Every time I had a chance to visit various countries here in Asia, I always see to it that I meet the local deaf people and their communities. Just last September, I attended the two-week Web Based Networking for Accessible Information and Communications Technology in Bangkok, Thailand. I was with deaf Edmond Guzman, my former student and now the trainor of MCCID’s newest branch in Quezon province. We were able to chance encounter young local deaf group chatting in signs at a McDonald’s restaurant.
At first, it was difficult to introduce ourselves because of the sign language barrier. But when we got the hang of it, we let loose our signs. We were able to penetrate their conversations and understand their signs. All in but a few minutes of “getting to know” them.
When we finger spelled them that we were from the Philippines, they immediately countered with their own sign name of our country. However, it was entirely different from our accepted sign. We sign our country name as
Middle finger of “P” hand circles above palm face down “S” fist then touches the center of the “S” hand.
The reason behind this sign is that, we initialized the first letter of our name which is “P”. Then we circle it on “S” hand face down mimicking the sign of “ISLAND”. Our country is composed of 7,107 islands. The local deaf community incorporated that information into sign language.
But the Thai deaf signed it like this:
Open “5” hands touch the shoulders then pull out and opposite into flat “Os”
The logic behind this is that it outlines the shoulder cloth commonly seen Filipino National Costume of “Butterfly Gown”. This attire is always worn by our Former First Lady Imelda Marcos as her signature dress.
American Sign Language signs our country name a little different. Instead of circling the “P” around the S fist, it just taps it twice.
You may see the video of the sign here in MOV format.
To know more about other country signs, visit this very comprehensive and nearly complete listings from ASL Resource dot net. See if your own country sign name is listed there. 🙂