DFA’s Outstanding Employee Awardee is a Deaf!

Nonito with Renato also of MCCID, at work in DFA Processing Division.One of my former deaf students, Nonito Visagar Jr., tagged me in a few of his photos. I thought it was just a picture of him and his deaf friends or co-workers having an outing or get-together party. But when I clicked on the photos, I was pleasantly surprised that his was pictures of his plaque of appreciation as an Outstanding Employee of 2012!

Outstanding Employee Award Plaque given to NonitoHearing great news like this one is truly a breath of very fresh air. When Nonito graduated in MCCID College in 2008, he received 1st Honorable Mention Award. Although he was quiet and unassuming among his batchmates, he did excel in sports and academics. After he graduated among top of his class, he continued his training at Nova Foundation for the Differently Abled Persons.

Nonito awaits the receiving of award.During the training, he again showed his diligence and skills. That’s why the foundation selected him together with five other MCCID alumni to undergo trial work at the Department of Foreign Affairs. After passing the Civil Service Examination, they became regular government employees.

But Nonito did not remain contented. He again exhibited above average work attitude and enthusiasm serving clients, mostly hearing people, in the passport division. In 2011, he received his first “Certificate of Recognition”. This year, he upped his level by receiving the “Outstanding Employee of 2011”.

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs is the government agency responsible for the pursuit of the State’s foreign policy and the nerve center for a Foreign Service worthy of the trust and pride of every Filipino. To know more about the awards, please visit this link.

To Nonito, this blog post is my special tribute to you! MCCID College Facebook page also created a special timeline photo honoring you. I hope that many deaf would emulate your success by serving as a good role model. 🙂

As an interpreter, what would you do?

In my interpreters’ circle of friends, one of them posted this question in her Facebook status,

A sign language interpreter was asked by the deaf group/audience to go on stage so they could see him better. The organizers approved but the government officer-speaker asked the interpreter to get off the stage because “he distracts her”. If you were the interpreter or one of the deaf audience WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I was the first one who replied. I answered,

I will politely ask the speaker that there are deaf people in the audience. But if she still insists on not distracting her, then I have no other choice but to request the entire deaf audience to walk out.

I received two “likes” in my reply. But there were other more bold and strong answers. Now to my deaf and hearing readers, may I throw the question to you? What would you do if you are caught in this uncompromising position? 🙂

Yay! First 220,000 Visits!

220,000 visits

Wow! Wow! Wow! I reached another milestone in my blog experience. After 18 posts since March 11, today I celebrate my 220,000th visits since I created this in 2008! Hooray!

I now have 333 posts, 832 comments, 23 categories, 685 tags, 29 active followers, 43 comment followers and 791 Facebook readers. What is special in this milestone is that I had my busiest day last July 26. I usually get 150 visitors a day. But on that day, I registered 714 unique visitors, the highest so far! Most likely, this July will so far become my most popular month.

My top referrer is still Google Search followed closely by Deafread.com. My Facebook links now overtook WordPress tags on the third place, fifth from our school’s official website and sixth from deafvideo.tv.

My top search engine term remains the Deaf Icon Marlee Matlin followed by “Dinig Sana Kita“, a Filipino movie about being deaf, Heather Whitestone and Filipino Sign Language. My most popular blog post is still about the most popular Filipino Person With Disability, ex-governor Grace Padaca followed by Spider-man with I-love-you Sign while my most popular video log post (vlog) remains the Philippine National Anthem in Filipino Sign Language.

Thank you very very much to my dear readers for staying patient with me! Now, on to my first 240,000th visitors hopefully still within 2012! 🙂

Related articles

Deaf children prone to sexual abuse, says NGO

This is a repost from Abs-cbn News website.

CEBU CITY—A nongovernmental organization working to prevent sexual abuse among Deaf children has recorded six cases of rape in June, the highest incidence on a per-month basis since it started documenting the problem last year.

But catching the perpetrators and filing cases against them in court is difficult because law enforcers and prosecutors could not communicate with victims, some of whom are unaware that what happened to them was rape.

The Cebu-based Gualandi Volunteer Service Program (GVSP) has been documenting and assisting in the filing of cases related to the sexual abuse of Deaf children as part of “Break the Silence” (BTS), a project the group launched in January 2011 after it discovered high instances of sexual abuse among people with hearing disabilities.

Of the six rape cases reported in June, suspects in only three cases have been charged in court, said GVSP program manager John Paul Maunes.

Since the launching of BTS, GVSP has intervened in at least 20 cases of sexual abuse against the Deaf, with 10 cases already filed in court.

Maunes said rape was the most common abuse among female victims and sexual advances by gays among male victims.

GVSP has adopted the vision of a “Deaf-inclusive Filipino society” through the volunteering program of the Gualandi Mission for the Deaf. It is part of the BTS network started by the Stairway Foundation that advocates children’s rights.

A nationwide survey by the Philippine Deaf Resource Center (PDRC) in 2005 found that 65 to 70 percent of Deaf boys and girls are being molested. Of the 60 Deaf respondents in Manila and Cebu, one of three women has been raped.

Maunes said, however, the number of Deaf persons being abused could be higher than what the study pointed out. He said most of the victims did not know that they were already being abused until family members discovered the incidents.

One victim, for example, did not know she had been raped until she complained of stomachache and the doctor found out that she was six months pregnant.

GVSP, which has held sexual assault prevention seminars in Central Visayas, also found that many Deaf individuals would only realize that they had been sexually violated when they attended the seminar.

In one seminar, a Deaf boy told Maunes that he did not know that the act of a gay man who paid to fondle his (the child’s) sex organ already constituted sexual abuse.

In the case of rape victims, majority of them were never educated and cannot communicate using the standard sign languages taught in schools for the Deaf, Maunes said. Most of them could not even relate what happened and do not know how to affix their signatures on complaint sheets.

Before the GVSP project started, most of the sexual abuse cases against the Deaf were not addressed or ended up in settlement because government lacks experts to handle the cases, including police investigators who can communicate with the victims or families lost interest in pursuing the case, Maunes said.

Cebu is a case in point. SPO1 Bell Felisan of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) children’s welfare desk admitted that they really have a hard time investigating if one of the parties involved is deaf. She cited one case where both the victim and the alleged perpetrator were both deaf, but no one among the police knew sign language.

This is also one of the issues raised by the PDRC study. The others are:

  1. When the Deaf is arrested and there is no interpreter, the Deaf does not know why he is being arrested or what he is being accused of.
  2. No interpreter is provided for the Deaf who is accused and imprisoned while the case is pending.
  3. Deaf girls who are raped, and their parents, decide not to file the case but just settle amicably (accept money or payment). This happens mostly in preliminary investigations when there is no interpreter.
  4. The Deaf is made to sign affidavits drawn up by the police. Affidavits are usually written in either Filipino, Bisaya or in English, and the Deaf don’t understand what is written. Most of the time there is no interpreter to explain the affidavit to the Deaf.
  5. Deaf victims have interpreters who cannot sign well or cannot sign at all. Some interpreters do not possess adequate skills to interpret for a court hearing.
  6. Both Hearing and Deaf interpreters grapple with the legal jargon.
  7. Male interpreters harass deaf rape victims. Some interpreters intimidate female offended parties during the court hearing.
  8. Inappropriate appointment of male interpreters for female victims of rape and sexual violence.
  9. Many deaf complainants and accused are poor and uneducated. There is a need for Deaf relay interpreters and a hearing interpreter, for unschooled or linguistically-isolated deaf parties.
  10. Because the courts (judge, lawyers) do not know about Supreme Court Memorandum Order 59-2004 and the Office of the Court Administrator Circular No. 104-2007, the court asks the deaf to look for, and pay for, their own interpreter.

The Supreme Court memorandum authorizes the Court Administrator to act on requests of trial court judges to hire the services of sign language interpreters in cases where they are needed. The court is mandated to pay for the interpreters.

The memorandum from the Office of the Court Administrator lays down the guidelines to be followed on the payment of the services of a hired sign language interpreter.

For their part, Felisan said police officers have started training in sign language.

Maunes said social and cultural factors contribute to why most Deaf people do not know that they are already being sexually accosted. He said family members usually do not pay serious attention to problems brought by a Deaf member because of the latter’s disability.

Because they were mostly neglected, the Deaf could not tell that sexual abuses are already being committed against them, he said.
In rural areas, families presume Deaf members could not be productive in society and would not prioritize their education, Maunes added.

Fr. Peter Miles Sollesta, GVSP president, said there are people who take advantage of the disabilities of others, which is why they are advocating training the Deaf on how to protect themselves.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said in a speech before Deaf students from different schools in Cebu on July 3 that GVSP’s project practically gives voice to the Deaf. The Australian government is supporting the project.

(This story is part of Reporting on Persons With Disability, a project of VERA Files in partnership with The Asia Foundation and AusAid. VERA Files is put out by senior journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. VERA is Latin for true.)

K-12 to use sign language as mother tongue for deaf

This is a repost from Yahoo news.

By Mikhail Franz E. Flores, VERA Files
Now that the K to 12 system of education is being enforced in the country and native languages have begun to be used as medium of instruction from kindergarten to Grade 3, deaf children will also get the chance to use their mother tongue: sign language.

The Deaf Education Council (DEC) began consultation with deaf educators in developing a sign language curriculum for non-hearing pupils at a forum at the University of the Philippines College of Education Auditorium last month.

The DEC and the deaf community will decide what sign language public schools will use in the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) for the deaf.

The MTB-MLE is an integral part of the DepEd’s K to 12 educational reform program which added two years to the erstwhile 10-year basic education cycle. The mother tongue will be the medium of instruction from kindergarten to Grade 3. The languages include Tagalog, Kapampangan, Pangasinense, Ilocano, Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray, Tausug, Maguindanaoan, Maranao and Chavacano.
If adopted by DepEd, Filipino Sign Language (FSL) would be the “13th mother tongue language.”
DEC was formed on the recommendation of Education Secretary Armin Luistro, who met with members of the deaf community last September. The council is mandated to provide direction and facilitate efforts to improve deaf education in the country.

The group is composed of four non-hearing and three hearing members. The non-hearing members are Rey Lee, president of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) as the council chair; PFD secretary George Lintag; Raphael Domingo, coordinator of Education Access for the Deaf at the Center for Education Access and Development (CEAD); and Yvette Apurado Bernardo, an executive board of the Phil-Sports Federation of the Deaf.

The hearing members are Therese Bustos a deaf education specialist from UP; Liza Martinez; director of the Philippine Deaf Resource Center and Theresa Christine dela Torre, CEAD director.
Bustos said the project is gathering volunteers to develop the curriculum. Four working committees are set to be formed to develop a curriculum for each grade level, she said.

As a language of its own, sign language must be institutionalized in schools to help non-hearing children learn in their own mother language, said Dina Ocampo, dean of the University of the Philippines College of Education.

“If we are able to mainstream signs in the Department of Educationprogramming, then we will reach more and more deaf children,” she said.

Ocampo added that deaf education is more of a language matter rather than the content of the curriculum or materials.

“The main core issue, I think, is language,” she said.

Bustos clarified that sign language is separate from spoken languages. Thus, FSL, the language used by more than half of Filipinos with hearing disability, is different from Filipino.

“Ang may koneksiyon lang sa wikang senyas na nakakonekta sa wikang sinasalita ay ang finger spelling. Lahat ng senyas ay walang kinalaman sa wikang sinasalita (Only finger spelling is related to the spoken language. All other signs have no relation with the spoken language),” Bustos said.

Bustos said that around 54 percent of Filipinos with hearing disability use FSL, which is the preferred sign language to be used as medium of instruction. However, the deaf community will still have the final say on what sign language to use for their own MTB-MLE program.

At present, the Signed Exact English (SEE), a manually encoded adaptation of spoken English, is being used as the official language for deaf students, said DepEd Undersecretary Yolanda Quijano.
The deaf community, however, prefers the FSL over the SEE since Filipinos have their own culture and identity and the FSL better reflects these.

Bustos also said the exact number of deaf schools is difficult to determine since most of them are dependent on the availability of teachers.

“Once a teacher resigns, the program is also removed,” Bustos said. The country, though, has one residential school for the deaf, the Philippine School for the Deaf.

The 2000 Census shows that around 120,000 of the total PWD population are deaf. The census puts the total number of PWDs at 942,098 or 1.23 percent of the total population of the country.The 2010 census has not been released.

A 2011 World Health Organization study said PWDs make up about 15 percent of a country’s population, especially in developing countries. This would then mean more than 13 million Filipino are PWDs.
One in two Filipinos with hearing and speech impairment has had some elementary education, 28 percent some high school, 20 percent some college and two percent up to postgraduate, according to a Social Weather Stations survey.

(VERA Files is a partner of the “Fully Abled Nation” campaign that seeks to increase participation of PWDs in the 2013 elections and other democratic process. Fully Abled Nation is supported by The Asia Foundation and the Australian Agency for International Development. VERA Files is put out by senior journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. VERA is Latin for “true.”)