Rendezvous with Deaf StudentsFebruary 5, 2017
February 3, Friday, Noon Time. CSB Bldg., Rm. M510. “Silent Odyssey” , a documentary on Deaf Culture, History, and Filipino Sign Language [FSL] origin was finally shown to Fourth Year students of Ms. Ana Arce upon her request. An arrangement since last year was made to have it shown during this semester. Ana is now a faculty member of DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies [SDEAS]. I used to see her when she was still a student of SDEAS. That was a decade ago. I was making Silent O while at the same time studying FSL intended for hearing people under SDEAS’ FSL Learning Program. In fact, she was captured in one of the forums that I shot during that time for Silent O.
Anyway, some of her students who viewed the film are members of the Silent Steps, the school’s playgroup. I have worked with them in my documentaries on Mabini. After the screening, I have asked them: “What’s the most important thing that you have learned from the film?” “FSL!”, they retorted in unison. [Oh yes! I managed to communicate with them without an interpreter. Sounds unbelievable but my little knowledge of FSL signs helped a lot. I am not daily exposed to sign language so without practice, my receptive skill is honestly poor. Nevertheless, I survived the day].
I was happy of course because one of the main objectives of the film — to make Deaf appreciate their language, and know its origin has been met. Hoping too that with that understanding they would fight and advocate for its use and recognition. Moreover, I have seen again the timelessness and value of the content. It is as important as when I first showed it to the public nine years ago. I am sure the interest and significance won’t diminish for as long as FSL is not recognized here, and Deaf continues to experience discrimination. For sure, the interview with the World Federation of the Deaf President Markku Jokinen by Raphy Domingo greatly helped in making the students understand better the importance of sign language in their life, culture and identity as Deaf individuals.
As for me, the fight to advocate for the use of Filipino Sign Language and highlighting PWD’s abilities through my films has not yet ended. Currently, I am preparing for the showing of PULE: Utak ng Rebolusyon. It is participated in by the Silent Steps, and music scored by a Person with Autism [PWA]. It is intended for hearing people so that they would get exposed to FSL, and hopefully get to appreciate and have an interest to learn it; in addition, to be able to listen to the first music scoring work of a PWA. Primarily meant for Deaf audience to give them full access to information about our hero, Apolinario Mabini, it was largely interpreted in FSL and fully captioned in English. DLS-CSB SDEAS and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts collaborated in its making. The latter must have been convinced by my rationale that Deaf’s culture and language should be respected as much as the Indigenous Peoples’ culture and language. After all, like the IPs, Deaf should be considered as a cultural-linguistic minority group.