Posts Tagged ‘PFD’


Silent Odyssey’s Back! Learn About FSL History! Be Inspired-“Listen” to WFD President!!

November 8, 2012

The issue on the use of sign language in the Philippines is a-burning! Which one should be the national language of Deaf Filipinos: Filipino Sign Language [FSL] or Signing Exact English [SEE]? a survey asks. The question seems irrelevant. Tinatanong pa ba ‘yun???? Anyhow, my position has always been clear, and I have since been upholding especially after making SILENT ODYSSEY that FSL should be given recognition as Deaf Filipinos’ national sign language. That is what the majority of the Deaf is clamoring for. And that includes Deaf whom I interviewed [with interpreter’s help] not only for Silent O but out of curiosity —in Zamboanga City, Palawan, Dumaguete City, Bohol, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Pampanga regarding their choice of what sign language to use. They said that they are using American Sign Language and SEE in schools, but they prefer to use FSL when they “talk” among themselves. Some said that as Filipinos, they should use FSL.

I personally have nothing against SEE, as a course in the Deaf educational curriculum – because I think that it is also important for the Deaf to know that such “language” exist, and can be useful for them when it comes to learning the English language – its structure and proper use. But that’s my personal opinion. Deaf teachers and FSL hearing advocates may disagree with me but if I were Deaf, I would love to learn and would welcome it as “another” language – a secondary language though, not otherwise, or the way it is being practiced now.

The initiatives of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and other institutions in their advocacy for the use, recognition and adoption of FSL in schools being the natural sign language of Deaf Filipinos is gaining more and more support recently as lawmakers finally listened to Deaf Filipinos’clamor for FSL recognition, a big leap and a just reward for the time and efforts that they have spent for years towards that end. The future is very bright for our Deaf…

As a hearing person, I used to think that finger spelling is sign language because that’s what my first Deaf friend taught me. And since I managed to communicate with him using it, my idea never changed until I studied Filipino Sign Language in SDEAS as part of my research in the making of SILENT ODYSSEY. Only when I had crossed the “barrier”, that is, by studying FSL that I came to know how strongly the need for their human linguistic rights to be respected is. In understanding FSL’s root and origin, and recognizing what the majority of Deaf Filipinos themselves want, NOT WHAT the hearing teachers want for them made me stress in the docu, FSL’s importance in their lives, the reason why I allotted a lot of time to the FSL segment. In addition, WFD President Markku Jokinen explains that “Deaf use their eyes to listen” and sign language is important to the Deaf because they can communicate even from a distance compared with someone who is using hearing aid. And by having their own sign language the Deaf distinguish themselves from others in the PWD sector. That makes them unique, and because of that they should be treated as a cultural-linguistic minority group. Anyway for FSL users,SILENT O raises their self-esteem and gives them clearer identity as Filipino; for SEE users, well! a negative feeling that evokes anger in some, maybe… or simply misunderstanding and denial having the colonial mentality— probably–that the use of English make them superior over FSL users.

On November 10, 12 and 14, SILENT O will be back to add further knowledge in the minds and consciousness of Deaf students re their history, language and culture. Contact Mackie Calbay for more information.

Let’s continue in supporting House Bill 6079!!!


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.”



February 22, 2009

Matyag (pagmamatyag) Tagalog. n. close observation. Syn. pagmamasid; obserbasyon; manman; cf (compare the following) tingin, tanaw, bantay, tanod; malas. (Source: “Diksyunaryo Tesauro PILIPINO-INGLES” by Jose Villa Panganiban, c. 1972)

Appropriately so, the Digital Stories (DS) and Participative Videos (PV) participated in and made by our Deaf friends from the Filipino Deaf Women’s Health and Crisis Center (FDWHCC), Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) and SDEAS in the UP College of Social Work and Community Development’s (CSWCD) “Matyag 4: CSWCD Advo-Docu Deaf Participatory Festival! Towards Deaf Participation, Information Sharing and Advocacy” closely looked at the neglect, abuses and violence experienced by the Deaf, mostly women. More than just giving information, the personal recounting of their pains and hurts (in first person) made their videos effective as they touch the hearts of receptive viewers.


I have always believed in the power of film and video as tools for advocacy and awareness. But involving the subjects in the process of making their own stories is far better I think than what I am actually doing. I do make advocacy films about and for special children and PWDs. I even made Silent O with them (two of the film’s cameramen, choreographer and most of the artists are Deaf) but doing their own thing is best I believe.  I just hope that they will pursue with what they have started with Ms. Giselle Cruz (UP CSWCD Extension Specialist, Research and Extension for Development Office) and that what they have done would encourage other Deaf to join them in “speaking up.” With Deaf students from SDEAS (and other schools hopefully) who have been exploring and tackling Deaf problems, examining their psyche and expressing them out using the video technology for years, under training again from yet another Ms. Giselle (Montero of SDEAS), their voices shall be heard better by the society, and by their families, first and foremost.


I just hope that they will explore and manipulate the use of music more in their later production of Digital Stories, and I am addressing this of course to those who are helping the Deaf in post production. Music need not be used throughout as there are moments when they are better without. Sometimes, especially when there is no music variation, any presentation for that matter tends to nag and fails to enhance what could have been dramatic moments. Dead silence helps sometimes. In the PV presentation, if the film is also for the hearing as I was told by Ms. Giselle, maybe they can also consider keeping the ambient sound for the hearing audience to hear. It may just be a personal opinion but doing so can help make the hearing have familiarity not only with sign language but in hearing “Deaf sounds” as well. Afterall, some of them can speak, like Rack Corpus, PFD Pres., etc. Deaf make peculiar and unique sounds which I believe the audience should hear and be familiar with. Sync sound in digital production is not a problem anyway. Someone will just have to take care during shoot to minimize extraneous sound. Production constraints are there. They will always be a part of it. And for production involving Deaf persons, the main problem is laying in of sound of course but a HOH (hard-of-hearing) can probably be of help. And if budget will allow it, a hearing person can be assigned to do the proper sound editing. If you believe that that aspect is vitally important in making something intended also for hearing it is a must to consider it in the budget planning. Anyway, they are wishful thinking on my part. Because I know and I am sure that that will make their future productions even better.

Digital Stories vs. Digital Talking Books

DS appears to me like a “cousin” to DTB (Digital Talking Books). They both use photos, texts and sound. The only difference is that DS materials are edited using non-linear editing softwares like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or Pinnacle Studio (I use the Pinnacle Liquid Edition, earlier version). DS therefore is edited like a film. DTD is edited using Dolphin Publisher (this is the last version taught to us under the DAISY [Digital Accessible Information System] program). It has no video track but only sound track and we record right where you see the timeline equivalent in the above enumerated softwares. In DTB, we cannot use subtitles (unless done in Photoshop, be embedded and saved as jpeg image before importing to the final book); texts and pictures are separated, and the form is much like in a book. Chapters can also be built and opened at will. It can be programmed, may be projected and played on screen too but the highlighted texts move or “talk to tell the story” which is similar to the features of the karaoke. The very reason why it is called a talking book.

Both are tools to tell stories and both are useful to reach out and make themselves be heard. The Digital Stories are appropriate for the Deaf; the Digital Talking Books, initially designed for the Blind is now under exploration to benefit Persons with Autism too. (I have made mention in my earlier postings about Jed, an adult with autism who is creating his own DTBs).

Happily, for most independent filmmakers like us who can’t afford to use the celluloid and who cannot find producers to support the making of our advocacy films, digital filmmaking is the best option to express and say what we want. Used as an educational tool and to advocate for our cause, it is the cheapest and best way to reach out. Done properly, it can surpass, be more valuable, effective and useful than so many trash celluloid films that abound. Oh well, videos too!