engineered to be a portable yet safe and comfortable car seat. And the system is brand-neutral—it could be installed in any number of automotive makes and models, in compact or larger vehicle types from sedans to SUVs.
The problem was that they couldn’t simply buy the gear off-the-shelf. They could purchase the equipment, sure, but it had to be installed in a vehicle by an exclusive distributor. At the time, there were no such distributors here and their only option was to buy both the vehicle and the wheelchair system abroad, have these mated there, and import the entire finished product into the country.
Fortunately, the family had the means but not the frivolousness to even consider such a course of action. Instead, with full appreciation of how the Carony wheelchair system could be as valuable to others as it was for them, they gave body to their conviction, incorporated PBC Car Adapt, and themselves became that elusive distributor that they needed to be here, in-country.
They became the country distributor of Carony systems-maker Autoadapt of Sweden, making the Philippines only the second country in Asia, after Japan, to have gained this distributorship. Now, almost 14 years down the road, their product line up already includes equipment to make vehicles operable by paraplegic drivers, fitting these out with hands-only boarding and driving systems.
You could visit their source’s website at autoadapt.com to see the solutions they provide, or point your browser at pbccaradapt.ph and see how they’ve registered their domain name but haven’t gone all-in commercial with online retail. But if the wheelchair systems they carry sound to you like tangible solutions for a particular someone’s everyday ordeal, we suggest that you simply call their Quezon City office at +632 881 6664 or +632 455 5929.
Look for managing partner Juliet “Jet” Quiemel, daughter to the lady who started them down this road, or for Christine, the buoyant daughter and granddaughter to them both. Call and ask them about how they’ve matter-of-factly championed the cause of the disabled all these years. And, if you decide to get their help, say that you heard of them through Real World Drive and tell them that we endorse to you the modest referral fee they offered us … take it as a small discount, with our compliments.