Posts Tagged ‘May Andrada’

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).

02dreamtellflag

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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

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

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 deaf education symbol
Since our country is currently celebrating a week-long event making people aware about deaf and deafness, methinks it’s appropriate to share with you how deaf activities stirred up suddenly these past two decades. I’ll call this era the fourth wave borrowing the term coined by Dr. Liza Martinez and Mr. Rafaelito Abat in their research paper.

Before I continue to raise some eyebrows out there, I should say first that I don’t claim I’m in authority on this. I’m a fairly new entrant in this advocacy because I only became involved in 1991. However, I have been one of those who were blessed to witness this sudden resurgence of attention over the cause of the deaf in my country. And considering that deaf education here dates back more than a century ago with the establishment of Philippine School for the Deaf in 1907 and the formation of Philippine Association of the Deaf in October 17, 1926 by Pedro M. Santos, the first and only deaf pensionado to the United States, my contribution is but a tiny dent on this long and arduous time line.

Based on my interviews and personal association with some of these remarkable people, the highlights of the history during the pre-fourth wave era are:

The strongest fuel that ignited this rapid interest this last two decades is the in-depth study and growing support for Filipino Sign Language and Filipino deaf culture. Strong advocacies generated by the newly formed Philippine Federation of the Deaf (1997) and the Philippine Deaf Resource Center (2001) have made credence on the need to recognize the indigenous language of the Filipino Deaf.

Now what better way to propagate these fuels than to funnel them through the radical and forward-thinking minds molded by newly-established post-secondary institutions to their adult deaf students.

The fourth wave started with CAP College School for the Deaf (CAPSFD) when it opened its doors in 1989. As part of the family of College Assurance Plan Group of Companies owned by Atty. Enrique Sobrepena, CAP SFD was created because of his desire to assist his deaf grandson Eric attain a degree course in an all-deaf school. They offered the first non-mainstreamed, non-sectarian, pure deaf degree programs and accepted their first deaf faculty (Julius Andrada) for higher education. The idea of Filipino Sign Language was first discussed and defended in the classrooms of CAP SFD while at the same time, the Department of Education dismissed it by simply calling it a bastardized American Sign Language. They also introduced the bilingual-bicultural approach of education with emphasis on deaf culture, a system which was taught by the school’s first director Ms. Rosalinda Macaraig which she learned from her studies at Gallaudet University. Ms. Macaraig is a former teacher of SAID before heading CAP SFD and currently a full-time instructor at Gallaudet. In effect, CAP SFD pioneered tertiary non-sectarian deaf education.

Although Miriam College started offering a certificate program for the deaf as part of their outreach for SAID graduates at almost the same year as CAP SFD, I don’t consider them the first. This is because back then, they only offered a mainstream program. It means deaf students sit on the same class together with majority of hearing students. I remember my brother used to teach computer subjects there. He told me that in one of his class, there is an interpreter sitting in front of two students while he lectures in front of the majority.

Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation – LCCD and Bible Institute for the Deaf also offered college programs. But theirs are ministerial, Christian evangelism and pastoral in nature.

De La Salle – College of St. Benilde, a well-established hearing school, followed in 1991 by opening their School for Deaf Applied Studies (SDEAS). Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf came in third in 1993. Soon enough, few universities and colleges all over the country followed by offering mainstreamed programs and special education (SPED) centers sprouted in nearly every first class province. Deaf associations started to proliferate. There are also specialized deaf individuals that formed a common group like deaf artists, deaf painters and deaf sports clubs.

Companies also began to notice the deaf’s employment potential. Major firms like Lamoiyan Corporation, Jollibee Food Corporation and Bench Clothing Apparel now maintain deaf workers. Even Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took notice on the deaf’s employability by hiring a few of them in her staff.

Now for my reaction, after watching the recent docu-film Silent Odyssey which showcases deaf history in the Philippines, I noticed that there was no mention of CAP SFD. There was not even a passing-through scene of Mr. Andrada who was one of the successful products of LCCD and took his MA at Philippine Normal University, was the two-term PFD President, a deaf pastor of the biggest deaf congregation in Metro Manila, the first deaf college teacher, now its Deaf Coordinator, and a champion advocate of deaf rights. Even his hearing wife Mrs. May Gasataya-Andrada, a former principal at LCCD, high school teacher at PSD, a highly regarded FSL interpreter among the deaf community especially in court cases and now the Registrar of CAP SFD was not interviewed. I guess the filmmaker failed to make a thorough research on this. She did not give an accurate and fair treatment to the whole sector.

After learning sign language at PRID in summer of 1991, my first teaching assignment for the deaf was at CAP College. At that time, I juggled my teaching load between the deaf and hearing students at University of Santo Tomas. After a year, I decided to focus with teaching the deaf and became a full-time computer instructor at CAP SFD. It is in that school where I met the finest and most talented deaf graduates produced in the country like Dennis Balan, a professional photographer and Ervin Reyes, a multi-awarded web designer.

I totally admit that I got most of my information regarding the deaf at CAP SFD. These ideas gave me the desire and skills in order to put up MCCID. I owe a lot from working at CAP SFD for which I am very much grateful. I also know for a fact that DLS-CSB also got their idea for adding a program for the deaf from CAP SFD after seeing their officials visit the school a few times to learn its operations and attended CAP sponsored seminar-workshops. Some past and present prominent faculty of DLS-CSB SDEAS are formerly CAP SFD’s officials. So, I can categorically say that, if not for CAP SFD, there won’t be a DLS-CSB SDEAS or MCCID that sparked the Filipino deaf’s empowerment.

MCCID was also not included in the film. But I’m not sour graping because probably she does not consider our contribution to the sector that significant. However, I want to set the record straight. Let us give credit to where real credit is due. Marami pong mga tao na naghirap itaguyod ang kapakanan ng mga bingi sa Pilipinas at gumawa ng mga kapakipakinabang na bagay sa kanilang ikauunlad. Hindi lang isang institusyon. This is my own small way of recognizing them. πŸ™‚

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