In celebration of the International Day of Sign Language, I join the Global Leaders Challenge that seeks to promote the use of sign languages. This pandemic, let us learn the importance of linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users. How about starting with the basic sign language?#GlobalLeadersChallenge
Here is the entire video message greeting of Senator Manny.
Mabuhay po kayo, Senator Manny! Thank you very much for supporting the cause of the Filipino Deaf. Happy International Day of Sign Languages 2020!
Since 2019, one of the hottest issues that hogged most of my Facebook feed is the imminent end of the franchise of the Philippines’ largest broadcasting network, ABS-CBN Corporation. Then it reached its peak when the National Telecommunications Network (NTC), the country’s regulatory body on matters of allotting frequencies to telecommunications companies, issued a “Cease and Desist Order” on May 5 to ABS-CBN demanding them to return to the government the airwave it allowed to be used for 25 years. The network immediately stopped broadcasting on both their TV and radio channels on the same day.
Naturally, there was outrage coming from both the pro and anti groups. Those who made loud noises are the network’s stable of popular artists like Coco Martin, Judy Ann Santos, and Daniel Padilla. Then the (in)famous “Law of Classroom” vlog rant of reality contest winner Kim Chiu went viral and created many parodies, memes and even song-and-dance videos.
However, I observed that our Filipino Deaf community was not completely informed about the true reason why the sudden closure of their beloved station. Not even the sign language inset interpreting on TV newscasts cannot fully explain the events that happened.
So our school decided to create a short (15-minute) and very simple explainer video complete with picture-in-picture and simple animation on the issue. Our resident Deaf graduate, Kennel Alonzo did the sign language explanation. Our objective is for our deaf people to have a more clear understanding of the issues including the function of an airwave and the Philippine Franchise Law. It was uploaded in MCCID Facebook page yesterday (May 26) as well as in Kennel’s own wall. As of this writing, there were already more than 2,000 views and nearly 50 shares.
The video was also uploaded on MCCID’s YouTube Channel. Here it is:
Due to requests from followers of MCCID College Official Facebook page who can hear, I added a computer-generated voice that reads and captions aloud in English. The purpose of this is so that they can easily understand the signs even without reading the sub-titles. Here it is:
“Well, I’m not!As long as I’m not riding on the vehicle that he is driving.”
That was the response of a participant in one of the Deaf Sensitivity Training which I conducted many times. I asked the trainees that question before showing them a couple of images that I boast as “success stories of deaf drivers” who made ingenious innovations in order to communicate with their passengers, as shown below.
Still, the participant’s reaction is not uncommon. In fact, according to Axleaddict.com, around 30 countries worldwide don’t allow deaf people to acquire a driver’s license. Although the Philippines was listed among those who permit deaf drivers, that is not the case among most of them who applies for a license. I have assisted a handful of deaf people in applying for a license either as their sign language interpreter or accompanying them when I applied for mine. Most of the time, they are turned down. The main reason? They cannot hear. This is a huge hurdle for them.
One of the five conditions that must be met is that a person who has a hearing problem must be “WITH HEARING AID”. Since the majority of deaf people I know are either not comfortable wearing hearing aids or using them is useless because they are already severe or profoundly deaf (people who can only understand sounds through vibrations), they won’t qualify for this. One of the procedures that they must undergo first is a medical examination which just basically checks their eyesight and hearing capabilities. They would automatically fail on this.
Still, quite a few deaf I know, especially in the provinces, were able to overcome this hurdle by applying “under the table” so to speak. But this path is costly, illegal and often dangerous to the license holders because they are always extremely cautious about not getting caught. Otherwise, their license could either be revoked and not be returned or the police officers would give them a very hard time by giving them numerous violations. This has been a huge issue among the deaf community which they have been addressing for many years yet remained unresolved. Until now…
Introducing, ALYANSA NG MAY KAPANSANAN NA NAGMAMANEHO NG SASAKYAN AT MOTOR SA PILIPINAS or ALKASAMOPI for short! Let me translate their Filipino name into English, hopefully, I am right. It’s ALLIANCE OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES WHO DRIVE MOTOR VEHICLES IN THE PHILIPPINES. According to their Facebook Page, ALKASAMOPI
… is a Non Government Organization whose MISSION and VISION is to promote the camaraderie, brotherhood and equal rights & opportunities among individual Person With Disabilities (PWDs) especially PWD Driver & Riders ( commuters)
One of our objective is to integrate the Persons with Disability (PWD) to the mainstream of society by promoting safety driving and riding to assist them to exercise their rights and privileges and most of all to promote the equal rights and opportunities for the service of transportation.
Its founding president is Joseph Delgado. As per their SEC Registration, its principles are
We are encouraged, empowered and have the full participation of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Riders and Drivers to have a Non Professional Driver’s License and have a knowledge of Road Safety as a road users.
*We are passionate, innovative and fearless in the promotion and defense of the right and interest of Persons with Disability.
*We are accessible and responsive to our community needs in terms of accessible transportation and accessible facilities.
*We are collaborative and supportive in our relationship with the disability rights movement as a whole.
They accept all sectors with a disability who are either current holders of driver’s licenses or driving a motorized vehicle. But since many of their members are deaf, they formed a separate group for the deaf community riders with which our blog will focus. Its deaf group has its own set of Officers and the Board of Directors. Their president is Christopher Frando.
I have met most of them. But I have personal acquaintances with Michael Boholst (PRO), Daryl Desamparado, Daryl Pineda and Bryann Gregorio (Board of Directors). All of them are alumni of MCCID College and my former students. Most of them also attend the Deaf Ministry of Capitol City Baptist Church where I do sign language interpreting.
As enumerated in their brochure, ALKASAMOPI provides
PWD Awareness Sensitivity Seminar “How to Properly Approach and Handle a PWD”
Brigada Eskwela (assisting in the opening of school classrooms)
Giving free assessment for mobility devices
Giving free assessment for LTO concerns
Giving road safety seminar for PWD and Non-PWDs
Giving free safety driving and riding seminar
Fighting and defending PWD rights
I own a Suzuki Sky Drive 175 since 2014. I don’t often use it because my work is inside the school campus. So I let our deaf school utility Owen Domagtoy use the motorcycle to run some errands. However, he does not have a license. After helping him acquire his “student permit”, the next hurdle is for him to get his driver’s license. It would be very difficult for him to acquire it because he will need to go to a series of tests. Fortunately, ALKASAMOPI assisted him by giving him pointers and assigned a sign language interpreter during the test. Now, he is not worried about driving around because he already has a license.
Aside from helping other PWDs, the group participated in assisting commuters during this COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown. Below is the YouTube video they uploaded last April which ends with a prayer signed by their Deaf President Christopher Frando.
We understand that acquiring a license to drive is a privilege and not a right. But we also support equal opportunity for everyone, including those with disabilities. If a hearing person can avail of a privilege to use the road, with the latest technologies and an open mind from everyone, a deaf and hard-of-hearing person can also avail of that.
Mabuhay po ang ALKASAMOPI sa pagtulong sa mga Pilipinong Bingi na matupad ang kanilang pangarap na malayang makapag-byahe gamit ang kanilang mga sasakyang de-motor!
Last week, I got hold of this image being shared on Twitter and eventually on Facebook which landed in the Filipino deaf community pages and groups. It was, I guess, owned by a certain @cargel_nation2, as what appeared on the bottom of the image. After a careful search, I found out that the owner of this image did not say who he/she is. Only that he/she is a Carlo Aquino – Angelica Panganiban Loveteam Fan. But I am pretty sure the original image was taken from the Black Sheep Production, the producers of the movie “Isa Pa With Feelings” which I and my deaf students/alumni are excited to watch for free this October 18 courtesy of “Lawyers and Friends for Maine”. 🙂
However, I noticed that the signs were incomplete. These signs were not a one-hand movement but a combination of two actions. People who want to learn sign language might get confused and understood this as a static sign. So, I went to my dusty old Adobe Fireworks software and created an animated version (GIF) of the signs. The movements are not that complex. I simply copied the hand, used the Rubber Stamp and Blur tools and pasted it meticulously to generate the second sign. Lastly, I combined the two using the State command to create an illusion of movement.
To my dear readers, introducing, the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) of the words Deaf and Hearing!!!!
The FSL sign for “deaf” is very much the same as American Sign Language. The index finger first points on the lower part of the ear lobe. Then, the finger touches the side of the lips. As far as I can remember, this is the only sign the Filipino deaf uses to introduce themselves. Pointing both the ear and lips might describe that they cannot hear and speak. Even though we know that there are many deaf who can speak, this sign has been deeply rooted in their culture that any variations or changes on this sign never became widespread use.
Carlo Aquino plays the deaf tutor in the movie. He is a hearing person in real life.
This FSL sign for “hearing” is the one being used by the majority of the Filipino deaf. The first handshape is like a bent “C” near the ear without touching it. The second hand-movement is elongated or long-shaped “O”, also near the ear. The movement needs to be done many times and in quick successions. The sign means a sound can pass through a person’s ears and reverberates or in continuing effect.
The FSL sign for hearing is different from ASL. In ASL, the emphasis is on the person’s ability to talk or speak, so the sign points to the mouth or lips. To compare below is the ASL sign for a “Hearing Person”.
In the movie, Maine Mendoza plays the hearing person who wants to learn sign language. Happy signing!!!!
PS: I did not personally ask the permission of the image uploader to use his photo. I hope he won’t mind. 🙂