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From Discovering Deaf Worlds …

April 11, 2017

Last April 7, Friday in Rochester, New York, U.S.A., [April 8, Saturday in Manila], Discovering Deaf Worlds USA gave me a most unexpected recognition called “Service Provider of the Year Award”. It is only given once a year they said, to an organization or an individual their Board and staff feel has gone above and beyond to have a pivotal impact on DDW’s work. In my case it was for making a 35-minute documentary covering their two-year presence and activities here in our country that benefited our Deaf leaders. It is entitled “Signs of Change: Deaf Filipinos’ Campaign for Equality.” I was really surprised when I was informed via email about it because when I accepted the work, it was for me just doing another advocacy film meant to inspire Deaf Filipinos. I treated it as a personal work.

Anyhow, I am thankful for the recognition of the hard work we all exerted on it.  Thank you Davin Searls and David Justice! Had great time working with both of you!

David, by the way, emailed the day after the event to say that it was a HUGE success. Over 400 people came breaking their fundraising goal!

Thanks to my nephew as well, and his wife who flew all the way from Maryland to N.Y. to receive the award on my behalf.

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Searching for Blind and Deaf Scholars

April 4, 2017

Went last week to scout for scholars from the Philippine National School for the Blind [PNSB] and the Philippine School for the Deaf [PSD]. With the help of Jun Sevilla, husband of my interpreter-buddy Febe Sevilla who currently teaches at PSD, I passed on the intent of Gawad Metronian Educational Foundation, Inc. [GMEFI] where I am a volunteer to support a couple or so number of students. Though I live near the two schools, it was my first time to roam a little at the PNSB. I shot some footage and interviewed the principal of PSD for a feature-length docu on Deaf Filipinos ten years back, so, I am a little more familiar with the latter’s school setup.

At the Board meeting yesterday of GMEFI, I reported about my meeting with PSD teacher Jun and the PNSB Social Worker and Guidance Advocate Ms. Ma. Elena Rances-Carino.

Will be back after the Holy Week to get the requirements.

 

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Out of Making Special Films_Psychic Rewards

March 29, 2017

There are times when I stare at the ceiling and look beyond it while shuffling footage from my memory bank … like today. Fleeting moments as my mind flashed back in 2006 when I premiered my first docu on special children, “ALYANA– A Study of Autism in the Philippines” at the UP Film Center in Diliman, Quezon City. I vividly remember a mother with her family members in tow rushing to me as viewers flocked out of the theater after the viewing. With the look of deep gratitude in her eyes, she held my hands and warmly shook them. It lasted longer than the usual momentary and ordinary handshake. She did not say a word but I strongly felt what she wanted to communicate. Joy was in her heart and mine as well knowing how it impacted her as a mother of a child with autism. ALYANA featured  many mothers of CWAs like her. One other Mom later emailed me to say: “Hindi pala ako nag-iisa!” [I realized I am not alone!] She thanked me for making a documentary on it.

In Iligan City, Mindanao, I happened to sit down beside a woman during one of its road show screenings conducted by Autism Society Philippines in major cities. She whispered to me to say: “Thank you for giving us hope.” I later came to know that she has two sons — both of them with Autism.

Those moments are memorable and they are the very reasons why I still work on Persons with Disability — subjects not usually dealt  with. Eventually, I ended up working with Deaf performers, choreographer and videographer; a Music Scorer with Autism;  a Physically Challenged Person, and a Blind Architect as active part of my production staff or as resource persons. They are for me, gems, whose friendship, I’d forever keep. I consider these special people as more “real” and quite sincere. Inspirations too for showing how good they are when their potentials are tapped, and their capabilities tried. Undoubtedly, people like them who are labeled as “disabled” proved wrong a lot of people through the special films we did together.

Anyhow, we both get encouragement from each other leading me to carry on making special films with the intention of shifting the viewer’s thinking against myths or beliefs that they still have out of ignorance regarding the subjects that I tackled and would focus on in the future.

“What do you gain from doing all these?” some of my friends ask. “Psychic rewards,” I tell them.

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Nominations for the 2017 Apolinario Mabini Awards has been extended to April 30

March 16, 2017

Nominations for the 2017 Apolinario Mabini Awards has been extended to April 30, 2017.  Categories for nomination are:  Presidential A. Mabini Award, Person With Disability (PWD) of the Year, PWD Group of the Year, Local Government Unit of the Year, Rehabilitation Volunteer/Group of the Year (Volunteer/Group Advocate for the Empowerment of PWDs of the Year), Employer of the Year, PWD Friendly Establishment (deadline March 31, 2017), PWD Media Advocate of the Year, and the Website Accessibility Award. Anyone can nominate individuals or groups to any category provided they meet the criteria.

The Mabini Awards, named after one of the country’s foremost hero,  Apolinario Mabini, recognizes individuals, groups and/or agencies that have made outstanding contributions to improve the welfare of Persons With Disability.   The award is inspired by Mabini’s creative genius that provided inspiration to the Philippine revolution.

The Award is spearheaded by the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled  (PFRD), the oldest non-government organization in the Philippines  to address needs of Persons with Disability.

The awards will be presented in July 2017  in Malacanang Palace. The exact date will be announced later.

Please visit https://goo.gl/JGS5pB  for more information and to download forms.

You may also call Liza  at (632) 725-0093 or email  belardo_flordeliz@yahoo.com for more information.

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A Cultural Afternoon with Apolinario Mabini

March 16, 2017

Bulacan-w Even Ynal

The historic Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan where the First Philippine National Assembly of the First Philippine Republic was held on September 15, 1898. [MM with Even / 2017]

It was on February 23, 2017 when the partnership presentation by the Provincial Government of Bulacan and Gawad Metronian Educational Foundation, Inc. [GMEFI] was held at the Maximo Viola Hall, Hiyas ng Bulacan Convention Center in Malolos, Bulacan. The Honorable Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado [photo below] graced the occasion. He welcomed the select audience consisting of educators, cultural officers, art and heritage advocates, and members of Bulacan provincial art and tourism board.

Bulacan-w Gov2
Honorable Governor of Bulacan Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado delivers his Welcome Message to the Audience below

Audience“PULE: UTAK ng Rebolusyon” an educational documentary which features the life of Apolinario Mabini, Chief Adviser of the First President of the Philippine Republic was introduced before its screening by Mirana Medina, board member of GMEFI and the film’s director. She gave background information as to why and for whom the film was actually made giving stress on the film’s inclusivity as it has narration in Pilipino, with captions in English and largely interpreted in Filipino Sign Language. Participants in the making of the film are Deaf students, a Person with Autism and a wheel-chaired man.  Gil Reoma, GMEFI Executive Director later joined to talk about what GMEFI does and asked how the partnership between Bulacan counterpart could be made possible so as to make the film’s content widely known to Bulakenos. The Malolos Congress was highly given importance in the documentary. There were good exchange of ideas during the open forum [photo below] as viewers saw the importance of the film, and history for our young students.

W some of the participantsThe select Audience / participants with the organizers.

Bulacan-w GMEFI and OrganizersGMEFI staff: [L-R]: Gil Reoma on the extreme left, GMEFI President Even Dominguez, 3rd from left, Mrs. Natividad Villano and Mirana Medina, GMEFI Board Members with the co-organizers from the Governor’s Provincial History, Arts, Culture and Tourism Office  led by Mr. Ely dela Cruz, 4th from left.

A repost from gawadmetronian.org

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The Search for Nominees for the 2017 Apolinario Mabini Awards is ON!

March 13, 2017

NOMINATING PROCEDURES FOR ALL CATEGORIES. (Deadline of Submission is March 31, 2017) http://bit.ly/2mCwenp

Any recognized institution in the public or private sector can submit a nomination in any of the categories. The nomination should be endorsed by a high official of that institution.

Any individual can submit a nomination in any of the categories.

Former nominees who have not won an award may again be nominated.

Nomination forms, which are available from the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Inc. shall be accomplished properly and submitted with all the supporting papers, documents, certificates,, etc. together with three (3) postcard-size, full view, glossy black-and-white photographs of the nominee.

Two sets of properly accomplished nomination forms with the required supporting documents shall be submitted to the PFRD Office Suite 27, 2nd Floor., The Columbia Tower, Ortigas Avenue, Mandaluyong City no later than March 31, 2017.

For more information, please contact Ms. Liza Belardo at Tele/Fax No. (632) 725 00 93. You may also submit your nomination online through this form http://bit.ly/2mCwenp.

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Historians, Researchers, Educators, Cultural Workers Previewed PULE: Utak ng Rebolusyon

March 7, 2017

On the second week of February, my educational documentary on our hero, Apolinario Mabini, PULE: Utak ng Rebolusyon / Brains of the Revolution, primarily made for the Deaf sector was previewed in two different venues —  at the main office of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in Manila; the other at Maximo Viola Hall in the city of Malolos, Bulacan. Both cities are featured in the above docu, as they played very important roles in the history of the Philippines at the turn of the century. It covers the period from the time the American naval squadron entered the Philippines to engage in a War with the Spaniards in the Battle of Manila Bay [May 1, 1898], up to their finally taking over the sovereignty of our country [1899] in a manner detested and strongly objected by Mabini, subject of this documentary and Chief Adviser of the First Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo. The Filipino Revolutionaries were actually already winning the War with Spain when the U.S. entered the Philippine soil. The two powers connived to hold a Mock Battle on August, 1898, followed by the signing of a treaty in Paris stating the handing over of the Philippines to the U.S. Our diplomat was not allowed to join, although by that time, the Filipino revolutionaries already declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. With a Constitution readied by a national assembly and approved by President Aguinaldo, the First Philippine Republic was inaugurated on January 23, 1899. Mabini’s defiance over the American sovereignty of the Philippines led to his being sent to Guam by the Americans as an exile.

Through the years, it became clear that the Americans posed in as friends at first, and then later turned into a foe having realized the strategic importance of the Philippines in the Far East. American soldier, William Grayson fired the first shot that started the Filipino-American War on February 4, 1899.

NHCP Preview2

It was on a Monday, February 7, that the O.I.C. Director of NHCP, Dr. Rene Escalante and the NHCP researchers viewed the film. I requested them to watch it before showing it to the general hearing public in August in commemoration of the National Heroes Day. I wanted feedback from “experts,” or those in the actual field.  I wanted to align, if ever there was misalignment with the facts that they are providing the people so that there would be no confusion in the minds of the viewing students. Fortunately, we had no data clashes. The researchers only particularly reacted to some of the photos that I got from the Mabini Shrine in Tanauan, Batangas like the picture of Mabini Standing, and the reproduction of artist Angel Cacnio’s painting entitled “The Capture of Mabini.” I was informed that the previous photo does not belong to NHCP but to a certain Mr. Kevin Cruz. Nonetheless, I emailed him as soon as I got his address from an NHCP personnel to inform him about my use of the picture, and sent him clips where and how the photo was used – not more than 30 seconds in totality. I have yet to write Mr. Cacnio. Moreover, one other researcher suggested if I could change the photo of Mabini shot allegedly in Guam. The issue he said is that it was not Mabini who was in the picture. However, I am keeping it since there is an existing photo with accompanying caption which says: The Guam Museum written above it [see below]. The better copy of the photo, or the one I used in the docu was reproduced from the NHCP Museum in Tanauan. As the issue has not yet been resolved whether it was really Mabini or not, I would still keep the picture. In fact, it was because of that reaction that I researched again for the copy of the photo that I got from filipinoamericanwar.com

Apolinario Mabini Guam newspaper2

This is the photo I am referring to. Notice on the top right side of the photo which states: The Guam Museum, and the words on the caption “….Mabini, along with 35 other Filipino patriots, WERE HERE [all caps mine – and that refers to Guam where Mabini was exiled] from 1901 to 1903.

One thing that struck me was their reaction to the insets of Filipino Sign Language [FSL] interpreters. Although the NHCP viewers were briefed before showing that the film was designed for the Deaf, and therefore would have FSL interpretations, they still wanted the traditional inset — small, in a box and kept in one corner. [I manipulated the image sizes and movement of the interpreter within the frame].

Though I found their reaction to it as quite surprising, I just rationalized as I was going home that perhaps for historians and researchers who are more interested and concentrated on the documents, data and message, the presence of sign language interpreters provided much distraction to their senses. And considering the language elements, and there are three: Filipino narration, English captions and FSL interpretation, that comes alongside the aural music and sound effects, and the visual elements simultaneously being presented, the need for mind processing is a bit more than the usual film with no textual and visual gestural elements involved. Discerning what language to give importance to also comes to the fore.

For hearing people unfamiliar with sign language, it is understandable that for them it meant nothing, and therefore, would pose only as solid distractions. In the end, they suggested if I could make another version with the traditional inset for FSL interpretation.  Of course, that would be by now impossible as the chroma background and the FSL interpreters are in composite form. Besides, it would defeat my own purpose and advocacy: that is, to give the Deaf Filipino sector access to information, and the other important objective of promoting the use and recognition of FSL in the Philippines which up to now has not been given attention to by the government. Most importantly, that was the very reason why DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies partnered with me in the realization of the film — its primary target beneficiaries are Deaf people. In fact, before showing it for the first time to their students, a preview was also conducted, at that time, in the presence of Dean Nicky Templo, the FSL interpreters, some faculty staff — Deaf and hearing, and the Deaf participants themselves with the sole purpose of agreeing of disagreeing regarding the image sizes and presentation of FSL in the film.

The importance of FSL in giving Deaf access to information can be gleaned from the reaction to the film of Myra Medrana, Deaf choreographer of the Silent Steps. She said:

“I’m truly happy and grateful to Mirana for doing this film on Mabini in Filipino Sign Language. This is a wonderful project for the Filipino people, especially for us Deaf as we come to learn more about our history and our heroes. Looking back, I remember when I was little, my father would give me paper money to buy stuff and I see these faces of they say heroes whom I knew nothing about. Although they were taught in school, I only remember very little facts about them because they were not clearly explained in sign language. Much of the information back then were not that much accessible to the Deaf unlike today.

To be honest, history to me is blur. And it’s unclear not just to me… but to most Deaf especially the poor and the marginalized because of the very limited access to education and information. I only slowly began to understand it clearly when I got to work with Mirana, initially in the “A Mi Patria” project  [Rizal’s Poems in FSL], and now in Project Mabini. During the production, we went to Batangas and learned a lot about Mabini — that despite his disability he was able to contribute immensely in our country’s fight for freedom and independence. Somehow, this film has inspired us so much to be like Mabini.

Now, the Filipino Deaf community is fighting for FSL, our natural language to be recognized as official sign language in the country. This film is a great advocacy towards that goal and I appreciate Mirana’s effort in including Deaf artists and talents to show to people the beauty and richness of our OWN language..the Filipino Sign Language. I hope more films like this will be done for the benefit of the Deaf community so that they too will learn about our history.”

NHCP Preview

O.I.C. Director of NHCP and DLSU History Professor, Dr. Rene Escalante [seated] with the NHCP researchers and other staff; MM in blue

Anyway, that stress be given according to Dr. Escalante regarding the importance of the Separation of Church and State issue, I greatly considered and appreciated. But as to the non-linear timeline of events, I am still keeping the sequence that I currently have. Lest I forget, the woman seated beside me said she liked the treatment, the creative interpretation.

My thanks to Dr. Escalante and his staff for sharing their time to watch, react and give their comments re the docu. A particular sector’s reaction does differ. Shown two days later to another group consisting of educators, heritage advocates, a local historian, tourism and cultural workers, including a staff from NHCP-Malolos in Bulacan reacted also positively but with better appreciation of the FSL use. [This I shall take up in my next blogpost].