Emmanuel Galang, or Knowie, 37, was born in Makati City and he grew up in Pasay City. Growing up hard of hearing, he learned sign language and in time earned a Bachelor of Science degree, major in Applied Deaf Studies, at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in Manila.
Knowie’s parents were regular churchgoers but he seldom joined them. There was no interpreter in the church, so he could not understand the Mass, so he said he found it tiresome and boring.
I learned sign language when I was seven years old at Justo Lukban Elementary School in Paco, Manila, which has a program for Special Education for Learners with Special Needs (SPED). I enjoyed school. I acquired a new skill to communicate and made new friends in the Deaf community.
I continued my studies at the Philippine School for the Deaf. There, I met Maricris, who is also Deaf*. We were classmates and became good friends.
When I went to college in 2001, we saw each other again and became a couple.
We got married at the San Rafael Parish in 2007 and we have been blessed with three children: Crismari, 7; Emmari, 5; Mariko, 3.
Finding The Feast
In October 2012, Mariko, our youngest son, was born with a congenital heart disease. Because of his ailment, we were in and out of the hospital. Fearful of our baby’s condition, my wife and I longed to go to church and pray for him.
When he was four months old, Mariko suffered pneumonia and was confined in hospital.
During those difficult days, my good friend Rodolfo Maturino, or RR, came to visit. He told me about this prayer gathering that he’s been attending called The Feast.
“They have interpreters using Filipino Sign Language,” he said.
“Really?” I was pleasantly surprised. Could this be the “church” I’d been looking for?
RR added The Feast includes Mass, praise and worship, and inspiring talk by Bro. Bo Sanchez.
The following Sunday, I attended The Feast held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) with RR. I was happy to find out that there were interpreters, as he said. I understood everything that transpired, including the songs.
There, I prayed to God with all my heart that He shower mercy and healing for my son.
After the session, RR introduced me to Naty Natividad, head of the Deaf and Interpreters Ministry and to other members of the same group like Szarah, Jennel, Marivic, and Ana. By their prompting, I approached the Pray-Over Shepherding and Healing (POSH) Ministry corner and asked for intercession for Mariko.
The POSH intercessors formed a circle around me and was I moved and really felt uplifted by their prayer.
I believe something supernatural happened during the pray-over. One of the members, Jiji Retulla, shared that while praying for me, she felt warmth within the prayer circle. She said it must have been the presence of the Holy Spirit extending His healing grace for my son.
I left the venue grateful for the pray-over, for the new friends I met, and the wonderful prayer meeting I experienced. I knew then that I found a community for myself and my family.
In a matter of days, the doctors declared my son already healed. The following Sunday, I heard Mass at The Feast 8:00 a.m. session with my daughters Crismari and Emmari. From then on, we have been attending The Feast every week.
I signed up for the Deaf and Interpreters Ministry and its Light Group (LG) also headed by Naty. We met weekly after the Sunday Feast at PICC discussing the talk series and sharing our thoughts and experiences on the topic.
At the time, I didn’t have a job. My fervent prayer was that I would find employment. It felt good to know that my LG prayed with me.
In November 2014, through the generosity of Nicky Templo-Perez, my co-servant at the ministry, I got to attend the annual inspirational gathering Kerygma Conference with the theme Empowered. I’m so glad I did.
A few weeks after, I received a call for a job interview and eventually landed a job. Today, I work at Towes Watson in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) doing data analysis and desktop publishing.
I continue serving at The Feast as a Deaf relay interpreter and co-facilitating our LG sessions. I delight in explaining the Mass readings, the homily, and the talk of Bro. Bo to my LG-mates.
Both Crismari and Emmari are now part of the Awesome Kids Ministry.
Maricris and Mariko have yet to join us at The Feast. Given our son’s delicate condition, Maricris has to stay home to take care of him. It is my prayer that we can all attend The Feast as one family soon.
Back to the Church
At The Feast, I am glad that I can serve God and nurture my Catholic faith. I now attend the Mass with anticipation for God’s word and for the Holy Eucharist. I also go to Confession regularly.
To God be the glory!
*Deaf, with the capital “D” refers to those who use sign language as their natural language and who are involved in the Deaf community while deaf is a general term for people with hearing loss. Terms like deaf-mute, hearing-impaired, deaf and dumb or pipi, are socially unacceptable by the Deaf Community. The Filipino Deaf who belong to the Deaf community use Filipino Sign Language (FSL) in particular as their language, with its own syntax, grammatical rules, and order.