Online cultural show tackles the challenges of Deaf students amid the pandemic

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Filipino Deaf students share how they find hope amid the challenges brought by the pandemic in The Face Mask, a fund-raising cultural show to be held on Friday, November 25.

It is the culminating event of the month-long celebration of the 28th Deaf Festival: Defining Servant Leadership in Rebuilding.

Spearheaded by Deaf choreographer, director and trainer Myra Medrana, the two-hour production follows the journey of a Deaf student (John Riven Canilang) who lost his means to communicate with the community amid the stay-at-home orders. In his solitude, he finds guidance from his mother (Angel Zyra Podaca) and friendship from spirits (Jay-R Lacorte and Ryan Frayres), who help him hold on to his aspiration for a better future.

The Face Mask mirrors the personal experiences of the Deaf who were immensely affected by the lack of in-person interaction with their loved ones and the public, as well as the chance to volunteer and engage in group activities.

It depicts the face mask as a metaphor for the struggles, social inequalities and illness experienced during the pandemic. It likewise serves as a symbol for hope and responsibility to protect mankind.

The show will feature a medley of Broadway and Filipino music, Filipino Sign Language (FSL) poetry, interpretative and contemporary dances and ballet to highlight the performing arts as a universal language. It will be presented by Silent Steps, the official Deaf dance group of the School of Deaf Education and Applied Studies (SDEAS) of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

The Deaf Festival was established in November 1995 by the Deaf students from the SDEAS to commemorate Deaf Awareness Week. The fete has since become a tradition to promote awareness and appreciation of their unique identity and culture. The beneficiary will be the SDEAS Student Support and Calamity Fund, which assists Deaf scholars with allowance for food, school transportation and Internet access to attend online classes.

β€œA big number of our students do not have the financial means for their basic needs. So the Student Support Fund provides them this opportunity,” shared SDEAS Center for Deaf Esteem and Formation (CDEAF) Director Bea Francisco.

β€œThe Calamity Fund is for those areas which have been affected by natural disasters and other calamities, most of them Deaf communities or the marginalized sectors who are usually the last to receive support from LGUs and other NGOs,” she added. 

The Face Mask is open to the public. It will be conducted online via Zoom on November 25, 2022, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Voice interpreters will be available for the hearing audience.

Tickets are on sale at P80 for students and P100 for adults through forms.gle/whxcvzUP9WKDcpGD6. More information is available at SDEAS Deaf Festival (www.facebook.com/SDEASDeafFestival).

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