At exactly 3pm, the room started filling up with our new volunteers. Their ages range from 14-18. I usually expect a din whenever teen-agers flock to one square area but this afternoon proved to be different. Silently they swarmed in, signing to each other a flurry of conversation I can only guess as expressions of anticipation and last minute confirmations of the dance steps they already memorized.
It was “Deaf Ed 2007” a dance showdown of newly recruited deaf volunteers. Lagro Elementary and High School, both represented. Bagong Silang, QC High Schhol, as well as the public school of the City of Caloocan. About 100 deaf students, all graceful and lithe joined the afternoon’s race for the first dance championship of Rock Ed Philippines.
After the dance numbers, something I cannot describe verbally because, really – you should’ve been there, we requested an alternative class of sorts from the new Rock Ed volunteers to teach the rest of us, who can hear, some basic signing. We learned to sign words like ‘hello’ ‘how are you’ ‘let’s dance.’ I tried to ask someone how to say ‘ang labo mo naman’ in sign language—but didn’t get an equivalent so that probably means-- in the language of the silent, most things are simple, most things are clear. I also learned to sign words like ‘friend’ ‘fun’ ‘ok’ ‘hope to see you again.’ Our young teachers were very patient and determined for us to learn their language. And in turn, we struggled and sometimes resorted to whiteboards and markers to communicate with the teens. Both groups set on being understood by the other.
Before the prizes were given out, the leaders of each dance group taught an “ate” and “kuya” of their choice to dance, (patay!) and as expected, the deaf dance better than us.
They say it’s because they feel the rhythm in their chests. I suppose the sound of a song is very different from the feel of the song. And maybe this is why being with them was so much
Welcome to Rock Ed, everyone! We look forward to the dance workshops for streetchildren this summer.
Photos: Leonardo Coll © 2007
Thank you to JC Medina for collecting prizes, shirts, caps from Level-Up Games and ePLDT, Jessica for donating give-aways from Globe, Rosemarie Limgenco for donating prizes from Blue Magic, Ms. Gene Gozum for donating cute & furry pens for everyone, Ms. Bangge Mabanta for donating notebooks for everyone, Gerhard, Sheila and Sebastian for collecting other prizes, Marj Lachica, and Cat for judging, Lourd de Veyra for driving Marj, Julius and Ate Cathy of Jesuit Communications, Jan Parma for bringing a cooler, Raffy Reloza for coordinating the students, Link Center for the Deaf for all the assistance and the sign language guide for all the volunteers. Heather for leading the Deaf Ed team, Team Lestat, Ani and CP, Paul Francia, MD for referring Tess Mendoza MD who administered the vaccinations donated by the Raya School parents to deaf students in Batino Elementary School on the same day. Thank you also to Luis Gatmaitan MD for assisting in the vaccination project of Raya, as well.