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Silent Odyssey’s Back! Learn About FSL History! Be Inspired-“Listen” to WFD President!!

November 8, 2012

The issue on the use of sign language in the Philippines is a-burning! Which one should be the national language of Deaf Filipinos: Filipino Sign Language [FSL] or Signing Exact English [SEE]? a survey asks. The question seems irrelevant. Tinatanong pa ba ‘yun???? Anyhow, my position has always been clear, and I have since been upholding especially after making SILENT ODYSSEY that FSL should be given recognition as Deaf Filipinos’ national sign language. That is what the majority of the Deaf is clamoring for. And that includes Deaf whom I interviewed [with interpreter’s help] not only for Silent O but out of curiosity —in Zamboanga City, Palawan, Dumaguete City, Bohol, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Pampanga regarding their choice of what sign language to use. They said that they are using American Sign Language and SEE in schools, but they prefer to use FSL when they “talk” among themselves. Some said that as Filipinos, they should use FSL.

I personally have nothing against SEE, as a course in the Deaf educational curriculum – because I think that it is also important for the Deaf to know that such “language” exist, and can be useful for them when it comes to learning the English language – its structure and proper use. But that’s my personal opinion. Deaf teachers and FSL hearing advocates may disagree with me but if I were Deaf, I would love to learn and would welcome it as “another” language – a secondary language though, not otherwise, or the way it is being practiced now.

The initiatives of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and other institutions in their advocacy for the use, recognition and adoption of FSL in schools being the natural sign language of Deaf Filipinos is gaining more and more support recently as lawmakers finally listened to Deaf Filipinos’clamor for FSL recognition, a big leap and a just reward for the time and efforts that they have spent for years towards that end. The future is very bright for our Deaf…

As a hearing person, I used to think that finger spelling is sign language because that’s what my first Deaf friend taught me. And since I managed to communicate with him using it, my idea never changed until I studied Filipino Sign Language in SDEAS as part of my research in the making of SILENT ODYSSEY. Only when I had crossed the “barrier”, that is, by studying FSL that I came to know how strongly the need for their human linguistic rights to be respected is. In understanding FSL’s root and origin, and recognizing what the majority of Deaf Filipinos themselves want, NOT WHAT the hearing teachers want for them made me stress in the docu, FSL’s importance in their lives, the reason why I allotted a lot of time to the FSL segment. In addition, WFD President Markku Jokinen explains that “Deaf use their eyes to listen” and sign language is important to the Deaf because they can communicate even from a distance compared with someone who is using hearing aid. And by having their own sign language the Deaf distinguish themselves from others in the PWD sector. That makes them unique, and because of that they should be treated as a cultural-linguistic minority group. Anyway for FSL users,SILENT O raises their self-esteem and gives them clearer identity as Filipino; for SEE users, well! a negative feeling that evokes anger in some, maybe… or simply misunderstanding and denial having the colonial mentality— probably–that the use of English make them superior over FSL users.

On November 10, 12 and 14, SILENT O will be back to add further knowledge in the minds and consciousness of Deaf students re their history, language and culture. Contact Mackie Calbay for more information.

Let’s continue in supporting House Bill 6079!!!

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