After using my green passport only for three trips since I first applied for it in 2003, it’s time for me to renew it. All of my trips were officially paid for by the government since I can’t afford to travel. I’m proud to say that all my trips had to do with my devotion for the deaf. I went to India and Japan as a sign language interpreter and an expert/coach for our Deaf national champions who were qualified to join in an international skills competition called Abilympics.
We were blessed to win many medals during the 6th Abilympics International Skills Competition last 2003 in New Delhi, India. My Deaf “brother” Ervin received the bronze medal in web page design category. However, in our next stint in Japan last 2007, we were not able to bring home anything. (sigh)
Enough lingering in misery. Let’s go back to my topic. Since Ervin and I applied for our passport on the same year, so both of them will expire this September. We planned to visit the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) during a local holiday so that we won’t miss our classes. We took the opportunity to go last Tuesday (August 19) since it was a red-letter day for Quezon City and not in Pasay City. I also used it as a chance to meet our deaf graduates in action.
First, I texted one of my favorite deaf student, Renato Moran requesting him to assist us. Sure enough, he responded. Clad in formal black pants and decent upper shirt with plastic-laminated ID proudly hanging on his neck, he greeted us with his very warm and handsome smile. After a few “how are you’s” and “how is your work” exchanges in sign language, we proceeded to the real battle, the battle of falling in line.
Now, this is interesting. When we entered the basketball court where the filing of application starts, I was overwhelmed by the long snakey line up of human bodies waiting for their turn to be served. I believe around 500 people were there. I heard from some reports that DFA serves more than 3,000 people at any given day. Most are Overseas Filipino Workers, our modern heroes.
What is more interesting is that he just swooped his way out of the line and handed over our documents to the lady personnel! I felt so embarrassed especially when piercing glances stared upon us as we walk passed through them. But Renato was adamant. He just gave his killer smile to the lady and bang! She took our documents, checked the contents, placed a stamp pad and stapled the paper of our scheduled return, all within two minutes. Now that was fast! I know I should feel guilty. But come to think of it, I shouldn’t. Disabled people and senior citizens are provided special courtesy lane. Ervin is disabled. But I’m not. Well, who would know? That’s the perk of having an insider. hehehe
Afterwards, Renato toured us to his work place. We went pass through countless guards. Due to the huge applicants’ turnout, the spacious auditorium hall was used for the processing of passport. Their tables are lined up on three corners of a square while all the people are in the middle seated comfortably again in snake-like fashion. He introduced me to the office assigned interpreter, Ms. Connie Remetio. She was cordial and, as I was told, very helpful to the deaf group.
In all, around 13 deaf persons are working at DFA. Most of them came from MCCID with the rest coming from other schools. Hiring more personnel was necessary due to the requirement of DFA for additional manpower in their consular services particularly their passport division. Starting last year, all passports to be issued by DFA will be machine readable which will bear the data about its holder.
Nova Foundation for the Differently Abled is the one in charge of providing personnel to DFA or for any government offices that needed manpower. MCCID has been their faithful partner since 1996. After our student graduates, they are given further training in corporate setting by Nova Foundation. Once they pass their standards, they provide them with job placements both in the foundation and in other companies. Some noted MCCID and Nova trained deaf employees include Marlene Pio (Head Proofreader), Lezzer Gonzales (PC technician) and Gimar Aguillon (web designer).
To Nonito Visagar, Rona May Delos Reyes (my Goddaughter), Ma. Teresa Vicente, Rumijae Bubon, Emmanuel Cruz and of course to Renato Moran, I pray that you would be more faithful to your work. Love your work. It’s hard to find jobs especially for the deaf. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you. Do your best!
To Nova Foundation and Department of Foreign Affairs, thank you very much for the wonderful chance you gave to our Filipino Deaf. God bless you and Mabuhay po kayo!
To know more about Nova Foundation, visit their site at www.novafoundation.ph. Their website is proudly made by our deaf student, Gimar. 🙂