The saying, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" became a reality when for the first time Filipino sign language interpreters coming from different areas and fields of services gathered on a very historic event...the establishment/founding of Phil-NASLI (Philippine-National Association of Sign Interpreters) on May 21, 2011 at CAP College for the Deaf, CAP Development Center in Makati City.
A General Assembly meeting attended by Filipino deaf and hearing sign language interpreters and deaf representatives from Metro Manila and other provinces was held. A talk "Towards Professionalization of Sign Language Interpreters" by Dr. Liza Martinez, some lectures by Mr. Jun Celada, Jr. and Rapahael Domingo and open forum were presented. But, the most significant part of the event was the election of board members (7 board members, NCR; 5 board members, outside NCR; 3 deaf representatives) and name of the organization. From the result of the election, Mr. Alfredo "Jun" D. Celada, Jr. a PAIDE Chief Executive Officer, who got the highest votes was also voted by the elected board as the first president of the association.
Being one of the founding members of World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), sir Jun initiated the process of establishing an organization of sign language interpreters in the country as what WASLI has encouraged for Filipinos to have.
So Sir Jun, together with other senior and volunteer sign language interpreters started the process of establishing an association by calling for a general meeting on January 2011. Present during the meeting were sign language interpreters, teachers and deaf representatives from different agencies and schools in Metro Manila and nearby provinces. In the meeting, concerns and issues relating to deaf, sign language interpreters, interpreting and programs for the deaf in the country were discussed and clarified. Among the concerns discussed, professionalization and unity among/between sign language interpreters (Deaf and hearing) are the most vital and were given emphasis.
From the positive response of the people who attended the meeting and as for their request, three working committees (vision-mission, program and general assembly) with the headship of sir Jun worked on separate meetings from then on preparing until the main event on May 21, 2011.
The dream of every Filipino sign language interpreter to be recognized and unified is upon reach. But it is not yet final and we donít stop there. The journey of living this advocacy continues. With dedication, commitment and great value for service one will continue to flourish. Together, as an association, with a common vision-mission, sign language interpreting, as a profession and Filipino sign language interpreters will have a great place in this country and the world.