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Meet with Actor-Politician Yul Servo

July 9, 2015
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Photo with Yul, the politician, in Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila

I first met Yul Servo sometime in 2001 [that’s according to him] in Brussels, Belgium. He went there with Director Lav Diaz as actor of Batang West Side Story. And I was there with Minnie Crouse as editor of her film, The Case of Wilkie Duran. At that time, he was not yet a Manila councilor. We formed part of the Philippine delegation in the Belgium International  Independent Film Festival. He was a quiet, simple guy, who was contented at simply smiling. I do not remember meeting him after that.

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Prize Winning Actor Yul Servo in Batang West Side by Lav Diaz

Last week, after meeting Tumtum Mendoza, my docu’s music scorer, I went home via Quiapo. Bright, yellow tents bearing the name of Yul Servo stood like mushrooms at Plaza Miranda quadrangle. It seemed a political campaign program was about to happen. Selfie and group shot activities animated the area. I asked a man fixing a tarp where Yul Servo was. He pointed at a group having photo-op with Yul. Afterwards, I approached him. He didn’t recognize me, as expected. But when I mentioned Belgium to him, it seemed lightning flashed in his mind as he then easily recalled me. He simply said: “2001!” It was kind’a unbelievable that he remembered the year. I didn’t!

What was special in that Belgian Festival was seeing for the first time so many Deaf in a film festival. There was what they call Deaf Night, time when Deaf films from different countries were exhibited. I had the opportunity of meeting Deaf attendees then, and wondered if one day a Deaf film festival would happen in Manila. I communicated with some using finger spelling. At that time though, I have not yet studied Filipino Sign Language [FSL] formally. That was in 2001, if Yul was correct in remembering it. I studied FSL for a year, five years later, from 2006-2007. It never occurred to me in Belgium that one day, I will get involved myself in making Deaf films. Currently, I am doing my 4th advocacy film for and with Deaf people to help promote the use, recognition and preservation of FSL in the country, and to show their talents and potentials as performers.

Incidentally on July 17, “The Sublime Paralytic,” my latest project with Deaf friends will have a special preview at the Mabini Shrine in Tanauan, Batangas. The docu is about Apolinario Mabini, the crippled first Prime Minister, the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the First Philippine Republic, and the man who could have been the First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court if the Philippine Laws then were not discriminatory to Persons with Disability! I wonder if Yul Servo and our local politicians know what Mabini did for our local government, and how he loathed undisciplined leaders. Who Mabini was, and what he did should be known by everyone, especially our corrupt politicians.

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