Pres. Obama waves I-Love-You Sign

Pres. Obama gives ILY Sign
Pres. Obama gives ILY Sign

Just this afternoon, I received a forwarded message from my long time deaf friend Carol Cordero-Bie who is now based in the US. It’s about a photo of President-elect Barack Obama’s I-Love-You sign waving the crowd during a Florida campaign.

Here is her message:

Obama’s support for Deaf | SignCasts

I have been receiving pictures from our friends in Florida — her and her husband have been going to see Hillary and now on to see Obama-Biden — she has been sending me some neat pictures — this one want to share with you.

If we want a President who will stand by and for the deaf — I know Obama and Biden are the ones — remember McCain was on the board at Gallaudet University and quit when the deaf wanted 100% deaf president. McCain does not seem to care nor see the deaf’s needs or wants. Rather than stay on to work through a situation or find common grounds — he quits, maybe little bit of temper!!!

This picture was taken yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚

I am a fan of I-L-Y signs. I even blogged about it. It became some sort of a de facto symbol of the deaf.

This is the first time I learned that McCain became a board member of Gallaudet and had this ill-feeling about the deaf president issue. On the other hand, waving an I-L-Y sign to the public does not give Obama the stamp that he is an eager supporter for the causes of the American deaf unless there were real concrete actions which he did.

Honestly, I am not a fan of Obama because I find him too show off. During the nomination, I rooted for Clinton. When he won the nomination, I silently wanted McCain to win. But when I learned that Obama won, well, I rested my case. Let’s just hope and pray that he will turn this crisis into something positive.

Now, why the heck do we Filipinos even cared about whoever America votes? My answer to that is written in my blog post entitled, “When Uncle Sam sneezes, the whole world catches cold.” ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: This is my 100th blog post. Just want to mark it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Deaf girl kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf narrates her ordeal

Although this kidnapping incident reportedly led by the infamous Filipino bandit group, the Abu Sayyaf of the Al Qaeda network happened more than two years ago, this is as timely as today’s headlines. What’s significant in this news is that a deaf person was the victim.

Nineteen year old deaf Grace Gonzales, daughter of the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) President Eligardo Gonzales, was held captive for almost two months until her release on Sept. 22, 2006. The kidnapping took place just outside the familyโ€™s residence in Aurora Village, Barangay Guiwan, Isabela City, Basilan Island in July 30.

She was released 53 days later after her father paid an undetermined amount to her abductors to cover “board and lodging” expenses. Until now, the identities of the kidnapers remain unknown, although reports said that members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group were behind the abduction.

Basilan Island became famous in 2001 when American Christian missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham were kidnapped by the same group. During the eventual rescue attempt by the Philippine Army on June 7, 2002, Martin was killed by three gunshots in the chest while Gracia was wounded in her right thigh but later survived.

Here is the story in Filipino Sign Language of Grace’s personal ordeal in the hands of her abductors:

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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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Philippines celebrate Deaf Awareness Week 2008

DAW celebration 2007 photo courtesy of withnews.org
Today marks the opening of annual Deaf Awareness Week (DAW) Celebration. This year’s theme: “Ano DAW? Deaf Ako, Walang Hadlang!” (What? I’m Deaf, No barriers!).

The different members of the Metro Manila Federation of Agencies for the Deaf (MMFAD) โ€” a 35-member organization composed of public and private schools for the deaf, and government and welfare agencies โ€” will come together for one of the countryโ€™s biggest events for deaf people. The celebration will run from November 9 to 15. This year’s host is Southeast Asian Institute for the Deaf, now named MC-SAID after Miriam College formally took over the administration of the school in 2006.

The celebration opens with an advocacy run on November 9, starting from the Quezon City Memorial Circle to the grounds of Miriam College, where day-long activities will be held. The advocacy run will be simultaneous with that of Cebuโ€™s and other provinces around the country which will also open their local DAW celebration. There will be sports and fun games, and a fashion show with both deaf and hearing participants.

Aside from that, there will be an exhibit of Deaf products at SM North EDSA, free sign language class at Philippine School for the Deaf, free group speech therapy class at Philippine Institute for the Deaf and free hearing test which will be held at the same time in University of Sto. Tomas, SM Megamall, SM North EDSA and SM Manila. Signed mass will be held in different parishes in the Diocese of Manila, Cubao and Novaliches in Quezon City. Ultimately, the goal of these activities is to demonstrate that a barrier only exists between the worlds of the deaf and the hearing if we allow it to.

Ms. Carol Ui, MC-SAID’s Principal and overall event organizer said,

This is an event where we want to encourage hearing individuals to join because this is for them to understand deaf people more. Weโ€™d like to put the message across that, look, this disability is not a problem.

In Proclamation No. 889, former Philippine President Corazon Aquino declared November 10 – 16 of every year as Deaf Awareness Week. To know more about the event, please download this PDF file, contact MC-SAID at (632)925-7257 or mobile 0917-8970712 or visit this related withnews article.

Congratulations to all my deaf brothers and sisters in the Philippines! May your “voice” be heard! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mini-web design conference, a success

Form, Function and Class Logo
I know this is kinda late but I just have to blog this. Successful events like this must be etched in my blog, not because I took part in it, but because it was the first time Filipino web designers banded together and took a significant step in professionalizing this amazing craft. ๐Ÿ™‚

The mini-web design conference formally called Form, Function & Class was launched at the G2VC Techbar in Ortigas last October 30, thanks to the commendable efforts of Mae (venue used was her company) and the rest of the Philippine Web Designers Organization (PWEDO) organizers (Ia, Marie, JP, Helga, Aja, Sarah, and Kaffee). Good job guys!

Ervin, Darius and Kepler
Ervin, Darius and Kepler

One thing I’m proud to share about this mini-event is that Persons With Disabilities (PWD) community who are also web designers came in full force, thanks to the invitation posted in Philippine Web Accessibility Group’s e-group. Among those who attended were Rene Orense and Lourdes Borgonia of ATRIEV together with Julius Serrano of Evengrounds Accessibility Consulting. They represented the visually impaired sector. Our American friend Mr. Kepler Gelotte of Neighbor Webmaster came all the way from New Jersey, USA. He is orthopedically impaired yet a highly skilled web designer. MCCID’s Ervin Reyes was also there representing the deaf group. Some of our PWAG members also attended including Darius Del Rosario and of course, Rey Mendoza who was one of the speakers.

The speakers of the event were:

Me explaining about PWD population in the Philippines
Ia also has a recap of the Mini Web Design Conference.

Special thanks to our sponsors: Syndeomedia Labs, dotPH, and Pinoy Web Startup for helping make the event a success.

Since this is the first mini-conference, the group is again brewing another one hopefully this November. All of these will be in preparation for the big event scheduled in April next year.

As I have responded during the feedback session wherein each attendee expressed their sentiments, the main reason why I joined this remarkable group in behalf of PWAG, is in order for web accessibility to be promoted not only to our PWD circle, but also to the mainstream Filipino web designers. This is a good opportunity to advocate the cause of persons who cannot access vital information on the web. Based on the positive replies, I believe we are on the right track. ๐Ÿ™‚

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