A Korean religious mission serving Palawan’s deaf community has already assisted over 150 individuals and has been reaching out to the community since starting with its work in December 2020.
Rev. Ju Won Chung, reverend pastor of Deaf Mission Center (DMC) and Deaf Culture Center (DCC), said they have been offering free classes and technical skills to people with hearing disabilities in Palawan through a grant from the Korean government.
Under the Yewon Deaf Church established in 2019, the DMC and DCC were founded on December 19, 2020, to introduce the gospel to the disabled sector but have since expanded their support to the outside community.
“Tumutulong kami hindi lang dito sa loob, but we also help outside sa mga nangangailangan ng tulong namin (We assist not only here, but also outside where our assistance is required.),” Rev. Ju Won said.
Every Saturday, the DCC offers free classes in the Sign Language Program to deaf kids and hearing people who want to learn or improve their communication abilities.
It also includes programs on deaf sports, dance, media, arts, youth programs, CODA, and hard of hearing. There is also the formation of an association for parents of deaf children, as well as a sign language center for interpreters.
Free technical skills for baristas, cooking, computer, driving, and electromechanical are offered to help produce productive members of the society with partner companies.
Rev. Ju Won believes that having a congregation for deaf people is necessary for improving their social lives, which led to the establishment of the Palawan Yewon Deaf Church. They are also organizing medical missions to help many communities.
He also emphasized that people who are deaf, such as himself, lose their hearing but not their ability to work.
“Noong nag-establish kami dito, nag-hire kami ng mga bingi na magiging staff namin. Naghanap kami ng church and we found out na wala palang church [para sa kanila] dito sa Palawan. Siguro, sa ibang places meron, most of the time may few churches na nag-a-accommodate ng deaf people pero wala talagang church na para talaga sa bingi (We hired hearing-impaired staff when we established here. We looked for a church for them and discovered that there was none in Palawan. Maybe there are churches in other places, and most of the time there are churches that accommodate deaf people, but there is no church for them.),” he said.
“Kaming mga bingi, we can do anything kahit hindi kami makarinig, iyon ang awareness na gusto namin. Hindi lang kami makarinig but we have our eyes, we have our hands, nakakapag-walk din kami, we can work. Just like other hearing people, maka-call kayo kami hindi, iyon ang gusto namin makita (Deaf people like us can accomplish anything despite our inability to hear, and this is the type of awareness we want to promote. We can’t hear, but we have our eyes and our hands, and we can walk and work.),” he said.
The institute does not have an exact number of deaf people in Palawan because there are isolated cases where they are not completely open with the community. There are also deaf people who are locked up in their homes or are subjected to physical abuse, which is a source of concern for them.
Their existence also aims to assist the deaf in communicating and expressing themselves, as this is a struggle for them.
“We have to remember na may mga isolated na mga deaf. Mga hindi sila nakapag-aral or ‘di pa sila ganoon ka-open sa community. Iyon din ang concern namin, sometimes ang parents, families, they prefer na gawin silang taga-laba, taga-hugas instead of them going out, finding work, or going to school. Nakikita namin na nagiging cause din ng physical abuse sa kanila (We have to remember, there are deaf people who are isolated. They were unable to get an education, or they may not be that open to the community. It’s our concern because sometimes the parents, the families, prefer to make them laundry washers, and dishwashers, instead of them going out, finding work, or going to school. We also see that it causes them to be physically abused.),” he said.
Education for deaf people
Rev. Ju Won observed that the vocabulary of deaf people must be strengthened, as well as educators’ knowledge of teaching those with special needs, particularly in sign language.
“Imagine, years na sila sa school and yet, ang comprehension nila when it comes to the English language o sa binabasa nila ay ganon. It’s because ‘yong educational system na na-i-experience natin is very weak. Imagine kung gaano ka-hard for the deaf when it comes to education, (Imagine, they’re in school for years, but their comprehension when it comes to the English language or what they’re reading is like that. It’s because the educational system that they’re experiencing is very weak. Imagine how hard education is for the deaf.),” he said.
The government must also provide opportunities for deaf people to live independently. The DMC and DCC’s technical skills will assist the community in obtaining this opportunity, he said.
Rev. Ju Won hopes to establish a deaf college in Palawan to assist people with disabilities in achieving their goals. Because its current interpreter is outsourced from Manila and travels to Palawan twice a month, the institute would like to have an in-house interpreter.
Interested learners may coordinate with DMC and DCC by writing letters to the management or messaging through text and messenger. The office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesdays to Saturdays. It is located at the intersection of Abueg Sr. Road, Barangay Bancao-Bancao, Puerto Princesa City (besides Princesa Garden Island Resort & Spa).
Rev. Ju Won Chung
- Missionary Palawan Yewon Deaf Church (2019-)
- Rev. Korea Yewon Deaf Church (2011-2018)
- Director of the World’s Deaf Missions ( 2011-2017)
- Bachelor’s Degree from Gallaudet University, USA
- Master’s Degree from Remnant University