Posts Tagged ‘Deaf’


The Preservation of the Sign Language by George Veditz

October 9, 2017

As early as 1913, American Deaf Veditz espoused on the importance of preserving sign language using film. Though I am a hearing person, it it his thoughts that inspire me in fact to do the same in our country for our Deaf sector, especially since the clamor to recognize Filipino Sign Language as their national sign language is still on-going.

Below is a translation by Carol A. Padden, Professor of the University of California – San Diego of Veditz message taken from the film produced by the National Association of the Deaf, in 1913.

Friends and fellow deaf-mutes:

The French deaf people loved de l’Epee. Every year on the occasion of his birthday, they gather together at banquets and festivities to show their appreciation that this man was born on this earth. They journey to his gravesite in Versailles and place flowers and green wreaths on his grave to show their respect for his memory. They loved him because he was their first teacher. But they loved him more for being the father and inventor of their beautiful sign language.

For the last 33 years, with eyes filled with tears and hearts broken, the French deaf people have watched this beautiful language of signs snatched away from their schools.

For the last 33 years, they have strived and fought for the restitution of signs in the schools but for 33 years their teachers have cast them aside and refused to listen to their pleas. But their teachers would much rather listen to the worthless, cruel-hearted demands of people that think they know all about educating the deaf but know nothing about their thoughts and souls, their feelings, desires and needs.

It is like this in Germany also. The German deaf people and the French deaf people look up at us American deaf people with eyes of jealousy. They look upon us Americans as a jailed man chained at the legs might look upon a man free to wander at will. They freely admit that the American deaf people are superior to them in matters of intelligence and spirituality, in their success in the world, in happiness. And they admit that this superiority can be credited to – what? To one thing, that we permit the use of signs in our schools.

The French deaf people base their inferiority on one thing, the fact oralism must be taught in their schools. They have eliminated fingerspelling; they have eliminated signs. But we American deaf are rapidly approaching some bad times for our schools. False prophets are now appearing with news to the people that our American means of teaching the deaf are all wrong. These men have tried to educate people and make people believe that the oral method is really the one best means of educating the deaf.

But we American deaf know, the French deaf know, the German deaf know that in truth, the oral method is the worst. Our beautiful sign language is now beginning to show the results of their attempts. They have tried to banish signs from the schoolroom, from the churches and from the earth. Yes, they have tried, so our sign language is deteriorating. From olden years, the masters of this sign language, the Peets, the Dudleys, the Elys, the Ballards, are rapidly disappearing. And we, in past years, loved these men. They had a precise command of sign language. They could communicate to us using only signs and we could understand them.

But fortunately, we have several masters of our sign language still with us. Edward Miner Gallaudet learned this sign language from his father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. There are several others, like Dr. John B. Hotchkiss, Dr. Edward Allen Fay, Robert P. MacGregor who are still with us. And we want to preserve the signs as these men now use them, to keep and pass on to coming generations. There are many men now alive who have learned their signs from men like these. Many have tried to preserve and pass on their signs. But there is one known means of passing this on, through the use of moving picture films.

Indeed, our National Association of the Deaf has raised a fund of $5000 for this purpose. We have made a number of films. We have films of Edward Miner Gallaudet, of Edward Allen Fay, of John B. Hotchkiss and Robert MacGregor and many others. I regret that we do not have $20,000, for we could have used it all. If we had this amount of money, we could have performances in sign language, sermons in sign language, lectures in sign language. And not only would we American deaf enjoy the benefits of this, but no — deaf people in Germany, in England, in France, in Italy would also see these moving picture films. Fifty years from now, these moving picture films will be priceless.

“A new race of pharaohs that knew not Joseph” are taking over the land and many of our American schools. They do not understand signs for they cannot sign. They proclaim that signs are worthless and of no help to the deaf. Enemies of the sign language, they are enemies of the true welfare of the deaf. As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have signs. It is my hope that we all will love and guard our beautiful sign language as the noblest gift God has given to deaf people.



THE SUBLIME PARALYTIC Screens Today, August 27!!!

August 27, 2015

The Sublime Paralytic is the English narrated version of my documentary on Apolinario Mabini. Narration by Cris Lorenzana; FSL interpretation by Bayani Generoso. It is will followed by the Filipino-narrated version, PULE: Utak ng Rebolusyon, now in post-production. John Baliza interpreted the story in Filipino Sign Language while Dr. Apolonio Chua narrated the story. All interviews were interpreted in FSL by Febe Sevilla. Translation of the story from English to Filipino by Dr. Ruby Alcantara.


Daily Prompt: Journey with the Deaf

May 28, 2013

Have you ever imagined yourself in a journey with Deaf individuals?

Well, I never did until one day, seven years ago in 2006 when I decided to formally study sign language with the hope of communicating with them. As part of my research for a docu that I wanted to do about Deaf Filipino Culture, I thought it would be wise to learn their language first. That was the start of my journey in the Deaf world. What made me decide to choose them as my subject is another story. Suffice it to say that there’s no turning back, no regrets at all to have spent my time with them.

Shoot with Silent Steps

Shooting with Silent Steps, an all-Deaf student playgroup at DLS-CSB School of Deaf and Applied Studies where I studied FSL. Here, I worked with Deaf photographer / videographer Dennis Balan.

One of the most memorable, and surely one of the happiest and enjoyable time in my life happened on my first day in the sign language class. On that day, all of us hearing students were required to ACT AS IF WE WERE DEAF, that is we were obliged not to speak a word – from morning when the class started up to our dismissal time in the afternoon at 5. To communicate with the Deaf, we had to gesture, act things out or make even the funniest facial expressions to be understood. Last resort would be writing on paper to “talk” with a Deaf buddy assigned to us, or use the celfone as a handy tool to communicate as well. Even during our lunch break, when we went to McDo Restaurant, the session continued. We ordered our food using gestures, hands and facial expressions. The instruction was do anything except speak! It was truly exhausting not to be able to speak for 8 hours. Saliva got dried up. Noticeable during those “trying” hours, I felt that the sound around me switched off as my full attention focused on my Deaf buddy. With the ambient sound seemingly off, all the people except my Deaf buddy defocused.  My full attention was on him because there was that need to understand what he was trying to tell me. I have never laughed as much as I did on that day nevertheless. It was great fun!

For a year, I had Deaf teachers; got exposed with their culture, and came to know what their societal concerns and needs are. During those years, I met many intelligent and talented Deaf in the sector and worked with some of them both as participants and co-workers in my film. In my journey with the Deaf, they eventually became part of my being. I have learned a lot from them as I came to understand, no matter how little who they are and how important their natural language is. Together, we have worked and eventually made the first docu on Deaf Filipino Culture and Language [Silent Odyssey / 2008] as well as the first-ever interpretation in Filipino Sign Language of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal’s [1891-1896] selected patriotic poems [A mi Patria / 2011-2012 / in four language versions]. Both films became a vehicle to relay the need to respect their person, and recognize Deaf’s linguistic human rights.

Shooting at the Plaza Park in Calamba

“A Filipinas” is one of the five poems of our National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal forming part of A MI PATRIA / To My Motherland

In several of my journeys with special people, I have learned that inequality and discrimination will never exist, if only we look beyond the so-called “disability”, be it physical or intellectual.


British Council Committed to Diversity

February 13, 2013

The British Council is committed to Diversity. It supports the Third Hong Kong International Deaf Film Festival with the aim of promoting Deaf culture and cultivating in the general public an understanding of it.

British Deaf sociologist Paddy Ladd coined the term “Deafhood”to denote the positive aspects of Deaf culture by rejecting the pathologisation of “deafness”.

In light of Deafhood, the Third Hong Kong International Deaf Film Festival is themed “Deafining Cultural Diversity, Becoming a Deaf Media Talent”, showcasing deaf films from the UK and around the world to celebrate the creativity of the Deaf people in making animation, documentaries and genre films via sign languages, while embracing the intersections between the Deafhood identity and other identities, such as sexual orientation, Muslim and Jewish identities. [To read the full article, click:]

One of the films to be shown during the 3rd HKIDFF is :SILENT ODYSSEY” my documentary on Deaf Filipinos — their history, language and culture. It also touches issues on the use of sign language as index to Deaf identity and audism [Deaf discrimination]


Daily Prompt: Musical / Role of Music on a Deaf Dancer

January 27, 2013

I am not a musical person but I love music. However, I am more of a visual person so I see music in rhythms of lines, geometry in buildings, patterns of shapes…on designs of leaves and flowers. With or without music therefore, I “see” music somehow. That’s probably one of the reasons why I enjoy being with Deaf persons. When I started learning sign language, I have first of all learned how to put off the sounds — whether music or simply noise that enter my ear from the surroundings especially when I talk to them.  That’s something I found quite necessary to be able to “listen” to their talking hands. I had to focus on their hands and visual expressions to be able to understand what they are saying. Without practice, signing is just like any other spoken language. In fact, I am still not adept to it. I need to exert a lot of effort to be able to communicate with them. It is quite a challenging but enjoyable task to do.

Instead therefore of writing about the role of music in myself, it would be more interesting I believe to share with you the role of music in a Deaf dancer named CJ Patriarca whom I interviewed for my documentary entitled “Silent Odyssey.” It amazed me to know that to be able to express in dance a certain feeling, she had to “listen” to the music by feeling the vibration of the music beats. She puts her ear against the music player or on the floor to “listen’ and/or touches them first to feel the beat to be able to study the rhythm — is it slow / sad? fast or happy? Feeling the rhythm guides her; she starts counting the beats and from there interprets and then performs the dance with a very talented Deaf choreographer. However, I had asked for a  reversal of what they used to do. Instead of “hearing” / feeling the music first before the dance interpretation, I asked them to interpret the idea first — i.e. the feeling of isolation and Deaf discrimination that I needed for the docu. After that, I called in the music scorer. He studied their movements, measured its length, then scored the music based on the mood of their interpretation. It had worked. The film is official entry in the upcoming 3rd Hongkong International Deaf Film Festival to be held  between February 22-24, 2013 at the HongKong Arts Centre.

I have witnessed the role of sound and music on the members of the Silent Steps, an all-Deaf dance student playgroup from DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies where CJ used to be a member, the school where I studied Filipino Sign Language.


On a Rainy Day to PRID

July 3, 2012

Today is literally not bright. It is grey all over the National Capital Region. LPA or low pressure area brought a lot a rains in Manila. Many schools and offices sent home students and employees especially in places affected by floods. Nevertheless, Aldrin Gabriel [Deaf Rizal /Ultimo Adios/A Filipinas] and I went this morning to the office of the Philippine Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf [PRID] located inside the compound of the Philippine School for the Deaf [PSD] in F.B. Harrison St. That was my first time to go there. When I shot Silent Odyssey, I didn’t go beyond the Main Building. I didn’t know anyone at the time I made my docu on Deaf Filipinos.

We were met by Jun Sevilla [interpreter for some poems in A mi Patria project and Febe’s husband]. He is an officer of PRID alumni group. He asked me to meet up with their president Nancy Sia to show A mi Patria and discuss the possibility of working together to spread Deaf  awareness and raise funds at the same time. The PRID Director joined us in the discussion. As the aim is towards promoting Deaf awareness in the society, well, maybe we could work together. I am not a choosy person.. I have in the past worked with groups, institutions, sometimes just individuals interested to show my films. My aim is anyhow for my film[s] to be seen by as many people as possible — hearing people especially in case of my Deaf films — for them to see and believe that yes! “Deaf can.” They have talents and potentials that only need exposure. It is my hope that the spotlight shines on them because there are quite a lot of gems in the group.


Dok APO on “A mi Patria”

June 18, 2012

This is what Dr. APOLONIO “Apo” CHUA, Chairman, Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, U.P. College of Arts and Letters wrote about A MI PATRIA, the project that I produced with Deaf individuals:

Central in the conception of Mirana Medina’s latest opus A mi Patria are the intersecting planes of spoken languages and the language of the deaf. It is for the viewer of the film, whether Filipino Sign Language abled, or literate in any of the three spoken languages used in the film—-English, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino—-to probe, ponder on and understand the world the film had created, a world celebrating the joy and magic of literacy, literature and the basic human desire of expression. At the very core of the film, questions arise. Have we really understood our national hero’s poems? Is it possible the deaf have a better comprehension of their meanings? If only we had just a little bit more insight into how the deaf construe their ideas. The film’s title also suggests other relevant questions. Have we Filipinos, blessed as we are with the ability to learn languages, really been communicating to one another as a nation? Aiming high, A mi Patria addresses an intelligent and select viewership.
Sentral na dalumat ng A mi Patria ang pagpapanagpo ng mga wikang binibigkas at wika ng mga Bingi. Nasa manonood, bingi man o nakapagsasalita, na pasukin, lasapin at unawain ang nalikhang daigdig na ito ng mahika at ligaya ng kakayahang makapagpahayag. Sa pusod ng pelikula, kumikintal din ang mga tanong.  Naunawaan na ba natin ang mga tula ng ating pambansang bayani?  Hindi kaya mas nauunawaan ito ng mga Bingi?…Pahiwatig din ng pamagat ng pelikula ang tanong, nag-uusap na ba tayo bilang isang bansa? Matayog ang asinta ng A Mi Patria.  Karangalan ng pihikang manlilikha at manonood ng pelikulang Pilipino. Mabuhay!”


Sound as Important as Picture

December 3, 2011

That is my belief! I give  equal importance to sound vis a vis pictures in filmmaking. Of course, to my Deaf friends, sound means nothing! But in the film that I am doing for them — A mi Patria — sound is yes, very important. I am a hearing person so it is honestly difficult for me to appreciate moving pictures only. Yesterday, Bert de Santos, sound designer continued to work on the layin and pre-mixing of effects. We are waiting for the music, another very important and essential component of Project Rizal. In making a “Deaf film” effects and music are crucially important. Without them, my films won’t have the spirit that I need. Or, what the hearing viewers would need. The film A meant for the Deaf but with the Blind and hearing viewers in my mind as target audience as well, sound should be there. Otherwise, it would really be incomplete and won’t touch even the most sensitive of the hearing viewers. I want them to appreciate Filipino Sign Language; learn it if they could. Because that would make the gap between the Deaf and the hearing closer. Until one day, they would find themselves at one with the Deaf. At home in the Deaf world


The Sign Language Interpreter’s Meet

August 22, 2011

I am not a sign language interpreter, and will never be one, but last Saturday, August 20 at CSDB_SDA, I dropped by to observe, and eventually join the PHILIPPINE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETERS [PINASLI], an organization of sign language interpreters in the Philippines. Their major aim is to gather all the sign language interpreters, irrespective of the form that they are using — Filipino Sign Language, American Sign Language, Signing Exact English…it is purely accessibility that they are aiming at, and I think that is wonderful! Issues regarding the sign language form that Filipinos must use should hopefully and amicably become settled issues. But of course, I will still continue to advocate for the recognition of the Filipino Sign Language. For that, I am with SDEAS and the Philippine Federation of the Deaf. It has remained a dream for me to communicate with the Deaf better but I think my receptive skill is really poor. But that’s it, I attended because I have many Deaf friends now and I am working with them on films that are meant for them. Besides, when I go around to show my film Silent Odyssey, the usual response, especially of hearing regular teachers is that they formally want to learn FSL. Where to refer them has always been my problem. If sign language interpreters can easily be referred to in every municipality, then it should help willing teachers to learn how to sign. I remember an elementary teacher from Libmanan, Camarines and she was wary and worried when she told me, that she does not really know or cannot tell whether a Deaf child mainstreamed in her class really learns from her. That is the reason why they want to learn sign language formally because they have hearts for those children. That is the reason why I have asked if there is a directory of sign language interpreters in the Philippines.

I think they should really add in their application form those who are not sign language interpreters but are interested in knowing what they are doing. Like me. He!He! Finally, I met Joy Cristal [at the CR of all places during noon break]…I always hear her name but the face of the other Joy superimposes on the image when they refer to her. Sorry po!


“Mga Natatanging Tula ni Rizal [Sa Wikang Senyas]” Approved!!!

February 4, 2011

Unexpected!!! Really unexpected, so much so that I already erased my files on my proposed project to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts!!! I am referring to the project proposal I submitted to NCCA titled “Mga Natatanging Tula ni Rizal [Sa Wikang Senyas].” Although I was positive before that since my concept was different, I lost hope when I heard not a word from NCCA until yesterday. [I always used to get word from them as soon as they have approved project proposals]. Anyway, it is also because I am busy with the small work for Metro Manila College that I forgot to even ask them the status of my proposal…I was happy and problematic as well, because the full budget that I asked for was not entirely provided. Which means I have to look for more sponsors to realize the project. But GOD provides!!! And that I fully believe, especially so, because the project is not only for the Deaf, but for the Blind, and for any so-called “hearing and abled persons.” The project is designed for everybody — as it will not only be in Filipino Sign Language, but in Filipino, English and Spanish.

Cheers for the BIG news that I received on Chinese New Year’s Day!!! Indeed! A big challenge for me!