Congress files bill declaring FSL and Deaf Week every September

House Representative Alfred Vargas of Quezon City recently filed House Bill No. 7753 declaring the last full week of September of every year as the “National Week of the Deaf” and September 23 as “Filipino Sign Language Day.”
On its official Facebook post, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf announced this news and offered its sincerest gratitude to Congressman Vargas who authored this bill.
Congressman Alfred Vargas
The bill was filed in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities and the international advocacy of the World Federation of the Deaf.  It’s purpose is to
instill public awareness of the human rights situation of the Filipino Deaf, in line with the International Week of the Deaf… and for the purpose of promoting recognition and acceptance of Filipino Sign Language as a symbol of the need of the deaf for inclusion and as a reminder of individual’s and the state’s duty to accord due respect to people who are deaf and their linguistic and cultural identity, in line with the International Day of Sign Languages.
The bill is now pending with the Committee on PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES since September 29. You may get the full text of the bill by going to the official website of the Philippine House of Representatives here in PDF Format.
This humble blogger salutes Cong. Alfred Vargas for recognizing us and our cause. Let us support him by thanking him for this advocacy by commenting to his official Facebook page. Mabuhay po kayo!

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World boxing champ greets everyone on sign language day

Philippine Senator and eight-time World Boxing Champion Manny Pacquiao sends his greetings on the International Day of Sign Languages through a video message.

On his Official Facebook Page, he posted this message,

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!

Congress calls for review of implementation of Filipino Sign Language Act

Cong L Arroyo
Hon. Ma. Lourdes T. Arroyo of Negros Occidental, 5th District

The House of Representatives thru Negros Occidental 5th district Rep. Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” T. Arroyo, is calling on her colleagues to review the implementation of the Filipino Sign Language Act to ensure that the rights of the Deaf community in the country are protected and that they have access to information, education, and health services during this time of COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The law took effect on November 27, 2018.

Here is a repost from the original news article published by the Manila Bulletin dated June 20, 2020.

Arroyo calls for review of implementation of Filipino Sign Language Act

Published June 25, 2020, 10:42 AM

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Negros Occidental 5th district Rep. Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” T. Arroyo is calling on her colleagues to review the implementation of the Filipino Sign Language Act to ensure that the rights of the Deaf community in the country are protected and that they have access to information, education, and health services during this time of COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

The chairperson of the House Special Committee on Persons with Disability filed House Resolution No. 955 directing the Inter-Agency Council to submit to the House of Representatives a “comprehensive” report on the monitoring and implementation of the Republic Act No. 11106, which was signed into law by President Duterte in November 2018.

“During this crisis when information is constantly changing, getting information to the deaf and people with hearing loss is not easy,” she said. She noted that under RA 11106, the Inter-Agency Council is required to make an annual report on the monitoring and implementation of the law and submit it to both houses of Congress, and publicly disclose it.,

RA 11106 declares the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as the national sign language of the Filipino deaf and the official sign language of government in all transactions involving the deaf. The law mandates the use of FSL in schools, broadcast media, and workplaces.

Citing the report of the Manila Bulletin, she said an alliance of Deaf and hearing advocates has been formed to ensure the Deaf community’s equal access to information.

“It says that the alliance was formed recognizing the lack of sign language interpreters in TV stations during the announcement of the community quarantine and that interpreters had to designate a portion of their houses as their workstation to comply with the standards of TV inset,” Arroyo said.

She said all briefings of the Department of Health (DOH) as well as an official advisory of the government on rules and guidelines during the COVID-19 crisis should be made accessible to all citizens including our persons with disabilities.

Under HR 955, the House leader also asked private health facilities to provide access to health services to all deaf patients and their family members.

Under HR 955, the House leader expressed her panel’s readiness to look into the delayed issuance of the implementing rules and regulations of the law.

“There is a need to find out the reason behind the delay or inaction of the different government agencies involved in crafting the IRR of RA No. 11106 in order to diminish the severe risk to the health and well-being of individuals with disabilities especially the deaf and hard of hearing by timely and accurate health information surrounding the outbreak,” she said.
Section 13 of the law provides that the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino promulgate the implementing rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the proposed Act within 180 days after its effectivity date. That should be done in coordination with the Secretary of Education, chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), director-general of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), chairperson of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ), in consultation with the representative of the deaf community, teachers with knowledge and experience with the use of FSL in deaf education, academe, interpreters.

Here is the link to the original post.

Who’s afraid of a deaf driver?

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.

Deaf Driver in Pampanga

deaf uber driver from sulu
Photo from “The Story Pedia

Deaf drivers are one of the most careful and law-abiding drivers. Also, “The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) stresses that deafness does not in any way limit a person’s ability to drive a car or other vehicles.” I have experienced riding on deaf drivers many times. They are very cautious and too focused on their surroundings that they navigate the road very smoothly.

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.

lto form.fw
Sample Driver’s License Application Form of Land Transportation Office (LTO) with emphasis on “WITH HEARING AID” as one of the conditions

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.

ALKASAMOPI Logo
ALKASAMOPI Logo

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.

ALKASAMOPI Deaf Community Officers and Board
ALKASAMOPI Deaf Community Officers and Board (Link from their Facebook Post)

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”
  • Bloodletting project
  • 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.

Owen riding my bike pose together with ALKASAMOPI Deaf Members
Owen riding my bike (front) together with ALKASAMOPI Deaf Members

Deaf Group (including Owen) showing their LTO Driver's License
Deaf Group (including Owen) show their LTO Driver’s License after passing the test in September 2019

A personalized plate number is attached to the motorcycle to notify enforcers that the rider is a PWD and ALKASAMOPI member.
A personalized plate number is attached to the motorcycle to notify enforcers that the rider is a PWD and ALKASAMOPI member.

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.

To get in touch with them, email them at alkasamopi2018@gmail.com or visit their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Alkasamopi-Inc-102875361219347/

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!

  • – PWD means Persons With Disabilities

“Isa Pa With Feelings” Actors sign Deaf and Hearing

cargel.jpg

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!!!!

carlo deaf animated gif1.gif
Carlo Aquino signs DEAF.

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.

maine sign hearing animated gif
Maine Mendoza signs HEARING.

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. 🙂

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