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Vol. 54, Issue no. 3

Vol. 54, Issue no. 3

IN TRANSIT How is the Faculty keeping pace with the changing times? @abtheflame |




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 Fate Emerald M. Colobong Issues Editor Mark Joseph B. Fernandez Faces Editor Reyanne Louisse Ampong Culture Editor Corheinne Joyce B. Colendres Letters Editor Kristela Danielle S. Boo Photography Editor Danea Patricia T. Vilog Art Director Luis Miguel B. Arucan, Joahna Lei E. Casilao, Angel B. Dukha III, Gillian Patricia Geronimo, Cris Eugene T. Gianan, Ma. Leandrea A.Tamares Scenes Halee Andrea B. Alcaraz, Ana Gabrielle Ceguera, Micholo Andrei Gabriel I. Cucio, Peach Arianna P. Manos, Alyssa Mae S. Rafael Issues Rommel Bong R. Fuertes Jr., Joy Therese C. Gomez, Syrah Vivien J. Inocencio, Lorraine B. Lazaro, Mary Nicole P. Miranda Faces Angela A. Chua, Christine Janine T. Cortez, Alisha Danielle M. Gregorio, Dominique Nathanielle M. Muli, Theriz Lizel R. Silvano Culture Ian Jozel N. Jerez, Isabell Andrea M. Pine, Maria Pamela S. Reyes, Lorraine C. Suarez, Ryan Piolo U. Veluz Letters Ian Carlo L. Arias, Marlou Joseph Bon-ao, Shana Angela S. Cervania, Karl Patrick R. Marcos, Jose Jaime Raphael Taganas Photographers and Videographer Katrina Nova O. Buyco, Arrienne Jan A. Enriquez, Yanni Kaye A. Wingarts Artists 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: Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: abtheflame

Š 2019 by the Flame. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Cover and spread photo by Marlou Joseph B. Bon-ao

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Editor’s Note


HIS academic year, the Faculty finds itself in transit. It has been one semester since freshmen entered the halls of the building fresh out of senior high school. Their arrival holds many meanings: for the administration, it means having to reconfigure the curriculum to better serve their needs; for the upperclassmen, it means having to double time their training of new blood in preparation for the leadership roles that they will soon be leaving behind; for the Faculty, it means the dawn of a modernized Artlet education. Change does not come without a little struggle. Years after the country shifted to the new K-12 system, many questions continue to be asked: Is the K-12 curriculum really more effective? Was the shift necessary? How has it impacted the students? In this issue, the Flame looks at the efforts being made to improve the overall quality of education in the Faculty as it tries to keep pace with the changing times; we ask whether faculty evaluations truly bring about change in professors’ teaching methods (p. 22), if the Faculty’s research capabilities are up to par with the standards set by government and international bodies (p. 17), and if the pioneer batch of senior high school students are satisfied with the present curriculum (p. 20). This issue also features other stories of change, like that of a Salinggawi team captain turned awardwinning creative writer (p. 32) and a restaurant that marries modern touches with its historic roots (p. 40). While change comes with challenge, it also leads to growth. As the Faculty finds itself at a crossroads, it is also opening itself up to opportunities for further improvement. The greatest challenge of all, perhaps, is remaining true to its reputable identity as it tries to cope with the demands of the times. F

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

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CASA Footworks onstage during this year’s Cypher streetdance competition. photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS @abtheflame |


ABSC president faces impeachment complaint by ANGEL B. DUKHA III and MA. LEANDREA A. TAMARES


N IMPEACHMENT complaint was filed against Artlets Student Council (ABSC) President Rafael Arellano over the “disappointing” AB Week and the council’s failure to distribute last academic year’s official AB merchandise. The complaint, supported by 28 signatures, was submitted to the Board of Majors on Mar. 21, less than a week before the filing of candidacies for the 2019 ABSC general elections. “This is due to his incompetence as a council president which most Artlets deem as palpable. The current council perpetuates the culture of inefficiency in addressing the issues of the studentry,” the complaint read. The complainants slammed this year’s AB Week, which they said “did not meet the bare minimum expectations.” “The concert which was most anticipated by Artlets was not included in the event lineup. AB Week was disorganized and painfully unbearable,” they said. They also cited the council’s inefficient distribution of the official AB merchandise last academic year, when Arellano was ABSC treasurer, as an example of his alleged incompetence. The letter referenced Article XII Section 2 of the 2005 ABSC Constitution, which lists gross negligence of duties and malversation of the funds or properties of the council as some of the possible grounds for impeachment. “It is unbecoming of a Thomasian to become incompetent, more so for a student leader like Arellano. His poor performance affects the reputation of the Artlets Student Council and must not continue in the succeeding academic year,” the complaint concluded. The BOM said in a memorandum dated Mar. 23 that it will deliberate on whether or not the complaint will merit a trial. They also initially withheld the names of the complainants and released the full list only after Arellano was formally informed of the complaint. Arellano has not yet responded to


the Flame’s requests for comment. Complaint author enjoins Artlets to speak out The author of the impeachment complaint urged Artlets in favor of the motion to speak out as well. “To those who are in favor of the complaint, I appreciate them and hope that they speak out as well. To those who called it shallow, I don't really care. I hope they look at the bigger picture and not on the small details,” Asian studies senior Moses Rivera told the Flame in an online exchange. Rivera said the BOM has not yet scheduled a meeting with him but said he appreciates their actions on the issue. BOM Speaker John Steven Usero previously told the Flame that the complainants and the student council will be convened for a meeting. "Pinag-aaralan pa rin namin, like, ongoing pa rin ‘yung magiging meeting namin. And then ipatatawag na rin namin ‘yung student council, kasama ‘yung mga nag-file ng complaint," Usero said. Rivera also said the BOM did the right thing by publicizing his complaint and added that he will respect the board's decision if it decides not to proceed with an impeachment trial. Asian studies senior Michael Valencia stressed that none of his fellow signatories, majority of whom are his and Rivera's classmates, were pressured to sign the impeachment complaint. “Nag-ask lang siya (Rivera) kung sino gusto mag-sign and nag-volunteer naman ako. Actually, sinabi niya sa [group chat] ng block namin then nag-agree naman kami,” Valencia said. “[K]aya ako nag-sign kasi I want change. Gusto ko kasi maging masaya ang AB dahil sa nakikita ko, wala siya (Arellano) masyadong nagawa lalo na no’ng AB Week.” F with reports from GILLIAN PATRICIA GERONIMO

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Official list of candidates

IXTEEN ARTLETS, composed mainly of freshmen, formalized their bids for the 2019 Artlets Student Council (ABSC) general elections last Mar. 27. Bets from accredited political parties DEKADA, Grand Alliance for Progress (GAP), Students’ Democratic Party (SDP), and several independent bets make up the official list of candidates released by the AB Commission on Elections (Comelec). Vying for the presidency are communication arts (CA) junior Lady Freyja Gascon (DEKADA), who ran for ABSC vice president (VP)-external last academic year, and Irah Joyce Embile (GAP), the former vice president of The Political Science Forum. Gunning for VP-internal are legal management (LM) freshman Gerald Dela Cruz (DEKADA), CA freshman Rona Alondra Agulto (GAP), and Asian studies freshman Remar Paulo Panganiban (SDP). Philosophy freshman Paolo Manuel (DEKADA) and LM freshman Johann Ludwig Uy (GAP) will compete for the position of VP-external. Contending for secretary are Romulo Corporal V (DEKADA) and creative writing (CW) freshman Jecelie De La Rosa (GAP). Eyeing the position of treasurer are Elan Karsten Castañares (DEKADA) and economics freshman Nina Estrella (GAP). Competing for auditor are economics freshman Gabriel Lapid (DEKADA) and CA freshman Jelliza Letran (GAP). LM freshman Rosario Raña (GAP) and two independent candidates from political science, Eadric Espiritu and Therese Ifurung, are running for public relations officer. The campaign period began on Apr. 6, while the miting de avance, titled Pasiklaban 2019, will take place on Apr. 12. The election period will begin on Apr. 23 and the proclamation of winners will be on Apr. 27. F


For real-time updates on this year's ABSC general elections, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (abtheflame) and visit us at

Eadric Aldrich Espiritu (IND) Therese Ifurung (IND) Rosario Raña (GAP)

Lady Freyja Gascon (DEKADA) Irah Joyce Embile (GAP)

Vice President-Internal Gerald Matthew Dela Cruz (DEKADA) Rona Alondra Agulto (GAP) Remar Paulo Panganiban (SDP)

Vice President-External Paolo Jericho Manuel (DEKADA) Johann Ludwig Uy (GAP)

Secretary Romulo Kim Corporal V (DEKADA) Jecelie De La Rosa (GAP)

Treasurer Elan Karsten Castañares (DEKADA) Nina Estrella (GAP)

Auditor Gabriel Lapid (DEKADA) Jelliza Letran (GAP)

Public Relations Officer

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AB parade pushes through despite low turnout and delay by JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO and ANGEL B. DUKHA III photos by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS and SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA


HE ANNUAL Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) parade was a “success” for fulfilling its function despite only being attended by four societies and suffering a delay, Artlets Student Council (ABSC) Secretary Pauline Bartolo said. The Filipino fantaserye-themed parade, which marked the beginning of the annual AB Week festivities, was joined by students from Asian studies (ASN), behavioral science (BES), communication arts (CA), and legal management (LM). “[W]e can see naman na nag-enjoy pa rin naman ‘yung students and na-accomplish pa rin natin [‘yung goal] na to present sa UST community na AB Week is starting,” Bartolo said. CA freshman Gab Jopillo believed the parade had “a lot of potential” despite its lack of preparation. “I think, honestly, it lacked a bit more preparation but the people seemed pretty excited about it. [...] Personally, I like seeing all the different AB courses [and] AB students get together as one. [...] It’s all unifying,” he said. The parade-goers gathered at the Grandstand after circling the campus grounds to present their performances as part of the program. BES was declared champion while LM and ASN were first and second runner-ups, respectively. LM won Best in Costume with their combat outfits depicting the TV series Lobo.

‘Could have been better’

Some Artlets said the parade seemed to lack proper preparation, citing that it started over an


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hour late after already being moved a week from the original date. “Feeling namin medyo rushed kasi 7 a.m. daw ‘yung call time tapos 8:30 wala pa rin nangyayari tapos bigla na lang kaming pinapasok sa holding area,” BES freshman Aine Gabrielle Abiera told the Flame. LM senior Vea Ponce said she felt the officers could have managed the parade better but was “thankful” that it finally pushed through. “[K]ulang pa ng participation ‘yung officers. Dapat mas in-execute nila nang maayos tapos maging strict sila kasi parang masyado na sila nagiging lenient sa students,” she said. Bartolo acknowledged the problem with the scheduling and low participation for the parade but argued that the ABSC did not want to force students to attend and “limit their freedom.” “Maybe proper scheduling na lang din siguro and sa societies and the students na lang to ask din kung ano ‘yung mas comfortable or ‘yung mas okay sa kanila na schedule since ‘yun nga ‘yung mahirap talaga ayusin,” she explained. Despite the complications, Bartolo said the ABSC decided to push through with the parade “for the students.” “‘[Y]ung parade naman hindi natin siya puwedeng i-stop lang just for a few people. Kahit hindi lahat siguro sabihin natin nag-participate, may students pa rin na nag-effort. As we can see naman, four societies is still a number of Artlet students,” she said. F

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Econ dethrones CA photo by KRISTELA DANIELLE S. BOO

in 2019 Athena basketball; PolSci emerges champion in volleyball



CONOMICS (Econ) ended Communication Arts’ (CA) win streak in the men’s basketball tournament of the annual Athena Cup after defeating the two-time defending champion, 104-99, while Political Science (PolSci) swept CA in the mixed volleyball tournament. Econ and CA exchanged baskets before five lead exchanges in the first quarter resulted in a deadlock at 17 points. CA then took control of the ballgame with a 12-3 run, 20-29. Econ tried to close the gap, ending the first quarter at 23-31. CA’s offensive and defensive rebounds gave them a 15-point lead in the second quarter, but an 8-2 run allowed Econ to cut the deficit by seven points and close the quarter at 44-51. Econ’s consistent shooting coupled with CA's poor overall defense allowed them to keep the score close. This led to CA's downfall on top of a threepointer from Juan Miguel Florencio that resulted in a deadlock at 97 points. With one minute and 20 seconds left in the game, Florencio released another three-pointer and gave Econ the lead for the first time in the quarter, 100-97.

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Florencio then secured the win with 11 seconds remaining after nailing three out of four free throws, ending the game. Florencio led Econ’s offense with 57 points while Kristian Joshua Baluyot and Franz Gio Medrano both added 16 points each. “[L]ast year, natalo kami noong championship. Ang sarap sa pakiramdam na nakabawi rin kami sa kanila. Pero kaibigan din namin sila, so masarap lang sa pakiramdam,” Team Captain Charles Rhoan Subido told the Flame. Econ defeated Philosophy in the semifinals with a nine-point lead, 69-60, securing their spot in the finals, while their triumph over History and PolSci in the eliminations round allowed them to advance to the semis.

PolSci steals the crown in volleyball

PolSci bagged the mixed volleyball championship after beating CA in a four-set game, 19-25, 25-10, 25-17, and 25-22. CA gained momentum early in the first set when PolSci made a series of errors that gave CA a six-point lead over them, 8-14. A 4-0 run allowed CA to take the first set.

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PolSci bounced back in the second frame and took control of the ballgame with an 8-0 run thanks to Ryan Tuguinayo’s ace services. CA was unable to regain their footing and allowed PolSci to bag the set, giving both teams one win. CA’s errors at the start of the third set allowed PolSci to gain a six-point lead, 12-6. PolSci was able to shut down CA’s Ben De Lima and Mon Madeja’s spikes with a tight threeman defense. The two teams fought to the last second of the final set. In an intense match that resulted in five deadlocks, both teams refused to allow the other to widen the lead, 24-21. The ball game ended with a spike from CJ Santos. “[K]umapit kami any moment of the game kasi alam naming malakas talaga ‘yung kalaban, so ang naging strength namin para sa game na ‘to is ‘yung laban ng puso more than ‘yung laban ng skills,” Tuguinayo said. PolSci dominated the tournament with a win against History, 25-14 and 25-18, and secured their spot in the semifinals when they swept Journalism, 25-13 and 25-17. F

HST usurps Lit, claims Glaucus championship


CASA Footworks scores 7-peat in Cypher 2019 by MA. LEANDREA A. TAMARES photos by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS and SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA


OMMUNICATION ARTS Students’ Association (CASA) Footworks once again broke their own record after bagging the championship title for the seventh year in a row in Cypher, the annual inter-major streetdance competition of the Faculty. CASA Footworks bested nine other dance troupes with their Flash Bomba-themed dance routine, earning them a total of 355 points. "Hindi kami nag-focus sa pag-defeat ng peat namin or sa pag-keep ng title namin [...] Hindi kami masyado nagpapakain sa six-peat to seven-peat; ang iniisip lang namin is put on a good show, and that's it. That's what we want,” Team Captain Aaron Espino told the Flame. Behavioral Science's Cathartic improved from years of no podium finish after finally bagging this year's first runner-up award with their Darna-inspired routine, which earned them 320.9 points. Meanwhile, last year's first runner up, Economic's Econlibrium, slipped to second runner-up this year, garnering 296.9 points for their Lastikman-themed performance. They also went home with the Best Costume award. CASA Footworks's Zyleen Eduarte also bagged the Best Female Dancer award, while John Isaac Yaneza of History's Cordax won Best Male Dancer. Philosophy and Literature did not participate in the overall category, but the latter's dance troupe, Ilaya, participated in the freestyle category with Anna Margarita Camua and Jeremy De Luis as representatives. In celebration of the annual AB Week, the dance troupes of the different societies owned the stage with their Filipino superheroinspired performances on Feb. 19 at the Medicine Auditorium. F

EFENDING CHAMPION Literature (Lit) was dethroned by History (HST) in the 2019 Glaucus Prize team competitions after the former’s flurry of mistakes in the average round. The History team, composed of captain Adrian Maranan, Ellaine Marallag, Marlisa Reyes, and Jace Obeya accumulated 205 points, just five points more than first runner-up Asian Studies (ASN). Team Lit meanwhile settled for second runner-up with 180 points. Team ASN was composed of Ghislaine Faye Bautista, Gabriel Josh Cosme, Remar Paulo Panganiban, and Mary Apple Joy Garcia, while Team Lit was made up of Celine Garcia, Adrian Tañedo, Janielle Villamera, Philip Jamilla, and James Michael Benitez. “Siyempre, sobrang overwhelming at saka masaya kasi ‘yung team members ko, first time nilang sumama ng Glaucus, and ako second time, tapos sobrang saya namin na manalo sa last year namin dito sa AB,” Maranan told the Flame. Meanwhile, Asian Studies’ rookie Cosme won first place in the individual category with 165 points. “Actually, hindi ako prepared kasi. Very surprised ako na ‘yung useless knowledge ko, nagagamit ko pala sa ganitong paraan ta’s ‘yun, may trophy na ako. First time kong sumali sa ganitong type of event,” he shared. Journalism’s Felix Iglesias settled for second place with 110 points while Political Science’s Lee Rahmiel Viceral placed third with 90 points. The 2019 Glaucus Prize dubbed Dunong was held at the Tan Yan Kee Student Center on Feb. 20. It was hosted by the Artlets Student Council in collaboration with the AB Pautakan team. F CRIS EUGENE T. GIANAN


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JournSoc spearheads

community journalism initiative photo by JAMIE LOUISE C. JIMENO


HE UST Journalism Society (JournSoc) collaborated with five other journalism schools across the country to launch www.talamitam. org, a community journalism website aimed at raising awareness on social issues “not commonly reported by mainstream media.” Talamitam, which translates to “conversing and intermingling,” was created by JournSoc in partnership with the respective journalism societies of Bulacan State University, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Lyceum of the Philippines University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and University of the East. The network of journalism schools was first launched in 2017. “[T]his year prinesent na natin ‘yung website mismo, which is bagong gawa

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pa lang and then nagkaroon na rin tayo ng social media handles na magiging platform para mas maging interactive siya with other students,” JournSoc President Franchesca Viernes told the Flame. Journalism program coordinator Felipe Salvosa II said the focus of the website is “our community” and encouraged each partner school to actively participate in the initiative.

Relearning the basics of journalism

At a forum held during the website launch, seasoned journalists urged journalism students to master the basics of their craft and acknowledge the importance of research to the profession. Philippine Star Malacañang reporter Alexis Romero reminded the aspiring journalists that there is also creativity in news writing.

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“[T]here's this impression that news writing is so restrictive, masyadong structuralist, maraming conventions, nakaka-suppress daw ng creativity [...] whereas ‘yung feature daw, mas freeflowing, mas artistic. [...] You can apply your creativity also in news writing,” he explained. Meanwhile, UST and Letran journalism lecturer Leo Laparan II stressed the importance of research in reporting. “You only have to do good research so that you can produce [a] more interesting and more informative story for your audience,” he said. The website launch and forum titled Talamitam: Community empowerment through journalism were held on Feb. 19 at the Albertus Magnus auditorium. F A. B. DUKHA III

Sociological Society reignites digital legacy


OCIOLOGY STUDENTS are escaping the four corners of the classroom through their own website and Padayon, their e-newsletter which aims to let readers view issues from a sociological perspective. Pioneered by the UST Sociological Society (USTSS), the website is a platform for sociology majors to voice out opinions on social issues and practice personal talents. USTSS Public Relations Officer Yyann Barcelona told the Flame that the website was just an idea that came up over coffee with the 2015 executive board and backed up by the suggestion of a professor. “[S]inuggest sa’min no’ng dati naming professor, si Mark Ignacio, na ‘[Bumuo] tayo ng editorial, like ‘yung official e-newsletter ng [Sociology].’ Tapos naisip namin, ‘pag binuo ba namin ‘to pa’no ‘yung magiging proseso,” he said. “Unang-una, hindi namin kaya magpublish na ‘yung like newspaper kasi siyempre nagsisimula pa lang kami. So ang naisip namin, ‘What if buhayin natin ‘yung website tapos doon natin ilagay?’” Barcelona added.

Deejae Dumlao, the website’s layout artist, clarified that the website is not a news outlet but a platform for the society to announce their events. It is also where their Padayon e-newsletter can be found. He echoed Barcelona’s statement on the benefit of the website to sociology students, which is to serve as a platform for discussing their stances on certain issues as well as share the society’s diverse skills. “We just want to really express ourselves not just [in] reflection papers, reaction papers […] Let’s say ‘yung sa pagbaba ng age sa pagkulong, […] gusto namin magkaroon ng opinion on that […] pero more on the sociological lens para ma-apply din namin ‘yung teachings na naibigay sa’min,” he explained.

Rough road ahead

Despite their excitement over the relaunch, Padayon Editor in Chief Sheine Lim raised some concerns of members about voicing out their opinions. “‘Yung iba parang natatakot na magbigay ng opinion, which is ‘yun nga ‘yung purpose ng Padayon: ‘yung magbigay ng voice sa lahat kasi hindi

naman lahat confident na ma-voice out ‘yung feelings, so puwedeng isulat na lang para do’n nila mapaliwanag and mabigay ‘yung insights nila about important issues,” she said. Dumlao added that the lack of staffers is also problem for the website and publication as there are only two batches of sociology students enrolled this academic year. “[K]ailangan siguro namin is ‘yung support ng first years para mamulat sila [na] ‘Huy, may ganito pala.’ Parang mas ma-enlighten about sociology or especially on social issues itself, mamulat sa lipunan, [sa] problema ng lipunan,” he said. Despite these issues, Barcelona stressed that he is hopeful that the website and publication will gain the support of the lower batch and that they will continue what his batch has started. The website and the e-newsletter currently have staffers but the submissions of other Thomasian sociology students are also welcomed monthly. The website can be accessed via www.ustsociologicalsoc.wixsite. com/ustss. F ANGEL B. DUKHA III

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Board of interest orgs established after VP-Int resignation by MA. LEANDREA A. TAMARES


Board of Interest Organizations was established by the Artlets Student Council (ABSC) to create a network linking the Faculty’s organizations with the council in light of the resignation of former Vice President (VP)-Internal Anika Imperial. ABSC President Rafael Arellano said the vacancy of the seats for VP-Internal and Public Relations Officer left the council undermanned, compromising its performance and service. "It's one thing kasi na you have someone to communicate matters, but it's another when you have someone who's a direct [contact] person... Kasi if you're just going to communicate dahil part lang siya ng to-do list mo, iba ‘yung magiging output mo kumpara sa tao na ito talaga 'yung focus niya," he told the Flame. Composed of the presidents of seven interest organizations in AB, the board is chaired by Dominique Elardo, prime minister of the AB Debate Parliament (ABDP). Red Cross Youth Council-AB Unit President Janelle Lorzano is the board's secretary. Elardo said the board collaborates with the ABSC regarding their respective projects and possible improvements that can be made in relation to them. “With the collaboration, there's a guarantee that a project will push through per [organization]. Of

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course, [that is] at the consent and choice of the organization,” she said, citing Talastasan, a debate competition hosted by ABSC in partnership with ABDP, as an example. While the VP-Internal is also tasked with coordinating with the Board of Majors (BOM), the Board of Interest Organizations only works with them on specific concerns. "The BOM leans more toward legal and constitutional affairs, so if the interest [organization] doesn't have such concerns, we do not usually need to collaborate with them," Elardo explained. The future of the board, however, depends on the decision of the next ABSC executive board after the upcoming general elections. "‘Yung susunod na [executive board] and susunod na student leaders pa, sila na bahala kung itutuloy nila ‘yung board, kasi ngayon kaya naman natin talaga siya ginawa kasi hirap din tayo na wala tayong [VP-Internal]," Arellano said. The Faculty's Commission on Elections declared the cancellation of the scheduled special elections for the position of VP-Internal on Nov. 21 last year due to the withdrawal of the sole candidate, China Ricci Vergara of the Students’ Democratic Party. F

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AB Chorale conductor wins international songwriting contest by MA. LEANDREA A. TAMARES


ST Chorus of Arts and Letters (AB Chorale) conductor Mark Raeniel Agpasa won the songwriting competition for the 150th Anniversary of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Catholic Church in Truckee, California. His piece titled Perfect Harmony captures the history of the church by telling a story about its past, present, and foretelling its future, the conductor told the Flame. Agpasa, who graduated as a choral conducting major from the University’s Conservatory of Music in 2018, learned about the competition early in December while visiting his alma mater. "Sabi ko, ‘Why not try this?’ Ang deadline ng submission is Dec. 31, that's one month na lang. Sabi ko, ‘Kaya ko kaya ‘to?" he said. The conductor and member of UST Singers said it was his first time joining a songwriting competition. "Siguro it's God's will na ako talaga ‘yung gumawa. I wrote the music dire-diretso lang, walang kahit anong hirap [...] Minor problems, meron, pero diretso lang," he said. Agpasa, who was also assistant conductor of the UST Singers, started conducting for AB Chorale in 2015. In 2018, he was awarded best conductor in Himig Tomasino, the annual intercollegiate chorale competition in the University, where AB Chorale won two other special awards and seized a back-to-back championship. The chorale also won the Clarion Call Chorale Competition in 2018, which was hosted by the Live Christ, Share Christ Institute for Formation and Training. "It means na even though you’re not a composition major o hindi ka kompositor, kung nag-ta-try ka lang, kaya mong gumawa rin. Hindi lang exclusive ‘yung talent na ‘yon para sa kanila," Agpasa said. The lyrics of Perfect Harmony were released on the parish’s Facebook page on Feb. 1, but the music is yet to be released. F

Philo prof launches book on Filipino philosophy by JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO


PHILOSOPHY professor from the Faculty aims to enrich Filipino philosophy using the Filipino language through his new book on Thomasian philosophers titled Mga Tomasino sa Pilosopiyang Filipino. Dr. Emmanuel De Leon said his book is about the discourses of early Thomasian philosophers like Emerita Quito, Bernardo Mercado, Florentino Hornedo, and Florentino Timbreza, among others. “[S]a malaking perspektiba, layunin nitong makapag-ambag doon sa pananaliksik tungkol sa pambansang memorya, kasi sa palagay ko, hindi pa talaga naisusulat ang kasaysayan ng ating bansa,” De Leon told the Flame. He shared that he was encouraged by his adviser F.P.A Demeterio III, a research director at the De La Salle University, and that he was also inspired by Leo Cullum, an American cartoonist who noted the lack of literature in the country regarding Philippine philosophy. “[P]ara sa akin, kung mayroon mang pilosopiyang Filipino, unang-una para ito sa mga Filipino kaya karapat-dapat lamang na sulatin ito sa wika o sa lengguwahe na nauunawaan ng mga Filipino,” he said. De Leon explained that all his writings are focused on Philippine philosophy. “[P]rodukto siguro ito ng matagal ko [na] exposure sa mga problema, mga progress, sa Filipino philosophy,” he added. The philosophy professor also encouraged students to read and criticize discourses from earlier philosophers. “[B]inuksan ko, in-expose ko ‘yung kanilang mga diskursong pilosopiko [...] para lalo silang mapag-usapan at, kung kinakailangan, ay batikusin,” he said. The Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino launched the book on Jan. 27 during the fifth Julian Cruz Balsameda awards at the Bulwagang Romualdez. F

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Street dweller photo by JOSE JAIME RAPHAEL TAGANAS

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Upholding excellence: Building a culture of research by ALYSSA MAE S. RAFAEL and PEACH ARIANNA P. MANOS art by YANNI KAYE A. WINGARTS


N an effort to meet the standards for higher education institutions, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) is geared toward providing quality education and promoting excellence in different fields and disciplines. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) recognized these efforts and gave prestigious seals of Center of Excellence (COE) and Center of Development (COD) to 24 programs of UST. In 2015, UST received the highest number of accredited academic programs among private institutions. Four of these programs were from the Faculty. The philosophy program was recognized as a COE, while the literature, journalism, and communication arts programs were accredited as CODs. These recognitions are a good indication of the quality of the programs. However, not all disciplines acquired this status. What are the challenges in achieving the CHED’s accreditation?

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Challenges criteria




Before a program becomes recognized as a COE or COD, it must attain a certain number of points in the following criteria: instructional quality, research and publication, extension and linkages, and institutional qualifications. Asst. Prof. Jose Arsenio Salandanan, chairman of the Department of Communication and Media Studies, explained that in order to be accredited, the program needs to acquire the required points for each criteria or else it will be disqualified. “It's just like an entrance exam. If you did not make it in one area, there's a probability that you will not make it,” he said. Mr. Felipe Salvosa II, journalism program coordinator, also stated that one of the problems in the CHED instrument is it is tilted toward fulltime professors. It is a challenge for journalism and communication arts departments to meet the criteria as they have a lot of part-time faculty members and practitioners. For Dean Michael Anthony Vasco, different programs of AB meet the standards in instructional quality as around 30 percent of the tenured and full-time faculty members have doctoral degrees while 70 percent have master’s degrees. The extension and linkages criteria is not a problem as AB is one of the colleges in the University that has vigorously pursued internationalization. It is only in the research and publication aspect that the Faculty needs to improve more. This year, there are more than 80 full-time faculty members who have research loads. But for Dean Vasco, this number is not enough. “I think we need to have more faculty researchers. If we really want to make a dent in the research world, 50 percent of the total population of the faculty must be doing research. So far, it’s only one-third,” he said. However, faculty members said they are having a hard time doing research because of heavy teaching loads. Compared to other universities like De La Salle University which

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has 15 units or 15 hours a week of teaching, UST has a full-time load of 21 units. “[Faculty members] are usually bogged down by the teaching loads because it is really quite difficult to do research when you are teaching seven classes. Mahirap ‘yun talaga,” Asst. Prof. Chuckberry Pascual said. Prof. Camilla Vizconde, chairperson of the Department of English, echoed the same sentiment on the difficulty of having both teaching and research loads. “It’s really hard to balance the preparation for teaching with so much loads and the number of research. […] So if you’re going to have 15 units for teaching and you only have 6 units for research, there’s not enough time to do especially the data gathering,” she explained. Aside from classroom work, professors need to prepare for their lessons, check requirements, and allot some of their time for leisure and other activities. There are also professors who have administrative positions that require spending office time on campus, thus taking away some time for teaching and doing research. “Having more time is of course always better. Kasi on top of [the] research agenda of the department, we also have to contend, of course, with our faculty duties, ‘di ba? Parang kailangan mo pang mag-mentor. Kailangan mo ring magturo and be part of different committees,” Pascual said. However, Vasco said faculty members have the choice to deload teaching units and replace them with research units instead. There are also some faculty members who do research of their own accord. “If there are faculty members who [are] not given a research load or aral loads producing research, despite the absence of [research loads], the more that those with research loads would be able to produce research, hindi ba?” Vasco said.

Developments in the research field

However, Vasco acknowledged that there has been strong research

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consciousness among the faculty members. “The good thing is meron nang strong element na conscious na ang mga faculty to do research. That is the reason why, if you see the profile of the faculty, year in [and] year out, pataas nang pataas ‘yung dami ng faculty members na nagiging faculty researchers,” he said. In the journalism department, there is also a good sign of research consciousness now compared to the last 10 years when research was “almost nonexistent,” Salvosa said. In addition, AB produces the greatest number of academic journals in the University such as Kritike, the online journal of the Department of Philosophy. The Department of English has its Asian Journal of English Language Studies (AJELS), while the Department of Literature has its Unitas. “Journal is one of the first venues where you could disseminate your research. In other words, the journal is an important tool for knowledge production,” Bolanos said. Through the initiative of the University through the Office of the Secretary-General, a committee was established to support the maintenance of journals and bring them together under a single online portal, “It’s a good move din for secretarygeneral to have made a decision to finally make all of our journals open access. Thank you Lord, ‘di ba? Meron na tayong website. Malaking bagay ‘yun, kasi up to now there are some academe-based journals that remain for subscription,” Pascual said. Vizconde also acknowledged the advantage of having online access to journals for the dissemination of knowledge, as it does not only invite students and teachers, but also the international audience to contribute to AJELS. Moreover, having research centers in the University—the Research Center for Culture, Arts, and Humanities and Research Center for Social Sciences and Education—is a big help to fostering research. “Now there is more opportunity for

The good thing is meron nang strong element na conscious na ang mga faculty to do research. That is the reason why, if you see the profile of the faculty, year in [and] year out, pataas nang pataas 'yung dami ng faculty members na nagiging faculty researchers.

research, there are more research centers [...] There’s a lot more space, a lot more slots that have yet to be filled up by research,” Salvosa said. Full-time faculty members who are affiliated with UST research centers are deloaded of teaching units. In the case of Pascual, he was deloaded 12 teaching units, which means he would not teach four classes, but in exchange, produce research output at the end of the year and get compensated for it. However, there are still higher demands for the departments to produce quality research outputs. Ideally, every department in AB should have its own journal to foster research—13 academic journals for the 13 disciplines. But sustainability and the quality of publication are put into question. “We do not want to have a journal per department because the question of sustainability will be the big problem. […] Magsimula ka ngayon, after 2 years wala nang issue,” Vasco said. He also pointed out that there was a need to recognize the fact that the academic advancement of each department varies because some departments started their research agenda earlier than others.

UST’s commitment to excellence

Despite these challenges, the goal is to give better quality education to students. But all the departments must put in continuous effort. “Kasi ang goal kasi dito [ay] hindi lang makuha ‘yung title, ‘yung recognition. Ang focus dito is to improve the craft of teaching [and] improve research kasi ang number one question is sino ang mag-be-benefit dito kung ‘di ang estudyante,” Vasco said. Asst. Prof. Dennis Coronacion, Department of Political Science chairperson, said every recognition they achieve is a milestone for them. Receiving accreditation helps the department to improve. “[F]or us, it’s a source of prestige. It’s [the] government’s way of telling this University that you have acquired such title because you are doing a good job. So keep it up, you are the institution that sets the standards. In a way, ‘pag nakuha namin ‘yun, we would be proud,” he said. Salvosa agreed, adding that accreditations are “prestigious seals of good housekeeping,” which means the government recognized the quality programs in educational institutions. However, for Bolanos, although recognition can be an indication of the quality of a program, the problem is “the universities today are more focused on rankings, accreditations, and so on as opposed to whether the research that you produced actually will impact the society or not,” he said. “The problem is that we think that our goal is to become accredited or to get that recognition or this recognition. You only become COE when you are already COE. […] Hindi ka puwedeng maging COE if you’re not excellent in the first place,” Bolanos added. F

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X I V UL P P G BON OLO IQUEZ C . LD M ENR ERA JAN A. M E NE TE by FAARRIEN d e il y comp art b

am r g ro n of p 2 o -1 i t K i ? s e e n g h t le ra l t d i o e c D h t to e n i s ea ents d stu

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O PROVIDE quality education at par with global standards and equip students with 21st century skills—these are the aims of Republic Act 10533 passed in 2013 which established the K-12 program, expanding the basic education curriculum to 13 years with one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary, and six years of secondary education (four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school or SHS). As a result, the general education curriculum in college now has fewer units as some of the subjects will be taken by students during SHS. Unlike the previous 10-year preuniversity program, SHS has four strands and tracks: academic, technicalvocational-livelihood, sports, and arts and design, which students can choose from based on what they want to pursue after senior high. SHS graduates are expected to be ready for employment, entrepreneurship, and higher education by the age of 18. In 2018, the country welcomed its pioneer batch of SHS graduates. In light of the recent shift to K-12, the Flame asked freshmen Artlets if the program indeed helped them transition smoothly into college and also sought their thoughts on SHS. These were their answers. “I'd like to think that K-12 actually helped me transition a lot easier to college because of the ample time they gave us to decide on our actual career paths and where we wanted to go. And although the system has a lot of flaws, I think there were specific activities that it made us do which honed our crafts and [made us] realize what we wanted to be in the future.” Anika de Guzman, 1ASN2 “I used to think that K-12 will be a big help, but after two years… I’d like to think now that I just wasted two years of my life. I would’ve been a third year college student by now, just waiting for another [year] to graduate and start earning money to help my family, but no. I’m now currently a first year student, whose subjects taken last semester [were] almost the same as the subjects I took back in senior high. They told us that the subjects being taken in SHS will not be taken in college anymore, but I guess it was false too. K-12 didn’t really do much to help me adjust

into being a college student, it just held me back by two years.” Anonymous, 1HST “Bilang first batch ng K-12, masasabi kong experimental [siya] kasi maraming lapses katulad na lang sa subjects na sabi nila, 'yung minor [subjects] na kinuha namin sa senior high, hindi na namin kukuhanin ngayong college, pero kinukuha pa rin namin ngayon. Pero somehow, nakatulong pa rin naman ‘yun kasi parang nagbibigay siya ng time sa mga confused pa sa path na kukunin nila.” Paulyn Therese De Mesa, 1JRN1 “With regards to whether or not the K-12 curriculum helped me transition more smoothly into college, I would say yes. It is because the curriculum gave me an introduction to the subjects which I had taken or am currently taking at the moment. However, I do believe that whether or not the curriculum will help students transition more smoothly into college depends on the person and whether or not the strand or track he or she took in senior high is related to his or her current college program.” A. Cruz, 1BES2 “I feel like K-12 was a very controversial matter and I feel like it had a lot of cons as well as pros. But I feel like the pros outweigh the cons, so for me, it helped me transition to college smoothly because I feel like those two years helped me grow as a person. And as we all know, college is not just about academic growth but also your growth as a person, and K-12 helped me mature as a person, I guess.” Ghislain Faye Bautista, 1ASN2 “I personally think that the K-12 program helped in easing the transition from high school to college. However, the curriculum that came with it did not satisfy much of the expectations of us K-12 pioneers and our respective parents. Yes, the additional two years were helpful for us to really reflect on what we want to take in college and in the future, but the information being given to us in those years weren't as convenient as we thought. Unfortunately, the information given to us were actually the same information being taught to us in college. [...] If we were taught subjects in senior high school that are to be taught again in college, then why bother continuing the experiment DepEd has forced upon

students?” Issobelle Victoria Rodriguez, 1HST “To be honest, K-12 really did help me smoothly adjust [to] college… [It] gave me an overview on what is it like to be in college… K-12 really prepared me when it comes to the lessons, activities and even the research and studies that we did, giving us an idea on what is it like to defend a thesis… It was a good idea most especially that we want to be globally competitive as a country. The only problem is that DepEd is not totally ready… They did not think about what will happen after senior high school causing us freshmen to somehow repeat the subjects that we already took when we were in grades 11 and 12. Because of that, it looked like we just wasted 2 years.” Romina Celina Faylon, 1JRN3 “Frankly speaking, K-12 was not a smooth process and [also] in terms of education. [...] The task was not easy, it never was, but at the very least I believe that it greatly helped me in honing my skills and overall humanity as a person. And I think that it's what I need in order for me to succeed in college.” Lance Aaron Punzalan, 1BES1 “Sa tingin ko, ang K-12 program ay isang [preparasyon] sa mga estudyante para maging ready sila sa college. And I think na malaki ang naitulong ng K-12 dahil doon, natagpuan na namin 'yung mga kailangan naming i-take sa college para hindi na namin sila kailangang i-take dito ngayon. Dahil doon, mas madali 'yung naging pag-aaral namin at mas naging aware kami sa kung ano ang haharapin namin habang tine-take namin ang mga kursong gusto namin.” Maria Isabel Gallego, 1JRN1 “In my opinion, the K-12 curriculum did not help me transition better into college. The extra two years were a waste of time. The lessons and topics that were discussed were nothing more than what was taught in junior high, even how the teachers handled the students and the overall environment of senior high school was so much like junior high. The only thing that SHS may have prepared us for was the amount of stress that we would face in college. And honestly, even if I’m only two terms into [freshman year], I could say that SHS was still more stressful.” Ella Marie Mercado, 1JRN3

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EVALUATION An instrument for improvement or just another requirement? by HALEE ANDREA B. ALCARAZ and ANA GABRIELLE CEGUERA art by KATRINA NOVA O. BUYCO


ONE are the days when lecturers and professors can execute their individual teaching strategies without students having a say on it. The University requires that, for excellent education to be achieved, it has to listen to its indispensable stakeholders—the students—through a “comprehensive” faculty evaluation. However, as the students evaluate their teachers’ performances every semester, they have not been convinced with the effectivity of the faculty evaluation in improving the professors’ pedagogies; faculty members themselves are divided on whether or not the evaluation process yields any change.

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Encouraging growth

The main purpose of the faculty evaluation is for the faculty members to become better college educators, Assistant Dean Nancy Tabirara said. “It's a way by which we are able to ensure the fulfillment of the objectives of the programs and of the college as a whole,” she said. The standardized evaluation is prepared by the Office of Faculty Evaluation and Development under the Office of the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs. Its primary objectives are to enhance the instructional methods, promote sound education principles, provide monitoring assistance to the University, and assess the performance

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of the pedagogues. The evaluation has two parts: first is the objective part where students grade the performance of teachers presented in a questionnaire assessing their strategies, mastery, professionalism, and the like. Second is the subjective part where students are given a free space where they can comment down their praise, criticisms, and suggestions for a particular teacher. Determining a professor’s competency Some department chairs said the faculty evaluation is essential in fulfilling the responsibility of the University in giving quality education

sure na tinuturo ay maayos and na may natutunan sila everytime they get out of the classroom,” he said.

The consequences of low grades

to its students as it allows educators to improve their pedagogical approaches. “I think it’s not just for the Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) but for any institution, especially an educational institution, feedback is an important component,” Asst. Prof. Camilla Vizconde, chairperson of the English department said. This is because feedback provides “centric responses” on the implementation of different curricula and strategies, as well as teachers’ capacities in ensuring high-grade education, she added.

Department of Sociology Chairperson Asst. Prof. Josephine Placido asserted that this process is “very important” because there are some teachers who are not performing well. Meanwhile, for journalism lecturer Asst. Prof. Leo Laparan II, the evaluation personally helps him adjust to students’ needs. “I have to make sure they get the most out of the money that they paid [with], so one simple way of making their tuition worth [it] for them is pumasok everyday, magturo and make

Having a low evaluation grade has possible repercussions, Tabirara and some department chairs told the Flame. It is the program coordinators who give the evaluation results to the professors. When there are concerns or problems that need to be addressed, the dean calls for a face-to-face meeting with the teacher together with the department chair to discuss the evaluation results. The result, which implies a measure of the competency and abilities of a teacher, also determines whether or not an instructor on probation or a part-time faculty member will be rehired. Placido said that in her several years in the Faculty, during which time she served as one of the administrators and a member of the Faculty Council that oversees the teachers, there have already been various cases where a teacher was not rehired because of a low evaluation grade. “The University is very particular to put a professor or the teacher in the probationary. We have to see at least three or four years of their student evaluation. If they will be safe, they will be recommended for a probationary or tenureship,” she said. If a teacher is on probation, his or her three to four years of teaching will be monitored through the results of evaluations. On the other hand, a tenured professor has a permanent position as a faculty member.

No aid in improvement

However, some faculty members are not completely convinced of the effectivity of the faculty evaluation. Filipino professor Dr. Roberto Ampil said the evaluation does not fully determine a teacher’s efficiency to teach a subject matter because there are students who do not take it seriously or there are some who give low grades because of disinterestedness in the course.

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Citing academic freedom, Ampil said a teacher should not be dictated on how to handle his or her classes. “Hindi ibang tao [ang] magsasabi sa’yo kung anong dapat gawin mo, kasi no matter na gaano kaganda ‘yung sinasabi nila, pag in-apply mo na, hindi mo rin magagawa. So talagang ikaw pa ring teacher, kapag ando’n ka na, nakalublob ka na do’n, ito ‘yung klase ng estudyante mo, so i-a-apply mo ‘yung sarili mong strategy,” he said. Moreover, the evaluation does not really say much about teachers’ performances because of students’ “random comments,” Dr. Paolo Bolanos, chairman of the Department of Philosophy, said. “Sometimes the concerns are not even related to the course content, or the specific pedagogical style of the faculty. Minsan napaka-personal, napaka-subjective,” he added.

Students’ stance

If faculty members are divided on their stances, students are no different. History freshman Wida Echalar posited that the assessment is only “a little effective” for the same reason as Ampil: some students do not take it seriously. “Maybe it’s because the evaluation is too long and it gets boring to accomplish along the way,” Echalar said; even the teachers themselves give little regard to the evaluation results, she added. Further, she said some professors and instructors would still stick to their old way of teaching regardless of the evaluation results “rather than give the students the quality education they really deserve.” A senior history major who asked for anonymity also claimed that the evaluation does not change the quality of teaching given to the students. “Hindi naman laging isinasapuso ng [professor] ‘yung comments namin

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as students. We can give the lowest score on the [evaluation] sheet, leave criticisms on their teaching method, and still see them going around and teaching in AB with little to no change whatsoever,” he said.

“Ako, I’m just handling two or three subjects, malalaman mo kung sino ‘yung estudyanteng ‘yun… Dahil inaaral mo naman, kilala mo ‘yung estudyante, papaano ‘yung style ng pagsusulat, ganiyan,” she said.

Evaluators’ anonymity

Updating the instrument

The names and sections of student evaluators are not shown in the overall results that are given by the department chairs to the teachers. This gives the students protection from possibly being targeted by professors in class and makes the evaluation more effective as they are given the confidence to be honest in raising concerns on their professors or instructors. However, there are cases where professors do not take the comments well and get back at their classes, questioning the evaluation result they got. But how could teachers know who wrote the comments and gave the scores if students’ identities are really kept hidden? This has something to do with teachers’ memory retention, Placido explained. Because they know their classes, they can sometimes recall a student or a section along with an incident or something that they did which could be reflected in the comments. Laparan echoed this, saying students are really anonymous but there are hints in the comments that reveal which section they come from or who they are. “The way they write, the way they phrase their sentences, ‘yung mga jejemon magsalita, alam ko kung sino,” he said. This is also the case for some teachers with only a few loads, like Filipino professor Dr. Imelda De Castro, because they are more likely to remember their students.

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While the evaluation seeks to improve the delivery of education, some professors believe that the instrument should be updated. Placido recommended that the questionnaire be rectified and be more specific in certain areas. The questions in the evaluation forms should focus not on obsolete modes of teaching but also participation in community development projects and researches, as the University aspires to improve its research capacity. The evaluation form should also include research and suitable questions adhering to the needs of the students of today’s generation as the content of the evaluation is outdated, De Castro said. Further, the evaluation should be conducted not just once but twice— before or after the preliminary and final examinations—so the students can judge better and more fairly, she suggested. As of now, the focus of the University is on updating the curricula, Placido said, but she is hopeful that changes in the faculty evaluation and process could be the next agenda. “As a [chairperson], as a member of the council, we also saw that the evaluation has to be to be upgraded because, you know, iba na ang panahon ngayon,” she said. While they believe that the faculty evaluation could use some improvements, it cannot be denied that it is a salient tool that serves the needs of the University’s foremost stakeholders: the students. F


Snapshot of a busy road photo by MARLOU JOSEPH B. BON-AO @abtheflame |

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The search for the best candidate


ny Filipino would be lying if they say they have never once cared about the art of pageantry. The world seems to stop— dead, can’t even hear a pin drop silent— until the contestant representing the Philippines is announced as a finalist, or better yet, crowned the winner. Pageants are a big deal in the country, from the small contests in barangays to the prestigious Miss Universe, and rightfully so, for many Filipinos are blessed with talent, wit and beauty, and have brought pride and glory to the country over the years. There will be endless debates and bettings on who among the evening gown-clad women will win the competition. A beauty queen should not only be confident, graceful, intelligent, and kind; she must also be socially aware in order for her to use the platform to promote her advocacy. Just like how Filipinos tend to be picky with the beauty queens who will represent the country, they should also be critical in choosing the candidate they will vote for because the elections are more than a parade of pretty faces who will be seated in the government. Current candidates have been attaching their reputation to their appearances, taking extra care to present the most pristine and, at the same time, most makamasa versions of themselves that they can

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manage to produce. A few days after the campaign period started in February, a video of two ladies from San Fernando, Pampanga went viral after one of the women said she will vote for a certain politician accused of plunder simply because “guwapo siya at mabait.” It is almost laughable to witness the campaign period transition from a time of critical decision-making in choosing the next roster of legislators into the contest of looks and overnight virality it has become. Filipinos are now the panel of judges, and it has become a competition on who presents the best runway look and who shakes the most hands in the audience.


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These political hopefuls might as well wear paper crowns made from the numerous tarpaulins bearing their slogans scattered all over public places for all to see and remember their faces. Perhaps they should even add sashes hand-stitched from the taxes of the people they have managed to charm simply because they are “guwapo” and “mabait,” just to complete the image of pageant tomfoolery the elections have become. This coming midterm elections, the electorate must realize that their right to vote comes with the duty to elect the rightful candidates, those who will genuinely serve the Filipino people. After all, a democratic country like the Philippines should be “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Filipinos should go beyond the charming faces and catchy slogans and instead start getting to know each candidate—their background, their stands on important issues, and their platforms that will help better the state of the nation. They must not let themselves be fooled time and again by empty words and broken promises. The Filipino electorate must have a higher standard in choosing those who will serve them. They must look back and reflect on their decisions and the people they previously voted into power to see if they were really able to fulfill by their duties and uphold their promises rather than just choose candidates because he or she is good-looking or “kakaiba.” F

Way Beyond


Julia Mari T. Ornedo

Ali Ian Marcelino V. Biong

Defining Artlet leadership

Bobo-to ako!

It is once again that time of the academic year when rehearsed chants will reverberate through the walls of the building, accompanied by raised fists to achieve the full dramatic effect. As the seniors gear up to pass on their torches to the freshmen, who will be getting their first taste of ABSC general elections this year, perhaps now is as good a time as any to question the kind of politics that prevails in the Faculty. There is no gimmick under the sun that has not already been turned into a platform by Artlets vying for office. Candidates in past elections have proposed talent shows, discounts from ride-sharing services—as though such a big number of students are so affluent as to make use of those apps on a regular basis—and even the use of a QR code to inform Artlets of places where they can avail discounts from, because apparently, simply publishing the list of establishments the ABSC has partnered with is too simplistic and needs to be made more unnecessarily complex. Various social issues have not been spared by Artlet candidates, either. From medical issues like HIV and breast cancer all the way to the sociopolitical issues plaguing our brothers and sisters in Mindanao, candidates have left no stone unturned in their search for “relevant” issues that they can turn into an advocacy. After planning out their platforms and preparing their list of credentials, ABSC hopefuls then move on to what is arguably the most entertaining part of election season that will never fail to elicit a few cringes from the audience: room to room campaigning. Candidates will make use of anything from selfdeprecating humor to “hugots” to get the attention of the Artlets. Yet oftentimes, when the question and answer portion of the campaign comes, the candidates shed every last inch of the bravado they displayed during their memorized speeches and turn meek when answering questions, seemingly lacking faith in their own capabilities and platforms. All these examples point to the obvious fact that politics in AB tends to be shallow, which is the last thing that one would expect from a liberal arts college full of feisty and vocal students. This is a problem exacerbated by the refusal of Artlets to take part in local politics by bringing their fresh perspectives to the table, leaving their fellow students with no choice but to elect the same kinds of candidates bred by the same old political parties over and over. When the seniors graduate in June, they will take with them the last traces not only of the old curriculum but also, hopefully, the old style of hollow politics that has dominated AB for years. As the freshmen rise up to rein in a new era of Artlet excellence, may they not merely grow into the decrepit molds of leadership that will be left to them by their predecessors, but discover new ways to propel AB forward and force students to think and take action in a manner that will truly bring the Faculty glory and pride. F

Hoy mga bobo! Anong karapatan niyong pagsalitaan nang masama si idol Attorney G? Ako, fans niya na ako simula no’ng muramurahin niya ‘yung mga tagasunod no’ng dating chief justice ba ‘yon!? Basta, ‘yun! May nakuha pa nga tayong magandang meme doon, e. ‘Yung iba bang politiko o abogado, kaya ba ‘yun, ha? Wala! Kasi si Atty. G lang may kaya noon, mga bobo! ‘Di gaya niyong mga trolls at Dilawan, pareho kami ni Atty. G na mga TRUE-BLOODED MARCOS LOYALIST. Pinaglalaban namin ang tama. Sino bang may pake do’n sa sinasabing bilyong pisong ill-gotten wealth ng mga Marcos na DIUMANO ay ninakaw? Sabi nga ni Atty. G sa debate, sinauli na raw ng mga Marcos ‘yung ari-arian nila sa bansa, tulad no’ng mga mansyon, paintings, at ‘yung Sto. Niño shrine. O, kita? Nagsauli ang mga Marcos ng mga yaman kahit WALA namang ninanakaw sa simula’t sapul? Kaya niyo ba ‘yun? Inosente ang mga Marcos at sa totoo lang, masuwerte pa nga ang Pilipinas kasi nabigyan ng yaman, e! Lalong ‘di ko kinaya no’ng sinupalpal ni Atty. G ‘yung mga Dilawan ng katotohanan: “Hindi ako naniniwalang may nakaw na yaman ang mga Marcos. Walang pera ang Pilipinas, paano mo nanakawin?” Sa palagay ko tameme kayong mga trolls kayo ‘no? WALA KAMING PAKE kung napatunayan na guilty si idol Imelda Marcos ng pitong kaso ng grap! Graff? Gruft? Basta! Lahat ‘yan pakana ng mga Dilawan na bayaran na ‘yan! Dapat lang na mainggit kayong mga Dilawan kayo sa LOGIC ni Atty. G! Dapat lahat tayo maging kasing talino ni idol, ‘no! Abogado kaya ‘yun? Kaya ko nga siya iboboto sa darating na eleksyon, e! Kung ikaw hindi, e ‘di isa kang bobo! Excited na nga akong panoorin lahat ng mga debate pa ni Atty. G! Kasi masasaksihan na naman natin ang talino niya! Basta ‘wag lang talaga sa University of the Philippines gaganapin, mga komunista kasi doon e! At ano ba ‘yang red tag na ‘yan? Nakakain ba ‘yan? Pa-red tag red tag pa kayong nalalaman mga bobo naman kayo! At tama nga naman si Atty. G; mas marami talagang human rights violations noong panahon ng mga Aquino ano! Anong tawag niyo doon sa Mendiola masaker? Hacienda Luisita? SAF 44? Naku, lalo na ‘yang Yolanda! Kasalanan ni Panot! Ano naman kung may report report pa na 9,000 daw na Pilipino yung nakaranas ng human rights violation? E malamang naman mga komunista ‘yun! Pasalamat pa nga kayo e hindi tayo nasakop nina Sison! Tama lang na may martial law. Kaya kung ako sa inyo, iboboto ko talaga sina idol Atty. G at ‘yung mga kapartido niya, ano! ‘Wag kayo maging bobotante, ha! Para sa bansa! Gising na Pilipinas, ‘wag na magpapalokong muli. Iboto ang tama, ang may kredibilidad, at may prinsipyo. ‘Wag dahil sikat lang, o guwapo, o kasi artista. ‘Wag yung mga sumikat kasi naging meme, ha? F @abtheflame |

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Sapienti Sat


Corheinne Joyce B. Colendres

Luis Miguel B. Arucan

The power of protest


Youth development is an important aspect of the formation of society. As the next generation that will advance what is already established or fix the broken remnants of what their forefathers left for them, the youth holds a pivotal role in nation-building. However, when the figures of authority who promised to uphold the standards of the youth’s development end up turning their backs against the people whom they swore to serve and protect, one must acknowledge that dark times truly lie ahead. The National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairperson Ronald Cardema’s haunting proposal to revoke the scholarships of students who take part in alleged antigovernment antics drew flak from lawmakers, citizens, and various groups. Despite his statements, the support for the youth remains strong; people reiterated that enabling the youth to voice out their opinions on relevant matters allows them to think critically and to engage in healthy discourse. Most importantly, they echoed the importance of inspiring the youth to care for the nation instead of growing up ignorant of their surroundings—a point which the NYC chair must have overlooked. On the other hand, the issue of taking away a student’s right to education because of the exercise free speech is another matter that must be looked into. Education is the first path to building efficient young citizens. To take away something so imperative will ultimately cause the downfall of youth development. If Cardema’s focus is on students who may be linked to what he claims are antigovernment groups, then they should be investigated through legal means. There should be reasonable grounds. The suggestion to take away their education is truly unrelated. Regardless, the chairperson’s viewpoint remains to be a distressing matter because people are forgetting the power of protest. As a supposed champion for the youth, Cardema should have been one of those people who remember how the power of protest won us our rights and our freedom. Protests enable us to be heard and present opinions and platforms that can make things better. These actions have influenced people to take a stand for themselves and for those who could not because something wrong is occurring. A protest is not about being an “anti” for the simple sake of being against something. A protest is about being heard and urging people to come together and rectify what is wrong. As the next generation, the youth’s pivotal role in nation-building lies within their development as citizens of this nation. The youth is shaped by allowing them to make their own choices, to think for themselves, to speak up and stand out, and to realize the thin line between right or wrong. We will only have a better world if we finally understand that it takes a village to raise a child. F

With a heavy heart, Pope Francis courageously stood behind the podium to face 190 male prelates. He finally addressed the Church’s decades-long issue of child abuse. The result was disappointing. I implore the reader to open his mind to new perspectives before reading on. If you are religious, acknowledge that I will only respect your right believe and not your beliefs themselves. Nothing, not even religion, can be guarded on a pedestal and not be held accountable for the evil that exists because of it, regardless of whether the evil was committed in its name or as a result of its practices. The Pope should be applauded for raising the issue of pastoral child abuse to the global stage for the first time. However, his solution is flimsy and is as spineless as the abusive preachers themselves who he is trying to combat. The Pope proposed 21 ‘reflection points’ that are nothing more than a half-step toward a true solution. Pastoral child abuses are clearly not committed by clergymen in the name of Christianity. It can even be argued that the crimes are committed in spite of Christianity, by predators who take advantage of the Christian clerical structure and belief system. However, it is statistical nonsense to believe that this is the case for the majority. The deplorable state of life in celibacy that the faiths of sincere clergymen force them to live is catalyst for “sin,” in religious terms. It is clear that clergymen “fall into temptation” because of a few Bible verses that were loosely interpreted to mean that they must refrain from legally satisfying their perfectly human need for sex. There is no quick and easy solution to the problem. The Pope’s failure to draft a concrete plan of action is reason to believe that the Vatican conference will just as well not produce concrete results in the future. I can be proven wrong by the actions that might be taken by the Catholic institutions in nations around the world. The consequent conviction of Cardinal George Pell, one of the Pope’s top aides, is an optimistic hint of justice to come. However, if the Pope’s 21 reflection points prove to be ineffective, as I predict them to be, it should be taken as a call to action. Pastoral child abuse is the biggest moral issue that the Church has faced since the selling of plenary indulgences in the 16th century, and requires a solution on the scale of the reformation. Should the Church be reformed again? The national police serves the essential function of preventing lawlessness and criminality. The government exists to keep us away from life in the state of nature that is “nasty, brutish and short,” as Hobbes put it. The police and the government are necessary institutions and therefore deserve to be reformed should they fall into immorality and corruption. In contrast, a second reformation of the Church simply seems pointless. Better leave those thoughts on the door just as Luther did. F

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@abtheflame |


Millennial Detox

Fate Emerald M. Colobong

Mark Joseph B. Fernandezt

Scared of writing this

The commerce behind streaming platforms

On July 5, 1991, the Philippine government enacted the Campus Journalism Act, which aims to protect the freedom of campus journalists and campus publications. However, what good is a law that protects the establishment of a free campus press if school administrations can decide that they are bigger than the law? In my two years of writing in the Issues or special reports section of the Flame, first as a staffer and now as the section editor, I was often asked if I am not scared of writing articles that might “trigger” the administration, especially now that I’m a graduating student. There was also a time when one of my sources asked me if my press freedom was being trampled upon. That time, I was working on an article about a controversy concerning UST and its values. Only one person out of the seven people in the University’s administration I contacted and requested an interview with—a representative of the student body—answered. The rest refused to talk. About the question, I initially answered: No. As a Flame writer, I have the freedom to pursue and write any story or issue as long as it is relevant. Not even the Faculty administration controls the stories we write. No one stops me until I begin my legwork and sources come to play. So, in response to the interview question, I added: “At the end of the day, because I need the input and the side of the sources, we cannot a publish a story that is half-baked; it would still depend on them if they would answer. But, although there are some generous enough to grant interviews, in most, if not all cases, they don’t.” Also, there is the fear of possible threat from the administration. But on the issue of harassment from sources, I haven’t experienced one yet. However, regardless if there is any, in an institution where the ascendancy of students over the University’s higher ups is so slender to the point of naught, the only thing we can do, in my experience, is to tread very carefully, lest we be accused of being too anti-establishment. In a report by Rappler, University of the Philippines journalism professor Danilo Arao said the campus press, like mainstream media, also plays a huge role in informing not just the student body, but the public as well, of relevant issues which help shape opinions and preserve freedom of speech and expression. I cannot argue that the freedom of press is absolute, but where is the line? In the education we received from the University, we were taught as student journalists to stand up, fight, and seek the truth. But suddenly, a new line is drawn by that very institution, which hinders you from exercising or doing the very thing it taught you. So you stand back, they say, and just wait for their official statement. The "official statement” of the institution, the administrators, the ones relieving themselves of accountability over their own actions and decisions with rhetorics. F

Before the rise of the New Media Age wherein people can easily access aural and visual materials for recreational purposes using the internet, movie and song rental retailers were some of the main avenues for home entertainment besides free television programs and movie and song title shops. These rental retailers were essential for people who did not want to buy a specific movie or album permanently and instead wanted to indulge on a specific title only for a short period of time. For Filipinos, music television and FM radio channels were the former avenues most used to listen to the latest song hits, but for movies and television series, rental retailers such as ACA Video and Video City were the top establishments visited by audiences other than movie houses and permanent movie title shops. It has been long since movie rental retailers were phased out from the Filipinos’ consuming habits, but the trend of renting movie and song titles instead of buying them for good continued with the rise of the technological era. Now, Filipinos are starting to embrace the phenomenon of subscription-based streaming platforms, which is the digital version of aural and visual rental retailers, and many have been subscribing to such platforms. Some of these known streaming platforms that are especially popular to Filipinos are Netflix and Spotify. The former is a paid streaming service that offers a multitude of movies and television series that viewers can watch repeatedly, while the latter is also a paid streaming service that offers loads of songs and online podcasts that people can listen to through the convenience of their electronic gadgets. The introduction of Netflix and Spotify were mostly praised for the convenience, satisfaction, and ease that they give to Filipino consumers in the palm of their hands. Some consumers are even too enthusiastic with the streaming services that they would rather pay for those than avail of cable television subscriptions or buy album titles. For others consumers, though, they perceive Netflix, Spotify, and other similar streaming services as a capitalistic opportunity for conglomerates to cash in funds from people who are trying to find ways to spend less for recreation. They mask these streaming services as an avenue to pay less while enjoying the freedom of watching and listening to titles much like a rental, even though these services just make people waste money because, in reality, not every title can be watched or listened to in a short period of time. Still, some Filipino consumers still prefer to rent movies and songs using these streaming platforms despite the claims of others because these help them manage their funds more efficiently, especially with the current state of the country’s economy. With the spiking taxes and fees in the country, Filipino people who are extremely affected by these will need to sacrifice some of their costly leisures to compensate for the sudden changes affecting their income, which includes the recreational activities of watching movies and television series and listening to music. Before, movie and song title rental retailers were loved by people who just wanted to spend less on their leisures, but now, some are availing rental streaming platforms just to avoid the extra costs of buying movie and song titles for good because people simply cannot afford it in this present economy. F @abtheflame |

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Life in Escolta photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS

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@abtheflame |


Rough outlook photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS @abtheflame |

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benjo GUTIERREZ wields his pen for the people by ROMMEL BONG R. FUENTES JR. and LORRAINE B. LAZARO

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@abtheflame |

photos by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS


NCE MOVING to the beat of the music, Benjamin Joshua “Benjo” Gutierrez is now moving to the rhythm of his

words. The former Salinggawi Dance Troupe captain used to participate in cheerdance competitions for the tiger university, but since bagging his diploma, he found himself focusing more on a much bigger fight: a fight to let people know the harsh reality of life, which he faces through writing. “Nabuhay ako sa cheerleading; ‘yun ang bumuhay sa akin. Pero for me, tapos na ako sa phase na ‘yun. May mas [malaki] na ako na kalaban, may iba na akong ipinaglalaban,” he says.

A writer for others

As a cheerleader from high school up to college, Benjo, who used to juggle his priorities and responsibilities for both his academics and extracurriculars, has entered into the world of creative writing and uses his words to create an impact on his readers. Venturing into his chosen path, the writer assumes the role of a messenger to show the situation of society and convey a message of action. Benjo believes that writing is a medium to tell other people’s stories and to present the world in a different perspective. “Wala kasing malaki o maliit na istorya, lahat ‘yan may ma-i-she-share na hindi mo alam, kailangan mo lang makinig. Tayo ‘yung nagiging way na iparating ang istorya nila. They need our help as writers,” the raconteur expresses. Coming from a destitute area in Taguig City, Benjo writes about his hometown and the challenges surrounding it. He writes for his community in the hopes of reaching out to the well-off members of society. “Kasi kung sila (mahihirap) pagbabasahin natin, siyempre ‘di nila babasahin ‘yan. ‘Kakain muna ako, kakayod muna ako, ba’t ko babasahin yan?’ [...] Ang merong oras niyan [ay] ‘yung mga nasa taas, sila ‘yung audience ko. Sila ‘yung gusto kong makatok para masabi na, ‘Uy, may ganito tayo. Anong gagawin mo as a Filipino citizen? As kababayan?’” he explains. Currently, the decorated writer is taking up his postgraduate studies in creative writing at the UST Graduate School and is continuously improving his skills through engaging in writing workshops. This April, he is set to take part in the UST National Writing Workshop, the 19th installment of the annual summer writing workshop of the Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies, which will be happening in Baguio City.

Excited yet nervous, Benjo believes that no matter how terrifying the workshop may seem, it will only help him understand the technicality of writing and apply it in his style. “‘Pag umupo kami doon, gigisahin ‘yung mga gawa namin isa-isa, pero siyempre ‘di tayo gagaling nang gano’n lang, nang wala tayong ginagawang steps [to improve] ourselves,” he adds.

A path for improvement

For him, it was evident during his high school years that he was meant for the creative and artistic field. “No'ng nasa science high school ako, inisip ko na bakit ‘di ako magaling sa ganito, ‘di ako magaling sa ganyan. Feeling ko ‘yun ‘yung way ng uniberso para sabihin sa akin na ‘di ka kasi para sa ganiyan. ‘Di ka kasi para sa science; you’re for the arts’,” he says. Despite his struggles in science subjects, the innate artist blossomed more in the field of literature and other related areas. “Matataas naman ‘yung grades ko sa English, Filipino, and ibang writing stuff. [Naisip ko], ‘May talent ako dito, bakit ‘di ko linangin?’” he shares. The self-taught writer pursued journalism in the University with the hopes of honing his writing skills and further strengthening his passion for it. He adds that he was influenced by his writing idol Lourd De Veyra, an alumnus of the same program. Throughout his stay in the Faculty, Benjo learned to love the craft more and use it to connect with people and their stories. “For me kasi, college is not about the high grades you make, but it’s about the number of hands you shake. Lalo na sa ating writers, mas kailangan natin ng connections,” he says. The impassioned wordsmith emphasizes that writing invests in people and in building connections. In this way, the gates for stories are opened and with them, the opportunity for more eye-opening lessons and realizations that are essential in life. As an improving writer who continuously sharpens his words and polishes his style, Benjo pushes himself to greatness, as well as those who are afraid to take a bold step and pursue their passions. “Start today. Unang una, ‘yung takot na ‘yan, takot lang ‘yan, pero ‘pag nagsimula ka ngayon, every day, ‘di mo mapapansin [na] mao-overcome mo na ‘yung takot mo. Pangalawa, walang maniniwala sa sarili niyo kundi kayo, so believe in yourselves, in your abilities, in your talent,” he imparts with a smile on his face and a sense of accomplishment in his voice. F

@abtheflame |

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Tyrone Nepomuceno brings life into the classroom by JOY THERESE C. GOMEZ and SYRAH VIVIEN J. INOCENCIO photos by MARLOU JOSEPH B. BON-AO

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@abtheflame |


LITERAL school of fish that needs to be fed is ironically what awaits Tyrone Nepomuceno as he wakes up at three in the morning. After he has sprinkled enough food in their aquarium, the history instructor positions himself in front of the family altar to offer a little prayer. He then goes on to eat breakfast to fill up for an eventful day ahead. Soon after, the senior high school instructor waves goodbye to his number one supporter, his mom, as he steps out to go to work. “Her honesty and care for others influenced me as an educator and a person in general,” he shares. He takes the LRT, but upon arriving, a small part of Tyrone wishes he had just booked a ride instead because of the massive and unforgiving crowd at the station. This setback serves as a reminder for him to play his role efficiently, for society evidently still has a lot of room for improvement. “Sa pagtuturo ko, I should transform the lives of people—dapat makapag-produce ako ng mga tao na mas magaling sa’kin kasi ‘yun naman talaga ang teaching: dapat makapag-produce ako ng better versions of myself,” he says.

A deeper sense of accountability

After a quick visit to his office in BGPOP, Tyrone heads to the St. Raymund’s building to teach his first class at 7 a.m. At the entrance, some of his former students from AB spot him and nod politely. As he walks, he is quickly greeted by his current senior high school students in the hallway who follow him into the classroom. While praying before the start of the class, the caring instructor catches the eye of one of his students who confided in him some of her personal problems the other day and gives her a reassuring smile. "Sa college kasi, more on mentors ang teachers. Sa senior high, parang mas matimbang ata ang maging parent ka sa kanila. Sa senior high ko talaga na-discover ang realidad na kahit ang saya ng

pinapakita sa’yo ng bata, meron pala silang pinagdadaanan,” he shares. Marker in hand, Tyrone kickstarts his discussion about globalization by surveying what it means to his students. The lively class shared some insights that the energetic history instructor later incorporated into his lecture. He roams around the classroom jumping from one ideology to another, allowing the students to have a panoramic view of the lesson. Tyrone casually brings up some trivias and anecdotes which his students find to be entertaining. “Ang focus ko sa teaching, why and how. [‘Yung] who, what, when, it follows. In the first place, memorization is the lowest form of learning. Dapat understanding ang focus. And when you understand something, it follows that you memorized the important parts,” he stresses.

Extending his hand to the community

After his morning class, Tyrone drops by the Simbahayan Community Development Office and brainstorms with other coordinators for upcoming projects. Aside from being a dedicated teacher, he is also the community development coordinator for the SHS department, striving for people empowerment and spiritual growth. As he explains the work of Simbahayan to his fellow coordinators, Tyrone cannot help but reminisce a moment in the community that struck his heart the most. He once prepared a pilgrimage for an underprivileged community when a mother came to him and burst into tears, touched by the gesture. “May mga ginagawa kaming projects na para sa amin, wala lang, pero for them, big deal. It makes me cry kasi na-realize ko na ang ganda ganda ng buhay natin,” he shares.

Passion and dedication enveloped Tyrone as he referred to his continuous work for the community as his greatest achievement. He adds that the pinnacle of the knowledge he acquired as an Asian studies (bachelor’s) and history (master’s) graduate is reflected in his contributions to the community. “Nakikita ko talaga diyan ‘yung competence, compassion, and commitment. [...] Wala akong pakialam sa awards, sa degrees na nakuha ko kasi gusto ko lang naman do’n ‘yung learning. Siguro kahit nasa death bed na ako, ang huli kong maiisip na nagawa ko is community development,” he says.

‘God first, country second’

The meeting concludes and an afternoon class awaits Tyrone. He comes in the classroom eager to impart his knowledge to students who are willing to learn. In all of his classes, he always has one message to convey: “God first, country second.” “Hangga’t malakas ‘yung katawan natin, ‘yung utak natin, dapat umaksyon tayo to make the society a better place. ‘Wag din nating kalimutan, baka mamaya pinaglalaban natin ‘yung bayan pero nakalilimutan mo naman na manampalataya sa Diyos,” he stresses. The clock then strikes half past six in the evening. His tiring day has come to an end. He walks across the campus and heads to the Santisimo Rosario Church to unwind. “I feel comfortable when I’m inside the Church kasi may mga pagod ako, may mga sama ako ng loob na hindi ko masabi sa human beings but I can tell God those things. That’s the best communication for me. After talking to God, I feel bliss,” he expresses. Tyrone leaves the church relaxed and contented with enough energy to face yet another exhausting commute. He then arrives home and heads to bed enjoying the feeling of a hard day’s work, knowing that he will wake up tomorrow and do what he loves again. F

@abtheflame |

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A speech therapist's pledge photos by KARL PATRICK R. MARCOS


EYOND the pristine and lovely neighborhood of Blue Ridge B, Quezon City is a sanctuary for life-changing miracles: Maria Lena Buhay Memorial Foundation Inc., the country’s first oral school for the deaf. Every day, the foundation’s cherished schoolchildren with bright smiles and big ambitions are given a chance to experience the world better through a rekindling of their God-given gifts. Each day is another opportunity to maximize their potentials through the caring efforts of motivators who believe in and never give up on them. Heading the school is a teacher and a mother who embraces each child with love. Leticia Buhay talks with the students while noticeably enunciating every single word slowly. Whenever one child is unable to respond, the understanding mentor would smile and patiently repeat what she said in order to be understood. Leticia wakes up every day in anticipation to meet with the children who seek her genuine care and love. Instead of just thinking about herself, she tries to ease other families’ plights by blessing them with her gift: giving a voice to the voiceless. The foundation offers speech therapy to tend to the needs of the children. Through oral exercises, the kids slowly begin to manage minute utterances. Just like a bird watching her chicks fly, Leticia relishes in the sight of a child given an opportunity to grow and become the person he or she wishes to be. Her smile exudes patience and compassion that speaks louder than words. For more than three decades, Leticia has been running the foundation that has given a lot of deaf children a chance to talk and be heard. This is all thanks to her fascination with speech and love for children, specifically her late daughter, Lenlen.

Honoring Maria Lena

With a smile on her face, the caring mother’s eyes followed the students who reminded her of Maria Lena or Lenlen, who also had an encompassing love for deaf children. “She would go with me every time I see my patients here. We converted this into a small room first before the school. I would bring her with me because she was so interested in my work,” Leticia shares. Teacher Mom, as she is fondly called, remembers her daughter wanting to take up a speech therapy program after bagging a psychology degree, but in April 1986, tragedy struck the family when Lenlen succumbed to leukemia.

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@abtheflame |

It is something that money cannot pay for. It is something different that it is so very satisfying that no amount of money can pay for what you feel. I suppose I was meant for that: to help people with deficiency.

“It became more meaningful that we open a school in her memory,” she says, reminiscing how her daughter would tell her about her hopes of opening her own school for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Looking back

Leticia went inside her office and walked across a wall full of books that were donated during their annual garage sale to help with the expenses of the foundation. Also on the wall, besides posters of numbers and the alphabet, are the certificates she had accumulated throughout her career. The young Leticia was always so mesmerized by the power of speech that she took up a master’s degree in English at the University and pursued further studies abroad after finishing philosophy. She then came back to the country and immediately grabbed the teaching position for public speaking at then Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. Nostalgia caused Teacher Mom to grab an album full of mementos. She shared the story of the foundation’s birth with the staff. Leticia flipped to a page full of photos of her patients who pushed her to establish an oral school alongside Lenlen. “I said, ‘I have been teaching for 28 years or so. I have helped a lot of students so it’s time naman to help those who have less in life like the hearing impaired’,” she recalls. The staff were awestruck. They realized that the time and effort to help their students achieve their dreams is the greatest act of love that they can do. Teachers Manet Lopez and Norman Lopez have dedicated long years of service to watching the kids grow. They, too, have learned and reaped rewarding accomplishments from teaching their students. “Minsan ‘di ba ‘yung iba hindi talaga nakapagsasalita. Dapat patient ka kasi talagang

paulit-ulit ‘yung mga sasabihin mo sa kanila,” Teacher Manet says. “Tapos ‘yung mga batang ito, visual din sila sa lipreading. Overall, patience talaga.” “Mas madaling magturo doon sa regular school. Siyempre, [ang] perception ng tao, bingi sila. Challenge ‘yung maturuan sila. Kung ‘yung hearing ‘yung naturuan mo at natuto, masaya ka, pero what more kung sa hearing-impaired? Iba ‘yung feeling,” Teacher Norman also shares.

Listening through the heart

With the advocacy to help children who are deaf or hard of hearing, Leticia has proven that, with the burning desire to help these children, nothing is impossible to those who believe. “It is something that money can’t pay [for]. It is something different that it is so very satisfying that no amount of money can pay [for] what you feel. I suppose I was meant for that: to help people with deficiency,” she expresses. The 86-year-old speech teacher has offered all her life for the foundation and, despite the fact that her health is waning, she still goes on with her day and watches these children’s journeys to a well-lived life. Seeing the children speak and live colorful lives is something that the foundation and Leticia is proud of. This work has helped her realize her purpose in life. “It changed me in a way that I’m not thinking about myself anymore. I’m thinking about helping people,” she shares. “We believe that, given the time, they will be able to do what we can do and be welcome in our talking world.”F SYRAH VIVIEN J. INOCENCIO and LORRAINE B. LAZARO

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Creating art out of trash photo by SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA

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Two monks take a closer look at a display photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS @abtheflame |

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y t i c e h t n i e m o h s ’ a l o L by DOMINIQUE NATHANIELLE M. MULI



MIDST the line of foreign restaurants on the lavish road of Tomas Morato, an old houseturned-restaurant stands to prove the sublimity of panlasang Pinoy, which guests are bound to return to. Named after its own address, Limbaga 77 Cafe and Restaurant aims to cater to Filipinos with delectable Filipino dishes while maintaining its old house structure with modern interior to let guests feel at home—just like eating a meal in their grandmother’s house while on vacation. Sonny Fortuna established the cafe in December 2014 with the decision to go for Filipino food despite the swarming of foreign cuisines, because “we can never say we could eat them every day. We will always search for panlasang Pinoy,” he says.

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Fortuna recalls that, at first, they were overwhelmed by the support of customers and struggled with food consistency. He also remembers the awkward relationship the staff initially had with each other, but through their customers’ comments and suggestions, they were able to improve. “After all, it’s where we see what’s right and wrong the most: when we’re in action,” he says. The owner adds that he is thankful that the staff he started with are still with him until now, treating each other as siblings. Today, Fortuna is confident in Limbaga 77’s food and customer service—products of good leadership and teamwork. Indeed, with cooperation among the crew comes good food on the table. For starters, their hit appetizer Stuffed Bulaklak ng Kalabasa is sure

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to surprise diners. No one would think that these orange flowers could be palatable as they are usually discarded, but stuffed with ground pork and cheese and covered in a crispy layer, it brings a wave of freshness to the Filipino menu. To take one’s awakened taste buds on a trip, a good acerbic soup is the perfect choice. The red citrusy slices floating in this main dish would surely be mistaken for tomatoes but they are not. With the amount of sourness that is enough to sting but not enough to hurt, their Sinigang na Baka sa Pakwan could possibly be the new player in the Filipino cuisine game. The flavor burst would make one sip some more and look for rice. Another Filipino favorite is the usual Beef Morcon, but Limbaga 77 added its own touch, transforming

77 Sct. Limbaga Street, Diliman, Quezon City

it into Chicken Morcon: a saucy, mouthwatering dish with ham, cheese, and cubes of crispy carrots inside that accentuate the pungent flavor of the sauce. Next in the array of Limbaga 77’s classic Filipino dishes is a luscious tomato-based stew called Beef Pochero. It is another saucy dish mixed with pechay, chorizo, and slices of banana to complement the tomato’s sourness with sweetness. This stew is very reminiscent of a Filipino lola’s recipe that brings the family together. Of course, what is a Filipino restaurant without a tantalizing vegetable dish? The restaurant’s Limbaga 77 Stuffed

Laing is something a veggie lover should not miss. Some may normally not eat laing due to its unpleasant texture when not cooked properly, but this would sweep guests off of their feet with its added juicy ground beef. If looking for a scrumptious, mildly spicy ulam, then this one is a must-try. To get rid of the tangy aftertaste, accompany Limbaga 77’s meals with Mabuhay Smoothie, a satisfying shake made with coconut milk syrup, pineapple, and celery. A simple dessert called Perlas ng Mangga may also be ordered even if it is not included in the menu. It is a cold and creamy treat with small slices of ripe mango,

tapioca pearls, topped with cherry and served in a cocktail glass for that hint of glam. Although the world is rapidly changing and consistently drives the establishments and businesses in Morato further away from the Filipino identity, Limbaga 77 stays true to Philippine heritage, adapting trends, accepting challenges, and innovating food without disturbing the home they have created for Filipinos to enjoy. There may be lots of competitors, but the “bahay ni lola” in the urbanized area stays proud of what they do and serves with their hearts. With harmony as its foundation, there is no wonder why this establishment continues to flourish. F

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96 West Avenue, Philam Homes, West Triangle, Quezon City


on a plate



N THE Philippines, family and heritage are two important things. They are the roots of tradition and, up to this day, people still value them. Food is another thing that can characterize the Filipino culture, which is why Shantung Restaurant decided to combine all three to share with everyone else. The Chinese-themed eatery is located along West Avenue in Quezon City and prides itself in offering authentic Chinese food derived from Shantung province in China. Manager Justin Chang shares that his late grandfather Joseph Chang Men-Chi was the one who migrated to the Philippines to begin his

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photos by SHANA ANGELA S. CERVANIA food business in Manila. The familyowned restaurant has been open for over 60 years and is still going strong. They offer a variety of Chinese food that has been somehow tweaked to suit the taste of Filipinos—and it truly does. Shantung Restaurant was the first to offer Hot and Sour Soup in Manila. It is served hot and contains murm, black vinegar, egg, and pork blood which perfectly suits those craving something warm for their tummies. Another specialty is their crunchy and juicy Fried Chicken, which will surely satisfy chicken lovers everywhere with each bite.

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Of course, what Asian celebration is complete without rice? Shantung offers their special signature Yang Chow Fried Rice that goes with everything. It is served with ham, egg, carrots, crab meat, peas, and shallots. It is definitely one for the books and worth every bite. For the dumpling lovers, get ready for their mouthwatering version of Steamed and Fried Dumplings, which are said to be “pot stickers” since they stick to the pot as they cook to perfection. One just has to pair it with the classic toyomansi combo and it is good to go!

Shantung also offers unusually delightful surprises in their dishes such as their Fried Intestine, which is served hot and flavorful as it is marinated in their “secret spices” and fried to attain that perfect texture. Chang admits he actually eats this dish as comfort food, something perfect to cheer someone up and satisfy one’s cravings. Beef Mami is also something that everyone can enjoy especially on a cold and rainy day. It is served with perfectly cooked noodles, topped with braised beef, cabbage, and egg all complemented by the warm, flavorful, and homey taste of the broth. The restaurant’s Lemon Fish is a sweet, citrusy twist to the fish fillet Filipinos know and love. The fish is tender and served with an irresistible lemon sauce that will certainly leave one wanting more. Each bite is delectable as the soft and chewy fish fillet satisfies one’s taste buds. Another unique twist to a common recipe is the Bacon Shrimp Roll, made with fresh ground shrimp cooked to perfection and wrapped with fried bacon. For sure, bacon lovers will fall head over heels for this irresistible number. Of course, who can forget another Filipino favorite, the Sweet and Sour Pork? No Filipino birthday, baptism, or karaoke night is complete without this classic dish as it is served with their signature sweet and sour sauce and topped with green pepper and onions. To wash down all of these delicious dishes, it is best to indulge in Shantung’s signature House Blend Iced Tea. To ensure the best quality, it is brewed and mixed with calamansi and ice to create the perfect blend of iced tea that pairs well with anything. If there is anything Filipinos know best, it is to always save room for dessert. Shantung Restaurant offers their delicious Buchi to satisfy those with a sweet tooth. These sesame seed balls are made with the best sticky texture and contain irresistible bread bean filling. Truly, Shantung is a hidden gem in the north that offers homey Chinese food just one ride away from the University. Chang shares that one will experience “A taste from simpler times” when eating at their restaurant. After all, it is best to remember that in the end, nothing makes food taste better than the strength of family and heritage. F @abtheflame |

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NFUSED with rich culture and heritage, the historic walled city of Intramuros is home to many of the country's monumental ruins, oldest churches, and ancestral houses. But apart from its history, in it dwells the living taste of a traditional Filipino home in the form of Patio de Conchita, a 26-yearold restaurant built and founded by the homeowners' great love for family and cooking. What started as a small kubo with only four tables, chairs, and Coca-cola

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A spoonful of culture

umbrellas is now a well-known restaurant in the area that serves sumptuous yet affordable home-cooked Filipino dishes. Its name is inspired by the woman who made everything possible: Mrs. Conchita Escosio. Now age 75, Escosio still sees to it that even until now, everything from the cooking process up to the serving time is done exactly in the same manner when it was established back in 1992. Upon entering the Hispanic fourstory home of the Escosio family, one will instantly feel a wave of nostalgia. Not to

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mention, the ordering process is still done turoturo style—a manner by which a customer points at the food to indicate his or her order. In fact, the restaurant maintains consistency through its handpicked and quality-controlled ingredients that are bought fresh from the market on a regular basis. In addition, they serve at least 64 kinds of authentic Filipino home-cooked dishes that are all Escosio’s own recipes. One of their bestsellers and noteworthy classic entrée is Sinigang na Ulo sa Miso, a delectable soul food that almost every Filipino family enjoys

680 Beaterio Street, Intramuros, Manila City

eating or cooking simply because it tastes like home and childhood together. The dish has a rich texture of miso-based broth that is perfectly paired with vegetables and their chosen fish head of the day. The soup is served hot and the serving size is ideal for sharing. The balance of sourness and the sharp taste coming from the fish go in harmony together. Truth be told, nothing really compares to an all-time Filipino favorite like their Lechon Paksiw. It is a classic dish with just the right amount of savory and sweetness that will delight one’s taste buds. If that is not enough, fear not, because they recommend it best indulged with any of their vegetable dishes such as their Ampalaya dish. Although it is simple with its thinly sliced ampalaya, eggs, and spices, it is a good choice to balance out the sweetness of the lechon paksiw. At an affordable price, one can already enjoy any of their pork dishes, a vegetable dish, and rice, with a free house-blended iced tea. The restaurant normally has a long line of customers, especially during lunch and early dinner time. They also provide catering services for small gatherings and occasions. Aside from aspiring to be known for serving traditional Filipino cuisine, part of their vision is to be distinguished as the leading turo-turo restaurant in the country. However, living up to their goals will not be possible without the support coming from their local community and the concerned fellows who are eager to save the dying traditions of the country. Nowadays, there are only a few restaurants similar to Patio de Conchita that continue to live by the idea of staying true to heritage. It is important for these establishments to see the beauty and uniqueness that come from keeping the essence of Filipino traditions alive, most especially in the celebration of food and family. Although much of the things about them may sound old-fashioned, the whole family behind the restaurant is dedicated to going further and satisfying every Filipino taste bud. Not only does Patio de Conchita support tradition, but it also brings to the table the idea of passing on the feeling of enjoyment and happiness that is brought about by eating home-cooked meals together as a family. Indeed, it proves that eating good food is always more gratifying with company. F @abtheflame |

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HALLENGES make us stronger and without them, life becomes somewhat meaningless because we will have nothing to compare our good times to. Facing challenges and living through them give people different experiences that make up their lives. One of the challenges humans are exposed to is the challenge called change. In the exhibit titled Resurface held from Jan. 14 to Feb. 4 at the Eskinita Art Gallery, four artists explored themes of renewal and resiliency, creating an atmosphere that gave the viewers a powerful and touching message to desire change for themselves. It delved into past experiences and confronted them with the strength and the determination to change for the better. One of these artworks shows that commotion in modern times seems to put people at war, not only with others but also with themselves. In Jeff Salon’s work titled Unleashed 2, he attempts to empower the new generation through images of his deemed legendary heroes Lapu-Lapu and Andres Bonifacio. It reflects the courage and passion to fight for one’s rights and

f o t r a The orphosis m a t me

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JOS tos by


the future of one’s nation. The mixture of surprise and amazement depicted in the face of the child shows his admiration toward these national heroes. With the hope of having the children lead the change in the nation, Salon uses the child as a representation of young people who can rise to their potential and make a difference. The vision set out by Salon in this piece is a world where the youth will be recognized and welcomed as leaders of change. Another artist who also believes in the overflowing potential of children is Rommel Ramota. In his work titled Centerpiece 2, he portrays a child as someone who earnestly yearns for infinite possibilities. The child, drawing from his imagination, shows his actual desire. More than toys or the newest technologies, what the child wants is peace—a peaceful home and a peaceful world. Ramota depicts children as actors who shall draw peace in the homes of every family, and eventually, cause a resurfacing of a society that will manifest the very calmness that his subject conveys. Another artwork that can surely capture one’s attention is Nelson Ricahuerta’s Lihim (secret), which was brought to life through oil on canvas. The technique of applying oil gave the piece a more expressive and dramatic effect. It mirrors a more melancholic approach to looking at the past. While Ricahuerta uses such a distinct background, his subject displays a hint of resiliency: a face of a woman telling the viewers that she has survived the toughest times and has come back stronger than before. People hit rock bottom, but what makes them

strong is the fact that they do not stay there. They claw their way up and out onto the surface and put themselves in a position of saliency. Facing life’s hardships and difficulties with boldness requires courage, and Ricahuerta’s subject shows the face of a woman who never gave up. Edwin Ladrillo based his artwork Renacido on the duality of endurance and surrender. Renacido is a Spanish word meaning “reborn.” The subject in this painting represents man and his forbearance. With the desire to change, the man constrains his worst impulses in order to allow thoughtful and wiser aspects of himself to govern what he says and does. Fragility can be seen in the subject as the man struggles to become a better version of himself. In the process of gradually finding himself, he must let go of some of the things that hold him back from moving forward. Another artwork by Ladrillo is titled Hold On. This piece gives a more decisive portrayal of reorientation. While in the first piece by Ladrillo, the subject struggles to change himself, this piece portrays a woman ready to move past her previous direction in life, both physically and spiritually. Looking back at her past which made her who she is now, the subject holds on to these memories to prepare for the next chapter in her life that she will embark on. The exhibit tells viewers that change can occur and be dealt with in many different ways. People usually think that change occurs when one moves to another place or when one loses someone very close to him or her, while some have come to the awareness that change can be the deepest of all things. It is true that it is a challenge to change, but the exhibit showed that change does not have to occur over a climactic incident. It is a process that can even begin overnight, when one’s mind winds up and one decides that it is time to do something different. F @abtheflame |

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Written in print: The art of rebellion words and photos by THERIZ LIZEL R. SILVANO


HERE must be an underlying meaning behind every craft in an art exhibition, whether it intends to apprise consciousness or to commemorate the idea of the artist. Artworks that are sketched and sculpted are frequently seen in art displays, but artists Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tomas Vu presented a different variation of art. In their collaborative performance and installation, Do We Dream Under The Same Sky, which was on display from Jan. 12 to Feb. 9 at The Drawing Room in Makati, the artists portrayed artistic revolution. Through texts and graffiti over photographs and silkscreen printing, the art show was unadorned yet honest and straightforward with its meaning. Attached to the gallery’s walls and floor are newspapers with graffiti that describe and detail the pieces on view. The audience is invited to observe the texts marked and challenge themselves with the conceptualism of the artistic movement. The room creates an alternative space for the visitors to interpret and contemplate on the phrases that were inspired by the opposition during the Mexican-American War in the years 1846 to 1848. The art show centered on the concept of “gringo,” an expression used by Latin Americans to refer to people from other countries, especially the United States and Britain. The interpretation of the word “gringo” varies. It is believed to have originated from the phrase “Green Go Home!” because the American soldiers wore green coats and were aiming to invade the land. Another folk etymology of the term is said to be derived from Mexico, when the American troops sang songs beginning with words “Green Grows…” such as Green Grow the Lilacs and Green Grow the Rushes, O. Moreover, the word also refers to someone who does not speak Spanish or is out of touch with Latin culture. A series of newspapers with graffiti in a huge speech balloon catches the viewers’ attention for its plain form but complex delineation of the phrases imprinted on each newspaper. Phrases such as “The days of this society is numbered,” “The infamous product of Western culture,” and “We don’t mix” were left for the crowd to ponder on. The artists were encouraged by social phenomena and inclined to produce a craft about what concerns society the most.

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Nicole Decapia, the gallery’s curatorial associate, explained the description of these terms, which are the manifestations of rallyists. “They (Tiravanija and Vu) got these phrases from the oppressed protestors. It’s the revolution about the oppressed, in which you’ll feel the resistance and people power,” she said. In addition, the underprivileged during the war were struggling not only because of the government but also because of unemployment and inequalities. They were yearning for justice and were hoping that their resistance would make an impact since they were treated insignificantly. Furthermore, this piece can make the audience sense the rebellious gesture of the artists mainly because they produced a craft that will result in increased consciousness among individuals about the imperfections of society. Another striking collaboration between the artists is Parang S/nadya Ko ‘Yan Para Pang Bstos, which President Rodrigo Duterte said as an insult to Rappler Malacañang reporter Pia Ranada during an interview. It signifies the deliberate attempt of the President to insult the reporter, which led the artists to form a revolutionary art that evokes realizations from the public. Thus, the viewers would be astonished at first sight of the piece for its remarkable impression, but once they learn about its denotation, they may feel a bit distressed. Silkscreen printing is another unique and expressive kind of art that is included in Vu’s primary media along with painting and installation art. The artist’s style incorporates the relationship between man and machine, which allows him to involve laser etching in his craft. Vu’s unconventional art can simply stun the audience for its novelty and significance that can be seen in the interpretation of every artwork. The show invokes the presence of rebellion, derangement of society, and the abusive use of power that does not only occur in one country, but all over the world. With resourcefulness and creativity, the artists revealed the purpose of their pieces, which is to illuminate society’s struggles and to show the importance of challenges in history that can still be observed today. F

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Masked expressions photo by IAN CARLO L. ARIAS

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A student at Benavides Park on Valentine's day photo by JOSE JAIME RAPHAEL TAGANAS @abtheflame |

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The Repercussions of Perversion by IAN JOZEL N. JEREZ and LORRAINE C. SUAREZ art by YANNI KAYE A. WINGARTS


Y FINGERS start skimming through the Subreddit at a nearbreakneck speed, filtering through its posts within a matter of seconds. With utmost patience, I search and scroll down, even as the hours near their way toward the break of dawn. My eyes begin to strain, but I pay them no heed. I dare not break eye contact, lest I miss even a sliver of fresh content. Nightfall has come and the single source of light to be found is the one emitted by my smartphone. It covers the room with a faint and hazy glow and illuminates my face with the seeming radiance of the sun. In an instant, darkness floods my vision. I savor it and enjoy the momentary relief it grants my eyes. I open them after a moment, followed by the struggle to readjust to the harsh lighting. With longing eyes, I focus on the screen once more. It was my little slice of heaven. I remember how it gave me many nights of fulfilled fantasies and eased frustrations. It was similar to the good old days, during those times when the content fulfilled my sexual impulses. It was all in the

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past now, and as of the present, new posts have been at an all-time low. I could not help but be annoyed. It was all the doing of a bunch of self-righteous people playing heroes. The Subreddit had recently come under fire because of their posts criticizing the community as a whole, calling them “manyakols” and “incels.” What was even worse is that they had brought enough fire to cause the holy grail to disappear, and silently, I mourned the loss of nearly a hundred gigabyte’s worth of photos. I was able to download some of them, to say the least. I was sure of that, but I was not guilty of it. I browse through posts that I have seen before, hoping to find a diamond in the rough. Instead, I come across one that badmouths the community even more. I roll my eyes unavoidably, as it is another thread that was created by the SJWs and white knights. They were not at all better than the people they condemn— claiming to be all for “equality” and “sexual freedom” but going above and beyond to stop a Subreddit created for the latter purpose. Right

now, they have become the very people that they wanted to fight: the oppressor. I scroll down and stare at the post. I rub my eyes before looking once more. It is unmistakable: before my eyes is a picture of my sister. The picture does not appear as salaciously alluring to my eyes, unlike most of the photos which I have fantasized over with my glorious hands. Silence consumes me as I feel my chest tightening upon seeing the photograph. It cannot be. It must not be her. In my utter shock, I freeze in spite of the warmth of the weather. I drift my gaze away from my phone and set it aside, disturbed by the content. I realize now how a single photograph is being ridiculously sexualized by other men. In this case, my own sister has become a victim of men’s eyes whose perversion can slice through the screens of their smartphones and laptops in their eagerness to fulfill their desires. I close my eyes in disappointment, not in what I have just viewed, but in myself. A single picture can change everything, be it one that appears sexually appealing to the eyes or one that looks entirely innocent. I open my eyes once more, hoping that I only mistakenly saw my sister’s picture on another social media platform; yet, it still lied right there before my own eyes. Nothing can ever be deleted from the internet once you have posted it, not even a photograph of my sister. For the first time in my years of perversion, I press the report button and lock my phone in complete stillness and guilt. F @abtheflame |

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Face carvers by ISABELL ANDREA M. PINE



E CAREFUL of face carvers or else you will lose yourself completely. This is a warning that is passed down to everyone in the village. No one knows what they look like, just that it would be too late if you spot one. Legend says that they disguise themselves as humans, sticking around those whom they wish to take the shape of. The longer they keep their victim’s form, the faster the victim disappears. You are one of these face carvers and no one has yet suspected a thing. The legend is greatly exaggerated; to your knowledge, no exemplar has ever disappeared. Yes, face carvers imitate their exemplar’s mannerisms, traits, habits, and personality, but never their essence, their soul. They just need the little details that fill up the blank spaces in them to be seen. Your heart beats fast and your stomach starts to constrict. The scene of how the villagers slayed a fellow face carver for its masks haunts you. “Stop panicking,” you say to yourself. You shake your head, trying not to dwell on the memory. With accelerating footsteps, you head to your class, concentrating to keep your form as you are currently wearing an image of a young boy with wavy auburn hair and a crooked smile. As your footsteps slow down, you sigh in relief as you realize that you made it just in time. You see your friends waving at you to sit with them. The feeling of mixed joy and sadness washes over you as you

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walk toward them. They are group number three: the latest set you squeezed yourself into. Out of all the groups, they are the ones you like best. They are ordinary yet responsible. "Dreamers," you fondly call them. As you took a seat beside Aimee, a memory of the first group you interacted with came to mind. They were a bunch of old women who liked to gossip in their free time. The village you lived in then was not so big, so there were plenty of stories to talk about. You vividly remember how everything went wrong in your interaction with them. Unbeknownst to you, the center of their lives was their families, so no matter how much you tried to organize meet ups with them, they were often unavailable. Not only that, but their lives were also fragile. You could not take

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it when you saw and heard them suffer from illnesses that plagued their minds or bodies. The death of the eldest one in your group was the last straw. Snapping out of your trance, you hear the bell ring. Your friends stand up and suggest heading to the cafeteria. As you are all about to take your lunch, a wave of laughter enters your ears. You see Alan pouring all of his friends’ juice boxes on Tim’s head. Your friends do not join the laughter, but they also do not help. Imitating your friends, you clench your fists as you remember the second group you were a part of. They were a group of unkempt, rugged men who lived on the poorer side of the village. Despite that, they gave out an air of unabashed confidence when they were together,

which made you want to be like them. Just like the people you were with before, your image changed to fit their likeness. You had fun with them. The late night gambling and alcohol was the norm of the group and you did not mind following it. It was only when they got violent that you started to doubt them. Thus, when your group planned a robbery, it ended with you abandoned beside a dead body and being the scapegoat of your group. You fled. The memory triggers you to unconsciously slip out of your form. It is only for half a second, but you see Aimee notice. Immediately, you get up from your chair and leave the room. You head to the restroom but are stopped by a group of hands pulling you. Unbeknownst to you, your friends followed. “What was that just now? I saw…” Aimee says with a shaky voice. It hurts, you do not want to leave, but your friends’ fearful and apprehensive stares make you think otherwise. They will not spare you. “I mean no harm,” you say, close to tears. You know it is not true. They all refuse to look at you and you feel your form slip away. Standing in front of them, you wear the masks of all the people you interacted with. You are a face carver and collecting masks is your purpose. “I am nothing if I do not interact with all of you,” you say with anguish in your voice before disappearing. F

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I love you, Nanay ni RYAN PIOLO U. VELUZ



A GITNA ng giyera sa pagitan ng buhay at kamatayan, pinipilit niyang angkinin ang payak na liwanag na dumadalisay sa bintana ng kaniyang mga mata, sapagkat malingat lamang siya sa bukana ng dilim ay lalamunin nito ang munting kislap ng buhay na pumipintig sa kaniyang sinapupunan. Pumutok ang kaniyang panubigan. Umagos ang likido sa kaniyang mga hita pababa hanggang magporma itong tila salamin sa sahig; doon nga ay nakita niya ang repleksiyon ng isang babaeng walang pagsidlan ang kaba at tuwa sa nalalapit nilang pagkikita ng kaniyang unang supling. Nakabibingi. Bumabakas ang mga litid sa kaniyang leeg na kumikinang sa tuwing aagos dito ang pinaghalong luha at pawis. Ang pagtirik ng kaniyang mga mata at buntong hininga ay mga pahiwatig ng kirot na imposibleng maisalaysay ng anumang salita. Bumulahaw ang marami pang sigaw at sa kumpas ng kaniyang kamao ay sumilay ang munting mukha na tila isang talulot na dumulas. Sa wakas, ang sigaw ng paghihirap ay napalitan ng mapayapang pagtangis: isang iyak ng musmos, larawan ng isang bagong buhay. Ngunit hindi tulad ng ibang mga bata, mayroong espesiyal na pangangailangan ang kaniyang anak: pagkalingang tila hindi niya kayang ibigay. Hindi niya ito inaasahan, at hindi niya ito matanggap. Habang lumalaki ay batid ng lahat ang paglabas ng mga kakaibang katangian ng bata. Hirap na hirap ito sa kaniyang pagsasalita; madalas ay mga huni lamang ang kaya niyang iparating. Kung hindi mapagbibigyan sa kaniyang kagustuhan ay magwawala ito nang walang humpay. Upang maiwasang masaktan ang sarili, binabalot siya gamit ang isang comforter hanggang sa siya ay kumalma. Kinakailangan din siyang bantayan tuwing nakikipaglaro sa ibang bata, sapagkat minsan ay nagiging bayolente ito. Higit sa lahat, tahasang mababanaag sa pisikal na aniyo ng bata ang kaniyang pagiging espesiyal. Sa mga panahong dinadalaw ng sumpong ang bata ay nasa malayo ang kaniyang ina. Tahimik itong nagmamasid. Ngunit sa kaniyang mga mata ay batid ang lungkot, pagkadismaya, at kung minsan ay matinding poot.

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Poot na hindi niya maunawaan kung bakit sa tuwing makikita niya ang kakulangan ng bata ay napupuno siya ng hinagpis. Marahil ay hanggang ngayon, mahirap para sa kaniya ang tanggapin na ang batang dapat ay simbolo ng biyaya at saya ay naging parusa at sumpa. Habang lumalaki ang bata ay unti-unti nitong nababatid ang relasyon na meron sila ng kaniyang ina. Sa halip na pagmamahal ay takot ang tumatak sa kaniyang isipan. Alam niyang kapag tumitig na ang kaniyang ina nang matalim ay kailangan na niyang tumahimik. Sa oras ng pagkain ay hindi saya o gana ang kaniyang nararamdaman, kung hindi kaba sa kaniyang dibdib na baka dahil sa inis ay ibuhos sa kaniya ang mainit-init pang sabaw, o hindi kaya naman ay sapilitang ipaubos sa kaniya ang pagkain kahit hindi na niya kaya. Sa tuwing siya ay pinaliliguan, labis ang kaniyang pagtataka kung bakit sa halip na banayad na haplos ay mga palo at kurot ang lumalapat sa kaniyang balat. Kapag hindi na niya kayang tiisin, tutulo na ang luha nito habang binibigkas ang “nanay” nang paulit-ulit na tila ba nagmamakaawa na kung maaari ay “tama na, tama na, nanay.” Minsan ay nagkasakit ang kaniyang nanay nang malubha. Hindi nito maalagaan ang bata kaya puro sigaw at mura ang lumalabas sa bibig nito tuwing makikita ang bata. Wala siyang magawa kung hindi ang umiyak. “I lab you, nanay.” Sambit ng anak niyang madungis habang binibigay sa kaniya ang tinapay na may amag na. Itinulak niya ito nang malakas sabay bumalikwas sa pagkakahiga. Umaga na nang maramdaman niyang may mabigat na nakapatong sa kaniyang tiyan. Ulo ito ng kaniyang anak na pinapaypayan siya gamit ang gutay-gutay na abaniko. Natulala siya. Napagtanto niyang tunay ngang espesiyal ang kaniyang anak dahil hindi ito marunong magtanim ng galit at tanging pagmamahal lamang ang kaya nitong ibigay. Kinuha niya ang bata at niyakap ito nang mahigpit. Nangilid ang luha sa kanyang mga mata at sinabing, “Mahal din kita, anak.” F


Good day, my child!

Hello, how was your day? The day was not as good, unlike yesterday. How are you, little one? I’m fine but I have this friend— he moves like he’s being chased. Being chased by what? By ghosts or demons, I do not know, you take a guess. I will never know, so tell me what frightens him. I cannot see what he sees at night, I do not understand what he speaks of: shadows that follow his every step and monsters that haunt him when he goes to bed. Your friend sounds familiar. Similar to a boy I encountered, a boy I loved when I was younger. Was he your friend too? Did you hang out at school, and eat snacks before noon?


He was, maybe even more. The luster in his eyes was bright and his hands were pale, but his scars deepened when night came.

Did he also run away like a mouse being chased? Oh, my dear, he did. He would sprint every time the demons showed up. He hid behind an emotionless mask that protected him from what was inside him and from those around him. What kind of demons? Are they the ones that I see on the television, or in my picture books? The demons— They were not from your fairy tales. They lived inside his head, and slowly, they consumed his mind. I pray that your friend is alright. I remember when my friend hid behind my back, his hands shook and his eyes watered but no one was chasing him. It was just an empty road. In my vision it was filled with

strangers,but to him it was a different picture. Sometimes, I wish I understood his pain.

My dear, the only answer is warmth. Give him your hand and hold his tight. All he needs is your presence and a smile. Is it that simple? To give him a small portion of what I have? Yes, because I know it too well. Before the sun wakes, My old friend would wear his shoes and walk away. Where did he go? Is it far away? He would leave this place to search for a world, a paradise where he could feel safe. I hope he found it: his paradise, his safe place. I think he did, Because no matter what happens, He knows there is a place, waiting to receive him and give him a warm embrace. F

@abtheflame |

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twenty-one years old living in the twenty-first century, my colleagues ask me, “why do you choose to discard what is archetypal?” I respond, “well, my friends, I choose to discard what revels in domination” as I run my hand down my braided hair it was past my limit to see that women had to kowtow to men as they pass by in groups, mimicking a military junta by beating their chests, raising their voices, and making sure that you and I went by ever so silent, ever so supine it was also well beyond my limit to see the women who love women and men who love men as they flee and hide in the dark corners of the boulevard, concealing what is supposed to be a pure and true love in fear of not ascribing to the sole version of romance that men in these alleys know I could not bear to see the weak, the meek step aside for those who cling to cruel strength and overwhelming power demanded for eternity by the brawny Herculean, seeing those who fail to deliver as devoid of worth if there is power in the way that these kinds of men walk in the streets, then I shall discard what rejoices in subjugation. F

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Casting shadows photo by KRISTELA DANIELLE S. BOO

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The Flame Vol. 54 Issue No. 3  

In its third issue for publication year 2018-2019, the Flame, the official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of A...

The Flame Vol. 54 Issue No. 3  

In its third issue for publication year 2018-2019, the Flame, the official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of A...