This is a repost from the Philippine Daily Inquirer dated December 5, 2011.
Ency Encinares was brought up in a family of musicians. His mother sings, his father is a trumpet player and a brother is a music teacher.
From this sonata-filled environment, one would expect his time and talents to lean toward more music.
But Encinares prefers sharing his Sundays with a soundless community as a deaf-mute teacher.
“For me, real music is the service that I give to our deaf-mute brothers and sisters,” he said.
Every Sunday, Encinares spends at least three hours teaching sign language, mostly to parents or relatives of deaf-mute children at the First High School for the Hearing Impaired in barangay Basak, Cebu City.
For five years he has offered his service for free, showing that no person is too busy to do volunteer work.
During weekdays, he works as an executive assistant at the Coalition for Better Education (CBE), one of the partners of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation. On Saturdays, he pursues postgraduate studies in business administration.
“No matter how busy I am, I always make sure that I don’t leave behind my volunteer work,” he said.
Five years ago, Encinares was approached by a deaf-mute man inside a mall who was asking for directions. He could barely understand the man. The encounter left an impact on Encinares.
He enrolled in a sign language class at the University of the Southern Philippines Foundation. When he passed the three levels of the course and earned a certificate of proficiency in sign language, Encinares decided to teach.
“At first, I was hesitant to study sign language because it looked hard to learn but I really wanted to help the deaf-mute community, so I persevered,” he said in Cebuano.
At home, the influence of a family inclined to music was keenly felt.
When a brownout would strike, for example, his father would make the children sing.
His father, a policeman, is a trumpet player in a group of musicians. His eldest brother is a music teacher at the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, and another sibling plays various musical instruments.
“Every time we had a program in school, my class would usually top the intermission number. It’s quite a challenge to impart music to a soundless community, but it is also very fulfilling,” he said.
Encinares would have been a member of the award-winning University of the Visayas Chorale, but due to a conflict in practice schedule, he decided to let go and pursue his volunteer work with deaf-mutes and their family members.
“The smiles and the joy that radiate from their faces are my melody.”
“That’s the best music,” he said.
As a Jaycee member in his college days, Encinares was introduced to volunteer work, participating in community projects such as feedings and other outreach activities.
“So (volunteering) wasn’t really a hard thing to do. Music and teaching the deaf community are my passion. I was able to blend with them in the spirit of volunteerism,” he said.
The learning experience, he says, goes both ways.
As much as the deaf-mute community learns from him, they also contribute to his personal growth.
“I learned so many things by listening to them closely. I learned how expressive, interactive and talkative they can be. It made me more sensitive to people, especially to the deaf-mute, who needs a special kind of communication. This also made me a more responsible and cooperative person.”
The encounters have also underscored for him the value of communication.
“We who can talk should learn to communicate well to lessen miscommunication. Because I can talk and hear normally, I have learned not to take for granted my communication skills,” he said. Fatrick Tabada/Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc.
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