Posts Tagged ‘Rommel Agravante’


Deaf Visual Artist Rommel Agravante’s “MOTHER & CHILD”

May 31, 2019

Rommel Agravante, a Deaf visual artist was my Filipino Sign Language teacher at DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies. He stopped teaching at SDEAS to study painting at the University of the Philippines. He got a Certificate in Painting from UP. Below is his interpretation of a Mother and Child whose idea I let him do freely.


Rommel Agravante with his painting, “Mother and Child”, an oil painting on wooden panel; Size: 20″ x 24″


My pet, Pitz looks at the painting of Rommel, my former Filipino Sign Language teacher.


Deaf Voices Raised Using Talking Hands and Whistles_Long Live FSL!

November 7, 2012

The Fight is On for FSL!!!

Assembly Point – Philcoa

Rommel Agravante [my FSL 3 teacher] and Rack Corpuz – Some of Deaf Frontliners

Dr. Liza Martinez in Fighting Mood

To shout Deaf Filipinos’ demand for the recognition of Filipino Sign Language [FSL] as their national sign language, members of different Deaf organizations assembled in Philcoa, Diliman, Quezon City. Led by staunch Deaf advocate Dr. Liza Martinez of Philippine Deaf Resource Center, PFD President Rey Lee, Weng Rivera of the Filipino Deaf Health and Crisis Center, and several other Deaf leaders and their group members, they assembled at 8.30 am and finally started moving towards Batasang Pambansa at 9 am.

Philippine Federation of the Deaf President Rey Lee with a Letter from Congress. Rey was my FSL Level 1 teacher

I joined the DLS-CSB SDEAS Filipino Sign Language Learning Program group led by my FSL Level 2 Deaf teacher Ana Salazar.

With FSLLP Group

Ana Salazar, third from right

Every now and then, you could hear the whistles blaring loud; their fists up; and their spirits visibly uplifted. We made a stopover at the Commission of Human Rights; Deaf leaders met with the focal person for PWDs while we waited on the open ground.

On to the Commission on Human Rights

Waiting at CHR Ground

From there, the walk continued until about noontime; I saw members of Alliance of Concerned Teacher’s Party List led by Cong. Antonio Tinio. Several other Deaf persons joined the group at Batasang Pambansa area… That’s where I met Dennis and Jennifer; Mackie and Febe. Anyhow, I wasn’t able to join the afternoon event. I didn’t witness the more important “action”  – the presentation of Deaf’s demand to the House of Congress for FSL’s recognition. I had some other activity in the afternoon.

Weng Rivera Explains What to Do Next

Moments Before Proceeding to House of Congress; Congressman Tinio-solon Who Proposed HB6079 in barong

However, after they left, I sat awhile to rest. A policeman approached and asked me about the rally. He told me he was happy to learn about the rally’s cause and admitted that it was his first time to be aware of FSL and ASL/SEE issue. That’s one concrete outcome of “shouting” together loudly as one — using whistles and talking hands. The campaign shouldn’t stop until Deaf’s legitimate demands are met. I’ll be editing the video of the walk from Philcoa to where I got to talk with the policeman. Will post later.

By the way, all my FSL teachers are in the docu Silent Odyssey, sked to be reshown this Saturday, November 10 [9.30 to 12nn] , Monday Nov 12 and Wednesday Nov 14 [12nn-3pm] at DLS-CSB  PEN Lab.

To understand more the current issue, please read the following:






For more report on the event by deaf-e-news, click hundreds-march-to-congress-to-support fsl


I Met My First Deaf Friend in UST

February 1, 2011

I don’t know where is now, but I met my first Deaf friend in UST. His name is Daniel Pantig. He was my classmate and the one who taught me fingerspelling or how to sign ABCs for the Deaf. We became close  because I was one of his few classmates who really spent time to learn fingerspelling to be able to communicate with him. The reason why it didn’t take me much time to learn it as part of communicating with the Deaf when I formally studied sign language at DLS-CSB School for Deaf and Allied Studies as part of my research for “Silent Odyssey,” my docu on Deaf Filipinos. Oh well, now that I think about it, UST should be lauded for having accepted my Deaf friend even without the “mainstreaming and inclusion” dictums in the current educational system wherein schools are all obliged to provide “Education For All.” I think that is one thing UST should brag about. They welcomed the Deaf even if sped education wasn’t yet in vogue because that must be about three decades ago… UP has only recently accepted Deaf students in tertiary levels. Some Deaf and Hard of Hearing friends are enrolled as M.A. students in Psychology. At the UP College of Fine Arts, my FSL teacher, Rommel Agravante joined last year as a scholar.

UST is 400 years old, and having thought of Daniel, I can’t help but be nostalgic of the four years that I spent there as Fine Arts student. And although I continued to study [Humanities], worked, be connected with the UP Film Center even lived in the campus [J.P.Laurel St.] for nearly 20 years, my years at UST continue to live on in my memory. Especially so, when I read Rina Jimenez-David’s article on UST when she wrote : “I remember visiting my then-boyfriend at the College of Fine Arts and experiencing a culture shock: everywhere was chaos, with art materials scattered in all corners, and students in paint-spattered jeans, long unkempt hair and vivid torn T-shirts.” [A Reluctant Thomasian]. There was disarray it’s true but we were used to them as we looked beyond and created order on our canvases. I can also confirm the amusing fact that male and female students took different stairways. There was segregation but not when students were in classrooms. Co-ed everywhere except sa stairs…

Anyway, at Atelier H, the room designated for Painting Majors — [I myself can’t seem to take now that I was a Painting Major because admittedly I can’t paint a thing except perhaps the doors of the house. Ha!Ha!…maddeningly true!!! A waste of time?? In a way, because I have not practiced and lost all the confidence in painting that I used to have. But the principles and theories are still applicable when I frame my shots to make my films. Besides, I had good professors: Angelito Antonio, Antonio Austria, etc.] — anyway, to continue with my recollection: — Once I was in serious “tantrums” or in “bad mood” that I remember expressing it by throwing paints on my canvas and kicking it because I couldn’t quite achieve what I wanted to paint. I finished it anyway nang mahimas-himasan in time for class submission. And would you believe? I got an Honorable Mention Award in an Art Association of the Philippines competition! With personal congratulatory note from no less than Mr. Victorio Edades being the former Fine Arts Director then. But the most laughable part was that it was judged and displayed in inverted manner. I came to know that when I went to attend the exhibition… the saddest thing though was the discouraging remark from my mother who said: “Maski singko [5 centavos], hindi ko bibilhin yan!”  She was so violently against my impressionistic, at times abstract, Delaunay and El Greco-influenced work in Composition subject under Angelito Antonio. I was depressed. But what could you expect from them who wanted me to take up Library Science like my brother???

Funny too to remember how Fr. Rodriguez, our fat Spanish Rector, reminiscent of Fr. Damaso, used to run after students in mini skirts. His problem was that FA rooms were partitioned only by dividers where one can  just bend or stoop to get to the other room. He couldn’t. And as he fumed with anger, we were giggling inside the CR, the safest place to hide. I also remember Mr. Diosdado Lorenzo —  his last year when I was there — shouting out loud his evaluation of student’s work that could be heard even if you were three rooms away from him: “Poor color, poor rendering — 50!!!” At least I got 84%…Hmmm!!! And, there was also an incident when students were running in chaos after the newly assigned Dean Concio — whom they disliked…and other scenes like molotovs dropping near our building…and students scampering away.

From painting to making films on Special People, isn’t that unthinkable?? I never thought I would end up doing what I am doing now. That’s how Fate or Destiny work I guess. Nevertheless, I definitely use art principles and theories when I make films. So, the artist in me never really died. There remains a wishful thought that one day — one day, I’ll be back to dabble with oil paints and the like again. I miss the smell of turpentine, Grumbacher paints, ubok, linseed oil, and the texture of a canvas, and a sable brush…


Keep Children and PWDs Safe

December 26, 2009

In a world where material greed, wars and strife become dominant, and where spirituality is relegated to the background; where respect for life and human rights seem dissipating, becoming rarer or a thing of the past, children are most vulnerable. Who in this world is safe now when even in broad daylight, innocent people get raped, robbed, and/or massacred and mutilated; where cyberspace is freely explored by anyone from the most sacred of subjects to the most heinous ones; where the military [with some exceptions of course] and those who should police us to safety are themselves involved in some crimes being perpetrated to the citizens they pledged to protect. For reasons at time beyond comprehension, and seems Biblical, everything seems to come to an excess, crashing and crushing down age-old values and respect for self and others.

ABUSE as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary are as follows: 1) to use wrongly or improperly; 2) to maltreat; 3) to attack with insult, or revile. I personally define abuse as “doing something more than it should be,” “going beyond a defined boundary,” “over indulgence.” In whichever way the word is defined, there is something negative or wrong in its connotation.

Keep Them Safe Group_Batch 1: (Seated--MM, on extreme left; Liw Caldito, third from left; Atty. Chato Gallo, third from right)

An outcome of the present state of the society is the birth of Keep Them Safe Now, a movement initiated by Atty. Rosario Olivas-Gallo which was born out of a commitment to keep children, and persons with disabilities (PWDs) from different forms of abuses—CSA (child sexual abuse) especially. Last November 28, I attended Module 1 of Keep Them Safe Seminar Series on How to Prevent CSA. It was held at Balay ng Alumni, UP, Diliman and facilitated by Atty. Chato herself. Two Deaf friends—Alma from Filipino Women’s Health and Crisis Center and Rommel Agravante, my FSL teacher at DLS-CSB SDEAS now a scholar at the UP College of Fine Arts were among the attendees, largely composed of members from differend NGO groups here in Manila. I attended it being a part of Support and Empower Abused Deaf Children (SEADC) headed by Liw Caldito. SEADC was the beneficiary of the event. As a new member of the group, I thought that I should attend the seminar to familiarize myself with something I know little about. I first met and was introduced to Liw during the screening of my film Silent Odyssey last September 2008.

SEADC group

Liw was familiar to me because my lens caught her during the Celebrations into Force of UNCRPD in May ’08. Reviewing my copy before any screening made me familiar with most of the people in my film. My getting involved with Deaf Pinoy Kaleidoscope, an association of 7 active Deaf organizations made me personally encounter those I virtually know through the footages that I shot at that time.

Anyway, my apathetic and lethargic mind to the happenings around has actually awakened me and my interest in the real situations that affect my subjects moving me to continously work for their welfare in whichever way I could as an advocate for their cause. That is where making my films led me to. That is how I was transformed. Learning of their woes against the society and the government made me feel for them. Since the power of film I believe is very strong to transmit to the concerned those woes, I myself got empowered and have built the conviction to carry on with what I have started. I have a lineup of films to do actually that focus on the special people.

What sort of astounded me to learn from the seminar was that CSA does not just mean rape, or physical assault and molestations of the victims.  Just throwing malicious or lascivious looks at the victim are already forms of CSA. Other myths about CSA were taken up one by one: Not all victims are girls; that victims do not know the perpetrators [actually 75-80% know them]; abusers are usually poorly educated or economically poor; that children and disabled are not frequent victims of CSA; all CSA abusers are male; that children lie, make up or imagine sexual abuse; that there is no need to fear if you live in a nice, supposedly safe neighborhood; that children are already safe if they are told to say NO when one touches their private parts; that if the boy was aroused or the girl did not complain, there is no CSA,; that boys are less traumatized than girls; that abused children will show physical evidence; that repeated interview can implant false accusations in children’ s minds,  etc.

Getting “educated” about CSA would help lead to action I believe, and bringing the seminar to places where children are liable to be victims and their families because of innocence would help a lot. Tying it up with projects where community based rehabilitation [CBR] groups are active should be considered as they go to provincial nooks untouched or unseen by the national government. I believe that the local or barangay unit of the government could do its share with the cooperation of Department of Social Welfare so that awareness of CSA could be propagated, really disseminated. Pamphlets maybe distributed in the absence of a seminar or while a seminar is still being planned. Awareness would help make everybody observant, more cautious of people around us. Lay people will know and be more open to the subject, and if taken up matter-of-factly and explained by a lawyer herself, the legal viewpoint would undeniably be very useful. The seminar is most timely, especially for PWDs, who are common victims because of their physical disability, especially now that the UNCRPD is being enforced and that the Philippines is a signatory to it.

Learning new knowledge, truth and information about the subject in focus is the first step to involvement. Getting committed to its cause is another matter of course but if that knowledge would help move a person into changing his false beliefs, it is already a positive step towards empowerment–of self first and foremost. The rest follows…