Posts Tagged ‘Filipino Sign Language’

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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].

 

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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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“The Sublime Paralytic” in the 6th HKIDFF?

January 21, 2016

It’s dawn.

Oh well! After uploading my rough cut, “IndepenDeaf” to DDW and PFD, I checked the website of the 6th Hong Kong International Deaf Film Festival to see the status of the festival. I have not received any official notification from the group whether the docu I made with DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies is in or not. So, I was surprised to see IN the HKIDFF trailer a clip from our film with Bayani Generoso, one of the film’s interpreter. Ours is the first among those featured in the trailer below, and must be the only one dealing with a historical subject. The film is a bio-pic about Apolinario Mabini, first prime minister and first Secretary of Foreign Affairs. It was made to showcase the talents of Deaf Filipino performers, the Silent Steps by interpreting for the first time in FSL Apolinario Mabini’s “El Verdadero Decalogo” [1898]. It also features the first film score of a music genius with Autism, Thristan Mendoza. Finally, it is meant to promote the use and recognition of Filipino Sign Language [FSL] in the Philippines. Whether it is in or out is a hanging question. There has to be an official notification; just an assumption could be wrong.

“PULE: Utak ng Rebolusyon / Brains of the Revolution”, the Filipino-narrated version of The Sublime Paralytic which focuses on Mabini’s Role in the Revolution, and his fight against American sovereignty is slated to be shown next month.

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PULE: UTAK ng REBOLUSYON’s Final Cut Done!

December 24, 2015

It doesn’t necessarily mean though that changes are not welcome as of this stage. Next year — as if it is too far from now — I shall be watching it again. I have tendency to find the littlest of, well, not necessarily mistakes, but something I might find subject to change after distancing from it for many days than usual. For the record, the final cut was readied day before yesterday, Tuesday, December 22.

PULE, an educational documentary about our hero Apolinario Mabini, is the Filipino narrated version of his life. It is meant largely for the Deaf, but is not limited to them. Fully subtitled in English, it has interpretation in Filipino Sign Language, the natural and national sign language of Deaf Filipinos.

Dr. Apolonio Chua of UP Department of Filipino did the narration while the translation of the script was done by Dr. Ruby Alcantara from the same department.

Thanks to all participants to a film made from the heart! Thanks as well to SDEAS where I spent the last few weeks before end of school year to work on it and the NCCA for their support.

 

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The First Film on Apolinario Mabini that Provides Deaf People Access to Information PREMIERED!

August 29, 2015

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With Raymond Manding, President of the Youth Section, Philippine Federation of the Deaf [Right Photo]; John Baliza interpreted in FSL while I introduced the film. [Photo courtesy of Raymond from fb]. The screening was held at DLS-CSB ARG Theater, Taft Campus, Manila.

It was like a Deaf Awareness Week event when Deaf Filipinos in groups flocked to watch The Sublime Paralytic, our documentary on Apolinario Mabini, one of our great heroes. The turnout was for me unexpected. The reasons that I could think of are many: it is a film with interpretation in their own language — the Filipino Sign Language, and/or captioned for them in parts without; a film therefore that considered Deaf’s linguistic needs…a film that includes them; a film that shows and features their capacity and talent…

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John Baliza, one of the FSL best interpreters in the country interpreted for me. [Photo courtesy of Cris Lorenzana]

The film is something that I made with Deaf Filipinos in mind and with full consideration to answer their need for historical information vital to their being as Filipinos. To all those who helped me in making this film possible, and to those who braved the heavy traffic on that day to join us, I thank you all very sincerely!!!

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Closing Remarks by Leo Sulse

Premiere forum

Photo by Leah Osido courtesy of SDEAS

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The Silent Steps and Other Members of the Production Staff

Premiere

Photo by Leah Osido of SDEAS

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[R-L]: Sophia Manlapaz, Makeup Artist Nelson Demetillo, FSL Interpreter Febe Sevilla, Mabini Reader Abner Manlapaz, Center for Education Access and Development Techie dela Torre with her daughter, MM and Raymond Manding of PFD after the film showing

The Sublime Paralytic which focused on Mabini’s disability, being an icon of Persons with Disability in the Philippines, and his burning desire to serve the country despite his condition, is to be followed by the Filipino narrated version entitled PULE: UTAK NG REBOLUSYON [PULE: Brains of the Revolution]. It tells more of Mabini’s foresight and insights re the coming of the Americans in the Philippines at the turn of the century, and what their possible intentions were before they even landed on our shores.

PULE is interpreted in Filipino Sign Language by John Baliza of DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies. He is one of the best hearing interpreters in the Philippines.

For more photos shot by Leah Osido [Deaf] of SDEAS, visit their Deaf-e-news website

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In Promotion of Filipino Sign Language: “APOLINARIO MABINI: THE SUBLIME PARALYTIC”

August 17, 2015

SILENT ODYSSEY [2008], the first feature-length documentary on Deaf Filipinos was produced seven years ago. It had segments on the Filipino Sign Language [FSL] origin, importance to the Deaf of sign language, and the need for recognition of their linguistic human rights. Surprisingly, those in the Department of Education did not even know that FSL existed. Blind to its existence then??? and Now?

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Bayani Generoso Interprets in The Sublime Paralytic

Thus, FSL in APOLINARIO MABINI: THE SUBLIME PARALYTIC [and soon! in PULE: UTAK ng REBOLUSYON] was intentionally used again– to prove that it exists and keeps on flourishing through the years. Largely interpreted in FSL, it is primarily aimed at providing Deaf individuals access to information on Mabini, the First Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the First Prime Minister of the Philippines. No doubt, the visual medium is one of the best ways to help promote FSL, its recognition as the preferred language of Deaf Filipinos, and in the preservation of Deaf language and culture. Too bad that up to now, the government is not officially recognizing FSL as the national sign language of Deaf Pinoys.

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John Baliza Interprets in PULE: Utak ng Rebolusyon, the Filipino-narrated version of The Sublime Paralytic

As former student of FSL moreover, under the Filipino Sign Language Program of DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies [SDEAS], it is one of my aims to provide the hearing students of FSLLP a film that will help them get familiar with FSL signs. Exposure to signs will aid them in improving their receptive skill because it was, and still is admittedly, my problem up to now!

FSL Interpreters for THE SUBLIME PARALYTIC are Bayani Generoso, Febe Sevilla, Gess Michael Abrenica, Jr. and CJ Patriarca. FSL Interpreters for the Filipino-narrated version, PULE: UTAK NG REBOLUSYON, now in post-production are John Baliza, Febe Sevilla, Gess Michael Abrenica, Jr. and Maria Elena Lozada.

The FSL fight for government recognition is on! Support FSL!

Watch APOLINARIO MABINI: THE SUBLIME PARALYTIC! Premiere Showing on August 27, 2015 at DLS-CSB ARG Theater, 5th floor, 4 pm. For inquiries and ticket reservations, click: http://goo.gl/forms/SWf1Yks7tk