Difference between ASL and FSL

Now that we are still under the topic of sign language, let me explain further to you the difference between American Sign Language and Filipino Sign Language.

I have already shown this image on my previous blog post. But this time, I would like to elaborate more on how each letter came about from the viewpoint of a Filipino.

Letter E

According to a first known study analyzing ethnic differences in the hand spans of pianists, Caucasian male spans are 0.3 inches larger than those of Asian males. Also in this survey,  Caucasian female spans are 0.2 inches greater than those of their Asian counterpart.

Based on this study, Asians genetically have smaller hands compared to the Americans. This also holds true as regards differences in height and build. So, since a Filipino hand is slightly smaller, touching all fingers on top of the thumb would not be clearly distinguished when viewed from at least ten feet away. The hand would be mistaken from letter “O” which also touches the thumb. The solution would be detaching all the fingers from the thumb in order to distinctly see the letter E.

 

e to o.png
Fingerspelled E to  almost O

Letter G

Again, this is also a genetic difference. Unless the reader sees the tip of the thumb protruding above the index finger, it’s difficult to distinguish letter “G” from a hand pointing to the right.

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Letter G?
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Letter G as viewed from the top

So, to solve this “small” problem, Filipino deaf sticks out his thumb to show the letter “G”.

Letter T

Now this one involves culture. A thumb (male penis) sticking out between two fingers  (female vagina) symbolizes sexual intercourse. Everybody in my country understands this hand sign all too well. This was also a “secret” street sign in the old flourishing flesh trade when the American Naval and Air Force Bases are still occupying our land. A pimp would just discreetly motion this hand to the soldiers if they want to hire a hooker.

sexhandsign
Obscene sign

So, if you are a Filipino deaf, would you want to wave your hand using the ASL “T”? Unless you are referring to the “actual thing”, then go ahead! Hehehe

* – Some images posted here were copyright by their respective owners.  

Can we compare a hard-of-hearing from a deaf?

Or if I may rephrase my title, is it better to be a hard-of-hearing than to be a deaf person?

Erasmus, a famous Latin scholar during the Reformation once said,

in regione caecorum rex est luscus, or in English

in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

Is the proverb also applicable to the deaf and the hard-of-hearing people?

Hard of Hearing (HoH) refers to someone who doesn’t hear well. This may be because they were born with a hearing loss or they may have lost some or all of their hearing later in life. Many hard of hearing people don’t know that they have a hearing loss.

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Deaf audience

A few weeks ago during our yearly National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week (NDPR) celebration, our deaf students were invited to attend the “Persons With Disabilities Networking with Employers Talkshop” hosted by the Persons With Disabilities Affairs Office of Quezon City. Resource speakers from various sectors of disabilities gave their “from rags to riches” stories and how they overcame their barriers to attain their success. As always, a great majority of those who attended were deaf people.

ndprtarpaulin
NDPR Tarpaulin

I should say, it was truly a very inspiring activity. However, when it came to the “hearing impaired” sector, the organizers chose a “speaker”. I consciously quoted the word speaker because he really can speak! His story started when in childhood, he emphasized that he can hear. His sense of sound eventually diminished as he grows older due to a disease. He is what the deaf studies call, “post-lingual deaf”.  He then mentioned about how he was bullied and discriminated during his elementary up until his college days. But then, he succeeded and completed his education.

Again, he experienced discrimination while applying for a job. Luckily, his passion for photography earned him a work in an online news site. Eventually he became a regular government employee. His is truly an “against all odds” testimony. Oh by the way, he only communicates through lipreading and writing. He confessed that he knows little sign language and he chose not to learn it.

Some deaf from the audience cannot hide their feeling of a tinge of envy from this successful guy. They signed, “good for him” because he can talk! “Good for him” because he has work! “Good for him” because he passed the Career Civil Service Examination (CSC) that is why he is now a regular government employee! Upon comparing their current situation, the deaf attendees started questioning themselves. “What would become of us?”

Let me state it clearly here. I AM NOT PREJUDICIAL AGAINST THE HARD-OF-HEARING PEOPLE. God blessed them with this residual ability to hear. They are what we call in graphics animation, the in-betweeners in the deaf world. They are neither here nor there. And since they can hear a little, then they are at an advantage compared to those who are profoundly deaf because probably once in their lifetime, they were able to appreciate sounds and speech clearly.

When one of the deaf participant asked a direct question to him, “you can hear that is why you found a nice job, now what about us who cannot hear?” Still another one asked him, “you passed the CSC Exam because you know Tagalog, now how about us who have a language barrier since we don’t know the language?”

 

reverse interpret
Me reverse interpreting MCCID’s Sir Ervin as he questions the speaker.

For these questions, he simply replied, “you must be more patient and strive harder.” Now this is such a tall order, an advice that is too difficult to fulfill. But then again, saying this would make us sound so pitiful and hopeless.

So I am more inclined to side with him and agrees with his reply. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “if someone wants you to go one mile, go with him two miles”. We must double our effort in achieving our goals. As another saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.”

* – I deliberately did not mention the guy’s name because I don’t want to put him in a bad light. He is a good friend and I truly admire his tenacity and advocacy for his group. I may put his name here if he allows me to do so.

Ignorance about Filipino Sign Language

The issue about sign language and the deaf community has sparked renewed attention recently in the Philippines. This was after viewing the second State of the Nation Address of our very controversial and unorthodox (talk about all the badmouth words) yet very popular President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday, July 24.

#fslsaSoNA2017
Photo courtesy of Ms. Naty Natividad, current Vice President of Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (PNASLI)

I was assigned by PNASLI, the national association of sign language interpreters, to do interpreting together with Dean of College of St. Benilde and my “kumare” Nicky Templo-Perez at GMA-7, a regular or “suki”. Actually, it was in GMA7 where I first interpreted in SONA way back in 2010. This year, aside from the local private TV stations, it’s the first time the government TV Channel 4 aired the SONA with inset sign language interpreting. And they were very fortunate to have their interpreting right inside the halls of the House of Representatives itself where the actual action is happening.

However, they did not get their interpreters from the pool of PNASLI people. Instead they got the services of the Philippine Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (PRID), the oldest existing organization which trains and deploys interpreters in the country. As an alumnus and a proud product of PRID, I was truly excited that they have participated in such a momentous event. Interpreting in one setting is what I really dreamed of. I have been aspiring that all TV stations will broadcast the President’s SONA using one interpreter.

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Senator Bam Aquino (Photo linked from the Manila Bulletin)

But I won’t be dwelling much on that. I would like to emphasize on the recent news coming from Senator Bam Aquino pushing for the Filipino Sign Language Bill in the Senate. He said he was grateful for the sign language interpreters during the SONA because of their efforts to deliver the message of the President to our fellow Filipinos who are deaf. Aquino is the author of Senate Bill No. 966 or the Filipino Sign Language Act, which seeks to declare FSL as the national sign language of the Filipino Deaf and “the official language of the Philippine government in all transactions with the Deaf.” He also mentioned that many saluted or lauded the interpreters for making the sign language available to deaf persons during the two-hour SONA.

It was a really welcoming news item. But then, a handful of people who commented on the news in social media were so distasteful and exposing their ignorance about sign language and its use. Someone even suggested that the Senator should focus his efforts on how he can assist the deaf by putting more wheelchair ramps! Talk about mixed disabilities. Still another guy recommended that the Filipino deaf use the internationally accepted American Sign Language (ASL) so that he can compete globally. Really? Why would the Filipino deaf need that? Are they applying as Call Center Operators or work overseas? Yet another one opines that supporting FSL is for the sake of Filipino pride and acknowledgement of its existence. Well, what’s wrong with that? He even emphasized that sign language is universal so there’s no need to create a new one. Does he really think that it’s universal?

Did you know that Filipinos have different names describing rice, our staple food? We have palay for unmilled rice, bigas for milled rice, kanin for cooked rice, lugaw for rice porridge, tutong for burned rice, bahaw for left over rice and sinangag for fried rice. You might also be surprised that each of these words have distinct Filipino Sign Language.

Another distinct difference between ASL and FSL is through fingerspelling. Look at the illustration below.

difference between asl and fsl in fingerspelling.png

I have met people who brags by saying they are well versed in ASL. But when I observed their signs, I can easily distinguish it from Signed Exact English (SEE) or Pidgin Sign English (PSE). So it’s either they don’t know what they’re talking about or they are plain ignorant. (Is there a difference?)

Yay! First 400,000th Visits

Happy 400,000th page visits!Yehey! I reached another milestone in my blogging career! I reached my first 400,000th visits! Actually, it’s already 400,344 based on WordPress Stats. I have now published 400 blog posts which was shared 1,859 times. I also accumulated 392 blog followers, 280 email followers, 45 wordpress.com followers, 981 comments and 55 comment followers.

To my faithful readers, thank you thank you very much. Now, on to my next 450,000th visitors. 🙂

1st Deaf Festival in Baguio City

To all the Deaf Community and their family, Deaf Schools, Deaf Organizations and its members, other NGOs, NGAs, LGUs; the New Media Services Cares (NMS-Cares) invites everyone to come join them. It will be held in Baguio City from May 19-21, 2017.

The 1st NMS-Cares Deaf Festival will kick-off with a grand parade by festival participants from all over the country starting from Session Road to Melvin Jones Grandstand, succeeding a motorcade
blast following Harrison Road towards Camp John Hay.

NMS Cares 1st Deaf Festival Logo May 19-21, 2017
NMS Cares 1st Deaf Festival Logo

The 1st NMS-Cares Deaf Festival with the theme “A community that DEAFinitely Cares” intends to provide a venue for the Deaf community to showcase their skills; gain knowledge, employment opportunity and personal development; at the same time promoting Deaf Awareness. This 3 day event will feature performance highlighting Deaf talent, art exhibit and trade fair, seminar, job fair, sports contest and film screenings all to foster and gain deeper understanding of the Deaf Culture.

Schedule of Activities for the Event are as follows:

  • May 19, 2017
    Morning – Assembly (8 AM), Parade (9 AM), Opening Program (11 AM – 12 NN)
    Afternoon – Caravan/Trade Fair (1-7 PM), Job Fair (1-5 PM)
    Evening – Breaking the Noise: Battle of the Bands Finals, Deaf Got Talent, Deaf Fashion Show (6 – 12 MN)
  • May 20, 2017
    Morning – Sports Festival (10 AM – 2 PM), Caravan/Trade Fair (10 AM – 7 PM), Cooking Competition (10 AM – 1 PM)
    Afternoon – Workshop 1 and 2 (2 – 5 PM), Dinner for a Cause (5 – 7:30 PM)
    Evening – Cocktail (7:30 – 8:15 PM), Red Carpet (8:30 PM), Gala Night (9 – 12 MN)
  • May 21, 2017
    Morning – Caravan/Trade Fair (10 AM – 3 PM), Workshop 3 and 4 (8 AM – 12 NN)
    Afternoon – Workshop 5 and 6 (1 – 5 PM), Closing Program (5 PM)

The NMS-Cares, Inc. is a local non-profit organization that aims to provide program and service in enhancing Deaf education, skills development, sign language training, scholarship grant and community support to Deaf children and their family; with the vision of Deaf children experiencing a full life in a barrier free society.

upcoming-activities-poster

For more information you can also check out their website at www.nms-cares.org and nmscares.deafestival.org and FB: NMS-Cares Deaf Festival. For further question and/or clarification, feel free to contact them through:
email: info@nms-cares.org;
Mr. Jerry Jericho L. Caballero at (074)620- 2730
Mr. George Lintag at (+63) 917 685 5518.

See you there!!!

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