The Flame Vol. 54 Issue No. 1

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FLAME Vol. 54, Issue no. 1


BREAKING THE MOLD How are Artlets redefining stereotypes? FLAME | 1



FOUNDED OCTOBER 16, 1964 EDITORIAL STAFF 2018 - 2019 Julia Mari T. Ornedo Editor in Chief Ali Ian Marcelino V. Biong Associate Editor

Corheinne Joyce B. Colendres Managing Editor Luis Miguel B. Arucan Acting Scenes Editor Fate Emerald M. Colobong Issues Editor Mark Joseph B. Fernandez Acting Faces Editor Reyanne Louisse Ampong Acting Culture Editor Corheinne Joyce B. Colendres Letters Editor Kristela Danielle S. Boo Photography Editor Danea Patricia T. Vilog Art Director Joahna Lei E. Casilao, Angel B. Dukha III, Cris Eugene T. Gianan Scenes Halee Andrea B. Alcaraz, Micholo Andrei Gabriel I. Cucio, Alyssa Mae S. Rafael Issues Syrah Vivien J. Inocencio, Joy Therese C. Gomez, Lorraine B. Lazaro, Mary Nicole P. Miranda Faces Angela A. Chua, Alisha Danielle M. Gregorio, Dominique Nathanielle M. Muli Culture Adrian Paul L. Tañedo, Ryan Piolo U. Veluz Letters Ian Carlo L. Arias, Shana Angela S. Cervania, Ana Barbara A. San Diego Photographers Arrienne Jan A. Enriquez, Yanni Kaye A. Wingarts Artists

Mr. Nestor G. Cuartero Publications Adviser Prof. Michael Anthony C. Vasco, Ph.D. Dean The Flame, the official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters, aims to promote a scholarly attitude among Artlets and Thomasians in the analysis of the implications of current relevant issues to their lives and society at large, to serve as a forum not only between Artlets and the administration but most importantly, among Artlets themselves, and to provide a vehicle for the publication of in-depth articles on the concerns and interests of the Faculty. Nothing appearing in the Flame may be reprinted either in whole or in part without written permission addressed to the Editor in Chief of the Flame, G/F St. Raymund’s Bldg., University of Santo Tomas, Manila or to Visit our official website:

© 2018 by the Flame. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Cover photo by Shana Angela S. Cervania


Spread photo by Ian Carlo L. Arias

Editor’s Note


HERE IS no escaping stereotypes. As much as we may loathe them, especially in this age of increasing individualism, it is undeniable that it is innate to humans to define a certain group by a certain characteristic. Artlets, for example, are often considered either placid and shy or feisty and vocal; they are either at the frontline of battle or timidly trailing behind a crowd. The danger behind such stereotypes is that they often ignore all the other kinds of people in between the two extremes: those who may not be vocal but fight back in their own ways, those who masquerade themselves as fearless to mask their weaknesses, or those who sit comfortably at the middle, neither too much nor too little. More importantly, stereotypes box people in, leaving them no room to grow or explore and forcing them to conform to conventions. It is exactly this toxic mindset that the Flame hopes to challenge through this issue. If everyone was duped into falsely believing that they are whatever society claims them to be, then the unassuming literature alumna Charisse Orozco would have never gone on to become a courtside reporter (p. 32); Thomasians would not have challenged certain policies in the enrollment conforme (p. 26); nor would restaurants have stepped up by going beyond the world of food and taking up their own advocacies (pp. 40-41). Truly, the possibilities are awe-inspiring and endless once we learn to venture out of our own comfortable little bubbles. It is our hope that by flipping through these pages, you become inspired to seek new opportunities or find more ways to improve yourself and the world you live in. You might soon grasp your true power and realize that they broke the mold when they made you. F

Julia Mari T. Ornedo Editor in Chief ’18 - ‘19








6 21 32 41 54


15 26 34 44 56

16 29 36 46 58


A man dressed as grim reaper during a protest commemorating the 46th anniversary of the declaration of martial law at Luneta. photo by SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA



We will heal in our own time, Atio’s parents tell SecGen


OBODY can dictate to us when we will heal, when we will move on, when kami magbababang-luksa.” This was the response of the parents of slain Civil Law freshman and political science alumnus Horacio “Atio” Castillo III to Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Jesus Miranda O.P.’s call for “healing and justice” on Atio’s hazing case. “Kami ang nawalan. […] As I said before, panghabambuhay kaming magluluksa because we lost a very important part of our life,” Carmina Castillo told reporters after a trial on Sept. 18. During his homily at a memorial service held for the first death anniversary of Atio, Miranda said the Castillos were not the only ones hurt by the hazing incident but the University as well. “After a year, don’t you think it’s about time that total healing would already happen? Time heals wounds. […] It could be healed through prayers and it can also be healed if justice will be served to those responsible for such an abominable incident,” Miranda said. Atio’s parents asked the University administration how they plan to achieve “healing and justice” and urged Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. himself to speak on the issue. The political science alumnus died on Sept. 17 last year at the hands of the Aegis Juris fraternity during their welcoming rites.

A challenge for Divina “I perceived Atio as a son,” Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said in an interview after the memorial service for Atio. “[H]e was a former student of our faculty, and as the dean of our Faculty of Civil Law, I am the father. So in that sense, I consider it a loss in my part,” he added. Atio’s parents responded by challenging Divina to act on his word and help serve justice to their son’s death. “Ilabas niya lahat ng frat members niya. If he really wants to defend Atio, come out. Ilabas niya lahat, all those who did wrong. Meron namang testimonya si Mark [Ventura]. Iniisa-isa naman niya,” Carmina said. Divina is a member of Aegis Juris and was tagged in the fraternity’s cover-up of the killing. However, Divina has insisted that he is a “non-active member” due to his duties as Civil Law dean. Progress on the case On July 24, the ten Aegis Juris members tagged in the death of Atio filed a ‘not guilty’ plea and petition for bail at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20. During a trial held Aug. 14, Aegis Juris member turned state witness Mark Ventura identified 10 of his ‘brods’ as guilty. The ‘Aegis 10’ are Arvin Balag, Mhin Wei Chan, Axel Hipe, Oliver Onofre, Joshua Macabali, Rev. Fr. Jesus Miranda, O.P.


Dean Nilo Divina

Horacio Jr. and Carmina Castillo

can “Nobody dictate to us when we will heal, when we will move on, when kami magbababangluksa.

Ralph Trangia, Robin Ramos, Jose Miguel Salamat, Danielle Rodrigo and Marcelino Bagtang. On Sept. 4, the paddle that was allegedly used in the hazing rites that killed Atio was presented in court. Horacio Castillo Jr. said it proves violence was used on their son. “Kumbaga it’s the smoking gun. […] ‘Yun ‘yung magpapatunay na because of that violence, ginamit nila ‘yung paddle, ginamit nila ‘yung physical na suntok, ‘yun ‘yung ikinamatay ng anak namin,” he told reporters after the trial. Carmina said it was painful to see the paddle being presented. “You know, for the Aegis Juris, […] it’s their crowning glory. But to us, it’s a piece of wooden trash na ginamit sa pagpatay sa anak ko,” she said. Despite high tensions, Horacio Jr. said they maintain a cordial relationship with the parents of the ‘Aegis 10’ who are currently detained at the Manila City Jail. “We are very cordial with the accused. May mga nag-si-smile, merong nag-he-hello. Don’t think na lahat, galit. When we’re inside the courtroom, hindi lang naman civil. We’re human beings. […] It’s time for us to grow.” The trials were presided over by Judge Marivic Umali at the Manila City Hall.

Stricter anti-hazing law enacted A stricter version of the AntiHazing Law, which now bans all forms of hazing, was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 29. The new law, Republic Act (R.A.) 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, prohibits “all forms of hazing […] in fraternities, sororities, and organizations in schools including citizens’ military training and citizens’ army training.” R.A. 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law of 1995 merely regulated hazing. The amended version imposes stricter penalties on those who violate the law. R.A. 11053 imposes life imprisonment and a fine of P3 million on anyone who participates in hazing that leads to death, dismemberment, or sexual violation. Members of the Philippine Bar or any other profession subject to the Philippine Regulatory Commission who will violate the law will also be suspended. The amended version of the law was authored by Senators Gregorio Honasan, Sherwin Gatchalian, Loren Legarda, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Paulo Benigno Aquino IV and Panfilo Lacson. F ANGEL B. DUKHA III and LUIS MIGUEL B. ARUCAN with reports from CRIS EUGENE T. GIANAN


More advocacy-based projects

lined up this year – ABSC by CRIS EUGENE T. GIANAN


HE Artlets Student Council (ABSC) is aiming for more advocacy-based projects involving Artlets in community development and aligning them with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said ABSC President Rafael Arellano. During the campaign period last academic year, then candidates running under the Students’ Democratic Party promised a number of projects related to various social issues. Through a project dubbed #PurposeInAction, Arellano said he wishes for the ABSC to “inspire the community to take part in sustainable projects geared toward nation-building.” “#PurposeInAction is the council’s plan not only to encourage the Artlets to attend projects initiated by the council but also to actually make them proponents of change through projects spearheaded by them. We believe that is our purpose as a council,” Arellano told the Flame. The president’s project, AB Societal Convention, is a conference where Artlets can suggest projects aligned with the SDGs. The council will pick the best projects and help them materialize.

Arellano added that the council will help in securing funding for the said projects by drawing from the Student Council Fund (SCF) as well as seeking sponsors for the advocacies that will be chosen. Arellano hopes that at least a hundred students will attend the event to be held on Oct. 26. Vice President (VP) for External Affairs Jeanric Biñas said his advocacy platforms Project Magiting, a project aimed to help war orphans, and EX-BI: A Series of International Workcamps Expedition in AB, are due for next year. Biñas also said he is currently working on another community development project targeted at drug dependents. “Currently, I’m working with Hakbang: Proyekto Tungo sa Kaliwanagan, a community development project in partnership with Healing Path Foundation Inc.,” he said, adding that he is still coordinating with other organizations that can assist with the said projects. Biñas also noted that his threephase Hakbang project, which seeks to involve Artlets in volunteer efforts, will be limited to five volunteers only due to capacity problems with the partner foundation.

The VP external explained that funding will not be a problem for both of his projects as Project Magiting will draw assistance from the SCF and sponsors while EX-BI will require no funding at all since the council will merely help Artlets “look for International Work Camps available in the country.” Vice President for Internal Affairs Anika Imperial said she will prioritize AB Help Desk, an online platform for filing grievances set to launch in October. “We made guidelines regarding the grievances and will coordinate with the SWDB (Student Welfare and Development Board) Coordinators. Once that is settled, we will immediately begin the implementation of the project,” she said. Imperial added that her other yearlong project, Rediscover, will focus on self-development in coordination with the local guidance office. She added that she is also aiming “for a better relationship between the students, faculty, and administrators.” Secretary Pauline Bartolo said Pinky Swear, a three-phase project on breast cancer awareness, is set to launch its





AB Societal Convention



Project Magiting

AB Help Desk









first phase in October via a seminar at the Benavides Auditorium. However, she noted that there are still challenges in preparing the different phases. “I'm still [in] the process of communicating with the [Medicine] Student Council to make this project accessible to the Thomasian community,” Bartolo said regarding the second phase of the project, which is a series of free medical check-ups. She added that the third phase, a fundraiser, will be held in February next year in order “provide subsidy for the cure, not just for Thomasians but also to help a foundation that caters to patients and survivors of breast cancer.” Bartolo also said her yearlong Green Thumb project is set to start in November in line with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Awareness month. “First, we will conduct a seminar on Nov. 8 that will discuss the current state of our surroundings. There will also be some discussion on how to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle and further topics are being modified to adapt to the current needs of the country,” she said. Bartolo added that every fourth week of the month, the council will collect ecobricks and metal straws and exchange them for bamboo straws. Treasurer Felize Billena launched AB DisCo, a project offering discounts for the Artlet community through a special QR code, in September.


“It's actually doing well. Initially, I was supposed to launch it last Sept. 10, a month after the [academic year] began, pero we had a few problems that were beyond our control, regarding the signing of some of the Memorandums of Agreement,” Billena explained. “[The discounts] are actually diverse. We have discounts for school supplies, study hubs, and of course, food! Artlets will also experience AB DisCo in events and activities of ABSC because our partners also offer freebies that the council can give out,” she added. Auditor Brian Diaz noted that his project, ASSET (A Seminar on the Significance of Early Initiatives for Tomorrow), had to undergo revisions in accordance with the student council’s General Plan of Action. However, he said he will still push for a February 2019 launch. Diaz detailed that the first phase is a forum on the importance of money management while the second phase will provide booths for financial and government institutions whose services students wish to avail of. The third phase will provide easy processing of government IDs such as Tax Identification Numbers and Social Security System numbers in cooperation with CPI Outsourcing Company, he said. “Hopefully, after this project, it shall serve as an avenue to orient and prepare students in the workforce in terms of financing,” the auditor said. F with reports from JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO



AB DisCo

Green Thumb






AB launches

creative writing program by JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO


HE FACULTY has successfully launched its creative writing (CW) program but there is much pressure to produce competent writers, CW Program Coordinator Chuckberry Pascual said. Pascual said the University of Santo Tomas (UST) has a long tradition of producing outstanding writers, thus it befalls the creative writing program to produce just as much, if not more, excellent writers to uphold the tradition. “Usually, galing sa journalism, literature, and philosophy [ang writers]. Pero ngayon [may] CW, so hopefully, dito pinakamaraming ma-produce. Syempre, double-edged sword [siya] kasi may pressure rin na mag-produce nga talaga ng magiging writers,” he said. The CW program was pioneered by the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies (CCWLS). Its curriculum was designed by CCWLS Director Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo. Pascual is hopeful that CW will soon join the roster of programs recognized as Centers of Development and Centers of Excellence in the University, as well as offer a doctorate degree program to match in the future. “[K]ung mayroon man na opposition o kung mayroon man skepticism […] nagdududa sila kung kayang ituro ‘yung creative writing kasi ‘di ba mayroon naman tayong writers dati na hindi naman kinailangan mag-take ng creative writing program,” he said. Pascual insisted that asserting the need for a creative writing program is to say that “writing can be taught,” adding that as long as one is “able to come up with ideas that [they] will know how to sell,” he or she can become qualified for the program.

Years of delay The program had been in the process of development for years but its launch was delayed by two factors: the shift to K to 12 and the fear for the literature program, according to CCWLS Asst. Director Ralph Galan. “During the time of Dr. Ophelia Dimalanta, she was afraid to open a creative writing program because she was afraid it might compete with and eventually kill the literature program,” he said. Galan explained that the creation of the program finally pushed through because many students were interested. “Ang literature, ang inaasahan na ma-produce, usually, ay mga critic. You become a better reader, a better critic, a better evaluator of literature. Kumbaga, you are looking at the text as a product […] [I]f we are to differentiate [CW] from literature, it is looking at the text as a process—na parang, this is how you write it,” Pascual said. This is why creative writing graduates can teach literature but not vice versa, Galan added. “It doesn’t mean that people who can teach literature can also necessarily teach creative writing, because if they have not experienced the creative process [then] how can they pass it on to their students?” he stated. The current professors and instructors of CW are all from CCWLS and published authors, which Galan stressed as important because it proves their credibility as writers. The first batch of CW, a class of 44, is handled by the Literary Society. The pioneer batch of creative writing majors must wait two years before they can establish their own organization per the rules of the Office of Student Affairs. F

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2 Artlet profs elected as USTFU negotiators;

president sparks leadership dispute by ANGEL B. DUKHA III


WO ARTLET professors were elected as negotiators for the 2016 to 2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) of the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) with the University administration. Emerito Gonzales of the Department of Philosophy and Michelle Desierto of English were elected on May 28 along with Jose Ngo Jr. of the Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy, Edilberto Gonzaga of the College of Science and Rebecca Adri of the Institute of Physical Education and Athletics. Before being elected to the panel, the two Artlet professors were members of the Board of Directors of USTFU. The CBA negotiators’ role is to assert the “long-overdue 2016 to 2021 faculty CBA,” Gonzales told the Flame. Controversial leadership After the election, USTFU Chief Dr. George Lim “assumed” the position of head of the negotiating panel despite not being elected, which some professors strongly opposed. “Nang matapos kami ma-elect as CBA negotiators, nag-assume kaagad si Dr. Lim ng role niya raw as the head of the panel, pero from the very start kinekwestiyon namin ang kanyang inclusion kasi hindi siya elected,” Gonzales said. According to Lim, he was prevented by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from running to be a part of the negotiating panel. In a board meeting last May 31, USTFU Treasurer Joyce Tan moved to declare Lim as the chairman of the negotiating panel, prompting five panel members to walk out. “[H]indi naman kami nag-agree from the very start tapos nagbotohan. Siyempre dahil

anim lang kami […] limang negotiator dun […] e ‘di outvoted kami. So what's the point ‘di ba?” Gonzales said. The philosophy professor said the panel recognizes Lim as USTFU president but not as head of the negotiators. Gonzales also revealed that panel members have agreed to recognize Ngo as their head because of his credentials. “[T]he only remedy diyan kasi na nakikita namin is to call for a special general assembly wherein at least 30 percent of the tenured faculty members [call] for it,” he explained. Gonzales said they were able to gather more than the needed signatures to call for a special general assembly. “[I]ni-specify namin to settle the issue [on] whether Dr. Lim is an automatic member, whether Dr. Lim can chair (the panel) […] ‘Yun ang panawagan ng 30 percent ng tenured faculty members.” DOLE intervention The negotiating panel has asked the Department of Labor (DOLE) to intervene and help resolve the issue through a Single Entry Approach filed by Ngo on June 26. “[N]ag-pepetition ang isang complainant na miyembro ng union. Tinatawag si DOLE na ipatawag kami sa conciliatory attempt,” Gonzales said. He added that Lim only attended the first of the three meetings at DOLE to settle the dispute. Ngo filed a formal complaint on the third meeting. The Office of the Rector has written to both parties a letter expressing “cold neutrality” on the leadership issue, Gonzales said. Lim has been president of USTFU since 2015 and is expected to lead the union until 2020. F

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Asian studies freshie is new

UAAP courtside reporter


OLLOWING in the footsteps of her Artlet predecessors, asian studies freshman Makyla Chavez is the new courtside reporter for UAAP Season 81. A television commercial and print advertisement model, Chavez is no stranger to the spotlight. The asian studies freshman is a member of UST Tiger TV and also hosted the live coverage of this year’s Freshmen Week. “To be a courtside reporter is more than just facing the camera or holding the microphone; I personally enjoy the responsibility it comes with. I do enjoy seeing the athletes play their hearts out in the court,” Chavez told the Flame. The Faculty boasts a long list of Artlets who were chosen to become the face of the University, having schooled previous courtside reporters Tonie Moreno (Communication Arts; Season 80), Angelique Manto (Communication Arts; Seasons 78 and 79) and Kristelle Batchelor (Journalism; Season 76). Courtside reporters are expected to bridge the gap between the athletes and the audience and to know the rules of the games they are covering. “I have been attending training [sessions] of the Growling Tigers […] and of course, I’ve been binge-watching a lot of games [from] the previous games and the last season just so I could be ready,” Chavez said. Her selection as courtside reporter was announced on Aug. 15. UAAP Season 81 officially opened at the SM Mall of Asia Arena last Sept. 8. F CRIS EUGENE T. GIANAN with reports from JOY THERESE C. GOMEZ and MARY NICOLE P. MIRANDA


AB Regent to lead UST priory


ACULTY of Arts and Letters Regent Fr. Rodel Aligan, O.P. was elected to lead the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas. Aligan, who is also the dean of the Faculty of Sacred Theology, stressed in an interview that his new position will not be a problem for his duties in AB. “The priorship would have no impact on AB except in terms of time constraint. My job as regent is simply to oversee the spiritual needs of the Faculty and to work hand-in-hand with the Dean on important matters that need to be attended to,” he said. “My being Dean of Sacred Theology has even more impact since the members of the community are at the same time under me as professors,” he added. Aligan supervises not only the Faculty of Sacred Theology but also other affiliated schools in the country and abroad. The regent explained that a prior is tasked to “promote regular and apostolic fraternal life, provide for the brothers’ needs, and should be concerned that the brothers fulfill their personal obligation.” “I’ve been used to multi-tasking. Once, I’ve been regent of AB together with being the regent of UST High School, dean of Theology and concurrently, dean of Religious Affairs [all at] once. Time management is important,” Aligan said. The regent is set to fulfill a three-year term as prior of the Dominican monastery. F

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UNITAS academic journal

launches online portal by JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO


NITAS, one of the country’s oldest existing academic journals of research in the fields of literature, culture, and society, was launched as an online international peer-reviewed journal under the Department of Literature. The journal’s editor in chief Maria Luisa Reyes said she hopes that the launching of the website will raise the standards of scholarship in the Faculty. “Perhaps UNITAS, like the other journals of UST, might help become a showcase of the University’s efforts to shape an international standard for outstanding scholarship. And for any Faculty of Arts and Letters in the 21st century, that should read like good news.” Established in July 1922, UNITAS has been “engaged in cutting-edge knowledge production as a journal of a top modern institution of higher learning,” Reyes said. "Now that it is online [...] its reach is now broader than ever before, and its scholarly conversations are much more globally dynamic. [T]hat's all the motivation that UNITAS needed to go online," she added. The journal publishes internationally peer-reviewed articles on literature, arts, and culture biannually. “It was a badge of honor to get one's research published in it. […] UNITAS used to be the flagship journal of UST. We hope it is able to live up to its name with the current staff," Reyes said. Student involvement Reyes added that the assistance provided to them by the UST Literary Society was invaluable to the launch of the site. "In the future, when the structure of the Scholar-in-Residence and UNITAS office evolves, perhaps we can have the students involved in the editorial and production processes, like an [internship]," she said. Reyes urged students to use the website for their research papers and class requirements. She also assured that in spite of the shortage of staff trainees, UNITAS is handled by skilled and diligent junior faculty members of the Literature department. The site was officially launched Aug. 16 at the St. Raymund de Peñafort Building. The online portal can be accessed at F

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English professor presents linguistic landscape paper in New Zealand by ANGEL B. DUKHA III


PROFESSOR from the Department of English presented a paper on the sociolinguistic landscape of Binondo at the 22nd Sociolinguistic Symposium at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Assoc. Prof. Alejandro Bernardo presented a paper titled “A Look into the Linguistic Landscape of Manila Chinatown: The Role of Language and Language Ideologies,” which he co-published with english language studies alumna Eena Maxine Jazul. “[The] paper is actually on the linguistic landscape of Binondo. Linguistic landscape is a fertile area ng research dito sa Pilipinas. Recently lang siya napansin [and] is an undergraduate thesis by my mentee sa AB (Jazul),” Bernardo told the Flame. Bernardo explained that linguistic landscape is the study of public signs, whether made by the government or ordinary people. Linguistic landscape studies government-regulated and unregulated signs such as street names, street signs, posters, names of business establishments and memoranda posted on walls. “[It can be] anything, any text that you see posted in the surroundings. We call these linguistic landscapes [focusing on] Binondo being a multicultural and a multilingual setting,” Bernardo said. The paper was also published in the 2017 issue of the Philippine Journal of Linguistics. ‘Mecca of sociolinguists” Bernardo said the symposium is “the Mecca of sociolinguists in the whole world,” where renowned sociolinguists gather to present the latest researches in their field. Submitted papers, including Bernardo and Jazul’s, underwent a “refereeing process” and modifications for improvement. “It went through the refereeing process. Hindi naman basta-basta na pupunta ka dun tapos accepted na ‘yung papel mo right away. […] So pinasa ko ‘yung abstract […] tapos nireview ‘yun, may mga suggestion, may mga modification, tapos may mga hinahanap sila para ma-improve pa ‘yung papel, so I submitted the revisions [then] tsaka nila in-accept ‘yung papel for presentation,” he explained.

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Bernardo said Jazul was unfortunately not available at the time of the symposium so he presented the paper on behalf of his mentee. “Thesis ‘yun nung undergrad […] even if undergrad lang sa AB, 'pag may mga ganyan, we also hope that their papers get to be presented in conferences and [published],” he said. Bernardo added that he was happy to have met old friends and esteemed people in his field of study albeit being the only Thomasian at the event. “[Y]ou get to represent the institution in a conference na ganon kalaki ‘yung crowd, tapos siyempre you get to share, disseminate knowledge. [...] You have a paper, you have a research and then you get to share it with other people who share the same interest,” he said. “Receptive and appreciative” The professor said the attendees were “receptive and appreciative” of their paper. “Well-attended naman ‘yung session. May mga conference kasi or paper presentation [na] isa lang ‘yung audience. […] Close to 30 ‘yung mga participant kasi nga malaki ‘yung conference [at] ang daming parallel sessions doon [na] sabay-sabay,” he said. Bernardo said he was thankful that people were interested in their paper, adding that the symposium also opened a new opportunity to him. “[M]erong mga interesado. In fact, one participant who attended [my] session invited me to write a chapter dun sa book na ginagawa niya, which is also on linguistic landscape,” he said. Bernardo revealed that he is currently working on a research that focuses on linguistic landscapes in schools. “It’s also a linguistic landscape but it’s the linguistic landscape of UST so we call it 'schoolscape.' That’s another field na hindi pa rin masyado explored sa Pilipinas. In fact, parang two studies pa lang on schoolscape ang nagagawa,” he said. Bernardo is the Faculty Secretary of the UST Graduate School and teaches English courses in the masteral and doctorate programs. The symposium was held from June 27 to 30 with the theme “Crossing Borders: South, North, East, West.” This was the first time the event was held outside Europe. F

UST strengthens

partnership with Lumad

in second Bakwit School by JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO photos by SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA Assoc. Prof. Mark Anthony Abenir


HE University of Santo Tomas (UST) renewed its partnership and commitment plan with the Lumad community through the resigning of Project Inspired during the second Lumad Bakwit School. First signed in Compostela Valley on April 20, Project Inspired promises the provision of the Lumad children’s basic education and material needs; enhancement of their skills, knowledge, and capacities; construction and rehabilitation of school infrastructures and facilities; and continued support for the Save our Schools (SOS) Network. The signatories are SOS Network Representative Rius Valle, UST Central Student Council President Francis Gabriel Santos, Vice President Victor Amores and Public Relations Officer Nicole Naval, and Student Organizations Coordinating Council Executive Vice President John Calero and Vice President for Organizational Relations Allan Manahan. UST Simbahayan Community Development Office Director Mark Anthony Abenir said the agreement affirms the University’s promise to assist in addressing the Lumad’s educational needs and to help rebuild their damaged schools. Fifty-seven schools in Mindanao have Rius Valle

reportedly been forcibly closed or occupied by the military, displacing about 2,000 students. “Inaasahan natin na hindi na nila kailangan pumunta pa ng Maynila kasi kaya sila pumunta dito dahil hindi napapakinggan yung boses nila,” Abenir told the Flame. The signing was held during the Grand Solidarity Night, the send-off ceremony of the weeklong Bakwit (evacuee) School held from Sept. 11 to 18. A cultural night to remember Members of the Lumad community performed a cultural

dance symbolic of their struggles in Mindanao during the solidarity night. “Sa nagdaang pitong araw namin dito sa unibersidad, nakasalamuha namin kayo, sumayaw, kumanta, at umiyak, nagtawanan, naghiyawan. Nagawa natin lahat sa pitong araw, tila sadya kulang pa nga,” Valle said. Valle also urged Thomasians to spread awareness on the plight of the Lumad and to continue showing support even after the Bakwit School. “Ikalat natin na ang mga tagaMindanao ay hindi bulag [...] Hindi kami susuko, hindi kami titigil sa pagsigaw hangga’t hindi namin nakakamit ang hustisya at katarungan at tunay na kapayapaan sa Mindanao,” he said. F

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Stand against

rising dictatorship

—September 21 protesters photos by KRISTELA DANIELLE S. BOO and SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA


HE PHILIPPINES is in the same state today as it was right before martial law, former Anakpawis leader Pido Gonzales said on the frontline of the anti-tyranny protest commemorating the 46th anniversary of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ declaration of martial law. Gonzales and thousands of other critics of the administration and of the Marcoses gathered at Luneta on Sept. 21 to warn Filipinos of a creeping dictatorship. “Noong panahon ni Marcos, ‘yung scenario ngayon ay gano’n din ‘yung scenario bago ibagsak ‘yung martial law [...] Nagpalit lang ng mukha, nagpalit lang ng pangalan, [pero] iisang uri ang pinanggalingan. Mayroon na bang naging pangulo na moral?” Gonzales told the Flame. The protesters assembled in front of the University and marched to Mendiola while parading a foldable painting that bore rotting renditions of the faces of President Rodrigo Duterte, Marcos, and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Police estimated that about 4,500 protesters marched to Luneta, a smaller figure compared to last year’s 8,000. Movement against dictatorship Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, a staunch critic of the administration, paralleled Duterte to Marcos as a dictator who consolidates the state’s powers under himself. “Isang abogado, magnanakaw, sinungaling, binastos ang mga babae, binastos ang Diyos, binastos ang ating mga pinaniniwalaan. Kahit pagbali-baliktarin ninyo, pareho lang sila. Diktador at tuta,” Hilbay said. Ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno claimed that the youth and the “radicals” are not the only ones who decry martial law, but the most “conservative” branch of government as well. “Supreme Court mismo ang nagsabi na hindi na kailangan at hindi na dapat maulit ang martial law, na hindi na kailangan maulit ang pang-aabuso ni Ginoong Marcos. Dapat po itatak ng

lahat ng pinakakonserbatibong relihiyoso at mga kapulisan at militar na hindi na maaaring maulit ang martial law,” Sereno said. Groups also clamored for the end of the martial law in Mindanao that was declared on May 23 last year after the clashes in Marawi City. The president is keen on extending martial law for the third time following the bombings in Sultan Kudarat late August. Counterprotest Police estimated that about 2,000 supporters of the president staged their own rally near the Quirino Grandstand. Bernadette Cansino, leader of a pro-Duterte group from Navotas City, praised the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign. “Marami na siyang (Duterte) naimplement tulad sa droga. Unti-unting nababawasan ‘yung mga drug lord, drug pusher. Marami nang nagbabago dahil sa [Oplan] Tokhang niya.” F JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO with reports from ANGEL B. DUKHA III and CRIS EUGENE T. GIANAN

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Artlets shine in 6th Student Quill awards


EDIA STUDENTS from the Faculty of Arts and Letters bagged 10 trophies at the 6th Philippine Student Quill Awards while the University was named School of the Year for the fifth time in a row. Awards of Excellence were given to “Anker: Power in Your Hands” and “Triggered” from communication arts (CA) students, “Kwentong Balangay: A Documentary about the Flooding in UST” from journalism majors, and “Dapitan: Paglisan,” the 2017 literary folio of the Flame. Awards of Merit were given to CA’s “A Taste of Home with Albany’s: An IMC Campaign,” “Counterpoint,” “MyPhone: Pitong Libong Pulo sa Kamay ng mga Pilipino,” “Podcon 5: 21st Century Radio Trends,” “Porke’t Bakla? Porke’t Babae?” and the Flame’s website, CA students said they created these shows with the aim of raising awareness on various social issues. “What inspired us to create ‘Counterpoint’ is the rampant disregard of different social issues nowadays. Parang ang patay-malisya na kasi ng mga tao ngayon,” said Counterpoint director Andrea Soriano. “I personally think that the mere fact that [our show] stands up for something really makes it worthy of an award. Our show, Porket Bakla? Porket Babae? […] reaches out to the public viewers to take the step and not be afraid of debunking gender stereotypes,” said Lizza Santiago, writer of Porket Bakla? Porket Babae? The University was crowned School of the Year after winning a total of 36 awards, besting UST Angelicum College, Inc., De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Manila, De La Salle University-Dasmariñas and Bataan Peninsula State University. Department of Communication and Media Studies chair Jose Arsenio Salandanan lauded the awardees for “pouring their hearts” into their respective projects. “I’ve always been proud of my students because [there] is one difference I’ve observed between the professional and student category: the students, when they come up with their projects, they give 100 percent,” he said. The awarding ceremony was held July 9 at the Marriott Hotel Grand Ballroom. The prestigious Quill awards was created in 2003 and is hosted annually by the International Association of Business Communicators Philippines to honor outstanding programs and projects in the field of communication. The student category was created in 2012. F LUIS MIGUEL B. ARUCAN

UST maintains spot in 2019 QS world univ rankings by JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO


HE University of Santo Tomas (UST) held onto its spot among the top 1000 universities in the world in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings despite dropping from the 701+ bracket last year. In the rankings released June 6, UST kept its spot in the 801-1000 bracket and was the only Philippine university to covet four out of five QS stars after getting perfect scores in four of eight categories for excellence: employability, facilities, social responsibility, and inclusiveness. Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines is still the country’s top school despite dropping 17 spots from 367 in 2017 to 384 in 2018. Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University fell to the 651-700 and 801-1000 brackets in 2018 from 551-600 and 701-750 in 2017, respectively. QS cited the University’s dominance in licensure exams for the fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, engineering, architecture, accountancy and education, among others. The United States’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology kept its standing as the world’s top university followed by Stanford University and Harvard University. Employer reputation, academic reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio are the criteria used by QS to determine the rankings. F

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A view overlooking the Tan Yan Kee building and the Miguel de Benavides library. photo by SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA

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Concrete lines as skyline photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS

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EDITORIAL Duterte a fake victor in war against opposition


n Feb. 24, the monthslong public persecution of opposition senator Leila de Lima culminated in her arrest. The former Commission on Human Rights chairperson and former Justice secretary ran in the 2016 elections on a platform centered on human rights and anti-corruption. It is no wonder that she so staunchly opposed a president whose ideals contrast starkly with her own. The detained senator earned the ire of the president and his legions of supporters through her sharp jabs at both the Duterte administration and its bloody campaign against illegal drugs. In almost no time, de Lima became the center of a

teleserye-like investigation into her

alleged involvement with drug lords where no small or intimate detail of her life was spared, not even her rumored relationship with her former driver. Even at the height of the issue, which took place before the president marked his first year in office, the laughable theatrics of the administration’s political persecution of de Lima already seemed like an obvious, despicable attempt to shame and silence the opposition. It was a ploy that reeked of power play, which everyone but Duterte supporters saw clearly. Though it succeeded in shaming and jailing the opposition senator, it certainly did not succeed in silencing her nor other critics of the administration; on the contrary, it only further emboldened them to continue holding power to account. Just as quickly as he had “disposed” of de Lima, Duterte immediately found a new target in Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. Although he does not hail from the same party as de Lima, Trillanes took the reins of the opposition after her arrest. Trillanes gained considerable notoriety from participating in three failed coup attempts against the Arroyo administration staged in 2003 (Oakwood mutiny), 2006 (Marine standoff) and 2007 (Manila Peninsula siege). Tr i l l a n e s ’ questionable reputation, along with

his fierce remarks that questioned and challenged the president, all the more made it easier for the administration to antagonize the senator to their 16-million strong following. The teleserye that Filipinos thought ended with the arrest of de Lima continued with a new season in which top officials made fools of themselves by breathing new life into the long dead coup issue and making contrasting statements on whether the Department of National Defense can certify Trillanes’ application for amnesty, forcing the senator to camp out at his office in fear of getting unjustly arrested. The message that Duterte sent through his persecution of leading critics is chilling: come for me and I will come for you. The president has made clear that he is willing to bend the rules and find the smallest loopholes in the law in order to justify his attacks on the opposition. It was a show of power eerily reminiscent of the tactics of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In all fairness to the administration, the Trillanes saga was well-timed. They milked the senator for every second of airtime that he was worth in order to divert the people’s attention from the truly alarming issues like the surge in the inflation rate and the rice shortage. The president may attempt ceaselessly throughout the course of his term to silence the opposition, but it is a battle that he will never win. For every voice that is silenced by a government whose hands are soaked in blood, thousands more will rise in its place, shouting loudly and fearlessly: never again, never again. F


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Way Beyond


Julia Mari T. Ornedo

Ali Ian Marcelino V. Biong

The sorry state of affairs in AB


he St. Raymund de Peñafort building has not aged well. Like an ailing elderly man, the 54-year-old building finds itself plagued with more and more problems every year. The toilets in the building have never known the sight of clear water; the faucets, on occasion, dispense hot water without so much as a gentle transition from lukewarm; the airconditioners in certain rooms are either defunct or their temperature is impossible to turn up without asking the tallest student in class to step on a chair; some classrooms are too small to accommodate an entire class but are cramped with chairs anyway. With the emergence of technology also came more “high tech” problems for Artlets: VGA or HDMI cables that don’t work, laptops that are a cesspool of computer viruses and projectors that take ages to set up properly. This is the sorry state of facilities and equipment in the Faculty. It is shameful to think that the home of a number of Centers of Excellence and Development and the breeding ground of brilliant young minds is being maintained so poorly, if at all. This is not to say that the maintenance staff in the Faculty fall short of their responsibilities. If anything, the beloved janitors and janitresses of AB go above and beyond their job description daily, always readily responding to concerns of students and tirelessly mopping and waxing the floors. One cannot blame them for being unable to fix and clean what has always been broken and dirty. To a lesser extent, one cannot fault student leaders, either. There have been attempts from the Artlets Student Council (ABSC) through the years to bring the students’ grievances regarding the facilities and equipment to the Faculty administration, yet not much has improved. The local Red Cross Youth Council unit even recently attempted to provide soap and tissue at the restrooms, a venture that proved too costly and difficult to maintain for a mere student organization. Still, the ABSC must never tire of fighting for better facilities and equipment because these affect students— themselves included—on a daily basis. More importantly, the Faculty administration must begin to take more seriously the grievances of Artlets on the matter and find ways to act more swiftly on them. After all, a world-class liberal arts college must also be able to boast of world-class facilities and equipment. Although they are within their right to demand better service from higher-ups, Artlets should not merely stop at that; they must also effect change themselves by taking better care of the equipment they borrow and by practicing proper bathroom etiquette to maintain the cleanliness of the restrooms. It would not be wrong for the administration to defend themselves on this issue by arguing that, ultimately, it is the students who bring these problems upon themselves. Every year, thousands of students pay tens of thousands of pesos expecting to receive nothing but the best from a university as prestigious as UST and a college as decorated as AB; the administration and students should work doubly harder together to maintain this image by ensuring that all aspects of campus life are at par with the University’s high academic standards. The call for improved facilities and equipment in the Faculty is a two-way street that requires cooperation among all the concerned parties. F

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"Pinoy pride"


ver since I was a child, the word Bisaya has always been used as an insult, other than just a term referring to our Visayan brothers and sisters. As a Tagalog, I, too, am guilty of using the same term for either close-minded insults or playful teasing, neither of which changed the fact that it was used as a derogatory word and in a bigoted manner. “Ew, Bisaya ka talaga e, no!” It is as if being born Visayan is something to be ashamed about. Other than being discriminated against for their hard accents when speaking other languages or dialects, Bisaya has started to also mean “jologs” or “jejemon.” “Ano bang pormahan ‘yan, bai na bai!” We take pride whenever a Filipino achieves something abroad; we supported Jessica Sanchez in her American Idol run, and we all cheered for Manny Pacquiao whenever he had a bout. Meanwhile, when a foreigner makes a racist comment on Filipinos, we are immediately butthurt and are quick to reply with a racist comment as well. Yet, here we are, laughing at the Bisaya, the Lumad and Badjao simply for being themselves. We Filipinos arguably have one of the most hypocritical cultures, and this “Pinoy pride” is certainly nothing to be proud of. Our blood boils when a standup comedian on the different side of the globe makes fun of our Filipino accent when speaking in English, yet we have the audacity to make fun of folks from the provinces for simply being from the province, as if Manila is a city to look up to. Sadly, this Pinoy pride is only ever present when it suits us, especially in the international scene; back home, we do not even respect ourselves. It is funny how guards at mall entrances check our bags out but let foreigners through without even a quick frisk; it is funny how they shove whitening products in our faces as if having kayumanggi skin is a flaw. I suppose we do not need China or the US to try and destroy our country, as we seem to be so good at doing so ourselves. Maybe this "Pinoy pride" is just a mask we hide behind to cover up the reality that we are not really proud of the people we are and that we need the constant approval of the international community to try, at least, to love ourselves as well. Can this be a product of hundreds of years of colonialism brought upon our islands by foreign invaders? Have we been so utterly discriminated against that we learned this racist attitude as well? Maybe we just learned to hate our own people too as some sort of revenge, putting other cultures on pedestals while burying our own. It may take a historian or a sociologist to know for sure, but what I do know is that there is discrimination present in our society today, and it is up to us millennials—and our supposedly #StayWoke culture—that this “local racism” is purged during our lifetime. F

Sapienti Sat


Corheinne Joyce B. Colendres

Luis Miguel B. Arucan

An entity on a leash


hen my doctor diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the first thought that came to my mind was: now what? At that time, I was just recovering from a recent tonsillectomy, so when the doctor told me about the news, I found it quite amusing that just after some issues in my body were recently removed, something else popped up. But it was nothing to worry about, the doctor said. PCOS is a prevalent condition among women and it could be regulated easily. The doctor briefly taught me about medications, and that was it. Figuring out the depths and crevices of this condition was left in my own hands. PCOS has three main features: it causes hormonal imbalance because of elevated levels of androgen, it triggers irregular menstruation and it produces tiny fluid-filled sacks inside the ovaries. PCOS does not have a cure, so coming to terms with this condition was a personal engagement because it has different symptoms for every female. Figuring out PCOS is a trial and error for most women, but mostly, there were more trials. It involved a slow and painstaking process of figuring out the right food to eat, the correct workout routine to adhere to and lots of pep talk because this condition is not something that one would wish to have, but once it is there, there is nothing to do but work around it. No one else can truly understand the weight that women with PCOS have to carry, because every symptom leads to a different baggage. There might be bouts of insecurity because PCOS enables one’s body to gain more weight, have more acne and have excessive hair growth due to the elevated levels of androgen. Diet regulation was a problem too because PCOS leans toward organic produce, which is not as accessible for women who are busy. Oral contraception is one of the main medications for PCOS but not all women can afford them or ingest these pills because consuming them means intense side effects. Finally, if left untreated, PCOS may contribute to serious complications such as heart disease or diabetes. As the most common health condition in the reproductive system of women, the cause of PCOS is not exact. Most women are prone to it. They only truly learn about it once they get diagnosed with the condition. Ultimately, PCOS should not be treated as a friend or a foe; it should be treated as an entity on a leash. The condition should not control the person and the person must not be against it. Instead, she must work around PCOS. Various women who have PCOS have to go through either a simple or complex process to regulate their bodies. It is no easy job because it is a battle that they must fight on their own. There are good days where the exercises, diet and medication work together but there are also days where PCOS unleashes its wrath. At the end of the day, the woman must realize that she holds the entity on a leash. It can only go where she decides to take it. And as a woman who is taking the same path, I hope that we all lead it forward—towards the betterment of the self and a healthy lifestyle. F

The red-faced theory


aloocan City College was one of the 18 schools that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed to be hotbeds for communist recruitment for the rumored ‘Red October’ ouster plot. The military cannot fulfill its role without the knowledge and intelligence-gathering skills of experts. When the military claims something, one can rest assured that it is true. But Caloocan City College does not exist. The AFP later admitted in a statement that their list was “subject to continuing validation.” They seem to want to follow in the administration’s footsteps and throw around allegations before or without presenting evidence. In retrospect, the military’s plans and actions seem more redfaced than Red October. Step one was to make up a conspiracy out of nothing. Upon returning from his trip from Jordan and Israel, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that a foreign government, which he did not name, provided him with a document about the ouster plot. Step two was to bare the list of 18 schools to make it look like the plan is based on something and is going somewhere. At least this is what it seems like after the military’s chain of inexplicable decisions. Antonio Parlade Jr., assistant deputy chief of staff for operations of the AFP, said the schools “notorious for school activism” were recruiting students through screenings of martial law films. Step three is the best one: give your fabricated conspiracy the most conspiracy-sounding name to mortify the populace. What communist would not want to join Red October when it cleverly references history? Clever! Early in October, Sen. Panfilo Lacson pointed out another thing questionable about the military’s decision: intel reports are information that can be used by military operatives to accomplish their objectives. If there truly was an ouster plot, the names of targets would be valuable information and the AFP would not want the communists to know that they have been identified as targets. In the words of Lacson, “Announcing the targets of intelligence efforts effectively renders the mission accomplishment extremely difficult if not impossible.” This arguably implies that the military was not sincerely trying to protect the public or that there was no ouster plot to stop in the first place. It is unacceptable for the military not to disclose their sources when they so readily and carelessly disclosed a list of 18—or rather, 17—respected schools. It is consoling that the tagged schools and even others uninvolved showed that they are fed up with the military and the administration’s baseless and dangerous claims. On the other hand, it is worrying and borderline sad that officials who live in the 21st century still think like this. The year is 2018 but it feels like we have not moved on from the irresponsible practices of the French Revolution in 1789. F

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Millennial Detox

Fate Emerald M. Colobong

Mark Joseph B. Fernandez

The justice system vis-a-vis jail congestion


HOUSANDS have been killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs while tens of thousands of others have been thrown into jail to live under unbearable living conditions and unshakeable ghosts of uncertainty. According to a report by Inquirer, in Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) jails alone, congestion rates go as high as 612 percent nationwide. The BJMP blames the worsening jail congestion on the spike in arrests, inmates’ ineligibility to pay the bond, and slow movement of criminal cases, among others. However, during my internship where I had the chance to witness the jail congestion at the Quezon City Jail and interview inmates arrested because of involvement with illegal drugs, a number of them claimed that they were framed by the police to boost the Philippine National Police’s arrest numbers. They added that the prospect of unattainable justice only worsened their condition. A certain story of an inmate named Gani, 56, a car mechanic, struck me. He was arrested while on his way home from work after getting accused of using and selling illegal drugs just because he knew the person that the police officer was looking for. Policemen brought him in together with other suspects to the police station. He said they were forced by police to drink something that tasted bitter and left their throats dry. Gani said they were drug tested afterwards and were sent to jail regardless of the result. Asked if he was using drugs, the car mechanic answered: “No, only beer.” Another inmate interviewed separately seconded the frame-up claim, but at a different police station. What appalled me more was that, according to Gani, another reason policemen arrested them was because they were skinny—a common trait among drug users. To ease congestion, the BJMP has adopted a recent Supreme Court framework called plea bargaining that will allow small-time drug suspects to cut their jail time by undergoing rehab instead. For the BJMP, this may be a solution, but for inmates, this was a freight train—they were railroaded to plead guilty for a crime they did not commit. Further, they said they must also refrain from getting tattoos and maintain a “clean look” because judges “do not like” tattooed inmates and often give verdicts based on an inmate’s physical appearance according to an advice a lawyer gave them. This does not mean I am taking the side of those suspected of involvement with illegal drugs because I acknowledge the problem in such an act. However, this is not something one can overlook just because they were the words of an inmate. Simply because we could not see something does not mean it was not there. More than just jail congestion, this issue, for me, is more about a justice system that is seemingly selective and prejudiced against suspected drug users or sellers. There was a time when I assumed justice was truly just, that jurors would assume a person innocent until proven guilty. But prejudice is exactly the opposite: it judges before the evidence is presented. So, if you shake the hand of an inmate, you may want to think twice if his or her hand is trembling from meth withdrawal because maybe it is simply trembling from abject terror at a justice system that he or she does not trust. F

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The dangers of toxic social media content


he existence of social media is revolutionary for the communication process. Consumers of the said medium (netizens) can easily connect with prominent people because of its boundless reach. These prominent people, who are called social media influencers, can also gain a multitude of followers in the speed of light depending on the creativity and originality of their content because of the unlimited scope social media offers. With its wide range, social media can easily connect influencers with netizens. That is why a single content from a social media influencer — whether it is of good influence or not — can greatly produce various reactions from netizens in an instant. A specific example of this is the notorious content of beauty blogger Michelle Dy. On her Instagram story (content viewable within a limited timeframe) last Aug. 18, she attacked her vicious critics said to be complaining about a certain photo of hers by stating they should focus on their own faces rather than hers. “Pati filter, lighting, camera, editing, whatever chuchu ng picture ko pino-problema [niyo]! Problemahin [niyo ‘yung] mga blackhead at pimple [niyo] mga besh , ‘wag [‘yung ] picture ko. Lahat na lang! Kalerks!” she said in the post. “But anyway, manood na lang kayo mamaya ng video ko para makita ninyo [papaano] maging ganon ka-fresh. Okay?” she added. This content, obviously, backlashed on her. Netizens who saw her story expressed their dismay at the beauty blogger for composing the content with the intention to “skin shame,” or to publicly shame a person based on his or her skin condition. Even fellow beauty bloggers expressed their outrage at Dy’s irresponsible attitude in addressing her critics, as such content can negatively affect netizens with certain skin conditions such as acne. British beauty blogger Em Ford, who is open about sharing her skin condition despite being a social media influencer, was greatly affected by Dy’s insulting content. “This is everything that’s wrong with social media. [...] I am disappointed and saddened that someone would use their social platforms to skin shame their own audience. [Michelle Dy], you’re in a position of privilege, with an impressionable audience... this is not okay,” Ford said in a tweet. Netizens also pointed out that even if Dy only recently recovered from another controversy regarding her content before the release of the skin shaming post, it is no excuse for being irresponsible with her words. They added that her content will always be a reflection of her upbringing. If she will continue on posting insulting content, intentional or not, it will be always be attached to her public image. In general, netizens and social media influencers indirectly educated Dy on how she should be a good influence to her audience instead of spewing hatred which can spread toxic influence to netizens. Dy is back to producing beauty-related content on her Youtube channel. After she learned her lesson the hard way, her fellow social media influencers should also learn from the controversy. F


A handful of life photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS

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RAZ LCA ILOG A . EA B T. V NDRATRICIA A E E HAL EA P d by t by DAN e il p ar com

Is the enrollment conforme reasonable or repressive?


he Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas (UST), as the oldest Catholic University in Asia, has been trying to uphold its status and reputation for over 400 years by sticking to values anchored on Dominican teachings. However, just recently, the University received backlash after a tweet from Ferdinand Jomilla Jr. about the UST Code of Conduct and mandatory enrollment conforme went viral. The conforme requires students to agree with the University’s policies before enrolling. Thomasians found some of the policies “repressive,” “discriminatory,” and “contradictory” to some provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution such as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and the right to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. Some of the policies slammed are “engaging in relationships contrary to the principles adhered to by the University

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and the Catholic Church” and the ban on “organizing/joining boycotts, assemblies, parades, marches, or other gatherings” that may create unnecessary noise and disturbances. Violations are punishable by suspension, non-readmission, exclusion, and expulsion, depending on the gravity of the offense. The Central Student Council (CSC) clarified that UST added new provisions regarding joining fraternities and sororities following the hazing case of Horacio Castillo III. Still, “things could have turned around” if only the CSC was consulted on the matter, seeing that there was no student representation in the decision-making body for the conforme, CSC President Francis Santos said. However, he added that they have already discussed the matter with the Vice Rector and said Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. is open to revising the Code of Conduct

in accordance with the sentiments of the Thomasian community. The Flame tried to reach the UST administration regarding the matter but they did not respond. With this, the Flame sought the opinion of some students, student leaders, and professors on the University's right to implement a mandatory enrollment conforme. F “[The University] has a right to implement conformes and rules and whatnot. But rules should not and do not trump particular constitutional rights… The imposition of rules as an educational institution is not a free pass to discard basic rights.” - Ferdinand Jomilla, Jr. AB Legal Management Alumnus “I think, as much as UST is a Catholic and private institution, hindi nawawala ‘yung karapatan ng mga estudyante once they enter

the University. Nangunguna pa rin ‘yung [Philippine] Constitution. It is above UST’s conforme which means na certain policies doon contradict the law. So regarding ‘yung mandatory na pag-enforce ng UST sa conforme, they should review ‘yung provisions, and I think nag-express naman ng ganung sentiment si Rector na i-review nga ‘yung provisions given the outrage.” - Philip Jamilla VP for External Affairs, Thomasian Writers Guild “I think the authorities only introduced this new regulation because of certain incidents in the recent past that might have occurred, because students in the higher years might have forgotten that they’re still bound by what they signed during their freshman year during their admission to UST. So I think okay lang ‘to as a reminder, pero I think the authorities should have formally invited the attention of all of the higher years na, ‘Oh, this is a new regulation, you have to sign this in order for you to be reminded that you’re still bound by what you signed in your freshman year.’” - Asst. Prof. Lito Zulueta Deputy Director, Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies “The university, as an institution, has every right to practice its ability to create and implement policies that in theory shall benefit its students. However, in light of the recent conforme, we are confronted with a rather alarming sight of the University's approach to its students. Requiring students to sign the conforme as an enrollment prerequisite after emphasizing specific provisions that are quite regressive for our time, sets a dangerous precedent of normalizing regressive ideas and putting them under the guise of ‘University identity,’ but maybe, most importantly, it perpetuates a mentality of an absolute authority.” - Miguel Gemotra President, Thomasian Debaters Council “While freedom-loving students would certainly be outraged by the policies contained in the enrollment conforme, I think they should understand that the University has its own set of rules. The controversial policies, namely, banning LGBTQ relationships and joining rallies are rooted in the Catholic and Dominican teachings. You see the point, no? UST is just maintaining its Dominican character it held so dearly for centuries. But if UST can reinforce its teachings on these matters, it should not turn a blind eye on cases of physical abuse. If UST is really sincere, it should be Catholic at all times, at all costs.” - MJ Blancaflor 4th year, Journalism “I was really surprised with the mandatory enrollment conforme especially na, 4th year na ako tapos may biglang ganito.

Actually, I am worried about where these are coming from… UST attacking students who are expressing opinions sa social media and UST obliging students to sign a conforme before enrollment is new. I mean, merong mga actions na like these before pero not as abundant ngayon… UST is still stuck in 1611 and I can understand law or policies, but I cannot and will never understand, or maybe my mind is not open for such discrimination like UST’s policy regarding the LGBTQ community. Wala lang talaga tayong usad. Hanggang concert lang at fireworks.” - Lei Soriano 4th year, Legal Management “With regards to the conforme, I am not against its implementation. We know and acknowledge UST as a Catholic institution and we abide by her rules. As with the policies, I’m quite familiar with them knowing that some of the policies are actually stated in the Student Handbook. On the issue of LGBTQ relationships, I am more than compassionate to accept their choices but as long as you are enrolled in a Catholic University, one should abide by its morals. [I]n my opinion, it shouldn’t be too rigid but even though it became mandatory, it wouldn’t be much of an issue if one recognizes and goes by what the University of Santo Tomas, and by extension, the Church, stands for.” - John Peter Asino Student Assistant, UST Office for Public Affairs “[M]atters like this affect the welfare of the students. Having no consultation pa lang already speaks of how the administration gives priority to the students—its stakeholders.” - Rafael Arellano President, Artlets Student Council “It’s the right of the institution to come up with their own rules and sets of regulations. Now if you don’t want to follow those rules and regulations, you can find another institution that will fit your interest. Or if not, you can establish your school ‘di ba so that your interests, as well as your own conveniences, will somehow be entertained… because UST has protected the institution for 407 years since 1611 and that Catholic tradition shall be retained because that’s the mission of the Church… the Catholic Church is just preserving its canonical laws sa Catholic tradition para makasunod pa rin siya, pero at the same time, progressive pa rin siya. The University, as an institution, has the right to do this. Regarding the conforme, it’s not that new, okay?” - Asst. Prof. Emmanuel Jeric Albela Department of History “I believe that the University has the right to require its enrollees or students to sign an enrollment conforme. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t raise questions regarding the policies stated therein because it affects

us, the students. I firmly believe in the power of engaging in constant dialogues with the administration so as to improve the policies of the University.” - Francis Gabriel Santos President, UST Central Student Council “I believe private institutions, including academic ones, have the right to impose upon standards inside their premises to ensure a conducive school environment. However, formulation of these policies should be coupled with the creation of spaces for consultations with students to ensure that the provisions in the conforme are practical, relevant, and non-discriminative. The administration can propose all they want but if it doesn't resonate with the values of students and they don't see the importance of such rules, then there will certainly be problems with regard to its implementation.” - RJ Naguit National Chairperson, Youth for Mental Health Coalition, Inc. “The University has a twisted definition of academic freedom to the point of endangering fundamental rights. I think the UST has to reconsider its values being a Higher Education Institution mandated by law to promote learning and not to impose bigoted and undemocratic values that go against the very fabric of human society.” - Vince Liban Convenor, Philippine Anti Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders “I can see the point of view of the University na ito ‘yung magbe-benefit. At the same time, parang medyo contradicting din siya sa beliefs ng iba. Parang masyado nang nag-go-go beyond sa limit na pwedeng magcross-dressing or be who you are. At the same time kasi, this is about human rights so medyo alanganin ako. Pero kung titimbangin, we are bound with the Catholic University na dapat sundin natin ‘yung rules nila.” - Janesza Santos 1st year, Asian Studies “‘Yung conforme na ‘yun, even before, meron na, though napansin nga lang ngayon kasi nga nasa [social media] na… which is good kasi at least this time, binabasa na ng mga estudyante. Pero kailangan din siya i-revise, kailangan ‘yung proper wordings, kasi ‘yung iba nami-misinterpret. Masyadong malawak, masyadong vague. At saka siyempre ‘yung mga gumawa nun is wala din sa generation ng mga estudyante. Tayo, as students, mas alam natin kung ano ‘yung nangyayari, ‘yung kailangan ng mga estudyante, so in making the conforme, dapat may representative tayo sa paggawa ng policy.” - Jeanne Nicole Naval Public Relations Officer, Central Student Council

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EXPLAINS Amendments to the ABSC Constitution



ince the last amendment on February 11, 2005 to the Artlets Student Council (ABSC) Constitution, the eight-page document has been subjected to various amendment attempts by the different student councils that have taken office through the years. Last academic year, then ABSC President Reymark Simbulan proposed the amendment of the Constitution through a Constitutional Convention (ConCon). Its three reading sessions concluded on March 24. However, Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) Dean Michael Anthony Vasco did not sign the proposed Constitution after the Faculty Council rejected the amendments. This caused the delay of the plebiscite, which was originally set to take place after the reading sessions.

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“Kumpleto na ‘yung signatures ng students. The next thing that we needed was the signature of Dean, not necessarily of the Faculty Council, pero Dean wouldn’t sign it unless it has the approval of the Faculty Council,” Simbulan told the Flame. The Faculty Council is composed of Assistant Dean Narcisa Tabirara, Faculty Secretary Ma. Zenia Rodriguez, Asst. Prof. Josephine Placido, Asst. Prof. Anita Garcia, Assoc. Prof Emmanuel Batoon, and Faculty Regent Rev. Fr. Rodel Aligan. The council, specifically its legal adviser Atty. Antonio Chua, did not approve the proposed Constitution because of its content.

The proposed amendments

Simbulan said the ConCon focused on specifying the powers and functions of the different actors in the Faculty. The power to vote, propose, and amend the Constitution resides in the block representatives and the Board of Majors (BOM), which acts as the sole interpreter of the Constitution. In the proposed amendment, “council” refers to all Artlets while “executive board” refers to all the elected ABSC officers. The role and functions of the BOM and the executive board’s power to appoint a Chief of Staff were also specified. The amendments also included a noabstention policy, rules on the conduct of elections, and mandated the impeachment of any member of the executive board who fails to maintain a minimum semestral average of 2.5 during his or her term. Former BOM Speaker Neal Tayco disclosed that Atty. Chua challenged the traditional definition of the constitution and what it means to be a student leader and student council.

“He doesn’t want the student council organizing events kasi para sa kanya, naging event organizer na lang ang student council which is wrong for him kasi nga, ang job ng student council is representation of students,” said Tayco. Simbulan added that Atty. Chua wanted the Council to be a supervising actor rather than a proponent, so the projects of the Council should be delegated to societies. However, Simbulan said it is not under the Faculty Council’s jurisdiction to police the proposed amendments because they are “merely there for approval, in the sense na ia-approve nila kung sinunod ba namin ‘yung necessary protocols [...] The thing is, what they didn’t like was the content itself, which was not of their jurisdiction, I believe.” Tayco echoed the same sentiments, saying the Constitution “should be drafted and created for and by the students primarily. And their approval would mean that the Faculty Council would just agree na okay, parang witness lang sila.” On the other hand, for Political Science block representative Joshua Iringan, the Constitution does not need to be specific because it is “not a written document of power but a written limitation of power.” “The Constitution is the fundamental and basic framework which basically promotes our rights […] Hindi siya selfenforcing. It doesn’t need to be too defined. Kapag masyado mong dinetail ‘yung definition ng constitution, nagiging rigid na siya,” said Iringan.

A switch in focus

It is now up to the current ABSC to decide whether or not to continue lobbying for the approval of Dean Vasco or to hold another ConCon this year. If they decide on the latter, the amendments in the Constitution made last academic year will not be valid anymore. Current ABSC President Rafael Arellano said they will prioritize student representation in the Students’ Code more but they will also continue to lobby for the signature of Dean Vasco. “It (ABSC Constitution) wouldn’t give much of a solution sa problems natin sa students’ rights kasi wala siyang gaanong weight kasi constitution lang naman ito ng ABSC, hindi naman ito constitution ng AB. So ang na-propose is mag-focus kami sa Students’ Code,” said Arellano. Iringan commended the ABSC’s decision to tackle the Students’ Code. “Siguro napagtanto rin nila na karamihan sa mga pinopromulgang artikulo at karapatan na nandun sa itaas (Students’ Code), at ‘yung mga nasaad dito (ABSC Constitution) ay hindi rin mapapatupad dahil wala dun sa itaas, so mababalewala,” he said. The Flame asked Dean Vasco and Atty. Chua for comments on the ABSC Constitution but they refused to grant an interview until they have discussed the matter in a meeting with the Faculty Council. They said they will give an official statement after the meeting. F


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URING his campaign in 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte promised to undertake a constitutional reform that will change the country’s current unitary system of government into a federal one. His appointed consultative committee has already come up with a draft charter to replace the 1987 Constitution. However, “the revision itself has not yet formally started,” Department of Political Science Chairperson Dennis Coronacion clarified in an interview with the Flame. Is it truly necessary for the Philippines to adopt a federal form of government?

Empowering local government units

For Coronacion, federalism is “an advantage” because it will empower the local government units (LGUs) by allowing them to make decisions by themselves since the current form of government considers LGUs as subordinates of the national government. “The implication is the LGUs have no freedom to decide for themselves. It’s always the national government. Ang epekto niyan is there are problems in the local experience which cannot be solved by ideas and solutions that have been produced by the national government,” he said. The “beauty of federalism,” Coronacion explained, is that it allows LGUs to come up with local solutions to local problems and it recognizes local cultures, customs, and traditions that “matter in coming up with policies [and] needed programs.” Coronacion added that, in a unitary government, “this diversity in local customs and culture are often not given attention by the national government; they are set aside sometimes.” Further, Coronacion said federalism will be a good opportunity for the country to experience political reform since some LGUs’ politics are aligned with that of Malacañang. With the passage of federalism, “political butterflies will be lessened” since some powers of the national government will be transferred to LGUs, he added. Political science senior Cloei Ramirez agrees that federalism

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is a necessary step in order to improve the country politically, economically and socially since “it is a system that strengthens and recognizes the diversity of our country. It is a way to allow regions to exercise self-governance with minimal interference.”

Downsides to LGU empowerment

Coronacion noted that, since federalism is expected to empower LGUs, “there’s also a fear that dynasties would proliferate even further.” “[Ngayon] na mahina pa ‘yung kapangyarihan ng LGUs, namamayagpag na ang local political dynasties. Mas lalo pa kaya pag i-increase mo ang kapangyarihan ng mga LGUs,” he said. Kabayan Deputy Majority Speaker Rep. Ron Salo echoed Coronacion’s support for federalism, saying decentralization will empower LGUs to come up with laws that will be beneficial for their constituents. However, he also said the objectives that the LGUs would like to achieve will determine whether the creation of more autonomous states will be a good thing, especially since some LGUs are not capable of maximizing their resources. “We hope that when they are empowered by the federal form of government, they will really take the lead [...] that particular responsibility is not [in] being autonomous when it comes to the powers that they have, [but] in reaching

and realizing the development of their constituents especially in the health, economy, education, housing, and all other sectors,” Salo said.

The cost of federalism

On the issue of budgeting, according to a research by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), P253 billion will be spent on shifting to a federal form of government. This will cover additional costs such as salaries of governors and regional government staff and the operating expenses of their offices, salaries of three to seven senators per region and other expenses of the state government. Assuming that 17 regions will be created, NEDA estimated that the cost of setting up a federal government ranges from P44 billion to P51 billion, while Senator Aquilino Pimentel’s proposal costs P66 billion to P72 billion. Moreover, NEDA said budgetary concerns in regionalization will also need to be considered since some regions are “very poor” in terms of income, hence the difference in the degree of self-reliance of LGUs across regions. Taken as a group, LGUs of the National Capital Region, CALABARZON, and Central Luzon were found to be the most self-reliant while the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, MIMAROPA, and Eastern Visayas were ranked poorly. This may be due to the differences in the revenue performance of provinces, cities and, municipalities, the research noted. Furthermore, it found indications that LGUs have a low degree of revenue autonomy, which refers to their power to determine their own expenditure based on their local needs. A low revenue autonomy causes some LGUs to fail in delivering even the most basic services to their constituents. This is why NEDA argues that there is a need to enhance LGUs’ revenue autonomy: so that they can allocate public funds and deliver the necessary social services to their constituents. “Bumabagsak sila (LGUs) kaya iilan lang sa LGUs natin ang [may] kaya… I don’t think they are capable of handling their own affairs; naka-rely sila [sa] resources na hand out ng national government. Palagi silang nakaasa,” Coronacion said F MICHOLO ANDREI GABRIEL I. CUCIO



Face to face photo by KRISTELA DANIELLE S. BOO

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Charisse Orozco is living the dream by JOY THERESE C. GOMEZ and LORRAINE B. LAZARO photos by ANA BARBARA A. SAN DIEGO

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UST a few seconds before entering the court, the thumping of her heart joins the beating of the drums as her world pauses for a while. As she ascends, Charisse “Chase” Orozco is welcomed by flashing lights, a cheering crowd, and the chilling court air. Immediately, she was captivated by the FilOil Flying V Center and became ready to face the crowd and tell the tale of two basketball teams going head-to-head in the 94th season of National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA). Standing with a microphone in one hand and a notebook in the other, Chase greets the frenzied crowd with a smile as she walks onto the court. Little does the audience know that her calm demeanor masks the two worlds she is juggling: listening to the happenings on the court in one ear and the chatter of the game analysts in the other. Chase is no stranger to the chaos that goes on in the court. She has been an NCAA courtside reporter for several months now, yet her enthusiasm for the job still resembles the thrill of a firsttime viewer.

Calm before the storm

Facing the crowd at the center of the court, Chase’s feet thrum lightly to the beat of the drums as she rehearses her opening report with the equally upbeat production team. After everything is set—the lighting established, sound checked, and game faces put on—Chase briefly introduces the opposing teams and informs the viewers at home about the platforms through which they can watch the game. The camera then cuts to the other reporters who are in the crowd, and Chase, along with her production team, walks to the sidelines of the court to work on her report for the next quarter. Being where she is now, the courtside reporter reminisces about how she

reached the unreachable despite being timid and shy back then. “‘Pag naunahan ka na ng hiya, talo ka na. ‘Pag na-conquer mo na ‘yung hiya, parang half [of] the battle na ‘yun. You just need to believe in yourself,” she explains. Each hosting stint is an opportunity to triumph in yet another battle for the literature alumna. Chase is grateful for her experiences during her college years as she says these further trained and prepared her for courtside reporting. “Sa [literature], na-train kami na mabilis mag-isip when it comes to creating content, ‘yung parang gagawan mo [ng] creative way of telling something, telling a story,” she explains. “[H]osting is kind of like that din naman kasi parang ikaw ‘yung mukha nung event and kailangan mong ma-present in a creative way through your spiels [‘yung gameplay] at saka hindi ka dapat boring.”

The court is a battlefield

In each game, the passion that Chase has for the job rises to the surface. Still, courtside reporting for her is not all fun and games. She shares that the job requires a creative mind which can race against time. Although used to the job’s dynamics, the courtside reporter still faces challenges. Chase says that mistakes in courtside reporting are not as easy to retract as compared to mistakes made in events hosting. “Kapag reporting ka, ‘pag nagbitaw ka ng salita on camera, hindi mo na mababawi ‘yun, so it's [about] being more cautious about what you say and I think it's also [about] being careful,” she says. As the halftime period commences, Chase goes to the crowd and looks

for willing interviewees who would proudly express how they feel about their team’s performance and show off their loudest cheers. Dealing with the audience has changed Chase’s perspective of other people—her skills in writing and hosting also developed throughout her career.

Dreaming is achieving

Courtside reporting was Chase’s dream as a college freshman, but after getting rejected, she became convinced that it was over for her. After graduation, however, a twist of fate led her back to her dream. For Chase, even though courtside reporting puts emphasis on passion over stability, she asserts that she is currently living her dream. As a courtside reporter, she wants to fulfill her duties well and leave a mark on the viewers. “Gusto kong ma-appreciate nila ‘yung ginagawa ko, so ‘yun ang pressure: always trying to bring something new—new kwento, new perspective, new details. So it's always about fresh [news],” she says. “It's really a tough job kasi you have to make sure na you give justice to what you really want to say about the teams. Parang kailangan [may] content and quality talaga ‘yung masabi mo.” After the game ended and a victorious team was declared and celebrated, Chase put down the mic, fixed her things, and walked out of the court which has become an empty space illuminated only by dimmed lights and filled with quiet rows. The courtside reporter then continued on with her day, thinking about the rest of her afternoon as she stepped out of the arena and commuted her way back home, all the while remembering how it was a blast to witness the game as a reporter, and how she is finally living her dream. F

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N THE eyes of many, Noelle Capili is naturally high-spirited and a classic class clown. Little do they know, she is also a social media-savvy activist fighting the good fight and tearing down stereotypes. Born in the era of advanced technology, Noelle can always be found on social media documenting her daily experiences and expressing her thoughts one tweet at a time. Even with her fascination with the said medium, the activist never thought of using social media as a platform to air out her sentiments and give voice to the people who cannot speak up on their frustrations in society. Eventually, Noelle used social media to express her sentiments and

beliefs. She helped bring the battle on the streets into the pixels of the fourcornered screen. “[P]arang makikita mo kasi sa social media [na pwede] ka rin mag-explain kung ano talagang nangyayari sa bansa [...] effective tool siya para sa’tin na ipaalam sa iba’t ibang tao [‘yung nangyayari],” she states.

Awakened young mind

As a child, Noelle says her mind was already opened to social issues due to her critical taste in films. As a young pop culture enthusiast, one of her favorite movies was “Himala” starring Nora Aunor which tackles issues of religious faith, morality, and truth.


In fact, it was also pop culture that pushed her to take up behavioral science in University. Inspired by the character Clarice Starling, who is a psychology graduate in the film “Silence of the Lambs,” Noelle was encouraged to pursue the program in college. Before becoming an activist, Noelle considered herself as someone living in an ivory tower, aloof from outcries on social issues. Despite being a behavioral science student who understands the workings of a person’s psyche, she had a bad perception of activists who were vocal about their stances on issues. Suddenly, her perspective on activism took a turn when she attended Lakbayan, an annual campout with

brings the people's battle

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indigenous people of the country. “[P]umunta ako tapos nakausap ko [‘yung Lumad], parang na-realize ko na may rason kung bakit sila nag-ra-rally, may rason kung bakit sila lumalaban,” she reminisces.

The people’s battle as her own

Her dream of teaching the Lumad emboldened her to take up their cause. After learning about the injustices that the Lumad are experiencing, Noelle became eager to learn more about them, educate them, and be with them. “[I]aalay mo talaga ‘yung buhay mo para pagsilbihan ‘yung masa tapos para ipaglaban talaga kung ano ‘yung nararapat,” Noelle says.

e to social media

Hindi totoo ‘yung binabayaran kami; kapasyahan naming pumunta, kapasyahan naming maging aktibista Aside from indigenous people’s rights, the behavioral science major also advocates for the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community. During her college years, she came close to forming an organization called “HUE” for LGBTQ+ students but unfortunately, it did not push through due to unforeseen circumstances. Being the voice of the marginalized, Noelle is not exempted from the challenges that activists face. For her, the most burdensome of them is redtagging or associating activists with counterinsurgency operations. “Nakakatakot kasi once na-red-tag ka, lalo na in this political situation [...] parang [automatic] na tatakutin or huhulihin ka. [...] Ayun talaga pati ‘yung black propaganda against activists na bayaran daw. Hindi totoo ‘yung binabayaran kami; kapasyahan naming pumunta, kapasyahan naming maging aktibista,” Noelle confidently states.

‘Not a social media influencer’

Despite having a huge following on social media, Noelle does not see herself as an influencer. According to her, the term “social media influencer” is now narrowed down to famous people who use their popularity to spew negativity instead of positivity, like those who complain about rallies without knowing much about the situation. “‘Di ko kinokonekta ‘yung sarili ko [as] social media influencer. ‘Pag natawag kang influencer dito, parang iba ‘yung image. Sana mabago ‘yung meaning ng social media influencer na ‘di lang pang-petty [and] pang-bourgeois kasi may mabigat na [influence] ‘yung ‘influencer’ eh,” she argues. On a positive note, Noelle says there are influencers who are willing to learn about the daily struggles of Filipinos once they are called out. “May mga iba namang influencers

na once na-call out mo or na-explain mo ‘yung nangyayari, parang tinatanggap naman nila, parang nag-a-apologize. Minsan nagtatanong pa ‘yan kung ano pa ‘yung mga way para malaman ‘yung mga nangyayari sa bansa.” For Noelle, it is better to inform yourself about a certain issue before posting anything on social media. “Mas okay na nag-i-investigate ka muna, nagtatanong ka sa mga kasama mo, or sa mga nandoon talaga, kung ano ‘yung nangyari bago ka [magsalita]. Kasi ‘pag bigla kang [magsasalita], parang medyo ‘makukuryente.’ ‘Yun ‘yung term kapag nagsalita ka ta’s mali [ka] naman,” she explains.

Real change happens offline

As the realm of social media continues to grow, so does the challenge to bring about change, says Noelle. However, the revolution cannot only be found in online discourses, tweets and Facebook posts; the real change happens offline. “[L]et’s keep in mind na hindi lang sa social media ang laban. Mas maganda na offline. Kasi social media can do so much pero mas maganda pa rin na aktwal na nandoon ka, nakikisalamuha sa iba’t ibang sektor,” the activist stresses. As a former Artlet, Noelle hopes that the Thomasian community will help stop giving activism a bad name. She also hopes that the institution will soon let students go beyond their boundaries and expand their knowledge on various issues affecting the nation. “Kung iisipin mo na ang pagiging aktibista ay makaaapekto sa [academics], nakaaapekto siya in a good way,” she says. “Maganda ‘yung epekto ng pagiging aktibista kasi alam mo na ‘yung mga nangyayari, so parang theory and practice. [...] Hindi lang sa classroom ‘yung may matututunan ka kasi sa labas marami ka [ring] matututunan. F SYRAH VIVIEN J. INOCENCIO and MARY NICOLE P. MIRANDA

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photos by IAN CARL


OT a day goes by when the streets outside the University of Santo Tomas are not filled with the diverse sounds of the chattering students, the blaring horns of vehicles, and the roarings of distant passersby. Antonio St. is a place where students take time to breathe fresh air—a break from the commotion caused by the pressures and demanding deadlines of the four corners of the classroom. It is a place where time stops while the world continues moving, with booming food stalls and student-related businesses like computer shops and photocopying centers being the heart and soul of the street.

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Quite unusual as it may seem, Antonio St. was hushed and the surroundings that were commonly filled with people were suddenly emptied out as there were no classes due to a national holiday. Holidays always mean a short period of drought for establishments on the beloved street. A common go-to printshop of Artlets in Antonio St., Copyworld Printshop, is no exception to this drought. However, besides the diminishing number of customers coming in, something beyond human control also recently challenged the printshop. An incident that began a quarter to five during a calm afternoon struck five houses on Antonio St. The intense commotion brought the operation of Copyworld to a halt.

Mahirap masunugan. […] ‘Di mo pa alam kasi ‘di pa nangyayari sa’yo, pero ‘pag nangyari sa’yo, tsaka mo malalaman [‘yung hirap] .

is re



get engulfed by bright red and amber hues, resulting in fear-induced sweating and panicking. The 60-year-old could not fathom what was happening at that moment; time stood still and his feet failed to move an inch as the catastrophe was worsened by strong winds that carried the fire to the second floor of their house. The fire caught onto the roof, the doors, the windows, the furniture, and the machines, slowly taking away its glory. Mang Sonny’s basic instinct was to get out of the house before it perished into ashes. The fire quickly spread out everywhere, wreaking havoc upon everything and anything it touched. Copyworld’s machinery and equipment suffered a great deal of damage. Fortunately, no lives were taken and no injuries were sustained. Mang Sonny recalls frustratedly the details of the incident weeks after, adding that the fire became worse due to the slow response of the fire department.

“Alam ko, bago pa bombahin ang UST, nandito na ‘to [...] dito na kami pinanganak. […] Dati bookbinding saka hot stamping. Wala namang [photocopy] dati, ‘di ba? Puro typing, mimeographing ‘yung dati. Nauso ‘yung computer, kaya [nagphotocopying business] mga ‘50s or ‘60s. Matagal na talaga,” he shares. It has been more than a month since the incident, but the business cannot resume operations unless the electricity comes back and until all paperwork and machines are fixed. But, for Mang Sonny, once the electricity is restored, they can begin anew. “Wala pa rin kaming kuryente. Kailangan lang talaga ng kuryente [...] Hindi sa Meralco ‘yung problema— sa City Hall. ‘Yung electrical wiring kasi, sa kanila manggagaling. Nag-wiring na kami pero sa kanila manggagaling ‘yung clearance, ‘yun ‘yung wala,” he says. “Gusto lang namin maayos, mabalik muna ‘yung kuryente. Isaisa lang muna.” Normally, fire victims would be enraged and traumatized after the incident. However, because of Mang Sonny’s perspective in life as an easy-

eady to rise from the ashes The rustic yet utile setup of Copyworld suddenly burst into flames, slowly taking away its purpose and life. A faulty wiring from a busted electric fan turned the shop into indistinguishable bits and pieces of fragile and charred materials.

“Napakabagal ng bumbero rumesponde. Siguro mga kulang-kulang thirty minutes bago dumating, pero may volunteer fire brigade diyan sa P. Noval [St.]. Thirty minutes, isipin mo. Walang traffic sa Dapitan kasi holiday, August 21. Malinis dito sa kalye,” he asserts.

A disaster-stricken day

The aftermath

On a simple and quiet day, the Siongco family—the owners of Copyworld—heard a distinct sound far from the usual daily babbles of their neighbors that was accompanied by the sight of smoke. Sonny Siongco immediately rushed down the stairs and went out to look for the source of the smoke. Shaken to his core, a terrified Mang Sonny witnessed the house near theirs

Before the massive fire, Mang Sonny lived a serene life. He oversees the operation in Copyworld and sometimes offers his help to the establishment. Although he does not directly own the business, it still belongs to their family. Mang Sonny shares that they have been living in Antonio St. since time immemorial and their family started various paper businesses since they moved in.

going person, he remained calm and treated the situation with maturity. “Hindi mo na iinisin ‘yung sarili mo, kasi pag ininis mo pa ‘yung sarili mo, mas lalong walang mangyayari. Hawak nila yung alas, ‘di ba? Alangan magwala kami dito, wala ring mangyayari,” he says. As a witness to the fire, Mang Sonny emerged resilient with a few nuggets of life-changing epiphanies. “Mahirap masunugan. ‘Yung iba siguro, nasunog lang nang kaunti. Kami, sunog lahat [...] Dapat aware lahat ng tao kasi minsan nga ‘pag nakaperwisyo ka sa ibang tao, cargo de konsyensya mo rin ‘yun. ‘Di mo pa alam kasi ‘di pa nangyayari sa’yo, pero ‘pag nangyari sa’yo, tsaka mo malalaman [‘yung hirap],” he says. F SYRAH VIVIEN J. INOCENCIO and LORRAINE B. LAZARO

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The goddess of fertility photo by ANA BARBARA A. SAN DIEGO

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Three Personas photo by KRISTELA DANIELLE S. BOO

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R19, The Knightsbridge Residences, Valdez Street, Century City, Makati

Helping Hands Cafe Turning disability into strength by ANGELA A. CHUA photos by KRISTELA DANIELLE S. BOO


AFES are an elemental part of the hustle and bustle of Makati City. They serve as a place for artists and dreamers to spend their days immersed in their own crafts and businesses. Cities in and around Metro Manila are surrounded with a variety of uniquely-themed cafes, but Helping Hands Cafe sets itself apart with its own kind of quiet and unique service. Amid the busy streets of Makati stands Helping Hands Cafe, offering a cozy ambiance brought about by white lights and a neutral color palette. Along with the delightful atmosphere comes tabletop board games which make the cafe a suitable hangout place for people of all ages. Upon entering, customers are greeted by a sign that says “Help While You Eat” written in cursive letters. True to this, their service is extra special because the baristas are differently abled. Seeing how the baristas and servers overcome their disabilities will definitely inspire customers. Like any other business, Helping Hands Cafe was born to address a scarcity. It provides not only acceptance but also a ray of hope that points toward a better future for the differently abled community. The cafe’s menu offers more than the usual coffee, tea, and baked goods as they have generous offerings from sandwiches to different kinds of pasta and even all-day breakfast rice meals that are made with the freshest ingredients. Get ready to start the day with the sweet and mellow aroma of their Cafe Latte. It is served hot with just the right amount of foamy milk designed into a floral artwork. Their wide coffee selection, locally sourced from Cavite, hopes to warm up souls one cup of coffee at a time.

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One of their bestsellers is the Buffalo Wings. The wings are juicy from the meat down to the bone and its sweet and spicy savory sauce make it truly finger-licking good. To balance the hint of spiciness the black pepper gives, the dish is also served with cucumbers. The cafe offers a light meal in the form of a Clubhouse Sandwich made from plain white sandwich bread toasted until crisp. The sandwich is assembled with scrambled egg, lettuce, cheese, ham, pickles, and a thin layer of mayonnaise to retain some moisture. Another one of their bestsellers is the Spaghetti with Meatballs. The pasta is topped with parsley and parmesan cheese, all of which add a nice hint of sweetness to the dish, imparting the distinct Filipino twist to the flavor. The fries served with it give the right amount of contrast needed to round out the meal. Helping Hands Cafe does not only offer good and affordable food but it also boasts a highly accommodating staff. Their free unlimited use of WiFi that completes the cozy experience is definitely a bonus. It is perfect for people who want to spend time with their friends but also to help other people. “When you’re at a certain level of comfort, you think of ways to give back,” says Cez Andre Diamse, co-owner of the cafe. He was given a chance to make a difference through the cafe. He added that the place was made for people to feel safe and be comfortable with who they are. The staff of Helping Hands Cafe continue to break stereotypes for the special needs community. Moreover, their difference certainly does not get in the way of them providing great service and a good place for customers to relax, have a good meal, and a good cup of coffee. F

When in Binondo, eat for a cause photos by ANA BARBARA A. SAN DIEGO

650 Ongpin Street, Binondo, Manila


INONDO, MANILA may be the oldest Chinatown in the world but many of its scattered restaurants remain unexplored. Filipinos should take advantage of it more because by eating, they could also help a cause. Cafe Mezzanine, which is also known as the volunteer firemen's coffee shop, is located in the heart of Ongpin St. atop Chuan Kee. All of its proceeds are donated to the local volunteer fire brigade. While the warm entrance of the cafe welcomes guests with a shelf of awards earned by Txtfire—a non-profit organization established by the cafe’s founder, Gerry Chua—the interior is saturated with blue and orange dim lights, giving the place a cozy nightclub spin. The cafe is adorned with simple wooden chairs and tables while firemen hats line the walls, just above framed black and white photos of fire incidents. Cafe Mezzanine's manager of 15 years, Vhal Caseres, shares that usually, people think it is the cafe burning down in the photos. The pictures are actually just documentations of the fires Mezzanine helped put out by funding the firemen. Caseres also says the government is usually slow in funding firemen, which was why Chua decided to establish a restaurant dedicated to helping them. The business was later on passed on to his son Geric, a commerce graduate of the University. Mezzanine's authentic Kikiam is a well-seasoned meaty treat served with sauce on the side that is far from the conventional street food people consume. The snack can be paired with their addictive rice called Kiampong, a savory rice mixed with tasty soy sauce and topped with nuts.

If looking for chewy meat chops to pair Kiampong with, try their sweet Asado neutralized with hard-boiled egg. Their asado is not even close to the asado flavor of the siopaos that can be bought from convenience stores. A fusion of Filipino and Chinese tastes resides in their Gokong, an all-time favorite in the restaurant. This is like pork nilaga but with a twist new to the taste buds because it has five kinds of meat: pork litid, chicken, spare ribs, gizzard, and "tito." Of course, what is a Chinese restaurant without dumplings? Their Xiao Long Bao is truly worth a try. These tender-skinned dumplings have a saucy treat inside and their texture is very pleasing in the mouth. Last but not the least, their Wintermelon drink is highly recommended. It is an iced tea with intriguing sweetened kundol floaters that will surely make anyone ditch the typical wintermelon milk tea. Overall, the menu of Cafe Mezzanine has food that complement each other well. Their simple presentation would not raise one’s expectations at first glance but a burst of flavors are actually in store. This restaurant urges people to “eat with a cause” while delighting their appetite, as the manager said. The establishment of Cafe Mezzanine was based on the owner’s awareness of his responsibility to his community and his desire to share his blessings to others. The cafe’s aim is to rake in more funds for public service in line with Txtfire’s advocacy to constantly disseminate updated information to fire brigades all over the country. As long as the cafe is running, ube-colored fire trucks shall be seen responding to fire disasters. F DOMINIQUE NATHANIELLE M. MULI

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94 10th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City



T SHOULD come as no surprise that students normally look for new delicious and affordable eateries that can satisfy their cravings. Well, fear not! Hustle Cafe in Cubao is the perfect place to unwind and indulge in the best food choices the area has to offer. The garden-themed cafe was established in 2016 by five owners who share a passion for food, business, and education. Part of Hustle Cafe’s proceeds goes to out-of-school youth who want to land jobs in the field of food and business. Certainly, an establishment with such an honorable reputation will deliver good food. Chef Bobby Guingona says that “when [customers] pay for their food here, they’re also helping a student or a bunch of students with their educational life.” One of Hustle Cafe’s best-selling

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dishes is the Japanese-style Chicken Karaage. It is a perfectly seasoned boneless chicken that sends one’s taste buds on a journey from the very first bite. It is served hot and juicy with white rice and a side of spicy coleslaw that includes sliced carrots and cabbage as well as Japanese-style sauce. Without a doubt, fried chicken fans will not be disappointed as they sink their teeth into this delectable dish. After all that excitement, one ought to give in to the samgyeopsal craze that has the millennials going gaga for pork belly. Another of the cafe’s specialties is Pork Samgyupsal where the pork is fried instead of grilled. It is served with an Asianized version of coleslaw that includes cabbage, freshly sliced cucumber, and sesame seeds. The chopped, ready to eat pork is accompanied by a mildly spicy oil sauce that is excitingly different and unique to the taste. Samgyeopsal lovers should definitely try this dish. Hustle Cafe also has a variety of food to offer for those with a sweet tooth. They have blended beverages that are beautifully made with just the perfect amount of texture and sweetness. For the matcha lovers, there is the Matcha Frappe that is a perfect combination of milky and creamy. One’s sugary cravings will certainly be satisfied from the very first sip, as it is topped off with whipped cream and matcha powder for that perfect finish. They also serve Mocha Frappe for chocolate enthusiasts. It looks

delectable from the very first glance, and a sip will send one into chocolate heaven. The blended creation is topped off with chocolate syrup and whipped cream that will make one feel like a kid all over again. With the perfect texture and creaminess, this creation will no doubt satisfy one’s cravings and be left wanting more. People will definitely be impressed by the service and the ambiance of the cafe as the staff are friendly. The environment is pleasant as well, especially to those who prefer having a more outdoorsy setting while dining. Without a doubt, Hustle Cafe is an establishment that does not only offer delicious and affordable food but also serves a purpose, which is supporting the welfare of young students to help them reach their dreams. Indeed, the cafe does not only succeed in serving good food but in serving the community as well. F


OCATED in an old establishment in Dangwa that is almost hidden by plants hanging by the windows, one can actually mistake La Taza for a flower shop. Little do passersby know, the coffee served in-store helps indigents live a better life. Upon entering, La Taza boasts well-lit and warm-colored interiors. With a few comfortable seats and couches here and there, free WiFi, and approachable workers, the place is perfect for reviewing and catching up. The secluded cafe gets its coffee from Coffee for Peace, a world-class coffee supplier that employs indigenous farmers and business partners who advocate for peace and justice. This partnership is made possible by La Taza’s compliance with the Peace and Reconciliation Principles and Practices, a set of knowledge and skills that includes justice advocacy, peacebuilding, and conflict transformation. Located in Davao City, Coffee for Peace's interesting story began due to a conflict between a migrant farmer and a Bangsamoro neighbor that arose over a huge chunk of rice field. Both of them were trying to kill each other over the land so the two were invited for a talk over coffee. Since then, they grew a community that loves having coffee together. Although the five-year-old cafe is not student budget-friendly, it is practical to spend money in the establishment if looking for treats or a place to spend an all-nighter in. What is good about La Taza is that, for every purchase, one helps coffee farmers receive fair wages and also aids indigenous communities to become self-sustaining. La Taza serves hot coffee, frappes, different kinds of pasta, sandwiches, and rice meals, and is

1282 Ground Floor, Vincom Building, Laon Laan Street, Sampaloc, Manila


open from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Their best-selling and well-spiced Pesto Pasta comes with a chewy wave of freshness. It is served meticulously on a round plate and is the right amount of soft, even with herbs sprinkled all over. Try their Binagoongan if hungry and craving for that unique Filipino taste. The meal consists of fried liempo cuts topped with bagoong and contrasted with chops of fried eggplant to neutralize the natural salty taste brought about by bagoong. All of their rice meals come with any coffee or frappe of choice such as the Caramel Latte. Made by barista Angelou Letran, this best-selling drink is rich in creamy coffee goodness. The presentation is made Instagram-worthy and is served in a large mug that is sure to satisfy caffeine needs. Looking for cold company? They also got you covered with their Mudslide, a fun chocolate drink mixed with a shot of coffee and served in a tall glass. It has the right amount of sweetness to it topped with quality-tasting cream compared to those used by popular cafes. Overall, La Taza is a place of color and peace at the heart of a busy city. Not only does the cafe contribute to the welfare of the indigenous peoples, but it is also one of the few businesses that advocate for peace and justice amid the ongoing violence in the country. Their coffee is not just any coffee; it is "just" coffee. F

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or every cultural milieu, there occur spectacles in the form of artworks, and through those works, artists seek to arrest the immediate mood and create tangible connections. When senior journalism major and digital artist Rossane Ramos found herself dwindling in the arena of writing, she pursued self-expression through making digital collages—an art style that combines different elements into one united artwork. Many people think ideas come to artists at a certain time or through a certain inspiration. For Ramos, her ideas for art come out of nowhere. “Throughout the day, I always have random bursts of feeling like I want to create something,” she shares. One example of her work is an untitled collage that features majestic falls, a cassette tape, a lollipop, a run-ofthe-mill jeepney, and a highway set on tones of orange. For Ramos, the mixture of different components in one picture is appealing. “I’d say that my art style is a hybrid of different elements. I’m amazed at how contrasting elements can still find a way to fit together and look pleasing.” Back when she had just started making art, Adobe Photoshop was a difficult design application for her. She instead chose GIMP, a cross-platform image editor for beginners. Keeping up with the drastic upgrades of digital art technologies can be hard, but the soft-spoken young artist believes that with practice comes mastery of any change. “I do change software as well and adapt to it. It’s important to always practice so that you can be unfazed by small things. Be accepting of the changes around you,” she advises. Just like another piece of hers titled Make Everyday Special featuring a beautiful night sky full of stars and a vast beach, the artist encourages people to dream.

This collage shows the fun and thrill of laidback road trips while playing the right playlist; a reminder that the adventure will present itself upon hitting the open road, regardless of the destination.

The sparkling dome of stars is a reminder for people that humans are creatures of infinite possibilities who are capable of making every day count.

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Delving deeper into this seemingly mundane piece brings to the surface a lonely message: an excessive usage of nothing but the mind can lead to not knowing how to show one’s heart, hence, a feeling of emptiness.

For now, Ramos is more focused on exploring her art style. “I consider myself a beginner, so I’m focused on the things I can do and learn more,” she says. However, even if she is “taking her sweet time getting to know who she is,” she still has plans of making a brand out of her art in the future. “It’s freeing because there will never be a limit to it. It can’t be bounded by a label. It could be anything,” Ramos says. Some of her works are posted on her Instagram account but the majority of them are not yet out for the world to see. One of her unreleased works features a person’s chomped head filled in with a photo in shades of white, while its warped title, Is there anything in there?, sits just above the head. Another work Ramos shared is Nudey, which is composed of a naked woman’s body cut lengthwise, while behind it lie what seem to be photos of a rough fabric and a strip of calm ocean blue water. Contrasting Nudey is Ramos’s difficulty with opening up. Despite being recently diagnosed with clinical depression, the artist continues to thrive in her passion, as it is also her way of expressing herself to the people she cares about the most. “Through my art, they can get glimpses of how it is inside my brain,” she says, “With this craft, I feel like I could let go of logic and reason for a little bit. On rough days, it’s a good way of keeping my mind at peace.”

The naked body sends the message that women are sacred and no different from men, but its missing half may represent that they have been oppressed for a long time now and that the road to true equality remains a rough one. But whatever hardship a woman faces in the society, she is still as nurturing as water.

photo by REYANNE LOUISSE AMPONG Although a novice like her gets discouraged by other artists who are more skilled, Ramos pushes negative thoughts away because “after all, there is no race in flourishing in your craft.” “It’s so easy to be the harshest critic of yourself and it’s so easy to compare yourself to other people, but I’m slowly starting to veer away from that mindset. I’ve decided to be kinder to myself when criticizing my work,” the artist shares. Ramos encourages growing and aspiring artists not to force art and to create from what they really feel. “I just want to remind them to go easy on themselves. There is no need to put yourself under so much pressure to constantly produce art. In my opinion, it’s always better to grow at your own pace, to slowly explore your identity in your craft,” Ramos says. F

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Pasilyo Guillermo Tolentino, CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City


HE Cultural Center of the Philippines took part in the debut of Froilan Calayag’s twelfth solo exhibition titled “Signs of Life” from Aug. 1 to Sept. 9. In this display, Calayag featured artworks composed of several sculptures that are different from each other in unique ways, such as having distorted, mutant-like animal heads that wish to portray deeper meanings. Calayag, who is well known for incorporating playful, colorful, and unorthodox methods in creating his artworks, certainly did not disappoint in this exhibition. Using oil, cement, epoxy, and polyurethane in his sculptures, the exhibition came to life in the most delightful way.

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l l i t s e r ? e e h r t e is life h



One of the unique pieces that will definitely catch one’s eye was Biology Drama, an artwork that features what seems like a distorted head of a dog. Its eyes are slanted and uneven whilst mirroring skull figures as if the grim reaper himself had paid this animal a visit. The dog also has very long, sharp teeth with a white tongue hanging out of its mouth, and if one looked close enough, an unusual nose that is shaped like the horn of a unicorn is visible, as well as the various animals that are imprinted on the dog’s face such as worms, turtles, caterpillars, and owls. This piece of art must be symbolizing the subject of biology and all its living organisms—just like the flora and fauna that maintain the balance of the ecosystem. As much as animals can be beautiful and innocent, they can also be wild and vicious as portrayed in another of Calayag’s artworks titled Microlovers. This piece gives off a rather threatening aura because of the presence of sea monsters. There are two creatures with their heads emerging out of the water with razor sharp teeth biting their own tail off. Beside them is a wildflower with a mouth that looks ready to devour anything. This flower certainly contrasts with the sea monsters, as the notion of a flower is not something that is deemed threatening. Another unique piece from the exhibit was Big Head in the Clouds, Small Feet on the Ground. This is a sculpture of a pig’s head with its eyes looking blank and lifeless. One eye shows the head of a plump caterpillar with terrifying teeth, while the other shows the head of an astronaut. Its hands are

reaching forward as if trying to grab something in midair. Like Calayag’s other sculptures, this pig also has animals cleverly placed around its head. There are also small burrow animals hiding in solace under a flower and unidentifiable creatures lurking in the dark corners of the pig’s skin as if they are hiding from something. There are gopherlike creatures with their hands stretched out to reveal another opening by the side of the pig’s face. This sculpture makes one think: “Is this animal still alive?” or “Why is there so much life teeming among its body parts?” When thinking about life or death, some think about their religious or cultural beliefs. Eyes of the Gods of the Universe was a sculpture of an unidentifiable creature with a long face that looks lifeless but at the same time full of color. The creature’s mouth is open, revealing a long line of short teeth and worm-like tongues, and its small ears are shaped like the open mouths of tiny sharp-toothed animals. What makes this piece intriguing is that there are dozens of multicolored eyes patched across the animal’s skin as if they are watching every single movement around them. This sculpture will certainly make one ponder about what life would be like to have so many all-seeing eyes and also think about what it would be like to see the entire universe. Overall, Calayag’s exhibition was a unique and immersive experience that offered a one of a kind glance at life and death. Signs of Life left its viewers with many questions as well as several profound thoughts. With a new perspective on the idea of life, one can only wonder what lies beyond our knowledge of life and death. F

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When modern art


ELIGION has always been a vital part of the Filipino identity. Rapt in the internal dimension of this identity, Alfredo Esquillo Jr. celebrated his 25 years as an artist through a solo exhibit titled “Balik-Loob” from Aug. 11 to Sept. 8 at Silverlens Galleries in Makati. It showcased his fluency on the medium of oil-on-paper and his collaboration with his long-time friend, Anthony Victoria, on aluminum etching. In his exhibit, religious icons immerse themselves in Filipino culture. Esquillo appropriated imagery from religious iconography in order to explore human depth. Influenced by his father in extracting the deeper meaning of the Bible, most of his works reference religious imagery, especially Quiapo Church which he often goes to. One of the pieces that stood out in the exhibit is Ina ng Laging Sakripisyo which was inspired by his mother’s sacrifices that he witnessed at an early age. The crown of thorns surrounding the woman represents the perpetual and unconditional love a mother has for her child. The center of the artwork shows a woman defying gravity, floating through space. In this way, the piece conveys dual feelings of agony and euphoria because it also symbolizes the bliss that comes with motherhood which motivates women to endure the pain that comes with it. Overall, this work of art is an embodiment of mothers who find that sacrifice is nothing compared to the overwhelming love they have for their children and the love they receive in return. Another interesting work of art in the exhibit is No One Can See Us Cry Underwater. The piece shows a naked woman covering her face which gives the impression of someone who is ashamed of dropping her guard. As her weakness is exposed, the feeling of being bare heightens her fear. She becomes one with her tears as she confesses her paranoia underwater. Meanwhile, the fish depicts

2263 Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati City

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meets religion by ANGELA A. CHUA photos by SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA

the Christian faith which implies the healing that would take place if only people would believe. The procession of the Black Nazarene draws millions of people to the streets of Quiapo every year. For his piece titled Ulan sa Apoy, Esquillo made use of the potencias or the rays protruding from the crown of the Black Nazarene to symbolize power and wisdom. The upper half of the artwork shows a girl who experiences enlightenment as she catches the three potencias with her hands. The “tres potencias” symbolize the power of the Holy Trinity that the girl can use to defeat evil. Meanwhile, the lower half shows the girl being engulfed by flames. This piece shows people that they can choose to be ignorant or to be enlightened. People tend to get stuck over the past and this hinders them from doing their best. Inspired by this idea, Esquillo created Lunod as a reference to himself around the age of 40. At this age, one has certainly been through some tough times which he or she may want to forget. Instead of getting drowned in the past, the artwork shows how the person is trying to detach his old self from his current life. It depicts a person ready to move forward and leave the past that keeps pulling him down. A sequel to Lunod is the artwork Lutang where Esquillo features details implying rebirth along with the death of the old self. It symbolizes finding one’s greatest strength during their weakest moment. The new self rises above the old self as he lets go of the past that he is carrying on his shoulders. It is when one acts from his higher self that he falls in love with himself. Through his exhibit, Esquillo reminded Filipinos to desire harmony not only with their family or peers, but also with their culture and religion. Esquillo was able to capture the diverse culture of Filipinos while exploring the depths of human ways through their everyday lives. F

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NTERING the three major art institutions Yuchengco Museum, University of the Philippines Vargas Museum, and Metropolitan Museum of Manila feels like going on a trip across Southeast Asia. Presented by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, an exhibition titled “Ties of History: Art in Southeast Asia” was presented by the Philippines from Aug. 8 to Oct. 6 to mark the 50th year of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The exhibition featured the works of ten contemporary artists, one hailing from each ASEAN member country. The different paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, photographs, and even soundscapes presented different information and levels of creativity based on experiences, traditions, and the colorful histories that shaped ASEAN. Thai artist Jedsada Tangtrakulwong chose to showcase a precise portrayal of different Southeast Asian countries. Border is made of orange ribbed carpet that is cut into shapes of the provinces of Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and the states of Malaysia. The islands are jumbled up and the provinces are separated from each other. This shows that the countries are borderless, meaning people are encouraged to go wherever they want in these lands with no disputes to settle and no borders to cross. It suggests the idea of unity and an image of a place where all people can come together. Cambodia’s Vuth Lyno challenged viewers’ sense of sight and hearing. Rise and Fall brings viewers straight to Cambodia through its soundscape of Kampong Phluk, a floating village in Siem Reap. It leads one to imagine the villagers’ daily lives consisting of fishing, storytelling, and ceremonial practices, among many others. A sample of a house on stilts that is installed in the area makes it even easier for the viewers to experience the village’s culture. Indonesian artist Anusapati made viewers look both up and down instead of looking straight ahead at an artwork with his masterpiece Plantscape. The artwork is composed of brown Indian sandalwood trees and leaves plated with silver. The trees hang upside down from the ceiling, while the leaves are scattered on the floor as if they had fallen from the tree. The elements seem contrasting since the leaves are shimmering with silver plating, while the sandalwood trees look like they are decaying. This piece may be a nudge toward the relationship of nature and economy, considering that the earth’s natural resources are slowly dying to appease the needs of humans. Filipino artist Roberto Feleo is known for mirroring the myths and history of the Philippines in his art and combining different unique touches with them. His eye-catching piece Ang Dilubyo ng Bola is interesting in a sense that one would not know where to look first.


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A large red and white ship encased in a glass box is shown sailing along a sea of mixed media composed of items like multicolored styrofoam balls, toy soldiers, a shark, a miniature helicopter, and animal figurines. The funnel of the ship is seen spewing out black smoke, which normally signals trouble for a sea vessel. On top of the smoke are three people seemingly unfazed by the fact that they are in peril. Instead, they seem to be more interested in the Hollywood sign in the background. The exhibit also depicted finding oneself in different places. Myanmar’s Min Thein Sung played with mixed media in his work Restroom. One may find the display quaint, for there is a papier-mâché toilet installed in the area that faces a television screen that flashes different sceneries. Photographs of various landscapes, with the papier-mâché toilet in the frame, also line the walls of the area. Visitors can certainly connect with the artist who used to stay in restrooms to escape the awful labor conditions he faced when he was a worker. Restroom encourages people to take a breather and find peace in nature. Vietnamese artist Do Hoang Tuong shows a conflict of emotion in his painting titled Flower Head 2. The portrait showcases an image of a man in black pants and a gray buttoned-up shirt decorated with medals. His pale, white hands are seen resting on top of a small stack of papers as if he is hiding them. But the unique portion of this painting is that the man has a multitude of small flowers covering the expanse of his head, almost as if they are trying to hide the true horror hiding behind the man’s face. This piece almost seems like it is a portrayal of today’s politics: attractive on the outside but filled with lies and secrets on the inside. Just like the document signed by ASEAN’s founding members on August 8, 1967 where the phrase “Ties of History” was taken from, the exhibition just shows “a region already bound together by ties of history and culture.” Moreover, it shows the interconnectedness of the member-states, and hopes for a more meaningful cooperation within the region. F




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The Khmer boy and his empire photo by ANA BARBARA A. SAN DIEGO

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A Schindler in Siem Reap photo by ANA BARBARA A. SAN DIEGO

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The Cognizance of Surveillance by ADRIAN PAUL L. TAÑEDO


T WAS a morning unlike any other. Birds were scattered all over the expansive garden of the school. It was the girl’s tradition to arrive thirty minutes before class, so it was only 6:30 in the morning when the surrounding fowls brought her delight as they picked on the fruits on the trees, hunted for worms, or just sat on the verdant grass while basking in the sunlight. These were the creatures that she envied due to their nature of being free and autonomous: they managed their own lives and metamorphosed into majestic creatures. The flock, however, flutters away when the clock hit 7:00. The girl is pulled back to reality, and a morning like any other presents itself indomitably to a subdued world. As people get up from their beds, they follow routines to catapult themselves into an indifferent world—because it is what seems to work, and it is what seems to please the society that they thrive in. People take a bath to smell good, they brush their teeth to remove plaque, they iron their clothes to straighten every crease, and they follow rules without deviation—just how the system likes it. No one is ever incognito, because everyone has their own watchmen, their own police force that suppresses their free will. Everyone has eyes that follow them wherever they go, whether they like it or not, and yet no one is ever

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certain that they are being followed. The eyes are the guards against societal bedlam, making sure that chaos is contained and harmony is maintained. They are the epitome of clandestine observation, causing everyone to be wary of each other. Violators will be disciplined, punished, and ostracized from society. Mankind will deny them cordial pleasantries and niceties. This is what the girl dislikes about being human. People grow ever so conscious of the eyes that watch them during their days that they inhibit their own growth. They are conscious of the punishment that will befall them so they put themselves in boxes, living in constant fear of being unable to fit in by either lacking or being excessive. The girl aspired to be a great student—not because she wanted to be on a pedestal, but because she believed that exerting more effort would reap more rewards. This led her to attempting to gain the favor of her professors. Soon after, her professors started to keep an eye on her. She eventually felt tremendous pressure because of the expectations of her scholarly gatekeepers. Due to the paranoia, she became suspicious of them and thought of them as her enemies. It was not long before she started racking up fame and respect in the eyes of her colleagues. Her peers envied and idolized her because she excelled. She again became paranoid that the

idolatry her colleagues showed her is masqueraded contempt. She began to feel that her associates were keeping an eye on her as well and became convinced that her classmates were her enemies too. With the mounting pressure brought on by expectant eyes, psychosis penetrated her mind, causing her to think of everyone as a foe. The delusion seeped into her, ever so slowly like a stream of venom, annihilating her sense of trust and taking over her system wholly. As a result, she lashed out at people out of pure paranoia. Guards swiftly arrived at the scene, suppressed her, and took her to authorities. Upon her release, the higher-ups once again began to keep a strict eye on her, causing her to declare them as her enemies as well. Upon the girl’s return, she passed by the garden at the foot of the school. She was back at the space where everyone constantly kept an eye on her. She stared at a statue of the omnipotent, all-seeing God staring back at her in a deadpan gaze. She apostrophized the statue with a tone of despair and disdain, asking if God was watching her as well. “Are you my enemy, too?” Time flows on and a morning like any other starts, with indomitable sunlight penetrating the dark spaces of a subdued world full of subjugated people. F

Sa Kabilang Dako ng Sipi ni RYAN PIOLO U. VELUZ dibuho ni DANEA PATRICIA T. VILOG Sa kaibigan kong may baluting dilaw na may disenyong araw Tinig mo’y banal at makapangyarihan Dinuduyan ako sa lambak ng kasinungalingan I. Sa salmong inilantad, mga sagot mo’y tumisod sa aking malalim na panaghoy Sagrado’t matikas, pangakong pagsangguni’y walang uyam at ligoy Tinig na mariwasa, mga tainga ko’y nagpantig sa bitaw ng liham mong sa agam-agam ay mapangwaksi Liriko ng salita’y tila musikang umiindak, sa aking mumunting pandinig, ito ay kumikiliti. II. Malinaw kong naulinigan ang indayog ng mga letra Mula sa mga labi mong kasinungalingan ay hindi kilala Ako ay nagugulumihanan, minsan ay nagtataka Sa likod ng manipis na siping pumapagitan, Konektado nga ba talaga?

III. Lumaon at nagkintal ang istorya nating dalawa Tila buhangin sa dalampasigan, humagupit ang alon at tinangay akong nag-iisa Mabagsik ang laot sa ligaw na kaluluwa; biruin mong malakas kong tinig ay hindi alintana— hindi naririnig at kinitil ang birit Tagapakinig sa kabilang dako ng sipi: nasaan ka na? Ah, tulad ng iba—nakangiwing minasdan ang unti-unting paglamon sa amin ng dagat na masangsang. IV. Bakit ang mga pagsamo’y naging mga balikwas na pang-uuyam? Bakit ang dating indak na mapagpalaya’y naging mapanupil? Hinubad mo ang balatkayo, at ika’y umalingasaw Nabunyag ang lihim: ang gintong baluti’y hindi kumikinang, bagkus ay kinakalawang Pagkalooban nawa ako ng pananggalang laban sa kamandag mong mapanlinlang. V. Tila gayuma sa malayo ang siping nagbibigkis Ito’y hindi nakikinig, at hindi madadaig Ikaw, heto ako ngayon sa pagitan ng mga sipi Nakakadena at nanlilimahid sa mantsa ng kalawang Nagpupumiglas… Bumibirit nang buong lakas… Pangakong ito na ang huling masalimuot na wakas Siping mapaniil, tagpuang sa pag-asa’y sumupil Akin nang kalilimutan at tuluyan nang tutuldukan. F

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Nang ang Musika'y Marinig ng Isang Bingi ni RYAN PIOLO U. VELUZ dibuho ni ARRIENNE JAN A. ENRIQUEZ


ISTULANG binagsakan ako ng langit at lupa nang sabihin ni Dok na malapit na akong “mabingi.” Naglakad ako pauwi na hindi inaalintana ang mga taong nabubunggo ko sa daan, ganoon din ang aspalto ng kalsada na tila sumasayaw sa tuwing didikit dito ang suwelas ng aking sapatos. Malapit na ata akong masiraan ng bait. Hindi nagtagal ay natanaw ko na rin ang rosang pinto ng aking apartment. Nakabibingi naman talaga. Nakabibingi ang katahimikan dito. “Bebang, may update na ba sa partnerships natin?” tanong ko sa sekretarya kong buntis. Bumaling ako sa kanya upang makinig ngunit kumpas lamang ng kanyang bibig ang aking naunawaan. Inilapit ko nang kaunti ang aking katawan, ngunit nanatiling tila may busal ang aking kausap. Uminit ang aking ulo at ako’y sumigaw: “Lecheng buhay naman ‘to! Baka naman pwede mong lakasan ang boses mo, hija. Wala kaming marinig.” Hinilamos ko na lang ang aking palad sa aking mukha upang ibsan ang inis at galit sa nangyari. Pagmulat ng aking mga mata ay kakaiba na ang tanawin sa mesang kinauupuan namin. Nagulantang ako sa mga matang nakatingin na may pang-uuyam, sa munting huni ng mga bulungan, at sa

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tumatangis na si Bebang. Nataranta ako at tumakbo palabas ng kwarto. Ano bang nangyayari sa akin? Bakit tila wala na akong marinig? Marami nang nakapansin sa paghina ng aking pandinig. Ngunit hanggang ngayon, hindi ko pa rin ito matanggap. Ilang beses akong nagsinungaling sa mga nakatataas sa akin; parati kong sinasabi na kaya ko pa rin. Kasabay ng pagkawala ng aking pandinig ay siya ring untiunting paglaho ng tiwala ng mga nakapalibot sa akin. Tinanggal ako sa aking puwesto, at inilagay sa mas mababang posisyon. Dito, napansin kong tila kabalintunaan ata ang aking unti-unting pagkabingi. Sa halip na hindi ko marinig ang mga negatibong komento patungkol sa akin, mas naunawaan ko pa ang mga ito dahil sa kanilang kilos at paraan ng pakikitungo. Nakaririnig pa rin naman ako—hindi na nga lang tulad ng dati. Matigas ang aking ulo. Hindi ko sinunod ang tagubilin ng mga doktor at minsan ko lamang gamitin ang hearing aid. Para sa akin, simbolo ng kahinaan ang kapansanan, ang kakulangan. Tila nababawasan ang aking kakayahan sa tuwing suot ko ang remedyo sa sumpa ng pagkabingi. Masalimuot man ito, nais ko sanang maging malakas ngunit habang pinipilit kong pakinggan ang sarili

kong tinig, sadyang may mga taong nananamantala sa aking kahinaan. Maaaring hindi ko rin naririnig nang maayos ang aking sarili, ngunit alam kong naririnig nila ako. Pero bakit sa gitna ng pagsusumikap kong maging magaling at labanan ang limitasyong dulot ng kapansanang ito ay tila sila pa ang nabingi? Sila pa ang nabulag? Nakalulungkot na dahil lamang sa aking kakulangan, kahit gaano pa kaganda at kalaman ang aking mga salita at ideya, karamihan sa kanila ay nagbibingi-bingihan at nagbubulag-bulagan. Mga nilalang na diskumpyado sa kakulangan at nakalimutang tumingin sa tunay na kakayahan. Hindi nagtagal ay tuluyan na akong inalis sa trabaho; nilamon na rin ako ng aking kapansanan. Sino nga ba naman ang makikinig at magtitiwala sa isang “bingi.” Arawaraw kong sinuyod ang Kamaynilaan upang maghanap ng bagong trabaho, pero sa kabila ng ipinamalas kong galing at determinasyon, walang nakinig at nagtiwala sa akin. Marahil ay hanggang dito na lang ako: bingi na nga, wala pang silbi. Nakatulala kong binagtas ang overpass ng Philcoa nang biglang nabaling ang tingin ko sa isang aleng

umaawit sa may bangketa. May kakaiba sa kanya: bulag siya. Lumakad ako nang marahan at tumigil. Kitangkita ko ang saya sa kanyang mga matang ang kulay ay kumupas na ngunit patuloy pa ring nangungusap habang umiindak-indak pa. Sayang, ‘di ko siya marinig. Lilisan na sana ako, ngunit pagsulyap ko sa aking paligid ay napaliligiran na kami ng maraming tao. Mga taong masasaya habang sumasaliw sa musika ng ale. Sa sandaling iyon ay tila huminto ang oras. Nakaramdam ako ng kakaibang

ligaya at pag-asa. Hindi ko namalayang tumutulo na pala ang luha mula sa aking mga mata. Napagtanto ko na kahit may kapansanan o kakulangan kami, hindi doon nagtatapos ang aming istorya; hindi pala nakabase sa opinyon ng iba ang aming silbi sa mundong ito. Higit sa lahat, napatunayan kong ang tunay na nakaririnig at nakakikita sa amin ay ang aming mga sarili lamang. Hindi man kami pakinggan o tingnan nang may paggalang at

pagkilala, sa huli, kami pa rin ang magdidikta sa takbo ng aming buhay. Tuwing umaga at dadaan ako sa parehong tulay, nakaririnig ako ng kakaibang musika: isang ritmo na nagpapaalala na ang kakulangan ay hindi kabawasan—bagkus, ito ay isang gintong hibla ng kalakasan na maaaring gawing sandata laban sa lipunang mapangmata. Sino nga ba ang tunay na bulag? Sino nga ba ang tunay na bingi? Ang mga may kakulangan? O yaong mga nagbubulag-bulagan at nagbibingibingihan? F

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The Plagues of Society by ADRIAN PAUL L. TAÑEDO art by DANEA PATRICIA T. VILOG

The populace aspires to be the best variation they could be. However, they sporadically fail to wish the best for their neighbor. The infamous malady that plagues society is to pass through the ones who lament, evincing disconcerting unconcern when violence surrounds their kin like a contagion, or when the virulence of trauma pushes those near their vicinity into a corner. Civilization could not dare to open its eyes or ears to bear witness to the rot that inhumanity itself creates. People cast a cataract on the wounded, the livid, and the ones sick of pandemonium for lustrous dreams and third-eye augured prophecies are too pristine to concede— undyingly losing sight of those who retreat into the darkness out of pain. Humans play deaf to the screams that fill the air, intoxicated by the songs of praises of peers, and the prayers of the wicked— always forgetting the bellows of the hurt, and the stories of the maimed. F

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Religion amidst the burning sky Photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS

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