Unsung heroes: Online community praise interpreters for PWD-friendly presidential debate

Photo Credit: Rappler/TV5/JP Maunes
  • Interpreter and team praised for making presidential debate accessible for PWDs
  • Interpreter thanks everyone, says inset should be bigger next time
  • Luchi Cruz-Valdez also praised for maintaining composure, calming down heated debate

MANILA, Philippines – Regardless of the results of the second presidential debate, the sure winners there were the team of interpreters who gave the PWD community the chance to watch and know their candidates.

Currently being praised by social media users is JP Maunes, CEO of the Philippine Accessible Deaf Services, Inc. (PADS) and his fellow interpreters for their sign language work amid the contentious debate which saw off-the-cuff and no-holds-barred remarks flying among the candidates on more than one occasion during the hours-long event.

“Last night’s TV interpreting success of the 2nd presidential debates was made possible through the collaborative efforts of fellow interpreters and Deaf leaders. We prepared at least 2 weeks reviewing the first debates videos and anticipating for the given topics and possible signs, jargons and scenarios that might come out including the F*** words haha. Special thanks to Tricia Oftana of Oftana Suites for providing us support during the training,” Maunes wrote on his Facebook.

At the same time, Maunes called on the public to make sure organizers of the next presidential debate enlarge their inset to make it more readable to the PWD community.

“I would like to urge the Filipino Deaf community to rally and use social media to inform the management of TV5 to increase the sign language inset for the ongoing presidential debates! The inset size is ridiculous! This is not accessible at all!” he wrote.

Aside from Maunes and his team, one other personality being feted is TV5 journalist Luchi Cruz-Valdez for maintaining her composure and helping steer the debate in the right direction amid her earlier row with Vice President Jejomar Binay over his bringing of notes.

In appreciation of her effort, TV5 made a meme saying she and Maunes could have the day off on Monday.