After twelve years of advocacy, the PDRC shall close its doors this year.
When I founded this NGO, Filipino Sign Language was virtually unheard of, much less acknowledged to exist. Today, it is in the law for the education of deaf children. Lobbying for its use continues in trial courts, police stations, broadcast media, hospitals, barangays, on the internet, and many other domains. Legislators in the House of Representatives and the Senate have sponsored bills and conducted public hearings on its mandatory use and national recognition.
Of course, the fight for full realization of the right to language and culture of Deaf people still goes on. But we look beside us and behind us, and now find among us in increasing numbers: other persons with disabilities, feminists, activists, human rights defenders, lawyers, media persons, counselors, researchers, professors, budget advocates, artists and many, many other Filipinos and co-advocates, even in other countries. They have embraced with us the fight for the right to understand and be understood — and for that we are deeply grateful.
A colleague of mine has said I am PDRC, and yet, PDRC is not me. And it is very true that as I close down PDRC after 12 years, I have no sadness whatsoever because I know I pass the baton to many of you, Deaf and hearing, with or without disability, who shall continue to take on the fight for the rights of the deaf, and the Deaf.
The Philippine Federation of the Deaf has embarked on a long term partnership with friends and governments from abroad to capacitate its member Deaf organizations throughout the country. Thus, I know that in time, they will continue independently and capably to be the defender of the rights of all Deaf Filipinos.
The closing of the PDRC is just a transition. I continue in my life work for the Deaf as a sign language linguist, an advocate in the pursuit of justice, particularly for deaf women and children, and a critic of public spending relating to disability. Above all, I remain at the core of my heart, an activist for all the rights of all persons with disabilities.
I am looking also to initiate conversations on chronic illness, disability and social protection. I believe divine grace has allowed me to finish my treatment for breast cancer. Each morning for the past five years, I have woken up grateful that literally, I still have life in me. I believe that divine destiny allows me now to continue to remain on this earth for the many things I still need to say and do.
So to all of you who have supported the mission of the PDRC, who have run the race with us when we were frequently running on empty, and pushing forward to the limits of our physical existence — may your kindness be returned to you a hundredfold for volunteering with us.
Now we entrust the vision and pass the baton to others.
Thank you, and Godspeed —Liza B. Martinez, Ph.D.
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