Alyana at the University of Assumption

March 15, 2011

ALYANA—A Study of Autism in the Philippines with A BLIND ARCHITECT were successfully shown at the University of Assumption in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga last Saturday according to Cathy Genovia from ASP Main Office. I have requested the sponsors to show A Blind Architect, before or after Alyana’s screening to make their students aware also of BP344 and the Non Handicapping Environment. The showings were sponsored by UA with Autism Society – San Fernando City Chapter led by Ms. Joy Ofrecia. Below are some photos taken by Cathy:

Screening Venue: The University Auditorium

Showing of A Blind Architect

Thanks Cathy and Lanie!!!


University of Assumption Screens ALYANA

March 12, 2011

At 10 a.m. today, Saturday, will be the special screening of Alyana—A Study of Autism in the Philippines* [110 mins version]. It is scheduled to be shown at the University Auditorium of the University of Assumption in San Fernando City, Pampanga. Ms. Joy Ofrecia, President of ASP San Fernando Chapter helped in facilitating the scheduled screening there. I have asked the University President if they can, along with Alyana also screen A Blind Architect, a 14 min docu on the introduction of Non Handicapping Environment in the Philippines, and why BP 344 is important in our country… Hmm!! Let’s see if they will show it too! How I wish they do. Sayang ang pagkakataon kasi!

* There are three versions of Alyana: a) 150 mins or 2 1/2 hours long for “hard-core” viewers, i.e. parents and families of PWA, sped teachers, doctors, OTs, speech therapists, and other allied medical personnel; b) 110 mins long is the copy that is usually shown at SM cinemas; and c) 97 mins long – the version subtitled for Deaf audience to answer their information accessibility needs, for groups with only limited time to spend, students from upper high school level and up,  and those people with “short attention span.”


“Forum on Inclusive Education and Disability: Towards an Inclusive Philippine Society”

December 5, 2010

An invitation from the Mabini Colleges located in Daet, Camarines Norte in the Bicol Region, to screen Silent O, Alyana and A Blind Architect has been extended to me by Mr. Rex Bernardo as part of their activity on December 9 and 10 in connection with the  “Forum on Inclusive Education and Disability: Towards an Inclusive Philippine Society”. A Blind Architect: The Vision of a Non-Handicapping Environment produced by Asia Pacific Development Center on Disability will be projected as part of my talk with the theme “Advocacy on Inclusive Education Through Cinema.” But I cannot divorce myself from sharing the story as to what actually led me to advocacy filmmaking. Advocating through cinema is not something that can be forced on any filmmaker. In my case, the motivation had come from within. And it took quite a time before I actually decided to take the advocacy film path…

The following are the schedules sent to me two days ago:

December 9 – Thursday, 4.20 pm A BLIND ARCHITECT
Venue: The Lobby, Mabini Colleges, Daet, Camarines Norte

December 10 – Friday, 10 am – SILENT ODYSSEY
Venue: Central Plaza Cinema, Daet, Camarines Norte

December 10 – Friday, 1 pm – ALYANA
Venue: Central Plaza Cinema, Daet, Camarines Norte

It will be my first time to be in Daet, Camarines Norte….


Ms. Gigi Ruiz_in “A Blind Architect”_Touched a Human Rights Lawyer

September 7, 2009

Last August 26 I met for the first time Atty. Chato Olivas-Gallo, a UP College of Law professor, after the forum on sign language, “Wikang Senyas…” through a friend, Liw Caldito, founder of Support and Empower Abused Deaf Children Inc. (SEADC). Atty. Chato told me that she had seen my short docu, “A Blind Architect” produced by APCD Foundation and JICA, and the film touched her so much she wants to specialize on laws concerning persons with disability, presumably BP344 or the Philippine Accessibility Law. Of the film, she says:

“One of the things that has really really touched me recently is this DVD [she is holding the DVD while being interviewed on cam] about the blind architect kasi I didn’t know about the situation of the disabled people, how some laws maybe so beautiful and yet the implementation…‘if there is partial compliance, there is no compliance at all.’ * I heard this statement in this DVD [A] Blind Architect and it really touched me and for that reason, it’s in my heart to specialize in Disability Laws here in the Philippines, especially for the Deaf and for those who are physically disabled, and perhaps someday for those who face other disabilities. So, I thank you for initiating and suggesting the idea of this and I think everybody should see this for personal awareness…

*Partial Compliance is No Compliance at All” is a statement made in the film, “A Blind Architect: The Vision Towards Non-Handicapping Environment” by Ms. Geraldine “Gigi” Ruiz, National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) Executive Director. I must say that her personal testimony and her demonstration on how difficult it is for them to function when the Accessibility Law is not fully implemented is really an outright insult and violation of their human rights. It is the most poignant part of the film and the one that has touched me the most especially during the shoot.


Filipino Sign Language: a Spark plug

August 23, 2009

“Silent Odyssey” and “A Blind Architect” elicited and sparked lots of remarks from Deaf viewers during the special screenings held for Mrs. Nora Shannon from PEN International in Rochester, New York, and the students of DLS-CSB SDEAS’ Deaf Learner’s Preparatory Course (DLPC). Mrs. Shannon attended the viewing with her husband. Many of the Deaf reacted on the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) issues and Deaf identity problems. Meanwhile, Architect Jaime Silva, the blind architect was able to inspire the Deaf by making some of them wish to emulate his role as a strong PWD rights advocate. One student whose interest is in law centered his remarks on the need for the Senate to know of Deaf Accessibility Law problems and their rights. He wants to become a lawyer he said. Another felt that the attention being given to persons with physical disability seems to be more than what the Deaf sector receives. I told him that personal initiative is quite necessary and very important…that Arch. Silva started advocating more than 10 years ago [since 1997], that he had taken his own initiative to make known to people in authority and the building establishments regarding the need to implement the Philippine Accessibility Law or BP344 to help alleviate their condition. Even then, up to now 30-35% has just being implemented, the reason why the concept of Non-Handicapping Environment (NHE) would hopefully help in removing all types of barriers in the future—not only physical but attitudinal with the latter being suffered by the Deaf. That if the Deaf should want to be heard, then they should also work on their own, take the initiative to advocate, be strong, be empowered as a group so that they could be heard better, rather than remain as splintered groups working for individual causes. I truly hope that the Deaf Development Center, a group which has just been formed last week will push through and succeed as one umbrella group that will unify all Deaf organizations. I enjoined the Deaf to work together strongly as one so that they can fight for their rights, their linguistic human rights (LHR). I personally believe that they should not wait for the hearing persons to decide for them or move them to action. They should move on their own, take the rein, the initiative to work for their good.. Only by having a louder “voice” and having a common goal starting with the fight to recognize their language that the authorities responsible to attend to their human rights needs could hear and hopefully listen to their woes. Yes! Deaf awareness is a must. It is a slow process but it should start now more than ever because of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).

The film showings were held yesterday, August 22 at DLS-CSB School of Design Cinema located in P.Ocampo St., Manila. When Mrs. Nora Shannon was asked for her reaction she said:

“What really struck us…one, was when the young Deaf man talked about Filipino Sign Language as having history and then going back in really researching and finding out that there is an actual history of the Filipino Sign Language; and the second thing was having that man from PFD talked directly to the people about how they should perceive themselves as Deaf Filipino people because sometimes you listen more to people who are far away….

I also like…how balanced it was…how much you showed what Deafs can do instead of focusing out on their struggles and trials which are showing the Deaf’s feats…Deaf poetry…That’s really moving.”


SO’s Journey to Eastern Samar

August 1, 2009

July 23, 1 pm was the schedule of Silent Odyssey’s screening in San Julian, Eastern Samar, a coastal town 4 1/2 to 5 hours away by bus from Tacloban City, Leyte. The roads to Borongan City, the provincial capital were surprisingly good. Along the way, I marveled at the long stretches of coastal waters, imagining how easy it is for the place to get battered by storms because of openness to strong winds. I got to understand why Samar is a “favorite” of visiting typhoons. Gilda (Deaf from San Julian), Pastor Nilo (Deaf from Tacloban City) and I reached Borongan at 10am and got off to take our brunch in a local hotel. After eating, we took a 30-minute bus ride to San Julian. If the ratio of good roads from Tacloban City to Borongan City stands at 95:5 percent of bad roads, the reverse could be said from Borongan to San Julian. Worst is the route via Western Samar back to TaPhoto8cloban City. This time I understood what it meant to be in what they categorize as a “5th class municipality.” What I found to be depressing was seeing huts standing on stilts in mangrove swamps and near the rivers. I remember passing through a big town named Taft. On the way back, I was like a popping corn as the bus winded and zigzagged up and down the hills on rough and rocky roads. There were a few good roads in between however and some parts in the process of construction.

In San Julian, the venue of SO’s screening was at Libanan Hall which looks like any ordinary barangay hall. It is located inside the premises of San Julian Elementary School. To block the light, the windows were covered with thick curtains. The sound technician was so good that he solved fast the usual problem we encounter with sound jacks.

San Julian_sked

PWDs were already gathered by the time we reached at about noon time. I was happy to be able to communicate with the Deaf group using Filipino Sign Language. Organized for the first time by San Julian Differently Abled Persons Association (SJDAPA), the event was held in celebration of 2009 National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. Co-sponsored with Terre Des Hommes-Netherlands (TDH), it turned out to be very successful in terms of PWD participation, their enjoyment and gaining hope for a better future. They found the films [Silent Odyssey was preceded by A Blind Architect] inspiring and said that they have learned a lot from them. The reason why Pastor Nilo who saw them for the first time thought of showing them in Tacloban too.

SJ PWD Pres Fist up calling for actionAfter the event, the highly charged President of SJDAPA Mr. Antonio Pomarca delivered an inspiring message calling for unity and their empowerment. Before leaving the hall, I asked him about their future plans — he said that they are now thinking of forming a federation of PWDs in the whole of Samar. I distributed DVD copies of  “A Blind Architect…” (courtesy of APCD Foundation and JICA) to key persons working for the welfare of PWDs to be able to share further the concept of Non-Handicapping Environment (NHE) with their respective communities.

PWD_SJ and Borongan

PWDs from San Julian and Borongan City, Eastern Samar largely composed of Deaf members including Ma. Gilda Quintua (first row in white blouse)

The full participation and commitment of SJDAPA officers and members, the MSWDO personnel headed by Ms. Ma. Teresita Calvadores, the TDH staff, non-PWD volunteers such as a physical therapist, a social worker, some parents of PWDs, among others led to an event I am sure they all find unforgettable. Of course, Ma. Gilda Quintua, as the one who really gave a lot of her time and effort towards realizing the goal of advocating for and in behalf of persons with disabilities as hyper active member of SJDAPA should be commended. It is afterall, because of her that Silent Odyssey’s journey to Samar became a reality. With her parents and a sister who served as interpreter for the Deaf in the community, they showed me an interesting place called Liliputan Rocky Beach Resort. However, it was already late and unfortunately, my cam’s battery already went kaput so I have nothing to show you. I just recorded it in my mind.

Photo13 View on the way back to Tacloban City from Samar with the shot taken from a very, fast moving bus, would you believe that???

To read and know more about San Julian, please click below:




Alyana in Pasay

July 30, 2009

Pasay audience4_Aly(On screen, my niece Eileen Cruz and her daughter Alyana, now 15 yrs. old)

At long last  on July 21, Tuesday, Alyana was shown in her area, our own area! Alyana and I both live in the city of Pasay. Although I wanted to have it shown right after its premiere in 2006, it took 3 years before it was finally shown here.

Pasay audience_reverse

Over a thousand viewers came— mainly composed of barangay health workers who attended the four-day Early Detection Intervention Program (EDIP) workshop of Autism Society Philippines (ASP), students and teachers of Philippine School for the Deaf, DSWD personnel and some parents of children from Pasay Sped Center who approached me with gratitude in their eyes after the screening. Some tagged along their child with autism to view Alyana which is a film salute to parents with special children.


Pasay City Sports Complex is located at Derham Park, which used to be a playground and the place where we actually used to play during our high school days at Pasay City High School (PCHS). Though not an ideal venue because of daylight source from the roof and the acoustics problem [it wasn’t designed as a movie theater afterall] and the seats were not enough because only about 350 viewers were initially expected, the bleachers served as good alternative to seat the viewers that tripled before the screening finally started at 3.30 pm.

Pasay audience_Hor

Produced by APCD Foundation and JICA “A Blind Architect…” which presents the Non Handicapping Environment (NHE) history, concept and importance of the Philippine Accessibility Law (BP344) preceded the screening of Alyana. With sign language inset options (FSL or ASL) that interpret the sound dialogues, it got the full attention of the Deaf audience as well.

Pasay audience

Pasay audience_Hor3

The event was coolly and successfully managed by Cristy Castañeda, PWD focal person of Pasay City Social Welfare Department who like me was a product of PCHS with all out support from DSWD heads and officers who were all present.

The following day at noon time, July 22 I flew to Tacloban City en route to Eastern Samar for the showing of ” Silent Odyssey” on July 23.


Below is Autism Society Philippines’ official report on “Alyana Comes Home to Pasay”

ASP news Pasay



July 14, 2009

Next week on July 21, the latest docu that I have just finished, “A BLIND ARCHITECT: The Vision of a Non-Handicapping Environment” [14 min] doubles with the scheduled showing of my film on autism “ALYANA.” It features Architect Jaime “Jimmy” Silva and Arch. Armand Eustaquio of the United Architects of the Philippines Committee on Accessibility. Produced by APCD Foundation and JICA, it will be the first run of A Blind Archi with any of my docu-features. The free showings are scheduled from 3pm at Pasay City Sports Complex.

DVD BAKGROUND_Blind Archi+RETArch. Jaime Silva (above) in a corridor of the office building where he works as a Manager and (below) while listening to the film presentation during a special preview for him and Arch. Armand.

Arch Silva listensIMGA0582

Architects Jimmy Silva (left) and Armand Eustaquio (right)

Then on July 23, it will be shown with “SILENT ODYSSEY” in San Julian, Samar in the Eastern Visayas organized by the group of Ma. Gilda Quintua [Deaf Go-Negosyo Awardee] who, although featured in the film has not seen SO yet.

Both feature films are aimed at raising awareness about the PWD conditions and needs, and that ability not disability matters. A Blind Architect focuses on the introduction of Non-Handicapping Environment (NHE) in the country, the people advocating for it so that better lives for PWDs, especially the physically impaired shall be effected through implementation of BP344 or the Philippine Accessibility Law.

My thanks to Asia-Pacific Development Center on Disability (APCD), Japan Information and Cooperation Agency (JICA), National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) and United Architects(UAP) of the Philippines Committee on Accessibility for allowing me to show A BLIND ARCHITECT with my other films.

(See Page on the right column for more on A BLIND ARCHITECT).