deafdotph website cover
deafdotph website cover

We all experienced that the Internet empowers people. And using the web to champion a good cause gives it a better chance to succeed. Since I am always in support of improving the lives of the Filipino Deaf through technology, I value people and groups who use IT and social media to promote their advocacy. Presenting…. πŸ™‚

According to their site,

We are an online local community advocation. goal Our goal to teach “Filipino Sign Language Online”, and we’re on our way. We promote “Deaf Community Empowerment” that value people with hearing disability, and committed to building an all-star, DEAF.PH TEAM.

Their first activity will be a Meet Up at the “Enchanted Kingdom” Theme Park in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Dubbed, DEAFinitely Fabulous, the event will be on October 27, Saturday. Meeting place will be at Macdonalds Gateway, Cubao starting at 7am. For more information, you may contact:

Mark Joseph Quijano – DeafPH President at these numbers:09216635519 [SMART] and 09358981963 [GLOBE]

Let us support this website. Their community is still very new. But their future is very promising. Aside from offering Filipino Sign Language Online Courses, they will soon provide links and billboard postings about about job opportunities for the deaf, meetings, special announcements, laws, deaf success stories and many more exciting things. True to their cause, the group aims for awareness, appreciation and action.

Their slogan?

We are just getting started. COME, LEARN, EXPERIENCE & HAVE FUN!

Come and join this wonderful community and make yourselves DEAFinitely Fabulous! πŸ™‚

Hearing people as the minority

As a hearing person, I always associate myself with the majority. Not that I want to. It’s the way things are. There are so many of us and so few of them, the deaf people I mean. Some linguistics and deaf culture analysts compare the deaf community with the indigenous people. Although native people mostly co-habit in a specific area which they have grown into, in contrast, the deaf community members are widely scattered and miles apart. They can only be considered as a “community” when they are gathered together to socialize.

That’s exactly what happened when I attended the 5th Deaf Bible Camp at Luzon Baptist Camp in Mariveles, Bataan last April. Close to 300 Filipino deaf youth and adults mostly from the Luzon island attended this yearly Christian activity. Although I already had a taste of these camp-style Christian deaf gatherings before, I haven’t experienced this huge based on deaf’s population perspective. By the way, the term “camp” here is a misnomer since we sleep on the comforts of dorms and double-deck beds and not inside makeshift tents.

I was with 30 of our deaf students including my trusted deaf brother Ervin Reyes. I knew that this number will be my nightmare in management and supervision. We were the largest delegation. Even though they are already young adults, most of them in their early twenties, still I will serve as both mouth and ears of the group for five days. Their parents gave unwavering trust in me. I tried to stay unperturbed. But the nightmare soon became a reality.

I won’t reveal here the details of the nightmarish incidents we encountered during those five days in order to protect the integrity of the whole Filipino organizing team and Korean mission group as well as the deaf people involved. However, I can’t help but become more wary and express my reservations on joining events like this in the future unless more careful planning and preparations must be properly done first. I’m not saying that they did not make some plans. I understood their situation. They never expected to have this much turnout. With gatherings as huge this, unexpected incidents are bound to happen. Still, God’s unseen hand made the whole event truly safe and successful. πŸ™‚

MCCID group formed the largest delegation
MCCID group formed the largest delegation

Praise and Worship Singing
Overall, the week-long camp was a challenging experience for me. During plenary activities at the main chapel, I became more attuned with the community. Suddenly, I realized that in this gathering, I was part of the minority! I didn’t feel that I was surrounded by people from another world. There were no musical instruments during “Praise and Worship” singing although a regular drum was sparsely used to get their beats. Still, you feel the presence of people reciting praise songs to God.

Deaf Singing Group
Deaf "Singing" Group

Sound system is of no use in assemblies like this. But the message of God’s word echoed loud and clear on all corners of the hall. And so do gossips. πŸ™‚ You can see signs being thrown fast from one side of the bench to the other side a few meters away without others being bothered. However, one slight turn, and bang, the message was not sent! Worst, some messages were received by wrong persons! tsk tsk tsk 😦

You think everything is happening on a deafening silent atmosphere? It ain’t so! You can still hear deaf people voicing some words or making some inaudible sounds. Intermittent clapping, surprised shouting and contagious laughs can be heard. Still, the silence is nothing compared to a normal noisy gathering of hearing people.

Hearing interpreters/participants (Standing): Teacher Leonor Vizoro of Deaf Christian Church QC and Teacher Jojo. (Seated): Teacher Maribel Tablo of Nueva Ecija Church; Teacher Loida Alvarez of Bethsaida Tiaong, Quezon and Teacher Anabella Cuachin of Legaspi City.
Hearing interpreters/participants (Standing): Teacher Leonor Vizoro of Deaf Christian Church QC and Teacher Jojo. (Seated): Teacher Maribel Tablo of Nueva Ecija Church; Teacher Loida Alvarez of Bethsaida Tiaong, Quezon and Teacher Anabella Cuachin of Legaspi City.

From the 300 or so participants, I estimate that there were only around 20 of us who can hear. We were not even 10% of the total attendees! Among the hearing people includes the children of deaf pastors, three hearing pastors for the deaf like Pastor Mario Tomboc of Pangasinan Baptist Church, Pastor Andy Yambao of Bataan Church and another Pastor Andy from Tarlac church who was in charge of the food preparation and of course Pastor Julius wife, Teacher May Andrada. Although I already worked with Ptr. Mario, Deaf Ptr. Julius and his lovely wife May, Deaf Ptr. Rolando Landicho of CCBC, Deaf Ptr. Cesar Castro and his wife Sharon and Deaf Counselor John Paulo, it was the first time for me to get acquainted with other pastors including deaf leaders like Ptr. Jericho Manalo of Nueva Ecija and Ptr. Mamerto Cortez Jr. of Quezon, the proud father of my blog inspiration Jefferson Cortez. Korean Deaf Mission Society was led by their Deaf Rev. Shon Cheon Sig. It was also a great pleasure for me to meet new hearing friends which instantly became my colleagues in the deaf world (please see photo caption). We shared our exciting yet oftentimes thankless experiences serving the deaf community.

I even suggested to Ptr. Mario that with this large gathering, we might be able to install a congressman representing the deaf people in the House of Representatives. He agreed with me.

There were times when the “hearing group” was too noisy doing their thing at the back of the chapel while programs were going on. But that’s just it. We were at the back, being sidelined while the main protagonists were in front doing their ministry. We believe that the congregation was not bothered by our “other activities” at the back since they can’t hear us.

But did we feel being neglected? Definitely not! This is their activity. Let them be in the forefront. We were just at the back waiting for their beck and call in case they needed our humble assistance. Actually they did made some close calls and we were there. We did our ministry. πŸ™‚

Philippine National Anthem Video in Filipino Sign Language

Watch this 1.24-minute video-dramatization of the Philippine National Anthem signed by deaf students using Filipino Sign Language. The nineteenth century costumes were used highlighting the country’s condition and uprising against colonial Spanish era. It has both Tagalog and English captions. The presentation was videotaped behind the picturesque mountains of San Mateo in Rizal province. It is a 6,000 sq. m. property where the future site of MCCID will be erected.

This activity was conceptualized by MCCID Faculty Sir Jefferson Cortez as part of his Filipino Sign Language class. Lucky McGill Paltep (the one holding the Philippine Flag), a 2nd year Diploma in Arts and Computer Design Technology (DACDT) deaf student choreographed the sequences. Maricris Siping did the sign language interpretation. Overall director was MCCID Deaf Coordinator Sir Ervin Reyes.

Read more about how this short video presentation took shape and some insights about being a deaf person on the blog of my idol-friend Jeff. Enjoy πŸ™‚

Gadgets Madness

I know this is somewhat off-topic. It’s my blog! I can write whatever pleases me so long as it is informative and I won’t be cajoling my readers. I might probably even ask for your help in deciding. I’ll relate it with the deaf a bit later. πŸ™‚

Text Messaging

Last Wednesday (March 18), was one of those hectic, one-next-to-another schedule I had in years. After working my brains out at the school completing some paper works, I was juggling my time by attending to some parents of our deaf students trying my best to meet their concerns, which is mostly a communication thing between them and their students, the usual. I was unaware that my Nokia N80 cellphone which I bought nearly three years ago, conked out. Late in the afternoon, I started to wonder why for the first time in years, nobody texted me. There was no prompt message on the screen. Hmmm…. that’s odd. So I opened my message inbox. Lo and behold! I had nine incoming text messages, most of them work related and extremely important! What happened to my cellphone? What went wrong?

So every few minutes, I open my inbox which I don’t normally do. Then, I panicked! What will I do? It’s been three years since I bought a new cell. Do I think it’s time to take a leap to a new one?

In one of my text messages, my college best bud Sammy Mazo and his wife Mel informed me that they would be leaving back to Singapore, their current home base, after taking care of things here for the last few days. They want us to have a quick, unplanned and uncoordinated reunion with our other common college best friends Vicky Jamoralin and Susan Abada. I told them I’m available but only up to 8:00 pm because I have to be in our mini-web design conference in Ortigas. So after a few text exchanges, I arrived at SM North EDSA first, then Susan, then Sammy. We ate at Tokyo Tokyo when Vicky came. The reunion was a total blast! I had a really grand time. It’s a good thing Susan’s beau Jhun is a cellphone technician. When I related to him my cellphone ailment, he recommended that I reset it using *#7370# code. I asked him if all of my messages, (all 2,200 of them) would be erased including my contacts if I reset it? He said yes. Ugh! Again I panicked! 😦

My very first cell phone way back 1996
My very first cell phone way back 1996 is Nokia 2110i.

Cellphones are now becoming an all-important gadget a modern man has to have. In 1996, my cousin sold me Nokia 2110i from Globe Telecom. Back then, very very few people are into mobile phones. They find them heavy, bulky on the pocket, expensive and no functional use. I don’t know why I bought it. I am even more inclined to buy a TTY than a cellphone. So after a few months of use or, shall we say non-use, I placed it on our school’s cabinet for safekeeping. I don’t have anyone to talk to. Nobody in my circle of friends own a similar gadget.

I remember one of the first commercials of Globe Telecom way back 1996(?) (I wish somebody would upload it in YouTube), where two mid-twenties guys texting each other. The first guy was informing his girl through text how he was accepted in a company. The girl then gave sweet replies. They decided to meet up in a cozy restaurant. The text messages went back and forth. Then when they arrived at the place, the guy suddenly made hand signs. Then the girl replied with her own hand signs. They were both deaf! Text messaging has empowered deaf people! I don’t know if my perception jibes with the company’s intention. But I assume they believe that deaf people are a potent market for text messaging. I told you I can relate this post to the deaf. hehehe

A couple of years later, texting caught the attention of mainstream mortals. They find it a cheaper (Php1.00 per text) and faster way to send their messages across. Soon the SMS mobile history caught on. But not for me.

Then in 2000, after being surrounded by deaf people using cellphones and with constant prodding, nudging and convincing from them for me to buy one, I succumbed to their pressures. But I promised myself I won’t buy the same model as theirs. I want to be a cut above the rest. So while everyone taps the keypads of Nokia 3210, I bought Nokia 7110, the one with big head but couldn’t change its case. A year later, when my deaf brother Ervin upgraded his phone to Nokia 5110, I changed mine to Nokia 5510, the blue one shaped like a game boy. In 2002, I again switched to Nokia 3600, the one with circular keypad and a VGA camera. Ervin bought an upgraded model, Nokia 3650. I don’t know what’s got into me but a few months later, I again cried for Nokia 6600, the first model with video recording. Although I vehemently deny that I’m a gadget freak, I can’t help but buy what is the latest model in the market. Now my friends could not catch up. They all stayed with whatever cellphone that is comfortable for text messaging.

In 2003, I bought the sleek Nokia 7610 with black/red color and leaf shaped design. After years with Nokia, I then tried my luck with Sony Ericsson. In 2004, I bought S700, the one true camera phone. However, what strength it gives on camera, it lacks on text messaging. It often hangs up when I text more than 30 times a day. It’s just not right for me. Nokia is the most popular brand here in the Philippines due to its powerful text messaging features.

So after almost two years, I switched back to text king Nokia. In 2006, I bought Nokia N80. One thing I liked about it is that it’s Wi-fi enabled. I can surf the Net anywhere there is a free connection. Since then, it became my phone for life, until now.

Palm Tungsten E2
Palm Tungsten E2

Aside from fascinating myself with mobile phones, I also ventured out into other gadgets. In 2005, I bought a Palm Tungsten E1 Personal Device Assistant. I use it in taking down notes during seminar lectures and playing games. It proved to be useful for me when I copied the whole Bible in three versions and a concordance with sermon notes. I often bring it to church.

My brother who is currently based in New York, uses Apple IPhone. Most of his comments were praises. So I’m more or less influenced to buy one, except the one thing that hinders me most, the price. The 8GB model bundled with Globe plans cost a whooping 35,000 pesoses! So much for Apple! The current craze is touch screen phone. When my idol-friend Jefferson Cortez went for a one-month vacation spree in China to be with the love of his life (Wow! You lucky dog! hehehe), Ervin requested Jeff to buy him an Apple clone, more popularly called here as China Phone. However, when we compared prices, the phones here in the Philippines were even cheaper than theirs. That’s strange! So Ervin instead eagerly bought one in Greenhills Shopping Mall, the Philippine’s cellphone mecca.

Apple Clone called China Phone
Apple Clone called China Phone

But after a few days of using it, Ervin’s praises turned into complaints. One infamous grumble is about his difficulty texting using the touch screen. You see, he is kinda chubby on the fingers so pressing letters on the glass casing proves to be a pain for him. I tried it myself and it can-do at first. But when you are in a hurry and only one hand is available, texting using touch screen would seem daunting. So I guess, a touch screen cell phone might not be advantageous after all. I was nearly decided to buy Nokia 5800 ExpressMusic, their first touch screen model. But aside from occasional photo shooting, listening to good music (I also have Apple Ipod Nano 4GB so I rarely use my N80 for sound tripping.) and Internet browsing, a day with my cellphone is mostly texting and a wake up alarm clock. What would be the best model for me? hmmm….

Now, when I attended the mini-web design conference that Wednesday night, I saw most of the speakers flaunt their Apple MacAir Laptops. They were really fascinating. Saliva literally went gushing out my mouth. I have been using my Acer Travelmate running on Windows XP since 2006. I shouted to myself, I wanna buy them Apple!!!! :-0

The Amazing Mom of Luke

I believe this is the first time that a Deaf person entered The Amazing Race, now on their 14th season, although The Amazing Race Asia already had Adrian. Luke has been the center of most blog posts. He has been discussed lengthily here, here and here. The Bionic Ear Blogger even said that “Deafness Isn’t Amazing… It’s Just Is” and I totally agree with her. πŸ™‚

Well, enough about him. Since March is Women’s Month, I like to dwell more on Margie, The Amazing Mom! The fifty year old mother of Luke works as a clinical research associate. CBS Biography Page describes her as

competitive and a little controlling, but in a good way. She is willing to go anywhere the Race takes her and isn’t afraid of adventure.

Margie is considered as Luke’s link to the hearing world. She uses American Sign Language to communicate with her son and is amazingly skilled at that. She perceives the race experience as a great opportunity to spend quality time with her son. She truly is one of a kind. The biography did not mention if Luke has other siblings. If he does, I’m sure all of them would fully support him.

Here is the one-minute YouTube spliced video of The Amazing Race 14 Episode 1 featuring Margie and Luke:

One amazing quality I find in her is that Margie is a signing Mom! Ever since I started teaching for the deaf in 1991, I can barely count in my two hands the number of moms who are skilled signers. Forget about being a SKILLED signer. A simple day-to-day conversational signing is good enough for me. Yet, even with that minimum ability, I can hardly find one. It’s a tragic and heartbreaking feeling for me.

Moms ought to be guiding angels to their kids. They should be there to explain to their children about the difficulties of growing up, to answer their children’s simple queries about life and to encourage them to face the world bravely. Now, how can they do that if they don’t even know how to communicate with their deaf children? That’s odd!

In our school, we included house visits as one of our important and not-to-be-missed activity. For the past nine years, we have been doing this program and we value this special occasion very much. It has renewed relationships among parents and their deaf children as well as developed bonding between the school and the family. Most families don’t know how to communicate through sign language. This has become an opportunity for the parents to talk to their children spontaneously with the aid of a sign language interpreter. For the past two years, I have been assisted in interpreting part by another amazing and talented young teacher, Sir Jefferson Cortez. πŸ™‚

As I interview the parents, lack of communication is almost always the main contention. The deaf child complains that his mother doesn’t understand him. He cannot relate to him about his personal feelings and what he has been going through. The mother scolds his deaf child without even explaining to him clearly why he was being scolded. It’s like being jailed without knowing what you are accused of. That’s unfair, very unfair!

What hurts me the most is that when mothers approach me and asks me to tell their children to do this or not to do that. Isn’t that their duty to tell them as mothers and not mine as their teacher? At times, I politely request the mothers to tell that straight to their children. However, their most common reply is, “Sorry, I can’t. I don’t know how to sign.” Now, that’s tragic! 😦

So to the signing moms out there like Margie, this blogger salutes you! You are truly the Amazing Moms! πŸ™‚

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