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FLAME Vol. 56, Issue no. 3


ADAPTATION Turning paradise into a reality



FOUNDED OCTOBER 16, 1964 EDITORIAL STAFF 2020 - 2021 Peach Arianna P. Manos Editor-in-Chief Isabell Andrea M. Pine Associate Editor

Maria Cecilia O. Pagdanganan Managing Editor, Faces Editor Kristine Erika L. Agustin Scenes Editor Siegfred Aldous D. Lacerna Issues Editor Theriz Lizel R. Silvano Culture Editor Maria Pamela S. Reyes Letters Editor Tcheky Nicole D. Cabrera Art Director Frances Marie G. Ignalaga Photography Editor Janis Joplin G. Moises, Jenna Kaye Pandanan, Karen Renee Nogoy, Arthur Florence Jean N. Apostol, Matthew Dave A. Jucom Scenes Aizelle Ann L. Majam, Jhona Seehiah R. Vitor, Hannah Beatrisse L. Oledan, Eduardo G. Fajermo Jr., Bless Aubrey Ogerio Issues Mary Nicole P. Miranda, Patrick V. Miguel, Eduelle Jan T. Macababbad Faces Christine Janine T. Cortez, John Patrick A. Magno Ranara, Thea Andrea C. Magueriano, Samantha Argonza Culture Patrick V. Miguel, Ramon Christian Placido, Abigail M. Adriatico, Taffy Arella M. Bernales, Fatima Baduria, Dawn Danielle Solano Letters Marlou Joseph B. Bon-ao, Aimee Yeo, Andrei Joseph Duran, Rainiel Angelyn Figueroa, Elijah John M. Encinas Photographers Ella Marie M. Mercado, Jeanne Pauline G. Tecson, Leanne Marion T. Vilog Artists

Mr. Leo O. Laparan II., M.A. Adviser Prof. Marilu Ranosa-Madrunio, 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:

© 2021 by the Flame. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Cover photo by


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Editor’s Note To hope for a paradise at the end of suffering is what everyone is doing right now during the pandemic. It has been more than a year of calamities, deaths, and uncertainty — everyone is waiting for the country to progress past the health crisis that ruined what once was normal. People have seen the harsh reality of how bad leadership can take away chances for the country to recover, and how irresponsibility can risk thousands of lives. Filipinos have done their part in adjusting and helping others in their own ways. Above all, the government has the biggest responsibility in creating ways for the country to heal and battle the deadly virus, yet we see little to no improvements. Now is really the time to be asking ourselves: how can we turn paradise into reality? We already have a clear picture of a society we hope to achieve once we have completely survived the deadly pandemic. We now know where the problem lies, and it is in our elected officials. We need better leaders in the new normal. We need better leadership for us to progress as a nation. These trying times certainly helped open our eyes to see where we can begin to make the paradise we dream of into a reality. We are now past hoping for a paradise. We must now create it, and for that to happen, we need collective action. We need to have a clearer understanding of what needs to be done in order for the country to progress. What is the new normal for us and how can we achieve that? How can we build the paradise everyone is hoping for? These are the questions The Flame hopes to answer with this issue. F

Peach Manos Editor-in-chief ’20 - ‘21










A sneak perak of the local community photo by ELIJAH JOHN ENCINAS

Additional support, funds for innovation needed to reopen economy — econ prof By MARIE CLAIRE “BLANCHE” LAGRISOLA and ARTHUR FLORENCE JEAN APOSTOL


ESPITE THE increase in COVID-19 cases, the country could still revert back to the old normal if the government and universities would support and fund innovation, an economics instructor said. An additional budget should be allocated to sponsoring research and innovations, especially those related to COVID-19, Department of Economics instructor and management consultant Andrew Gonzalez told The Flame. “If we incentivize...their research (the students), and support them lalo na if related sa COVID-19 pandemic, papasalamatan ka nung mga tao nun. At the same time, you are also contributing to society in order to make things better,” he said. Gonzalez emphasized the University’s shift to digital learning through Blackboard Ultra is a part of innovation and investment that became essential in conducting online classes during the pandemic. “This is also why preparation is very important. You should prepare beforehand. This is the effect of us spending a portion of our budget for innovation for research,” he said. Gonzales added that the University also took initiatives in innovation programs like business incubation. Business incubation consists of


a group of guides who could help startups develop their businesses, Gonzales explained. These initiatives could also allow funding from different organizations and develop guidelines for partnership with the University. Meanwhile, economics educator Aurora Cristina Bermudez said that a balanced consideration for the employers, employees, and the general public would improve the economy. “What the government should do is to unti-unti bubukas ang ekonomiya pero nandun pa rin ‘yung restrictions to protect the general public," Bermudez told The Flame. Without balance, the economy will suffer even more which will contribute further to the Filipinos’ financial suffering as well as their already compromised mental health, she said. She also said that Filipinos should take advantage of the opportunity to attend classes, whether online or faceto-face, to contribute to the betterment of the economy. The University should continue teaching its core values to the students — competence, commitment, and compassion, Bermudez added. “The University will be producing competent, compassionate, and committed professionals. They will be assets to the workforce in their respective fields of profession. [The]

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industry will be thanking the University for not failing despite the challenges of the times,” she said. IMMUNIZATION FOR THE ECONOMY With the new variants and increasing COVID-19 cases, it would take at least three to five years for the economy to reopen and for face-to-face classes at the University to resume, Gonzalez said. "It would be the most optimistic time where we can revert to our normal selves and I think by that time, almost everybody has received the vaccine. And remember the vaccine will only work [for] a duration. It's not forever. We have to keep being immunized," he added. Vaccinating the general population would take about two years, Gonzales said. It would also pave for a better healthcare system and enough studies on trying out COVID-19 vaccines, he added. Meanwhile, with the arrival of multiple coronavirus vaccines in the country, Bermudez also urged Filipinos to get vaccinated. "It may not be the best solution but it's all we have at the moment. What other alternatives we have, anyway. Kung nag-refuse tayo, baka mas grabe 'yung consequence," she said. F

AB Guidance introduces ‘CARE’ paradigm for Artlets’ mental health words by KAREN RENEE NOGOY and JENNA KAYE PANDANAN art by TCHEKY NICOLE D. CABRERA


HE FACULTY of Arts and Letters (AB) Guidance and Counseling Department has introduced the CARE (Connect, Acknowledge, Rest, and Enjoy) paradigm to help Artlets cope with the challenges brought by long-term online learning. AB guidance counselor Angelie Bautista urged students to connect and receive support to be resilient, especially when the symptoms of cabin fever begin to set in. “No one can ever bounce back if [they] do not have the support that [they] really need, so sana bukas din tayo na magbigay ng support para makakuha din tayo ng support,” Bautista told The Flame. Cabin fever is the term to describe common reactions to isolation, such as restlessness, decreased motivation, difficulty waking up, food cravings, and limited physical activity, she explained. It is not a psychological disorder, but a series of negative emotions felt by people who feel isolated or cut off from the world, especially during self-quarantine, according to Healthline, an American media website for health information. Bautista emphasized that feeling anxious and overwhelmed are natural reactions, and students must recognize that these feelings are valid. Based on the CARE paradigm, students should also learn to acknowledge their value, prioritize resting, and enjoy what they do, Bautista said. “When you try to beat the deadline, do not forget to still enjoy what you’re doing, because when you enjoy, you learn more and you get motivated to do what you’re doing,” she added.

EFFECTS OF ONLINE CLASSES ON STUDENTS’ MENTAL HEALTH Bautista recognized that some students still find it hard to adapt to the new normal of learning, adding to the stress of COVID-19. “[After] they have coped with one stressor, other stressors are needed to be adjusted to [the present]. They have already adjusted to the stress of COVID [but] at this point, [the] same routine [is] taking a toll on them,” she said. The AB Guidance and Counseling Department continues to cater to the needs of students to cope with the challenges brought by the pandemic, AB guidance counselor Carmen Quesada said in an interview with The Flame. “The AB Counseling Office would want to have mental health [concerns] as our trust, not on the identification alone but equipping you with things that you can use not only during the pandemic,” she said. The initial positive impacts of distance learning such as reduced expenses and flexible time have eventually been replaced by negative effects as it posed uncertainties to the students, according to Quesada.

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Quesada added that online learning has a “two-fold reaction” to students. The lack of in-person activities could be a ‘threat’ for extroverted students. Meanwhile, there are minimal to no mental health effects for introverted students. Communication arts sophomore Ysabel Matanis said that her mental health has been compromised during the pandemic as she felt more alone. Meanwhile, journalism junior Bea Lagman said that the lack of interaction and added barriers such as internet connection and screen fatigue make it difficult for students to reach out to other people.

EFFECTS ON STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE Everyone is still trying to cope with the virtual environment but it is only the students who can measure how much they have learned, Quesada said. “Kayo [students] ang makakapagsabi [kung] may natutunan ka ba o humabol ka lang sa deadline? May na-retain ka ba o nakinig ka lang sa mga asynchronous lectures?” she added. Bautista and Quesada noticed how a lot of students felt unmotivated and overwhelmed by their academics.

Despite these challenges, Bautista and Quesada commend the students’ ability to find and learn ways to cope on their own.

“‘Yan ang unang nawala sa mga bata noong masyadong [matagal] na. [Students tell me,] ‘Grabe ma’am ang hirap pala ‘no? Parang ayoko na, wala na akong gana, akala ko dati gusto ko ng pahinga,’” Quesada said.

“Nag-increase and naging anxious [sila] but they found ways and means by which they can cope, that [is] one positive [thing] despite the length of time […] meron silang natutunan,” Quesada said.

Meanwhile, Matanis said that the first few months of online learning were relatively easier for her compared to the present.





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students as ‘adjusted’ already and are less lenient now. When in fact, there is no easy way to adapt to this great change in our lives,” she said. Lagman also said that academic life, for her, has become harder now especially that the line between work and rest is now blurred. “I can't really say if I performed better but definitely there are still learnings even if it is online classes,” Lagman said. However, Matanis said that it felt like she missed some opportunities to excel because of online classes. Quesada noted that the guidance is also open to the staff and faculty members of the University. “We don’t stop with [students]. We cater to and we address everyone in the University environment [because] everyone needs support,” Quesada said. AB Guidance encourages AB students to connect with and seek help from them by making an appointment with their assigned guidance counselors through email. F

Youth voters' right decision will champion 2022 elections, words by MATTHEW DAVE A. JUCOM and JANIS JOPLIN MOISES art by TCHEKY NICOLE D. CABRERA


HE YOUTH must use their voices through active participation in political discussions to bring awareness and change toward a better selection in governance, professors from the Department of Political Science said. The critical participation of the youth would be beneficial, as they comprise more than half of the voting population, political science instructor Paul Micah Francisco said. “When it comes to [the] effect ng two sets of generations, malaki [the effects] because if they all vote and make a right decision, we might have a better future ahead of us,” Francisco told The Flame. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) recorded 58,204,224 registered voters for the 2022 elections, with 1.3 million newly-registered voters as of January 2021. The 1.6 million Sangguniang Kabataan voters will automatically be registered as regular voters upon the approval of the Electoral Registration Board, according to Comelec Deputy Executive Director for Operations Teopisto Elnas. Social media contributed to the youth’s high political awareness, but they can be “a bit impulsive” seeing how they change their stance once a different perspective emerges, Francisco said. He advised them to improve their political and civic education and support critical responses with “proper logical assumptions” rather than being emotional. They should perceive the older generations, who are

— polsci


members of the academe, as “some kind of [role] model” to raise their level of critical argument, Francisco added. Meanwhile, political science instructor Andrew Anthony Divinagracia said that the youth is now more vocal on their beliefs, whether in classroom discussions or progressive groups. “The youth today are more courageous and they can stand up even if they are on their own. They can stand up for what they believe in [on their own],” he said in an interview with The Flame. Although the youth dominated the registered voters’ population, Divinagracia said that there is no assurance that all of them would vote during the elections. During the 2016 elections, the youth sector with age brackets between 15 to 19 and 25 to 29 comprised more than 30 million according to Comelec — which would have a significant impact on the elections if every eligible voter would vote, Divinagracia said. “If you didn’t take the chance through voting to replace [them], then you also have a problem. You […] tolerated them. Even if you rant all day sa social media o sa kalsada, if you didn’t do your part na palitan 'yang mga hunghang na yan sa gobyerno, partly you are to blame for that,” he added. Data from Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that 73 million Filipinos will be aged 18 and above by 2022, leaving 15 million unregistered voters.

‘PERSONALITY-BASED’ ELECTIONS Francisco said that the elections should be policy-based @abtheflame |


and not personality-based like what happened in the 2016 elections. The 2016 elections molded the public perception that the candidates should be “someone that can please us without considering the policies,” he added. “Kasi ang nangyayari, our institutions allowed 'yung mga kandidato na instead of campaigning using their platforms, they just promote their personality and image,” explained Francisco. Meanwhile, Asst. Prof. Louie Ignacio abbreviated TAMA. (track record, advocacy, morality, and alay sa bansa) to help the public in critically evaluating the candidates. The educational institutions should also create projects that will help raise people’s awareness about the issue, Ignacio told The Flame.




A candidate who will be running for the presidency must have experience with national politics, Francisco said. Among the probable prospects, he said that Vice President Leni Robredo is more suitable to run for the presidency as she knows legislative works. Although Robredo is an intelligent leader, she did not show efficacy in imposing efforts as a public servant, and her methodologies as a leader lack strength, said Francisco. “[A]s far as I can see her right now, I don’t think she is strong enough... she should lead an opposition, but she is not doing it well enough. Kasi nawawala sila minsan, lalabas sila, then mawawala. There is no consistency in effort. If she wants to win, she has to give more consistent effort,” he explained. The Pulse Asia survey conducted from November 2020 to December 2020 showed that 26 percent of the Filipino

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citizens would vote for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in the upcoming 2022 presidential polls. When asked if Sarah Duterte is suitable, Francisco said that he is unsure as her capacity is limited towards local politics. “Once you are escalated to the national level without having any experience, you might treat national politics [the same as the] local politics at hindi ganun ‘yun. There are pressures (domestic and international), [and] there are more social forces involved who will try to influence you,” said Francisco. Meanwhile, Divinagracia said that Sarah Duterte is a strong presidential candidate as she has the “Duterte brand” and capabilities with her experience as a mayor. “Kasi pareho lang naman halos ang sistema, ‘yung nga lang ‘pag naging president ka mas malawak ‘yung scope kaysa ‘pag mayor ka, but it’s practically the same kasi executive pareho 'yung posisyon mo,” Divinagracia said. However, he emphasized that it is too early to predict if she will succeed or fail.

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ELECTIONS MUST CONTINUE AMID A PANDEMIC The elections must proceed because it is a fundamental right of every citizen despite the pandemic, Ignacio said. He also urged the government to finalize the vaccination rollout to mitigate the increasing cases of COVID-19 to ensure a safe election. “Kaya nga ‘yung rollout ng vaccine maayos na 'yan, ‘yung pagpapababa ng [mga kaso ng COVID-19] at dapat masigurado na may enough support to make sure that the elections will push through,” Ignacio stressed. Meanwhile, Francisco said that the narrative of postponing the elections shows the administration's interest to prolong their term, which can affect the democracy in the country. Pampanga Second District Rep. Mikey Arroyo had insisted last year the postponement of the 2022 elections in a budget hearing due to the COVID-19 scare. However, the Malacañang had denounced this suggestion, deeming it unconstitutional. F


A view of the UST main building photo by MARLOU JOSEPH BON-AO @abtheflame |

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No more empty promises Art by ISABELL



OSTERS, campaign jingles, promotional ads, and promises—these are the first signs of the upcoming election season when candidates do their best to look good for the public to secure their preferred seat in the government. As the 1Sambayan coalition announced their nominees last Independence Day for the presidential post, Filipinos are now set to find the next leader of the country who can do the job—hopefully the right way, this time. The COVID-19 pandemic opened the Filipino people’s eyes to how the leaders of the country lack efficiency and responsibility. This can be proven by the collective frustration expressed on social media, and concerned citizens’ effective albeit temporary solutions. #DutertePalpak and #DuterteResign trend almost every time the president makes statements on live television that only he can understand. When Filipinos want answers and concrete solutions, the government gives band-aid solutions, unclear responses, and confusing instructions on the wearing of face shields. The Philippines also experienced many calamities during this time, further adding to the pandemic's heavy burden. Filipinos saw how the government failed to listen to the health workers to the point that they started to protest against the unfair treatment they experienced. However, only President Duterte’s response to their distress call was, “Huwag kayo magsigaw-sigaw, ‘revolution.’ Magsabi kayo revolution, then ngayon na. Try it. Patayin natin lahat ng may COVID-19. Is that what you want? We can always end our existence in this manner.” This happened in August 2020. During Typhoon Ulysses’ onslaught last November, it was the Filipino people who helped each other out. The president was then called out for being missing in action during the calamity. He failed to provide aid when his people needed him the most. He defensively responded with, “It's not that I am at a distance from you. Gusto kong pumunta doon, makipaglangoy sa inyo. Ang problema pinipigilan ako kasi daw pag namatay ako isa lang ang Presidente. Sabi ko may Vice President naman. Wala silang sinasagot.” President Duterte emphasized that he had to protect himself because he is the president. But to the Filipinos, this was a clear picture of the person they voted for. The man at the helm was only a coward who prioritizes himself over the welfare of the Filipino people. Another failure came when Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s incompetence caused the government to fail in securing the Pfizer vaccines earlier this year. However, he was never punished. Instead, the government urged Filipinos to get vaccinated with CoronaVac, which was developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech. It also does not help that this move has since been politicized, due in part to the ongoing West Philippine Sea dispute.

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It has also reached the point that the government pushed for Filipinos to get vaccinated without knowing which brand they would receive. Although experts have proven CoronaVac to be effective against the virus, the damage has already been done. The government's lack of vaccine strategy has scared off Filipinos from getting inoculated. Filipinos’ collective frustration has made some realize that they voted for the wrong leader. Some organized community pantries, in the hopes of lending a helping hand during these trying times. Others voice out their opinions on social media about the current situation of the Philippines. Now, Filipinos can see the effects of voting for a leader who is only equipped with machismo and empty promises. That is why as the upcoming 2022 election approaches, everyone should advocate voting for the right leader. They must have both values and actionable platforms. Most of all, they must ensure that the promises they make during campaign season will be fulfilled by the end of their term. In short, no more empty promises. Lives were already lost because of the government’s incompetence. Now is the time for real change and it does not start with a presidential bet –– it starts with the voters. Filipinos have already seen what happens when they focus on a candidate’s personality over their platforms. They cannot afford to make the same mistake again. F







he concept of how happiness could be in front of you but you would still have no idea how to grasp it will forever haunt me. I have always wondered how some people could choose to be happy and optimistic, while some have no choice but to embrace bitterness in their lives. Happiness comes in many forms—music, games, people, books, places, food, any other material thing, animals, or even hobbies that bring one joy. However, most of the time, the happiness that comes with something still lacks the potential to make you happy for a longer period of time. And sometimes, as time goes by, you can feel how it fades and how it does not make you happy anymore. It now feels like happiness could never exist with sadness as both emotions could be felt simultaneously. When I was younger, I was scared to be too happy because it felt like I was going to be sad later on. I have viewed the two emotions like a cycle that never ends, and we can never be too happy without feeling a little sad. It was a scary thought, considering how happiness could never come without us feeling grief, loneliness, or even pain. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to feel happiness in its purest form without having to hurt. But as we grow up, the cycle of feeling happiness and pain becomes more complicated as other emotions add up. Uncertainty, anxiousness, envy—many other negative emotions add up to the cycle on the side of sadness, making it more difficult to be happy. Now it is more on how a person can choose to be happy despite feeling a lot of different negative emotions in their lives. But that is not an easy job, and being happy is not just a choice one can make especially in times of mental suffering. Just like how one can never be too happy, one can never be too sad as well. As happiness comes in different forms, even in the tiniest ways, maybe the problem is that we do not know how to grasp it. We can only choose to be happy if we understand happiness and what it means in our lives. Everyone has a different past and outlook in their lives. Some even pretend to be happy. Now that we are capable of understanding happiness and pain in a more complicated way, it is only right to accept the fact that not everyone can grasp the concept of happiness right away. Some need healing, and healing is not linear. Everything takes time. As we go along, maybe we will figure out how to be happy in our own way. We have a lot of time to understand ourselves and what brings us joy, without having to fear the consequence of being too happy. Maybe by then, we will know. F

One Vote Is Enough


iving for more than a year with the COVID-19 pandemic has left us with too many uncertainties. It is not just about being exposed to the virus that we worry about, but also how to survive each day given the pandemic's far-reaching social and economic impact. The more I realize that the pandemic is uncontainable, the more uncertain I become about my future. At this point, I feel that I have too many things to worry about, yet all I can do is constantly adjust to the changing government policies and guidelines. As I think about what contribution I could give, I could not think of anything but to be a part of the collective voice seeking for a change — by exercising the right to vote. The decisions of the voters, especially the youth, will have a strong influence on the 2022 election result. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority and Commission on Elections, about 40 million Filipino youth are eligible to vote in the upcoming elections. The numbers alone show the importance of the youth’s role in choosing the next leaders of the country. This further cements the reason why the youth need to register and vote. However, selecting a candidate worthy of our votes is not an easy task. That is why I want to start by taking into account what the pandemic has revealed about the government, its priorities, and the way the crisis was handled. Understanding the current issues that negatively affect the daily lives of Filipinos, especially the vulnerable sectors, will help us realize that what we need are well-studied and attainable policies that will safeguard our rights, instead of empty promises. The youth need to be more proactive and critical than ever. The Filipinos should win in the elections and not just a candidate or party. What we need is someone who can help the country rise and recover from the impacts of the pandemic and provide assurance amid the uncertainties that we are facing. It is time to elect leaders who will truly listen, represent, and prioritize the Filipinos. The changes that we want to see, the disappointments, our voices, and our stance should be put into action, and one of the best ways is to participate in voting. This opportunity must not be wasted. F

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The Thinking Corner



PH Gov't: Play, Save, Repeat— New Game


ecently, I have acquired a new video game, and like anything new to my life, the desire to put it to instant use was incredibly tempting. So, despite the multiple work I had to finish, I put it all aside and let myself get lost in a new fantastical world. Now, this particular game is a tactical RPG (tactical roleplaying game) wherein every choice matters and every step you or the character you play has a domino effect. Meaning, one wrong move could lead you to a devastating turn or sometimes, a better one. In these kind of gameplays, where stories are branched out depending on the route you take, tactical planning is important. A few hours into the game, a few hours of googling the best strategies and saving my progress, I suddenly realized something felt awfully familiar. With the sudden spike of COVID-19 cases, the NCR plus bubble, the unjust killings, the suppression of the media— last March 2021 felt like March 2020, again. It is as if the government magically decided to create a new save game and did a second playthrough. However, there were differences, much like an RPG or a visual novel, where choices matter, this one felt like a different route. It felt like we are still in the same story and at the same time not. Instead of not having any physical classes, students now have to suffer through sitting in front of their computers, praying their internet connection does not fluctuate. Instead of being locked inside their homes, wondering when they could go back to work, a lot of Filipino adults are jobless and worse, the president’s own spokesperson acts like a child during press briefings and leaves nothing but empty promises and confusing remarks. The government officials are in their own video game. However, instead of being tacticians, they tackle the plotlines by simply doing it blindly. In short, they have no idea what they are doing. When will they look up strategies online, rely on experts to chart the next course? When will they listen to the mass and let them decide? There are so many successful countries they can look into. They do not even need to copy the exact response, they can warp it in order to fit the country’s own system. This endless loop is exhausting, the very idea of not knowing what is next is anxiety-inducing. I feel like I lost a good chunk of my youth because my country is still frozen in 2020. The plot is still the same, only the outcome is different. Filipinos probably already feel like they are NPCs (non playable characters), as if their every need is being ignored. The hero of the tale only speaks to them when necessary, when it benefits their narrative. They only speak to them or address them when it makes them look like the hero. Well, they are far from it. Every ticking second is a tragedy waiting to happen. As casualties rise, as cases never cease to increase, they stay in their own fantasy, saving the version of their world. Then again, there is nothing wrong with, repeating the same process until one reaches perfection. However, when thousands of lives are at stake everyday, is repeating even a choice? F

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Government Data Mismatch


ith the rise of online fake news, providing accurate and comprehensive information has never been more crucial than ever. This has especially been the case during the time of the COVID 19 pandemic. The pandemic has ushered in the rise of fake news. This ranges from unproven medical advice, hoaxes, and false vaccine information. These would include the ability of the COVID 19 vaccine to alter DNA and the use of drugs such as ivermectin to treat COVID. Unfortunately, misinformation, which spreads like wildfire on social media, has the potential to harm others. But the biggest culprit when it comes to spreading misleading information would be the government. While the Philippine government does not provide and promote fake news, they manipulate the way data is presented to make it look like the country is doing well in its response to fight COVID-19. This is most evident in government-issued infographics, where the government tries to portray the success of the Philippines in contrast to the other Southeast Asian countries. The data being used is from reliable and trustworthy sources but the way it is presented does not depict the reality of the situation. For example, the government released an infographic about the vaccination rate in the Philippines. Here it showed that the country was among the top three when it came to administering vaccines. Hence, the infographic was trying to depict that the government’s response to COVID 19 and vaccine rollout are effective. What made the infographic misleading is that it only counted the number of vaccines administered or how many shots were given. It did not take into consideration the population size of each country, which is essential in determining the percentage of vaccine rollout. Inaccurate data depiction and representation deceives the public and does not give them a clear picture of the situation. This is also dangerous especially during a pandemic since it might signal to the public to ease the practice of physical distancing and mask-wearing. Subsequent complacency will eventually cause the number of cases to rise. Instead of trying to improve or fix their pandemic response, the government chose to hide behind misleading data to show they have everything under control. To make matters worse, the government still uses these misleading data in their press conferences and releases to shield themselves from criticisms of their inadequate pandemic response. This is nothing new to the current administration. Time and time again they have failed to give the people an adequate response to the pandemic and are now using ways to deceive the people. In the end, numbers don’t lie, but liars use numbers. F


A view of the UST Grandstand photo by MARLOU JOSEPH BON-AO @abtheflame |

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NIVERSITY LIFE as it once was will never be the same now that the Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) has to relocate one of its departments to another building.

the University gives importance to these two programs,” journalism coordinator Felipe Salvosa II told The Flame in a phone call interview.

Earlier, The Flame reported that the Department of Communication and Media Studies will be relocating from St. Raymund de Peñafort Building to Buenaventura Garcia Paderes, O.P. (BGPOP) Building once the resumption of faceto-face classes is allowed.

Salvosa also added that the transfer would also make sense as the Department will not have to compete anymore with other programs for the classrooms.

From Dapitan to P. Noval, the journalism and communication students are now set for new challenges and adventures.


Even before the pandemic, adequate classrooms have always been one of the challenges for AB due to the high number of students enrolling. Moreover, the St. Raymund’s Building is also shared with the College of Commerce and Business Administration. Holding two of the most populated programs in AB, the Department welcomed the decision of the University administration. “Ngayon, nagkaroon [na] ng extra classrooms and we have to accept it. Happy pa nga kami na prinioritize ang journalism and communication [programs] because [this is a] sign that

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As for the process, he said that the Department coordinated with the Facilities Management Office in relation to the approval of plans and designs for the facilities after they were simply informed. BGPOP Building houses the Communications Bureau of the University on the 12th floor where facilities like television studios, radio booths, and a newsroom will be constructed. These will be accessible to journalism and communication students as it is one floor below the intended regular classrooms.


Given that the Department has its own space, the journalism and communication students have been expecting better learning experiences in relation to their chosen programs. For third-year journalism student Cheska Imbuido, she thought that the relocation will be beneficial for students. “As part of the journalism program, personally, this excites me because we get to experience a new set of environment that will surely help us in our corresponding courses. [...] I think this is a good idea because it will help both programs to focus on their academics and everyone will hone

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their skills and knowledge more with the help of the setup of the new building,” she told The Flame. Faculty members like Tito Quiling Jr. also welcomed the relocation as he thought it would also improve his practice. He noted that a shift in the teaching atmosphere may happen because the required technology is already there. “[It is better that you are] closer to the technology required for your courses. Bukod sa convenience, hindi ka nalalayo do’n sa practice doon sa teaching atmosphere,” he said. However, this relocation might also mean an increase in tuition fees for the journalism and communication students. Second-year communication student Pauline Panganiban expects that the relocation would raise her expenses for tuition and other fees to accommodate the frequent use of facilities. “[W]ith the relocation and our access to the facilities and technology of BGPOP, I’m expecting na there will be an increase of tuition fee in order to accommodate the use of laboratories, [and] the use of studios [since] we will be using it more frequently,” she said.

welcome,” he said. He assured that the Department did not intend for the students to have a hard time but to satisfy with the learning assessment that they can get from the two programs along with securing the quality assurance certifications.

MISSING THE AB CULTURE It will never be the same now that journalism and communication students will call BGPOP Building their new home, and the relocation will definitely impact the AB culture. Journalism Society president Marymon Reyes anticipated the ‘progressive changes’ in the culture of AB. “I would say that the Faculty of Arts and Letters will definitely be missing the presence of journalism and communication students, but I am also sure that they will be wishing the best of luck and success. [...] Both will still be watching one another from afar, and I am sure that when [the] time comes that the Department [...] will be needing help, AB will always be there to support and guide them along the way,” she told The Flame.

Communication Arts Students’ Association interim president Martin Alcantara also believes that students under the two programs would still carry on what it means to be an AB student despite the separation. “Personally, I believe that communication and journalism have their own distinct persona and culture like all the other programs in AB. One of our notable characteristics would be the ability and willingness to adapt to new environments. With that, I believe that we'll bring the spirit of the Faculty of Arts and Letters as liberal arts students and adapt to the new setup and people during and after the move,” he said. Salvosa also recalled the synergy between the different departments under the Faculty and hopes its genuine camaraderie will still remain. “It’s very hard to imagine journalism and communication not being part of AB. [...] Sana kahit magkaroon ng physical separation, all the students and faculty will still feel that they are part of Arts and Letters because it is only physical separation,” he added. F

First-year communication student Jedd Leaño also echoed this sentiment. “If there would be possible issues, I think that there might be a chance for an increased amount in our overall tuition fee since there would be a demand for additional equipment as population rises for both communications and journalism students,” he told The Flame. Anticipating these concerns, Salvosa said that the benefits of the relocation still outweigh the minor inconveniences. “Maraming goals ang Department [such as] uplifting the quality of education of the two programs. [...] These goals will remain achievable whether or not we transfer to BGPOP. But then, definitely transferring to BGPOP— transferring to new facilities is always

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FTER A decade of service, the University of Santo Tomas Faculty Union (USTFU) previous administration, which was headed by Dr. George Lim since 2011, was succeeded by a set of newly-elected officers last Feb. 15 to 17. With three competing political parties, Asst. Prof. Emerito Gonzales of Sulong USTFU was elected president by the UST Faculty Union while the Kabalikat Party took 14 of the 20 union seats. Given that the new set of leaders will serve the faculty union for a five-year term until 2026, questions loom on how they will address the concerns of the union's members and how they will amplify faculty concerns to the university administration.

NEW BREED OF LEADERS In an exclusive interview with The Flame, Asst. Prof. Gonzales said that his SULONG teammates and supporters encouraged him to run for the faculty union. He stated that he did not expect to win the presidency, but intended to have a good fight in the faculty union election. “While it is true that more officers belong to the other party, I think that good programs and policies for the general members do matter more,” he said. Gonzales indicated that his leadership will be based on principles and values that are important to all faculty members and that he hopes that the elected officers and directors will come together to accomplish their shared goals. He affirmed that all of their insights would be alternative ways and means of making the new USTFU run more effectively for the general members.

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Gonzales also plans to establish an administration that sets a vision for the union and works to achieve it by ensuring transparency, accountability, and a great deal of participation among the members. “I have always believed that the best leaders are those who can inspire others to do what is best for the community,” he said. He explained that power and influence do not need to be centralized, but rather should be shared so that everyone feels a sense of pride in the Union's achievements.

FULFILLING THE CAMPAIGN VOWS During Lim's presidency, Gonzales was an elected Director of the USTFU for a non-consecutive term. “I have seen both the best times and the so-so moments of unionism in UST. I consider myself as a bridge that links the more senior members with the younger generation of faculty members,” he said. The USTFU president stated that the Union Membership, Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and USTFU Constitution and by-laws are his top three priorities for resolving administrative issues. In terms of the CBA, he believes the union should concentrate on principled collaboration with the administration to settle faculty issues one semester, one academic year, or one urgent issue at a time. Retirement, working conditions, job security, hospitalization, vaccination, and labor education were among the topics he discussed. He endorsed giving retirees a token of appreciation, avoiding contractual appointments of new recruits, and making technical assistance available to the entire faculty.

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enormously benefit from better representation in research, health insurance, and an expanded degree acquisition,” he said. The philosophy professor reite -rated the importance of negotiating a progressive outlook on research productivity and faculty evaluation in the case of research. He suggested considering the plan for the possibility of acquiring health insurance for its faculty members and extending the option of funding faculty members who want to pursue further studies beyond their doctorate.

Gonzales is also encouraged to hold webinars or forums to explain the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of academic employment. He added the continuing proposal of the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) to ensure that faculty members will no longer have the burden to be looking for financial help or support if ever they are hospitalized. “The current USTFU Constitution is outdated and needs to be amended to be more proactive, rather than reactive to the needs of the Union,” he told The Flame. Given the fluctuating situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gonzales said that the safety and welfare of the faculty members must be the top priority. “The [faculty union] acknowledges the importance of a face-to-face class, especially in the medical and healthallied fields, but we have to ensure that faculty members who will handle classes will also be protected,” he clarified.

He suggested that an initial swabbing, vaccination, and medical evaluation must be done before face-to-face classes. He also proposed a survey for all faculty members to address their work and health concerns, like anxiety towards receiving the vaccine. He also raised the concern about hazard pay and the faculty members’ insurance. “[T]his is a health issue and we have to make sure that the [faculty members] will also receive proper assistance once they are in the field,” he said.

THE FACULTY’S VIEWPOINT From the perspective of faculty members, they consider how the union will help them adapt and handle their work amid the limitations of the online setup. Assoc. Prof. Roland Theuas Pada from the Faculty of Arts and Letters expects that the new breed of faculty union will create a harmonious relationship between faculty members and the University administration. “While grande Christmas parties and sports festivals are nice and unnecessary, faculty members would

“I think that USTFU should serve as a bridge for communication between the faculty members and the University,” he said. Asst. Prof. Kristine Meneses from the Institute of Religion, on the other hand, said that the rights of the faculty members to the faculty union, such as the economic and political rights, must be taken into account “Fundamentally, the USTFU serves as the voice and platform of its members in its relation, with the University administration [...] In this regard, the USTFU has a responsibility for its domain to practice the Catholic social teachings, which aims at actualizing justice and equity for its members,” she said. The theology professor added that the union is also regarded as a collective conscience of its members, which the institution must hear and listen to. She expects the union to regain its proper representation in the Academic Senate, as she mentioned about the lengthy pause in the negotiation of political rights and the needed improvement of economic benefits. “The union should regularly remind themselves of their oath and duty toward its members and set aside personal egos and ambitions,” she added. F

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LONG OVERDUE UST Student Councils on the Student's Code and Rights words by HANNAH BEATRISSE OLEDAN


VERY STUDENT has the right to safe academic spaces bounded by a set of rules that ensures their security. After all, safe spaces allow them to have greater academic achievement engagements. They also allow students to voice out their concerns without undue fear. However, with the absence of the student code in the University, are Thomasians' rights compromised? Dale Marollano, director for the Grievance Committee of the Central Student Council (CSC), said that the review of UST Student Code is still being processed since the former UST-CSC administration led by Francisico Santos. It was first drafted in 2004 which was originally titled “Magna Carta for Students.” Three years later, the title was changed to “Student Code” as per the Academic Senate, Council of Regents, and the UST Board of Trustees request because the former term was deemed “too extreme, drastic, and offensive.” After 13 years, the Student Code is still in the process of being reviewed by the ad hoc committee. For Marymon Reyes, president of the UST Journalism Society, it is good to create a Student Code to establish protection for all students, especially in cases that lack legal support. “I pray and wish that it would be ratified to effectivity the soonest possible time so that the students will feel safer in working around the University, knowing full well that they are now served with their privileges,” she said.

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She emphasized how it would make way for more compassionate and empowered students. AMPLIFYING VOICES Even without the Student Code, Marollano stressed that voicing out concerns towards the institution is vital for the system’s development. “In my part, as a director for the Grievance and Student Welfare committee, we can be the bridge between the students and administrators in voicing out their concerns,” he said. Marollano also mentioned Kasangga: STRAW WEEK 2021, which is scheduled for the latter part of the second semester, will have a student- administrator dialogue as part of the program. This would let students voice out their concerns regarding different issues. Robert Dominic Gonzales, the former interm president of CSC, told The Flame that he always reminds the student body and fellow student-leaders not to be afraid in speaking out while still bearing in mind the responsibility to speak with full honesty and good intentions. “Never falter when you are standing on the right ground,” he added. Gonzales stated that there is nothing wrong with speaking up against injustices and inequalities faced by the students. PROGRESSIVE STUDENTS AND RED-BAITING In January, Datu Zaldy “Shoti” Ampatuan Jr., a Thomasian senior high school student, was penalized for

his membership in progressive group Anakbayan-UST. Since the group is currently not recognized by the University, Ampatuan will not able to enroll for the next academic year. He was then issued a show-cause letter last December 2020. “With the recent issues that have come about, together with the presidents of other local councils, we have written several letters which aim to ‘reverse’ the sanctions given to our fellow students; some of which were successful already and some are still ongoing,” Gonzales said. In connection with the issue, Gonzales reiterated the dangers of red-baiting as it puts the lives of the students and faculty members at stake. For the part of UST student councils, Gonzales also said that they have contacted and even targeted instances of students involved in the issue of red-baiting within the University as a response to the problem. On the other hand, Paolo Manuel, the then interim president of Artlet Student Council (ABSC), said that he is in active communication with the students in the Faculty who experienced getting redtagged. “Should they receive sanctions from the University, the ABSC will ensure that they will receive a fair hearing of their case and that their rights are protected,” Manuel assured. He added that participating in the country’s democratic process is not a crime. NON-CONDUCIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS Manuel said that Thomasian students are deprived of their right to “more conducive and comfortable” learning environments. “Socialization with our friends, classmates and even our professors allow us to get through the challenges we face as students,” he said, mentioning

that learning in the new normal is ‘so much worse.’ While Manuel is critical of the online class setup, he made it clear that he is not advocating for the return of face-to-face classes and that it has to be well-planned, with the safety of Thomasians at the forefront. For Marollano, the lack of a better learning environment has greatly affected the students’ academic performance. “We don’t have any choice but to follow this kind of learning setup, because it is safer than going [back to] face-to-face classes,” he added. With this, Marollano emphasized that professors should lessen the amount of workload given to students to give them time to tend to other matters including health, family,

and other responsibilities. WITH ONE ISSUE COMES ANOTHER The ABSC, together with CSC and other local student councils, has expressed dissent regarding the Permission-to-Post policy of the University. “As we have done in the past, we will do so again should there be any policies that impede free speech,” said Manuel. Then- ABSC Grievance Commitee Director Kristine Dy said that student organizations should be given the liberty to post public materials, as long as it is approved by their council advisers. “If by chance we are notified regard-

ing their publication materials, we will coordinate with them to resolve the issue immediately but will stand firm if we see no harm in the content/s of their post/s,” she stated. LONG WAY TO GO? Another issue going around the University is gender-based problems, which include the LGBT community. In 2018, UST drew flak over the online community for releasing a conforme that bans students from embodying “unchristian behaviors.” This includes having same-sex relationships, anti-university sentiments, and joining rallies. When asked about how they can strengthen the LGBT community’s safe academic spaces, Gonzales admitted that the University has a long way to go. “There is still a long way to go for the University to evolve from its conservative views regarding the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. Gonzales also said that he is proud to work with student leaders who are also members of the LGBT community and as a “loud and proud” member of the community, they have always tackled grievances regarding discrimination against the community. “It’s a good thing that it is progressing,” he said. “But even better if these barriers are broken immediately.” As per Dy, she believes that no sanctions should be given to students who are part of the LGBT community as expressing oneself is not a crime nor should be treated as one. “The students should be given the liberty to express themselves in any way they want, so long as it is in accordance with the University handbook,” she said. Gonzales emphasized the importance of the UST Student Code which aims to tackle the student body’s concerns. He also assured that the USTCSC Central Board is working towards the code’s construction. F

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Unmasking the Challenges: Online Student Council Elections and Transition words by EDUARDO FAJERMO JR.


NE OF the final chapters in a Thomasian academic year is the election of the new set of central and local student council leaders.

However, constraints brought by the unprecedented health crisis temporarily suspended the elections of the student governing body for the 2020-2021 academic year. Seats were then retained and others were led by interim officers. Some of the interim officers are graduating students. The new normal unmasked challenges for the election and term adjustments for the academic year 2021-2022. Fatima Naui Francisco, the chairperson of the Artlets’ Commission on Elections, explained that the Office of the Student Affairs (OSA) is still in the process of developing the Electronic Voting System (EVoSys) for the online set-up. “Due to the pandemic, the Comelec, along with OSA, has been making efforts in modifying the safe, secure, and reliable EVoSys for the students to remotely use outside the university during local and central student council elections,” she said. Francisco stressed that the procedures for the campaigns and candidacy filing are still not finalized. “It will be dependent on whether or not the OSA and the developers of the EVoSys will be successful in modifying the voting system,” she added.

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TRANSITION TO THE NEW TERM Paolo Jericho Manuel, the then incumbent Interim President of Artlets Student Council (ABSC), experienced the online transition in his term. “Her method in conferring those was simply entrusting me with those duties and responsibilities and then advising me as I [fulfilled] them,” Manuel said regarding the support of the former ABSC president Lady Freja Gascon in delegating the duties. The then incumbent ABSC Interim Vice PresidentInternal Gerald Matthew Dela Cruz started his term differently as he did not experience any transition. “When we assumed our position, the post of VP- Internal was vacated, and we did not have a real and formal transition from the council before us, thus, promoting our term to start from scratch,” he said. Dela Cruz recognized that the online set-up poses many issues in the transition. However, he vowed that he will make sure the transition will be swift. “Our term will make sure to have a smooth transition to the next council, we'll turn over necessary documents, set formal meetings for the transition proper, and we'll always open our communication lines if they need some-

thing from us,” he said. Manuel echoed Dela Cruz by saying that he expects the first month of the new term to be challenging. By arranging a meeting with his executive board and committee heads, he is planning on systematically endorsing the responsibilities to the new set of officers. “It does not stop at that meeting, however as I also plan to share our contact details should they need guidance and advice for their term,” Manuel underscored. The former UST Central Student Council President, Rober Gonzales, also deemed the online mode of transitioning as a problem. Similar to the ideas of Manuel and Dela Cruz, he is planning the transition in form of paper and through meetings. “The endorsement process always starts with the paper trail of all documents: projects, communications, memoranda, etc. that our term in the council has encountered,” he said.

Gonzales asserted that this voting problem stems from the miscommunication and inflexibility of the schedules and processes in several colleges. He is optimistic that even though the election will be conducted via online set-up, it will yield a higher voter turnout. Gonzales suggested that the Central Comelec and its college units can augment in the process through boosting the campaign on voter education. Resigning from the student council posts due to personal reasons leaving duties unfulfilled was also a common issue. This transpired when the 2019 2020 Artlets Student Council PRO, Eadric Espiritu, vacated his post in the middle of his term.

no students were willing to vie for the positions of Artlets Student Council Vice President - Internal and Public Relations Officer. Similarly, for the CSC’s term for the academic year 2019 - 2020, no student filed candidacy for the post of Vice President. Francisco reiterated that it is neither the duty nor the responsibility of the Comelec to encourage students to run for a student council position. She added that she cannot do anything to address the issue, but only follow the letters of the Comelec rules. “If the student does not have the student welfare in their best interest, then they should never consider running for a position at all,” she stressed. F

Unfortunately, unfilled student council seats have also been a recurring trend. In the academic year 2018 - 2019, three special elections failed because

His ideal way of conferring duties transcends formality and rigidity—a more personal way. “I had always envisioned the endorsement process to proceed smoothly by starting it with the discussion of technicalities and constitutional duties of one's position and ending it with a good talk while sharing personal memorable experiences that I had in the council to the newly elected president,” Gonzales added.

PAST ELECTION ISSUES From the previous student council elections, there has been a history of a low voter turnout. The university-wide elections held yielded 55.54 percent—21,122 out of 38,032 Thomasian population.

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Homecoming: On UST's limited face-to-face classes words by JAN CARLO ZAMORA



he University of Santo Tomas (UST) is set to conduct its classes virtually for the following Academic Year 2021 – 2022. Months prior, the University was already given permission by Manila Mayor Isko Moreno to hold limited face-to-face classes beginning the second semester of the academic year 2021-2022.

her constituents shall be given a proper heads-up through a survey should they conduct face-to-face classes.

Several deans from different UST colleges opposed the plan for they are still not keen on bringing back the old setup of learning. Here’s what could have happened should the University choose to revert back to face-to-face classes.


DEANS’ PERSPECTIVES In an interview with The Flame, several faculty deans had given their own take on whether they shall reopen their campuses once the first batch of face-to-face classes is to be deemed a success. Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) Dean Prof. Marilu Madrunio, as well as College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) Dean Prof. Mary Christie Que gave a stern ‘no’ due to the rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 infections. College of Commerce and Business Administration Dean, Leonardo M. Canoy Jr. also answered “no”. “What we would be waiting for is the overall decline of cases and, of course, herd immunity by ways of vaccination,” said Dean Canoy. College of Education Dean, Pilar Romero reassured that

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“I will implement, perhaps a flipped classroom with a limited number of learners having classes at the same time,” Dean Romero added.

In an interview with The Flame, UST’s Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, Prof. Cheryl Peralta, reassured that the University shall follow the joint memorandum released by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) along with the Department of Health (DOH). The guidelines for the gradual reopening of campuses of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) during the COVID-19 pandemic are stated in the Joint Memorandum Circular 2001-001 . Along with the guidelines, the memorandum also mandated that the HEIs should shoulder all the responsibilities of reopening their campuses. Their reopenings, however, are based on their capability to comply with the basic health and safety protocols. Some of the guidelines listed are that limited face-toface classes are not mandatory, and HEIs are still obligated to continue flexible learning. There will also be no conducting of face-to-face extracurricular activities. Public health standards are also to be followed like the strict minimum

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The memorandum also listed down programs to be prioritized for the limited face-to-face classes which are as follows: medicine, nursing, medical technology/medical laboratory science, physical therapy, midwifery, and public health.

The Flame asked several healthallied students from aforementioned programs on whether or not limited face-to-face classes should be implemented next academic year. Miguel Estrada, a medical biology student, said that he is more than willing to participate in the limited face-to-face classes.

“These programs are strongly regarded as vital in providing additional manpower support in the health system,” according to the joint memorandum.

“We could optimize our resources in order for this to happen because the course (medical biology) is hands-on and it would be suitable for us to take the opportunity,” he added.

Only the students who are enrolled in the aforementioned programs and are above 20 years old are allowed to go back to campus. They shall also be given medical insurances that shall cover the COVID-19-related medical expenses.

First-year nursing student, John Edward Cruz said, “Limited face-to-face classes would truly equate to better learning given the direct application of the learnings gained and a more conducive environment instead of staring at a laptop the whole day."

physical distancing of 1.5 meters.

STUDENTS’ INSIGHTS As stated in the CHED Joint Memo, students will be prioritized as universities implement limited face-to-face classes.

He clarified, however, that he will only be willing to participate in the limited face-to-face classes should there be a decrease in the rapid rise of the COVID-19 cases in the country.

Several other students had suggested conditions that the University should aim for to raise their students’ willingness to go back to campus. One is to have all students, faculty members, and non-teaching personnel vaccinated and do regular swab tests. Alcohol/Sanitizers should also be made available at the end of every hallway. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should also be provided by the University. A mode of learning suggested by a student, who preferred to be left anonymous, is to have shifts in classes, and sanitation of rooms in between the shifts. “These can help accommodate more students albeit not at the same time,” she justified. Whether or not the limited faceto-face classes next academic year will push through, the University reassures its students that the current online mode of delivery shall carry on and shall continuously adapt to suit the needs of the students and faculty members. F

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A security guard performing their duties on campus photo by ELIJAH JOHN ENCINAS

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Boboto AKO sa 2022 ignites the fire in voters By MARIA CECILIA O. PAGDANGANAN


photo grabbed from Boboto AKO sa 2022 (Facebook)

LECTION SEASON is always a critical time for Filipinos. Catchy campaign jingles resonate through the streets as voters endure the scorching May heat and long, sweaty queues just to cast their vote. Each inky ballot holds a voter’s hopes and dreams for the next six years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new challenge; the recent slew of unfortunate events has caused some Filipinos to feel pessimistic and hopeless about the 2022 elections. The looming threat of getting infected with the virus has also caused them to hesitate to leave their homes and register to vote. Hence, an AB-borne organization has set its eyes on changing all that. Emboldened by their symbol that was aptly inspired by the Philippine flag, Boboto AKO sa 2022 has been sparking conversations with the youth on responsible voting.

E. Matienzo, PhD. It featured speakers who discussed the ethics of good governance. Cortez was struck by a participant who spoke on how Filipino students lack the decisive action to participate in nation-building, particularly during election season. He recalls, “Ang mga estudyante… magagaling lang daw magsalita, magagaling lang sa classroom, kritikal lang sa classroom. Pero hindi naman talaga [sila] nagpa-participate, lalo na sa elections… Kaya walang nangyayari, wala na masyadong nagbabago sa atin.” This prompted him to meet up with Matienzo and Asst. Prof. Ian Raymond B. Pacquing, PhD, to discuss the possibility of relaunching the Online Talakayan Series and expanding its reach. Thus, Boboto AKO sa 2022 emerged with a purpose: to encourage the youth to register and vote.



In an interview with The Flame, Prof. Franz Giuseppe F. Cortez, PhD says that the organization was born out of the UST Department of Philosophy’s Online Talakayan Series last semester. Entitled "Ethics in Action", the online course was facilitated by Cortez and Asst. Prof. Rhochie Avelino

While the organization is mainly comprised of both student and faculty volunteers, it has also invited collaborators. The pilot episode of the Online Talakayan Series featured James Jimenez, the director, and spokesperson of the Commission on Elections;

Mark Averilla, widely known as “Macoy Dubs” on TikTok; and Thysz Estrada, from We the Youth Vote. By having a mix of election experts and voter education advocates, the organization hopes to connect more to their young audience and start a more engaging conversation with them Christian Zeus S. Suazo, a student volunteer, explains the organization’s decision, saying, “On our part, mas kinukuha din namin...‘yung mga personalities na sikat na [sa] tingin namin is vocal din pagdating sa nation building… And sabi nga ni Sir Franz (Cortez) dati na mas maganda na kami ang mag-decide ‘yung mga personalities na sikat dahil ‘yun ang tingin namin na mas papakinggan ng mga kabataan sa ngayon.” Another student volunteer, Mariefe B. Cruz, also believes that the Online Talakayan Series strays away from the usual setup of seminars. Instead, each episode flows more casually as speakers are free to interact with each other and with their audiences. This way, they are able to resonate more with their viewers. Cruz also notes that Boboto AKO sa 2022 promotes inclusivity through the languages used in their content. The organization currently creates content in Filipino and English, and plans to use Cebuano and Ilonggo languages.

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Boboto AKO sa 2022’s mission, however, is not an easy Mr. Aldrin Manalastas, the organization’s social media and publication materials head, says that social media plays a significant role in educating voters. However, some Filipinos passively absorb information from social media, causing them to enter the voting booth illinformed. He also believes that the pandemic has affected voter registration. Now, eligible voters would either feel paranoid at the prospect of leaving the safety of their homes or have no access to online registration due to connectivity issues. “[W]hen I ask my students sa classroom kung registered ba sila, iba-iba ‘yung sagot. Karamihan dun sa [mga] reason nila is, ‘Sir, nakakatakot pa kasing pumunta [sa presinto],” he says. However, Manalastas furthers that the pandemic serves as a “double-edged sword” that can also encourage more students to register and vote. He says, “A lot of my students… are fired up since this is happening. [They realized] more na dapat tayong bumoto.” Matienzo emphasized that although faculty volunteers participate in Boboto AKO sa 2022’s projects, the organization still remains centered on the youth. As he teaches students critical thinking, he believes that this lesson should go beyond the four walls of a classroom. Students should now channel what they have learned and translate it into decisive action. This is why Boboto AKO sa 2022 advocates for what Matienzo has dubbed “crithecal thinking,” from the

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words “critical” and “ethical.” Here, voters are not just encouraged to think critically, but they must also act concretely. He notes that while many Filipinos are vocal about social issues, their advocacy stops at the social media level. He reflects, “Woke kayo sa maraming bagay, pero hanggang social media lang. Siguro we should [walk our talk]. That is crithecal thinking.”

INCITING CHANGE Despite the challenges, the members of Boboto AKO sa 2022 still remain determined to fulfill their mission of empowering young voters. Cruz says that the organization seeks to remind the youth that they are still the hope of the nation. By casting their vote, they can incite true change. “[B]oboto AKO sa 2022 is one way to remind the youth [that] they can still do something. Even if it is just a droplet, it will ripple,” she optimistically shares. Cortez then urges eligible voters to remain critical in their decisions, adding, “[Ito] ang mensahe ko: Magrehistro, mag-isip, bumoto. In that order!” And with that, Boboto AKO sa 2022 guides young voters in navigating the uncharted waters of the upcoming elections. F

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Our Ate and Kuya in AB Where Are They Now? words by PATRICK V. MIGUEL


HE SUN is starting to peek through the sky by the time Ate Maricar Yabut heads to work. Before the laughter of the Artlets reverberates around the building, Ate Maricar and her fellow maintenance staff walk around and work in AB’s decades-old hallways. From there, she starts on the first floor to tend to the trash bins. Working her way up to the second floor, Ate Maricar ensures that AB would then be a spotless, conducive learning environment. In contrast, Kuya Rayman David’s shift starts in the afternoon as the afternoon shift students enter their first class. Students would often find him in the lobby, welcoming the Artlets. As night time comes, the students’ voices around the hallways gradually fade away. Once the lights around campus shut off, Kuya Rayman and his fellow workmates go home, fulfilled for the day’s job.


FOR THEIR SERVICE Kuya Rayman and Ate Maricar have been working in AB as maintenance staff for 2 years and 15 years, respectively. Throughout this time, they formed friendships not only with their coworkers but also with the professors and students. Ate Maricar recalls her favorite memory in UST, saying, “Ang pinaka paborito kong alaala [sa AB ay] kapag December… kasi maraming nagbibigay sa amin dito kapag Pasko… lalo na ‘yung mga propesor at mga admin.” Reminiscing the days that have passed, Kuya Rayman says, “Masaya ako kapag nakikita ko kayong mga estudyante. Na-miss ko na nga ‘yung bonding [kasi] makukulit eh. May mga pasaway, mabait, [at] mga nerd. Masaya.” Unfortunately, the days when students and professors roamed the hallways of AB have passed. It has been more than a year since the start of lock-

down and classes went online. With this, the desks in classrooms and offices have gathered dust, leaving behind small remnants of how lively AB once was. “Ngayon, malungkot kami kasi wala kayo rito. [Ang lungkot] dito sa building... napaka-tahimik,” Ate Maricar shares. With his voice shifting to a forlorn tone, Kuya Rayman expresses, “Miss ko na kayong [mga estudyante].”

GASPING FOR AIR With the threat of coronavirus in March 2020, Kuya Rayman decided to stay in Pampanga, away from the epicenter of the pandemic. Ate Maricar, on the other hand, stayed in Manila to work, despite her family staying in Quezon Province. “Noong nag-lockdown, wala kaming sweldo… Tapos ngayon… ang pasok lang namin ay dalawang araw sa isang linggo. No work, no pay rin kami,” Ate Maricar says. To make up for lost wages, she was

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hired by the professors to clean their houses. Since Kuya Rayman is scared of getting exposed to the virus, he chose to temporarily not go back to UST. He says, “Isang taon na ako [rito] sa Pampanga…. Sabi ko, kapag okay na ang lahat, doon na lang ako papasok.” With this, Kuya Rayman has no stable job at the moment. He now occasionally works in construction. Unfortunately, despite working more than one job, Ate Maricar still struggles to make ends meet. Ever since the start of the lockdown, she is financially challenged with the monthly bills and the tuition fees of her children. Lamenting her situation, she says, “Mahirap… kaso no choice tayo… kasi ‘yon ang pinapatupad ng gobyerno. Sa amin, kami ang naapektuhan talaga ng todo.” With Kuya Rayman, he grapples with landing a stable job. He says, “Naubos ‘yung ipon [ko]. Walang pagkakakitaan [...] Mahirap na kung wala kang pagkukuhanan… wala kang makain [...] [Kaya] ‘yung [sideline ko] dito sa Pampanga na construction, okay lang basta makaraos….” Both Ate Maricar and Kuya Rayman are gasping for air to breathe, as they continue swimming in a perilous sea of uncertainty. Struggling to stay afloat in the middle of a pandemic, they both have only one priority: to survive.

MARAMING SALAMAT PO The AB Faculty, AB Chorale, and the AB Student Council altruistically expressed their gratitude to the maintenance staff by starting donation drives. Kuya Rayman notes, “Buti may ganoon… malaking tulong sa amin ‘yon [...] Kahit papano, tinutulungan pa rin nila kami.” When asked what inspires them to work in AB, they share a tender smile and say that that was their favorite question. With this, Kuya Rayman wholeheartedly answers, “ Kayong [mga] estudyante.”

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Moved by the question, Ate Maricar says, “Ang aking pamilya. Kaya ako nagtiya-tiyaga… kaya ako nagiging matatag kasi mayroon akong pamilyang binubuhay [...] Para sa kinabukasan nila…. Kahit mahirap, kakayanin [ko].” Despite their struggles during the pandemic, they both remain hopeful for the day when students are back in school, excited to see AB bloom back to life. “Lagi kong pinagdarasal na sana makabalik na sa dati,” Kuya Rayman shares. Full of optimism, Ate Maricar speaks with full manifestation, “Magkikita pa tayo.” The day will come where hallways would be paved by students and professors once again. By that time, these hidden figures often overlooked before should no longer be treated as mere shadows. Now, students should be able to at least sincerely tell them, “Maraming salamat po.” F

House of Aphrodite Aesthetic right from home By MARY NICOLE MIRANDA


SIDE FROM attending online classes and accomplishing academic requirements, students nowadays may struggle exploring new things without leaving their homes. In the case of Patricia Anne Holgado, her love for arts and crafts has kept her occupied during these times, eventually leading to her first business venture. At a young age, Patricia has been fascinated with making artsy crafts. From drawing to scrapbooking, she used her spare time to hone her skills. However, that interest waned as she grew older—until she discovered resin making. For her, it was a challenging yet fun activity to do despite having to endure a meticulous process. Aided with her fastidious hands and imaginative mind, Patricia has created a home to share her crafts: House of Aphrodite.

photo grabbed from Patricia Anne Holgado (Facebook) and House of Aphrodite (Facebook)

FROM DREAMS TO START-UPS The name of the business is representative of the beauty and elegance of the Greek goddess, Aphrodite. As an avid Percy Jackson fan, Patricia drew inspiration from this and applied it to her business. Hence, her products speak for themselves. From customized bookmarks, keychains, necklaces, and hair combs, she makes them with utmost care for her customers. With her growing interest to pursue arts and crafts once again, Patricia excitedly shares her preparations before entering into business. She says, “Nag-research ako nang sobra. Kasi ‘yung resin, hindi siya basic na material eh. [M]edyo complicated siya [gawin] kaya maraming factors na cinonsider muna kasi [s]ince hindi pa

masyadong familiar sa ibang customers.” Upon starting her business, Patricia also carefully researched all the factors she needed to consider to effectively start her business; researching the resin-making materials as well as determining her target customers and the relevance of her products. She planned everything with continuous support from her parents. Patricia formally launched her business online last August 2020 through Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok platforms. Since then, she has been happily making her artistic wonders in her home and solely manages her enterprise. “‘Yung workplace ko po kasi sa garahe namin, hindi po siya pwedeng sa enclosed space kasi may fumes. Kapag gumagawa po ako, [I] need enough space para po sa materials, sa designs, ‘yung mga bottles, ‘yung tables. Medyo time-consuming din

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po siya kasi kailangan mahalong mabuti yung mixture and yung pagpapatigas po sa resin would take 12-24 hours,” she shares enthusiastically.

THOMASIAN ENTREPRENEUR Currently a creative writing sophomore, Patricia juggles her time as a full-time student and entrepreneur. She found a new avenue of expressing herself through her business venture, aside from writing fantastical stories and heart-wrenching poems for her major subjects and while consistently striving to be a responsible seller to her customers despite the struggle of online classes. In addition, she shares that she learned to manage her time well and it really helped her to accomplish her academic and business duties on time. Explaining how she organizes her schedule, Patricia says, “Hindi po maiiwasan na ma-stress talaga [p]ero ang solution ko po doon ay time management. Ang priority ko naman po is studies muna. On normal school days, naglilista po ako ng mga gagawin ko kasi hindi ko po hinahayaan na ma-overwhelm po ako sa lahat mapa-business or academic-related.”

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Just like any other college student right now, Patricia is not exempted from feeling burnout. Even during times of discouragement and exhaustion, she continues to remain professional with her customers. “[I] am trying my best to keep the aura na professional and friendly pa rin towards my customers kahit pagod na,” she says. Patricia also ensures that she remains calm, cool, and collected in handling unprecedented conflicts. She once encountered a joy reserver. Knowing that her products were for pre- order, she had a hard time settling the matter because the customer had already become unresponsive. In solving the problem, she states, “After that, naka-tambay lang talaga sa akin ‘yung products, pero buti na lang nagkaroon ako ng customer na same design ‘yung order kaya ‘yun na lang ‘yung binigay ko and naubos rin naman.”

A TRUE GIRL BOSS From managing her business alone to handcrafting her products, Patricia is already living out the girl boss spirit. She strives to be a girl boss,

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saying “Girl boss kasi means a confident, strong, independent woman diba. I aspire to be like that one-day kaya right now, I am starting to live [by] it. I want to be labeled as a girl boss someday.” As an online seller, the positive and satisfied feedback of her customers on her pre-order products keeps her spirit lifted and moves her to be closer to her goal. When it comes to expanding her business venture in the near future, she plans to expand the variety of her jewelry to earrings, bracelets, and rings. She aims to pursue it further and try to open her business on other social media websites and online shopping applications as well. Being a girl boss that she is today, Patricia emphasizes the importance of exploring one’s abilities and trusting one’s instincts in business: “Kapag gusto mo ‘yung gagawin mo and you really want to handle a business then go for it. Kasi you will never know, baka lumago pala and may mau-unlock silang skills and knowledge by doing their passion. Actually, nakakatuwa maghandle ng business na nae-enjoy mo.” F


A sight of fishermen tending to their fishpens photo by RANIEL ANGELYN FIGUEROA @abtheflame |

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Lilo's Acai a beginner’s guide in healthy eating By CHRISTINE JANINE T. CORTEZ photos grabbed from Lilo's Acai (Instagram)

Lilo's Acai lilosacai @lilosacai Corinthian Gardens, Quezon City 1100

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ITH THE threat of COVID-19, eating healthy foods and becoming fit is now the raging train everybody is eager to jump into. Upfront and center of making health the new wealth is Lilo's Acai, a sprouting online start-up offering a variety of fresh, healthy, and tasty fruit bowls and smoothies made available for all troops in Metro Manila. The Philippines, being heavily consumed by fast-food chains –– from everything made into chicharron, appetizers being listed under the putok batok category, and well-loved street foods –– Filipinos may not be the best candidates to choose a healthy lifestyle. Despite the long list of not-sohealthy local food cravings, Filipinos know how to make the best out of their food and culture. But what most people might forget is that health is also a form of love and our first life partner, our body, needs it in order to be sustained. Going forward, Lilo's Acai is headstrong in filling the gap between great-tasting food and healthy eating. Its main goal is to make healthy living and eating more enjoyable and accessible. A Lilo without her stitch is Liana Lopez, the brainchild and founder of Lilo’s Acai. She initially started making her signature smoothie bowls just for herself and her family during the pandemic. Due to the surging demand for delivery services, she eventually grabbed the chance to introduce healthy food alternatives. Lopez is firm that there are no wrong turns when it comes to healthy foods because it caters to everyone. These eye-candy delights are the smartest way to jump-

start the day and boost one’s metabolism. Although fruity bowls and smoothies may not be the type of food people often see just anywhere, that does not mean that they should already be underestimated. These eye-catching and well-crafted bowls are perfect for those who are into nutritious breakfast and guiltfree desserts. The thing about berries is that they may be small in size but when it comes to nutrients and health benefits, they pack a punch. Luckily, Berry Bliss is jam-packed with tasty and fresh ingredients such as blueberries, strawberries, bananas, kiwis, granola, soy milk, and chia seeds. With the delightful nibblers of the granola, sweet notes from the banana, and a slight zestiness from the berries, this fruit bowl is highly energizing. It is perfect to consume once the day breaks. Bringing nature and tropics together in one bowl is Tropicolada, a smoothie bowl bursting with flavors that reminds one of the beach and summer! Filled with mouthwatering fruits such as pineapples, bananas, kiwis, pitaya powder (dragonfruit), granola, coconut milk, and shredded coconut, this smoothie is a paradise in a bowl. Not to worry because this Tropicolada is not a cocktail. Believe it or not, it is even better than one

since it is also loaded with immune system-boosting vitamins and antioxidants - just exactly what the body needs to fight any virus! The Acai Island smoothie bowl is introducing foreign acai berries to Filipino taste buds. It is exotic while rich in antioxidants. With the combination of blueberries, bananas, white dragon fruits, acai powder, granola, coconut milk, and goji berries, this bowl is a lovely start for those curious minds who have not yet tasted this extremely potent berry! As of writing, Lilo's Acai’s menu has six smoothie bowls and four smoothies to choose from, as well as their ‘seasonal bowl’ that they change every month and only serve for a limited time. The smoothie bowls cost P220 to P275 each while the smoothies cost P115 to P120. Although it is a challenge to ensure they do not melt while in transit, the smoothie bowls surprisingly arrive chilled and even come with a free wooden spoon. "Healthy eating should not be expensive and should be reasonably priced so that more people can attain this healthy lifestyle, " said Lopez. True enough, Lilo's Acai aims to achieve this by being generous on portions and ensuring that the customers get to have the greatest quality with the right value for money. With or without a pandemic, eating clean and being healthy should be a number one priority. As the saying goes, health is the new wealth. This is the right time to give healthy eating a try and unhealthy habits a rest! After all, we are what we eat, right? F

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An escape from life’s burdens through ageold artworks words and photos by JOHN PATRICK A. MAGNO RANARA


deep, heavenly version of Lucio San Pedro’s Sa Ugoy ng Duyan plays in the background, soothing and serenading visitors who enter the newly-launched 360-degree virtual exhibit of the National Museum of the Philippines. The museum commemorates the return of 115 art pieces brought to New York City more than 40 years ago. Installed at the National Museum of Fine Arts, The Philippine Center New York Core Collection of 1974: A Homecoming Exhibition transcends distance and boundaries. It celebrates the power of local artistry, encouraging it to go beyond its roots and represent the Filipino identity to the rest of the world. The exhibit showcases modern and contemporary art that emphasizes folk aesthetics and the indigenization of Western art styles. The Philippine Center in New York was first established on May 10, 1973 before being inaugurated a year later on Nov. 14. With a commitment to nurture Philippine culture, promote tourism, and enhance the diverse and colorful image of the country, the center displayed a collection of 120 artworks by 52 artists. And now, after 47 years, 115 of these artworks have come home to, making it possible for the younger generation to see and appreciate these historical works. The following works give just a glimpse of the Philippines’ rich culture:

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Made through the art style of etching, Rodriguez interprets an image of a young man riding a carabao, breezily playing on the strings of his guitar as he sings his song through the night. Etching is a printmaking process that requires etching needles to carve lines on metal plates. Acid is then poured over the plates, creating recesses that can retain ink. After filling the lines with ink, the plate is then pressed onto paper, and the image is transcribed onto the material. In the olden days, it is common to hear tunes of romance filling the evening air as men would sing sweet and gentle serenades to their lovers sitting by the window. However, in Rodriguez’s work, it can be seen that there is no maiden to be wooed by the young man’s music. This may signify that the serenade is meant to thank the faithful carabao accompanying him. Serenades are mostly sung to a lover, a friend, or a respected person, but the animals that roam the earth should also be offered respect, especially the Philippines’ beloved giants who are loyal partners to hardworking farmers.


BASKET WEAVER BY NORMA BELLEZA Muddy splotches of oil paint form the image of a basket weaver, one of the widest and oldest craftsmen in many Asian civilizations. Conceived from the mind that has consistently portrayed women in all their daily burdens, the smeared and seemingly sloppy strokes of Belleza’s painting depict the weariness of a woman weaver as she constructs her complex craft of grass or wooden material. Basket weavers are still very much prevalent in remote villages and communities, such as that of the Tagbanwa tribe from Coron Island. For the easily captivated tourist, handwoven products often serve as souvenirs from their distant travels. In the tired eyes and burdened backs of the weavers, however, not only is it a remnant of their cultural identity and deep-rooted heritage, but it is also a means to keep their family and their community alive and thriving.

Through his hyper-realistic watercolor painting of a young boy staring outside the window of his humble, provincial home, Goy fills viewers with a sense of repose and longing; of tranquility and the aimless musings of the mysterious mind. Goy expertly and meticulously captures the ambiance of a hot and lazy afternoon through the earthy brown hues and shadows of the nipa hut, and even the soiliness of the ground below. Much like the young boy, viewers may feel themselves staring absentmindedly at the humid portrait as they are enveloped with peaceful isolation. With the COVID-19 pandemic still overstaying its welcome, daydreams have become a habitual experience for Filipinos craving to go out under the sun, free from the restrictive chains of face masks and safety protocols. But the maddening isolation has also paved a way for reflection and self-healing. Music, artistic crafts, and the wondrously boundless imagination— The Philippine Center New York Core Collection of 1974 paved a way for visitors to rediscover age-old artworks. More importantly, it has also opened opportunities for them to be inspired with new ways to adapt to the changing environment and find their own temporary paradise. F

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ith the physical restrictions during these taxing times, the medium for connecting oneself to the outside world is a gadget screen. Through the following fitness YouTubers, one may stretch and exercise by moving to calculated beats and hopping on the mat! THE FITNESS MARSHALL Caleb Marshall known as The Fitness Marshall on YouTube creates original dance workouts to help his viewers break a sweat. The channel started in 2014, enabling viewers to build their own workout through playlists depending on their desired intensity. The workouts are apartment-friendly and choreo intensive, which are suitable for both professional and amateur dancers including families and kids. Most often, Marshall dances with two more dancers with different difficulty levels. The viewer could follow the back-up dancers to move into a beginner’s level. Marshall currently has 3.16 million subscribers with his “Meghan Trainer - Me Too” video attaining 31 million views. The Fitness Marshall is also available on Instagram as TheFitnessMarshall and on this website. BLOGILATES Cassey Ho started Blogilates on YouTube in 2009 by posting workout videos stemmed in Pilates. Although pilates usually requires the use of equipment, Ho’s workouts can be practiced by workout enthusiasts equipment-free. Ho has a playlist on 7-day challenges that target a specific part of the body to tone. This includes the abs, arms, glutes, and thighs. She also has a playlist for her 100-ab challenge for 12 days. For people who are willing to commit to doing

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daily workouts for an entire month, Blogilates posts calendars with a list of workout videos to follow on her website for free. YOGA WITH ADRIENE Starting her YouTube account in 2012, Adriene Mishler is a yoga teacher who reminds her students to breathe and to listen to what feels good. Mishler does not only cater to her 9.58 million subscribers’ physical glow-up –– she also reminds them to nourish their minds and hearts. Known as Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, Mishler posts free yoga videos that people can dive in. Although yoga often pictures different complex poses and advanced knowledge of gymnastics, Mishler never forgets to give alterations on moves that her audience may find trouble in doing. She reminds her students that some postures need a little more practice and that there is no need to rush things. Yoga with Adriene is available on Facebook (yogawithadriene) and on her website.

Moving in the Zone, Nourishing the Body

By THEA ANDREA C. MAGUERIANO photos grabbed from Blogilates (Youtube), TheFitnessMarshall (Youtube), and Yoga with Adriene (Youtube)



BREATHE IN POSITIVITY, BREATHE OUT TOXICITY John Raphael Mendoza, a journalism junior, stretched for a week with Yoga with Adriene's Breathe, a 30-day yoga journey. He had long been doing workouts even when classes were still held physically and he stayed consistent despite the online classes. Mendoza first started doing workouts when he joined a school pep squad. It was when he was 13 years old that he felt his body developed. A year after joining, he then tried kung fu. "[A]fter learning kung fu, I incorporated exercise techniques both from the pep squad and kung fu so ‘yun yung dahilan kung bakit ako nag start mag work out. [...] I developed my own routine the whole time," he shared. Doing workouts for 8 years, Mendoza's recent workout consists of multiple exercises such as an insanity program and jogging. "My recent workout routine before trying yoga is doing the insanity program developed by Shaun T, which is a very intense workout where you push your body to the limit. The program is done in 60 days. My other workout routines are also jogging, kung fu exercises, and upper body workouts like push ups, pull ups and chin ups," he said. He said that the yoga journey has helped him focus mentally while also improving his flexibility. It also improved his overall blood circulation and taught him proper breathing. Through yoga, he felt connected with other people. "I feel connected with other people while doing the workout since you can relate to their health status," Mendoza added. He also asserted that he will carry through the yoga routine, adding it as part of his recovery exercises, relaxation, and mental exercise. While Mendoza stated that he didn't struggle with following the workout, due to the current class set-up, he agonized that it is difficult to manage one's time while juggling academics. "[I]t's disadvantages during online classes is the schedule and time management since you also need to prioritize your academics," he said. Online classes have become synonymous with burdensome school work that can harm both the mind and body. Through exercise, one can feel nourished and rejuvenated. Due to the current setup, working out became limited. Having to list a workout routine may also just add up as a workload and may make exercising feel like a chore. Luckily, through these YouTube fitness channels, exercise could be done at home with joy and ease. F @abtheflame |

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Twilight hour along a busy highway photo by FRANCES MARIE G. IGNALAGA

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A glowing wine glass photo by RANIEL ANGELYN FIGUEROA @abtheflame |

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Balot ng kadiliman ang kapaligiran. Nakatingala sa mga ningning ng mga bituin Hirayang nais tuldukan ang sapalaran. Pati ang sangsang ng kayod na magdamag. Pinagmamasdan ang kanilang kinang sa mga naglalakihang imahe sa kalsada. Naghahangad na mapabilang sa kanila. Tinatanaw ang karangyaan mula sa nanlalabong parisukat. Pinamamalas na mga idolo ang katangi-tanging reyalidad. Pagliwaliw sa tirik na araw, pagtampisaw sa pinilakang tabing, at paglanghap sa mga sariwang luto. Ginhawa’y hindi matutumbasan kapag nakatapak sa brilyo ng karurukan. Nang napagtanto muli ang nais makamit, biglang itinapon ang aking kagamitan. Itinaboy nang walang iniuwing kita sa bangketa ng kawalan. Kalugmukan ang naghari sa pusong sugatan. Kaya nagpakalunod sa sarap ng serbesa para maghilom sa kalungkutang dinadala. Magdamag na nagmukmok sa pangarap na hindi na maaabot. Hanggang sa matuklasan ang liwanag na nang-aakit sa silaw na tinataglay. Itinuklas ang kabilang banda ng lagusan. Napadpad sa lugar na hindi pamilyar, sa katawang hinulma sa bawat anggulo, at sa sutlang dumudulas sa balat. Mukhang nakatungtong sa tuktok. Nakatayo sa tutok ng kapangyarihan. Natatanaw ang bawat ilaw ng siyudad. Kinikislapan sa ganda ang bawat madla.

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Ibinuhos sa sarili ang lahat ng luho. Lumamon sa mga sarap ng buhay. O kay tamis ng paghiga sa kama ng salapi at kasikatan. Hawak ang bawat patak ng oras sa paglaho ng mga bulabog sa isipan. Kagaanan ay hindi papipiglas sa aking palad. Pinalilibutan ako ng kaligayahan. Ngunit wala ako karamay sa pagliwaliw. Nabuburyong sa ingay ng katahimikan. Ang mga kisap ng kapaligiran ay isang mapanlinlang na bitag. Sapagkat sila’y mga uwak na naghahanap ng mailalahad. Pangyurak sa malinis na katauhan. Gusto ko na kumawala sa hawla ng bangungot. Hindi nakaliligaya ang estadong hindi natamasa sa sariling dugo at pawis ng pagsisikap. Tulong! Ang sigaw sa kamunduhan. Ngunit walang tengang makakarinig sa iniindang pait sa kalawakan. Isang paraan ang ideyang naiisip. Magbabasakali ako’y bumalik sa sarili. Tumalon sa tugatog ng kalayaan. Lumagapak sa nangingisay na kadiliman. F

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Daisies in the Rain words by ABIGAIL M. ADRIATICO art by JOHN PATRICK A. MAGNO RANARA

With her face planted on the grass, Lauren stared intently at the freshly dug soil. Though it was already covered by the dirt, she could feel the life from the daisy seed she had just planted. Her mother had taught her how to harness that energy with proper focus. Placing her hand over the patch, she tried tuning into her mind just as she was taught to. But to her dismay, nothing happened. Heaving a defeated sigh, perhaps her fifth of the day, she rolled onto her back and onto the other patches of soil. She let her head rest beside the gravestone while she listlessly gazed at the overcast sky, fighting the urge to cry. Like the one she had just planted, her previous attempts of growing flowers had failed. She used to be able to grow bountiful gardens teeming with life in a matter of minutes. But ever since her mother died, it was as if her powers had weakened significantly. The best she could do was sense the life force within plants— the most basic of all Gaian abilities. As she wallowed in her own frustrations, a single drop of rain fell from the sky. Soon enough, a strong downpour followed suit. Realizing that she did not bring an umbrella, Lauren got up and ran towards the small gazebo nearby.

At first, it was just their toys. But when he accidentally scorched her hand, they stopped playing together. They inevitably drifted apart, becoming nothing more than just neighbors. Even now, Lauren could feel the distance that separated them. There was an awkward silence that settled between them until Aiden decided to break it. He spoke somberly without meeting her eyes, “The daisies in your garden have not bloomed in a while.” Lauren froze. She could feel her tears starting to fall. Frustratingly, she wiped them away. The statement triggered something in her. It was as if the waves of grief and loneliness she was ignoring came crashing, drowning her with the pain she kept to herself. Everything she had been hiding instantly begged to be poured out. Aiden’s eyes widened, taken aback. He decided against saying anything. Instead, he reached out to pat her head. It was something he used to do to comfort Lauren whenever she held back her tears. Like the time she tripped and scraped her knee, the warmth of his hand gave her the reassurance that everything will be alright. As his eyes met hers, bearing the same kindness as he did back then, she finally let herself cry. After a while, when her tears dried and the rain stopped pouring, Aiden decided to walk her back to her mother’s grave. With a lighter heart, Lauren closed her swollen eyes and muttered a short prayer. Beside her, Aiden’s lips formed a smile as he noticed something different from one of the patches of soil. A tiny leaf had sprouted from the ground. F

When she got there, a tall boy wearing a dark blue hoodie bearing the crest of her school was leaning on the structure’s post. His eyes widened as he saw her, a mixture of surprise and recognition forming on his face. “Flower girl?” A frown formed on Lauren’s face as she was reminded of her nickname when she was a kid; something that he knew annoyed her to no end. “Still calling me that, Aiden?” Aiden sheepishly smiled as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. Lauren rolled her eyes. She was never particularly fond of him. Being next-door neighbors, they played a lot when they were younger. However, when his Promethean abilities emerged, he always caused something to burn.

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y b h t a e D s ’ m o s s Blo Touch



Three colors constricted My life, monotonous. Dreary Like the routine of the widowed ogre across The street. Like an unendingly unwinding esplanade Of misery, caused by the everyday reawakening Of painted yellow, pink, and white Four o’clock flowers— commanding My hands gloved before the clock stretches Its hands to set the late afternoons, The nighttime, and the dawn ‘Til the giggle of late sunshine is heard once again. Touch is made an eternal foe By my curse, controlling. Overpowering Like the lightning that manipulates the scarecrows across The desiccated fields. Like a master disapproving of My simple desire, of lengthened hours Of staying outside unbridled By the curse— evoking My power of casting death upon anything I touch. Its command takes effect as the four o’clock’s bloom; The bunch that sings and carries an unpleasant tune ‘Til the late afternoon, the nighttime, and the dawning end.

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I am disheartened but unfazed of My time, always limited. Bounded Like I was meant to meet death without coming across The permanence of bonds. Like the unbreakable string between friends, lovers Of the same peculiarity, similar knots of innate mysteries, Without fear of killing the other By mere accidental touch— preventing My desire for company within my somber home and Its almost-barren walls where the damned painting hangs, Accompanied by nothing but the wallpaper that strips itself off ‘Til it strips the walls empty, only to attach itself all over again. Fate, however, took a turn and blessed My life, renewed. Vivified Like a phoenix freed from a life of cages ablaze, Invigorated to fly across The endless sky. Like a miracle on one ordinary noon, I met Mariposa. With splendid wings Of colors glistening, With skin so radiant and a gaze so familiar, She brought upon me fear Of the unfamiliar feeling of infatuation. By heavens grace within bounded times, we loved— surmounting My disbelief for finding romance. Our usual rendezvous begins Its melody under shape-shifting clouds, from late mornings ‘til The nearing of late afternoons signal our time to part,

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art by LEANNE T.


‘Til the blooming of the painted flowers come to another day’s end. Quandary arises as Mariposa questions My time, barely sufficing. Unsatisfying Like a thirst unquenchable Even by Merman Merle’s Gratifying potions sold across the ocean. Like a brave lover, I craved to admit my curse But, like a coward afraid Of breaking a bond earned, I am terrified Of exposing my bare hands barred By gloves; my leathered barriers— protecting My Mariposa. I do long for a paradise enclosing Its flora around my lover and I, stripped of The need to hide my touch, my curse. Yet, ‘Til now I seal my lips, feel my heartache As I feel her disappointment, yet again. Andale! Impatience whispers over My curse, still unfaltering. Relentless Like the cacophony of the jinxed flowers painted unlovely across The canvas. Like heeding desperation, I rush towards the artwork, thinking Of nothing but yearning for days unbeholden to my touch’s danger, Of setting the painting of Four o’clock’s on fire— burning My cautionary tale of a life, at long last! Anticipating, I feel Its power vanish as my gloves do the same yet, My crumbling hands disrupt The jubilance in my system; my body ablaze, Dissipating to my horror ‘til the fire, The eternal curse burns me to my end. F


Liban sa kalansing ng kutsara’t tinidor, buntong hiningang lamang na galing sa uluhan ng hapag ang dinig. Mula roon din ang yamot na matang panay ang upo sa bakanteng silya. Minsan pa ay hahantong ito sa dalawang binatilyong tahimik na nag-hahapunan. Nag-ibang landas ang tingin nang lumangitngit ang pinto, kasunod ang mabibigat na yabag. “Saan ka na naman galing?” Kasing talim ng tono nito ang kaloob na titig. Walang sagot ang bagong dating na ama. Hinugot lang nito ang pitaka sa bulsa at inilagay sa ibabaw ng estante. Walang imik na binalikan ng asawa ang lumamig nang sardinas. May dumaang kislap sa mata ng binatang si Nico. “Naks,” sambit niya. “Sinuwerte si Tatay.” Tahimik pa rin. Nilapit ni Nico ang bibig sa tainga ng nakababatang kapatid. “Sinuwerteng makakupit kay Mang Jonas habang naglalaro!”


Dumantay ang mabigat na palad sa likod ng kanyang ulo, ngunit pagtingin niya sa ama ay nakangisi ito. May ngiti ring naglaro sa mukha ng kaniyang kapatid, pero sa ina ay walang talab. “Baka nakalimutan mo, Raul,” panimula ng asawa niya. “May anim na libo pang hinihintay ‘yung boss mo.” Nawala ang ngiti ng ama. “Tess, huwag mo akong masimulan ngayon.” “Puro ka kasi sugal!” sigaw ni Tess, kaniyang mga ugat sa leeg ay lumitaw. “Lalo tayong nawawalan ng pera!” May kirot sa dibdib ni Nico na napagitnaan ng sagutan. “Paano tayo magbabayad? Wala nang may gustong magpautang sa’tin!” Nanginginig na ang boses ng ina. Mahigpit namang nakakuyom ang kamao ng ama. Bumigat ang agam-agam ng binata. Lalo pa siyang nabalisa nang matanaw ang bintanang malapit sa mag-asawa. Kaswal ang tindig doon ng aleng kulay abo ang buhok at may lilang bandana sa leeg. Nakatutok pa siya sa pang-

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yayari. Hinayaan na niya ang kapitbahay na si Aling Nena. Nakasanayan na niya ito. Bata pa lang siya ay kilala na niya ang aleng tampulan ng tsismis. Pabulong kung pangalanan siyang mangkukulam o mambabarang. Ngunit, para kay Nico, butihing manggagamot lang ang matanda.May kumislap sa pinaroroonan ni Aling Nena. Nang tignan ni Nico, nanggaling lang pala sa palawit na suot ng ale, tinamaan ng ilaw. Medalyon iyon na tangan ang imahe ng Birhen. Si Aling Nena mismo ang nagpaliwanag na pananampalataya ang pinag-uugatan ng kaniyang kakayahan. Kaya naman, hindi na siya mawalay sa kuwintas na gawa pa raw sa ginto. Ginto, pag-iisip ni Nico. Umaliwalas ang mukha ng binata. “May sasaglitin lang ako,” pabulong na sabi nito sa kapatid, ang hintuturo ay nasa labi. Pinawisan sa kaba si Nico nang madatnan ang sarili sa tapat ni Aling Nena. Ang kaniyang isip ay puno ng pagbabakasakaling mayroong mapapahiram ang matanda. Sinagot naman siya ng nagtatakang tingin ni Aling Nena. Huminga ng malalim ang binata. Nang mahanap ang lakas ng loob, agad niyang ibinunyag ang pakay. Pumalatik ang matanda. “Mukha ba akong may anim na libo sa bulsa, iho?” Hindi nakasagot ang binata. Marahang bumaba ang kaniyang mga mata sa gintong palawit ng matanda. Nanlaki ang mata ni Aling Nena nang mapansin ang sulyap ng binata. “Hindi mo alam ang kapalit ng hinihingi mo, Nico.” “Pakiusap, Aling Nena.” Pinaghintay siya sa labas ng kwarto ng matanda. Mabigat ang pintig ng kaniyang puso. Nakapinid ang pinto sa kwarto ni Aling Nena,

subalit dinig ni Nico ang pagbanggit ng mga salitang kakaiba sa pandinig niya. Sumasabay rito ang langitngit ng dingding at mga bakal na parte ng pinto. Tila ba’y may nais kumawala sa kwarto ng matanda. Binalot ng kilabot ang binata nang masaksihan niya ang sasaglit na pagkawala ng bigat ng kapaligiran. May maliliit na bungkos ng lilang hangin na nagmula sa siwang ng pinto. Dumaloy ito sa hangin patungo sa kaniya. Nagbukas ang pinto at lumabas ang matanda. Lumapit siya sa namumutlang binatilyo at nag-abot ng nakatuping lilang panyo.Binuklat iyon ni Nico. Hindi lamang anim na libo ang nasa panyo, kundi sampu. “Huwag mong ipapaalam sa kahit kanino,” sabi ng matanda. Bagamat puno ng pagtataka, napangibabawan ito ng kanyang pagkamangha na agad naging galak. Kumaripas ng takbo si Nico at sa isang iglap ay kaharap na ang mga magulang at kapatid. Apat na mukha ang nakangiting maluwag. Kinabukasan, maagap na lumakad si Raul, dala ang salapi. Nang magsimula namang bumaba ang araw, umalis din si Tess. Kaagad naman siyang bumalik, bitbit ang supot na may tatak pa ng isang tanyag na fast food. Pritong manok ang inihain pang-hapunan. Mabilis na pinalibutan ng mag-anak ang hapag. Subalit, may bakanteng silya muli. Maya-maya ay bumukas ang pinto. “Saan ka galing?” Malumanay ang tono ni Tess ngayon. Nakatingin naman sa hapag si Raul. “Aba, parang may birthday!” Mahina ang naging tawa ng dalawang magkapatid. Walang imik ang ina. Ngunit sa kitid ng lamesa, ramdam ang pagkakalayo-layo ng apat sa isa’t isa. Bago man ang hain, kinulang pa rin ang lasa. Tahimik nilang idinaos ang magarbong hapunan. F

The Eternal Streams words by PATRICK V. MIGUEL art by THEA ANDREA MAGUERIANO

The edge of the river kissed the tips of her toes as if it was enticing her to follow through. Without a second thought, Esang took off her duster dress, letting it drop on the pebbles by her feet. Staring through the reflection on the river, she remembers the very first moment she emerged in this world. Years ago, when her village’s only source of water was the river her nanay and lola frequently sat there to wash their clothes. Pregnant at the time, nanay felt the momentous pain in her womb. Until then, she knew that she would soon have someone to cradle in her arms. With no time to call for the kumadrona, nanay laid by the pebbles and spread her legs. Immediately, lola gently held nanay’s hands as she cried in agony while blood flows through the pebbles into the river. It did not take long until the child entered this world. This time, however, there were no cries at all. @abtheflame |

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Alarmed, lola checked, and to her surprise, the child had no air to breathe. She pats nanay’s shoulder which momentarily caused her to break down into tears. Esang was born into this world lifeless. Still, like the water. Consequently, lola sunk the child into the water and pleaded for the presence of the diwata. “Lend this child a life,” she whispered, “I beg you.” Suddenly, the river formed a whirlpool around Esang, and within seconds, bubbles form from the child’s breath appeared in the water Immediately grabbing the baby from the water, lola sighed in relief as Esang finally released her first cry. She wailed as if carrying the heaviest burden of this world. She kept going on as if she was grieving the life she originally never had. Esang’s life started in the river, and more than two decades after, she is now ready to give it back to the diwata who granted her one. It all started when she met Nerisa, the daughter of a brute haciendero called Patron in Hacienda Paraiso. As Esang grew up to be a healer, she met Nerisa who’s flesh was gradually being eaten by unseen mites at the time. She still remembers how a simple touch had both her and Nerisa so flustered. Both of their bodies became warmer as Nerisa’s mestiza face immediately turned red. Using the water from the river, the milagrosa hands of Esang easily took away Nerisa’s agony, bringing her relief, and unknowingly, intimacy. From then, both had shared a bond

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most eyes would only see as a sisterly friendship. However, both Esang and Nerisa had their lips bruising each other behind closed doors. Some nights, when everyone was asleep, both shared a bed, causing a hurricane within the silk blanket. Free from the eyes and loose mouths in the hacienda, Nerisa and Esang both found the river as their safe haven. They spent most of their days there, under the tropical sun, and found intervals to kiss underwater. One day, Nerisa came running to Esang. Shaking, she said, “They found out. My papa found out.” Tears immediately rushed down her cheeks. “Papa is going to kill me, love.” Calm as she has always been, Esang hugged Nerisa tightly. “Pack your clothes. We’ll elope and find a place far from here.” Nerisa looked into Esang’s eyes, and suddenly, the soft crevice of her lips was filled by Esang’s. Staying still, it was as if time stopped and the only thing ticking fast are their hearts. They both agreed to meet by the river by four in the afternoon before the last bus in town leaves at 4:30. Hours have passed, and Esang was still left standing alone by the side of the river. When the moon finally appeared in the sky, she began to doubt that her love was coming. As she continued waiting, a sudden tug within her got her eyes drawn to the river. It felt so urgent that she could not stop herself from walking towards the water. Back at present, bare and afraid, Esang continued walking deeper into the river and kept walking until she was

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sinking— no longer seen on the surface. Underwater, she closed her eyes and the river guided her to a scene in her village. From the water, she heard the horror of Nerisa’s scream as her father whipped her with a tail of a stingray. In her mind, she sees the image of Patron taking out his pistol and directing it to Nerisa. On her knees, Nerisa looks up to Patron as the barrel is pointed on her forehead. Within seconds, Patron pressed the trigger and suddenly— “No!” Esang screamed underwater. Fighting for air, she swam to the surface and as she emerged from the water, her screams still reverberated. “Nerisa!” Esang shouted as blood came out of her eyes and mouth like a broken faucet. She felt Nerisa’s pain as the hot metal bullet forced its way into her head. With that, her face was carmine— still with blood dripping endlessly out of her eyes and mouth. "I give my life back to you," Esang prayed to the Diwata. In a strike, waves pulled Esang back into the water. The river formed a whirlpool around Esang who still bled, lacing her blood with the water. Not long after, Esang’s body gradually became like sand; gradually diluting— Gradually becoming nothing. wEsang returned her life back to the Diwata but some days, remnants of her life still remain with the river’s unending stream. Most days, the current of the stream was too much, it took several lives. People around the village have noticed that even if Esang disappeared into the water, her anger and pain remained –– and the ones who dive are cursed to live her agony. F

The fishermen help pull back a broken boat photo by RANIEL ANGELYN FIGUEROA

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The Flame Vol. 56 Issue No. 3  

In its third issue for P.Y. 2020-2021, The Flame, the official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Lett...

The Flame Vol. 56 Issue No. 3  

In its third issue for P.Y. 2020-2021, The Flame, the official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Lett...


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