Philets alumna pioneers schooling for the deaf

Leticia Nietes-Buhay with one of the foundation’s students, Sophia Bumanlag on graduation day. (Photo Courtesy of Justine Bumanlag)

A SCHOOL in Project 4, Quezon City offers more than just sign language for children with hearing disabilities — it gives them a voice.

The Maria Lena Buhay Foundation was named after the late daughter of its founder, Leticia Nietes-Buhay, former chief of UST’s speech department.

Buhay believes children experiencing hearing problems could still learn to speak normally given the proper training.

They were cases, she said, when even those suffering from total deafness were able to talk.

School principal Emilie Paras said children with hearing impairment have varying needs.

“You need to be more patient, because [the job] requires you to repeat yourself over and over again for them to be able to really comprehend,” she said.

“They are behind several levels, so for them to catch up, you have to intensify [the] exercises or activities.”

Buhay put up the foundation in 1987 in honor of her daugher, an aspiring speech therapist who died of leukemia the year before.

“I made it real for her. I opened this school for her and I’m sure she must have been smiling there in heaven,” Buhay told the Varsitarian in an interview.

After finishing her degree in philosophy at then Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Buhay took her master’s degree in speech therapy at the University of Illinois.

She then established and directed the foundation in 1987 and became the first president of UST’s speech department.

Buhay also served as a speech therapist at the Manila Hearing Aid Center and Apolinario Mabini Rehabilitation Center inside the UST Hospital. J. C. W. UY


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