Posts Tagged ‘American SIgn Language’


Deaf Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines Used FSL

November 8, 2014

Sometime last year, I visited Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. with my relatives. I had an appointment to meet its librarian Ms. Diana Moore. I previously had email communications with her because of her interest to have a copy of “Silent Odyssey,” my documentary on Deaf Filipinos for their library collections.

My relatives wondered how communication would go between me and the Deaf guard. It didn’t bother me a bit that I do not know how to sign ASL [American Sign Language]. Whether I would be understood or not, I used Filipino Sign Language [FSL], visual gestural communication and finger spelling. I was understood. For me, that was a “big” accomplishment since I only have basic knowledge of sign language. It was my first time to “talk” with a Deaf American.

Anyhow, at the time we visited the library, there was an ongoing exhibition of the Peace Corps activities worldwide. They were active here in our country especially in the 70’s. Ms. Moore led us to the exhibition place.


Gallaudet Univ Librarian Ms. Diana Moore leading us to the Exhibition Area


I was surprised to know that FSL was used by some Peace Corps members. I have always believed that they only used American Sign Language primarily because they are Americans. At the time that they started coming here in the 70’s there were no formal studies yet with regards the existence of Filipino Sign Language. I was mistaken in my belief when I read one of the testimonies displayed.

PC in favor of FSL

Recognizing the use of FSL by a Deaf Peace Corp volunteer surprised me. I used to think that they only promoted and used ASL and SEE [Signing Exact English]

Signing Exact English [SEE], the type of sign language Peace Corps volunteers introduced and popularized here is still being taught and is being adopted up to now by Miriam College, and by most schools in the Philippines, especially those that are handled by hearing teachers. However, from the 90’s FSL started to get popularized and is currently being advocated by majority of Deaf Filipino leaders as the natural sign language of Deaf Filipinos. The number of FSL users continue to grow as they become aware of their Deaf identity as a cultural-linguistic minority group.

It took me more than I year before I managed to write about this. I was only reminded again when I saw the photos above as I started looking for my travel files to review the shots for a music video that I am preparing for a family reunion tomorrow. My balikbayan relatives from Maryland who brought us to Washington D.C. are here. So, tomorrow, we’ll have fun reminiscing the long walks we did over there, as well as in Baltimore and Pennsylvania through my travel videos.


Silent O Journeys to Washington University

February 26, 2010

I was so happy to receive an email from Mr. Alexander Zernovoj, District of Columbia Association for the Deaf (DCAD) Vice President confirming the acceptance of Silent Odyssey in the District of Columbia Deaf Film Festival. He wrote in part:

Congratulations! Your film, Silent Odyssey, has been accepted for the 3rd D.C. Deaf Film Festival, March 26 – 27, 2009, hosted by the District of Columbia Association for the Deaf (DCAD). The film festival will be held at George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium.

You are cordially invited to attend our D.C. Deaf Film Festival. Not only you will have one free full combo pass to all two days of the film festival activities, you will also get an invitation for two people to the exclusive VIP Filmmaker Reception. There will be an opportunity for you to join in a Q & A and possible panel discussion with the audience at the film festival. More information on the panel will be released later.

More information will be posted on their website at

Now… what makes me really excited is the fact that my film focuses on the Filipino Sign Language (FSL). FSL in an ASL (American Sign Language) Film Festival seem interesting. And I am thinking that maybe because FSL was historically influenced by ASL anyway, the fest organizers considered that. SO showing would give the audience an idea as to what FSL is now, and what our Deaf Filipinos really feel towards the use of their own sign language. Would ASL signers feel bad because our Deaf are now fighting for recognition of FSL? I doubt it. Deaf Americans too must have had the same experience with French Sign Language. They in the process produced signs uniquely their own. They too fought, or are still fighting too? for the use of ASL versus oral education for the Deaf and/or Signing Exact English (SEE). I honestly do not know. But I know what most of Deaf Pinoys want and hope for…promotion of sign language use, FSL awareness, and its recognition and practice in all Deaf schools.