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D E C E M B E R 11, 2020

EDITORIAL

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U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E

M A G S U L A T. M A G L I N G KO D. M A G PA L A YA .

◆ ◆ TA O N 47, B LG. 1

U P L B P E R S P E C T I V E .O R G

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COME HELL OR HIGH WATER

NEWS | 3

PDEA: MAYOR PEREZ STILL IN NARCOLIST

FEATURE | 6

DEFEATING THE SYSTEM: ENDING VIOLENCE NOW

CULTURE | 9

BOYS’ LOVE: AN EVOLVING PHENOMENON

OPINION | 11

THOUGHTS ON ENDING THE SEMESTER

KWADRADO | 12

AK TIBISMO SA GITNA NG PANDEMYA ●


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EDITORIAL

S I N C E 1 9 7 3 • TO M O 47, B I L A N G 1 Ang opisyal na pahayagan ng mga magaaral ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas Los Baños Silid 11, 2nd Floor Student Union Building, Mariano M. Mondonedo Avenue, UPLB 4031 EDITORIAL perspective.uplb@up.edu.ph OPINION opinion.uplbperspective@gmail.com ORGWATCH orgwatch.uplbperspective@gmail.com Miyembro, UP Systemwide Alliance of Student Publications and Writers’ Organizations (UP Solidaridad) at ng College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP)

D E C E M B E R 1 1 , 2 02 0 | U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G

MARK ERNEST FAMATIGAN Punong Patnugot

PATRICE BIANCA YAPJOCO Patnugot sa Online

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS

SONYA MARIELLA CASTILLO Kapatnugot

KENNETH REMENTILLA Patnugot ng Orgwatch

◆◆ Starting December 7, 2020, you may now reach the UPLB Perspective through its new e-mail: perspective.uplb@up.edu.ph. To feature your organization’s event on Orgwatch, send your pubmat and accompanying details to their e-mail address: orgwatch.uplbperspective@gmail.com.

FELIPA CHENG AT DIANNE SANCHEZ

AESHA SARROL Tagapamahala ng Sirkulasyon

Mga Tagapamahalang Patnugot

JAMES JERICHO BAJAR Tagapamahala ng Pinansya

REUBEN PIO MARTINEZ Patnugot ng Balita MICHAEL JAMES MASANGYA Patnugot ng Lathalain SOPHIA PUGAY Patnugot ng Kultura IAN RAPHAEL LOPEZ Patnugot ng Produksyon JERMAINE VALERIO Kapatungot sa Grapiks CYRIL CHAYANNE CHAN

Kapatungot sa Litrato

GERARDO JR. V. LAYDIA Kapatnugot sa Paglalapat KENNLEE OROLA Patnugot ng Opinyon

M GA K A WA N I Juan Sebastian Evangelista, Kristine Paula Bautista, Dean Carlo Valmeo, Andrei Gines, Ruben Belmonte, Lora Noreen Domingo, Caleb Buenaluz, Joaquin Gonzalez IV, Taj Lagulao, Gabriel Dolot, Noreen Kay Donato, Claire Denise Sibucao, Jed Matthew Palo, Abel Genovaña, Caren Malaluan, Ma. Victoria Almazan, Paul Carson, Angelin Ulayao, Aubrey Carnaje, Lindsay Peñaranda DIBUHO NG PABALAT Jermaine Valerio

◆◆ Due to the Christmas break, [P] Live will broadcast its last episode on December 19, 2020. The broadcast will resume during the virtual General Assembly of Student Councils on January 11, 2021. ◆◆ You may notice a slight typographical facelift on your newspaper. This was made after some complaints on the old fonts. — Production Editor

Come hell or high water

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mid the ever-changing political landscape, the negligence of both local and national government in fulfilling their duties in a global health crisis, the various forms of harassment and attacks of the fascist US-Duterte regime—now more than ever do we need a publication that will stand its ground. The first week of November was met with drastic changes for the university and the Southern Luzon area at large. For the UPLB community, it meant a change in leadership, with the tragic six-year reign of Chancellor Sanchez finally coming to an end. The student body has high expectations for the new chancellor, hoping that the mire of amassing Maximum Registration Rule and readmission cases will be resolved soon. The newly-seated Chancellor Camacho promises compassion and concern for others, and while he seems to be in the UPLB community’s side today, one cannot help but feel skeptical. The management of the past term has damaged the trust between the student body and administration. After all, Sanchez promised to make agreements through consensus-building. He promised to make adjustments in leadership in order to accommodate the students’ needs, yet became the anti-student personality we will forever remember him by. One can only truly hope that the new term’s compassion is sustained and will be different from the last one. After all, calling for accountability does not end with the start of a new term. If anything, the beginning is a challenge for the new administration to redeem its disposition - who will they stand for? The university’s sectors or their superiors in the UP System? All the while, the people of Southern Tagalog and Bicol were experiencing the horrors brought upon by super typhoon Rolly - reportedly the world’s strongest typhoon of the year - with winds and rains powerful enough to destroy roads and buildings, and flood entire villages. Several homes from Tierra Verde, Pallocan West, San Isidro, and Libjo - all in Batangas City - were severely flooded in mere minutes. Catanduanes province took most of the damage, with over 10,000 left homeless due to the typhoon destroying their homes. In the context of the university, 1,732 students were reportedly in typhoon-affected areas all over Luzon. According to the most recent update from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, at least 24 people have died, 399 injured, and 130,266 people displaced. Yet in the midst of it all - the president

[P] GRAPHIC BY JERMAINE VALERIO

A lot can happen in a week, and we expect more in the days to come. Now is a crucial time for demanding accountability from those in power. We need to ensure that institutions are performing their mandates to serve the people.

was a no-show. As people were dying and being force-evacuated, President Duterte seems to show no care nor remorse, failing to appear in broadcast before the onslaught to assure Filipinos that the government is prepared for what may come, or that they are in safe hands. He didn’t even appear in the government presscon while the typhoon already had its landfall in Southern Luzon. Then again, what more can we expect from the fascist Duterte regime - the same regime that irresponsibly handled and enabled the spread of COVID-19? But the typhoon was not the only disaster that happened that day. In Sineguelasan, Bacoor, 400 fisherfolk and urban poor families were left homeless due to a fire that broke out in the middle of night - an incident not so far from several others over the span of three years. Even before the incident, Bacoor has already been a hotspot of fire outbreaks in urban poor communities. In the past, hundreds

of homes in the communities of Maliksi I, Maliksi III, Tabing Dagat, and Talaba II were engulfed in flames, leaving hundreds more to be homeless. A commonality in these fires is not simply the vulnerability of communities - but their position in a P42-billion reclamation project spearheaded by the Bacoor mayor herself. Sineguelasan is one of many barangays affected by the 420-hectare reclamation project of Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla, which aims to develop coastal area communities to supposedly improve the city’s local economy. The said reclamation project is said to give way for the construction of tourist attraction sites and the extension of LRT1 to Cavite province. In any case, whether the fire happened or didn’t, the continuation of the project would mean displacement of urban poor residents from the area - all in the name of development. But who is to truly benefit from this development project? The Bacoor LGU brags “inclusive development” with plans to relocate the communities to Molino II - a community several kilometers away from shore where the fisherfolks’ livelihoods are. It brags about creating 70,000 jobs, but fails to consider the city’s overall poverty situation. The project may absorb residents to be included in their labor force - but at the cost of underemployment, due to the nature of their work. A lot can happen in a week, and we expect more in the days to come. Sectors are being neglected, communities attacked, and the democratic rights of students to quality education are being compromised under remote learning. Now is a crucial time for demanding accountability from those in power. We need to ensure that these powerful institutions are performing their mandates to serve the people. This is the historical task of the Perspective. One that has defined the publication since the rise and fall of the fascist Ferdinand Marcos, and has continued to fuel the minds and hearts of its staffers. Under the new editorial term, we reaffirm the critical, militant, pro-people, pro-student stance the publication has held in the past decades. No form of administrative intervention will keep us from holding UP accountable. No way of intimidation or scare tactics can hold back the Perspective from amplifying the calls of the masses and exposing the wrongdoings of the fascist Duterte regime. Against all odds, we will struggle and publish for the students and for the people. Come hell or high water, truth shall prevail.


NEWS

U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G | D E C E M B E R 11, 2 02 0 ◆ ◆

Perez still in narcolist says PDEA, after Duterte washes his hands off the inclusion Residents, UPLB unite in grief, anguish and anger BY J OA QU I N G O N Z A L E Z I V AND IAN RAPHAEL LOPEZ

UPLB Perspective Staff Writers

As Los Baños calls for justice over the death of their beloved mayor, Mayor Caesar Perez would not be removed yet in the controversial narcolist, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. At the time of his death, the PDEA Regional Adjudication Committee for Calabarzon was sitll deliberating whether to recommend the removal of Mayor Perez from the list. “A drug test is only one part of the process. A person may test negative to drug use, but [that does not mean he is not] a protector or financier which is a different case,” Jigger Montallana, PDEA director for Calabarzon, told reporters on Thursday, December 10. Perez was shot dead inside the Los Baños municipal hall on Thursday night, December 3. An initial report from the Laguna Provincial Police Office said that Perez was walking toward the receiving area of the municipal hall at around 8:45 p.m. when currently unidentified perpetrators shot him twice at the back of the head. Perez was immediately rushed to the hospital but was declared dead at around 9:45pm after 30 minutes of reviving him failed. Prior to his death, Perez had been receiving death threats since his inclusion in the “narco-list” – the government's list of politicians with supposed links to the illegal drug trade. Perez and his family have denied his alleged involvement with illegal drugs. “Bakit ano ba’ng pruweba? Dahil wala naman kaming tinatago so di kami nagisip na may mangyayari,” his son, Aldous said last Sunday. These allegations surfaced while he was running once more for mayor last May, claiming that a political rival from 2007 was behind his inclusion in the list. He was reported to have submitted a position paper to both Malacañang and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in an attempt to set the record straight. Three years prior, Perez’s younger brother, Ruel was also shot dead by unknown motorcycle-riding perpetrators. President Duterte, in his weekly message to the nation last Monday, December 7, offered his condolences to Perez’s family but not without washing his hands off the narcolist. “First of all, I’m sorry that your father died in the way it happened. Pero kung sabihin mong, ‘yang listahan na ‘yan, hindi akin ‘yan,” Duterte told Cabinet officials. “I’m sorry if your father was there, but really, most of those were really into drugs. Your father might be an exception. If you believe firmly that he was not guilty or liable of anything, then that’s good,” said the President. Critics hit Duterte, who read aloud the narcolist last March 2019, and the culture of impunity under his administration.

Dearly departed

Residents of Los Baños joined the family of Perez in his wake at his home along Lopez

LOS BAÑOS CRIES FOR JUSTICE AS PEREZ LAID TO REST In these file photos, Mayor Caesar Perez poses with UPLB students (top) and thenRep. Neri Colmenares.

[P] FILE PHOTOS BY JUAN SEBASTIAN EVANGELISTA

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Ave., one gloomy afternoon on December 4 as the town mourned the community’s loss. Following the news of his death, residents were quick to pay tribute to their beloved mayor. Among them was Los Baños resident Angielyn Arlegui, who expressed her sorrow and condolences on the passing of Perez in a Facebook post. “Makikita mo ang kanyang pananamit na parang ordinaryong tao lng, ikaw din ung mayor na nakita ko nag tatraffic enforcer sa gitna ng kalsada k[a]h[i]t na napakainit…” Perez was elected mayor of Los Baños from 2001 to 2010, served as Laguna vice governor from 2010 to 2013 and was re-elected mayor three more times in 2014, 2016, and 2019. As mayor, Perez advocated against pollution in the Special Science and Nature City. In 2008, Los Baños would be the first-ever town in the Philippines to regulate and ban the use of single-use plastic bags and styrofoam. He was also behind the famous Bañamos Festival. Testifying to Perez’s positive reputation was Jay Rolusta, another Los Baños resident, who condemned the murder of Perez in his Facebook post. “Gumawa ka ng kasaysayan bilang pinakamatayog na puno sa Los Baños. Ang iyong mga bunga ay pinakinabangan ng maraming tao.” Rolusta only had one word to describe the perpetrators.“Traydor. Traydor, hindi lamang ang nagbuwal sa’yo habang ikaw ay nakatalikod, kundi mas traydor ang mga utak sa likod nito,” Rolusta added.

Utter disregard for judicial process

In a statement, the University of the Philippines Los Baños said that the killing is “an affront to our dearly held respect for human rights” and called on the authorities to investigate the murder and bring the perpetrators to justice. UPLB added that he was a “staunch ally of the university” and helped in implementing certain projects and activities for the campus. In an interview with Perspective Live last Saturday Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs For. Roberto Cereno echoed the UPLB community’s call for justice, citing how the campus was made crime-free under Perez.When asked whether campus security would be tightened due to the assassination, Cereno said he saw no reason to do so, exhorting the stakeholders to take precautions for their safety. Meanwhile, Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez, who also visited Perez’s wake, expressed his condolences and condemened the murder in a Facebook post. The Facebook page of the municipal government of Los Baños changed its profile picture to all black and expressed its condolences to the Perez family in a post. On the day of Perez’s death, the municipality swore in Antonio Kalaw and Josephine Evangelista to fill the respective roles of mayor and vice mayor. As of press time, no new details have surfaced on the progress of the investigation. Laguna province information officer Christopher Sanji, in an interview with Perspective Live, said that the province has already coordinated with the police for the investigation.

TUMUTOK SA [P] LIVE Tuwing Sabado, 5:00-6:30 p.m.

Balikan ang special coverage sa pagkamatay ni Mayor Perez https://bit.ly/MayorPerez


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NEWS FEATURE

D E C E M B E R 1 1 , 2 02 0

As the Dumagats continue their fight against the Kaliwa Dam project, the Quezon provincial government has also moved against the dam. B Y A R O N J A N M I T C H E L L S I E R VA

UPLB Perspective Reporter

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n October 28, SectorS and Peoples Totally Opposed to Kaliwa Dam (STOP Kaliwa Dam) reported that a leader of the indigenous people Dumagat Remontado was not invited in a meeting regarding the Kaliwa Dam’s Memorandum Of Agreement (MOA). The meeting was to be done with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and was reported to have been organized despite lacking free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), which would allow IPs such as the Dumagat Remontado to voice their insights on decisions that would affect their communities. “Ang negosasyon ay nagaganap habang patuloy ang kakulangan ng tugon sa mga anomalya sa free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) process na minadali ng MWSS,” STOP Kaliwa Dam wrote in a Facebook post. This was the latest attack in an already lengthy battle between the indigenous community and the powers that be over ancestral lands and environmental welfare. A part of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, the Kaliwa Dam project is a new water source to be constructed within the provinces of Rizal and Quezon, facilitated by the MWSS. In a loan agreement signed by then MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco last November 20, 2018, the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIMBANK) agreed to lend about P10.4 billion to the Philippine government in order to finance the construction of the said dam.The deal was sealed despite major protests by environmental advocates, activists, and the natives of Sierra Madre. The project is being primarily condemned by the Dumagats, an indigenous tribe that has claims to the area in which the dam is to be constructed. In addition to the project’s environmental risks, the Kaliwa Dam construction also violates the supposed sacredness of the Sierra Madre, as expressed by the Dumagats. The indigenous tribe believes that “Makidyapat”, their supreme creator, granted the natural resources equally to all people. They stressed that land must be held sacred and must not be used for economic means. “They are not only taking our lands, they are also taking our lives,” said by the spokesperson of AGTA, a Dumagat organization.

Decades of opposition

Ideas for the project can be traced back to 1979, during the presidency of the late Ferdinand Marcos. Formerly called the Laiban Dam, its proposed structure was bigger in size compared to the current administration’s plan for the Kaliwa Dam project. The Dumagats have been fighting for their ancestral rights since then. Their persistence to assert their claims had halted the construction of the Laiban Dam during Marcos’s office. Among those who fought valiantly for the indigenous tribe was Nicanor delos Santos. He became a spokesperson for the Kaisahan ng mga Katutubo sa Sierra Madre (KKSM), and

[P] PHOTO BY CYRIL CHAN

Defending Makidyapat’s land against Kaliwa Dam Hindi kami against sa kaunlaran, pero dapat ang gagawing pagbabago ay ‘di rin makakaapekto sa karamihan. LODEMA DOROTEO

Dumagat teacher

served as the secretary general of Makabayang Samahan ng mga Dumagat (MASKADA). “[Delos Santos] never showed any weakening of his will to fight,” recounted Kakay Tolentino, a Dumagat activist. She added that delos Santos continued to organize the community despite militarization threats. On December 8, 2001, delos Santos was gunned down by a government soldier. At the time he was killed, he was merely buying food for his tribe as preparation for a Human Rights Day protest. The Dumagats honor de los Santos as a martyr, who wholeheartedly served and died for his fellow indigenous people. In 2007, talks about the Laiban Dam resurfaced. Detailed researches were conducted

concerning the dam’s proposed structural design. In 2009, the San Miguel Corporation (SMC), recently linked to land-grabbing cases in Bulacan and Quezon, submitted an unsolicited proposal to build the dam. The MWSS was criticized for not publicizing the biddings, and as a result of the protests, SMC refused to sign the contract. Then in 2018, despite the people’s continuous campaigns against the dam construction, the Duterte administration advanced the deal with Chinese investors. Several organizations expressed their support for the Dumagats in opposing the construction of the Kaliwa Dam. These include scientific and environmental groups such as the Haribon Foundation, Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (AGHAM), Samahan ng mga Konsyumer para sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan (SUKI), among many others. These groups asserted in an October 6 Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples' Rights (TFIP) Facebook live that the natives, poor, and marginalized sectors must be prioritized in the allocation of water resources. They condemn the government’s act of displacing and harassing the indigenous people of the Sierra Madre. Religious institutions, such as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), also expressed their opposition towards the dam construction.

Regardless, the government asserted that building the dam would be beneficial to all people living within and around the area.

Massive mistakes

An article by MWSS stated that the Kaliwa Dam seeks to meet the increasing water demand of the residents. It is set to provide 2,400 million liters of water per day (MLD). This aims to answer the serious water shortage in Metro Manila, which takes its supply from the Angat and Ipo Dams. Both water sources were reported to have falling water levels in the past years. However, the government overlooks the detrimental consequences of the dam construction on the environment itself, among several negative effects on other societal aspects. Constructing the Kaliwa Dam can lead to deforestation, biodiversity loss, loss of food source, decreased rainfall, flooding, and landslide, according to AGHAM. A report by Manila Bulletin showed that building the Kaliwa Dam would submerge about 12,000 hectares of the forest ecosystems in Sierra Madre, with 172 plant species, 17 of which are facing endangerment or extinction. In addition, Haribon Foundation calculated that the Kaliwa Dam project could destroy the habitat of at least three critically-endangered species, 31 endangered species, and 240 vulnerable species.As a matter of fact, the Kaliwa


NEWS FEATURE

U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G | D E C E M B E R 11, 2 02 0

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 Despite opposition from various groups (far right), the construction of Kaliwa Dam’s access roads have continued amid the lockdown (spread photo).

expressed that these intimidate and confuse the community. Special troops hired by the Chinese construction company were also stationed in the area, claiming that the military presence is a security measure against possible activities by the New People’s Army (NPA). Many Dumagats fear for their livelihood once they are forced out of their own homes. Joan Jaime, research and documentation officer of the Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Katribu), claimed that the indigenous community relies heavily on the Sierra Madre for their survival. By being majorly exposed to the natural mountainous landscape, Jaime claimed that it would be unimaginable for the indigenous people to live in relocation sites. Jaime was also disappointed by the government’s prioritizing of monetary interests over the IPs rights. “Lahat na [lamang] nilagyan ng monetary value at lahat na [lamang] pinagkakitaan. Contrary ‘yan doon sa pangangailangan ng mga mamamayan, pangangailangan ng mga katutubo, at ‘yung tingin nilang [kumon na paggamit] sa lupa,” Jaime said in an interview with The Guidon. To the Dumagats, the idea of progress is different from what the government is pushing for. “Hindi kami against sa kaunlaran, pero dapat ang gagawing pagbabago ay ‘di rin makakaapekto sa karamihan,” added Dumagat teacher Lodema Doroteo in TFIP’s Facebook livestream. Another native asserted that they will choose to protect the environment, regardless of whatever conditions offered by the government. Despite the onset of the Kaliwa Dam project, indigenous tribes and various organizations continue to voice their protests against the infrastructure program.

Quezon LGU says no to Kaliwa Dam

PHOTO FROM STOP KALIWA DAM

Watershed, the location in which the dam is to be constructed, was declared as a forest reserve on June 22, 1968. This was established to protect the forest from human exploitation. This specific proclamation would be violated once the Kaliwa Dam is constructed. Lia Alonzo, coordinator of the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) Research and Advocacy, added that the structural integrity of the Kaliwa Watershed must be put into consideration. Upon analysis of the feasibility study of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) regarding the dam construction, Alonzo cited the need to construct another large dam, in order to guarantee the longevity of the Kaliwa Dam. In doing so, along with building the tunnels that would transport collected water in the dams, the ground surrounding the watershed would eventually fill the water basin in a process called sedimentation. Therefore, after damaging the Sierra Madre ecosystem due to their construction, the Kaliwa Dam and its supporting structures would actually become useless over time.

No need for Kaliwa Dam

In actuality, most scientists and environmentalists conclude that there is no need for the dam construction, based on their respective researches and related studies. According to Asst. Prof. Reginald Vallejos of SUKI,

Fast facts: Kaliwa Dam in millions of liters a day (mld)

4,000 mld

Current supply drawn from the Angat Dam and Reservoir for Metro Manila’s water needs

2,400 mld

Projected capacity of the Kaliwa Dam once it gets built

4,164 mld

Projected capacity if water gets pooled from untapped water sources, desalination plants and other technologies; a surplus of 164mld

there are sufficient freshwater resources in the Philippines to provide clean and accessible water for all people. Water sources such as the Sumag and Tayabasan River, Wawa Dam, Laguna Lake and Cardona Wastewater Treatment Plants (WTP), and deep wells can supply enough provision, according to Angelo Joshua Luciano of AGHAM. He added that the government can utilize desalination plants and rain harvesting

technology. Utilizing and improving these projects can supply an amount of water equal to 4,164 MLD, which is more than what the Kaliwa Dam is set to provide.

Loan barrage

In addition to the project’s potential environmental hazards, lawyers also gave emphasis on the unconstitutionality of the China loan agreement. By giving priority to major Chinese investors, the loan violates the Filipino First Policy, comprehensively stated in Article XII, Section 10 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Atty. Maria Cristina Yambot of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) added that other parts of the Constitution were violated, such as withholding the foreign loan agreement from public information. At present, access roads toward the dam’s proposed location are already being constructed as part of the project, much to the disappointment of the indigenous people, more especially since the dam construction has been prioritized by the government despite the current pandemic. The groups continued in TFIP’s Facebook livestream that Chinese workers were already surveying and examining the area in order to prepare for the drilling process. The Dumagats were also fearful of the heavy military presence deployed in the area. They

Last November 27, Quezon’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) passed a resolution authorizing Governor Danilo Suarez to take the necessary steps in stopping the construction of Kaliwa Dam. Initially moved by board member Jerry Talaga, the resolution was unanimously approved by 11 of the 13 SP members led by Vice Governor Sam Nantes. This is reportedly the first time that the executive and legislative branches of the provincial government of Quezon utilized their shared power to oppose a national government project, despite recent issues of political schism among SP members. Suarez himself spoke on the project critically on occasion. Earlier, last November 17, while conducting relief operations in the Real, Infanta, and General Nakar towns (REINA) area after the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, Suarez engaged in a meeting with organizations opposing the construction. One who is much aware of these ecological threats is Governor Suarez. Championing for the cause of his people and the environment, he hinted to sue in court if the construction continues amidst vocal opposition from those who would be severely affected. “If you would continue Kaliwa Dam, I’d see you in court,” he dared. ONLINE

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6

FEATURES

We should move to put and end to violence against women, and fight for greater parity in the workplace.

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BY BEATRICE MENDOZA

very year, on November 25, countries from across the globe launch a 16-day campaign for the elimination of violence against women (VAW). This initiative was established by the United Nations (UN) back in 2013. It originally lasts until December 10, ending on the International Human Rights Day, however, the campaign was extended until December 12 following the International Day Against Trafficking in Persons which promotes the “prevention, suppression and punishment of trafficking in persons, especially women and children,” under Proclamation no. 1172 of former President Gloria Arroyo. The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW)—a government agency mandated to create policies & coordinate matters on women and gender equality—will launch an 18-day campaign this year against VAW. The campaign theme for 2020 is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!,” with the color orange symbolizing “a brighter future without violence against women.” The PCW highlights the role of the barangay and its responsibilities in eliminating women’s abuse. This year’s program includes training barangay officials in handling these cases, including, but not limited to, gender-based harassment. Its activities also comprise various online webinars & talks about eliminating VAW, which are accessible and free for all interested individuals live streamed on PCW’s Facebook page. The goal is to strengthen “local mechanisms,” in the barangay through the creation of VAW desks which will cater to the heightened abuses experienced by women brought about by the ongoing pandemic.

D E C E M B E R 1 1 , 2 02 0 | U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G

DEFEATING THE SYSTEM

Worsening trend

In what is dubbed as the “shadow pandemic”, the plight of women has seen no rest as attacks on the freedom and human rights of women have continuously occurred. According to PCW, COVID-19 has “aggravated underlying gender issues and affected marginalized and vulnerable sectors.” This is further affirmed by the UN stating that “there has been an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.” As even before the pandemic, 1 in 3 women globally have faced physical or sexual violence from their partner. The Philippines recorded that 1 in 4 women, aged 15-49, have experienced physical, sexual, emotional violence from their partner. Meanwhile, the country has experienced a general downward trend of reported cases from March to April, but abuses are not isolated cases since it has been present even before the imposition of lockdown. Despite having a downward trend, the fact remains that women are much more vulnerable to abuse during the lockdown due to limited physical mobility. The Philippine National Police Women Children Protection Center (PNPWCPC) recorded 763 crimes against women from March 13 to April 30, 2020. While Gabriela noted 3,700 cases of abuse against women during the two-month period of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) alone. UN mentioned that sexual harassment can

[P] PHOTO BY SOPHIA ISABEL PANGILINAN

occur in online spaces and that a decrease in cases may be attributed to survivors having limited access to information regarding helplines and desks.

VAW as a multi-sectoral occurrence

Recently, President Duterte’s seemingly sexist jokes, amid the catastrophic effects of the consecutive typhoons that hit the country, was downplayed and justified by Palace officials mentioning that this was Duterte’s way of coping with disasters. In his address last November 17, Duterte proceeded with calling out Leni Robredo and even went as far as publicly threatening her.He said this on the basis that Robredo had spoken against him, amid the calls for #NasaanAngPangulo. It was later proven that Leni did not say those things and Duterte, instead, succumbed to circulating fake news.

Meanwhile, in the trans community, former United States Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton was granted an absolute pardon by the president himself on the basis of good conduct, despite not having previous public relations. This reduced his sentence of 10 years to 5 years and 10 months. Pemberton was convicted of the violent murder of Filipino transwoman Jennifer Laude back in 2014. Prominent women figures in the entertainment industry such as Liza Soberano and Angel Locsin were also targets of gender-based violence. Soberano recently spoke in a Gabriela Youth talk, advocating for women’s rights. Not long after, General Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), red-tagged her and warned her that she would be killed if she further

involved herself with “left-leaning groups.” Human rights activists and women journalists are also victims of discrimination and oppression. Reina Mae “Ina” Nasino, a social activist working with urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY), was arrested and charged with alleged cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. During the period of her detainment, she was unknowingly in her first trimester of pregnancy and even gave birth to her child River. She was only given a month to care for River, and when River died, she was granted only 6 hours to mourn for her baby. The funeral home was surrounded by jail guards and police officers who attempted to take Nasino away from the wake, even before the four hours were up. Such harsh treatment made it seem like she was a


FEATURES

U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G | D E C E M B E R 11, 2 02 0

TI ME I S R U N NI N G O UT

Wage gap of women from 2016 (top bars) to 2017 (bottom bars) Average wage gap across sectors

Duterte’s macho-fascist tendencies have spilled over government policy. At best, only marginal improvements were observed in key indicators, but issues such as wage parity still plague almost 16 million Filipino women in the workplace. Data on men

Data on women

15.7 million WOMEN

MEN

0%

1.3 million men gained a job since 2016.

12% 11%

Average wage gap in manufacturing

Data on gap/disparities

25.7 million

17%

27.6%

27.5

15.5

7.8%

Average wage gap in small services

7.3% 5.9% 0%

2

4

6

8

10

Average wage for agri workers

15

15.4%

14.5

26%

26.5 26

14 2016

2018

25.5

2016

2018

15 14 13

12

14

16

18

P335 P304.60

14.3% 2016

2018

P31.40

P355.67 P328.84

P26.83

P442.93

Palay (Region IV-B)

16.1%

16

27

2017

100%

300,000 women lost their jobs since 2016.

28%

15.6%

2016

17.4%

Average wage in palay sector 16%

7

P307.46

P115.47

P350.94

Corn (Region III)

P305.65 P0

50

100

150

200

250

P42.09

300

350

400

450

Source IBON Foundation, Philippine Statistics Authority Infographic Ian Raphael Lopez

high-profile inmate more than a grieving mother. Another case would be of journalist Maria Ressa, CEO and executive editor of social news network Rappler, who sparked international outrage when she was convicted of cyberlibel. The article in question, written before the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 came into action, “defamed” Wilfredo Keng who pressed charges. The verdict found Ressa and co-writer Santos Jr. guilty with fines and a bailable six months to six years in prison. This is one of the 11 cases against Ressa and Rappler that occurred during Duterte’s term. All the more are the masses affected by present-day machismo ideologies. Under the Duterte administration, economic thinktank IBON reported that the number of employment of women has lessened and that work conditions are not improving. Women still receive low wages and face a gender gap in terms of pay. This is seen by the decrease of employed women from the start of the term of Duterte, at 16 million, going down to 15.7 million in 2018. Various indicators such as percentage share of employed women in precarious work, share of women employed working excessive hours, average real daily basic pay (ADBP), and the wage gap in various industries show little to no improvement. The situation is aggravated by the policies of the Duterte administration that benefit big businesses and in turn disregard the rights of women and workers. Macho-fascism, which intensified under the Duterte regime, has proven to be detrimental towards the women’s struggle for gender equality. Issues such as economic discrimination and wage gap remain prevalent among women especially in the marginalized sector. Peasant women are made more susceptible to attacks by the government due to their

TH EY D ES ERV E TO BE HEA RD

1 in 3 women

experienced physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner in the world

1 in 4 Asian women

who have been in a relationship have experienced violence by their intimate partner

status and lack of resources. Amihan, a national federation of peasant women, reported that there is a huge wage gap of P30 a day between female and male agricultural workers. Peasant women also face the unresponsiveness of the government when it comes to their plight regarding economic discrimination, gender inequality, aerial bombings & the militaristic government response to the pandemic. The youth is no exemption to harassment. The most recent reported case occurred 4 days before the VAWC campaign, with a grade 7 student found dead without clothing and multiple stab wounds. The motive of the case is unknown as of writing, as the student went out to get a mobile phone signal for her online classes. It is also worth noting that at the start of the year, several high school students from different academic institutions came forward with stories concerning sexual harassment, grooming, abuse of authority from their teachers or personnel.

Fight for genuine equality

1 in 4 Filipino women

aged 15-49 experience physical, sexual, emotional violence from partner or husband

1 in 5 Filipino women

aged 15-49 experience emotional violence from partner or husband SOURCE: UNITED NATIONS, WHO, PSA

The clamor and fight for gender equality and treatment are not finished, and should not end. The latest of which is the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) bill, which strengthens the rights of women, and fights for the democratic freedom of marginalized sectors including transwomen, lesbians, and the whole queer community. Policies could only do so much. While we strive for its ratification, let us not forget to hold people accountable whenever they blatantly disregard these laws. Existing policies against violence have long been established in the constitution yet we still see its prevalence. Provisionary laws like the Safe Spaces Act and the Bawal Bastos Law among others that have been passed during

Duterte’s term, will always be dismissed as long as government officials themselves do not see the gravity of their careless actions. Having a macho-fascist leader leading a country asserts dominance over women, enables sexism in all sectors, as seen earlier. A leader, who visibly flaunts misogyny, and disregards minimum decency and professionalism, will only further attacks against women. With a militaristic approach by the government, violence against women intensified and, in some cases, are even left to fend for themselves. It is this same culture of impunity that allows Duterte to evade accountability. Citizens are even asked to understand his “quirks” and suddenly, the laws protecting women are bent in accordance with his sexist remarks. It is now, again, up to the masses to not forget the government’s constant negligence regarding this matter and to hold them accountable. Laws and policies are bound to fail in protecting us, as it holds selective justice in service of those in power and the ruling class. In this pandemic, women need all the support they need as they are even made more vulnerable to attacks by their partners and in extreme cases, of their own relatives. Even having stricter physical boundaries fail because online platforms make it easier for abusers to reach women through their social media accounts by sending unwanted sexual advances. Under Duterte’s macho-fascist administration, there is little to no remorse for the breach of the rights of women, even breeding a culture of such.

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Read the full story and find helpful links to related information https://bit.ly/DefeatTheSystem


8

CULTURE

D E C E M B E R 1 1 , 2 02 0 | U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G

Panay utang ang gobyerno, ngunit ang mga Juan Dela Cruz naman ang sumasalo ng gahiganteng bayarin.

ANG BAYANG INUTANG

B

NI SHANE DEL ROSARIO

ayang inutang, ‘di mabaya-bayaran…’ Bata pa lamang, halos magpanting na ang tainga ko sa paulit-ulit na pagkanta nito ng mga kalaro ko noon sa teks at pogs. Malimit ko pa silang sawayin dahil animo’y pambabastos nga naman ito sa ating pambansang awit. Ngunit nakakatawang isiping halos lahat nga naman ng biro, anila’y, ‘half meant’. Sinasalamin ng naturang kanta ang mapait at tunay na kalagayan ng bansang Pilipinas at ang mga utang nito sa kasalukuyan, na mas lalo pang pinalalala ng pandemya. Sa huling tala ng Bureau of Treasury noong Agosto 2020, nasa P9.615 trilyon na ang utang ng Pilipinas, na nadagdagan ng P450.9 bilyon simula noong Hulyo. Nasa 30.2% nito ay mga perang hiniram mula sa ibang bansa habang 69.8% naman ang maituturing na domestic debt. Kung susumahin at hahatiin ang halagang ito sa kabuuang populasyon ng bansa, nasa P87,000 ang utang ng bawat Pilipino. Ngunit saan nga ba ito nagsimula? Sino nga ba ang dapat sisihin? Bakit hanggang ngayo’y tila mas lalo pang bumibigat ang pasanin ni Juan mula sa mga hiniram niyang perang animo’y ‘may paglalaanan’ naman?

Ang utang at ang mga nagpapautang

Humihiram ng pera ang isang bansa dahil kulang ang kapital at pondo nito upang makapagpatayo ng mga imprastraktura, maisakatuparan ang ilang mga proyekto at kung ano pang mga programa. Kung tutuusin, mistulang rasonable ang naturang pangungutang dahil babalik rin naman dapat at nakakaranas rin ng ginhawa ang mga mamamayan. Ito ang itinatak ng dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos sa mga Pilipino. Sa pangakong reporma sa pulitika at ekonomiya nang magdeklara ng Martial Law, humiram ng pera si Marcos sa iba’t ibang mga bansa na umabot sa $26.7 bilyon. Dahil sa dami ng imprastrakturang ipinatayo at sa perspektibo noong dekada ‘60 na ito ang nagsisilbing sukatan ng pag-unlad ng isang bansa, nagkibit balikat ang mga Pilipino. Dito nagsimula ang paniniwalang “golden age” kuno ng Pilipinas ang termino ni Marcos. Bagamat nakatutulong ang mga hiniram na pera, hindi maikakaila na kalauna’y mas nagiging pabor rin ito sa mga nagpapautang. Noong dekada ‘70, tumaas ang halaga at interes ng hiram na pera ng mga developing countries tulad ng Pilipinas dahil sa iba’t ibang kondisyones at polisiya. Isa nang halimbawa ay ang pagtaas ng ipinapataw na interest rates ng United States Treasury dulot ng ilang mga polisiyang maituturing na neoliberal at pumapabor sa mga imperyalistang bansa. Bunsod nito, mas tumataas lalo ang kita ng mga nagpapautang tulad ng World Bank. Mistula’y pinagsasamantalahan nila ang mga bansang may pinagdadaanang krisis sa kani-kanilang mga ekonomiya. Animo’y isa itong patibong—kapit sa patalim, kumbaga. Bukod pa rito, maituturing ring export-oriented at import-dependent ang Pilipinas kung saan ang ating mga likas na yaman at produkto ay nabebenta sa napakamurang halaga. Pagkatapos mabili, iproproseso ito ng mga dayuhang bansa at ibebentang muli upang angkatin natin sa mas mataas na presyo. Dahil mas mataas ang bilang ng mga imported goods kaysa sa

Dahil hindi kayang mapunan ng bansa ang kaniyang mga pangangailangan, nangungutang ito para mapunan ang taunang badyet. Sa kaso ng Pilipinas, maraming katanungan kung saan ginagamit ang perang ito.

% Distribution of NG Debt as of October 2020

29.4% 12

Foreign

in billion pesos

10 8 6

P7.7B

P8.1B

P8.4B

P8.6B

P8.8B

P9.05B

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

P9.4B

P9.6B

P9.3B

P10.02B

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

4 2 0

51.2% 48.1% 43.4% 42.7%

49% 35%

Domestic

Percent

50% 45%

External

Kalakhan ng utang ay mapupunta upang paganahin muli ang ekonomiya. Sa Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) Bill, kalahati ng P1.3 trilyong halaga nito ay mapupunta sa Build, Build, Build program ng gobyerno. Kaya, sa bawat P1,000 sa ARISE bill ay ganito ang magiging hatian...

Debt to GDP ratio ng Pilipinas, 2013-Oktubre 2020 55%

70.6% Domestic

P7

Covid-19 testing

43.4% 40.2% 40.2%

39.9% 39.6%

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 03-20 06-20 09-20

P498

Infrastructure

P310

Subsidies

P185

Dole-outs

Source Bureau of Treasury Research Aron Sierva Infographic Ian Raphael Lopez

exported goods ng Pilipinas, nagkakaroon ng trade deficit na kalauna’y nakadaragdag rin sa utang ng bansa.

pag-uutang kung imbes na para sa pandemya’y sa iba inilalaan ng gobyerno ang pondo?

Di mabaya-bayaran

Nitong Agosto lamang ay inamin ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na wala na umanong pera ang bansa. Isa sa mga solusyon ng administrasyon ay ang programang Build, Build, Build (BBB) upang makakuha ng dagdag pang pondo. Kasabay ng pagtugon sa pandemya ay ang pagpapatayo ng ilang mga imprastruktura, na anila’y makatutulong umano upang mas tumaas ang kakayanan ng Pilipinas na tugunan ang krisis pang-ekonomiyang dinala ng COVID-19. Ngunit giit ng marami, mass testing at karagdagang ayuda ang tunay na kinakailangan ng mga mamamayan sa kasalukuyan. Kasabay sana ng BBB ay ang hindi pagtalikod ng administrasyon sa tunay nitong kinahaharap na krisis mula sa naturang pandemya. Marahil, panahon na rin upang baguhin ng gobyerno ang pagtanaw nito sa tunay na pag-unlad—pag-unlad na hindi lamang nasusukat sa pera o gross domestic product, kundi isang sistema at hakbanging konkreto’t walang naiiwan: mahirap man, o mayaman. Bagamat nakakabit na sa kultura ng Pinoy ang pangungutang, dapat na hindi natin

Sa paglobo ng utang ng Pilipinas, isa sa mga dapat isaalang-alang ay ang kakayanan nitong mabayaran ang naturang pera. Nagsisilbing panukat nito ay ang debt-to-GDP ratio, na tumutukoy sa porsiyento ng utang ng isang bansa kumpara sa kanyang gross domestic product o kabuuang halaga ng lahat ng nagawang produkto’t serbisyo ng isang bansa sa isang partikular na taon. Kung mataas ang debt-to-GDP ratio ng isang bansa, ibig sabihi’y mas nahihirapan itong mabayaran ang mga utang. Ayon sa datos ng Department of Finance nitong Agosto 2020, umakyat sa 48.1% ang debt-to-GDP ratio ng Pilipinas. Ito ay bunsod ng paghiram ng pera upang mas matugunan ang krisis sa COVID-19. Matatandaang noong Hulyo ay nagpahiram rin ng P23.5 bilyon ang bansang Japan upang makatulong sa laban ng Pilipinas sa pandemya. Kung tutuusin, isa pa sa mga dapat na ibato sa mga politiko ay ang tanong na: saan napupunta ang mga perang hiniram ng Pilipinas? Maituturing pa nga rin bang rasonable ang naturang

Wala nang pera

isawalambahala ang lumolobong halaga ng mga hiniram na pera ng bansa. Katumbas dapat nito ay ang kasiguraduhang hindi luho ang pinaglalaanan ng pera, kundi pangangailangan. Higit pa sa lahat, sa takdang panahon, dapat ri’y may kakayahan ang bansang mabayaran ito. Bilang mga mamamayan, responsibilidad nating maging kritiko ng gobyerno lalo na kung ang hinaharap na ng bansa ang nakataya rito. Hindi na rin sapat ang pagtuturuan ng mga politiko sa kung sino nga ba ang tunay na pinagmulan kinahaharap na krisis ng Pilipinas sa kasalukuyan, dahil sa una’t huli: kung magpapatuloy lamang ang pagkikibit-balikat natin sa naturang problema, pagpapasa-pasahan at mas lalo lamang ring bibigat ang pasanin ni Juan. Lalo lamang siyang mahihirapan mula sa perang hindi naman rin siya gaanong nakikinabang. Muli kong naalala ang mga batang hanggang ngayo’y kinakanta pa rin ang ‘Bayang inutang, di mabayad-bayaran…’ habang naglalaro sa mga kalsada. Ilang henerasyon pa kaya ng mga kabataan ang kakanta nito? Ilang mga musmos pa kaya ang pagpapasahan natin ng naturang problema? Mananatili na nga lamang ba tayong ‘bayang inutang’?


9

CULTURE

PHOTOS COURTESY OF GLOBE STUDIOS; [P] GRAPHICS BY GERARD LAYDIA

BY ANDREI GINES

UPLB Perspective Staff Writer

F

ilipino love stories are cliché. Who wouldn’t want Jose and Maria indulging in love, only for Pedro to come in and ruin their relationship by reigniting the old flame he has with Jose? Wait, that’s not the cliché, he should go for Maria, right? Right? Nope. We are in 2020, a year full of the unexpected, may it be good or bad. We have already deviated from the cliché of the Filipino love stories thanks to their repetitive nature a long time ago, causing an increase in creative storytelling in the past few years. One of which is the boys’ love phenomenon. Before, gay characters have always been relegated as side characters. It’s as if they only exist to be a sidekick for the hetero main character because of the stereotype they provide: comic relief. Their actions and lines guarantee a good laugh from the audience. This trope, however, has received a good amount of backlash. It gives nothing but bad light to the gays, and they’re basically casted for the sake of laughingstock. In an attempt to shift away from the usual, in 2013 GMA Network introduced My Husband’s Lover to the Filipino mass media. It made sure that gays play a huge role in the narrative of the story, having the main character his own identity crisis of being a homosexual. The problem with this, however, is that its theme included glorifying adultery. The finale of the series saw the two gay characters end up together, which was a good thing, except the main character (Tom Rodriguez) was previously married to a wife. Sure, its beauty is that everyone accepted them for who they truly are, but at the cost of committing adultery? That’s not a good idea. It is an irresponsible series that tried to revolutionize how we see gays, but focused too much on the drama that it lost sight of what it was supposed to do: change the perception of the media to the LGBTQIA+ community without the need for the comic relief stereotype nor the villainizing of gays. There is also misrepresentation in the dynamics between the queers in the story. The norm in hetero films is that there is a man who acts like a man, and a woman who acts like a woman and this trope is also applied to queer films whereas queer relationships are not enclosed within heteronormative roles.

Metamorphosis and correction

Thankfully, the controversial start did not

B OY S’ L OV E I N T H E PH I L I PPI N E S:

AN EVOLVING PHENOMENON The boys’ love genre does not only exist for the fan service of the minority audience. It is a progressive genre that embodies a suppressed community

kill the essence of the genre to the eyes of the Filipinos. In the more recent years, the boys’ love phenomenon has received quite a good attention in the Philippine media. This time, it has adapted to a more accepted way of doing boys’ love genre; one that enables gays to be who they truly are, acting how they want to do, with drama that even heterosexuals experience. It doesn’t invalidate the struggles of the gender, instead, it views them as what they are supposed to be viewed: who they truly are. Now, this might not seem a lot at first glance, but what they give is representation. Representation is important onscreen because the themes we see in movies will affect how our society acts, and how the majority will perceive certain people or situations. For a constantly oppressed community like the LGBTQIA+, this is a huge step towards their acceptance in this society. Not only will the mass media be enlightened to the hardships of the community, but also the young ones will now perceive them as normal, unlike us who grew up with the negative gay stereotypes in the media.

Representing the community

Representation is vital, but it also should be right. One of the key issues that queer films don’t seem to get right is the actors playing the roles, most prevalent in Thai BL series. Although there are a lot of queer actors in the industry, those casted are more often than not cishet males and still, the queer actors are

only restricted to playing the comedic roles. Proper representation entails that queer people are not only shown as characters on media but are also played by queer people themselves. If the actors are masculine cishet who were only assigned for the role because of their macho, then it’s not a good representation anymore and would only entail the fetishization of queer relationships. What can be done are stories that show the struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community. Examples of which is Rainbow’s Sunset starred by the late Eddie Garcia. It shows how a father comes out to his family about being homosexual, and he wants to take care of his old man lover who is in the later stage of cancer. This is different from the previous My Husband’s Lover because this time, the wife fully supports her husband’s

REPRESENTATION IS IMPORTANT ON-SCREEN BECAUSE THE THEMES WE SEE IN MOVIES WILL AFFECT HOW OUR SOCIETY ACTS

decision, not antagonize. The movie empowers the older LGBTQIA+ audience that coming out is not exclusive only to the young ones. Gaya Sa Pelikula has been the talk of the town in the past month, and rightfully so. It is arguably the quintessential BL series among the BL series we’ve seen as the genre boomed to the mainstream media, and it comfortably sits as the most unproblematic iteration of the kind so far. It has everything you could ask for: a conflict in a story without sacrificing good representation; a cast of characters that doesn’t antagonize anyone, but rather is loving and understanding; and most importantly, it shows the struggles of the queer community, and even the people who are in the process of knowing themselves. It may as well be the role model that will further empower the evolving genre. Another Filipino BL series that came out recently is Gameboys. This doesn’t really show the struggle of the community, but it does what previous stories should have done. It’s an self-identifying sexuality story which is unproblematic, it doesn’t antagonize the gays of the story nor does it make the other character bland, and it doesn’t cast heterosexual cishet for the sake of fetishization of the story. It’s not a perfect series, but it does what it does best. The boys’ love genre does not only exist for the fan service of the minority audience. It is a progressive genre that embodies suppressed community, and tries to resist the status quo in this patriarchal society. Here’s to hoping that the country will accept more works of the kind.


10

OPINION

D E C E M B E R 1 1 , 2 02 0 | U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G

But where’s the vaccine? NO FURY SO LOUD IAN RAPHAEL LOPEZ

R

ecorded for posterity was when May Parsons, a nurse under the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, administered the first shot of a Covid-19 vaccine this week. But the irony could not be darker: a Filipina giving the jab to a British woman, while we Filipinos would have to wait for three to five years before the vaccine comes to our shores. The news of several vaccines being approved for limited use – 7 according to the New York Times – gives a glimmer of hope amid a sorrowful holiday season. While some countries have started to approve some vaccines, that is not happening in the Philippines. Understandably, developing countries such as ours are last in the list for the global vaccination drive. While global initiatives have been put in place to ensure equitable access to vaccines, this has not materialized in the country. Aside from that, the government’s sole reliance on the vaccine as the key for a return to normalcy does not reflect its slow steps in putting up research panels, extremely important to vet potential vaccines. The private sector, keen on how the vaccine would propel their workers back to work (and more profits for their bosses!) have already procured 2.6 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. But even if the Philippines have acted early in preparing for a vaccine rollout, the question remains: is the supply enough? Only about two billion doses of vaccines from different producers is expected to be produced by the end of 2021. The United States

[P] GRAPHIC BY GERARD LAYDIA

alone has ordered 600 million doses of the vaccine in advance. Experts calculate that these Western countries — where only 14% of the world population lives — have already cornered 53% of the vaccine supply until 2021. Which means that the rest of the world, about 6 billion people, would have to scrimp on 900 million doses for the meantime — only enough for 450 million people. It is interesting to note that with or

without the participation of Western countries, there still lies a huge inequality in ensuring the end of the pandemic. The global order has always been angled towards a loss to countries such as the Philippines. Literally, our lives depend on the whims of Western governments – now even scarier due to it being led by mostly right-wing populists. The current quandary also reflects the continuing lack of a proper healthcare system, and the government’s ineptitude in prioritizing important things. In an alternate universe, where the Philippine health system is adequately equipped with staff and supplies, we would have been in a greater footing to combat the pandemic. Coupled with a well-funded science and technology department, we would have had a larger leverage in vetting vaccines. But the 2021 budget, instead, puts about P20 billion into a farcical government agency intent on wantonly red-tagging activists and the opposition. Why would a government in its right mind prioritize beefing up its security amid a pandemic? Remember, Duterte called the reactionary armed forces as “his” soldiers and vowed to put them first in line for a potential vaccine. Only a feeble-minded president would rather spend money building the defense to protect his power than to ensure the health and welfare of his citizens. The criminal negligence is insulting, to say the least, to the men and women of the medical profession who even lost their lives because the government decided to pour its resources to the already-moneyed soldiers and policemen. Which goes back to us – the 103 million Filipinos who are forced to wait for a vaccine

dependent on sociopolitical waves of the world, under a solitary lockdown. Insane, isn’t it? Lockdowns and waiting for a vaccine do not cut it, especially when most of the world’s vaccine supply has been hogged until 2022. As health experts put it, the vaccine is no “silver bullet” that will end the bitter pill of the pandemic. Persistent lockdowns will only bruise the millions of workers who have been struggling to get by their daily needs. The call for a medical solution to a medical crisis should be ramped up. Mass testing and contact tracing are the correct weapons in the pandemic, not rattan sticks. The first logical step to carry this out, however, is to root out the yes-men being placed to hold positions crucial in the response to COVID-19, such as the so-called ‘vaccine czar’ being a former soldier. What does he know? The government’s response to the pandemic has been dragging on for so long that it has become clear that negligence has become its weapon. On a larger scale, we should elevate our calls for an equitable access to vaccines. If Duterte got anything correct, it was his assumption that a vaccine (or any medicine) would be one of the keys back to normalcy. This daunting challenge should recognize that the current problem of Western countries siphoning off most of the vaccines, is rooted in deep-seated inequalities that have been plaguing the world even before COVID-19. To finish the pandemic, we must also target the underlying causes of social inequality.

―――――――― Watch Ian Raphael Lopez on [P] Live’s flagship newscast Today’s Rundown, Saturdays at 5 p.m. streamed over our Facebook page.

Together, we are strong UNDER SCRUTINY KENNLEE M. OROLA

I

n just weeks, a chain of typhoons battered huge parts of Luzon. It made a great impact on livelihood, properties, lives, and the ongoing semester. We observed severe flooding in Bicol, Cagayan, Isabela, Pampanga, Bulacan, and Marikina. The calamities displaced thousands of people. It broke my spirit when I heard the recording of people screaming on top of their lungs, asking for help. All of this happened because of negligence. All because of the government’s inaction and results of past ill decisions. I could only imagine the horror of climbing a roof to stay alive. What more to those people who experienced it firsthand? Due to these recent disasters, the UP System decided to implement a recovery week, but the thing is, we all know that a week is not enough for students to recover from all those disasters. I talked with friends from Bicol and Cagayan. They told me that the floodwaters were high enough to reach the second floor of their houses, cell phone signals are spotty, electricity is yet to be fixed, clean water supply is difficult, and internet connection is grievous. It will take months to be fixed, not a week or two. Thus, implementing a week for recovery

can only do so much. On top of their daily struggle to survive, they even have to bear the heavy load of thinking about how they will continue the semester and the dangers of Covid-19 since most evacuation centers are crowded and lack safety protocols. In the Department of Health’s last count, the number of infected individuals is currently more than 400,000 people. As part of a varsitarian organization, I know that many students suffer from a lack of stable internet, electricity shortages, and mental health issues since we started this virtual academic year. It is severely heartbreaking to think that thousands of fellow iskolars are now being left behind, and only band-aid solutions like academic breaks are on our plates. Due to these reasons, the UPLB Council of Student Leaders decided to hold a strike to end the semester and pass all students. Closing the semester is the most humane and compassionate way to address the crisis that we are facing. If the system is faulty and does not heed our calls, we do not have a choice but to paralyze it ourselves. It is time to share the burden of our fellow iskolars. They are left with no other choice but to fend for their survival. It is time to fight for people who can not fight for themselves. However, we recognize that students alone cannot do this. What we face

We are now fighting not only for our dreams and aspirations but for other people’s dreams too. We must put all people in power accountable for their negligence. is a multisectoral crisis and it needs the participation of all sectors including the faculty and staff to take up the responsibility to fight for the least of us. However, our call is not only to end this semester and pass all students. We are also tackling the root of all this suffering—the tyrannical, neglectful regime. All these natural calamities were inevitable, but due to the continued deforestation, environmental holocaust, irresponsible mining, and corrupt government officials who put their agenda first before the vast majority’s interest while Filipinos are dying. We are now being tormented by how badly our leaders are handling the climate crisis.

They even dared to defund the National Risk Reduction and Management Council by P4 billion. We are all paying the price of their self-centered decisions where the poor and the underprivileged are the most vulnerable. Due to recent disasters, we lost P10 billion pesos worth of agriculture and infrastructure. The already dying sector is now facing a yet again catastrophe that will further put them in a grave situation. I have learned in the university the importance of our collective cries for change and criticism. I am fully aware that we can change many things if we harnessed solidarity as a university. Our mandate is always to serve the people, but today, we are also helping the people we are serving with, our fellow iskolars. Today we can add up by joining the strike to assert that no one must be left behind. We all have dreams, and we know how painful it is to have a dream deferred. We are now fighting not only for our dreams and aspirations but for other people’s dreams too. We must put all people in power accountable for their negligence. We are so done with being resilient. It is the right time to fight back against this country’s top oppressor. ―――――――― [P] is accepting opinion articles that touch on relevant issues. Send your articles or queries to opinion.uplbperspective@gmail.com


OPINION

U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G | D E C E M B E R 11, 2 02 0

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My two cents on #EndTheSemNow campaign MUMBLINGS P R O F. R E YA M A R I V E L O S O

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he decision to join the #EndTheSemNow campaign was not a hard choice to make. It was a decision based on compassion, solidarity, and urgency as students whose lives and homes are ravaged by typhoons fight to stay alive and keep themselves and their families afloat, as the country continues its battle against the pandemic. 1,732 students are affected by the recent onslaught of typhoons, with Ulysses as the most recent. I have approximately 140 students in all my classes combined. Should this number be included in those devastated by the typhoons, how dare I decide that we should proceed as normal? The decision to join the #EndTheSemNow campaign with utmost urgency is one made after full recognition that the lives of my 140 students also depend on mine. Some argue that the semester is about to end in two or three weeks—why then should they still declare an end of the semester for their classes? Time is indeed relative: for us in the academe whose careers mostly rely on endless decision-making processes in enclosed and safe spaces; time moves at a reasonable pace. We have the luxury to mull over what should be done, weigh the pros and cons, confer with colleagues over an important matter—processes that could last for hours, days, or even weeks. But for typhoon and flood victims, their lives could change in a matter of hours or even minutes. When Magat Dam was opened, it released 6,244 cubic meters of water per second, which laid waste to Cagayan and its citizens in just a couple of hours. I am no good in math, but 6,244 cubic meters or 6.2 million liters of water paints a clear picture of how devastating the

[P] GRAPHIC BY JANDELLE CRUZ

flood was. I can only imagine how rapidly 6,244 cubic meters of water changed the course of the lives of flood victims. When someone is having a medical crisis, the most concrete way to help is to call a doctor or an ambulance. As a teacher, I too have that burden to decide with urgency with how best to help my students, and that is to not delay my decisions. I would rather give my students the remaining weeks of the semester to recover and

rebuild the homes or even lives they might have lost at the wake of this recent climate disaster. This semester is almost no different from the last: it was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students, teachers, and even the administration were disoriented and scrambled to push through with what was left of the semester, or as most would like to call it: cope with the “new normal”. I opted to pass all my students last semester because I deemed it was

the most decent and compassionate response to the entire situation. No one wanted the pandemic to happen. No one wanted the lockdown. No one wanted this uncertainty if our lives are ever going back to normal. At a time when a global pandemic, climate disaster, and government incompetence are all plaguing the country, how can I ever value grading assessments, reading materials, or even completing course objectives more than the overall well-being of my students? I haven’t been teaching very long. Seven years is quite a short stint and would quickly pale in comparison to my colleagues and co-faculty who have been teaching for decades. But in the short years that I have served as a teacher, I have learned that compassion and service cannot ever be divorced from honor and excellence. While a good number of teachers have already stood in solidarity with students who are participating in the ongoing #WelgaUPLB, the administration has yet to respond comprehensively to the sensible and logical demands of the said strike. I, for one, can only imagine the possibilities if the UP(LB) administration at large would choose to side with students and teachers: we could reimagine education altogether. As I ended the semester for my classes, I told them that the core of our UP education is to always Serve the People. What better example of service is there than the administration dutifully serving its constituents. If students, teachers, and administration will work together to reimagine education, then truly, no one will be left behind. ――――――――

Prof. Reya Mari S. Veloso teaches writing, literature, and art criticism (read: she is no expert, but she tries). She is most passionate about making food, animé, true crime, and taking naps.

S K E T C H PA D MARK ERNEST FAMATIGAN

M

ga kasama, Mag-iilang buwan na ako dito sa kanayunan sa piling ng masa. Hindi biro ang buhay dito kanayunan - talamak ang kahirapan at laganap ang pang-aatake ng militar. Nung isang beses ay may dumaan na batalyon sa komunidad malapit sa amin. Tinutukan nila ng armas ang isang lokal na lider-magsasaka at pilit siyang pinapasuko na kabilang sa rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Noong linggo bago ‘yon, may dinakip silang dalawang magsasaka na kasama sa programang agraryo. Huling balita namin ay sa base militar sila dinala - hindi pa namin sila nakikita hanggang ngayon. Kwento sa akin ng mga nakatatanda sa komunidad, sa tagal ng mga atake na nararanasan nila sa mga nagdaang rehimen, kay Duterte lang sila nakaranas ng ganito katinding panghaharas ng militar. Doble ingat kami ngayon dahil sa mga sinasagawang focused military operation sa lugar namin. Sana palagi kayong ligtas mula sa paniniktik ng kapulisan at pangha-haras ng militar. Iba na ang lebel ng pasismo ni Duterte - lantaran na kung lantaran ang

Liham mga pamamaslang. Pero hindi ito ang dahilan kung bakit ako nagsusulat sa inyo ngayon. Gusto ko lang malaman ang kalagayan niyo. Kumusta na kayo diyan? Aaminin ko, madalas kong iniisip ang dati kong buhay bilang isang estudyante. Inaalala ko palagi ang bawat gabing kasama ko kayo sa SU - pinagsasabay ang pag-aaral at pagpipinta ng mga placard at balatenga. Inaalala ko ang mga araw na hindi ako papasok sa klase para lumikas pa-Maynila upang sumama sa mga ginagawang mobilisasyon ng region. Mga pag-uusap at pagre-review nang halos walang tulugan, kahit na may exam ako sa kinabukasan. Sariwa pa rin sa alaala ko ang gabi na sumama ako kay Rena noong huling FebFair. Sa totoo lang, sinamahan ko lang siya dahil gusto ko pa siyang makilala, pero noong gabing iyon, hindi lang si Rena ang nakilala ko, kundi ang masikhay na kilusang estudyante. Mainit naman ako na tinanggap agad sa mass org na sinalihan ko. Doon ko natutunan ang kolektibong pamumuhay, ang kahalagahan ng pagwawasto, ang pagpupuna at pagpupuna sa sarili. Doon ako higit na nakapag-unlad

bilang tao, hanggang sa tuluy-tuluyan ko nang niyakap ang pambansa-demokratikong pakikibaka. Hindi naging madali ang desisyon na ginawa ko na tumigil sa pag-aaral, pero hindi ako nagsisisi. Matapos ang ilang semestreng pagsasagot ng mga probset at exer, unti-unti nang nawawala ang kagustuhan kong tapusin ang Engineering. Napagtanto ko na hindi ito ang buhay na gusto ko. Gusto kong makasama ang masa. Gusto kong isabuhay ang paglilingkod sa sambayanan. Umabot din sa punto na tinanong ko na rin ang sarili ko, kung ang patutunguhan ko rin naman ay ang pakikibaka, bakit hindi nalang ako ngayon magpasya? Kahit na umabot sa ganito, walang naaksaya sa aking mga inaral sa pamantasan. Dito sa kanayunan ko pa naisapraktika ang lahat ng natutunan ko sa agrikultura - mula sa pagsasaka hanggang sa pangangalaga ng mga hayop. Nagamit ko rin ang mga natutunan ko sa mga science course na kinuha ko. Hindi naman natapos ang pagkatuto noong lumabas ako ng UP. Tinuturuan din ako ng mga kasama ng kanilang mga gawi sa sakahan

kasabay ng pagbubungkal namin araw-araw sa komyunal na lupain. Mas marami pa akong natutunan sa pakikisalamuha kasama ang mga pamilya magbubukid. Totoo nga ang sinasabi nila - ang lipunan ang pinakamahusay na guro. Mahirap man ang buhay dito, kailangang kayanin. Hindi uusbong ang lipunan nang mag-isa, kailangan may kapantay na aksyon at pagkilos mula sa atin. Huwag tayong bibigay sa kagustuhan ng estado na maparalisa sa pananakot na ginagawa nila. Panatilihin natin ang militansya hanggang sa tagumpay. Sabi nga ni Mao, hindi dapat katakutan ang kahit anong sakripisyo. Hindi nawawala ang sakripisyo sa kahit anong rebolusyon. Lagi nating alalahanin ito sa bawat pagsubok na kinakaharap natin - dahil marami pa tayong kailangang ipagtagumpay na laban. Sinusulat ko ang lihim na ‘to bago lumubog ang araw. Magsisimula na rin ang cultural night namin maya-maya. Sana magtagpo tayo ng landas muli. Hihintayin ko kayo, Karl


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â—† D E C E M B E R 1 1 , 2 02 0 | U P L B P E R S P EC T I V E .O R G

[P] PHOTO BY SOPHIA ISABEL PANGILINAN

AKTIBISMO SA PANAHON NG PANDEMYA Kahit may banta ng COVID-19, walang takot na kumilos ang mga mamamayan para ipakita ang galit nito sa administrasyong Duterte. Kinundena ng mga

[P] PHOTO BY SOPHIA ISABEL PANGILINAN

progresibong grupo ang kriminal na kapabayaan at militaristic na pamamahala ng rehimen sa pandemya. Kinundena rin ng sangkaestudyantehan ang

pagpapatuloy ng online classes kahit may mga estudyanteng hindi makatugon sa mga requirements dahil binaha at nawalan ng kuryente ang kanilang lugar.

[P] PHOTO BY SONYA CASTILLO

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UPLB Perspective Vol. 47, Issue 1 (December 11, 2020)  

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