SO’s Journey to Eastern SamarAugust 1, 2009
July 23, 1 pm was the schedule of Silent Odyssey’s screening in San Julian, Eastern Samar, a coastal town 4 1/2 to 5 hours away by bus from Tacloban City, Leyte. The roads to Borongan City, the provincial capital were surprisingly good. Along the way, I marveled at the long stretches of coastal waters, imagining how easy it is for the place to get battered by storms because of openness to strong winds. I got to understand why Samar is a “favorite” of visiting typhoons. Gilda (Deaf from San Julian), Pastor Nilo (Deaf from Tacloban City) and I reached Borongan at 10am and got off to take our brunch in a local hotel. After eating, we took a 30-minute bus ride to San Julian. If the ratio of good roads from Tacloban City to Borongan City stands at 95:5 percent of bad roads, the reverse could be said from Borongan to San Julian. Worst is the route via Western Samar back to Tacloban City. This time I understood what it meant to be in what they categorize as a “5th class municipality.” What I found to be depressing was seeing huts standing on stilts in mangrove swamps and near the rivers. I remember passing through a big town named Taft. On the way back, I was like a popping corn as the bus winded and zigzagged up and down the hills on rough and rocky roads. There were a few good roads in between however and some parts in the process of construction.
In San Julian, the venue of SO’s screening was at Libanan Hall which looks like any ordinary barangay hall. It is located inside the premises of San Julian Elementary School. To block the light, the windows were covered with thick curtains. The sound technician was so good that he solved fast the usual problem we encounter with sound jacks.
PWDs were already gathered by the time we reached at about noon time. I was happy to be able to communicate with the Deaf group using Filipino Sign Language. Organized for the first time by San Julian Differently Abled Persons Association (SJDAPA), the event was held in celebration of 2009 National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. Co-sponsored with Terre Des Hommes-Netherlands (TDH), it turned out to be very successful in terms of PWD participation, their enjoyment and gaining hope for a better future. They found the films [Silent Odyssey was preceded by A Blind Architect] inspiring and said that they have learned a lot from them. The reason why Pastor Nilo who saw them for the first time thought of showing them in Tacloban too.
After the event, the highly charged President of SJDAPA Mr. Antonio Pomarca delivered an inspiring message calling for unity and their empowerment. Before leaving the hall, I asked him about their future plans — he said that they are now thinking of forming a federation of PWDs in the whole of Samar. I distributed DVD copies of “A Blind Architect…” (courtesy of APCD Foundation and JICA) to key persons working for the welfare of PWDs to be able to share further the concept of Non-Handicapping Environment (NHE) with their respective communities.
The full participation and commitment of SJDAPA officers and members, the MSWDO personnel headed by Ms. Ma. Teresita Calvadores, the TDH staff, non-PWD volunteers such as a physical therapist, a social worker, some parents of PWDs, among others led to an event I am sure they all find unforgettable. Of course, Ma. Gilda Quintua, as the one who really gave a lot of her time and effort towards realizing the goal of advocating for and in behalf of persons with disabilities as hyper active member of SJDAPA should be commended. It is afterall, because of her that Silent Odyssey’s journey to Samar became a reality. With her parents and a sister who served as interpreter for the Deaf in the community, they showed me an interesting place called Liliputan Rocky Beach Resort. However, it was already late and unfortunately, my cam’s battery already went kaput so I have nothing to show you. I just recorded it in my mind.
To read and know more about San Julian, please click below: