A Friendship Camp Chronicle: Wordless Unit Had the Most Tight Bonds

Ministry July 7, 2024

Rey Jane T. Cabase, the facilitator of Division D, Unit 19, led the most silent unit but the noisiest in thoughts throughout the week-long ZPM F-Camp. She, a ‘hearing’, led the eight delegates of the Deaf community since the camp started, from July 1-7, 2024, the unit in which bonds were forged in silence.

Most of these deaf campers are from Ipil and Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay. Among the thousand spirited youth, this unique unit stands out not for their silence, but for the eloquence with which they communicate. At every command, group discussions and every counselor’s time, their eyes and mind were in one accord following their leader’s hands which dance in fluid motions, telling stories that transcend words, connecting hearts in ways spoken language cannot.

Unit 19 from Division D, the most silent Unit in the F-Camp, thrived and survived all activities like in the obstacle course, pendulum, monkey bridge, spider webb, bamboo swinging bridge, camp cookery and other group activity earning numerous ribbons along the way. 

Despite the challenges they face, often filled with noise, they have found solace and strength within their group just as Rey Jane said, “I am glad even though sometimes they cannot easily understand me but we managed by God’s grace.They also helped me in understanding them for I am still learning the Filipino Sign Language. I am thankful that I have been given a privilege to become their leader. Also, leading this unit has helped me to become more patient as I had not enough patience before as everybody was swift in their movements to move on to other stations, I, on the other hand, had to wait for them for they were still confused as to what was happening around them”

Each member brings unique talent and perspective like Christy G. Gregorio, Fatima R. Milvar, Carren Jane D. Balandra, Ronie Q. Baricuatro, Louie P. Gregorio, Kirby D. Tunacao, Edmond F. Labiano and some of them stirred barrels of laughter like Jomar Cañabano who is also a great teacher in teaching ‘hearing’ men to understand them (deaf) more.

“Oftentimes, they said that they are beyond happy to become a part of this F-Camp for they feel that they belong here and they enjoyed every activity in the camp. Last night (Friday Night, July 5, 2024), I prayed fervently that God would move their hearts and accept Him to be their Savior. Then slowly, I saw five of them who drew near to the baptism pool and accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. I literally cried praising God’s name. This would forever be unforgettable and memorable to me”, Rey Jane retold this in a trembling voice as she held back her tears. 

This Friendship Camp is a mosaic of diversity, where different units from various backgrounds converge to celebrate unity and understanding yet, Unit 19’s presence resonates deeply, inspiring others to communicate beyond verbal barriers. Through sign language workshops and collaborative projects greatly supported by the Official Deaf Interpreters in ZPM, Pr. Paulmarc Arbe Caberte and Mrs. Princess Rhea Caberte, they teach their peers the beauty of silence and the power of inclusive communication.

One memorable afternoon, under a canopy of smoke during their camp cookery, Unit 19 gathers around their firewood blazed with fire. As they share tasks and ultimately cook all those that are required of them, a bond of friendship grows stronger—a testament to the unspoken connections that unite them all. Their charcoal-painted faces carved with their smiles echoes through the day, a testament to their shared experiences and mutual respect.

In the heart of ZPM Headquarters, Tiayon, Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, where the sun sets in hues of amber and gold, Unit 19 continues to redefine what it means to belong. They are not defined by their differences, but by their unwavering spirit and the friendships they build—one silent gesture at a time. As the Friendship Camp thrives and evolves, Unit 19 stands as an inspiration, proving that in the language of the heart, there are no barriers too great to overcome embodying the theme: “Striving Onward, Uplifting Lives”.

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