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:


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?


Maria Lena Buhay Foundation: To talk and be heard in the silent world

Very rare do I post schools for the deaf using oral method of teaching because as you may have already noticed, I lean towards the sign language side. But for this one, I really need to repost it because of the wonderful work their institution have achieved these past 25 years. This article written by Angelo Garcia which was posted on the Manila Bulletin is about the first and one of the few successful oral schools in the Philippines, Maria Lena Buhay Foundation. Enjoy! 🙂

MUSIC TO THEIR EARS — This group of musicians (above) may look ordinary but they are all deaf.
MUSIC TO THEIR EARS — This group of musicians (above) may look ordinary but they are all deaf.

MANILA, Philippines — After almost 25 years, Maria Lena Buhay Memorial Foundation, Inc. (MLBMFI) founder and executive director Leticia Buhay proudly says that the school’s graduates are now productive citizens of society, despite their hearing impairment.

“We have a graduate who is now an entrepreneur and owns a chain of coffee shops. Another one, who graduated as valedictorian, now teaches at a prestigious school. Another one has his own graphic design company,” Buhay shares.

This success, Mrs. Buhay says, can be attributed to the fact that they have taught their hearing-impaired students how to speak. MLBMFI is the first oral school in the country for the hearing impaired.

“We believe that every hearing impaired child has the capacity to learn how to talk. We already have proven that in our 25 years of service,” she says. “For me, it is harder to teach a class of five hearing impaired students than 40 hearing students. Mas mahirap kasi, you have to keep on repeating they only hear the word for the first time, especially the younger level. But as a speech therapist, the moment a hearing impaired utter a word, umaapaw ang aking kaligayahan. That’s what gratifies us all.”

Today, the non-profit, non-stock school has become one of the most valuable institutions in the field of special education.


MLBMFI was founded in June 1987 in honor of Mrs. Buhay’s daughter, Maria Lena or Lenlen, a Psychology student of Ateneo de Manila University who passed away due to cancer.

A speech therapist, Buhay gave in to the request of her patients’ parents to put up a school where their children could learn how to speak.

“The parents felt that since natututo na ‘yung anak nila how to speak, ayaw na nila sa sign school. Ayaw din naman nila sa regular school kasi there are 40 or so students baka mag lag behind. So they needed something special for them,” she recalls.

After planning, the school initially had 10 students and three teachers, including Mrs. Buhay. But by the end of the school year, the school already had a total of 26 students. Year after year, they added grade levels until they completed all levels from pre-school to high school. Since it was a non-profit school, they had to rely on sponsorships, donations and the tuition fees from students. Those who couldn’t GARCIAafford receive tuition subsidy.

When things became too busy and the responsibility too heavy for her, Buhay started getting sick. She was advised to close the school if she wanted to live longer.

“My children asked me to stop. But no, my commitment is there and I enjoy what I was doing. So I resigned from my job as a university professor to devote my time to these children. I was 50 then. I bargained with my children, we could open the preschool and grade school and call off the high school. Kasi the time when they reach Grade 6, nakakapagsalita na sila, many of them were mainstreamable. So lumiit na enrolment namin,” she recalls.

Today, the school caters to only 25 students from preschool to Grade 7 since they limit the number of students per level. They also accept full and partial scholarships, depending on the available sponsorship.


Mrs. Buhay says that one of the school’s main accomplishments is that they have shown parents of children with hearing impairment that there is another option other than just sign language.

“We made people aware that there is another option to help hearing-impaired children and not just to help them how to sign. In other words, there is an option to learn how to talk,” Mrs. Buhay explains.

She says that it is important that when a child is diagnosed with hearing impairment, he or she should immediately undergo speech therapy. The first five years of a child’s life is the most important period in speech and language acquisition.

“Normally a child at six months can already babble. But if after that period, the child has not spoken, there is a cause for alarm already. Speech is talking by ear. If the sounds do not enter your ear, if you do not hear anything, you will not be able to speak. That is why the children have hearing aids to magnify the sound. So parents can bring the child to a diagnostician for immediate intervention,” she advises.

Since MLBMFI students know how to speak they are able to communicate properly and they can do almost everything a hearing child can do. In fact, the school has its own rhythm band. A group of hearing impaired students can play different music instruments!

“We develop them holistically. We develop them socially, we bring them around town. We teach them basic skills like cooking. And they enjoy other activities like playing and listening to music,” she says.


Mrs. Buhay says that although the students may not speak clearly like hearing people can, the important thing is that they can be understood. One of the advantages of a speaking person with hearing impairment is gaining employment. Since they can communicate, they have bigger chances of being employed.

“If a hearing impaired person is able to talk, his chances of being employed will be greater. There are certain organizations and companies that employ hearing impaired,” she says.

“We have to accept it that this is a talking world. A great majority of us talk, only a few sign. If they are able to talk, it is easier for them to be mainstreamed and take their place, normally, in society where everybody talks. Your chances will be greater,” she says.

She admits that she doesn’t know what the future holds for them but because of her dedicated teachers and staff, she is sure that MLBMFI’s legacy will continue, even for the next 25 years.

Deaf people working in Mindanao killer mines?

Happy New Year everyone! This is my first post for the year 2012!

Last Wednesday, I again accompanied my graduating students to vital government agencies to secure personal documents which they will use in applying for jobs after they graduate. MCCID has been assisting its graduating students in getting government documents for many years now.

Our first stop was getting their authenticated birth certificates from the National Statistics Office (NSO). I briefed them beforehand that I would only be there to escort them to the office and occasionally provide them some tips on how to fill up the forms. But actual applying for it would all be theirs to experience, including falling in a very long line.

landslide in a mountain in compostela valley provinceSo while waiting for them inside, a twenty-something guy approached me as I was giving instructions to my students in sign language. He taught I was also deaf so he signed to me. Surprised, I signed in return. I introduced myself politely although I hinted that he is also a hearing person. When I asked him if he can hear, he nodded. That was when we started introducing ourselves “normally”.

He begged not to disclose his full name. Being a Jehovah’s Witness exposed him to the deaf and sign language. He was at the NSO to get his birth certificate as part of the requirements in his job application.  When  he mentioned he was from Compostela Valley in Mindanao, I immediately asked him if there are deaf people working in the gold mines there. I want to know because of the recent news wherein a landslide in that province killed more than 30 persons. He claimed that there are at least five unschooled deaf adults toiling in the mines. He knew them first hand because in their religion, they are very faithful in doing house-to-house visitations to the deaf people. He was able to minister to some of them even for those who don’t know how to read and are unfamiliar with sign language. He felt sorry for them because their superiors don’t give them equal pay as compared with the regular mine workers even if they are exposed to the same dangers.

My next inquiry was if there were deaf workers who died in the recent landslide. He replied that there weren’t any deaf casualties out of the more than 30 persons who wasted their lives. This is a relief. But it’s still tragic that people, even those who cannot hear, must expose themselves to potential dangers just so they get a meager amount for their daily sustenance. I hope that the government would learn from this lesson and not to allow them to go back working in those danger zones.

Related articles

PRC vows reforms in aid of Deaf Licensure Exam for Teachers takers


October 18, 2011

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) has committed to implementing reforms that will make the licensing examination for teachers more accessible to the Deaf.

In a dialogue with various organizations of the Deaf last Tuesday, PRC Chairperson Teresita R. Manzala vowed that such reforms would be in place when the Licensure Examination for Teachers is administered in March 2012.

The dialogue was facilitated by ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio. The participants included leaders of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf led by its President, Rey Lee; Philippine Deaf Resource Center Executive Director Dr. Liza Martinez; Dean Nikki Perez of the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde; and Raphael Domingo of the Philippine Coalition-UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

PRC Chairperson Manzala was joined by Board for Professional Teachers Chairperson Dr. Faith M. Bachiller, and Director Amelia T. Empaynado of the Licensure Office.

The deaf activists and advocates raised concerns regarding the accessibility of the LET for deaf education graduates. According to them, Deaf education graduates find it difficult to pass the LET due to lack of sensitivity to the particular needs of Deaf takers. They pointed out the acute shortage of deaf teachers in the public school system’s Special Education centers, which can be filled if measures for the “reasonable accommodation” of deaf LET takers are taken by the PRC.

The PRC vowed to implement “transitional measures” for the upcoming LET in March 2012, such as allowing accredited interpreters to explain examination instructions in sign language and making changes to the physical arrangements to accommodate deaf exam takers. The Board of Professional Teachers will also work in close consultation with the Deaf community to craft better policies, including the drafting of a new PRC resolution regarding accessibility for the Deaf.

“We commend the PRC for their openness to the concerns of the Deaf. We thank PRC Chairperson Manzala for her personal commitment that reforms will be implemented by March 2012,” said Rep. Tinio. #


ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio L. Tinio (0920-922-0817)

Julie Anne D. Tapit, Media Officer (0915-762-6522)

Repost from the Official Website of Alliance of Concerned Teachers Party.

Survey of Conditions of Deaf People in Metro Manila (Part 1)

This is an excerpt of Policy Notes entitled “Looking at conditions of persons with disability in Metro Manila” by Celia M. Reyes and Aubrey D. Tabuga of Surian sa mga Pag-aaral Pangkaunlaran ng Pilipinas (Philippine Institute for Development Studies) ISSN 1656-5266 No. 2009-09 (December 2009). The Policy Notes are observations/ analyses written by PIDS researchers on certain policy issues. The treatise is holistic in approach and aims to provide useful inputs for decision making. The authors are Senior Research Fellow and Supervising Research Specialist, respectively, at the Institute. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of PIDS or any of the study’s sponsors. I only selected the part which involves the deaf people and their community within Metro Manila, the Philippines’ capital.

The need to understand the conditions of persons with disability (PWD) is not only linked with the country’s aim to reduce poverty and adhere to the goals stated in the 2000 Millennium Declaration but also and, more importantly, with the goal to improve the lives of PWDs in the long run. Persons with disability often belong to the poorest segments of the population as noted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP). Because of disability, the opportunities faced by PWDs are often far more limited than those by non-PWDs.

In the Philippines, efforts to help PWDs were renewed via the amended Magna Carta for PWDs (Republic Act 9442) passed in April 2007. This legislation aims to fully integrate differently abled persons into the mainstream of Philippine society.

Studies that examine the conditions of PWDs have, however, been very limited, with only case studies being available and with statistics being very rare. In fact, the latest official estimate available on the number of PWDs in the country can be obtained from the 2000 Census, with the figure placed at 1.2 percent of the total population or 942,098.1 This is 305,098 greater than the 1990 estimate and around 23,000 more compared to the 1995.

Here are some important key factors:

  1. Several other entities have also estimated the number of PWDs in the country. The Department of Health conducted a registration of PWDs in 1997 and counted 469,707 PWDs, a number that was claimed to be an underestimation of the number of PWDs in the country. Thus, the government does not officially recognize this estimate.
  2. Apart from these estimates, however, there are very scanty pieces of information about the PWDs. Even the latest census, the 2007 Census of Population, does not have information on PWDs because this variable, for some reasons, has been dropped from the questionnaire.
  3. This lack of information on the conditions of PWDs becomes a problem in coming up with appropriate programs for them. In response to this, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) collaborated in August 2008 with the Institute of Developing Economies (IDE) of Japan, a semigovernmental research institute working for international cooperation between developing countries and Japan, to undertake a survey on PWDs in Metro Manila.
  4. The survey covered four Metro Manila cities, namely, Makati, Pasay, Valenzuela, and Quezon City, and was conducted in partnership with the Social Welfare Office of each of these cities and various PWD organizations.
  5. The objective of the survey was to gather the socioeconomic profile and livelihood sources of PWDs as well as their access to programs and awareness of existing government policies aimed at improving their living conditions.
  6. This Policy Note presents and assesses the key findings of this groundbreaking survey on PWDs. By profiling the PWDs, it is hoped that the government and other stakeholders will be equipped with the necessary information on how best to help them improve their well-being.

There were more than 400 respondents included in the survey whose types of disability were visual, mobility, and hearing impairments. There were also a few who had multiple impairments.

In the survey, there were more male (62%) than female respondents (38%). Because the focus of the survey was on livelihood, the respondents included adults aged 15 years old and above.

The discussions that follow briefly summarize the key findings of the survey.

In the census, the respondent is asked if a household member has any disability. The definition of disability adopted in the census refers to “any restriction or lack of ability (resulting from impairment) to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. Impairments associated with disabilities may be physical, mental or sensory motor impairment such as partial or total blindness and deafness, muteness, speech defect, orthopedic handicaps, and mental retardation.”

Survey on Hearing Impairments as compared to other disabilities indicates that: (emphasis mine)

  1. Majority of the hearing-impaired respondents were born deaf. The rest, meanwhile, became deaf before they reached the age of three.
  2. In terms of the degree of deafness, majority are totally deaf in both ears.
  3. The deaf respondents were more knowledgeable in the English language than in Filipino. Sixty three percent of them can actually write in English while only 16 percent can in Tagalog or Filipino.
  4. Less than half of them (45%) indicated that they did not know both spoken and written Filipino/Tagalog while only 13 percent did not understand written or spoken English. Fortunately, majority of them could communicate in Philippine sign language.
  5. The average educational attainment of PWDs is low. Only a third of the respondents have reached or completed high school level. About one-fourth of them have also either reached or finished college education. Another one-fourth, on the other hand, have only gone as far as elementary level (24%) while 8 percent did not even complete any grade. Those with mobility impairment had the highest average number of years of schooling while those with hearing impairment had the lowest.
  6. Men tended to have higher average years of schooling compared to women.
  7. About a third of the PWDs had Special Education, with about three-fourths (74%) among those with hearing impairment having had it while only a third of the visually impaired had it. Meanwhile, only 1 percent of the mobility-impaired took it.
  8. The PWDs have a low employment rate. Only half of the respondents had income-generating jobs and half were looking for jobs. A greater proportion of men (57%) had jobs compared to women (40%). The visually impaired had the highest proportion with jobs (72%) followed by the mobility-impaired (44%) and the hearing impaired(32%).
  9. Among those with jobs, 24 percent of the hearing-impaired worked as aide, helper, or messenger; 15 percent were working in the construction industry as helper, carpenter, maintenance worker, painter, or laborer; another 12 percent worked as factory worker or supervisor while only 9 percent were employed in ICT-related jobs.
  10. Among the types of impairment, the mobility impaired had the largest percentage (at 30 percent) inclined toward some types of business. The visually impaired came next at 25 percent while the hearing-impaired had the lowest proportion at 16 percent. Among the business ventures that they were engaged in were stores, street vending, room/house renting, umbrella repair, water delivery, electronic repair, junk collection/shop, shirt printing/printing press, bird trading, and home-based food business.
  11. Major sources of income differed according to the types of impairment. The hearing-impaired obtained most of their income from money received from family and friends. The hearing impaired therefore can be considered as the least independent among the PWDs interviewed.
  12. The visually impaired PWDs have higher average incomes than the hearing-impaired and mobility impaired. The average income for the year of the visually impaired with jobs was P76,270 while it was P45,667 for the hearing-impaired and P55,681 for the mobility-impaired. Note that 69 percent of the mobility-impaired earned higher than the poverty threshold. Among the visually impaired, 65 percent of them did while among the hearing-impaired, only 44 percent earned higher than the poverty threshold.

More on this plus my analysis in part 2.

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