Deaf and HOH Uniteam Group

As politics is not subtraction but addition, those who share views and ideas need to join forces and they have to cooperate with political opponents even after they win an election.

Park Won-Soon, South Korean Politician

Last Tuesday (June 23), I inquired one of the admins of Deaf and HOH Uniteam on news about the officially assigned sign language interpreter for the inauguration of President-Elect Bongbong Marcos on June 30. This is also my way of informing them about the blog post I wrote on June 8 and seeking their approval and/or correction so I can make changes to the content. But after chatting with these remarkable deaf guys for up to 3 in the morning of the following day, I decided to make a separate blog post to include more details about the group. So here it is.

The Beginning

To recap, on November 12, 2021, a small group composed of six deaf people formed Team Deaf and HOH 2022 – Solid UNITEAM BBM-SARA Supporters. Then they silently invited deaf members whom they perceived as supporters of the Uniteam based on what they posted or liked on FB. A day later (November 13), they invited me to join the group after searching for interpreters whom they perceive are friendly to their cause. I gladly accepted their invitation. I believe that the group only wants deaf and HOH as members. But they probably added me so that they can have a mix of hearing people who know sign language. Their members increase gradually.

Their group was led by Alvin Lladones under the name Bavin El. Other leaders include Henrey Perey, John Carlo Bacurio, Christopher Uy, Leo Alvarez, and Miles Mutia. This team was formed because they want to fight disinformation among the deaf community against their chosen candidate to support.

Because we fought and defended our UNITEAM before election.

Bavin El

The group wants to put a united front informing the Filipino deaf community that they exist. They may not be noisy at first. But they slowly invited deaf people whom they perceive as pro-BBM or can be persuaded to vote for him. Carefully, they campaigned for their chosen candidate by observing the Facebook posts and comments of their fellow deaf. Once they sense that this deaf person is leaning towards an opposing candidate, they distance themselves.

However, things got a little bit out of hand when they notice that one by one, most of the sign language interpreters are expressing their preference to the pink contender. As mentioned from my previous blog post,

This deaf group also observed that almost all major campaign rallies of VP Leni often have organized sign language interpreting. They even created the Deaf4Leni&Kiko Facebook group on February 19 which was renamed to Angat Buhay Deaf Group on May 12 and has 206 members, and Angat Buhay Deaf Community Page which has an astounding 59,244 likes although I’m not sure whether all of them are deaf or the majority are just sympathizers! They also created special “Interpreters for Leni-Kiko” FB Frame. One interpreter even became an instant celebrity because she actively participate on stage dancing and acting together with popular singers and artists. Sadly, none that I know of volunteer to interpret for BBM rallies except for one campaigning for his tandem, Mayor Sara Duterte.

When BBM declined to join the Presidential Debate sponsored by the leading TV Network due to the host being partial, attacks against him heightened. Sign language interpreters were assigned to the debate. All of the candidates except BBM were able to campaign that night, and the deaf understood. But sadly, they were not able to hear the plans and platforms of their chosen candidate.

However, their hopes were realized when BBM participated in the Boy Abunda One-on-One Interview. But it’s a pity that there were no interpreters assigned to all the interviews. In fairness to my interpreter-colleagues, they volunteered to record the interviews to include sign language interpreting. Still, the group cannot help but express their dissatisfaction on the interpreters because they already have their own preference.

Their sentiments were not only felt by their community. One of my Facebook friend who is a sign language interpreter from far south messaged me. She was surprised that I side with BBM-Sara. She thought that all of the sign language interpreters are siding with the pink/yellow group. She observed that even most of the former and current leaders of the deaf federation are “kakampinks”. I answered here with jest saying that we are just silent. Most of us don’t want to expose our choice so that we won’t be tagged as biased. I explained that I am currently not actively interpreting. I only interpreted once during the CNN presidential debate.

Since I already asked his permission, I want to especially mention here Mr. Henry Lee Perey, former Vice President of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and now Vice President of Philippine Sports Federation of the Deaf but who is famously recognized in Facebook as BIBO” – Deaf Superstar of the Philippines and The Deaf King of Comedy with more than 42 thousand followers. He was one of the staunch defenders of BBM against those who favor the other camps. I can also now safely say that this is his Facebook post.

A copy from my previous post

The continuation?……

On June 30, President-Elect Bongbong Marcos will officially become the 17th President of the Republic of the Philippines. Deaf and HOH Uniteam Group has successfully accomplished their goal of campaigning for his win together with Vice President Sara Duterte. The group is celebrating with President BBM.

But, is their mission already complete? Will the group continue to survive or would silently disband and go on their separate ways? I hope not. When President Duterte started his administration, attacks against him continued and even expanded to include interventions from foreign instigators collaborating with local politicians, biased mainstream media, and influential groups led by the Catholic church. But did his supporters stopped defending him? NO! They even expanded exponentially especially in social media where they strongly shielded him from vicious attacks. Popular bloggers and video bloggers like Krisette Chu, Atty Darwin Canete, Thinking Pinoy, Jam Magno, Sass Sassot, Atty Trixie Angeles and many more explained Duterte’s actions and decisions in ways that are relatable and clear to the common Filipinos.

President Duterte ended his government with the highest approval and trust ratings from the Filipino people. He definitely paved the way for BBM’s overwhelming votes. However, BBM also needs the active support and defense from everyone including the deaf community who trusted him with their votes. I hope they just upgrade their group’s goal, from campaigning for him, to continue sharing future issues and discussing them by exchanging their opinions through posts and messaging so the community will remain alive and informed.

I will end this by posting probably a once-in-a-lifetime event where two active group admins’ Alvin “Bavin El” Lladones and Christopher Uy took selfie photo with former Duterte Secretary and senatorial candidate Salvador Panelo during a rally in Paranaque City. Cheers, guys! 😉

Bavin El, Uniteam Guest Senatorial Candidate Salvador Panelo and Christopher Uy

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