Free photography workshop for the deaf on April 22

Free photography workshop for the deaf to be mentored by famous deaf wedding photographer and International Skills Competition Photography Champ Dennis Rhoneil Corpuz Balan!!! This will be held at Fort Santiago on Sunday, April 22 and sponsored by Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF). You may contact them through the poster below. Grab this now!!! 

dennis photography seminar



Filipino Sign Language App ready for download at Google Play

Friends, may I invite you to download and test this app in your Android Phone? I called it Filipino Sign Language (FSL) app. It was quietly released in March 17 and is now on its Version 1.5.  It’s a simple informative program that teaches how to fingerspell letters, numbers and special characters using Filipino Sign Language. I designed this as part of the instructional materials in sign language course offering of MCCID College both in classroom and soon to be online. You can download it for free at Google Play Store.

As an added feature, I included a video of the Philippine National Anthem signed by our deaf student using FSL with instructions on how to sign it. It uses the FSL font, the first and only one of its kind which was exclusively designed and distributed freely by MCCID. It upholds one of our school’s major advocacy of recognizing and spreading the use of indigenous signs.

Designing and developing android applications will also be part of our curricular offerings in the very near future. We have already introduced JavaScript programming in our program last school year and will soon add app development using Java in the coming months.

Although this app is the first full-featured app that was launched in Google Play Store and is now in Version 1.5, there will be more promising FSL apps that will come out in the future and are currently in the development stage. There are also apps that are especially developed and used by religious groups. Let us support all of them.

You may download the app by either going to Google PlayStore and search “Filipino Sign Language” or click on the image below to go directly to download page

Google Play Screen

or click on the link below from our official website using your android smart phone and install it directly.

fsl.apk file


This latest release was updated based on users’ feedbacks. This update includes:

  • adding exit button on every page when back pressed
  • modified the fonts used in images for clearer view
  • converted images into labels
  • added captions on Philippine National Anthem video with instructions on how to sign.

Feel free to make comments and suggestions on how to improve the app. Thanks!!!




On Money and the Filipino Deaf

philippine peso

Yesterday, three elderly deaf people trooped to MCCID College in San Mateo, Rizal from their home in Manila, roughly two-hour’s trip by local jeepney. Since our school is closed for summer, all of our students are on vacation.  No one was minding the campus main gate so they simply entered the premises as if they are familiar with it.

My uncle who was going out at that time saw them entering the campus. Once they saw him, they immediately “ranted” in sign language as if they were looking for trouble. My uncle looked surprised and panicked so he hastily escorted them to the dorm house where the faculty lives and called my attention.

I am not that familiar with their faces but they knew me as an interpreter in a Baptist church. They introduced themselves, this time calmly, and explained their reason for sudden visit. They were looking for one deaf lady who is currently studying at MCCID. It was “extremely” important, based on their actions, that they need to meet her. I told them that the deaf lady already went home a week ago. She stayed in one of the rented houses outside the school. But her parents want her to stop schooling temporarily so she packed all her things and went home to their province in Central Luzon.

They all looked very frustrated when I informed them about it. One of them was so angry that she started ranting that they wasted precious time and money coming here but got distressed because they did not see the deaf lady. To pacify her, I gently asked in sign language the reason why it’s necessary for them to meet her. One of her companion, a more elderly man, explained that they need to get the money she owes him.

“Awww… really?”, was my reply. At the back of my mind, I was thinking that since they came all the way here and spent “precious time and money” just to personally meet her, she must have owned them big money! So I again followed up, “How much does she owe you?”

200 pesos! (roughly 4 US dollars)” “Say what? Did I hear it right?” So I again clarified. “200 pesos!” I nearly fell off from where I stand. If we sum up all the expenses they incurred in traveling here, it would amount to more than three times that money!

Again I inquired, “Was that all? Is that the total amount?” The other elderly deaf guy affirmed. He explained that he was very generous in helping other deaf who are needy so he proudly signs that they can freely loan money from him. I did not make any further questions about it because I might offend him although I was having difficulty hiding my giggle as to their purpose of coming here. So I just dismissed them by referring to my other deaf faculty Ervin and let him talk to them. They all ended up going home utterly disappointed.

How Filipino Deaf value their money

This situation reminded me of what I have experienced many times in the past. I’m not concluding that this is the norm in deaf culture nor just the Filipino deaf in particular. However, what I am saying is that this is not an isolated case.

Many years ago, the manager of a local fast food restaurant called the school and requested me to go there because two deaf are violently arguing inside the place. I found out that the deaf lady owes the deaf guy money. The guy was courting the lady and he always pay for their “date”. But when she told him the shocking truth that she does not love him, the guy got so pissed off that he took his wallet, showed her ALL his restaurant bills from their past dates and forced her to pay for all of it. A couple more similar situations happened to other deaf which I need to mediate.

When a deaf person owed money from another deaf, that amount is “carved in stone”, no matter how oddly small it is. One deaf who lacked money to pay for his fare asked his companion if he can borrow money. He promised to pay him next time. The deaf loaned him. But he kept on mentioning that over and over again to his face until he pays. The amount? Eight pesos (roughly 25 cents). I tell you, this situation is not uncommon.

Why is this happening?

We can probably trace this into how they acquire their money. Since a sizable number of Filipino deaf have no work, they often rely on financial support from their family. However, Filipino families having a member who is a Person With Disability don’t usually allot a budget for them. So earning members of the family can only spare a small amount to support their deaf relative. Thus, the deaf tend to hold on tightly to whatever small amount they receive.

As for the employed deaf, majority of them land in lower level positions like factory workers, clerks and rank and file government officers. Although quite a handful are in middle level positions, still most of them don’t have much money to use.

Deaf senior citizens are no exception. Most of them rely on support from their adult children. The government also don’t offer much of a relief for them.

Since deaf people are very mobile and communal by nature, they use up most of their finances from trips going to their deaf friends no matter how far they are.

Education is the key

In our school, I often explain to them the value of money and how they should strive to earn for themselves. The main reason why they study is for them to be independent financially. They also need to control their use of a very limited money that they have.

As more and more Filipino deaf earn for themselves, they are slowly moving away from being a “money miser”. In time, they will be able to share their blessings to others without overly thinking about anything in return.





How can we improve the English reading and writing comprehension of deaf people?

I subscribed at and am so fond of reading answers from question asked by readers. I am amazed at how people respond to questions in a more comprehensive, unbiased and sometimes personal way. And since I am into deaf and deaf education, I tried asking my title question. What I got was a very good response from Dr. Don Grushkin, a Deaf Professor! Talk about credibility!

One of the problems I experienced using Quora is that I cannot keep track of my questions. There is nowhere in my Quora dashboard where I can access my previous questions. It’s a good thing I shared it in my Facebook wall so I can remember the link. I also want to put it in my blog so that I can easily access it every time I need it. So here it is! Thank you very much Dr. Grushkin, my newfound idol! 😉

You want to know how we can improve the English reading and writing comprehension of Deaf people? I’ll tell you. It’s very simple.

From the minute you find out a child’s Deaf (and you can find out right in the hospital after they’re born), start speaking ASL (not signed Englishcued speech, or any other pseudoscientific “methodology” — ASL: AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE with them. And no futzing around with oralism or cochlear implants or whatever to see if it “works” first, and no wailing and gnashing your teeth and rending your clothes at the fact the child is Deaf. Being Deaf is not the same as dead. We’re fine as we are, and we have perfectly good lives as Deaf people and can survive to a ripe old age as Deaf people. But the point here is that you tend to focus on “methodologies”, when you should be focusing on LANGUAGE. LANGUAGE is never an “option” for any child, and ASL is a language where signed English, cued speech, cochlear implants, oralism are emphatically not languages.

Great! You get it! You’ve started taking ASL courses, so you can communicate with your child in a true language. Now start talking to your child — in ASL. Talk about everything, just as you would with a Hearing child — the birds, the sky, what you see, what you are doing, what you want to do, what you don’t want your child doing — EVERYTHING.

Now that you’ve gotten started on the right track in giving your child a complete linguistic and cognitive foundation with a complete, accessible language (ASL), start reading to your child. Every day. In ASL. Use the reading strategies that Deaf adults have long used with their Deaf (and hearing) children that have consistently promoted literacy development in their children.

Also, don’t be afraid to fingerspell naturally — I’m not saying go all Rochester Method, but fingerspell titles (books, movies, names) and words that there may not be a sign for. Use lexicalized fingerspelling for common words like rice and bus. Fingerspelling is part of ASL’s bridging between English and ASL.

When your kid’s old enough, send your child to a school program that utilizes a true ASL-English bilingual philosophy. You have to be a bit careful here. There are plenty of programs that claim to be bilingual, but really are not. If the program uses signed English or cued speech, that’s a sign it’s not truly bilingual. If the program involves teachers simcomming, that’s a sign it’s not truly bilingual. If there are only a few (or none) Deaf teachers (and they should be TEACHERS, not aides), that’s a sign it’s not truly bilingual. A good bilingual program should have at least a 50/50 Deaf-Hearing ratio of faculty and staff. If the school uses auditory-based methodologies and systems like “visual phonics”, that’s a sign it’s not truly bilingual.

Now that your kid is school-age, encourage your child to read. Really, you should have been encouraging this long ago by providing books at the kid’s reading and interest level. Talk about what they and you are reading. Not only should you encourage your kid to read, be involved with your kid’s education. Help with homework. Ask and talk about their day.

In other words:

Yes, ASL IS the answer!

I couldn’t agree more!

What’s your super power?

I saw a t-shirt with this one written on it. It’s kinda jolt me a bit as to what sign language is. That’s probably the way some people who are skilled in sign language think about their ability. I agree with them. So I made a similar one using our very own MCCID FSL Font.

I know sign language. What's your superpower?
What’s your superpower?


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