Sign Language Interpreters Group announces 5th General Assembly

Heads up Philippine sign language interpreters! The Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters (PNASLI) will be holding its 5th General Assembly from May 15-18, 2019 at Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

This year’s theme is “Beyond Filipino Sign Language Law: Moving Forward“. General election of new set of officers will be held aside from the assembly. This activity will also be in tandem with the 8th General Assembly of Philippine Federation of the Deaf which will also be held on the same date and venue.

For details please refer to the announcement poster below or email the group at philippinenasli@gmail.com. You may also go the our official Facebook page for further announcements. To register for the event, please click on this link: https://tinyurl.com/y7o4e2fv.

Kitakits po tayo mga terps!

PNASLI Poster Announcing the 5th General Assembly in Bohol, Philippines
PNASLI Poster
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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.

HIV-AIDS Talk in Filipino Sign Language

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed the into law in January 9 Republic Act 11166 or the “Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018”.

Under the law, the government is mandated to establish programs and policies and adopt a multi-sectoral approach to prevent the spread of HIV, and ensure access to HIV and AIDS-related services “by eliminating the climate of stigma and discrimination” on patients.

The Philippine National AIDS Council is reconstituted and streamlined to ensure effective implementation of the country’s response to the spread of HIV and AIDS among the population. It also provides penalties to people who will discriminate against HIV-positive individuals and enables minors 15 years of age to get tested for HIV.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque has lauded the recent signing as well as informed the public about the alarming rate of increase in persons infected with the virus. Latest data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that 945 newly-diagnosed HIV cases were recorded in November 2018. This is truly a cause for alarm because it also affects the Filipino Deaf. I even heard of one deaf who died of complications due to AIDS.

Nearly a week ago, Outrage Magazine, the only publication dedicated to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) groups in the Philippines uploaded a series of videos in their YouTube Channel explaining the nature as well as how to get an HIV-AIDS Test in Filipino Sign Language. This to me is very timely as well as helpful in raising the AIDS awareness among the Filipino Deaf Community.

Pinoy Deaf Rainbow Logo
Pinoy Deaf Rainbow Logo

There are a significant number of deaf who belong to the LGBT community. They even organized a group called Pinoy Deaf Rainbow and has been participating in many related activities like Pinoy Pride and beauty pageants. I believe most of the actors that appeared in the Outrage YouTube videos are members of this group. They have and active Facebook Group Page aside from the YouTube Channel.

Here are the YouTube Videos from OutRage Magazine. Please click on each video to watch it.

1. Let’s Talk About HIV

2. Getting Tested for HIV

3. What Happens After You Get Tested for HIV

In behalf of this blogger, I warmly salute Outrage Magazine for creating these videos explained in Filipino Sign Language. I am very positive that these advocacy videos will enlighten our entire Filipino Deaf Community, not just the Deaf LGBT group.  🙂

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. 😉 😉 😉

Filipino Sign Language now official

Filipino Sign Language for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Great news!!!

After more than two decades of convincing people that there exist such a language, the Philippines has finally recognized Filipino Sign Language as the true and living language used by the Filipino Deaf community!!! Pres. Duterte signed today Republic Act 11106 or the Filipino Sign Language Act!!! 😍😍😍

President Rodrigo Duterte

We were already believers and has been using/promoting Filipino Sign Language since 1991 when I was then a computer instructor for the deaf at CAP College Foundation, Inc. We were convinced by the explanation of our then Director Rosalie Macaraig who arrived from Gallaudet University. Cory Aquino was still the president then. We have been observing and studying the signs of the Filipino deaf community and we were very much convinced that they are using a unique yet highly developed signs which are distinguishable from American Sign Language.

Yet the struggles in pushing for its recognition was ginormous. The Department of Education and even the first public school for the deaf in Asia are the greatest stumbling blocks. They never believed that there exists a language commonly used by the Filipino Deaf. One of the compelling reasons why Deaf Ervin Reyes and I established Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf back in 1993 was to agressively promote FSL.

But we never lose hope. With the strong persistence of Philippine Federation of the Deaf, the yearly filing of House Bill by Congressman Antonio Tinio, painstaking researches of Dr. Liza Martinez and her group, the bonding together of like-minded colleagues to form Philippine National Association of Sign Language Interpreters and the continued nurturing of the Filipino deaf community, the country has finally recognized FSL as the true and living visual language.

So, after more than five presidents later, it was President Rodrigo Duterte who signed Republic Act 11106 into law on October 30 and published on November 12 coinciding the Deaf Awareness Week celebration (November 10-16). Our dream has finally been fulfilled! Cheers to best times ahead for the Filipino Deaf Community!!!

Download the official law here:

Duterte Signs Filipino Sign Language Into Law – Abs-Cbn News 

Duterte Signs Filipino Sign Language Act – Philippine Daily Inquirer

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