Filipino Deaf Video Blogger explains why FSL not PSL

Last year, Philippine President Duterte signed into law the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act. The Republic Act 11106 recognizes FSL as the true and living language used by the Filipino Deaf community. However, some people contested the name.

The issue: why use FILIPINO Sign Language, not PHILIPPINE Sign Language?

Glottolog, a comprehensive reference information for the world’s languages, especially the lesser known languages, listed the language used by the Filipino Deaf as Philippine Sign Language.

Screenshot of Glottolog

Also, SIL International, (formerly Summer Institute of Linguistics) lists the language as Philippine Sign Language. They even made an identifier code of ISO 639-3. These recognitions further strengthen the legitimacy of PSL as the right name.

Screenshot of SIL Code for Philippine Sign Language

In 2006, I became one of the editors of Wikipedia, the world’s largest free online encyclopedia. Using Jomanila as my editor name, I was able to create a few notable articles. One of which is “Filipino Sign Language” which I posted in February 15, 2008.

Screenshot of Wikipedia Article History

However in 2012, a certain tyrant and “feeling god” editor/dictator named Kwamikagami vandalized the article name by changing it into PHILIPPINE SIGN LANGUAGE. I humbly asked why the sudden change and explained my side. But he still defended his action simply because he is a “demigod” and he does not care for others’ truth. Because I cannot challenge his abusive “powers”, I just let him be. You may view our heated exchanges here.

Both Glottolog and SIL were used as bases for the Wikipedia article change from FSL to PSL. These supporting sites further strengthen the Wikipedia tyrant’s decision to change the name of the article. So the name got stuck for nearly five years. Minor edits and information were added but the name PSL stayed, until the law was passed. I added the information about the FSL Law in November 2018. Thankfully last December, a Filipino Wikipedia Editor named HaribonEagle927 moved the page to Filipino Sign Language after pointing it out in my talk.

Still, many senior Filipino deaf insist that PSL is the right term because this is what they were accustomed to. Some even invented the name PINOY Sign Language as a better term and created their own Facebook group in 2014 to support this. The group currently has 240 members.

That is why Aldrin Gabriel, a well-respected deaf video blogger and one of the founders/administrators of Filipino Deaf Vloggers: Feed, Awareness and Openness Facebook Group (FDVFAOG) decided to post his explanation about the issue. Aldrin, an alumnus of MCCID, happens to be one of my very best deaf students. He is a very creative artist, a local champion and Philippine representative in the International Skills Competition held in Japan in 2007 and the only Filipino Deaf actor who interpreted the “Mi Ultimo Adios” poem of National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal in Filipino Sign Language.
Ultimo _ smaller file

FDVDAO Group is a closed invite-only Facebook group which now has nearly 4,000 members, majority of whom are deaf and hard-of-hearing. You can only post video blogs in sign language. Personal opinions and views of all the members is highly respected so bashing is not allowed. I was honored to be invited in this group.

You may view his ten-minute video in Filipino Sign Language by clicking on the YouTube link below. Aldrin’s explanation is very simple and straightforward. He even used a paper diagram to illustrate his point clearly. I added the English caption/subtitle for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the language. I am sure you will now be convinced that FSL is the correct name after viewing his video.

Cheers to Filipino Sign Language and the Filipino Deaf Community!!!

Note: He corrected the word AMERICA in his paper illustration to AMERICAN. Sorry for the error.

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Deaf roles should be given to deaf actors

Last week, our country celebrated its “Deaf Awareness Week”, an annual event which we have been doing since 1991 when then President Corazon Aquino signed Proclamation 829. All schools for the deaf as well as government agencies are encouraged to promote the cause of deaf people in the Philippines.

Local media also participated in the awareness campaign. One of which is ABS-CBN, the country’s largest media and entertainment network, wherein one of their popular drama anthology “Maala-ala Mo Kaya” made an episode of a deaf letter-sender named CJ Reynaldo who was able to beat the odds by passing and graduating in the best university (University of the Philippines) despite his condition. See the video trailer/highlight below:

Prior to its airing late Saturday evening of November 10, the episode created a buzz in the social media within the Filipino deaf community. There were numerous sharing and commenting with ABS-CBN leading the way in Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. We were all glued to the TV screen when it was shown. I even made an FB post about my experience watching it.


Screengrab from my Facebook Post

The story was very good and realistic. Hearing Actor Nash Aguas did a really swell job in portraying a very challenging deaf role. He acted very natural and convincing. With the support from her hearing mother played by the very talented Ms. Eula Valdez, the team really did their homework of studying sign language. Congratulations are in order for the MMK Group!!!

I am really satisfied with how they handled the story. However, what caught my attention was a Facebook post of a popular deaf actor and my friend Romalito Mallari after he watched the recent episode. He said,

Congrtz to CK’s story in mmk but i dnt accepted for hearing to be used deaf actor as a pretend person. I want see real new deaf actor. We proud of deaf actor. Sad! At least we watch u to make us inspired story. I hope one day deaf actor as well and we bravo u. Salute!

 

Romalito Mallari’s Facebook post

I have made a few blog posts about Romalito here when I promoted his movie “Dinig Sana Kita”. He is a very talented deaf artist. In fact, he even won a Best New Actor Award portraying the deaf lead role in this movie.

Come to think of it, his sentiment is right. Why did they not hire a real deaf actor to portray a deaf role? Perhaps the studio has its own valid reason of getting a hearing person to do a deaf role. But I felt sad and pitiful that deaf actors missed the only opportunity wherein they can work. Sure, they hired deaf actors to act as CJ’s friends and classmates. But their parts are too small and somewhat insignificant.

Facebook message conversation between me and Romalito

In the book, “For Hearing People Only, The Most Popular Handbook about the Deaf Community” of  Deaf Life Press/MSM Productions, Ltd, a question was raised.


“Do you have a problem
with hearing performers
playing Deaf roles?”

https://www.hpobook.com/q_and_a_sampling/DeafRole2016_2.html

For which the handbook author replied:

In the early days of Hollywood, Deaf roles were invariably played by hearing performers. Many of these characterizations were stereotyped (and would be considered offensive nowadays). Deaf actors and actresses began breaking into TV and film during the 1970s, scoring important advances—e.g., returning characters, lead characters, getting ASL-speaking Deaf performers in background roles. With these advances have come a demand for authenticity. A hearing performer who takes a Deaf role (typically with a crash course in ASL and Deaf mannerisms) is rarely convincing. Every Deaf role given to a hearing performer represents a lost opportunity. We believe that Deaf performers should be cast in Deaf roles.

American cinema and TV dramas are now providing significant opportunities to deaf actors. Who would never miss the Oscar awardee Marlee Matlin, CJ Jones of Baby Driver and the now famous child star  Millicent Simmonds of a 2018 sleeper hit, A Quiet Place? They all portrayed deaf roles.

ABS-CBN might argue that they have no time to train a deaf actor to do the role on such short shooting days, or they might have difficulty finding a Filipino deaf actor to cast in the role. But I don’t believe that they have fully exhausted their options on this.

As the book says, “Every Deaf role given to a hearing performer represents a lost opportunity.” I may also add that, “deaf actors portraying deaf roles not only provide work opportunities for them, but also advance the authentic awareness of the deaf people.”  

PS: A “Like Star” rating below for this post would be highly appreciated. 😉 😉 😉

Can we compare a hard-of-hearing from a deaf?

Or if I may rephrase my title, is it better to be a hard-of-hearing than to be a deaf person?

Erasmus, a famous Latin scholar during the Reformation once said,

in regione caecorum rex est luscus, or in English

in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

Is the proverb also applicable to the deaf and the hard-of-hearing people?

Hard of Hearing (HoH) refers to someone who doesn’t hear well. This may be because they were born with a hearing loss or they may have lost some or all of their hearing later in life. Many hard of hearing people don’t know that they have a hearing loss.

ndpr2
Deaf audience

A few weeks ago during our yearly National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week (NDPR) celebration, our deaf students were invited to attend the “Persons With Disabilities Networking with Employers Talkshop” hosted by the Persons With Disabilities Affairs Office of Quezon City. Resource speakers from various sectors of disabilities gave their “from rags to riches” stories and how they overcame their barriers to attain their success. As always, a great majority of those who attended were deaf people.

ndprtarpaulin
NDPR Tarpaulin

I should say, it was truly a very inspiring activity. However, when it came to the “hearing impaired” sector, the organizers chose a “speaker”. I consciously quoted the word speaker because he really can speak! His story started when in childhood, he emphasized that he can hear. His sense of sound eventually diminished as he grows older due to a disease. He is what the deaf studies call, “post-lingual deaf”.  He then mentioned about how he was bullied and discriminated during his elementary up until his college days. But then, he succeeded and completed his education.

Again, he experienced discrimination while applying for a job. Luckily, his passion for photography earned him a work in an online news site. Eventually he became a regular government employee. His is truly an “against all odds” testimony. Oh by the way, he only communicates through lipreading and writing. He confessed that he knows little sign language and he chose not to learn it.

Some deaf from the audience cannot hide their feeling of a tinge of envy from this successful guy. They signed, “good for him” because he can talk! “Good for him” because he has work! “Good for him” because he passed the Career Civil Service Examination (CSC) that is why he is now a regular government employee! Upon comparing their current situation, the deaf attendees started questioning themselves. “What would become of us?”

Let me state it clearly here. I AM NOT PREJUDICIAL AGAINST THE HARD-OF-HEARING PEOPLE. God blessed them with this residual ability to hear. They are what we call in graphics animation, the in-betweeners in the deaf world. They are neither here nor there. And since they can hear a little, then they are at an advantage compared to those who are profoundly deaf because probably once in their lifetime, they were able to appreciate sounds and speech clearly.

When one of the deaf participant asked a direct question to him, “you can hear that is why you found a nice job, now what about us who cannot hear?” Still another one asked him, “you passed the CSC Exam because you know Tagalog, now how about us who have a language barrier since we don’t know the language?”

 

reverse interpret
Me reverse interpreting MCCID’s Sir Ervin as he questions the speaker.

For these questions, he simply replied, “you must be more patient and strive harder.” Now this is such a tall order, an advice that is too difficult to fulfill. But then again, saying this would make us sound so pitiful and hopeless.

So I am more inclined to side with him and agrees with his reply. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “if someone wants you to go one mile, go with him two miles”. We must double our effort in achieving our goals. As another saying goes, “slow and steady wins the race.”

* – I deliberately did not mention the guy’s name because I don’t want to put him in a bad light. He is a good friend and I truly admire his tenacity and advocacy for his group. I may put his name here if he allows me to do so.

Filipino Deaf Candidate asked to resign from Beauty Contest

This is again another act of discrimination against the deaf! Binibining Pilipinas is a national organization which holds the annual search for Filipina beauties who will represent the country in international contests such as Ms. Universe, Ms. International, Ms. Tourism and Ms. Supranational. According to their website’s FAQ, here are their requirements:

  • A single lady, 17 to 25 years old
  • A Filipino citizen, minimum 5’6” in height with pleasing personality
  • At least a high school graduate and of good moral character

Now, let us check the requirements of Christine Balaguer:

  • A single lady, 17 to 25 years old – Check!
  • A Filipino citizen, minimum 5’6” in height with pleasing personality – Check!
  • At least a high school graduate and of good moral character – Check!

I don’t see any requirement saying, Can hear and speak. Then why the hell was she asked to resign? She is already among the finalist and passed the batteries of test before landing into the top 34. Why? Why? Why?

Here is Rappler.com’s news article about this glaring discrimination published last month:

Deaf candidate Christine Balaguer removed from Bb Pilipinas 2015

Christine says being asked to resign by the organizers has left her ‘depressed’ because it was her big dream to be the first deaf candidate to compete.

CHRISTINE BALAGUER. File photo by Melvin Sia

CHRISTINE BALAGUER. File photo by Melvin Sia

MANILA, Philippines – Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated (BCPI) has replaced Christine Balaguer in the official list of candidates for this year’s pageant.

Christine was announced as one of the 34 candidates last January 10 and was photographed in some of the girls’ activities. (IN PHOTOS: The 34 Bb Pilipinas 2015 candidates)

On her Facebook page, Christine said that she was asked by BCPI to resign, which made her “depressed.” She added that it was her big dream to be the first deaf candidate to compete.

Christine was replaced by Cannielle Faith Santos from Marilao, Bulacan. Christine previously joined Miss World Philippines 2014, where she placed in the Top 10. (READ: The Binibining Pilipinas 2015 returning hopefuls)

She is the second candidate to be replaced in this year’s list. Candidate #9 Kimberle Mae Penchon dropped the competition and was replaced by Maolin Yalung. – Rappler.com

Paging BCPI!!! Count this blogger as one of those protesting against this discrimination!

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