Matyag (pagmamatyag) Tagalog. n. close observation. Syn. pagmamasid; obserbasyon; manman; cf (compare the following) tingin, tanaw, bantay, tanod; malas. (Source: “Diksyunaryo Tesauro PILIPINO-INGLES” by Jose Villa Panganiban, c. 1972)
Appropriately so, the Digital Stories (DS) and Participative Videos (PV) participated in and made by our Deaf friends from the Filipino Deaf Women’s Health and Crisis Center (FDWHCC), Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) and SDEAS in the UP College of Social Work and Community Development’s (CSWCD) “Matyag 4: CSWCD Advo-Docu Deaf Participatory Festival! Towards Deaf Participation, Information Sharing and Advocacy” closely looked at the neglect, abuses and violence experienced by the Deaf, mostly women. More than just giving information, the personal recounting of their pains and hurts (in first person) made their videos effective as they touch the hearts of receptive viewers.
I have always believed in the power of film and video as tools for advocacy and awareness. But involving the subjects in the process of making their own stories is far better I think than what I am actually doing. I do make advocacy films about and for special children and PWDs. I even made Silent O with them (two of the film’s cameramen, choreographer and most of the artists are Deaf) but doing their own thing is best I believe. I just hope that they will pursue with what they have started with Ms. Giselle Cruz (UP CSWCD Extension Specialist, Research and Extension for Development Office) and that what they have done would encourage other Deaf to join them in “speaking up.” With Deaf students from SDEAS (and other schools hopefully) who have been exploring and tackling Deaf problems, examining their psyche and expressing them out using the video technology for years, under training again from yet another Ms. Giselle (Montero of SDEAS), their voices shall be heard better by the society, and by their families, first and foremost.
I just hope that they will explore and manipulate the use of music more in their later production of Digital Stories, and I am addressing this of course to those who are helping the Deaf in post production. Music need not be used throughout as there are moments when they are better without. Sometimes, especially when there is no music variation, any presentation for that matter tends to nag and fails to enhance what could have been dramatic moments. Dead silence helps sometimes. In the PV presentation, if the film is also for the hearing as I was told by Ms. Giselle, maybe they can also consider keeping the ambient sound for the hearing audience to hear. It may just be a personal opinion but doing so can help make the hearing have familiarity not only with sign language but in hearing “Deaf sounds” as well. Afterall, some of them can speak, like Rack Corpus, PFD Pres., etc. Deaf make peculiar and unique sounds which I believe the audience should hear and be familiar with. Sync sound in digital production is not a problem anyway. Someone will just have to take care during shoot to minimize extraneous sound. Production constraints are there. They will always be a part of it. And for production involving Deaf persons, the main problem is laying in of sound of course but a HOH (hard-of-hearing) can probably be of help. And if budget will allow it, a hearing person can be assigned to do the proper sound editing. If you believe that that aspect is vitally important in making something intended also for hearing it is a must to consider it in the budget planning. Anyway, they are wishful thinking on my part. Because I know and I am sure that that will make their future productions even better.
Digital Stories vs. Digital Talking Books
DS appears to me like a “cousin” to DTB (Digital Talking Books). They both use photos, texts and sound. The only difference is that DS materials are edited using non-linear editing softwares like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or Pinnacle Studio (I use the Pinnacle Liquid Edition, earlier version). DS therefore is edited like a film. DTD is edited using Dolphin Publisher (this is the last version taught to us under the DAISY [Digital Accessible Information System] program). It has no video track but only sound track and we record right where you see the timeline equivalent in the above enumerated softwares. In DTB, we cannot use subtitles (unless done in Photoshop, be embedded and saved as jpeg image before importing to the final book); texts and pictures are separated, and the form is much like in a book. Chapters can also be built and opened at will. It can be programmed, may be projected and played on screen too but the highlighted texts move or “talk to tell the story” which is similar to the features of the karaoke. The very reason why it is called a talking book.
Both are tools to tell stories and both are useful to reach out and make themselves be heard. The Digital Stories are appropriate for the Deaf; the Digital Talking Books, initially designed for the Blind is now under exploration to benefit Persons with Autism too. (I have made mention in my earlier postings about Jed, an adult with autism who is creating his own DTBs).
Happily, for most independent filmmakers like us who can’t afford to use the celluloid and who cannot find producers to support the making of our advocacy films, digital filmmaking is the best option to express and say what we want. Used as an educational tool and to advocate for our cause, it is the cheapest and best way to reach out. Done properly, it can surpass, be more valuable, effective and useful than so many trash celluloid films that abound. Oh well, videos too!