Deaf education in the Philippines, my retrospect

Philippine deaf education symbol
Since our country is currently celebrating a week-long event making people aware about deaf and deafness, methinks it’s appropriate to share with you how deaf activities stirred up suddenly these past two decades. I’ll call this era the fourth wave borrowing the term coined by Dr. Liza Martinez and Mr. Rafaelito Abat in their research paper.

Before I continue to raise some eyebrows out there, I should say first that I don’t claim I’m in authority on this. I’m a fairly new entrant in this advocacy because I only became involved in 1991. However, I have been one of those who were blessed to witness this sudden resurgence of attention over the cause of the deaf in my country. And considering that deaf education here dates back more than a century ago with the establishment of Philippine School for the Deaf in 1907 and the formation of Philippine Association of the Deaf in October 17, 1926 by Pedro M. Santos, the first and only deaf pensionado to the United States, my contribution is but a tiny dent on this long and arduous time line.

Based on my interviews and personal association with some of these remarkable people, the highlights of the history during the pre-fourth wave era are:

The strongest fuel that ignited this rapid interest this last two decades is the in-depth study and growing support for Filipino Sign Language and Filipino deaf culture. Strong advocacies generated by the newly formed Philippine Federation of the Deaf (1997) and the Philippine Deaf Resource Center (2001) have made credence on the need to recognize the indigenous language of the Filipino Deaf.

Now what better way to propagate these fuels than to funnel them through the radical and forward-thinking minds molded by newly-established post-secondary institutions to their adult deaf students.

The fourth wave started with CAP College School for the Deaf (CAPSFD) when it opened its doors in 1989. As part of the family of College Assurance Plan Group of Companies owned by Atty. Enrique Sobrepena, CAP SFD was created because of his desire to assist his deaf grandson Eric attain a degree course in an all-deaf school. They offered the first non-mainstreamed, non-sectarian, pure deaf degree programs and accepted their first deaf faculty (Julius Andrada) for higher education. The idea of Filipino Sign Language was first discussed and defended in the classrooms of CAP SFD while at the same time, the Department of Education dismissed it by simply calling it a bastardized American Sign Language. They also introduced the bilingual-bicultural approach of education with emphasis on deaf culture, a system which was taught by the school’s first director Ms. Rosalinda Macaraig which she learned from her studies at Gallaudet University. Ms. Macaraig is a former teacher of SAID before heading CAP SFD and currently a full-time instructor at Gallaudet. In effect, CAP SFD pioneered tertiary non-sectarian deaf education.

Although Miriam College started offering a certificate program for the deaf as part of their outreach for SAID graduates at almost the same year as CAP SFD, I don’t consider them the first. This is because back then, they only offered a mainstream program. It means deaf students sit on the same class together with majority of hearing students. I remember my brother used to teach computer subjects there. He told me that in one of his class, there is an interpreter sitting in front of two students while he lectures in front of the majority.

Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation – LCCD and Bible Institute for the Deaf also offered college programs. But theirs are ministerial, Christian evangelism and pastoral in nature.

De La Salle – College of St. Benilde, a well-established hearing school, followed in 1991 by opening their School for Deaf Applied Studies (SDEAS). Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf came in third in 1993. Soon enough, few universities and colleges all over the country followed by offering mainstreamed programs and special education (SPED) centers sprouted in nearly every first class province. Deaf associations started to proliferate. There are also specialized deaf individuals that formed a common group like deaf artists, deaf painters and deaf sports clubs.

Companies also began to notice the deaf’s employment potential. Major firms like Lamoiyan Corporation, Jollibee Food Corporation and Bench Clothing Apparel now maintain deaf workers. Even Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took notice on the deaf’s employability by hiring a few of them in her staff.

Now for my reaction, after watching the recent docu-film Silent Odyssey which showcases deaf history in the Philippines, I noticed that there was no mention of CAP SFD. There was not even a passing-through scene of Mr. Andrada who was one of the successful products of LCCD and took his MA at Philippine Normal University, was the two-term PFD President, a deaf pastor of the biggest deaf congregation in Metro Manila, the first deaf college teacher, now its Deaf Coordinator, and a champion advocate of deaf rights. Even his hearing wife Mrs. May Gasataya-Andrada, a former principal at LCCD, high school teacher at PSD, a highly regarded FSL interpreter among the deaf community especially in court cases and now the Registrar of CAP SFD was not interviewed. I guess the filmmaker failed to make a thorough research on this. She did not give an accurate and fair treatment to the whole sector.

After learning sign language at PRID in summer of 1991, my first teaching assignment for the deaf was at CAP College. At that time, I juggled my teaching load between the deaf and hearing students at University of Santo Tomas. After a year, I decided to focus with teaching the deaf and became a full-time computer instructor at CAP SFD. It is in that school where I met the finest and most talented deaf graduates produced in the country like Dennis Balan, a professional photographer and Ervin Reyes, a multi-awarded web designer.

I totally admit that I got most of my information regarding the deaf at CAP SFD. These ideas gave me the desire and skills in order to put up MCCID. I owe a lot from working at CAP SFD for which I am very much grateful. I also know for a fact that DLS-CSB also got their idea for adding a program for the deaf from CAP SFD after seeing their officials visit the school a few times to learn its operations and attended CAP sponsored seminar-workshops. Some past and present prominent faculty of DLS-CSB SDEAS are formerly CAP SFD’s officials. So, I can categorically say that, if not for CAP SFD, there won’t be a DLS-CSB SDEAS or MCCID that sparked the Filipino deaf’s empowerment.

MCCID was also not included in the film. But I’m not sour graping because probably she does not consider our contribution to the sector that significant. However, I want to set the record straight. Let us give credit to where real credit is due. Marami pong mga tao na naghirap itaguyod ang kapakanan ng mga bingi sa Pilipinas at gumawa ng mga kapakipakinabang na bagay sa kanilang ikauunlad. Hindi lang isang institusyon. This is my own small way of recognizing them. ๐Ÿ™‚

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46 thoughts on “Deaf education in the Philippines, my retrospect

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  1. do you have a history of deaf education in the Philippines?
    can u e-mail me the history of deaf education in the Philippines
    thank you

  2. @Alex

    Thank you for congratulating me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Jhon Carlo

    Well, this is basically the history of deaf education in the Philippines as far as I know and personally witnessed. Actually, most of the information are already here. I may suggest that you watch the Silent Odyssey film. However, I find it incomplete and inaccurate. ๐Ÿ™‚


    I couldn’t agree more. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. wow! this wil be really helpful for my thesis proposal! its an international institute for the deaf. ive been looking for the history of deaf education here in the philippines kasi. really. thanks a lot!

  4. i am both happy and sad for the deaf advocacy. i am happy because the Filipino community is accepting the fact that there is a DEAF community here in the Philippines which is of equal importance with the hearing community. i am also happy that teh government is giving focus not only to the deaf but to the special children (disabled).
    on the contrary, i am sad because there are certain individuals who are using the deaf and the other disabled for their own benefit.
    i just hope that to those who want to help them(the disabled), put your heart on them, make them as your ministry in your life. they need you. don’t abuse them.

  5. hi i’m a third year student of special education… can i use your article for reference? coz i’m doing my thesis proposal about three special education teachers in the field of deafness… please email me as soon as possible… thanks alot! great article! i got alot of information.:)

  6. Hello mitchie!

    Sure you can quote me on this. This post came from my personal experience. Others involved here might react differently. But the links don’t lie. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. hi! im ms. armie of Tarlac….. SPED-Teacher…..willing to help deaf with their difficulties in communicating others

  8. hi mr. :p uhm can you send me again the email if it’s ok… i need it badly…:( and where can i find that Silent Odyssey Film? thank you so much!!!! i’m doing a study about disruptive behaviors of children with hearing impairment. your help will be so much appreciated. thank you thank you!!!!!!!

  9. @ ms.armie.

    Hi maam! i’m a student of education, majoring in special education. i’m doing a thesis proposal on the classroom management for disruptive behaviors of children with hearing impairment. i need to know the qualities of children with hearing impairment in the classroom. can you help me please? thanks maam!!! need it before sunday.:p

  10. hi! i forgot to ask for your permission if i could use these information in my thesis proposal. ive decided to propose an all in one facility for the deaf since my little brother has the disability too. im doing this for him and for all who belongs to the minority. and another favor, can you please email me any additional information related to the topic? please? ๐Ÿ™‚ btw you got good entries. keep it up!

  11. hi, please could you help me with the names and links for some universities for the deaf. i would really appreciate a reply. thanks.

  12. can you please send me any elementary school for deaf in sta. rosa,laguna Phillippines.thanks if you can send me as soon as possible.

  13. Hello,

    Good day!

    A friend of mine is looking for a Deaf guy, 15 to 18 years old, good looking and can able to act in front of the camera, if he has a theater background, it’s a plus.

    you can send your pics and resume at

    thank you so much!


  14. Hi,

    I have always wanted to learn sign language as I intend to pursue my masteral degree major in special education particularly for the deaf. Do you have a list of the universities which offer the said course in their graduate program? I have been trying to access different university websites but most of them do not work at this time. I’m afraid I am running out of time to enroll for the second semester. Hope someone could help me with this.

    Please keep this site running as it is very educational and inspiring.


      1. Hello Jojo,

        Pedro M. Santos is my grand father. She was married to Crispina Mina Santos who was deaf as well. They had 9 children. My mom is one of them. If you have his full history, I ‘d like to know more about him.

        Thank you so much and God bless!


  15. Hi Jojo and Ervin,
    Your cite is very helpful for me to my cognate study in SPED at University of the Philippines. I am researching “Special Education history in the Philippines” the information i got i think it is enough for having knowledge about our SPED history in the Philippines.
    If you have any found about SPED write up or articles kindly send me the website to be helpful for my masteral studies.

    Thanks and best regards to both of you.

    Its me,
    ‘te zen

    1. to mr. dong santos rondina;
      blessed be..
      we are currently in the process of coming up with a video of the history of deafness in the philippines. wil it be possible for you to send us a picture of your grandfather pedro m. santos as an addition to our histovideo? please send it to me at my email and we will assure you that your contribution will be a part of our video

      noel que

  16. I am a Court employee. We have a problem right now since the accused charged in a case is a deaf mute and no one among us know how to interpret in sign language the charge against him. If you know a person who can help us please e-mail me or text me at this No. 09053793195. I wish that the accused will soon be arraigned with the help of a good Samaritan interpreter. God bless you guys.

  17. โ€™m Ron, Speech Correction Teacher from one of the prestigious oral school for the deaf in the Philippines. We have a lot of deaf students who can talk and converse like hearing people. I love my students very much. They are very loving and affectionate.

    If would you like to have a SPEECH CORRECTION tutor for your deaf child on this 2010 in clinic or in home service.

    Currently SPEECH CORRECTION TEACHER (for the DEAF or any speech problem) pre-school up to 4thyear high school.

    Graduate of BS. Psychology /educational units major in values education

    w/ certificate recognized by PRC
    w/ one year intensive training

    Male 25yrsold

    Pasig City



    Thank you

  18. Thank you putting up this site. Would like to take this opportunity to invite all readers to visit the photo exhibit SILENT EYES: DEAF PHOTOGRAPHERS CHANGING LIVES
    at SM Northblock 3rd Floor, Nov. 6-13, 2010. Organized by the Visual Shot Club- a PWD (Photography with a Difference) photographer volunteers who are all Deaf and the Parent Council for the Welfare of Hearing Impaired Children (PCWHIC). The exhibit will showcase the photographs taken by VSC and the Deaf children (18) – from St. Francis School-VSA Arts Phil (an Oral deaf school) whom they have mentored in photography. Sponsors are SM and Canon Philippines. This photo exhibit is PWD-VSC and PCWHIC contribution to the celebration of the Deaf Awareness Week (Nov. 7-13).
    Most of the Deaf children are cochlear implantees who can “HEAR” and “TALK” are all beneficiaries of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and other foundations. All the Deaf photographers are all working media-communication professionals and teachers who are sign language users.

    Exhibit launch: 4:00 p.m., Nov. 6.

  19. Hopefully Deaf people would unite as ONE. There are lots of Deaf Organizations who try to bring down other Deaf Organizations but they only have one perspective. Try uniting than fighting. With this, Deaf people can benefit more of wat they enjoy today.

  20. Hello hi, I ask information you know. Because I want need longtime never look to deaf philippines. Yes show what tell me. Please.

  21. Hi! I’m very much interested in taking up sign language lessons and once I’m very familiar with that, I would like to give back by doing some volunteer work. Can you please give me a good resource for schools (and their contact no.) that offer sign language lessons and those foundation that accepts volunteer work. Your response will be appreciated very much. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you and God bless.

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