By Sara Grace C. Fojas
Video by Jay Cedric Bustamante and John Alvin Veri
Images by Noel Pabalate
Dianne Salazar loves eating dessert. She loves to look at beautiful cakes and pastries and was curious on how they were made. So, she took up Baking and Pastry Production NC II at Miriam College Adult Education (MAE) and dreamed of having her own bakery or café someday—it would be a café, owned by a deaf person, with deaf people as her employees.
“I dreamed to have a small deaf café. I want to hire deaf people to work with me in that café. I want my fellow deaf to do the work. It’s nice that it’s a deaf owner of the café and having deaf employees also. In the future, that’s what I wanted,” shares Dianne.
Yes, Dianne is 100 percent deaf, but that didn’t stop her from reaching her dreams, from doing what she wants, and from being a mother of two wonderful children.
“My parents found out that I was deaf when I was three years old. They noticed something different about me. When they call me, I wouldn’t answer, I wouldn’t look at them. So they started worrying and brought me to a doctor and found out that I was deaf. They felt disappointed and hurt but they didn’t give up on me. When I was four years old, they started to look for a school and found a Special Education (SPED) school in Davao,” she says.
Dianne spent one year in Davao until she transferred to the South East Asian Institute for the Deaf in Miriam College, where she graduated as valedictorian in high school. She then took the course Diploma in Art and Computer Design Technology in 2006, a three-year course at Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf (MAE). At MAE, she was able to acquire a scholarship for her course from LINK Center for the Deaf, where she works for seven years now.
LINK is a service oriented organization that provides support for deaf people. It provides scholarship for deaf students in public school, teaches sign language to hearing people, and trains public school teachers in special education. It also has an art programs, workshops, and many activities for the deaf.
There, Dianne’s job is to tutor deaf children, teach sign language to the hearing individuals, website management, and book keeping.
“When I was a kid, I was very lonely. Sometimes I would feel depressed and jealous. I would compare myself with my brother and sisters. I would always see people using the phone and I tried it but I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t understand, so I put it down. And I could see people speaking, their mouth moving, but I could not speak myself. I have no voice, I couldn’t speak. So I felt depressed. And then, I went to school, and I was happy,” says 35-year-old Dianne.
At school, Dianne joined a lot of activities. During Deaf Awareness Week, she would interact with students from different schools. She became aware of many things and she wasn’t afraid of being herself.
“I found out that there are other deaf people and I became friends with them. I was so happy about that. I joined a lot of activities like song interpretations, sports, drawing, and competitions. I even received a Most Outstanding Student Award. When I graduated and went to college, I also started to have new friends,” shares Dianne.
But when Dianne graduated from college, despite her excellent record and awards, most companies refuse her when they realize that she cannot hear.
“Some companies, when they see my resume, they seem to be interested at first, but when they see that I am deaf, they would not accept me. That’s discrimination. But I always have my family behind me and they always encourage me. Also, I learned a lot from other deaf people. Even my co-workers who can hear, they encourage me to be strong and to learn a lot of things for myself. I know that I am also human, and we are equal, hearing and deaf,” she says.
While Dianne is not giving up on her dreams, learning new things, and developing her skills, other people are inspired by her story and recognize her determination and hope. This year, she is the recipient of Gawad Pangkahusayan Award (Excellence Award) at MAE.
“To the persons with disabilities, be positive and be brave. Encourage yourself and follow your heart. Be mindful of what you want to do in order to be successful and don’t forget to ask guidance and trust in God’s plan. For the hearing people, I encourage you to respect and treat persons with disabilities in our society as equal and I also hope that you will employ people like me. I cannot hear. I am deaf but I don’t take it as a hindrance. Other than being deaf, I am normal, I have feet, I have hands, and I can learn a lot of things, so we should be treated as equals,” ends Dianne.
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