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Walking with Nameless and Countless Angels with Autism

February 16, 2017

February 5, Sunday. The annual gathering of Autism Advocates and Angels with Autism was held once again at Mall of Asia in Pasay  City in celebration of the 2017 Autism Consciousness Month. It should have been held in January but with the holding of the Miss Universe Pageant at the same place where the program had to be done, the event moved to February.

I was there for the nth time to witness the ever-growing number of people joining the event each year. I focused my camera on ordinary people, on those without whose presence and support, the activity would not be that awesome and meaningful. From far and wide they excitedly came, and heeded the call to be there in solidarity with the advocacy of Autism Society Philippines. Even Persons with Disability [PWDs] joined the special celebration.

The 2017 Angels Walk for Autism

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Save Rizal Memorial Sports Complex!!!

February 13, 2017

save-rmsc2A plan to convert Rizal Memorial Sports Complex [RMSC] in Manila into a mall is underway. Protests from different heritage groups, concerned individuals and institutions started since last year. RMSC, built in 1934 is historically significant and culturally important. It was designed by Architect Juan M. Arellano.

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Last Saturday’s [February 11] action was a follow-up on an earlier protest jointly made by Advocates for Heritage Preservation and Dakilang Pamana ng Lahi, Inc. [PAMANLAHI]. I joined the group for the first time. I was “recruited” by Febe Sevilla, my Filipino sign language interpreter-buddy who is teaching at DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies. It has been captioned to benefit Deaf Filipinos.

The event happened in front of Rizal Memorial. The woman on the thumbnail is Ching de las Alas-Montinola, daughter of RMSC’s recognized builder, Antonio de las Alas. It was through his initiative that the structure became a reality during the time of President of Manuel Quezon.

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Rendezvous with Deaf Students

February 5, 2017

February 3, Friday, Noon Time. CSB Bldg., Rm. M510. “Silent Odyssey” [2008], a documentary on Deaf Culture, History, and Filipino Sign Language [FSL] origin was finally ana 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.

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Ms. Ana Arce with her students

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.

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Watching the interview with World Federation of the Deaf Markku Jokinen

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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.

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May you all succeed!!!

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2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach is Indeed Confidently Beautiful with a Heart

February 2, 2017

Veering 360 degrees away from my usual stuff is a subject about the recent 2016 Miss Universe Pageant held in Manila —-

Love, comfort and assurance was given by former Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach to Maxine Medina right after the coronation of Ms. France Iris Mittenaere as the new Miss Universe. Maxine was the Philippines’ bet to the Miss Universe Pageant held last Monday morning, July 30 at SM Mall of Asia Arena here in our city. She placed 6th among 86 participants from Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa and Australia. Medina [same surname as mine!] was sadly subjected to social media bashings from the time she won the Miss Philippines-Universe title because of her English communication skills problem. Despite the bashings and home court pressures, she performed quite well, and graciously in the different competitions. She was stunning in her performances as shown in the short clips below.

Pia, the confidently beautiful woman with a heart who gave moral support and protected Maxine from bashers even before the “Judgement Day,” immediately looked for Maxine after transferring her crown to Miss France. Having lost twice before finally winning the Bb. Pilipinas-Universe title to represent the country in the 2015 Miss Universe competition, she must I assume emphatized with her feelings, especially aware of what Maxine had gone through from the time she won the Bb. Pilipinas-Universe title until the competition day.

Pia’s compassionate gesture touched the hearts of many people, not only her fans. And it is possible that her act must have shamed Maxine’s bashers as well. Such gesture had an impact on Neal Alday, who came up with an equally impactful artwork [see below]. By adding the yellow color encircling the tight hug [representing the sun], and the three stars in the background [representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao], our national flag could immediately be perceived. He titled his wonderful interpretation as “Solidarity.” Truly, that sense strongly emanated, as well as the sense of sisterhood, of togetherness in a fight for the country. You could not but rejoice to see such an image in an act that conveys: “You are not alone. You’ve done the best you could for our country so you must be proud.” In fact, she did tell Maxine to keep her head up. Pia said Maxine did not cry then, and was in fact very happy with the experience. Maxine thanked all those who supported her, and just told her critics to Move On!

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Steve Harvey, MU host last year who read Ms. Universe-Colombia’s name instead of Pia’s hosted the event again. He was however handed a pair of eyeglasses by Pia before he announced the 2016 Ms. Universe winner. The pageant ended without any ISIS threat disturbances, no traffic halting when their convoy pass, and no expenses spent by the government, the organizers said which I personally doubt. Private entities were suppose to shoulder all the expenses incurred during the pageant period. Nevertheless, kudos to the organizers for the successful event!

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Official Poster_2017 Angels Walk for Autism

January 24, 2017

JOIN THE LARGEST AUTISM ADVOCACY EVENT IN THE ASEAN REGION!

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Silent O to Screen at DLS-CSB SDEAS on February 3

January 20, 2017

SILENT ODYSSEY, my docu on Deaf Filipino history, language and culture has been scheduled for showing to students of Ms. Ana Arce, faculty staff of De La Salle-College of St. Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies on February 3, Friday at Room M302 located at the 3rd floor of CSB Building in Taft Avenue, Manila.

Ms. Arce was still a student of SDEAS when I started making the film in 2007. She was also captured in the film. The film was finished and premiered in 2008.

Eight years had passed since then, but Deaf Filipinos continue to fight for their linguistic human rights. I do hope that Deaf issues tackled in Silent O completely cease to exist in the future, and that Filipino Sign Language be already recognized by the government. Nevertheless, having got involved with them as partners and participants in my film, I do feel that the society has become more accepting of Deaf people as time passes by. More people become aware of Deaf’s Being and their concerns. I also hope that hearing advocates would grow more in number.

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2017 Angels Walk for Autism

January 19, 2017

I have attended almost all the yearly Angels Walk for Autism event of Autism Society Philippines [ASP]. Last year 2016, my abridged edition featuring ASP’s previous Autism Walk events, “When Angels Walk for Autism” was screened at SM MOA Arena. It shows and tells the historical background of Autism Walk in the Philippines. Chair emeritus Dang Koe related the story. [See below].

Fellow advocates from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam to the Philippines attended last year’s event bringing to the core how autism advocacy has become a genuine global movement.

Traditionally, it is held every month of January in compliance with Proclamation 711. Because of MOA’s preparations perhaps for the Miss Universe Pageant to be held there in January 30, the ASP event has to be moved to February 5.

The Autism Society Philippines Angels Walk for Autism is an annual advocacy event that has been held since 2007. It has grown from 200 to 15,000 participants in 2016. Over the last 10 years, it has become the kick-off event of the Philippine National Autism Consciousness Week — an observance made possible by Philippine President Fidel Ramos’ Proclamation 711 of 1996.

The ASP’s Autism-OK Philippines campaign serves as a springboard for public awareness, private sector involvement and inclusion of the autism agenda in government social development initiatives.

Join the “Angels Walk for Autism 2017” and uplift and make time for people with autism.

Event Details:

What: Angels Walk for Autism 2017
When: February 5, 2017 (6:30 a.m.)
Where: MOA Arena, Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Ticket Details: This is a first-come first-served basis
You may get register first at
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/angels-walk-for-autism-2017-tickets-27827575026
[Source]: Angels Walk for Autism 2017