Paalam, Madam President Corazon Aquino

Page 9 of a Korean Newspaper showing the Funeral Procession of Former President Aquino
Page 9 of a Korean Daily Newspaper showing the Funeral Procession of Former President Aquino

Last week, nearly a few hours after the announcement of the passing away of former President Corazon C. Aquino, my team was busy preparing for our trip to Seoul, South Korea. We were all saddened by the news. I was very much disappointed that I won’t be around to view her funeral and offer my own sympathy to the Aquino family. It was truly a tragic day for my country and I wasn’t there to mourn with my countrymen.

Confessions of a Marcos Fan

I have a confession to make. I was a true-blue full-blooded Marcos baby. Our family loved the Marcos family, a known nemesis of the Aquino’s. My parents were born and raised in Samar, a “kababayan” of Former First Lady Imelda Marcos. She hails from Leyte, an island near Samar, a Waray. My Dad worked as one of the rank and file employees of the Ministry of Human Settlements, a government agency then headed by Mrs. Marcos. Although we benefited a little from the graciousness of the former First Family, still our admiration was there. We were staunch Marcos supporters. My Dad and I used to join in one of President Ferdinand Marcos‘ nationwide campaign sorties.

My first voting experience was during the 1986 Presidential Snap Elections. Back then, I was a NAMFREL volunteer, a known anti-Marcos poll watching group. I joined that group to prove that they are not biased. During EDSA Revolution (February 22-26), I was with my ROTC classmates stationed at Philippine Christian University (I’m a FEATI University/Polytechnic University of the Philippines alumnus) in Taft Avenue awaiting for the expected doom. In my heart, I prayed that there won’t be any violence and at the same time Marcos’ power would prevail. When Marcos family left the country, my family and immediate relatives shed our precious tears. We subsequently joined Anti-Aquino rallies. We again cried when President Marcos died in Hawaii in 1989. We virtually hated Cory and her cohorts. We hoped that her presidency would not succeed in order to prove that life with Marcos regime is a whole lot better than hers.

A Yellow Ribbon for a Great Leader
A Yellow Ribbon for a Truly Great Filipino Leader

The Cory Magic

John F. Kennedy, the famous US President once said, “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

Years passed and three presidents later, I realized the gargantuan task President Aquino did when the responsibility was given to her by the Filipino people. She became a transition president. She tried her best to fix the horrors of the past while leading the people to a better future. Many protagonists who have hugely benefited from the Marcos regime made their presence felt and attempted to put her down. Some nearly succeeded. But her sincerity and true leadership prevailed.

She was the enemy of no one, including those who have done her wrong. She always carry apologetic words on her lips, ready to give even for those who are up to destroy her and her family. Never mind if they were those who murdered her husband, made unsuccessful coup attempts to her presidency, maligned her family or harshly criticized her regime. Her sincere request for forgiveness is always at hand.

A Nation in Mourning

Last year, when I heard that she was diagnosed with colon cancer, the next thing that came to my mind was my mother. My mom is of the same age as hers and only a few days apart. Pres. Cory’s birthday is January 22 while my mom is February 13. My mom is the source of my strength. President Cory is the one the binds our country’s democracy. What would become of my country should the bastion of democracy leave us? The thought sent me in distress and desperation. Immediately after that, I prayed to God and asked for His healing hands to touch Mrs. Aquino and give her complete recovery following His will. The whole country started to mobilize its prayer brigade to seek Gods miracle.

I prayed and am truly blessed and ever grateful to my Savior and God that my mom is very much alive and strong. In fact, she continues to supervise the day to day activities of our school for the deaf as its registrar. She is the one who is truly faithful and unites our family together.

Now that Madam Cory has left us, I hope that our country remains united in pursuing her dream of a better and united Philippines. The whole country loved and will greatly miss you. We mourn your death.

This time, I want to return the favor to her. To President Aquino, I am truly sorry for all the negativism and hatred that I placed in my heart in the past. I salute and remember your courage, faith in God and sincere love for your country and people. Because of you, we became proud to be Filipinos. Paalam, Madam President!

PS:

Btw, if you don’t like what Willie Revillame did in Wowowee during the funeral procession of Pres. Aquino, kindly sign on this petition.

View the actual Wowowee footage here. You may want to view the counter-attack made by Eat Bulaga’s hosts Joey De Leon and Vic Sotto here.

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My Korean Experience with the Deaf

Philippine Deaf Team on Stage
Philippine Deaf Team on Stage for Photo Ops

Last week, I was very much blessed to be part of the entourage of Filipino Deaf group who had a chance to visit the Soul of Asia, Seoul South Korea. For seven days, I was able to travel to one of the most sought after cities in the world.

Together with a mix of predominantly deaf delegation coming from Capitol City Baptist Church Deaf Ministry (CCBCDM) led by its Deaf Pastor Julius Andrada and his family, I experienced another exciting event in my life. Actually the nineteen-man delegation was composed of deaf students, staff, members and faculties of CAP College Foundation, CCBCDM and MCCID College of Technology. Well, the only common denominator is that nearly all of us are somehow connected with CCBC either as faithful attendees and sign language interpreters like me.

Andrada Family
Andrada Family

Ptr. Julius was with his wife and CAP SFD Registrar May Andrada together with two kids and their ward Lilet. Others from CAP were Ms. Revie Garcia, Harold Viray, Ylena Reyes, Michael Valois and Perseus Rendal. The last four are either students and alumni.

MCCID Team in front of DreamTel Hostel
MCCID Team in front of DreamTel Hostel

CCBCDM members were composed of Ptr. Rolando Landicho, Rodante De Torres and Jeremicah Penir. MCCID team who joined aside from me was Sir Ervin Reyes and Sir Jerome Marzan representing the faculty while Joanna Teves and Eleazar Fancubit came from the student group. Although Ptr. Julius selected the entire members of delegation, he gave our MCCID group a full hand as to who would participate.

Among the delegates, only six of us are hearing persons (May, Jules, Licca, Lilet, Revie and me).

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We felt honored that our Philippine Flag was one of those waving in the hotel's facade. But we also felt disgraced that it was erroneously posted with red on top of blue. So we called the attention of the staff. Later that night, they replaced it with a new flag and corrected the position.

Why are we there?

Typical Yewon Church Sunday Service
Typical Yewon Church Sunday Service with me interpreting for the Filipino deaf team

The Korean based Yewon Church, a rapidly growing Evangelical Christian church invited the Philippines to join in their third (?) World Deaf Mission Conference. Their aim is to spread the good news of God’s Word to the deaf people through the ends of the earth (That includes the Philippines). They already have a Philippine based Yewon Church. I believe they want to establish a separate Deaf Yewon Church through the able leadership of their Deaf Assistant Pastor Juwon Chung. Juwon is a Gallaudet University alumnus who is also a proud son of Rev. Chung Eun-Chu, Yewon Church’s Senior Pastor.

They invited the Philippine team and generously paid for all of our expenses. We are truly grateful to them for inviting us.

Korea and the Philippines

I wasn’t expecting much about the trip in terms of cultural differences. These past few years, there have been a deluge of Koreans who visit our country. They have virtually invaded our islands in terms of food (Kimchi restaurants are sprouting almost everywhere.), schools (I was surprised that in Licca’s elementary school, 50% of their population are Koreans.) and soap operas (Who can forget Full House, Endless Love Series, Jewel in the Palace and the now hugely popular Boys Over Flowers?). Latest survey shows more than one million Koreans have already visited the Philippines. So we have already been bitten by the Korean bug.

Beautiful Seoul Street
Beautiful Seoul Street

But then, I didn’t expect something exciting. Seoul is a beautiful and walkable city. Even at 2 am, my deaf team visited 7-11 Convenient Store which is a few blocks away from our hostel (Dreamtel International Youth Center) without fear of getting mugged. Then, we went to their famous spots like the top of the N Seoul Tower wherein one window was specially dedicated to Manila.

Juwon and Me at Seoul Tower Manila Window
Seoul Tower Manila Window
McDonald's Korea
McDonald's Korea

We were also treated to a cable car ride and experienced traversing the busy yet clean and hassle free Seoul highways and subways. Familiar faces of popular Korean actors donned every corner. How I wish the Philippines would be as clean as Seoul considering that Korea only became this highly urbanized more than thirty years ago?

Seoul Tower in Flames
Jerome in Flaming Seoul Tower
Korean Subway
Me, Juwon and Jerome inside a Korean Subway

As for the food, well, call me biased, but I never liked spicy hot meals. The first time I tasted their Kimchi, my stomach started to grumble in quick successions. I decided to refrain from eating some more for fear of having a hard time concentrating with my sign language interpretation.

Korean Breakfast
Korean Breakfast

In one of the Korean restaurants, the waitress motioned us to pour our rice on the soup. We immediately waived no. In another meal, one Korean lady explained to us that all the ingredients must be mixed in one bowl with red hot sauce on top. I’m not used to mixing food in one plate so we politely motioned her to leave us alone.

Watermelon Courtesy Call
Watermelon Courtesy Call

During our courtesy call with the highest official of their church, we were treated with a Korean watermelon. We felt a bit surprised and at the same time thought that we were cheap. You see, watermelon is one of the staple fruits in the Philippines. Everybody regardless of economic status can enjoy this delicious watery fruit. Later on I politely inquired about the way we were treated. Our interpreter defended that watermelon is very expensive in Korea. It was only served for very special guests and visitors. Ahhh, ok! I got it. Watermelon costs nearly P5,000 per fruit in their fruit stands compared to P50 here! 🙂

As for the people, they are lovely and gracious. But communication is still something to be desired. Only a handful of them knows English. It’s hard for us to ask the restaurant owners if they offer rice or chicken. Philippines is a hands down winner here. You can go anywhere here and still be understood by anyone including the street children.

One more thing. It’s very unethical to compare. But I observe that Filipinos are happier despite being lack of material things. Hooray for my beloved country!

Korean Deaf and Filipino Deaf

Jojo with Hanna Jang
A gorgeous Korean Actress (Joke!!), English interpreter Ms. Hanna Jung and I. Relay signing took place. A Korean Deaf signs on stage. Then a Korean voices it to Korean language. Then Ms. Hanna translates it into English. Then I interpret it in FSL.

I thought that Asian countries are alike in many ways. I may also equate these perception for deaf communities. But I was mistaken. Probably because of the sign language. Koreans have their own distinct sign language which, I was told, was basically the same as the Japanese sign language.

Filipino Sign Language got its roots from ASL. Many South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong also got their roots from ASL. So Deaf communities from these countries can hit it well and fast. However, I cannot say the same with the Korean deaf. It might take quite a few more intense hours of conversation before we can have a decent understanding.

In learning a few Korean Sign Language, I found out that their hello’s, hi’s and goodbyes have the same sign. That sign can also be used to greet a deaf person in any time of the day whether morning, noon or night, much like the Hawaiian Aloha.

Although some of my deaf companions were able to hit it off with some Korean deaf, I cannot say the same for my Korean hearing friends. They have very limited English knowledge. I was only able to chat lengthily with Ms. Gloria Kwon, the Korean Sign Language interpreter and of course with Ms. Hanna Jung. They keep on apologizing about their limited English vocabulary. But they were remarkably good with English. However, I cannot know if they were able to faithfully interpret the Korean words into English.

Heartfelt Thanks

To the Yewon Church led by Rev. Chung Eun-Chu and Rev. Choi Duck-Keun of Department of Deaf Ministry, thank you very much for inviting us to visit your beautiful country and blessed by the Holy Spirit from your messages. Special mention to our Deaf companion, sign language interpreter and tour guide Mr. Juwon Chung for being so patient with us. God bless all of you! 🙂

To my brother in Christ, the faithful pastor of CCBC Deaf Ministry Julius Andrada, we are truly blessed that you selected our school to be one of those that participated in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Thank you and may the Deaf ministry continue to shine for the glory of God through Christ Jesus! 🙂

PS:
You may view the news article I made in our MCCID Website. You may also want to see the other photos here.