Deaf Group rallied against school’s closure
Good day readers! Sorry for not updating my blog for more than a week. I was assigned a week ago by our country’s Department of Education (DepEd) to evaluate contents of multimedia materials submitted to them. The DepEd received roughly 800 titles from different publishers worldwide. They categorized them into science, math, etc. They need to filter out the materials by removing those that we felt useless, outdated, out of context to Philippine setting/culture and of course, offensive ones. Once we approve the titles, the government will buy them and will be distributed to all public schools nationwide as supplementary materials in their classroom lessons. Two of us were assigned (together with Teacher Lyn Balana of Philippine School for the Deaf, my newfound chika buddy, hehehe) on the values education and sign language materials. We were “sequestered” for about a week in a cozy hotel in the metropolis. Sorry, I can’t divulge the titles (ASL for kids) that we evaluated because we signed a contract stipulating that we cannot in any way contact or inform the publishers in order to protect our anonymity and make unbiased decisions. 🙂
Well, enough of that. Last week I received a text message from one of my favorite deaf students Emil Zion Punzalan, asking me if I will join in a rally. I was anxious to know what it’s about. So I queried some more. He said that it’s about the impending closure of the Philippine Association of the Deaf Demonstration School in Makati City. Although I already have inside information about it, I still asked him, what’s his opinion about it. He said, they organized a deaf group to rally in order to stop the closure of a school for the deaf which has been existing since early 70s. He fully supports the move and again asked if I am. I replied that as much as I want to, I can’t because I have prior appointment with the DepEd. But I encouraged him to exercise his rights.
More than 100 officers, members and supporters of Philippine Association of the Deaf Inc. (PADI) held a rally outside the PAD compound to denounce the closure of PADI by Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) last June 2. They accused ALI of closing the school without due process. A deaf supporter said,
We want PADI to be open for the Deaf. PADI has become a part of our life. I hope Ayala will hear our plea.
Led by the PADI Board of Directors, the protesters began to assemble at Dao St. in San Antonio Village, Makati City as early as 8am. When the Board of Directors arrived, they proceeded to the gate of PADI guarded by security guards from Ayala. The guards padlocked the gate with metal chains to prevent the rallyist from entering the compound.
- According to Mr. Dindo Fernando, Head of Public Affairs and External Affairs Division of ALI, PADI is a sub-lessee of Samahang Katarungang Panlupunan Inc. (SAKAP) under the Contract of Sublease dated February 11, 1972. In 1996, SAKAP ceased operations and turned over their rights to Alay Buhay Center for Development, which became a new lessee.
Pursuant to the Deed of Cancellation, the mother lease contract between Alay Buhay and ALI has already expired on July 5, 2006 and Alay Buhay turned over the leased property to ALI. Therefore, the rights and interests of PADI acquired over the sub-lease contract are also terminated pursuant to the deed of cancellation. ALI gave Community Innovations the rights for development of the said property.
- But PADI defended their stand. They clarified 3 things on the matter. The first one is the contract in which Fernando said that it already expired. As confirmed by Fernando that there’s an existing contract for 50 years, PADI said that the contract is not “expired” but “pre-terminated”. According to PADI, the Lease contract of SAKAP with ALI and subsequently between SAKAP and PADI was signed on February 1972 with 50 year duration. So therefore, the contract must expire on the 2022 and not July 2006 as claimed by Fernando. PADI claimed that they were not even accorded with a single communication on the matter and the worse is, the offer of financial assistance by Fernando to move-out is an off-shoot to ALI’s pre-termination of the Lease Contract.
- According to ALI’s statement, they are concerned, about alleged officers of the organization, continuing to occupy the property despite the cancellation of the lease contract of the property, as mutually agreed upon between Alay Buhay, the authorized lessee, and Ayala Corporation way back in July 2006. Ms Tabligan was present in the meeting with Alay Buhay and ALI representatives when the termination of the lease was discussed in 2006. The PADI lease is co-terminus with the Alay Buhay lease, therefore, also canceling the PADI lease. Current occupants continue to use the property without authority in the name of PADI for personal gain by renting it out to various entities and for paid parking.
Now, here is my stake. When I started out being with the Deaf, I have visited PAD school many times. I heard that the former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos gave her full support for the cause of the Deaf by raising funds to construct the building. The late seventies all through the early nineties were seen as the glory days of the association and the school. I remember the old Luneta (Rizal Park) Cafeterias were run by Deaf people from PAD. Numerous cultural and social programs were presented and PAD students were famous worldwide. They were invited to perform in many countries and reaped countless awards and recognitions. I’ve seen some of those presentations and, boy, they were really good despite their inability to hear. Some of the products of PAD school were my students and they are now very successful in their chosen fields.
I guess the inept system took its toll on PAD. Many great teachers were lured into greener pasteurs and migrated mostly to the US. The Deaf group were used and mostly abused by people that surround them. Suspicions and internal misgivings entered into the scene. People just cannot trust each other which led to its downfall.
There were a few moves to revive the ailing school and association. I was even invited to participate in one of those movements. But the virus has already creeped way too deep into the system. It’s beyond repair. That’s why the Philippine Federation of the Deaf was born in 1996 out of necessity due to inability of PAD to do its work.
I admire and respect those people who are still trying their guts in order to bring back PAD’s glory days, especially the Deaf group. But I know a lost cause when I see one. I just hope I’m wrong.
For more information, visit withnews.org to get the latest and most comprehensive news about the issue. Photo courtesy of Mr. Raphael Torralba of withnews.org website.