On Money and the Filipino Deaf

philippine peso

Yesterday, three elderly deaf people trooped to MCCID College in San Mateo, Rizal from their home in Manila, roughly two-hour’s trip by local jeepney. Since our school is closed for summer, all of our students are on vacation.  No one was minding the campus main gate so they simply entered the premises as if they are familiar with it.

My uncle who was going out at that time saw them entering the campus. Once they saw him, they immediately “ranted” in sign language as if they were looking for trouble. My uncle looked surprised and panicked so he hastily escorted them to the dorm house where the faculty lives and called my attention.

I am not that familiar with their faces but they knew me as an interpreter in a Baptist church. They introduced themselves, this time calmly, and explained their reason for sudden visit. They were looking for one deaf lady who is currently studying at MCCID. It was “extremely” important, based on their actions, that they need to meet her. I told them that the deaf lady already went home a week ago. She stayed in one of the rented houses outside the school. But her parents want her to stop schooling temporarily so she packed all her things and went home to their province in Central Luzon.

They all looked very frustrated when I informed them about it. One of them was so angry that she started ranting that they wasted precious time and money coming here but got distressed because they did not see the deaf lady. To pacify her, I gently asked in sign language the reason why it’s necessary for them to meet her. One of her companion, a more elderly man, explained that they need to get the money she owes him.

“Awww… really?”, was my reply. At the back of my mind, I was thinking that since they came all the way here and spent “precious time and money” just to personally meet her, she must have owned them big money! So I again followed up, “How much does she owe you?”

200 pesos! (roughly 4 US dollars)” “Say what? Did I hear it right?” So I again clarified. “200 pesos!” I nearly fell off from where I stand. If we sum up all the expenses they incurred in traveling here, it would amount to more than three times that money!

Again I inquired, “Was that all? Is that the total amount?” The other elderly deaf guy affirmed. He explained that he was very generous in helping other deaf who are needy so he proudly signs that they can freely loan money from him. I did not make any further questions about it because I might offend him although I was having difficulty hiding my giggle as to their purpose of coming here. So I just dismissed them by referring to my other deaf faculty Ervin and let him talk to them. They all ended up going home utterly disappointed.

How Filipino Deaf value their money

This situation reminded me of what I have experienced many times in the past. I’m not concluding that this is the norm in deaf culture nor just the Filipino deaf in particular. However, what I am saying is that this is not an isolated case.

Many years ago, the manager of a local fast food restaurant called the school and requested me to go there because two deaf are violently arguing inside the place. I found out that the deaf lady owes the deaf guy money. The guy was courting the lady and he always pay for their “date”. But when she told him the shocking truth that she does not love him, the guy got so pissed off that he took his wallet, showed her ALL his restaurant bills from their past dates and forced her to pay for all of it. A couple more similar situations happened to other deaf which I need to mediate.

When a deaf person owed money from another deaf, that amount is “carved in stone”, no matter how oddly small it is. One deaf who lacked money to pay for his fare asked his companion if he can borrow money. He promised to pay him next time. The deaf loaned him. But he kept on mentioning that over and over again to his face until he pays. The amount? Eight pesos (roughly 25 cents). I tell you, this situation is not uncommon.

Why is this happening?

We can probably trace this into how they acquire their money. Since a sizable number of Filipino deaf have no work, they often rely on financial support from their family. However, Filipino families having a member who is a Person With Disability don’t usually allot a budget for them. So earning members of the family can only spare a small amount to support their deaf relative. Thus, the deaf tend to hold on tightly to whatever small amount they receive.

As for the employed deaf, majority of them land in lower level positions like factory workers, clerks and rank and file government officers. Although quite a handful are in middle level positions, still most of them don’t have much money to use.

Deaf senior citizens are no exception. Most of them rely on support from their adult children. The government also don’t offer much of a relief for them.

Since deaf people are very mobile and communal by nature, they use up most of their finances from trips going to their deaf friends no matter how far they are.

Education is the key

In our school, I often explain to them the value of money and how they should strive to earn for themselves. The main reason why they study is for them to be independent financially. They also need to control their use of a very limited money that they have.

As more and more Filipino deaf earn for themselves, they are slowly moving away from being a “money miser”. In time, they will be able to share their blessings to others without overly thinking about anything in return.

 

 

 

 

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Deaf VS Hearing, anyone?

Although some hearing people have occasionally bully deaf people because they feel that they are more superior than them. Deaf people on the other hand tend to exhibit their “pity-me” effect to the hearing people in order to get concessions. But pitting them against each other is counter-productive and does not promote rights-based approach.

I got hold of this image from a Facebook page of my friend who got it from another friend. I felt amazed at how the image-maker compared the Deaf from the Hearing. Here it is:

Image

I don’t know where he got this view. Probably he is deaf.  But I believe most of the statements of comparison are true. Based on this I can summarize that deaf people are more open, blunt and straight-to-the-point while hearing people are more subdued, respecting and mind-your-own-business type.

Dear readers, what do you think?

Filipino Sign Language Bill’s struggle for acceptance continues

Yesterday, I posted a Facebook status which says, “…. Filipino Sign Language struggle for acceptance continues… on November 27 at the House of Representatives…. ” This after the very heated argument which happened last November 19 during the Technical Working Group Sub-committee hearing on the discussion about the modification of the proposed Filipino Sign Language Bill. The “final” hearing will be held on the 27th.

Sub-committee Hearing

I was invited in the past two hearings representing our school, MCCID College. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend. But it is imperative for me to participate on this one because I have already exhausted two excuses for not attending. 🙂

I won’t mention most of what transpired, especially the debates which took nearly four hours. Cong. Antonio Tinio, principal author of the bill was very cordial and accommodating with all sides.

I was the first one who made an introduction as one of the resource persons. But I remained silent all throughout the proceedings. I won’t post any prominent names here except for congressmen, in order to respect their personal preferences. These are what I observed:

  • I’m sure some participants already noticed this. Every time a resource person comes in, he/she knows where he/she would sit in preference of his/her stand on the bill. I being an FSL advocate sat on the right side of the conference room near the front since I’m one of the early birds. So do most of the pro-FSL supporters! The “anti” FSL people were all conspicuously seated on the left! Was there a seat plan made or are we just all natural born psychics? 🙂
  • A significant number of attendees, from the congressmen (paging, Cong. Rufus Rodriguez!) down to the deaf observers, still cannot distinguish the FILIPINO (language) from FILIPINO (group of people). Some of them are at a loss when they ignorantly pronounced that Filipino Sign Language means Tagalog language translated into sign language. One high-esteemed corporate head even mentioned about globalization. It is as if we dream of the Filipino Deaf becoming future Call Center Agents!
  • Two sign language interpreters were present. On the left, FSL interpreter while on the right, SEE with which some SEE advocates corrected the term as SIGNED ENGLISH Interpreters. But after careful observation, there were many instances when both of them were nearly signing identically! Is the SEE interpreter slowly switching to a much comfortable FSL or is the FSL interpreter making things easier by following English sentences in exact order? hmmm…
  • Some perceived that FSL is an anti-English language. That’s way too unfounded. All, and I mean ALL, Special Education Centers in the Philippines use English as a medium of instruction especially in the written form. Tagalog or Filipino language is taught sparsely. Some, including oral schools, scrapped Filipino subject altogether.
  • Quite a number of participants brag about their so and so decades of teaching the deaf or being deeply involved with the deaf community. Well, I guess the number of years of service won’t always make you a better servant.
  • When the voice interpreter code switched from English to Tagalog, some used that as a proof that FSL is indeed based on Tagalog. What a shameless exposure of ignorance!
  • Some “anti” FSL washed their hands into saying that they’re not really against FSL. They just don’t want it to be used as a medium of instruction in schools. But the proposed bill is not only confined in classrooms. It must be used in all media and services including courts, hospitals, government offices and TV news interpreting.
  • Majority of the attendees were from the academe. So the “fear” of FSL being used as the “sole” language in classrooms was loudly expressed.
  • The Filipino Deaf Community was raised up. Who can be identified as part of the community and who are those who are not? Who belongs to the big “D” and those in the small “d”? This “branding” of people is a tough nut to crack.

Now, what really excited me was that the heated discussions among hearing participants (including some deaf protagonists of course) spilled over to the deaf audience. I heard that during the first committee hearing, there was only one participant from the FSL group. As expected, he was succumbed by those who were not in agreement with FSL. And so he rallied the cause and the historic Deaf March for FSL bill transpired in the morning before the second committee hearing. FSL made a strong showing in round two.


But during this third hearing, the “SEE” group brought with them a group of their deaf supporters. So the so-called, pro-FSL and anti-FSL among the Filipino Deaf community “surfaced”. The real excitement happened when they gathered outside the conference hall after the session. It was there when they made exchanges of perspective about the cause. I cannot help but stayed on to see what their real sentiments were. When Cong. Tinio joined the discussion among the deaf groups, I volunteered to voice for him. Here is what I gathered:

  • The “SEE” deaf group were not TOTALLY AGAINST FSL. Some of them even signed in FSL. But what they don’t want is for FSL to be mandated in all schools. They only want FSL to be taught as one of the subjects and SEE to be maintained as the main medium of instruction. They simply don’t want FSL to be strictly imposed on them.
  • The “FSL” deaf group lightly argued that the law must be implemented and that FSL must be recognized in ALL schools.
  • Some asked if FSL will be implemented in all schools, will oral schools be included? How could that be? What about those who are late-deafened? Will there be exclusions on the bill? If that’s the case, then the essence of the bill, which is FSL for all will not be met.

In the end, the deaf community agreed to have further talks about the issues raised. What’s important is that they don’t close their doors into making their points heard. As for me, I still believe that FSL be recognized as a native language of the Filipino Deaf and must be taught during their formative years. But the Filipino Deaf must be given a choice. It is their right.

On to round four….. 🙂

K-12 to use sign language as mother tongue for deaf

This is a repost from Yahoo news.

By Mikhail Franz E. Flores, VERA Files
Now that the K to 12 system of education is being enforced in the country and native languages have begun to be used as medium of instruction from kindergarten to Grade 3, deaf children will also get the chance to use their mother tongue: sign language.

The Deaf Education Council (DEC) began consultation with deaf educators in developing a sign language curriculum for non-hearing pupils at a forum at the University of the Philippines College of Education Auditorium last month.

The DEC and the deaf community will decide what sign language public schools will use in the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) for the deaf.

The MTB-MLE is an integral part of the DepEd’s K to 12 educational reform program which added two years to the erstwhile 10-year basic education cycle. The mother tongue will be the medium of instruction from kindergarten to Grade 3. The languages include Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Ilocano, Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Tausug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao and Chavacano.
If adopted by DepEd, Filipino Sign Language (FSL) would be the “13th mother tongue language.”
DEC was formed on the recommendation of Education Secretary Armin Luistro, who met with members of the deaf community last September. The council is mandated to provide direction and facilitate efforts to improve deaf education in the country.

The group is composed of four non-hearing and three hearing members. The non-hearing members are Rey Lee, president of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) as the council chair; PFD secretary George Lintag; Raphael Domingo, coordinator of Education Access for the Deaf at the Center for Education Access and Development (CEAD); and Yvette Apurado Bernardo, an executive board of the Phil-Sports Federation of the Deaf.

The hearing members are Therese Bustos a deaf education specialist from UP; Liza Martinez; director of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center and Theresa Christine dela Torre, CEAD director.
Bustos said the project is gathering volunteers to develop the curriculum. Four working committees are set to be formed to develop a curriculum for each grade level, she said.

As a language of its own, sign language must be institutionalized in schools to help non-hearing children learn in their own mother language, said Dina Ocampo, dean of the University of the Philippines College of Education.

“If we are able to mainstream signs in the Department of Educationprogramming, then we will reach more and more deaf children,” she said.

Ocampo added that deaf education is more of a language matter rather than the content of the curriculum or materials.

“The main core issue, I think, is language,” she said.

Bustos clarified that sign language is separate from spoken languages. Thus, FSL, the language used by more than half of Filipinos with hearing disability, is different from Filipino.

“Ang may koneksiyon lang sa wikang senyas na nakakonekta sa wikang sinasalita ay ang finger spelling. Lahat ng senyas ay walang kinalaman sa wikang sinasalita (Only finger spelling is related to the spoken language. All other signs have no relation with the spoken language),” Bustos said.

Bustos said that around 54 percent of Filipinos with hearing disability use FSL, which is the preferred sign language to be used as medium of instruction. However, the deaf community will still have the final say on what sign language to use for their own MTB-MLE program.

At present, the Signed Exact English (SEE), a manually encoded adaptation of spoken English, is being used as the official language for deaf students, said DepEd Undersecretary Yolanda Quijano.
The deaf community, however, prefers the FSL over the SEE since Filipinos have their own culture and identity and the FSL better reflects these.

Bustos also said the exact number of deaf schools is difficult to determine since most of them are dependent on the availability of teachers.

“Once a teacher resigns, the program is also removed,” Bustos said. The country, though, has one residential school for the deaf, the Philippine School for the Deaf.

The 2000 Census shows that around 120,000 of the total PWD population are deaf. The census puts the total number of PWDs at 942,098 or 1.23 percent of the total population of the country.The 2010 census has not been released.

A 2011 World Health Organization study said PWDs make up about 15 percent of a country’s population, especially in developing countries. This would then mean more than 13 million Filipino are PWDs.
One in two Filipinos with hearing and speech impairment has had some elementary education, 28 percent some high school, 20 percent some college and two percent up to postgraduate, according to a Social Weather Stations survey.

(VERA Files is a partner of the “Fully Abled Nation” campaign that seeks to increase participation of PWDs in the 2013 elections and other democratic process. Fully Abled Nation is supported by The Asia Foundation and the Australian Agency for International Development. VERA Files is put out by senior journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. VERA is Latin for “true.”)

Sign Language in Europe Under Threat?

pictures of 2 sign language interpreters worki...
Image via Wikipedia

In my country, we are still patiently lobbying, protesting and persuading people both in the government and private sector to recognize that there exists such a language as Filipino Sign Language for the past two decades. Now here comes a distressing news that Europe is threatening the very existence of sign language? This is discouraging, very discouraging indeed.

We have always looked up to Europe and USA as a good role models when it comes to protecting the rights of deaf people and their strong advocacy in the use of sign language as their mode of communication especially in schools for the deaf. But now, we are doubtful as to the future of this very special language. I just hope they would find a win-win solution on this.

I reposted the news article here taken from the World Federation of the Deaf official website as reference:

WFD – EUD conference attendees noted with alarm that the status of sign languages is under threat in Denmark and the Netherlands. Recent developments in Denmark have led to the adoption of an educational philosophy which denies deaf and hard of hearing children any visually accessible communication, including the right to education in sign language. At the same time the Netherlands is undergoing debates over sign language’s place in the education of deaf children.

World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and European Union of the Deaf (EUD) together with the Ål Experiential College and Conference Center for Deaf People and with financial support from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry are organizing a conference from 6th to 9th November in Ål, Norway. The conference titled Sign Languages as Endangered Languages brings together deaf community leaders, academics and educators to debate the status of sign languages and emerging trends in sign language education.

Monday’s keynote presenter, professor emeritus Stuart Blume, from University of Amsterdam discussed the globalisation of technology and the start and spread of cochlear implantation programmes. According to Blume, deaf community leaders do not seem to have the same networks and access to politicians and media as the advocates of the cochlear implants. He also introduced idea of learning from the indigenous peoples’ experience in promoting their rights and suggested deaf communities to build coalitions and look for allies in anthropologists, sociologists and researchers on a national level.

President of the Danish Deaf Association (DDL) Ms. Janne Boye Niemelä presented the alarming situation in Denmark where 99% of all newly born children are offered cochlear implants; yet at the same time the provided support services do not include sign language but instead concentrate on auditory verbal therapy. With the number of deaf schools decreasing the recent developments in the Danish society would seem to aim at promoting speech to the detriment of Danish sign language. Furthermore, according to Ms. Corrie Tijsseling the deaf community in the Netherlands is currently dealing with a similar debate on sign language’s place in deaf children’s education.

The president of the Swedish Association of the Hard of Hearing (HRF) and the former president of International Federation of Hard of Hearing (IFHOH) Mr. Jan-Peter Strömgren highlighted that both hard of hearing and deaf children should have the right to bilingualism and give them the opportunity to choose later their linguistic identity. He also recommended good cooperation between associations of hard of hearing and deaf people pointing out that also many hard of hearing people use sign language.
The conference will continue on Tuesday concentrating on laws and best practices in promoting and protecting sign languages.

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