Being a Filipino CODA!

Hello! My name is Jeff and a CODA. I grew up exposed to the Deaf community, in both Deaf and hearing world. I am not only a CODA, I also am a nephew of Deaf adults. I have cousins who are CODAs too.

I only heard about being a CODA when I was in my 20’s, I never knew that there could be such term. I was more exposed when I started working for the Deaf community, when I met fellow CODAs.

As compared to Filipino Sign Language (FSL) as a medium of instruction (MOI), I would say that both of my parents are more traditional when it comes to Deaf culture and MOI which means, they are more fluent in using American Sign Language (ASL), Sign Exact English (SEE) and Pidgin Signed English (PSE) along with their friends who were also ASL/SEE/PSE users.

When I was in my 1st year in high-school, I was encouraged by my grandfather to enroll to a mainstream class (Deaf & hearing) for a year. He wanted me to be closer to my parents by understanding their culture, lifestyle and language. He wanted to raise awareness by exposing me to the Deaf world. The name of the school where I studied for a year is Deaf Evangelistic Alliance Foundation, Inc. – which happens to by my parents’ alma mater. Indeed it was a unique experience. I was in a class where 70% of my classmates where Deaf and 30% of us where hearing – but out of the 30% only 10% of us where CODAs / SODAs. By the way, even the Deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing at that time used ASL/SEE as the mode of instruction.

Rev. Aimee Ada Coryell, an American missionary was the founder of the said deaf school. Her life and works up to this day has been one of my source of inspiration to continue reaching out to the Deaf and promote awareness as well.

Hearing a lot from the Deaf communities that I am a CODA got me so curious and so I made a lot of research about it. It came to my attention that there is no existing registered CODA Group / Organization here in the Philippines. Though I’ve met some CODAs here in the Philippines, most of them are not confident to admit who they are, who their parents are. Living as they are, without love, concern for the Deaf community. Very few of them uses Filipino Sign Language.

So how did I find out about this CODA group I am part of right now? Well, special thanks to Ms. Kristina Miranda. She introduced me to a lot of CODA folks and let me join the CODA group in facebook. I’ve always dreamt of establishing a CODA group here in the Philippines and I thank God for letting me be part of this team. I know that I need to learn more about the Deaf community and to work more with my hands (sign language). Being a CODA is a unique identity and I will always be proud of it. Recently, I’ve been meeting a lot of CODAs. Hoping that this will be the start of having a CODA group here in the Philippines.