Scout : 2019 October-December

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In this issue

W W W . S C O U T M A G . P H

issue no. 37 space issue group publisher/executive vice president bea j. ledesma editorial manager eric nicole salta creative director nimu muallam associate editor rysa mary antonio designer cathy dizon junior content creators giselle s. barrientos katrina maisie cabral jelou galang rogin losa staff photographers and videographers argyl leones, samantha ong, bea tan, jp talapian, jonas timbreza copy editor contributors

Death by big data 04 culture Children of the future 06 profiles Beyond boundaries 10 culture Come in peace 12 feature Space invaders 18 food Food for the cosmos 22 cover story Marco Gallo 30 essay Homebound 32 portfolio To the revolution 40 scene Within the wires 42 culture Postcards 48 culture Letter to the future 03 essay



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ON THE COVER Marco wears Yves Camigue Photography by Regine David Styling by Quayn Pedroso Makeup and Hair by Dorothy Mamalio With styling assistant Eugene Malabad

board chairperson alexandra prieto-romualdez chief investment officer, inquirer group of companies j. ferdinand de luzuriaga chief operating officer, inquirer group of companies atty. rudyard arbolado svp/group hr officer raymund soberano vp/chief strategic planning officer imelda c. alcantara associate hr director ma. leonisa l. gabrieles hr services supervisor reynalyn s. fernandez executive assistant/ editorial content planner jill cruz head of operations and business development lurisa ann villanueva key account supervisor angelita tan-ibañez sales supervisor sarah cabalatungan key accounts officer altheia ordiales senior account executive kyle cayabyab, xenia sebial

patricia romualdez mika bacani, lady badoy, john eric bico, regine david, mikael angelo francisco, phillip jamilla, eugene malabad, dorothy mamalio, rg medestomas, quayn pedroso, zoe vidal account executives chloe dianne cartoneros, christine joy galura, rose carina mamonong, anne medina, kimberly tañafranca, andie zuñiga sales support assistant rechelle nicdao sales coordinator faith casido, trisha marie gonzales, maria erieka olitres marketing supervisor ziggy chavez marketing officer andrea jeohanna velasco marketing assistant demicah bedoya cassandra belcina patricia supapo designer bianca pilar junior designer nina angelika issabelle reyes production and distribution manager jan cariquitan production specialist maricel gavino junior multimedia supervisor michael christian yabut distribution specialist arnulfo naron senior distribution assistant angela quiambao liason associate rosito subang

For general inquiries, email us at or 4F Media Resource Plaza, Mola cor. Pasong Tirad Sts., Brgy. La Paz, Makati City

@scoutmagph #marcoforscout

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Here's a puzzle for you, kid: This isn't broken. You'll hear from me soon, I hope.

Teleportation is how cyborg children communicate. As for dead goth children like me? We pick up our skull phones and listen for voices from the other side.

GISELLE Hello, 3030 cyborg children. These are called jackstones. They're ancient items we used to play with to have fun. Use them. Talk to each other. Or beep. Do you still have vocal cords? Oh also, don't step on the stars; the pointy ends hurt. (In case you still have nerve endings.)

Letters from Before anything else, you need to know that corporeal things aren't ďŹ nite. Everything that has ever existed is an expanse of possibility. For Scout 37, we go beyond and see the potential in the mundane. In these pages are stories that explore concepts beyond space, beyond time, beyond the day-to-day: a futuristic dreamscape grounded in very real, very current realities. We predict, infer, and look forward in ways that could be amazingly on point or horribly, horribly wrong. So to the future generations of Scout, we leave you with this time capsule. Have fun and run with it (like we did making it).

JELOU Pick up this kaleidoscope when your body runs out of batteries and the world feels like too much. Tinker with its layers; let your eyes pierce its tunnels. If you see the patterns, send me a message. The world is much bigger than you see, kid. You just have to look up.

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KAT Here's a little something I found in an old European town, where trinkets are left in the dust of market stalls. The music plays and plays, without a care in the world for time and space.

CATHY You see a strange black disc. The note the package came with calls it a "record,� and this one is in need of repair. The note is covered in doodles that show you how to fix it. Intrigued, you pick up the bottle of wood glue from the box, like the note tells you to, and get to work.

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The digital revolution arrived in the 21st century with a tremendous force, killing mechanical and analog machinery in just two decades. Now, data-driven tech continues to grow towards an alarmingly insidious direction: selling big data.

Death by big data Words by Rysa Antonio

George Orwell is rolling in his grave. What once was a dystopian future imagined by the 20th century novelist is now an eerie roadmap to where human society is heading. A part of me holds on to the alternate universe where the futurists who thought up “The Jetsons” would prevail in predicting human behavior and technological trends. With the advent of the internet, all the amazing things that could have been brought on by online connectivity have now been overcast by the looming threat of a widely restrictive world order. Big data turning into a buzzword for government and corporate surveillance remains the biggest plot twist (or self-fulfilling prophecy) of the 21st century. From being viewed as the best invention of modern technology to being feared as the greatest threat of modern democracy, big data’s role as an information hub has slowly evolved into something more sinister—a propaganda machine. There is much research that touches upon the problematic use of big data but at its base, it is simply the interconnected relationships between masses of disjointed information transmitting at lightning speed across our devices. Disjointed information that includes our names, faces, private details, tracking cookies, and anything we share or post. In short, our entire lives. All of our personal experiences, condensed into sellable pieces of information for companies to target advertising to—or worse, for our governments to monitor and control our behavior, speech, and relationships. big data is Big Brother. And soon, we might very well not be allowed to doublethink. For the subversive doublethinkers here at Scout, here is a list of resources for you to retain your privacy and online freedom if and when Big Brother’s omnipotent eye becomes a reality sooner than later. VPN Let’s start with the basics. A virtual private network (VPN) is probably already something most people have as early as now. An IP scrambler can help you protect your location and device from hacking or tracing, especially if you need to make any discreet purchases or online interactions.

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App permission tracker Various productivity apps, social media apps, and even period-tracking apps have all been proven as data sellers. To counter this, there is an app that tracks the permissions given to all existing app store downloads found in a device. Permissions that go beyond the usual “allowed to use your camera” or “will receive your profile and photo” that is. The reason why people are never really sure how targeted ads make it to their feeds is that terms and conditions are made to bury details of tracking, collating and repurposing your data. Make sure to monitor your app permission tracker and you will never be misled by bloated walls of text on your device screen again. Encrypted messaging In our imagined dystopian reality, unmonitored communication is nearly impossible. Getting on an encrypted messaging platform might be difficult should a strict ban for them crop up, but another option is to use normal messaging platforms with specially encrypted messages that can only be decoded by offline software downloaded to your VPN-equipped device. Deep web forums Not a fail-safe place, but they can serve their purpose of being a discreet platform to conduct transactions. In a dystopian world order, contraband will start to include anything that can incite free speech such as films, books or any form of art. Since it will take several steps to penetrate the deep web, using these forums can buy you and your online groups some time to come together before doing a superficial wipe of your online footprint. You will only be audited once a dedicated search is set aside to trace your internet activity. Mask Since online anonymity is being challenged, a physical mask can bring back a bit of safety. If you cannot be identified, then nothing can be used against you. The danger online is only real once it manifests in the offline world—your mask will be the first line of defense in reclaiming your privacy and fighting for your right to speak without unconstitutional consequences. ■

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Children of the future, let me tell you something Words by Rogin Losa

As sci-fi slowly turns into reality, how crazy can the distant future get? Children of the future will be Ray Bradbury’s wet dreams realized. Our “Black Mirror” imaginations are their historical anecdotes. In their heads, they would laugh at our idea of the future; the same way we laugh at movies like “Back to the Future” or “The Jetsons.” Our present day is slowly catching up to sci-fi novels of the past. So at this point in time, how absurd can the distant future get? National Geographic’s Race Card Project said the future belongs to the hybrids. They weren’t talking about interspecies relationships. As a matter of fact, they’re talking about the racial makeup of a superpower nation like America. In Eugene Yang’s famous BuzzFeed video, he made a note that 2042 will belong to what we call racial minorities today.

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Millennials and Gen Z are linked by the rapid growth of technology. Future generations like the Alpha Generation, people born from 2010 to 2025, will reap the benefits of its golden age. Mark McCrindle, who coined the term Generation Alpha, predicts they will be the most formally educated generation ever. Both Yang and McCrindle agree that this generation will be the wealthiest. Teenagers and young adults like us go through the motions of cynicism. We worry about what a young person like Greta Thunberg gets anxious about: our climate’s fast decline, apathetic world leaders, and the worsening burden of capitalism. Pop culturesavvy folk compare the future to dystopian Y.A. novels like “The Hunger Games” or “Maze Runner.” Both stories where Earth succumbed to those problems.

But through analysis and data, it seems we can be more positive about what the future holds. And it’s thanks to what we can change today. Instead of gruesome dystopian scenes, let’s get absurd the way fashion critics from the ’50s went crazy predicting future fashion trends. Here are our predictions for what the kids of the distant future will be like. The future will belong to hybrids, to the marginalized, and to the optimists. ■

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Beyond boundaries The world needs brilliant minds and fresh ideas now more than ever—and these young Pinoy STEM advocates are stepping up

Words by Mikael Angelo Francisco

The planet is burning—that's a fact. Whether it's a consequence of plastic pollution or the climate change conundrum, the clock is ticking to what may be the world's impending destruction. Fortunately, not all is lost. Earth's saving graces may come in the form of these young scientists' experiments, from rainy day energy sources to mango peel plastic solutions.

Yumi Briones and Gabby Ozaeta Innovating solar panels for the rain On the subject of solar panels, one of the first questions tends to be: “Do they work when it’s cloudy or when it’s raining?” The short answer is yes, but with limited effectiveness. And of course, this leads to another question: How well do solar panels work in the Philippines? “It rains a lot in the Philippines,” explained Yumi Briones, a fourth year chemistry major. “This led to the identification of a problem: Solar panels are less efficient in the rain. So we thought, why can't we [have] the best of both worlds?” “The idea came from an article Yumi and I read about a hybrid solar cell that could flip over when it rained and collect energy from it,” shared Gabby Ozaeta, a fourth year chemistry and material science and engineering student. “It got us thinking about alternative energy sources and whether or not these things could be commercially feasible.” After crunching the numbers, the two young chemists realized that they had a potential game-changer on their hands, but

Photo by Yeonjoo Lee

with one small problem: Local industries aren’t quite ready to produce this technology yet. However, that didn’t stop them from moving forward. And so Rainshine, a unique solar panel that could be flipped over to harness the power of rain that falls on its surface, was conceived. “We aim to provide more power at a lower cost, not to mention lessening your carbon footprint overall,” said Gabby. “One very practical benefit is that Rainshine can provide electricity during typhoons when the grid is down,” added Yumi. The pair took inspiration from research done in China and India but came up with the design and concept for Rainshine on their own. Right now, they are focusing on advancing it past the conceptual stage. After they test out a prototype next year, they’ll move on to commercial production. What made you want to pursue this project? Gabby: The project was for the competition Go Green in the City (currently called Schneider Go Green) from the company Schneider Electric. We wanted to pursue it because it was something new for us. After all, there aren’t a lot of case competitions that cater to science students! They were also looking for projects that focused on green energy and energy management, and that was something really relevant and interesting to me. Yumi: It's also a great exercise in solving real-world problems, which is something that students don't often get to practice in class. Again, this solution is rooted in a very practical insight. Knowing that Rainshine will benefit society in a very tangible way was really the main motivation for us. What got you interested in STEM in the first place? Gabby: Even as a young kid, I wanted to learn and understand what made the world work. I’ve had all these dreams of being an astronaut or a mad scientist or an inventor, and I really believed STEM was the way I’d be part of something bigger than myself. Yumi: I chose chemistry on a whim after

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watching two episodes of “Breaking Bad” in high school. [It] goes to show that sometimes we discover our reasons after we make our choices, and over the years I've found mine. My personal passion is cancer research, but I want to use my knowledge in chemistry to better society in any way possible. If you weren't in this field, what career would you choose? Gabby: Maybe law or something related to social development. I’m a big advocate for persons with disabilities and they still face a lot of stigma and injustice, so that’s something I would definitely pursue as a career. Yumi: [I] don't know if this is cheating because it's still partially science—but I'd be in technopreneurship, which is sort of the interface between technology and business. I've always wanted to expand my business sense and apply this to the rapidly evolving technology of our time. How do you spend your time outside of the laboratory? Gabby: I really like to bake and do little crafting projects when I have the time. I’m also an officer in an organization that advocates persons with disabilities. Yumi: I play the piano and write occasionally. I think movies, books, and TV shows are some of the most truthful expressions of reality, so I invest a lot of time in those. How would you explain your project to your grandmother? Gabby: Our project is a panel that can generate energy from the sun and the rain called Rainshine. We combine a special material called graphene and a regular solar panel to allow us to collect energy in any weather. With Rainshine, we can generate a lot more energy than a regular solar panel and hopefully help out areas affected by heavy rains. Yumi: That's our elevator pitch, plus our tagline: With Rainshine, we can power through every season.

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Paola Bañaga

Since her early youth, Paola Angela Bañaga has had a strong affinity with science. “I grew up enjoying science shows (“Sineskwela,” Discovery Channel, and the like) and even until now, the TV series or movies that attract me the most are the sciencerelated ones about discoveries, experiments,” said the 26-year-old applied physics graduate, who is currently taking up MS atmospheric science at Ateneo de Manila University. “I remember whenever my relatives would ask me every year what’s my plan, I’d always give them a concrete and firm answer that I will be taking up [medicine],” Paola said. At some point, though, her career path changed. “I guess life has a quirky way of saying that I will still be a doctor: A PhD, not an MD.” And as the first Filipina to fly in the sky and collect data for CAMP2Ex—a massive, long-term collaboration involving the Manila Observatory, the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)—that path has been quite exhilarating. “We sample the clouds, aerosols, and precipitation in order to know their interaction with each other and how it affects our weather and climate,” explained Paola, who practically gushed at the idea that she’d be part of an airborne campaign. “It’s not every day that you can take part in an intensive airborne sampling—and have NASA as a project partner, too.”

our very first weather brief, we were surprised that we were formally assigned to do the rest of the weather forecast for the campaign. Of course, PAGASA was part of it, too. I am just proud that even though we weren’t trained to do operational forecasting, we received very good feedback from everyone and that they were impressed. What's the biggest benefit CAMP2Ex provides to the average person? Better climate and weather models and awareness, with improved parameterization. The aim is to update and improve climate and weather models, since this area has not really been explored that much yet. This will help us predict our weather more accurately. What are the limitations of this airborne campaign? First is the area where we could sample. We have to take no-fly zones into consideration, and abide by the rules set by CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines). Second is weather: We have to know what kind of environment we’ll be facing, strategize the sampling, and take advantage of what is out there. As much as we want to sample everything, we have to work with what Mother Nature gives us. What's next for you after this project? I will still be doing research. Research will always be a part of me. I think my desire and curiosity to answer the whys in science is the flame that fuels my passion for research.

What's the most exciting part of the CAMP2Ex project? Everything about the campaign is exciting! Interacting with world-class scientists, the flight planning, and the anticipation if what we have forecasted is actually correct… I guess the most exciting part is when we started joining the flights and experienced collecting data on a research aircraft and feeling what it was like being on an airborne campaign. For me, being the first one for our institution to do it is pretty exciting too. I was surprised to know from both the flight scientist for the SPEC Inc. Learjet (the research aircraft that I was on because for the campaign we used two research aircrafts) and the Mission Scientist for CAMP2Ex, that I was the first Filipina to sample clouds and do cloud microphysics. It’s really an honor, and I’m thankful that I have been given the opportunity. It’s exciting in the sense that I want to know more. Cloud microphysics is not really a big thing here in our country and it’s a field worth exploring, especially that it is in the tiny details that we’ll find answers to our whys.

Photo by Marco Ibañez

What's the most challenging part of the campaign? Being tasked to do the weather forecasting. We initially thought that we will be mostly shadowing the scientists that we would want to collaborate with for our individual science questions, but when we were challenged by the lead forecaster to do a mock weather forecasting for the first flight, after delivering

“My desire and curiosity to answer the whys in science is the flame that fuels my passion for research.”

Filipino microphysicist making history in NASA

Photo by Shane Visaga

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Denxybel Montinola

Making plastic sustainable Recent statistics peg the country as the world’s third largest contributor to ocean plastic, producing a whopping 2.7 million tons of plastic waste every year. About a fifth of that—over 500,000 tons—ends up in our rivers and oceans, severely endangering countless species and causing potentially irreversible devastation to marine ecosystems. The Philippines’ plastic problem is urgent, persistent, and destructive. It’s also a problem that 23-year-old Denxybel Montinola wasn’t planning on solving. At least, not beyond research. “Creating bioplastic was not part of my original plan for my undergraduate dissertation,” explained Denxybel, a graduate of the University of San Carlos’s BS applied physics program. “I was honestly pressured to apply what my pure science research can offer.” According to Denxybel, today’s plastics are mostly made of petroleum and materials that are not found in nature. As a result, the agents in nature that normally break down organic matter (decomposers) don’t recognize them. “This explains why petroleum-based plastic lasts for a hundred or even thousands of years in our landfills.” With all of this information floating around in his head, Denxybel would spend lots of time alone in the university’s Medical Biophysics laboratory, studying and thinking. He wanted to bind all of this information with existing research on biodegradable plastics and create a solution. As fate would have it, that binding agent turned out to be glue. Literally. “[When I was a child,] I’d spread a thick layer of glue on my hands and let it air-dry until it created a thin film. From there, I ventured out and applied this idea to my experiment.” Using mango peels and seaweed— readily available materials that are easily recognizable by decomposers—Denxybel created a thin, organic film that had “more or less the same flexibility and strength as the conventional plastics that we are using today.” What's the biggest tangible benefit that anyone could get from your project? By making the wise choice in buying biodegradable products, we are minimizing our contribution to plastic pollution. It is important to take note that there are a lot of false advertisements already in the market that are promoting biodegradable plastics like straws and plastic bags. Please be aware that most of these products are not truly biodegradable. Always keep in mind that reusing your existing plastic packaging or non-plastic containers is the best solution for now. What are the limitations of your bioplastic creation? As of now, we’ve successfully created a plastic film. Molding it into bags or bottles will be the next step of the project. Another thing: When this bioplastic is exposed to water, it dissolves within 10 minutes. I am still looking for ways in prolonging the dissolution of this bioplastic for different applications.

What's next for you and your project? We are still working on patenting this invention. After patenting, I will be coordinating with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry for the commercialization phase. However, I'm not closing my doors to other offers in commercializing this invention. What got you interested in STEM in the first place? When I graduated from high school, I was uncertain of what specific course or field I would take. The business track seemed obvious, given that my dad has a company. At the time, [I was passionate about] the arts, specifically cinematography. Unfortunately, I was discouraged from pursuing my passion because of the stigma that making films doesn't earn that much, and that there’s no future in it. One day, my best friend told me about a university offering an applied physics course. I was curious and fascinated about what he said, and took the entrance exam the day after. The truth is that I was never really passionate about (nor did I even like) science in the first place. But YOLO was my drive back then. Fast forward, I never thought that applied physics would be really difficult; I almost shifted to another course. I just couldn’t see myself as a brilliant scientist like Einstein, Faraday, etc. After much thought, I decided to stay— and now, I can say that I am happy with my decision. Now, I love doing science. I appreciate its complexity in deciphering the mysteries of the universe. Through science, we create new technologies to solve our world's problems and uplift our way of life. ■

Photos courtesy of Denxybel Montinola

“I appreciate [science’s] complexity in deciphering the mysteries of the universe.”



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Style is now more than just looks. It’s a feeling. That’s the thinking behind the new Yaris. Because we didn’t want a car that just looks good. We wanted it to make you feel good too. That’s why we improved its driving dynamics and enhanced its comfort features. So that when you get behind the wheel of the new Yaris, you’ll feel how looks can literally thrill. Color may vary from actual unit.

*Financing is subject to TFS approval. TFS is regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas ( TOYOTA FINANCIAL SERVICES: (02) 7-757-8500

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10 culture

Come in peace In an interview with UFO expert Dr. Jaime Licauco, we delve into the mysteries of the extraterrestrial beings that may be living among us Words by Katrina Maisie Cabral In the middle of 2019, a portion of the world’s population turned into advocates for alien emancipation. Miley Cyrus was in on it. Lil Nas X devoted a whole music video to the subject, even starring Keanu Reeves. A large group of Facebook users, at one point four million strong, agreed to join forces in an attempt to infiltrate the planet’s most tightly kept secret: Area 51. That raid ended up branching out into three music festivals à la Burning Man, with one endorsed by “Storm Area 51” event creator Matty Roberts himself. Back in Hiko, Nevada, the fields surrounding the infamous facility didn’t become the pandemonium local officers once imagined. There stood your horde of Naruto runners, green-skinned cosplayers, and curious tourists, but, as you would have it, no aliens were freed from the chains of enslavement. For humor’s sake (or not), the millions who RSVPed were all drawn to a curiosity, a mainstay in our existential crises. In the infinite vastness of the universe, the Earth is a minuscule spot among the planets that surround us—surely, we’re not alone. This fascination is partly due to being surrounded by sci-fi movies, and partly because the truth is wrapped up in secrecy, where only the powers that be know the real deal. While the 1902 French film “A Trip to the Moon” is credited as the first film to show the concept of aliens, the movie-making industry saw an increase of sci-fi movies during the ’50s and beyond. For that, we can only blame the post-Roswell society, when flying saucers were materializing in the skies, pulling us into the world of conspiracy theories and tinfoil hats. The many incidents brought about Project Blue Book, a series of investigations made by the US Air Force concluding that 90 percent of UFO reports were simply

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reflections of the light, balloon objects, and other causes brought about by nature. The other 10 percent remains a mystery. Certain astronomers and ufologists questioned the lack of explanation, with Northwestern University’s Dr. J. Allen Hynek—who worked as a scientific consultant for the project from 1952 to 1969—claiming the report settled nothing. With that, the possibility of extraterrestrial life is still wrapped in enigma, doubled by the desire to protest against the secrets of authority. For the rest of the crowd who took “Storm Area 51” seriously, in order to uncover these secrets, they’ll have to take the reins. The Philippines has seen its share of UFO incidents. In the early 2000s, Las Piñas was the hub of activity when a resident witnessed dancing lights across the sky, which he promptly filmed on camera. Years later, he and his neighbors noticed reddish metallic glares flying east in the same city. Teams from the United Nations and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) remain at a standstill without a solid conclusion. In 2015, the skies of Pampanga were dotted with motionless lights, which then shifted into a “V” formation. This year, Negros Occidental was met with illuminations every night, fading in and out at different times. However, PAGASA claimed that this may have been a satellite of the International Space Station, among other proposed reasons. Despite the fact that the Philippines may not have an Area 51 to storm at any given time, mystic locations across the country have been noted to attract extraterrestrial life. While Mt. Pinatubo and Mt. Banahaw are known for the supernatural spirits that dwell in their surroundings, they may also

find an explanation for them in alien life. For seasoned paranormal and ET expert Dr. Jaime Licauco, this is simply a norm. With more than 17 books and numerous published articles as a Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, Dr. Licauco has brought the matter of life beyond our own into the local discourse. He has recounted several incidents where he witnessed UFOs, such as in Pila, Laguna, Roxas City in Capiz, and even outside the window of his house in Parañaque. Beyond that, he has dabbled with close encounters of the third kind, speaking with an extraterrestrial woman situated on a boulder at Ciudad Verdadero, as he entered an astral state. In his book “When the Impossible Happens: From Skepticism to Complete Belief,” he describes the ET as having “a big bald head, big almond-shaped black eyes, small nose, and small lips.” According to Dr. Licauco, the alien’s long-limbed body was devoid of hair, with gray skin like rubber. There were two small winged creatures above their shoulders, while another pair floated by their waist area. The alien welcomed Dr. Licauco through telepathy, saying, “I’m sorry that I cannot take you down. In your next visit, I will accompany you there.” They eventually parted in peace. In another instance, he went to investigate a case of moving religious statues found in the Hidden Shrine at Mt. Pinatubo. When his clairvoyant companion saw the statues’ photos, he explained that they may be beings from distant galaxies, finding a way to communicate with us. Mt. Pinatubo was a vein that connected otherworldly entities to this corner of the Earth. During the volcano’s eruption, its ashes drifted into outer space, affecting the ozone layer. Dr. Licauco’s companion explains that the beings followed the trail, landing in the middle of the volcano. He and his colleagues were able to

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converse with these beings while one was in a trance. According to the transcript found in “True Encounters with the Unknown,” the entities were a pair from a galaxy beyond the Milky Way. To Dr. Licauco, what were considered supernatural apparitions were beings from other galaxies using figures of gods to capture our attention. Despite the clichéd use in sci-fi film, their purpose here is summed up in one sentence: They come in peace. “The real reason why they are here and why they are showing themselves more is to prevent the possible occurrence of nuclear war,” Dr. Licauco tells me. As explained by local ufologist Col. Bernardo Ceguerra, UFOs come by to prevent the escalation of hostilities, stopping a third world war in the process. According to him, the thwarting of Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s assassination attempts were ET interventions. Abduction was never part of the equation. How would you recount your close encounters with UFOs? What went through your mind during the first time? Most of my UFO sightings and experiences happened a long time ago, from 1980 to 1990s. I first saw bright lights in the night sky in Mt. Banahaw. They made unusual movements and maneuvers that could not be done by earthly aircraft, and the lights stayed as long as five or more minutes. People of Mt. Banahaw are used to them and do not give them much thought. I didn’t believe in UFOs or ETs at that time, but I was very open to the idea that there could be other life forms outside our planet Earth. I waited for more reasonable or rational proof or evidence before believing in them. The Banahaw UFO sightings were followed by other sightings, specially in Pila, Laguna. These were witnessed by hundreds of people who gathered one evening because of news that UFOs will show themselves on that particular date. They did show themselves. That time, they were not just lights but elongated spacecrafts passing in silence from north to east around midnight. These experiences led me to read extensively on the subject. Your close encounters with ETs usually involve natural and mystic spaces. Why do you think extraterrestrial beings gravitate towards these places? I didn’t have any idea at that time why this is so. But now, I believe it’s because those mystic places are power spots or possess strange magnetic energy fields. They are entry points or portals to other dimensions. I’ve noticed that in all of your encounters, these ETs make use of mediums to communicate with human beings. Do you think there’s a particular reason they do so, rather than resorting to direct contact? These ETs are paraphysical in nature. They had to assume some sort of physicality in order to contact or connect with Earth people. They are not purely physical nor spiritual. That’s why they need mediums who are sensitive and who can act as receivers of their messages. Not everybody is sensitive enough to be able to directly communicate with them. In recent years, UFO sightings were reported in Pampanga and Negros Occidental. Some considered them legitimate, while some thought they were just flying machines. How do you distinguish between a hoax and something closer to reality? It is difficult to distinguish between a hoax and the real thing when it comes to UFOs and ET encounters. But in the Philippines, I don’t think there is anybody who is creative or wealthy enough to launch

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an elaborate hoax. What would they gain from it? However, in Western countries, there are many reported cases of hoaxes in this field. With the internet and easy access to cameras with smartphones, do you expect an increase in the capturing of UFO images? Digital cameras are more sensitive to a wide range of light frequencies. The phenomena of the appearance of orbs came with the development of more sophisticated digital cameras and high-definition pictures. I saw only one case of an orb that was taken before the development of more highly advanced and sophisticated cameras. Why do you think there was vehement denial and secrecy in the past? Whereas now, some government officials freely talk about extraterrestrial existence. Do you think there’s a reason for the sudden transparency? Government officials cannot continue to deny the existence of something that millions of people all over the world have seen or encountered. They could not all be hallucinating! They could not all be insane! There is vehement denial because, perhaps, of the mistaken fear that such revelations might cause public panic, or they could be hiding something. Sci-fi movies always portray massive alien invasions. Do you think that would be an actual threat? There’s absolutely no threat of alien invasion of planet Earth. If the ETs’ intention is to invade Earth they should have done so long ago. But why haven’t they done anything yet? The real reason why they’re here and why they’re showing themselves more is to prevent the possible occurrence of nuclear war. Right now, the big powers of Russia, America, and their allies have enough stockpile of nuclear weapons that could destroy the whole planet. ETs want to make sure this does not happen because if Earth is destroyed, it will create chaos in the galaxy, which will affect them too. Nowadays, is there more acceptance with the general public when it comes to life outside Earth? How would you compare the level of acceptance in the past with that in the present? There’s definitely greater acceptance. There is enough evidence or proof of their existence in the huge monuments and artifacts they left behind. All we have to do is to keep our eyes wide open. The evidence of aliens coming to Earth can be found especially in Egypt, Africa, Peru, and Meso-America. Researcher Graham Hancock called this evidence “fingerprints of [the gods].” Mainstream scientists and archaeologists have ignored these proofs of alien visitations for reasons of their own. ■

Photographs from the website of the Central Intelligence Agency for the United States of America (

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Space invaders Barging into the creative sanctuaries of musicians Waiian, Johann, Pikoy, and Tala means discovering the tangible language of their music—a zone for breaking away from tours, fan encounters, and late-night performances

Words by Jelou Galang

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Photography by John Eric Bico

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Waiian It’s not difficult to be friends with Waiian. At least, that’s what I felt at 11 in the morning, as he offered us drinks and answered our questions in his Wu-Tang Clan shirt. The solo artist and member of hip-hop group Kartell’em invited us to sit anywhere in his studio—bursting with stickers and posters— that doubles as an amalgam of his influences like Tyga and Lil Wayne (and My Chemical Romance at some point). He suddenly apologized for the lack of room, but still insisted on having us all inside. “Even the whole Kartell’em stays here,” he revealed. I believe it. For something that was built just August this year, Waiian’s space looked packed with the young musician’s history. As he blasted Bambu, Mac Miller, and Flatbush Zombies tracks, my eyes scanned the Kartell’em album “Tell’em Once” (he can’t pick a favorite song), his favorite thinking chair, and a finger skateboard he enjoys playing with in between breaks. His family recently moved into this house after spending 15 years in their old one. “This is my first time to have my own room. And [so] I [told] my Kartell’em friends that we can set up the studio here. I don’t have a room anymore. I’ve never had a room. I won’t ever need one; I need a studio. I need to feel myself, I need to feel my family. I need to make music.” Waiian’s sincerity in his craft reflected not only his lyricism, but also his approach. “My goal every time is to really put out what I want to say; dapat may data at nakalapat nang perpekto. The flow, the sound. That’s why everything’s taking so long for me now. But I’m not perfect, and I’ll never be.” He further highlighted kutob as a vague but also reliable measure for knowing when a song is good to go—mainly because he pays attention to his feelings a lot. “Sometimes if you think too much, you can’t feel it anymore.” And when he let us stay as long as we want to—in this studio he calls the “box room” that gets filled with magic when creative juices flow—I’m reminded of what he looks forward to in the months to come: “I’m just gonna perform and perform if the price is right. The music is free; you’re just gonna pay me for my time.”

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“Tala” means “star.” Stars are described in many ways, but what people often overlook is their ability to shine wherever they are— alone or not. When we look up to the sky, we think of how stars actually “follow“ us, playing omnipresent entities, like they’re everything and everywhere at once. In her bedroom-slash-creative space, Tala means a 20-year-old who writes her songs, studies interior design, religiously journals, and at one point talks to us about moon rising signs over fries and burgers. “A lot of everything!” is what she would say first when you ask about her favorites. In many more ways, she’s everything at once. “I spend a significant amount of time here, which is where most of my art is created. I needed to incorporate both my music and interior design work into one area,” the R&B-pop artist said. Her dad, who also produces most of her music, helped her build this charming and carefully curated room—which also looks like her songwriting process. “I have notebooks with me that I take everywhere to write down lyrics or song ideas whenever I feel inspired. As for melodies, when a good one comes to mind, I record them on my phone

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for future reference,” she revealed, while adding that she writes melodies over beats. Compartmentalizing also works wonders. “What I also like about my space is the fact that my music things are neatly segregated from my interior design things. I’m a Virgo, so I function better with order.” But above all the flawlessness and assurance these images suggest, Tala is a star who knows who she is and how to shine. “I’m very meticulous, but I get distracted easily, which is like, the worst pairing ever. I always have a hard time finishing songs. I have a bunch of unfinished tracks just sitting on my computer desktop. No kidding. I probably have around 30 song drafts just waiting to be completed. It’ll happen one day, I swear.” In the end, I ask her for a message she can send to her fans. “I don’t really like calling people my fans!” she admitted, but left this one by the door: “To those who listen to my music and who are patient with me and support me: thank you, thank you, thank you, and I love you.” Whatever she’d want to call her listeners in the future, what I’m sure of is that the constellation of listeners will get bigger and bigger. If you’re not there, maybe you just need to blink twice.

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Johann of Sound Architects Right off the bat, you would know that Johann Mendoza soaks up inspiration from his surroundings. No walls separate his creative space from the rest of the unit he shares with his brother. Natural light pierces the large windows. He can be distracted anytime—especially with a TV set and his cat Mimolette nearby. But the film scorer and member of atmospheric post-rock outfit Sound Architects chooses not to. Mainly because he’s “learned it the hard way.” The artist tries to be disciplined. With discipline also comes patience, and he acknowledges the need for this when people listen to his band’s music as well. “For people who haven’t really heard that kind of music, it takes some patience to listen to,” he says. This empathy has grown out of his personal experiences, as his impression of anything instrumental was different back then—“[it sounded] boring. What was going on here?” But he started pursuing post-rock as certain events in his life made him appreciate it more. Credit goes to bands Explosions in the Sky and Oceansize, too. In some way, Johann pursuing this genre might come off as aimless toiling instead of inspired creation. But when he admitted that post-rock is kind of dead and stagnant in the Philippines and proceeded to promote Sound Architects’ upcoming album after a couple of questions anyway, I suddenly thought of the many ways we can resuscitate it. So to anyone who wants to take the lead, don’t fret—Johann wants to tell you that “success is not always about being number one.”

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Pikoy The animated space of self-proclaimed “DIY popstar” Pikoy sits atop the house she shares with her family (which includes two cats and one dog). Seeing it in person instantly transports you to a coming-of-age film. “It was a family workspace until I occupied it in 2012,” she said, only deciding to decorate it as her own studio when she was finally able to purchase stuff little by little—from sticker con decals to a quirky microphone our photographer wanted to bring home. She credits YouTube series like “Against the Clock” as an inspiration. Her favorite featured studio is Yaeji’s. “I sometimes start with a loop or a single chord. Then the lyrics follow. It’s like solving a puzzle: trying to figure out the arrangement and how to make a certain sound work, without knowing the overall outcome,” the electronic-experimental artist said about her creative process, adding that she listens to her tracks “100 times” until she's satisfied. Finishing a track can be hindered by her mood, so building her own whimsical workspace has helped her be in the zone. “I created a space where I can have a routine in making music. Since this is my dream job, I should act like I’m already there.” Honestly, she already is. Pikoy has been releasing offbeat music videos and sharing stages with celebrated acts in the scene. So in the middle of her guitar displays and a bookshelf filled with Filipino comics, I asked her for advice for first-time songwriting. “Write songs every day and listen to as many songs as you can without thinking of genres.” Her consistent goal in songwriting is to evoke imagery. “To be understood is really my priority,” she added. Once you enter her dreamworld, you’re already halfway there. ■

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Food for the cosmos

See what’s on the menu for space explorers, from breakfast to dinner Words by Katrina Maisie Cabral Styling by Lady Badoy Art direction by Cathy Dizon Photography by RG Medestomas

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Breakfast at Mercury Astronauts are saying bye to food in tubes— now, these space explorers start their day as if they were still on solid ground. While some food needs to be freeze-dried, apples and oranges are exceptions. NASA food scientists also cooked up a special food bar that’s small in size and easy to store. These are paired with powdered orange juice, which reached popularity after John Glenn drank it during the 1962 Mercury flight.

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Lunch into space Over on Instagram, astronaut Scott Kelly showed off his creation made onboard the International Space Station: the tortilla burger. Bread is avoided in space, as it leaves a trail of crumbs that can float right into equipment and vents.

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Dinner is served Back in 2005, a Japanese food company unveiled the “Space Ram,” instant noodles packed in a sealed bag. To prevent spilling, the noodles are made with extra-thick starch. It was brought to space by astronaut Soichi Noguchi. ■

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Marco Gallo never dreamt of becoming an actor, so why is he working hard to be the best one out there?

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ARIN BY RENAN PACSON, top and pants. STYLIST'S OWN, shades

“What pops into people’s minds when they hear your name?” I ask the 18-year-old Filipino-Italian actor Marco Gallo. In my head, I have a list of positive traits he could use to describe himself. Kind, funny, mysterious— the usual. Instead, he laughs and answers: “Sira ulo.“ Often, we try to imagine how our first meeting with a stranger would turn out. We build up expectations, regardless if we say our expectations are little to none. I was no exception. So days before I met our last cover star of the year, I tried picturing what it would be like to meet Marco Gallo. My imagination decided Marco was an average celebrity: conventionally attractive, charming to a tee, and approachable in a way that famous people are. You can laugh with them, have an inside joke or two, but your familiarity ends after you wave goodbye. Not because they’re cold and distant—it’s just how the business goes. But life loves a curveball. And Marco Gallo didn’t fail to give me a memorable one. Everybody woke up to another sunny weekday with a 30 percent chance of rainfall. It was a perfect day for an outdoor shoot. Turns out, that 30 percent decided to pop by 30 minutes before we began. My team tried to solve our supposed outdoor shoot with Marco. While they thought of alternatives, his road manager and I waited for him to arrive.

He didn’t come barging in with an entourage of personal assistants. Rather, he came by himself and walked in drenched from head to toe. He had a motorcycle helmet hanging from his arm, while he struggled to remove his flannel. Turns out, he sped through EDSA to arrive on time for our shoot. While he explained his journey on the way here, his road manager reminded him not to ride his motorcycle, but Marco argued that his word is his bond. “Of course I had to be on time.“ As far as first impressions go, Marco made one thing clear: He would always be a headstrong kind of guy. Sira ulo, as he preferred to phrase it. “Hindi ako nag-iisip ng dalawang beses bago ko gawin ’yung isang bagay. Mali ’yun, ah, palagi akong pinagsasabihan tungkol doon,” says Marco. “Being spontaneous and headstrong can kill me one day, pero feeling ko dapat ganoon talaga. Kasi if you think a lot, hindi ka mag-eenjoy. Deal with the consequences after, but don’t be too cocky.” It’s clear to me that Marco will continue to grow and mature like the rest of us. But his determination to follow his gut might never change. And so far, it hasn’t exactly failed him. It’s what led him to Filipino show business in the first place. “Pinoy Big Brother: Lucky 7” (PBB) was his first big break. Alongside former cover stars Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber, he took part in the reality show’s seventh run. It bagged him supporting roles in 2017’s “Loving in Tandem” with MayWard and 2018’s “Harry and Patty.“ Celebrity life came so easily for him. But when I asked if my hunch was true, I got another unexpected answer. “Sometimes, I think to myself: Why am I doing this job? I never really thought of doing photo shoots, or acting. I never thought about it,” he confesses. “I'm shocked every time I’m in a show or I’m singing live. I still get chills. It's a weird feeling every time. I never expected this, so I can never expect what's in the future.“ He describes himself as a private guy. When I ask him about meeting people for the first time, he confesses he gets uncomfortable when people act too familiar with him. He is a man who values his personal bubble. Before “PBB” fame, he curated his Instagram as a virtual family album. Not a calling card for industry folk to view. “If you look at my Instagram before ‘PBB,’ puro kalokohan lang yung laman. I wasn't even confident about posting myself,” he says. “I didn't post that much if it was not memorable.” In hindsight, he really was just an average teenager living in Italy. Celebrity life wasn’t a lifelong dream for him. He grew up wanting to be a superhero. As the magic of youth wore off, he traded his dream of wearing a cape for a police badge.

Words by Rogin Losa Photography by Regine David Styling by Quayn Pedroso Hair and makeup by Dorothy Mamalio Styling assistant Eugene Malabad

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DON PROTASIO, harness. MODESTA, pants

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“It’s scary how the future works. A small thing can change your whole life. ”

“I was supposed to finish college, join the police force, and have a family back in Italy. Pero wala, I’m here,” he shrugs. “It's scary how the future works. A small thing can change your whole life. I'm glad for what happened because hindi ako magiging itong Marco na ’to kung hindi ako sumali sa ‘PBB.’” He planned his future to be part of the police force. That changed during his sophomore year of college. His mother received an audition link for the newest season of “PBB,” so she pushed Marco to give it a shot. But he didn’t think too much about the audition. He opted to enjoy teenage life—to go to parties and kick it with friends. “At first, I didn't accept celebrity life, because I was a teenager. Teenagers are like, ‘No, I want to do my stuff. I want this, I want that.’ But in the long term, parents just want the best for you,” he reminisces. “Then eventually, I realized that this life was something I wanted.” 2020 is just on the horizon, but critics are calling it: He is Viva’s next James Reid. Everyone is eyeing his next moves in the industry. It seems like this upcoming year might do wonders for his acting career. Yet, he almost left this industry in 2018. “When ‘PBB’ ended, there was a time when I felt a bit depressed about the situation because there were so many rules. And I was wondering, is this life for me? It’s also why I kinda left,” he says. “I left the Philippines at that time, and I stayed in Italy for six months.” Marco followed his gut and shocked everyone by going back to Italy. During his six-month stay, he wasn’t a reality star turned actor. He was simply a young man pursuing his studies with a part-time stint as a waiter. A couple of months in, a talent agent spotted him during his shift and offered him a modeling contract. He had the option to start a career there. With those new opportunities, he could have followed some parts of his original life plan: finish college, continue modeling, and

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start a family in a country he grew up in. It’s all he ever wanted all along, right? “I thought it was all the same. Happy-go-lucky and jolly and everything. But it was not. I realized a lot of things during my stay there. Italy wasn’t the same as before, because I basically grew up,” he contemplates. “I went out of my comfort zone, which was Italy. And then I went to a country that I didn't know about. I grew up in this country for two years, and I realized a lot of stuff that I was not able to see before.” What did he realize? “Not everything is given, you have to work hard for it.” People might have expectations about Marco’s career. But regardless of critics’ praises, he sees himself as a work in progress. And he’s ready to do the work. “Sa mga bagay na gusto ko, hardworking ako. So that was a problem. I would do it, but it would take me a long time. But I learned to stand up on my own feet,” he explains. “You can ask God for help or your parents. But your parents die and God isn’t literally there, you have to stand up on your feet and do what you gotta do.” When asked about how he wanted to be seen as an actor, he replies: “Sana makilala nila ako na kahit anumang role ang ibigay sa akin, kaya ko. Hindi ko siya aatrasan.“ Versatility and range are the qualities he aims to acquire eventually. “Basically that's the actor’s job, giving them a performance that an audience would like,” he says. “So kung anuman ang kakagat ngayon, dapat handa akong gawin ang role na ’yun.” Uncertainty plays a huge role in Marco’s life. In return, he answers it with spontaneity. He sees it as a trait that might one day kill him. And yet, it made him into a person his younger self never expected—an uncompromising actor with an ironclad work ethic and genuine charm. No matter how badly the 30 percent chance of rainfall made our shoot difficult at first, Marco gave us his 100 percent. He approached it with a mixture of professionalism and an ample amount of

humor. He got comfortable with us to a point where we ended up singing “Open Arms” by Journey together while he hit his angles for the camera. There’s a vibrancy within Marco that’s undeniable. That’s what makes his future in this industry so exciting. No one knows exactly where it’s heading, but he will make it a damn priority to give us something to look at. “I got 82 years to live. There’s still time, I still can do a lot of stuff with my life. Wala naman pumipigil sa akin,” he laughs at the future’s unpredictability. “I just have to keep working harder and harder. Work your ass off every day, wake up early every morning. An actor I look up to in Hollywood once said, ‘No one will work harder than me.’ You always gotta wake up with that standard in your head.” No matter how many curveballs life throws at him, Marco Gallo will keep dealing with life the only way he knows how—his way. It will get him far in his career, whether it’s acting or whatever his gut tells him next. ■

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MARC BLANCO, jacket and pants

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DESIGNERS’ INSTAGRAM HANDLES @by.modesta @_marcblanco @yvescmng_ @arin.official @donprotasio

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Homebound Words by Giselle S. Barrientos Fourteen years ago, I would have described Santa Rosa as green. Fields overran cement by a mile. Air was light. All space. Quiet. These days when I ride the bus going home to Laguna every Friday, the noise I hear daily in the gray of Manila seems to follow me back. Now, Santa Rosa reminds me of red. Where did this traffic come from? I go back to my memories of seven years ago, when a 10-kilometer distance was a 20-minute drive. It takes almost an hour now, especially on bad nights like a Friday payday. I stare at the backside of dozens of cars during that hour, their taillights an angry, bright red. On the Sunday nights I return to my rented condo in Manila—I never can call it home—the same joyless view greets me. Where did all this come from? If you ask me when I think it all began, I’d say it was in 2008. A major land developer had just opened a landmark al fresco mall in our quiet city. There was a giant, man-made lake and shiny, fluorescent blue

Metro Manila has ancient beasts, much more ruthless than what we have in Laguna, which is at a crossroads.

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food chains standing around it, so shiny and… way outside my fourthgrade budget. It felt glorious, for a few fleeting years. In the 11 years since, those blue food chains were replaced by browns, then reds, and were accompanied by new yellows, whites, and greens. Businesses came and went in a blur. I can’t remember all their names anymore—just the color of their bright, blinding headboards. I felt each one’s frantic race for survival then, and it continues until now. I had never quite witnessed anything so vicious in my home before. I watched those lights and buildings grow and grow. By 2011, there was as much cement as there were trees. Just a few years later, a second phase popped up to its left. Some time right before I turned 18, a third phase rose out of nowhere behind it. This one had a cinema—the first one that was closer than two jeepney rides from my home. I remember this as the first time I felt a strange pang of unfamiliarity in the city I’d spent my whole life in. During this time, I was beginning to live back and forth between Santa Rosa and Los Baños for my undergraduate degree. In the small town of College (yes, this was its legal name), the artisanal coffee shops and yoga studios managed to keep away for a while. I lived off freshly cooked meals from Tita Cora’s and Kuya Dhenzmer’s and, on very special occasions like aced exams or emotional breakdowns, splurged on a ₱150 meal at the sole Korean restaurant in the area. My heart found solace there, and suddenly I had two homes. It was also around these years that the word “gentrification” started being thrown around. It was a clinical-sounding term, one my professors obsessed over and one I did not have much interest in. But the word kept popping up, from bolded subsections in handouts to class presentations to lunch conversations with my friends. Gentrification seems to go by many names. Depending on who’s talking about it, the label can be as damning as colonialism. Some have even called it new-age colonization. “The opposite of gentrification isn't urban decay; it's the democratization of urban space,” says David Madden in The Guardian. Inequality can be glaringly evident in developing a land, and considering the Philippines’ track record of corruption, the wealthy tend to be prioritized—many times exclusively—over the poor. Take Sitio San Roque, for instance. It is a community that, at its peak, was home to 17,000 families and had developed its own ecosystem after decades of existence. In 2009, plans for the Quezon City Central Business District were finalized in a public-private partnership deal between the QC government and a major land developer. Just like that, the people of San Roque began to be violently coerced into leaving the sitio. “The high-rise construction is happening left and right. Whenever you see one, you will just imagine there have been people who have been displaced,” says urban landscape expert Prof. Hazel Dizon to Channel News Asia. Democracy, it seemed, was sold—at the price of over hundreds of thousands of lives forced by violence into an internal displacement. In situations like this, the government and conglomerates use more euphemistic labels like urbanization, development, and revitalization, even. “Progress” is the label that’s most questionable. Progress, according to the definition of businessmen, is plunking one big-box supermarket in a rural community in competition with four generational mom-and-pop groceries, eventually running them out of business. It’s raising rent to get the privilege of living in safer, more patrolled buildings—because only people with money deserve protection.

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With any path taken towards the future, progress is always the north star. But in a capitalist society, what is its true definition? “Progress” was edging non-profitable people out. Where does this leave the 21 percent of the population living below the poverty line? It boils down to the question: Who is this development for, really? On one hand, the economy grows. On the other, longterm, low-income residents are alienated (to say the least). Is this supposed to be a case of the age-old question: Do we consider the needs of the many, or the few? Of course, this is not an issue of pulling a hypothetical train-track lever to run over a kid or kill a trainful of people. It’s real lives. In Los Baños, there was nanay who sat every day at the corner of a chicken inasal place, selling candy and pasalubong items. I don’t see her around anymore after the chicken place was replaced with a concrete, air-conditioned restaurant. Maybe they thought street vendors were unsightly. There was also the small key duplicator’s stall in the old commercial complex by the university gate. I had most of my dorms’ keys duplicated there during my stay, and beside it was a quiet handyman who saved quite a few of my umbrellas. When I came back to visit this year, they were gone. Now a Starbucks is in their place. They probably couldn’t afford the rent next to it. Is this all progress or alienation? Can we blame businesses for trying to make a living—and do we really have a choice but to play the game of capitalism? Only privilege can allow someone to say no. Still, I have seen the businessman’s progress in too much of Metro Manila and now I fear for the future of my home. But progress, real and inclusive progress, is still out there. I see it in the pen strokes of creators who’ve had enough. I hear it in the voices of the youth who revolt in the streets against power. I can feel the simmering air of possibility, fueled by indignance, courage, and most of all, hope. Greed is a terrible enemy, but maybe it isn’t undefeatable. It is frightening, though, how powerful—and wicked—money can be. Metro Manila has ancient beasts, much more ruthless than what we have in Laguna, which is at a crossroads. Will this development be democratic, or will it become a carbon copy of the view from my rented Manila condo—the one I can never call home? As the elite hold the dice so casually in their hands, we toil each day and wait—in a sea of angry, red tail lights. ■

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The future belongs to the revolution The fight for a better future for our country continues. Look no further than our very own streets, at protests led by the youth, who choose to champion their future and our present

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On Jul. 22, art collective UGATLahi burned their effigy named “Dutert-Syokoy, Halimaw ng West PH Sea” at the 2019 United People's State of the Nation Address.

Photos on this page by Rogin Losa Photo on previous page by Geloy Concepcion

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34 portfolio Top to bottom: Photos by Paula Bautista for UPLB Perspective, Mari Marim for PUP Catalyst, Rogin Losa, Cyrus Magsino for PUP Catalyst Right: 800 students mobilized on Aug. 20 at the University of the Philippines Los BaĂąos for #LabanKabataan, a protest against campus militarization.

Above: Students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines rallied on Nov. 21 to condemn Mandatory ROTC for the National Day of Action. Right: Students of Lumad Bakwit School attend a youth group-led multi-sectoral protest for the 47th Martial Law anniversary. Below: Placards from the PUP rally are featured amid a setup of stacked classroom chairs.

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portfolio 35 Photo by Geloy Concepcion In 2015, the people protested against the burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, a cemetery reserved for heroes of the nation

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Top and bottom: The 2019 United People’s SONA saw large effigies and an even larger crowd, with a headcount of over 5,000 according to police estimates. Middle: “Patuloy pa rin at walang hustisya. Kung ano man yung nagaganap noon ay muling bumabalik at lalong lumalala sa ngayon,” 19-year-old lumad student Michelle said at this year's Martial Law commemoration rally.

Photos by Rogin Losa

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A young demonstrator at the 47th Martial Law anniversary stages a performative protest.

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Photo by Dianne Sanchez for UPLB Perspective

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Since 2015, the youth have been present in Martial Law commemoration rallies.

Photo by Geloy Concepcion Photo on next page by Arlyn Lunzaga for UPV Pagbutlak

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For the 47th Martial Law anniversary, Visayan youth marched from Iloilo Provincial Capitol to Sunburst Park. The youth cry #NeverForget and #NeverAgain to the atrocities of Martial Law.

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Within the wires With attendance dwindling, can virtual spaces save gig culture?

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Interview by Rogin Losa If people make cities, the youth make clubs. Gig hoppers and clubgoers cement the legacy of spaces they choose to inhabit. From ’90s rock mecca Club Dredd to the ’00s now-defunct, subculture-agnostic compound B-Side Makati, these spaces are more than Manila nightlife staples—their walls hold anecdotes of the city’s current children. But where do the kids go these days? Enter Club Matryoshka: the virtual music club based in Manila, hosted on a private Minecraft server. Similarobjects, one of the co-founders of the digital space, was guided by a strong DIY mindset to deliver and recontextualize the musical experience. Club Matryoshka has become the newest hub for musicians, gamers, artists, tech people, hackers, illustrators, animators, meme lords, trolls, and beyond. Through Discord servers and Mixlr, similarobjects and his fellow founders Obi a.k.a. Seadollar (cavill), Jaime San Juan (dot.jaime), JP del Mundo (John Pope), and Patis Soriano-Del Mundo are experimenting with what else gigs can offer. “It started with my frustration as a gig organizer in Manila. I've been organizing shows for so long, but there's been a huge decline in support and attendance in recent years,” says similarobjects. “On the real, I've been throwing parties for so long and I've basically been throwing money away. It started to feel like such an empty ordeal for me seeing no change nor improvement.” With the decline of gig attendance in recent years, the idea of Club Matryoshka became a perfect trial solution for gig culture’s survival. What inspired this unique virtual gig spot? Seadollar: Similarobjects and ahjussi have always been planning to pursue an event through online means. Virtual clubs where people can do gigs, especially on Minecraft or VRChat, have started since 2014. Back then, I invited similarobjects, dot.jaime, and other friends to play Minecraft, which mostly sparked the fuel to eventually create the club. Similarobjects: Naturally, I just felt like it was time to throw in the towel and find another way to push the culture forward. I grew up on computers. If I could pinpoint one main inspiration, it would have to be “The Palace” (The Palace or Palace Chat, Chat Palace, Palace. It’s a computer program in which users may interact with one another using graphical avatars overlaid on a graphical backdrop.) The software concept was originally created by Jim Bumgardner and produced by Time Warner Interactive in 1994. The virtual experience just grew on me. I spent a lot of time chatting with people and messing around on this platform when I was six years old. How is Club Matryoshka changing the gig experience, apart from its virtual aspect? Similarobjects: It's definitely a tough task trying to fit in when most clubs in Manila have their own (sometimes unrealistic/cheesy standards) to uphold. I wanted to accelerate and mutate the club context further into a monster of its own. There is a huge untapped market of music heads who don't necessarily like the idea of going out to machismo dickfest clubs. There are only really a handful of venues here that are safe spaces and succeed at putting music first, not to make music an accessory or a status symbol. Why choose to mount it on Minecraft? Similarobjects: I just tried to put myself in the position of the modern-day “Juan.” Everyone has computer access in Manila, and a lot of people have access to cracked software.

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It’s normal for people here to use pirated software, so I was toying with the idea of it still being slightly illegal. Apart from that aspect, it was a platform that I personally enjoyed and found very accessible for most. The possibilities of Minecraft are seemingly endless because of its ability to be modded and edited. Anything is possible. Seadollar: It is not only confined to Minecraft, because we organize and talk to the participants through Discord, then play the music through Mixlr. We’re definitely finding more ways to enhance the experience and keep innovating with every gig. We’re all just here to have fun. How can people get in, exactly? Seadollar: People sign up on forms where we ask them questions. The questions can range from “What are your superpowers?” to “Explain why you want to join in Pig Latin.” We screen the responses and see who’s answered our questions properly. We want to know if they’re a fit for the club and the environment that they’d be in. Similarobjects: Every show has a different set of mechanics, mini-games, and theme. For our second show “Druidism,” we did it as a benefit for the Amazon rainforest. We had mini-games aimed at gathering donations. Our recent “Mischief Night” last October was a zombie outbreak-inspired gig. The audience had to fight for their lives and seek shelter at a safeguarded hospital where the DJ booth was situated at the top of it. Who’s your favorite Club Matryoshka performer so far? Similarobjects: I think our October Show had the most powerful Club Matryoshka lineup yet. We featured modern experimental music stalwarts Meuko!Meuko! (TPE), DJH (DE), SWANMEAT (USA/DE), not to mention the equally amazing local lineup NIMA, Skinxbones, Mocksmile, VVVV, Teya Logos, JOHNPOPE, and me (lol). This was by far my favorite. Seadollar: I am my favorite. [laughs] What does the future hold for Club Matryoshka? Seadollar: Club Matryoshka is still opening dolls inside of itself and trying to discover what else there is. More events are coming, more artists are playing, and there’s more fun coming. Similarobjects: We've already been getting a lot of interest in this project outside Manila. More artists, locally and internationally, want to check out what we're doing. I hope it catches on. I feel like this is a step in the right direction and I hope to improve it further. Maybe soon we can do a festival too. I'm open to seeing how things roll out! ■

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Postcards after the drug war

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Words by Philip M. Jamilla Art by Zoe Vidal It went from promises to end illegal drugs in three to six months, to countless protests from human rights activists, and a vice president appointed and (eventually fired) to head the government’s campaign on illegal drugs. Three years have passed and the brutal war on drugs continues to rage on, leaving thousands dead in its wake and with the death toll showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. But once it’s all done and over, what would our society look like? These postcards imagine what life would be after the drug war: warnings, despair, repentance, and above all, messages of hope and struggle.

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A child who lost their father in the drug war During Duterte’s regime, tens of thousands of lives were claimed in the Drug War. Losing anyone in our lives is a terrible experience, but losing family is devastating. I am one of the many, many children orphaned by this unnecessary war. By losing our parents, we have lost so much more than any child should bear to lose: Our innocence, our safety, our homes. Because of bullets and unfounded claims, we were forced to grow up too soon.

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A mother whose child was mistaken as a runner Like Kian delos Santos, my son became one of the casualties of the Drug War at a very young age. We weren’t able to fight for him, as he was rendered defenseless himself against a barrel of a gun. Although the court finally said “guilty” the other day, justice was too late. It could have been when we were begging to see him in the hospital. Or when we requested to see his autopsy. Now, his memory has become a hazy photo I keep in my pockets. That verdict adds to the growing list of empty promises.


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A human rights activist A war never really has winners, only casualties. Even though it’s over, it’s hard to claim victory against a war that took thousands of innocent lives in its wake. Every day, we are uncovering cases and names of indigenous people and leftist activists at risk of extrajudicial execution. The courts are finally conducting investigations and putting out guilty verdicts. But the other day, another man was gunned down, and another, then another. We will take to the streets again tomorrow.

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A farmer who was attacked during protest Red-tagging is tricky business. Hundreds of farmers like me are either NPA rebels or sympathizers. Whatever the answer is, we are slaughtered either way. Even in previous administrations, the war for our lands never stopped. In Duterte’s drug war, our plight became a norm. More land to pass around for exuberant rates, less mouths to speak about the injustice. From this dark time, I nurse permanent scars on my arms, and in my memory. â–

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Amid visions of flying cars and self-lacing sneakers for the enigmatic and inevitable future, there is a vision that often goes unnoticed. It’s one of greener lands and kinder farming, one where the Earth looks more like it did when it first began. Eleventh grade lumad student Katkat Dalon talks of this dream, and delivers her message to the Filipinos of today. Gusto kong maging Planet Earth B. Para kapag nasira ang mundo at nahuli sa pagkilos ang mga tao, [mapagtatanto] nila na kailangan pala nila akong protektahan, ipaglaban, at iligtas. Pero alam kong kailan man, ’di ako magiging mundo. Subalit, ayaw kong mahuli sila. Mag-oorganisa kami at mumulatin sila sa tunay na kalagayan. Sa aming planeta, alam naming sinisira ka na ngayon ng mga tao, lalo ang mga ganid at kapitalista. Lumalala ang climate crisis at unti-unti ka nang namamatay. Pero hinding hindi namin hahayaan na patuloy ka nilang sisirain. Nandito kami, tumitindig, para iligtas ka, para buuin ka ulit. Narito kaming mga binhi mo na sisibol upang pandayin muli ang mundo para sa susunod sa amin. Sa mga taong walang pakialam sa kinabukasan ng susunod na salinlahi, bakit pa ba nakipaglaban at nag-alay ng buhay para sa tunay na kalayaan ng bayan sina Gat Andres Bonifacio at iba pang bayani? Diba’t para rin sa susunod na salinlahi? Karamihan sa atin ay duwag na iligtas at ipaglaban ang mundo mula sa interes ng imperyalistang mandarambong at naghaharing uri, at marahil ito ang magiging dahilan upang tuluyang mawalan ng tahanan ang susunod na salinlahi [kapag] masira ang mundo. Ang mga matatanda, wala silang ginawa para sa kinabukasan naming kabataan, kaya ngayon kami na mismo ang kumikilos. Kung buhay pa ang ating mga magigiting at matatapang na mga bayani, magagalit sila sa inyo—lalo sa mga taong kagaya ng mga nakaupo sa pwesto na walang ginawa kundi sirain, wasakin, at paslangin ang kalikasan at ang aming kinabukasan. Marahil hindi kayo kumikilos ngayon dahil nararamdaman niyo pang maganda ang inyong buhay, dahil ngayon kayo pa ay masagana, at dahil hindi kayo naghihirap at nakakaranas sa araw-araw naming dinaranas. Kailan pa ba tayo kikilos? Kapag wala na? Kapag huli na ang lahat? Hinahamon ko kayo na makiisa sa aming paglalakbay, makiisa sa aming adhikain, at pandayin ang isang malayang lipunan at masaganang mundo para sa susunod na salinlahi. Kung ngayon palang ay ganito na ang aming kalagayan, ay mas

sobra-sobra pang kahirapan ang papasanin at mararanasan ng mga magiging anak namin. [Kapag] 40 anyos na ako, siguro kahit medyo matanda na ako, malakas parin [ako]. Magtatayo [ako] ng maraming lumad na paaralan sa [aming] komunidad, [gagawa] ng maraming organikong pagkain, at siguro isa na akong magsasaka na lilikha ng pagkain ng bansa. Subalit kung hindi pa namin mahihila ang [mga] mamamayan mula sa comfort zone nila pagdating ng panahon na iyon, hindi magwawagi ang pakikibaka. Mas lalala ang krisis sa klima at ekonomiya. Lalala ang pagsasamantala. Pero alam ko na magtatagumpay talaga ang aming pakikibaka. Mamumuhay ang mga magiging anak namin sa isang malayang lipunan na walang pagsasamantala, may pagkakapantaypantay, may kapayapaan na nakabatay sa katarungan, na may karapatan na kaming mga katutubo sa sariling pagpapasya. Maraming lumad na paaralan na itatayo at doon sila mag-aaral, sa isang masagana at ligtas na mundo. ■

Letter to the future Words by Katkat Dalon

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