Love where no spoken words exist
“Sa edukasyon, magkakaroon sya ng boses.” (In education, he will have a voice).
One of the lines by mute teacher Miguel (JC DeVera) to the mother of a deaf child (who is a young talented visual artist) in Cinemalaya 2022 film Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin? as he tried to convince her to send her son to school for his education.
The mother consistently downplayed teacher Miguel’s effort as she argued that she needs his son in the farm. She added that going to school will be useless since it will be of no benefit to their family considering his physical handicap.
The film “Bakit ‘Di Mo Sabihin?” is a marriage story of a deaf couple that speaks loud even with the absence of spoken language.
It tells how deaf couple Miguel (JC DeVera) and Nat (Janine Gutierrez) deals with the challenges of marriage: that it is not their inability to speak or hear that tears them apart.
They have been struggling to keep their marriage. After a huge fight, Miguel leaves his wife alone in Manila and decides to live in Baler with their kids. As he starts a new life, Miguel is reminded about the reasons why he married Nat by his family’s relentless stories about how modern a woman Nat is, and how he failed in so many ways to recognize that he fell in love with a younger deaf woman.
Director Real Florido said in an interview: “It amazes me how loud the deaf people can be when they are together, an irony of how we usually define their case as people who can’t hear or speak. With this film, I’d like to dabble into that world where no word is needed to say what you want and how you feel. And at the same time, it is harder to get resolve when you can’t find the right message to convey. I would like to create a portrait of this unique story of two people. I want to make a film that shows the beauty, pain, and chaos of love where no spoken words exist.”
He added that the film is “an attempt to understand the world of the deaf and how we are not different from the things that they’re going through,”
In 2014, a Senate Bill noted that 1.23% of the entire population in the Philippines is either deaf or hearing impaired.
The 2000 Philippine census noted that there are an estimated 121,000 deaf Filipinos.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a report that in developing countries such as the Philippines, children with hearing loss and deafness often do not receive schooling. Adults with hearing loss also have a much higher unemployment rate. Among those who are employed, a higher percentage of people with hearing loss are in the lower grades of employment compared with the general workforce.
For the first time in Philippine cinema, the film was delivered 80 percent in Filipino Sign Language (FSL), Republic Act No. 11106 or the FSL Act was signed into law in 2018 declaring the FSL as the country’s national sign language to ensure that the Filipino deaf can exercise the right to expression and opinion.
It recognizes and promotes the use of sign languages embodying the specific cultural and linguistic identity of the Filipino deaf.
Before the law’s enactment, education programs for sign language instruction and interpreter training were all done by a handful of nonprofit organizations with no government policies.
Teachers also used to act as interpreters in the classrooms and were pulled away from their duties to serve as interpreters in trial courts and police stations.
For the school year 2016-2017, data from the Department of Education (DepEd) shows that there were 2,885 Special Education Teachers teaching 13,365 learners with diagnosed hearing impairment under K to 12.
Bakit Di Mo Sabihin? is the second Cinemalaya full length film that revolved on the world of the deaf. Dinig Sana Kita is a 2009 Cinemalaya romance film between a deaf boy who loves to dance and a troubled rocker girl who abuses her hearing. One lives in the world of solitude and silence, the other in noise and fear. Crossing paths in a Baguio camp that mixes deaf and hearing kids, both find that they have more in common with each other including a love for music.
It is the first and only Filipino film to cast a deaf actor, Romalito Mallari. He is deaf in real life and is a performer for several stage productions.
It won several awards: Best Original Music Score, Audience Choice Award and National Council of Children’s Television Award in Cinemalaya 2009; Grand Prix-Deaf Cinema in Brussels International Film Festival; and Presidential Jury Award For Film Excellence in the 8th Gawad Tanglaw.
After a two-year wait as a result of the series of COVID-19 lockdowns, Cinemalaya will finally again be a face-to-face event with a full-length feature category for 11 films, including Bakit Di Mo Sabihin?
(Peyups is the moniker of University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail [email protected], or call 0917-5025808 or 0908-8665786.)
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