What If… I Didn’t Enter In A Deaf School?

Episode 158 – Monday, June 5th, 2017 (7461)

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Today, most of the Filipino youths all over the country have been returning back to their school for the opening of the classes. Most are excited, some are nervous, but some of the kids are afraid and crying after being left by their parents/guardians or whatever. Last episode, I discussed about my life in the past being a student where there were lots of good and bad memorable moments happened during my school life. But some of my friends were asking me, “Why did you study in a deaf school even though you can hear and speak?” Hmmm… that’s complicated question that probably until now it has been a “mystery”. But I simply answered why I put there instead of a “normal” (non-deaf) school before because of my speech deficiency (or in other word: pagkabulol or tongue-twisted). Yeah, even until today, I’m still tongue-twisted every time when I speak or talk with somebody.

However, despite of my ability to hear and to speak (not so loud and clear), I was still enrolled in a deaf school which was Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD), and I studied there for a long time with consistent honors which made me into “supremacy” over my classmates who are totally deaf. Well, that’s already written in my history books where my school life was begun at PSD back in 1994 and continued being a “deaf” student for 11 years until, when I came back from my wonderful experiences in the United States, I was surprisingly transferred to a non-deaf institution which lasted for 5 years until my college graduation in 2010.

But I just got a different scenario about my school life that what if… I didn’t enter in a special school like PSD? And what if I started to study in a non-deaf school? Would this affect my school life and my educational background totally? Hmmmm… In this episode, I want to discuss my alternate scenario where I would have not been a deaf student studying in a deaf school like PSD.

Overview

Obviously, I still don’t know the main reason why I was put there to study despite of my ability to hear and to speak, but there were some conspiracies about my “condition”. When I was a little kid, somebody told that I couldn’t be able to attend school because of my “disability”. My parents even still couldn’t find the way to solve the problem because I was already 7 years old during the time but couldn’t attend school. At one time, I still remember that I was examined for a hearing test in Manila where my complication in hearing was fine, but my speech ability was too complicated. Another thing was that I have a cousin (or relative, I think) who is totally deaf, so that there was a possibility of having a disability connection between us. But being deafness was still questioned because at first, I was not enrolled in a “normal” (non-deaf) school if my complications didn’t change, and second my hearing was obviously (or in an unexplained situation) fine based on the hearing results. So, on June 1994, by the encourage of my relative (the mother of deaf cousin), my mother decided to enroll me at Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) in Pasay City about 41 kilometers away from our house in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

As I mentioned in the last episode, Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) was the first school in the Philippines established in 1907 that teaches students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing disabilities. Thus, this was my first school that I attended for my basic education. I started to study there as preparatory level, and in the years to come my school life became colorful because of my acquaintance with deaf classmates and friends (as well as deaf crushes).  In the past 10 long years, I was consistent on the top of the class and received some academic awards including “Best in Speech” (really?) because of having my “advantage” over deaf classmates.

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These were my new friends from ASD who would be my dorm mates when I visited my host school for the very first time on August 14, 2004 during my wonderful stay in the U.S. (Photo courtesy from Lyn Woolmaker/Tent Archives)

After 10 wonderful years at PSD, in mid-2004, I was chosen to be a part of the exchange program (I was the one with other two scholars with their disabilities (PWDs)) where I was brought to the United States to study for a year. My host school was Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) in Talladega where I continue my fourth year high school and met my new deaf classmates and friends. Right after the exchange program, I supposed to set my come back at PSD when I was unexpectedly transferred to a non-deaf institution, International Montessori School (IMS) in Santa Rosa. And the rest is history. Thus, my school life was officially shifted from being a “deaf” student to a normal one as well as my “world”.

11 long years (10 of these from PSD) of my studying in a deaf institution or special school was amazing yet somewhat complicated because I felt I was (really) not belonged with people who are totally deaf. Despite of that, I was still able to stay there for a long, long time before being transferred to a normal (non-deaf) school in July 2005 where the students are not deaf (or PWDs) and don’t use sign language as their communication. That’s why my school life was divided into two “worlds” (just like bible having two testaments) – the “Deaf World” and the “Non-Deaf World”. And the rest is history.

But in my alternate timeline, if I was enrolled by my mother in a normal and ordinary (non-deaf) school instead of a special (deaf) school back in 1994, my life would have been changed forever.

In My Alternate Timeline

what if not becoming deaf student

For instance, if ever I didn’t have any complications on my speech (or hearing) during that time, I would have entered in an ordinary school (probably a public school) probably earlier than 1994, the time when I started to attend school. I might start my schooling about 5 or 6 years of my age and enrolled as kindergarten. If this happened in my alternate history, I might enter elementary near my home in Santa Rosa (probably either Dila Elementary School or other public/private schools nearby) and probably meet some (non-deaf) classmates who would have become my friends someday in the present. And my past and present friends might have been all non-deaf friends that we’ve known each other for many years about 15-20 years (mostly they’re living within Laguna province or nearby). In my current timeline, I have known non-deaf friends that I only met them few years ago (either we were college classmates or Feast friends) about 5-10 years or since “Post-Deaf World Era” or after I came back from the U.S. If ever I didn’t enter in a special school like PSD (or even other deaf schools), I would not have met my deaf friends to become my long-time classmates including the one named Michael who was my “best friend”, and I would not have any deaf enemies around like Nelissa (RIP) and her family who “stole” my territory in 1998. Also, my friendship organization, Tent & Co., would not have been established (in 1997), and having knowledge in sign language (both Filipino and American) might not have existed in my life right now if these alternate scenarios ever happened before.

Even in academics, in my current (real) timeline, I was consistent first honors for 10 long years at PSD which led me into “supremacy” among the class (I almost got 100 in all exams over my deaf classmates who barely got the perfect score). It was because I had “advantage” of not being “deaf” obviously. But in my alternate timeline, being a student of a non-deaf school, I probably would have been just an average student but not being on the top of the class. I might get high grades in academic exams and subjects, but I would have been probably placed at least Top 5 or 10 of the class. This was what I had encountered, in my reality, when I was fourth year high school in 2006 at IMS, a non-deaf institution, where I finished only third among the batch overall. Extra-curricular activities might have been efficient for me if ever I studied in a non-deaf school. In PSD, I was not so active in other school activities such as joining the club, student officer, and playing sports (but I started to be active when I was in high school). Even when I was at ASD, except joining in Academic Bowl, I didn’t join any varsity teams such as basketball, American football or track and field. But in my alternate timeline, in a non-deaf school, I might probably join especially in sports such as basketball where I know to play.

US adventure

Going to the U.S. as an exchange student was one of my best achievements that I ever had while I was at PSD. When I was in third year high school, back in February 2004, my beloved teachers encouraged me to apply for the exchange program, and I did it through their efforts. I faced lots of exams and interviews which lasted for 5 long months, and successfully, I passed the application and was selected to become an exchange student with 40 other high school students to go to the U.S. and to study there for one year. But in my alternate timeline, this would not have happened to me, and instead I might continue my high school studies in a non-deaf school until the graduation in 2005 (or earlier). Thus, I would not have gone to the U.S., met my foster family whose parents are both deaf, and studied at ASD, an American institution for the deaf and hard-of-hearing people as my host school, and I would not have lots of great experiences with most memorable moments from there. Also, I would not have been transferred from PSD to IMS to continue my fourth year high school studies after the exchange program, and having two “worlds” (“Deaf” and “Non-Deaf”) would not have existed that might alter my school life. In my current (real) timeline, I finished my high school studies in 2006, a year late from what I supposed to be graduated at PSD in 2005, and college studies in 2010, but in my alternate timeline, I would have been graduated high school in a non-deaf school by 2005 (or earlier) and in college by 2009.

And finally, my colorful (but desperate) love life might be changed forever if ever I studied in a non-deaf school rather than PSD in my alternate timeline. In my current (real) timeline, when I was at PSD, most of my crushes and (illegitimate) sweethearts were deaf with some controversies involving them, and some of them eventually became my enemies as well. After my transfer from PSD, my love feelings were changed when I had a crush to non-deaf ladies, but I didn’t have any non-deaf girlfriends which led the curse of “deaf sweethearts” that lasted until 2012 (thanks to my former long-time textmate). But in my alternate timeline, if ever I studied in a non-deaf school, there might have no any deaf crushes or sweethearts at all. Probably, I might have first girlfriends who are non-deaf in the first place, and one of them (or maybe others) might have been my long-time girlfriend or even wife in the present (if my alternate scenario happens today). And the curse of having “deaf sweethearts”, where I couldn’t be able to have a non-deaf girlfriend, would not have existed in my love life.

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There’s another scenario back in 2001, right after being graduated from elementary, where I was thinking whether I would transfer my high school in a non-deaf school or pursue it at PSD. In reality (current timeline), I chose to continue my studies at PSD after elementary, and there were many good and bad things happened during my first three years in high school. But if ever I decided to move my studies from PSD to non-deaf school in 2001, this would have changed my school life – there would have been no school controversies involved me and even my love life, no exchange program that I applied, passed and went to the U.S., and no deaf enemies added to my blacklist as what I have until the present. Although there were still two “worlds”, the “Post-Deaf School (World) Era” might have been begun as early as 2001 (not 2005) on my alternate timeline, and as what I said earlier, my high school and college graduation might have been occurred in 2005 and in 2009 respectively.

I’m still thinking about the past if ever I was enrolled by mother (or encouraged by somebody) to a non-deaf institution (ordinary school) instead of special (deaf) school like PSD, this would have changed my whole life forever! I would not have met deaf friends that I have in my past; I would not have learned sign language; I would not have traveled far distance from home; I would not have deaf crushes; I would not have any school controversies; I would not have applied an exchange program that brought me to the U.S., study in an American deaf school for one year, come back to change my school life from being “deaf” to an ordinary student with non-deaf classmates; and there would not have created two different “worlds”. But in reality, these were already done in my life in the past 16 years of being a student.

Probably I have a unique educational background where I studied from elementary in a special school, then graduating high school not once but twice in two different “worlds”, and finished my college studies in a normal school which is non-deaf. I guess most of the employers (particularly in human resources) might have no idea why I had studied in a special school for many years based on my resumes that I submitted to them. I hope they’ll understand about my past background, but nevertheless, at least, they know it because I’m just a unique kind of person who has two different “worlds”.

Well, what do you guys think if ever I studied in a normal school instead of deaf school? Would this rewrite my life and history? I’m pretty sure it would change my whole life forever, but it didn’t happen in my reality. Andyan na eh, nangyari na ang nakaraan at di na pwedeng baguhan pa (It’s already there; the past has already done, and it can’t be changed.)

That’s my episode for today. And have a nice day!

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