Wow! This is exciting! Sign language interpreters have bonded together and will now be one step closer in forming a national organization. This is truly a dream come true!
Nearly fifty hearing interpreters as well as deaf clients and relay interpreters trooped to the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) Office last January 21 to participate in the discussions and deliberations on how to establish a national body that will care for the needs and professionalizing sign language interpreters. Seeing all the seasoned and very dedicated interpreters come together under one roof is really a great sight to behold. 🙂
For the first time, the two well-organized interpreters association; the pioneer Philippine Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (PRID) and the equally dedicated Philippine Association of Interpreters for Deaf Empowerment (PAIDE), participated in this gathering. PAIDE President Alfredo “Jun” Celada Jr. was there to organize and facilitate the discussions while PRID volunteer Ma’am Beth Go gave her full support.
Prominent schools for the deaf were also very much represented because their top honchos attended. This is also the first time after nearly a decade where major college for the deaf in Metro Manila were together. Aside from yours truly and Sir Ervin Reyes representing MCCID, DLS-CSB‘s Dean Techie Dela Torre and Nicky Templo-Perez with Ms. Tess Buenaventura and Ms. Febe Sevilla, CAP College’s Ma’am May Andrada and Sir Julius Andrada and MC-SAID’s Ma’am Carol Ui were all there. Philippine Deaf Resource Center’s Dr. Lisa Martinez was also there and gave her very tangible suggestions and so with UP College of Education and my best buddy Dr. Therese Bustos. 🙂
My former boss Ms. Joy Cristal was the documentor while former MCCID faculty and now a public school teacher Jay Lardizabal was the sign language interpreter aside from Ma’am May Andrada. There were also some from the deaf community who showed their support headed by Philippine Federation of the Deaf President Raquel Estiller-Corpuz and Raffy Domingo.
Even people from the provinces were not left out, at least in Davao City, where PDRC’s Naty Natividad and six of her colleagues participated through Skype. I volunteered to use my MacBook in order to video conference with them. The video relay was unreliable so voice call and chat was utilized.
What made this occasion truly memorable to me is that I was able to meet my long time friends and colleagues in the ministry of interpreting for the deaf. I saw my former PRID classmate Cris Gaytos, my former SL teacher Ma’am Annie Blanca who is now holding a high position in the Department of Education, my idol in assisting abused deaf children Ma’am Liway Caldito and of course, my first sign language teacher who really pushed me into plunging into this wonderful world of the deaf, Ma’am Sonia Lodado.
To give you a brief backgrounder, this gathering came about during the 22nd World Federation of the Deaf Regional Secretariat for Asia-Pacific Conference held last November 2010 where the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) group had a meeting. WASLI officials encouraged the Philippine delegation to organize a national body that will represent the country in an international forum and also to professionalize the SL interpreting career. PAIDE’s Jun Celada and Michael Potian, CAP’s May Andrada, PDRC’s Naty Natividad NCDA’s Ruth Tacujan and myself had a brainstorming and came up with a decision of holding a general assembly to discuss how to organize a national group in order to strengthen and protect the interpreting profession.
Sl interpreting has been in existence in the Philippines since Philippine School for the Deaf was established in 1907. But until now, no group has ever been formed to promote the welfare and professionalize the interpreting career. There are extremely few full time interpreters around because most of us have other work either as teachers or school administrators.
I won’t be mentioning in detail what has transpired during the January 21 meeting. But what I can say is that this is only the beginning of a very bright future. Small core groups were formed and they will tentatively meet at the College of St. Benilde next February 4. 🙂