Since the Philippines belongs to the third-world economy, not every place in the country enjoys the awareness of the latest human rights advocacies and the barrier-free accessibility for the Deaf youth community. Although many provinces lag behind the latest access to communication, information technologies, and human rights advocacies, these provinces were reported as staunch supporters and users of the natural sign language of the Philippines — commonly known as the Filipino Sign Language (FSL).
In May 2007, the Philippine Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (PFDYS) was established during the 1st General Assembly which consisted of young Deaf representatives with ages 18-35 from different regions of the country. It is the wing section of the Philippine Federation of the Deaf, the national federation of eighteen Deaf member organizations from different regions of the country and affiliated with the World Federation of the Deaf, a global body recognized by the United Nations.
The Cebu Association of the Deaf (CAD), in partnership with PFDYS, organized the 2nd Deaf Youth Adventure Camp with its theme “Deaf Youth Leadership and Teambuilding Camp” that was joined by Deaf Campers from all over the country. The said camp was hosted by the Deaf Association of Iloilo and held at Villa Igang Resort, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras last May 10-13, 2012.
PFDYS gave different activities in the program including: Holy Mass, Introduction of PFDYS and CAD Committee, Red Cross & Safety Tips, Four Colors (Red, Yellow, Blue and Green) and making of flags for our teams, Teambuilding, Bonfire, Cultural Night, Mr. & Ms. Deaf Youth Camper, Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Distribution of Certificates and Awarding Ceremony, and Island Tours.
The PFDYS gave two seminars and invited me as a resource speaker for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). I work as a Deaf Advocacy Coordinator in De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies; we are partners with PFDYS. It aims to encourage Deaf youth to learn more about UNCRPD and to gain access to the Deaf needs. My lectures have the excerpts of the UNCRPD articles by Raphy Domingo. Moreover, I explained the meaning of the Natural Sign Language as the Filipino Sign Language (FSL) including culture and identity and what does it mean for Deaf persons.
Another seminar was about "Leadership" that was shared by Rowella Tanjusay-Par. She explained to the Deaf participants on "How to become a Leader" and a deeper understanding of what a leader is. We learned a lot and we can share this to our new Deaf youth community.
One of our main goals is to encourage more Deaf youth to become future leaders and advocates through our youth camp activities. This is the first step for them to be able to understand what we expect from them. Therefore, we can work together for the betterment of the lives of the next generation.
written by: Mackie Calbay
edited by: Marina Viktoria De Los Reyes
photography by: Christine Zapanta Amomonpon