Government health workers in Metro Manila given sign language training

This is a repost from Business Mirror.

THE regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) started on Wednesday training health-care providers on Basic Filipino Sign Language (BFSL) for them to use in communicating and understanding patients in health-care facilities with hearing disabilities.

“This is the first phase of our development program for our health workers who are involved with patients with disabilities [PWDs]. We want to make health services to better serve those who have disabilities and make it easier for them to go to a health center and tell a health worker what they need without worries,” Regional Director Eduardo Janairo said.

Janairo said the training will also increase their knowledge and understanding about PWDs and how they can improve their attitudes towards patients who are disabled.

“These improvements are not so difficult or expensive to do. All we need is determination and dedication and the proper skill to make it possible,” Janairo emphasized.

The first batch of trainees will be provided with a module that will familiarize them with the basic signs for communication with deaf patients. These includes the alphabet, numbers, greetings, time, days, months and commonly asked questions inside the emergency room. After memorizing simple gestures and facial expressions, trainees can interact with hearing impaired patients.

Among the 25 participants included in the training are health workers from the Lung Center of the Philippines, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Las Piñas General and Satellite Trauma Center, San Lorenzo Ruiz Women’s Hospital, Valenzuela Medical Center,  San Lazaro Hospital, Ospital ng Makati, Mandaluyong City Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital and Region 4A.

Media practitioners from the Philippine News Agency, Philippine Information Agency, Media Concepts and Public Information Office of Marikina were also invited to join the training.

The DOH-NCR launched the first BFSL Module for Health Workers on November 13, 2012, with the objective of educating health workers with basic sign language for them to better communicate and understand deaf patients in their care.

It was developed through the support of the University of the University of the Philippines-PGH, CAP College for the Deaf, De La Salle University’s College of Saint Benilde and the Department of Education-National Capital Region.

Janairo said health workers provide treatment and care to many people daily and some patients are not fortunate to communicate the normal way.

“We want to help the patient but we do not speak his language and he on his part cannot convey to us what he needs. Some of these patients are not accompanied by relatives. That is why it is imperative for us educate ourselves with their language to be able to communicate with them and give them the proper health care treatment,” he added

“We will extend this training to all health providers in the region until most health workers are taught how to communicate using signs. This skill is essential as we do not want to commit errors and prescribe the wrong treatment just because we lack the knowledge to communicate with our patients,” Janairo added.


My List of Deaf Related Groups in Facebook

Facebook Login Page

Facebook is now the most popular social networking site. To date they already have more than 350 million users. And with that many people, privacy will definitely be compromised. So when they recently placed a banner heading every time you login, informing us that they will soon be removing regional networks – or grouping of people based on where they live – , I got a bit scared.

I rarely tweet, never plurked, blog once in a while and despise Friendster because of its convoluted interface (I heard they already made a revamped Facebooky style). But with Facebook, I got hooked!

Now, when you’re in someone’s network, let’s say you belonged to the same school or company, you essentially “friend” everyone on that network, allowing others to see the entirety of your Facebook page (this can be changed in your privacy settings). With these latest developments, would other groupings be controlled next?

With that fear constantly entering my paranoid mind, I might as well share with you a list of my favorite deaf related groups and pages before it’s too late. 🙂

  • DEAF NATION (Language, Culture and Pride) – It has extensive deaf related features including Matt Hammil, the famous deaf wrestler.
  • DEAF CULTURE AND SIGN LANGUAGE – Their latest wall post says,

    hi everyone, we use ASL (American Sign Language) in USA and we use CSL (Chinese Sign Language) in China, right? how about you? would you please tell us what your sign language is? thank you.

  • THE CAPTION HUNT PROJECT – This is an on-going entertainment research project by 2GuysTaking providing entertaining yet detailed closed captioning reports for a continually-growing list of television programs, DVDs, feature films and more.
  • DEAF FILIPINO AMERICAN – This is a social networking group where you can meet new friends, keeping in touch with the old ones, Filipino culture events and of course, Deaf Filipino news.

I also have a list of favorite Fan Pages of schools for the deaf in the Philippines. These are:

These are only my initial lists. It will definitely increase so long as my enamor with Facebook is still there. Oh by the way, I would also like to share with you my current wall post:

Facebook is not a contest as to how many friends you have but as to how long you keep the friends you have.


My Korean Experience with the Deaf

Philippine Deaf Team on Stage
Philippine Deaf Team on Stage for Photo Ops

Last week, I was very much blessed to be part of the entourage of Filipino Deaf group who had a chance to visit the Soul of Asia, Seoul South Korea. For seven days, I was able to travel to one of the most sought after cities in the world.

Together with a mix of predominantly deaf delegation coming from Capitol City Baptist Church Deaf Ministry (CCBCDM) led by its Deaf Pastor Julius Andrada and his family, I experienced another exciting event in my life. Actually the nineteen-man delegation was composed of deaf students, staff, members and faculties of CAP College Foundation, CCBCDM and MCCID College of Technology. Well, the only common denominator is that nearly all of us are somehow connected with CCBC either as faithful attendees and sign language interpreters like me.

Andrada Family
Andrada Family

Ptr. Julius was with his wife and CAP SFD Registrar May Andrada together with two kids and their ward Lilet. Others from CAP were Ms. Revie Garcia, Harold Viray, Ylena Reyes, Michael Valois and Perseus Rendal. The last four are either students and alumni.

MCCID Team in front of DreamTel Hostel
MCCID Team in front of DreamTel Hostel

CCBCDM members were composed of Ptr. Rolando Landicho, Rodante De Torres and Jeremicah Penir. MCCID team who joined aside from me was Sir Ervin Reyes and Sir Jerome Marzan representing the faculty while Joanna Teves and Eleazar Fancubit came from the student group. Although Ptr. Julius selected the entire members of delegation, he gave our MCCID group a full hand as to who would participate.

Among the delegates, only six of us are hearing persons (May, Jules, Licca, Lilet, Revie and me).

We felt honored that our Philippine Flag was one of those waving in the hotel's facade. But we also felt disgraced that it was erroneously posted with red on top of blue. So we called the attention of the staff. Later that night, they replaced it with a new flag and corrected the position.

Why are we there?

Typical Yewon Church Sunday Service
Typical Yewon Church Sunday Service with me interpreting for the Filipino deaf team

The Korean based Yewon Church, a rapidly growing Evangelical Christian church invited the Philippines to join in their third (?) World Deaf Mission Conference. Their aim is to spread the good news of God’s Word to the deaf people through the ends of the earth (That includes the Philippines). They already have a Philippine based Yewon Church. I believe they want to establish a separate Deaf Yewon Church through the able leadership of their Deaf Assistant Pastor Juwon Chung. Juwon is a Gallaudet University alumnus who is also a proud son of Rev. Chung Eun-Chu, Yewon Church’s Senior Pastor.

They invited the Philippine team and generously paid for all of our expenses. We are truly grateful to them for inviting us.

Korea and the Philippines

I wasn’t expecting much about the trip in terms of cultural differences. These past few years, there have been a deluge of Koreans who visit our country. They have virtually invaded our islands in terms of food (Kimchi restaurants are sprouting almost everywhere.), schools (I was surprised that in Licca’s elementary school, 50% of their population are Koreans.) and soap operas (Who can forget Full House, Endless Love Series, Jewel in the Palace and the now hugely popular Boys Over Flowers?). Latest survey shows more than one million Koreans have already visited the Philippines. So we have already been bitten by the Korean bug.

Beautiful Seoul Street
Beautiful Seoul Street

But then, I didn’t expect something exciting. Seoul is a beautiful and walkable city. Even at 2 am, my deaf team visited 7-11 Convenient Store which is a few blocks away from our hostel (Dreamtel International Youth Center) without fear of getting mugged. Then, we went to their famous spots like the top of the N Seoul Tower wherein one window was specially dedicated to Manila.

Juwon and Me at Seoul Tower Manila Window
Seoul Tower Manila Window
McDonald's Korea
McDonald's Korea

We were also treated to a cable car ride and experienced traversing the busy yet clean and hassle free Seoul highways and subways. Familiar faces of popular Korean actors donned every corner. How I wish the Philippines would be as clean as Seoul considering that Korea only became this highly urbanized more than thirty years ago?

Seoul Tower in Flames
Jerome in Flaming Seoul Tower
Korean Subway
Me, Juwon and Jerome inside a Korean Subway

As for the food, well, call me biased, but I never liked spicy hot meals. The first time I tasted their Kimchi, my stomach started to grumble in quick successions. I decided to refrain from eating some more for fear of having a hard time concentrating with my sign language interpretation.

Korean Breakfast
Korean Breakfast

In one of the Korean restaurants, the waitress motioned us to pour our rice on the soup. We immediately waived no. In another meal, one Korean lady explained to us that all the ingredients must be mixed in one bowl with red hot sauce on top. I’m not used to mixing food in one plate so we politely motioned her to leave us alone.

Watermelon Courtesy Call
Watermelon Courtesy Call

During our courtesy call with the highest official of their church, we were treated with a Korean watermelon. We felt a bit surprised and at the same time thought that we were cheap. You see, watermelon is one of the staple fruits in the Philippines. Everybody regardless of economic status can enjoy this delicious watery fruit. Later on I politely inquired about the way we were treated. Our interpreter defended that watermelon is very expensive in Korea. It was only served for very special guests and visitors. Ahhh, ok! I got it. Watermelon costs nearly P5,000 per fruit in their fruit stands compared to P50 here! 🙂

As for the people, they are lovely and gracious. But communication is still something to be desired. Only a handful of them knows English. It’s hard for us to ask the restaurant owners if they offer rice or chicken. Philippines is a hands down winner here. You can go anywhere here and still be understood by anyone including the street children.

One more thing. It’s very unethical to compare. But I observe that Filipinos are happier despite being lack of material things. Hooray for my beloved country!

Korean Deaf and Filipino Deaf

Jojo with Hanna Jang
A gorgeous Korean Actress (Joke!!), English interpreter Ms. Hanna Jung and I. Relay signing took place. A Korean Deaf signs on stage. Then a Korean voices it to Korean language. Then Ms. Hanna translates it into English. Then I interpret it in FSL.

I thought that Asian countries are alike in many ways. I may also equate these perception for deaf communities. But I was mistaken. Probably because of the sign language. Koreans have their own distinct sign language which, I was told, was basically the same as the Japanese sign language.

Filipino Sign Language got its roots from ASL. Many South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong also got their roots from ASL. So Deaf communities from these countries can hit it well and fast. However, I cannot say the same with the Korean deaf. It might take quite a few more intense hours of conversation before we can have a decent understanding.

In learning a few Korean Sign Language, I found out that their hello’s, hi’s and goodbyes have the same sign. That sign can also be used to greet a deaf person in any time of the day whether morning, noon or night, much like the Hawaiian Aloha.

Although some of my deaf companions were able to hit it off with some Korean deaf, I cannot say the same for my Korean hearing friends. They have very limited English knowledge. I was only able to chat lengthily with Ms. Gloria Kwon, the Korean Sign Language interpreter and of course with Ms. Hanna Jung. They keep on apologizing about their limited English vocabulary. But they were remarkably good with English. However, I cannot know if they were able to faithfully interpret the Korean words into English.

Heartfelt Thanks

To the Yewon Church led by Rev. Chung Eun-Chu and Rev. Choi Duck-Keun of Department of Deaf Ministry, thank you very much for inviting us to visit your beautiful country and blessed by the Holy Spirit from your messages. Special mention to our Deaf companion, sign language interpreter and tour guide Mr. Juwon Chung for being so patient with us. God bless all of you! 🙂

To my brother in Christ, the faithful pastor of CCBC Deaf Ministry Julius Andrada, we are truly blessed that you selected our school to be one of those that participated in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thank you and may the Deaf ministry continue to shine for the glory of God through Christ Jesus! 🙂

You may view the news article I made in our MCCID Website. You may also want to see the other photos here.

Can depression lead to deafness?

Pregnant Woman
Can pregnant women suffering from severe depression cause deafness of their children? Is there a psychological connection between a mother and her unborn baby which can affect the development of his senses?

In our House Visits activity, I often ask the parents especially the mother, about her perceived cause of her child’s deafness. Most often, they reveal that they suffered German Measles during first trimester of pregnancy or since they have relatives who are also deaf, they identify their child’s deafness as hereditary. Some even shamelessly claim that their children became deaf because of their carelessness and misuse of medicines. But I rarely hear a mother who disclosed her child’s deafness due to her too much depression during pregnancy, until now.

The first time I encountered this situation was when I taught at CAP College School for the Deaf way back 1992. A very good looking young student has no idea why he became deaf. When I met her mother and congratulated her for having a handsome and loving child, she told me that she never expected her son to become deaf. She narrated to me that during her pregnancy, her husband, whom she married just a few months ago, left her for another woman. This devastated her. Her life was in shambles. She was so melancholic. But she never tried to abort her son. In fact, she even nurtured him because she knew that the child will be her only remembrance of her philandering husband. She thought that she might use her son as a leverage in order for her husband to return to her although her husband never came back. Even if what she said was true, I have no idea if that’s the real cause or it’s just one of those myths. Maybe she had other symptoms that she might have forgotten or mistook this with another one.

Fast forward to the present, I again encountered the same situation. Only this time, the husband never left. But the wife wished he had. The father was a very good provider. But it’s the physical and emotional abuses which had a great impact on the worsening condition of the family. When I asked about her son’s cause of deafness, the mother replied with another question. She said she was very much depressed when she was pregnant. Then, she asked, “Was this the cause of my son’s deafness?”

I am no doctor. I’m not an expert on this field. I only responded by saying that I came across the same situation more than a decade ago. This is the second time I heard about it and I don’t even know if that’s the real cause of her son’s deafness. Still she insists that it was the only thing she remembered as the cause of her son’s hearing loss.

In spite of being with the deaf people for nearly two decades, I still don’t know a great deal about them. But I have to equip myself with information in order to better understand them and offer assistance. So, I googled about this and found out that there is such a thing as Psychogenic Hearing Loss. According to, this type of deafness

“originates in the mind of an individual and is thereby psychological rather than physiological in nature. The loss may be classified either as intentional and based on underlying motives such as monetary compensation or sympathy needs or unintentional and based on underlying stress or anxiety.”

So there is a scientific evidence that tension or anxiety may lead to hearing loss. However, the study only reveals deafness among children and adults, not babies in their wombs.

Do you know of anyone who had the same situation?

Philippine Supreme Court Hires its First Deaf Employee

This is a welcome news amidst a series of depressing ones. After hearing from known economists painting a bleak outlook on the employment opportunities for Filipinos, here comes a good news. Another deaf person overcame his disability and became the first. 🙂

Arthur Principe
In a precedent-setting move, Chief Justice Reynato Puno approved the application of Arthur Principe, a BS Business Administration major in Management graduate of CAP College School for the Deaf. To know more about CAP, please read my blog post about the history of Philippine Deaf Education. On March 12, Principe started working as part of Associate Justice Arturo Brion’s staff. He was given the position of a co-terminus utility worker, the report added.

Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno has approved the hiring in an effort to give equal employment opportunity to persons with disabilities (PWD). Principe was recommended for employment by Justice Arturo D. Brion who, himself, has a hearing impairment.

Principe started working last March 12 as a utility worker at the office of Justice Brion. He manages files, encodes and photocopies documents, and does errands. He communicates with his officemates mostly through writing and at times through sign language for those who are familiar with it.

Justice Brion’s judicial staff head, lawyer Julieta Y. Carreon, describes Principe as a “very efficient and a good natured person.” “He is no different from the other workers. His disability is not a hindrance to his work. He is very much willing to learn. Working with him is a learning experience for us at the same time,” Carreon said.

According to them, Principe is the first deaf person who worked at the highest court of the land, much like Emilie Padullon worked on the highest office of the country.

I believe aside from CAP College, he was also a product of NOVA-CBM ICT Training Center, a training arm of the Nova Foundation for Differently Abled Persons Inc., a Philippine-based non-government organization. Many of our graduates also benefited from the corporate training Nova gives to the deaf including those hired at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Principe was also interviewed by a news program “24 Oras” aired by GMA Network.

So to Honorable Chief Justice Puno and Justice Brion, thank you very much for believing in the capabilities of our deaf! To Arthur this blog salutes you! Make the Filipino deaf community proud of your success and blessings. 🙂

May I clarify some points to reporters who write news about the deaf?

  1. Next time you make an article about them, kindly refer to them as simply “DEAF” and NOT “DEAF-MUTE”. This is how they are called non-offensively. This is similar to the way that “colored” was once used to describe African Americans but is now looked upon as derogatory. Many deaf people can speak. They are not short-tongued. This name-calling is really frowned upon by the deaf community worldwide.
  2. Please check your details first before writing your news. In the Manila Bulletin news article made by Rey Panaligan, entitled “Hiring of deaf-mute OK’d” (deaf-mute again!), he wrongly placed CAP College in Pasay City instead of Makati City. People often commit mistakes when they refer to school for the deaf. Everybody knows that Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) is in Pasay City. It was there since 1907. But not all schools for the deaf are located in Pasay City.
  3. A similar blunder was also made by GMA News when they mentioned in their news entitled, SC accepts first deaf-mute employee, that Principe studied college at PSD. Well, the last time I heard, PSD only offers up to secondary education. They never offer college courses.

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