Ignorance about Filipino Sign Language

The issue about sign language and the deaf community has sparked renewed attention recently in the Philippines. This was after viewing the second State of the Nation Address of our very controversial and unorthodox (talk about all the badmouth words) yet very popular President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday, July 24.

#fslsaSoNA2017
Photo courtesy of Ms. Naty Natividad, current Vice President of Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (PNASLI)

I was assigned by PNASLI, the national association of sign language interpreters, to do interpreting together with Dean of College of St. Benilde and my “kumare” Nicky Templo-Perez at GMA-7, a regular or “suki”. Actually, it was in GMA7 where I first interpreted in SONA way back in 2010. This year, aside from the local private TV stations, it’s the first time the government TV Channel 4 aired the SONA with inset sign language interpreting. And they were very fortunate to have their interpreting right inside the halls of the House of Representatives itself where the actual action is happening.

However, they did not get their interpreters from the pool of PNASLI people. Instead they got the services of the Philippine Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (PRID), the oldest existing organization which trains and deploys interpreters in the country. As an alumnus and a proud product of PRID, I was truly excited that they have participated in such a momentous event. Interpreting in one setting is what I really dreamed of. I have been aspiring that all TV stations will broadcast the President’s SONA using one interpreter.

bamaquino
Senator Bam Aquino (Photo linked from the Manila Bulletin)

But I won’t be dwelling much on that. I would like to emphasize on the recent news coming from Senator Bam Aquino pushing for the Filipino Sign Language Bill in the Senate. He said he was grateful for the sign language interpreters during the SONA because of their efforts to deliver the message of the President to our fellow Filipinos who are deaf. Aquino is the author of Senate Bill No. 966 or the Filipino Sign Language Act, which seeks to declare FSL as the national sign language of the Filipino Deaf and “the official language of the Philippine government in all transactions with the Deaf.” He also mentioned that many saluted or lauded the interpreters for making the sign language available to deaf persons during the two-hour SONA.

It was a really welcoming news item. But then, a handful of people who commented on the news in social media were so distasteful and exposing their ignorance about sign language and its use. Someone even suggested that the Senator should focus his efforts on how he can assist the deaf by putting more wheelchair ramps! Talk about mixed disabilities. Still another guy recommended that the Filipino deaf use the internationally accepted American Sign Language (ASL) so that he can compete globally. Really? Why would the Filipino deaf need that? Are they applying as Call Center Operators or work overseas? Yet another one opines that supporting FSL is for the sake of Filipino pride and acknowledgement of its existence. Well, what’s wrong with that? He even emphasized that sign language is universal so there’s no need to create a new one. Does he really think that it’s universal?

Did you know that Filipinos have different names describing rice, our staple food? We have palay for unmilled rice, bigas for milled rice, kanin for cooked rice, lugaw for rice porridge, tutong for burned rice, bahaw for left over rice and sinangag for fried rice. You might also be surprised that each of these words have distinct Filipino Sign Language.

Another distinct difference between ASL and FSL is through fingerspelling. Look at the illustration below.

difference between asl and fsl in fingerspelling.png

I have met people who brags by saying they are well versed in ASL. But when I observed their signs, I can easily distinguish it from Signed Exact English (SEE) or Pidgin Sign English (PSE). So it’s either they don’t know what they’re talking about or they are plain ignorant. (Is there a difference?)

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Join us! Bring Filipino Sign Language to the public schools!

*PLEASE SHARE / FORWARD / POST as widely as possible. Thanks!

To: Videographers / Editors / Animators / Storytellers / Writers / Actors / Artists / Producers / Designers / TV / Mass Comm students, networks Fine Arts students, alumni & organizations / Teachers / education students / language or culture students / Web designers / administrators / Lawyers / law students (interested specially in copyright, IPR) or any dynamic, resourceful team players, volunteers who want to be a part of Deaf History! :o)

++
Greetings co-advocates / supporters / friends of the Deaf community!

After five years of having P100M in the Philippine budget authorized by law to be used for “Instructional Materials and Textbooks for the Handicapped“, the DepEd is FINALLY going to start to act and use this fund to develop materials together with civil society organizations!

This is based on two laws which require the use of Filipino Sign Language in the public school system:
Republic Act No. 10410 known as the “Early Years Act”: in Day Care Centers in all barangays
Republic Act No. 10533 known as the “K-12” law.

I, along with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD), the DLS- CSB School of Deaf Education and Deaf Studies, (CSB-SDEAS) the Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf (MCCID) and the CAP College – School for the Deaf (CAP-SFD), the major institutions who have advocated for the use of Filipino Sign Language, have come together to start this challenging task: to bring FSL to the public schools of the Philippines, and FSL materials to the eyes and minds of deaf children all over the country.

In order to be able to use FSL as the “Mother Tongue” (or first language) for deaf children, there need to be Learner Materials (in video):
– in FSL as a subject (from K-3, or Kinder to Gr. 3; plus in the Day Care Centers)
– of all other subjects (Math, Araling Panlipunan, etc.) in FSL.

Some aspects of FSL may be taught in the classroom using print. But as a visual / spatial language, video will be the best medium. Video Learner Materials may be disseminated using TV.

Because of this, we will need volunteers, supporters, technical experts, education graduates, teachers, etc. who can assist the 4 institutions above.

Whether you sign or not, if you are willing and able to contribute to this historical undertaking, we would be happy to have you!

For any questions, pls email this address.
Thank you and we hope to hear from you!
In service of the Filipino Deaf community ~
Liza B. Martinez, PhD
PDRC (2001-2013) / Deaf Resources Philippines

Consultative Forum of SL Interpreters on January 9

To all my Filipino Sign Language Interpreters, here is your chance to air our concerns and at the same time have a good bonding time with our fellow terps. You are cordially invited to “Sign-On” A consultative forum with World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) Asia-Representative Etsuko Umemoto.

The forum will be held at CSB Auditorium, 5th Floor, De La Salle-College of St. Benilde at 2544 Taft Ave, Malate, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines on Saturday, January 9, 2016 from 8 AM – 5 PM.

Forum on SL Interpreters
Forum on SL Interpreters

To register online, click on this link http://bit.ly/1IpW8lx. See you there! 🙂

Survey for Filipino Interpreters

PNASLI Interpreting Survey Form

To all my Filipino sign language interpreters, may I encourage you to answer this Interpreting survey form? This survey is being conducted by the Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (PNASLI). The group would like to get in touch with with all its members soon for the next General Assembly meeting.

You may click on the image above or this link to go the the form. Thank you. 😉

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1PagO5wUcFg-KGx1fFuYOZOOCoeyNvPVj21dgg7FcU8U/viewform

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