Happy 122nd Independence Day, Philippines!

Happy 122nd Independence Day to my beloved country, the Philippines! I designed three Facebook posts, especially for this occasion. They appear on each Facebook Page which I co-managed. Cheers!

Only he is truly a patriot mccid fb
Facebook Post on Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf
pilipinas kong mahal mccid fsl font
Facebook Post on Filipino Sign Language Font
ika-12 ng Hunyo 2020 mark737
Facebook Post on Mark 737 Designs & Prints

Philippine’s Media Network and Law of Classroom Explained in Sign Language

Since 2019, one of the hottest issues that hogged most of my Facebook feed is the imminent end of the franchise of the Philippines’ largest broadcasting network, ABS-CBN Corporation. Then it reached its peak when the National Telecommunications Network (NTC), the country’s regulatory body on matters of allotting frequencies to telecommunications companies, issued a “Cease and Desist Order” on May 5 to ABS-CBN demanding them to return to the government the airwave it allowed to be used for 25 years. The network immediately stopped broadcasting on both their TV and radio channels on the same day.

Naturally, there was outrage coming from both the pro and anti groups. Those who made loud noises are the network’s stable of popular artists like Coco Martin, Judy Ann Santos, and Daniel Padilla. Then the (in)famous “Law of Classroom” vlog rant of reality contest winner Kim Chiu went viral and created many parodies, memes and even song-and-dance videos.

However, I observed that our Filipino Deaf community was not completely informed about the true reason why the sudden closure of their beloved station. Not even the sign language inset interpreting on TV newscasts cannot fully explain the events that happened.

So our school decided to create a short (15-minute) and very simple explainer video complete with picture-in-picture and simple animation on the issue. Our resident Deaf graduate, Kennel Alonzo did the sign language explanation. Our objective is for our deaf people to have a more clear understanding of the issues including the function of an airwave and the Philippine Franchise Law. It was uploaded in MCCID Facebook page yesterday (May 26) as well as in Kennel’s own wall. As of this writing, there were already more than 2,000 views and nearly 50 shares.

The video was also uploaded on MCCID’s YouTube Channel.  Here it is:

Update:

Due to requests from followers of  MCCID College Official Facebook page who can hear,  I added a computer-generated voice that reads and captions aloud in English. The purpose of this is so that they can easily understand the signs even without reading the sub-titles. Here it is:

“If I Knew What You Said” starring deaf actor now available online

Hello, guys! I know that this lockdown and quarantine is really wearing us down. We experienced more than two months of STAY-AT-HOME activity due to COVID-19 pandemic and most of our countrymen are under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).  This May, most of us are now entering the phase of General Community Quarantine (GCQ) although most metropolitan areas are still under the ECQ. So many of us are still at home.

You might be tired of watching Netflix or other streaming videos and cable TV movies. So may I add one more full-length film for you to watch? It’s about the struggles of a deaf boy in finding his mom while discovering his love for music. Dinig Sana Kita (If I Knew What You Said) is a 2009 Filipino drama/romance film directed and written by Mike Sandejas. I have been promoting this movie here, here and here. In fact, this has been one of my top search terms. I am also very much familiar with its lead actor Romalito Mallari. We have been friends many years back and I have always admired his talent as an expressive dancer and actor.

Wikipedia says the movie is about

The romantic film revolved around a rocker and a deaf boy. One lives in silence while the other in noise and fear. The two met in a Baguio camp where hearing kids were mixed with non-hearing kids to find their common ground, which is their love for music. Link

I have been wishing for this movie to be available online for free so that many can watch this! My wish has finally granted! My personal friend, fellow sign language interpreter and kumare Dean Nicky Templo-Perez of College of St. Benilde posted a link of the complete movie uploaded in Vimeo (not YouTube) in our common Facebook group chat. At first, I was doubtful about the link privacy because it is not searchable in Vimeo, the URL has two-level links (a /number/number) and there is a lock icon before the video title. So I posted a comment on the page requesting Director Mike if he can allow me to share it in my blog. He replied, “Go ahead”.

But there is a minor catch. Unlike unlocked YouTube or Vimeo videos, this one cannot be embedded here. So you need to go directly to the site by clicking on the link below or the screenshot image. Happy viewing guys and please share this video so that many people can watch this romantic advocacy movie!!!

Vimeo Video Screenshot of the Movie

https://vimeo.com/254252680/ef87598411

  • Thank you very much Direk Mike, Romalito and Dean Nicky for sharing this to me. 😉

 

Who’s afraid of a deaf driver?

Well, I’m not! As long as I’m not riding on the vehicle that he is driving.

That was the response of a participant in one of the Deaf Sensitivity Training which I conducted many times. I asked the trainees that question before showing them a couple of images that I boast as “success stories of deaf drivers” who made ingenious innovations in order to communicate with their passengers, as shown below.

Deaf Driver in Pampanga

deaf uber driver from sulu
Photo from “The Story Pedia

Deaf drivers are one of the most careful and law-abiding drivers. Also, “The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) stresses that deafness does not in any way limit a person’s ability to drive a car or other vehicles.” I have experienced riding on deaf drivers many times. They are very cautious and too focused on their surroundings that they navigate the road very smoothly.

Still, the participant’s reaction is not uncommon. In fact, according to Axleaddict.com, around 30 countries worldwide don’t allow deaf people to acquire a driver’s license.  Although the Philippines was listed among those who permit deaf drivers, that is not the case among most of them who applies for a license. I have assisted a handful of deaf people in applying for a license either as their sign language interpreter or accompanying them when I applied for mine. Most of the time, they are turned down. The main reason? They cannot hear. This is a huge hurdle for them.

lto form.fw
Sample Driver’s License Application Form of Land Transportation Office (LTO) with emphasis on “WITH HEARING AID” as one of the conditions

One of the five conditions that must be met is that a person who has a hearing problem must be “WITH HEARING AID”. Since the majority of deaf people I know are either not comfortable wearing hearing aids or using them is useless because they are already severe or profoundly deaf (people who can only understand sounds through vibrations), they won’t qualify for this. One of the procedures that they must undergo first is a medical examination which just basically checks their eyesight and hearing capabilities. They would automatically fail on this.

Still, quite a few deaf I know, especially in the provinces, were able to overcome this hurdle by applying “under the table” so to speak. But this path is costly, illegal and often dangerous to the license holders because they are always extremely cautious about not getting caught. Otherwise, their license could either be revoked and not be returned or the police officers would give them a very hard time by giving them numerous violations. This has been a huge issue among the deaf community which they have been addressing for many years yet remained unresolved. Until now…

Introducing, ALYANSA NG MAY KAPANSANAN NA NAGMAMANEHO NG SASAKYAN AT MOTOR SA PILIPINAS or ALKASAMOPI for short! Let me translate their Filipino name into English, hopefully, I am right. It’s ALLIANCE OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES WHO DRIVE MOTOR VEHICLES IN THE PHILIPPINES.  According to their Facebook Page, ALKASAMOPI

… is a Non Government Organization whose MISSION and VISION is to promote the camaraderie, brotherhood and equal rights & opportunities among individual Person With Disabilities (PWDs) especially PWD Driver & Riders ( commuters)

One of our objective is to integrate the Persons with Disability (PWD) to the mainstream of society by promoting safety driving and riding to assist them to exercise their rights and privileges and most of all to promote the equal rights and opportunities for the service of transportation.

ALKASAMOPI Logo
ALKASAMOPI Logo

Its founding president is Joseph Delgado. As per their SEC Registration, its principles are

We are encouraged, empowered and have the full participation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Riders and Drivers to have a Non Professional Driver’s License and have a knowledge of Road Safety as a road users.

*We are passionate, innovative and fearless in the promotion and defense of the right and interest of Persons with Disability.

*We are accessible and responsive to our community needs in terms of accessible transportation and accessible facilities.

*We are collaborative and supportive in our relationship with the disability rights movement as a whole.

They accept all sectors with a disability who are either current holders of driver’s licenses or driving a motorized vehicle. But since many of their members are deaf, they formed a separate group for the deaf community riders with which our blog will focus. Its deaf group has its own set of Officers and the Board of Directors. Their president is Christopher Frando.

ALKASAMOPI Deaf Community Officers and Board
ALKASAMOPI Deaf Community Officers and Board (Link from their Facebook Post)

I have met most of them. But I have personal acquaintances with Michael Boholst (PRO), Daryl Desamparado, Daryl Pineda and Bryann Gregorio (Board of Directors). All of them are alumni of MCCID College and my former students. Most of them also attend the Deaf Ministry of Capitol City Baptist Church where I do sign language interpreting.

As enumerated in their brochure, ALKASAMOPI provides

  • PWD Awareness Sensitivity Seminar “How to Properly Approach and Handle a PWD”
  • Bloodletting project
  • Brigada Eskwela (assisting in the opening of school classrooms)
  • Giving free assessment for mobility devices
  • Giving free assessment for LTO concerns
  • Giving road safety seminar for PWD and Non-PWDs
  • Giving free safety driving and riding seminar
  • Fighting and defending PWD rights

I own a Suzuki Sky Drive 175 since 2014. I don’t often use it because my work is inside the school campus. So I let our deaf school utility Owen Domagtoy use the motorcycle to run some errands. However, he does not have a license. After helping him acquire his “student permit”, the next hurdle is for him to get his driver’s license. It would be very difficult for him to acquire it because he will need to go to a series of tests. Fortunately, ALKASAMOPI assisted him by giving him pointers and assigned a sign language interpreter during the test. Now, he is not worried about driving around because he already has a license.

Owen riding my bike pose together with ALKASAMOPI Deaf Members
Owen riding my bike (front) together with ALKASAMOPI Deaf Members
Deaf Group (including Owen) showing their LTO Driver's License
Deaf Group (including Owen) show their LTO Driver’s License after passing the test in September 2019
A personalized plate number is attached to the motorcycle to notify enforcers that the rider is a PWD and ALKASAMOPI member.
A personalized plate number is attached to the motorcycle to notify enforcers that the rider is a PWD and ALKASAMOPI member.

Aside from helping other PWDs, the group participated in assisting commuters during this COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown.  Below is the YouTube video they uploaded last April which ends with a prayer signed by their Deaf President Christopher Frando.

To get in touch with them, email them at alkasamopi2018@gmail.com or visit their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Alkasamopi-Inc-102875361219347/

We understand that acquiring a license to drive is a privilege and not a right. But we also support equal opportunity for everyone, including those with disabilities. If a hearing person can avail of a privilege to use the road, with the latest technologies and an open mind from everyone, a deaf and hard-of-hearing person can also avail of that.

Mabuhay po ang ALKASAMOPI sa pagtulong sa mga Pilipinong Bingi na matupad ang kanilang pangarap na malayang makapag-byahe gamit ang kanilang mga sasakyang de-motor!

  • – PWD means Persons With Disabilities

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mother’s out there…. most especially to the deaf mothers and mothers of deaf children!  <- from this blogger

a mother always hears
A mother always hears and listens through her heart…
  • – that is our Filipino Sign Language for “mother”

Happy Resurrection Day, everyone!!!

Happy Resurrection Day to all my blog followers! As my special Easter greeting to you, please watch this praise song “Mighty to Save” performed by Inigo Pascual, a popular RnB singer from the Philippines. This is special to me because of One Music PH, a music portal owned and operated by ABS-CBN Network’s Star Creatives Group. They requested our school for the deaf (MCCID) to partner with them because they want to add a sign language interpretation of the song. We gladly accepted and happily translated the song into Filipino Sign Language.

Here it is:

Are deaf people deprived of their “mother language”?

Today, we celebrate “International Mother Language Day”. Held every 21st day of February as approved at the 1999 General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it was born out of the initiative of Bangladesh and has been observed worldwide since 2000.

UNESCO commemorates this day to the belief that,

in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies. It is within its mandate for peace that it works to preserve the differences in cultures and languages that foster tolerance and respect for others. [link]

This recognition centers on the observation that native languages are increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Dominant languages have been emphasized excessively that modern kids were discouraged in schools to use the language they use at home. Aside from that, books and other written materials using their mother language were scarce and readily unavailable. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with a growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

But what about those who are deprived of language acquisition? What about those who were not able to access their “mother language” the moment they were born? How do we address those vulnerable sectors, most especially those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing?

What is Language Deprivation?

Language deprivation means, exactly, a language that is taken away from people. According to Therapy Travellers Website, Language deprivation is

 the term used for when a child does not have access to a naturally occurring language during their critical language-learning years. [link]

Deaf children are the most affected because they are not exposed to a language that would develop their cognitive growth. A deaf baby has not received any language exposure during the critical period between ages 0 to 2.

To illustrate,

stick figure of parent asking a hearing child what he wants and replies with milk, milk, milk
The hearing parent asks his hearing child what he wants. The hearing child replies by speaking what he needs which is milk.

 

The hearing parent can readily communicate with his baby what he needs because they both have access to sounds and speech. A baby with no hearing impairment would easily acquire speech and language. Studies show that the brain forms more than one million new neural connections every second from age 0 to 5. This means that they can accumulate emotional and physical health, social skills, and cognitive-linguistic capacities that emerge in the early years. [link]

 

 

stick figure of a deaf child asking milk but the parent doesn't understand
A deaf baby asking his father to give him milk. But the father asks “What do you want?” because he does not understand the baby.

Now compare that with a deaf baby interacting with his parents. Since a deaf baby does not hear her parents, he does not understand what they mean. He cannot associate any actions to the words or phrases that come out of their parents’ mouths because nothing enters his ears. No matter what the baby utters, the parent cannot seem to understand him. Does he need to pee? Is he hungry? Does he want to go out? Is he sick? Does he want to play? Situations like this often lead to frustrations, irritations, and tantrums. Eventually, this leads to ignoring the baby’s needs and thus stunt his overall emotional and intellectual growth.

That is language deprivation.

 

 

Worldwide, over 5% has disabling hearing loss, roughly 466 million people. 90% of deaf children are born with hearing parents. This means that their parents are not familiar with or even aware of how to deal with having a deaf child. So, their tendency is to just give the deaf kid what they perceived he wants without affirmation that it was really what he wants. Worse, the parents would just let them be and do their own thing. Problems in the delay in language development would appear when they are already in school, work, communicating with others, and even self-confidence.

Baby Sign Language

Research has shown that early exposure to a first language will predict future language outcomes. The earlier he can acquire a language, the better he can succeed. And since a deaf baby can learn a language using his eyes, he should be exposed to sign language at the earliest possible time.  Because signed languages are the only languages that are 100% accessible to a deaf child, we can be sure that the child’s brain is receiving language input.

Stick figure of a parent teaching his deaf child the sign for milk
A parent teaches his baby the sign language for milk while at the same time mouthing the words milk and holding the feeding bottle.

Deaf children who do not learn to sign until later in life are more likely to process signed languages not as linguistic input, but as visual input, contrasting with children exposed from birth, who process signed language in the same region of the brain in which hearing people process spoken language. Scientists suggest that the best guarantee of good language outcomes for Deaf children is to establish Sign Language as a secure first language before a cochlear implant program (CIP) is considered.[link]

I created an infographic about this today as part of our Deaf Sensitivity Series. It was posted on the official Facebook page of our school for the deaf. As of this writing, it has been shared nearly 50 times. Feel free to download the image below. 🙂

infographic

You may also view a very informative video below created by Nyle DiMarco Foundation of the hugely popular “America’s Next Top Model” deaf winner.

Happy International Mother Language Day! 🙂

Yay! First 500,000th Visits!!!

Happy 500,00th visits

Yehey! I reached the biggest milestone in my blogging career! I reached my first 500,000th visits!

Wow! I have been blogging for twelve years! According to my WordPress Stats, I have now published 435 blog posts. I also accumulated 285 email followers and 56 WordPress.com followers. I achieved the biggest post view per month this January 2019 at 8,600 views. This is when I posted the article about a deaf person who committed suicide which also received the biggest post view per day with 3,995. The blog was posted on January 23, 2019.

My biggest referrer is from Search Engines like Google with 229,614 searches followed by Facebook with 13,595. My all-time dependable Reddit Style Feed deafread.com sent 11,225 site traffic.

My top searched person is of course, “Marlee Matlin” with 1,784 followed by the Filipino movie with a deaf actor “Dinig Sana Kita” at 1,616 and Filipino Sign Language with 1,465. My top page is naturally the home page with 187,793. A distant second is about Former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca with 30,274. The third is my history of deaf education history in the Philippines and the fourth is about Spider-Man.

My top visitors per country are from the Philippines, followed by the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, India and Australia.

To my faithful readers, thank you, thank you very much. Thank you very much, Father God, for giving me the strength to continue documenting the activities and triumphs of the Filipino Deaf.

Now, on to my next 550,000th visitors. 🙂

“Isa Pa With Feelings” Actors sign Deaf and Hearing

cargel.jpg

Last week, I got hold of this image being shared on Twitter and eventually on Facebook which landed in the Filipino deaf community pages and groups. It was, I guess, owned by a certain @cargel_nation2, as what appeared on the bottom of the image. After a careful search, I found out that the owner of this image did not say who he/she is. Only that he/she is a Carlo Aquino – Angelica Panganiban Loveteam Fan. But I am pretty sure the original image was taken from the Black Sheep Production, the producers of the movie “Isa Pa With Feelings” which I and my deaf students/alumni are excited to watch for free this October 18 courtesy of “Lawyers and Friends for Maine”. 🙂

However, I noticed that the signs were incomplete. These signs were not a one-hand movement but a combination of two actions. People who want to learn sign language might get confused and understood this as a static sign. So, I went to my dusty old Adobe Fireworks software and created an animated version (GIF) of the signs. The movements are not that complex. I simply copied the hand, used the Rubber Stamp and Blur tools and pasted it meticulously to generate the second sign. Lastly, I combined the two using the State command to create an illusion of movement.

To my dear readers, introducing, the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) of the words Deaf and Hearing!!!!

carlo deaf animated gif1.gif
Carlo Aquino signs DEAF.

The FSL sign for “deaf” is very much the same as American Sign Language. The index finger first points on the lower part of the ear lobe. Then, the finger touches the side of the lips. As far as I can remember, this is the only sign the Filipino deaf uses to introduce themselves. Pointing both the ear and lips might describe that they cannot hear and speak. Even though we know that there are many deaf who can speak, this sign has been deeply rooted in their culture that any variations or changes on this sign never became widespread use.

Carlo Aquino plays the deaf tutor in the movie. He is a hearing person in real life.

maine sign hearing animated gif
Maine Mendoza signs HEARING.

This FSL sign for “hearing” is the one being used by the majority of the Filipino deaf. The first handshape is like a bent “C” near the ear without touching it. The second hand-movement is elongated or long-shaped “O”, also near the ear. The movement needs to be done many times and in quick successions. The sign means a sound can pass through a person’s ears and reverberates or in continuing effect.

The FSL sign for hearing is different from ASL. In ASL, the emphasis is on the person’s ability to talk or speak, so the sign points to the mouth or lips. To compare below is the ASL sign for a “Hearing Person”.

In the movie, Maine Mendoza plays the hearing person who wants to learn sign language.  Happy signing!!!!

PS: I did not personally ask the permission of the image uploader to use his photo. I hope he won’t mind. 🙂

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