Deaf make a difference in 2nd PNoy SONA livestream

Guys, it’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) time once again! And for the second time, I was joined by other very skilled Filipino sign language interpreters in covering all the bases (TV coverage, cable news and Internet live streaming). Here is a repost from GMA News Online website.

Me and Dr. Therese Bustos of University of the Philippines
Interpreting the SONA for the second time at GMA News Online, interpreter Jojo Esposa gestures the president's speech, as alternate interpreter Therese Bustos waits for her turn.

Whenever the President makes the annual report to the Filipino people live from Batasang Pambansa every July, the deaf can only guess the government’s plans.

But that ended last year, when the State of the Nation Address (SONA) was simultaneously streamed online and delivered in sign language for the first time on GMA News Online.

Ensuring that all Internet users, including the deaf, will understand President Benigno Aquino III’s second SONA, GMA News Online featured real-time sign language interpretation of the speech once again on Monday.

Interpreting the SONA for the second time at GMA News Online, interpreter Jojo Esposa gestures the president’s speech, as alternate interpreter Therese Bustos waits for her turn. Roehl Niño Bautista

Deaf in the audience, Weng Rivera and Moises Libot
Deaf in the audience; Weng Rivera and Moises Libot

Giselle Montero, Partnership and Development Director of the College of St. Benilde’s School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS), stressed the importance and advantage of streaming the SONA online.

“It is a good venue for Filipinos everywhere, especially the deaf, to know the president’s reports,” said Montero. “Also, students are able to study the speech since the online stream is recorded and can be shared easily.”

Re-delivering the president’s report in hand gestures were Jojo Esposa from Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf, and Therese Bustos from the University of the Philippines.

“It was harder to sign the SONA last year,” said Esposa, who previously interpreted PNoy’s first report in July last year. “Since more graphs and charts were used this time, communicating the concepts in the president’s address was easier.”

For Bustos, the president’s “fast-paced” speaking was a challenge during the live re-delivery. “We process the speech as we hear it. At times, the president is already discussing a new topic while we were still signing the previous one,” said Bustos.

Live at the studio, interpreters perform the gestures in the presence of two deaf persons to check if their re-delivery can be understood.

“Facial expression is important in this form of communication,” said Montero. “Like in this speech, it can really stress the important parts.”

Members of the Deaf community are present in the studio to observe the sign language interpretation of the SONA and inform the interpreter if any signs are not easily understood. Roehl Niño Bautista

Knowing the government’s plans is just as important for the deaf as it is for people with normal hearing, according to Weng Rivera, president of the Filipino Deaf Women’s Health Crisis Center, communicating in sign language.

Rivera shared that since she was young, she never understood the president’s report clearly until the signing of the SONA started last year.

“It is disappointing though that there was no mention of persons with disabilities (PWD),” gestured Rivera, in reaction to the president’s address this year.

According to Montero, around 10 per cent of Filipinos have physical disabilities. Half of this number are Deaf, the proper term officially recognized by the United Nations.

“This number is probably an underestimate, since most families won’t admit in a census that they have members who are deaf,” added Montero.

The sign language interpretation of the president’s SONA, Montero shared, adheres to the terms set in the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Article 21 of the convention encourages “the mass media, including providers of information through the Internet, to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities,” as well as “recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages.”

Going beyond the SONA interpretation, Montero hopes that the activity can be sustained and extended to newscasts.

“Other countries already accommodate captions in their newscasts,” shared Montero. Bustos also cited Rivera’s experience in Japan where deaf people are delivering the news in certain time slots.

“It was a long struggle for them,” commented Montero on Japan. “Hopefully, Philippine media can find a similar way to keep the deaf informed. It is their right as much as it it ours as well.” – YA, GMA News

Survey Question about Signing Exact English

I am longing to add poll questions in my blog but I can’t find the right topic, until now. So will you please answer my survey? Even if it’s unscientific and it would not hold in court, it’s still great to know the opinion of my dear readers. Heck, I may even show the result of this to the honorable and bright-minded Department of Education officials so that they can heed the call of Deaf Advocate Jose Sales. Here it is:


Is Signing Exact English the way to go for Filipino Deaf Education?

I got hold of an official letter of Deaf Advocate Jose Sales to Dr. Patricia Licuana, Chairperson of the Commission on Higher Education. It’s about his reaction regarding the ruling of the Department of Education (DepED)officially “declaring Signing Exact English as the official language to be used in deaf education.” Here is the complete letter:

July 22, 2011

Dr. Patricia B. Licuana, Ph.d
Chairperson, CHED
U.P. Diliman, Quezon City

Dear Dr. Licuana,


Does DepED properly aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) including their rights to proper education? UNCRPD clearly states that:

– UNCRPD article 3.h respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities
– UNCRPD art. 24.3.b Facilitating the learning of sign language and the promotion of the linguistic identity of the Deaf community.
– UNCRPD art. 24.3.c Ensuring that the education of persons and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual and in the environments which maximize academic and social development.

It is really against the Deaf rights as mentioned above and DepED’s ignorance of the UNCRPD.

You can’t force a Deaf children to learn in a way hearing people do because of their inability to hear. They should be taught in a manner that they could easily understand. You can’t also force them to speak if they could hardly hear anything to emulate. It is the SPED instructors/educators to adapt to the Deaf’s needs so that Deaf children/student could learn easily and conveniently. SPED instructors/educators should be properly educated and trained to effectively teach Deaf children/students.

It is a shame to hear from majority of Deaf who finished schooling that they only learned at below average – one of their main reason is the laxity and inexperienced of their teachers/educators to teach them effectively especially in FSL signing. Teachers usually give them seat work always in the excuse that they already “tired” signing SEE .

One example that I observed in our church in the presence of Deaf people with interpreter in front, the DEAF tends to become sleepy because of the interpreter’s “boring” SEE signing. But when an interpreter who are skilled in FSL signing is assigned, the Deaf people become attentive and could easily understand the message from preacher. This is what I also experienced myself as I am a Deaf and also one in the group.

I appreciate that future meetings of DepED of this nature must be transparent and adhere to the provisions of UNCRPD, Magna Carta for PWDs and others . May I also suggests that PFD and PDRC and other movers for effective Deaf education be included in meetings and discussions of this nature as mentioned in DepED PWD’s Education Provision Guidelines 2.3.1 which states that qualified PWDs should participate and/or be consulted in the planning and formulation stages of policies and programs.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Jose E. Sales
“Because there is (also) life after Deaf”
President – Metrowide Org. of the Deaf (MODE)
Outgoing Exec. Board – Phil. Federation of the Deaf (PFD)
Staff and member of Katipunan ng Maykapansanan sa Pilipinas (KAMPI)
Deaf Preacher – Word of Hope Church – Deaf Ministry

This is not good… not so good at all! Hearing people have been manipulating deaf education since the establishment of Philippine School for the Deaf in 1907, more than a century ago! Look what they’ve accomplished! Now, even if we are already bounded by UNCRPD, they are still defiant and want to do things on their own without consulting the deaf. This is truly sickening. 🙁

14-yr-old deaf-mute nabbed after LTO heist

This is a repost from Philippine Star.

MANILA, Philippines – A group of robbers breached the cashier’s office of the Land Transportation Office in Surigao City on Monday, carting away close to P110,000 cash.

A belated police report said one of the suspects have been arrested. However, investigators could not juice information from the suspect because he is not only a minor, but also deaf and mute.

The suspect is only 14 years old and a resident of Purok Philvocs, Barangay Washington in Surigao City.

Police said the group of robbers gained entry into the LTO’s cashier’s office and forcibly opened the steel cabinet containing P108, 583 cash. The robbers also broke the supply room’s padlock on the second floor of the LTO building.

The robbery was discovered after Monday’s flag raising, police said.

Police have recovered some lost LTO items from the possession of the deaf-mute suspect but did not indicate if the cash money was recovered.