Inang-Bayan / A mi Patria is a 50-min omnibus film featuring five of Dr. Jose Rizal’s most popular and enduring poems in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). With the theme centering on nationalism, A FILIPINAS, A LA JUVENTUD FILIPINA, CANTO DE MARIA CLARA, A LAS FLORES DE HEIDELBERG and MI ULTIMO ADIOS were translated in Deaf signs by talented Deaf performers, an endeavour never before attempted or seriously thought of, for over a century after said poems were written.

In celebration of Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary, it was not only timely but quite a necessity, that his poems were interpreted to benefit the members of the marginalized sector. Consider the Deaf sector for example: the fact is, sign language is now considered to be at par with spoken languages in the world of linguistics—it has its own morphology, syntax, etc. (Source: Dr. Ricardo Nolasco of Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino in “Silent Odyssey” (2008), the first full-length documentary on Deaf Filipinos I produced)

Living as we are in a society where Deaf Filipinos demand among others: 1) the recognition of FSL; 2) signed news or at most putting of captions on TV news and programs, and 3) the provision of sign language interpreters, this project will serve as a concrete example of meeting their demands for rights to information and communication accessibility. This will surely aid them in advancing their knowledge. Above all, the project is in line with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (UNCRPD) wherein the Philippines is a signatory (2008). It stated that: International Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities promotes and protects the fundamental rights and freedom of people with disabilities (PWD) to enjoy equal footing in the society. (Source: http://www.barrierbreak.com/unconv_pwd.php)

By providing the Deaf the means and accessibility to learn and understand Rizal’s thoughts and ideas in their own language, knowing and appreciation of Rizal as a person would be deeper. Sign language is the bridge between the hearing and the Deaf, as such interpreting important information in their “own language” would without question be the quickest and most effective way of helping them get closer to the ideas, ideals and sentiments of Rizal.

But the film is not limited to the Deaf, I also thought of the Blind sector. As such, I have options in spoken languages such as English, Filipino and even in Spanish. The film will unquestionably benefit all others—and that includes all regular hearing students whether in the majority or minority groups, Rizal scholars and just anybody interested in Rizal as a poet. The film which was originally thought of to serve only the interests of the Deaf eventually ended up serving a global audience.

What are my Film’s Objectives?

1. Primarily, to translate for the Deaf Filipino community, considered a cultural-linguistic minority group in the country, Dr. Jose Rizal’s enduring and most popular poems in Filipino Sign Language, an act never before done for over a century.

2. The basic learning tools of the Deaf community, is so much wanting. Used as a teaching tool, the teachers would be able to explain better Rizal’s thoughts, feelings, ideas, and ideals, as actions and expressions of the readers and Deaf interpreters would help in making the poems easily more comprehensible for the viewers. In fact, the beneficial effect on any type of students is also assured.

3. Interpretation of the National hero’s poems by our talented Deaf performers would prove that Filipino Sign Language exists. The fact that their natural sign language is not recognized by the Department of Education— which according to studies conducted by the Philippine Federation of the Deaf and the Philippine Deaf Resource Center actually employ Signing Exact English (SEE) in their teaching— counteracts to the very rule they themselves formulated as can be read in their published “Policies and Guidelines for Special Education” (Revised Edition 1997) under Article V, Section 1.41 which states that: Filipino Sign Language shall be used in the education of the hearing impaired. Without recognition of FSL, Deaf literacy suffers. It is my film’s hope that education authorities sees the beauty, relevance, and importance to the Deaf of their own language, and that the Mother-Tongued Based Multilingual Education is implemented..

4. It must be noted that the teaching of Spanish as a requirement in tertiary education has already ceased and is now limited to language schools or centers, and a few universities with courses that offer the study of European languages. Providing the option in Spanish will help preserve the language. They can be used as models or samples since Spanish-speaking authorities in Spanish language have read the poems as originally written by Rizal. On one hand, it is also probably interesting for hearing students to see how talking hands, visual and facial expressions of the Deaf interpret them while simultaneously being read in Spanish leading to their exposure in FSL.

5. As the present generation is living in the cyberworld of Facebooks, Tweeters and Friendster, presentation of Rizal in digital format would be an “in” thing. The hope is high therefore, that the present crop of Filipino students would appreciate Rizal’s thoughts better when presented in visual and aural form. The study of Rizal’s poems will not be as boring and appreciation may rise as learning becomes enjoyable. Dissemination would also be faster.

6. Hearing people’s exposure to sign language will help them in appreciating Deaf signs, and eventually, Deaf’s language and culture. Such familiarization hopefully aids them in welcoming the Deaf as an integral part of our society.

7. This project most importantly serves as a tribute to Dr. Jose Rizal, in celebration of his 150th Birth Anniversary. It shall definitely help in the perpetuation of his great thoughts, moods and feelings through his poetry which are here to outlive us all. The films are meant to inspire, and awaken the lethargic feeling of students towards love for Motherland.

The film was produced by Miryad Visyon in collaboration with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and DLS-CSB School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies.
Mirana Medina
Independent Advocacy Filmmaker
Editor – Rizal sa Dapitan
Producer and Director – Silent Odyssey
Producer and Director – Alyana-A Study of Autism in the Philippines (The first feature-length documentaries on Deaf Filipino history, language and culture, and autism in the Philippines)

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