Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Luisa Morales and Beatriz Zamora

UP’s back, shout it out.

Today, an entire arena watched with bated breath as the Maroons took center stage once more.

Eyes bright, fists clenched–it was not only the sea of maroon who were thirsty for another groundbreaking performance from the Pep Squad ng Bayan.

After a surprising third-place finish in 2015, the Diliman squad went on a year-long hiatus from the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. The team filed a formal complaint about the competition’s results which gave National University its third title in a row.

Clad in maroon and purple, the UP Pep Squad told the story of an iskolar ng bayan with the theme Maroon akong Isko, putting emphasis on the struggle of students for state funding in the country’s premier national university.

Ultimately, it was not the comeback everyone expected, but for the UP community, it was the narrative of every iskolar ng bayan.

An isko would never back out of a struggle. After 20 years of bagging the podium finish, the Fighting Maroons face a challenge to return stronger than ever after sliding to sixth place from a strong finish in 2015.

With a rookie-laden squad, questions of inexperience will always be an issue. Equipped with guts of steel and unmatched grit, the UP Pep Squad still delivered a routine which made their university proud.

“Ginagawa lang namin to para sa UP community, para din sa supporters… hanggang dulo nandyan sila kahit anong mangyari, yun yung pinanghuhugutan namin, dun kami humuhugot,” said captain Thea Obanil.

But the squad would not go home empty handed. The Fighting Maroons bagged bronze in the group stunts category, placing behind season hosts Far Eastern University and CDC champions Adamson University.

In the end, the UP Pep Squad is happy to bring the fight of the iskolar ng bayan to the UAAP arena once more.

“Kasi for me, walang ibang makakapantay sa pagcheer ng UP crowd para sa UP pep squad,” Obanil said.

Kenyan Coach to lead UP Women’s Volleyball

Photo by Luisa Morales

Text by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons are off to a new direction.

The University of the Philippines Women’s Volleyball Team (UP WVT) has found a new head coach in Kenyan mentor Godfrey Okumu following Jerry Yee’s sudden exit last September after a four year-stint with the team.

The new Diliman trainer comes with an impressive resume, holding coaching certificates for International Olympic Coaching, Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) Level 3 and Japan Sports.

Okumu first met the UP WVT back in June 2016 in one of their training camps and has been a constant presence ever since. For the Japan-based coach, there was little need for adjustment coming into the position.

“They’re not like strangers to me. We basically know each other well… [there’s] a lot of good chemistry between me and the players,” Okumu said in an interview.

Since arriving in the Philippines last Nov. 21, Okumu has started training with the team on a daily basis. Providing a brand new program, the Kenyan mentor hopes to improve the team’s speed, power and accuracy.

Despite transitioning to a new head coach and training regimens, the Lady Maroons look to these changes with an optimistic attitude.

“It’s exciting… a different feeling, it’s a different kind of volleyball,” UP WVT skipper Ayel Estrañero said.

Training is hard, it’s difficult especially we’re getting used to a different kind of program but then hopefully the sacrifices, the hard work will pay off,” she added.

Coach Okumu comes into the picture with only a couple of months left before the UAAP season starts for the Diliman squad, and the team has only one goal in mind — to win as many games as they can.

Before Okumu, Jerry Yee had brought the team into the final four in Season 78 and slowly improved their skills during his stay in Diliman. The Kenyan mentor hopes to build on this and further move up the rankings.

“The only promise I can make is I will try to make sure that we reach 25 before the other teams,” Okumu declared.

Fearless plights for self-actualization

Photo grabbed from Si Chedeng at si Apple’s Facebook page

Photo by Carlo Tabije

Text by John Patrick Manio

The Cinema One Originals Film Festival celebrates its 13th year with the tagline: “Walang Takot.” Nine feature films were showcased in the Narrative Feature Category of the competition under this theme.

In line with the theme, a timely issue to explore would be about the courage and fearlessness of coming-out in a heteronormative society.

One film that piqued the interests of many filmgoers was “Si Chedeng at Si Apple”, a film by Fatrick Tabada and Rae Red, who achieved previous success and fame earlier this year with “Patay na si Hesus”. A road movie which uses travel to encourage self-discovery, Patay Na Si Hesus, also fearlessly transgresses against societal expectations and tradition for self-realization.

Si Chedeng at si Apple, however, focused on gender, narrating the plight of a late-of-age woman who never truly expressed her sexuality to the public—all in a dark-comedic approach. It follows the titular Chedeng (played by Gloria Diaz) as she searches for her long-lost love, Lydia, whom she let go during her youth in fear of society’s judgement. With her is Apple (played by Elizabeth Oropesa), who is the only one aware of her sexuality apart from Lydia and is on the run from authorities after she killed her abusive husband in self-defense.

The current generation is fortunate that the awareness for LGBTQIA+ rights and its acceptance in society is growing. The youth is now, slowly but progressively, gaining freedom to express their sexuality–a luxury that Chedeng and others back then had no access to.

Chedeng, a victim of temporal circumstance, was forced to remain silent due to the cultural climate of her times. It was only later in life that she finally had the courage to come out. This prolonged and agonizing hiding of one’s identity then becomes the film’s main thematic drive.

Looking at the external aspects of the film, meanwhile, also provides several points of discussion.

It is a curious point to ask why the leading star, Gloria Diaz, a beauty queen (with Elizabeth Oropesa also being one), took up the role of a lesbian, a direct opposition to the heteronormative implication of her title as ‘Miss Universe’. As in gender studies and queer theory, one’s gender is only constructed by society and the individual himself through the roles one perform and the language that shapes him.

And in Si Chedeng at Si Apple’s universe, Diaz the beauty queen was nowhere to be found.

The fascinating facet of Diaz’s role boosts the film’s hype due to it being divergent to gender roles. This is also why people with gendered roles and professions transitioning across genders were sensationalized by the media due to their former ‘masculine’ roles being deterred by their sexualities. There is something in these that begs the question.

The sensationalization of gendered roles of a ‘beauty queen’ and ‘action star’ converging with queerness asks how and why patriarchy and heteronormativity have assigned femininity to the beauty queen and masculinity to the action star in the first place. While Gloria Diaz the straight beauty queen in a queer role may seem to break gender roles, we must ask why society deems it to be so subversive in the first place.

To look at Elizabeth Oropesa’s character of Apple, on the other hand, is to scrutinize a different issue of a similar origin – the dominance of the abusive male and its oppression of the female.

The film has portrayed masculinity as antagonistic to the story, a mere secondary element. Apple, while not being queer, has been searching for a way to escape the oppressive patriarchal configurations she has had to live with, her abusive spouse in particular. Her chains are broken only after the murder of her abusive spouse and her refusal to be in a relationship with any other man, a considerable development on her character.

This is not to say that the death of the male is key to the emancipation of the female, but to position that the abusive tendencies of masculinity is only a symptom of a system of beliefs that has been ingrained in Philippine society: the patriarchy.

Patriarchy and its close relative, heteronormativity, leads to the systemic victimization of the queer and the female. Even cisgender males are adversely affected. Toxic masculinity and dominance are made prerequisite to legitimate manhood, imposing images of savagery and solitude on men.

And like the many people who have had enough of such a violent and limiting system, Chedeng and Apple chose to counter the patriarchy.

Their detachment to the rule of the male began when they cut off the literal phallic symbol of their oppression and repression–the penis of Apple’s husband. It is fully realized when the two then threw the severed member in the waters, carrying it with them in their journey–an effective running gag in the film as it shows how the duo trivializes such a morbid act.

Overall, ‘Walang Takot’ is realized not only with the actions and realization by the characters in the movie but with the filmmakers’ guts for creating a film that goes against patriarchal beliefs, leading to the emancipation of the marginalized and oppressed. And that, is truly fearless.



EDITORIAL: Oda ng alagad ng midya

Walong taon, walang hustisya.

Para sa isang bansang may saligang batas na itinatakda ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag, ang ating lupa ay may bahid ng dugo— dugo ng mga tagapagdala ng katotohanan at tagapagbantay ng demokrasya.

Noong 2009, 58 katao ang pinatay ng pamilyang Ampatuan sa Maguindanao, kung saan 32 ay mga peryodista. Naghinagpis ang bansa at ang mundo sa itinuturing na pinaka-malagim na atake sa mga mamamahayag.

Lumipas ang mga taon, at malayo pa rin ang katarungang inaasam ng mga pamilyang iniwan. Sa halos dalawandaang kinasuhan ng patong-patong na kasong pagpatay, wala pa ni-isang nahatulan–isa’y pumanaw na, ang ila’y malaya na.

Sa kanyang pagkakaupo ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte sa pwesto ay binigyan siya ng hamon–na bigyang hustisyang matagal nang ipinaglalaban ng sambayanan.

Ngunit tila isang kabalintunaan ang mga hakbangin ng administrasyon upang lutasin ang mga kaso laban sa karapatang pantao ng mga mamamahayag. Sa kabila ng pagbuo ng komisyong tututok sa mga isyung ito, patuloy ang pagdating ng mga dagok na sila mismo ang puno’t dulo.

Sa ilang mga pagkakataon, mismong ang pangulo ang nagbibigay-katuwiran sa pagpatay sa mga peryodista, na kasalanan nila ang kanilang kinahihinatnan. Binabansagan pa na korap ang mga indibidwal at organisasyon ng midya.

Sa mga pagkakataong ang pangulo dapat ang nangunguna sa pagprotekta ng mga karapatan ng mga mamamahayag, siya pa mismo ang nagtataguyod ng isang kulturang patuloy na inilalagay ang buhay ng mga alagad ng midya sa panganib.

Noong ikaanim ng Enero, binaril ng anim na beses si Mario Contaoi, isang radio announcer mula sa Ilocos Sur. Tatlong linggo ang nakararaan, si Larry Que, isang kolumnista, ay pinatay matapos iulat ang ilang lokal na opisyal na nakatali sa kalakaran ng droga sa Catanduanes.

Ilang administrasyon na rin ang dumaan, ngunit malinaw pa rin ang kabiguan ng gobyerno sa pagprotekta sa mga alagad ng midya. Patuloy ang naratibo laban sa mga peryodista, at isa itong kalapastanganan hindi lamang sa mga mamamahayag ngunit pati sa mas malaking hanay ng mamamayan. Ang pagpatay sa mga peryodista ay pagpatay sa sambayanang patuloy na lumalaban para sa tunay na pagbabagong panlipunan.

Gamit ang kanilang mga pluma’t lente, inaalay ng mga alagad ng midya ang kanilang mga buhay sa pagbabalita ng impormasyong kinakailangan ng mga mamamayan patungo sa isang malaya at maalam na lipunan. Ang kanilang paninindigan sa katotohanan ay ang mismong bagay na kinatatakutan ng mga naghaharing iilang uhaw sa kapangyarihan.

Sa ilalim ng sistemang walang habas na binabagbag ang isang industriyang nakasandig sa katotohanan, ang pagwawakas sa kulturang walang pakundangan ay manggagaling hindi mula sa mga naghahari-hariang nakaupo sa kanilang mga tore, kundi mula sa sambayanan, ang tunay na mayhawak ng kapangyarihang baguhin ang isang sistemang iilan lamang ang nakikinabang.

Habang patuloy ang pamamasista at pagsasawalang-bahala ng mga nasa kapangyarihan sa suliraning ito, hindi malabong may dadanak na namang dugo ng mamamahayag na ginagawa ang kanyang trabaho. Pero higit sa lahat, habang patuloy na binubusalan ang mga alagad ng katotohanan, patuloy rin ang paglaban at pagsigaw ng sambayanan para sa tunay at ganap na malayang pamamahayag.

Walong taon, at patuloy na lalaban.

CMCSC: Prioritize mental health awareness in Maskom

Photo grabbed from the UP CMC Student Council Facebook page

Text by Mayumi Paras

The UP College of Mass Communication Student Council (CMCSC) held a weeklong campaign to highlight mental health awareness through various workshops in the college, Nov. 7-9.

Students Rights and Welfare committee head and UP CMCSC film representative Rocky Morilla said that Mass Communication students are one of the most frequent visitors of the Office of Counseling and Guidance, based on testimonies of those from the OCG themselves.

“Maskom is reported to have one of the highest number of visits to the OCG, and yet we still have to deal with discrimination issues within the college,” Morilla said, citing incidents wherein certain professors banned students with mental health issues from enrolling in their classes.

Under the theme of “Do Mind Me”, UP CMCSC kicked off the weeklong eventwith a three hour workshop on mental health awareness Nov. 7.

This was then followed by another workshopon resilience and stress management, the next day. These workshops also  tackled both giving and receiving support in times of concern surrounding mental health.

Morilla also added that the demands that the college often imposes upon its students may contribute to the amount of stress University students already undergo; “Each department of the college is subjected to incredible amounts of responsibility that can really affect us negatively at times.”

“Mental health awareness within the college needs to be a priority,” she emphasized.

With a recent study showing that one in every three Filipinos suffer from mental health issues, more emphasis is placed upon students’ awareness of their own mental health and how they may be able to tend to it.

“There were times I felt like what I felt wasn’t worth discussing… and this event is trying to tell everyone that that is the last thing that anyone should feel,” Morilla said.

With the fight for free, accessible, and quality healthcare still underway, Morilla hopes initiatives like “Do Mind Me” are a step towards awareness and, by extension, progress: moving in the right direction, that everyone may avail of the support and guidance they need.

“#DoMindMe was a project that was held in Maskom so that the students could find a nearer avenue and could feel like mental health is an important issue within the college—it’s not a taboo topic,” she said.


UP jins fall short of podium finish

Photo and text by Mark Kevin Reginio

This year’s competition proved to be difficult for the University of the Philippines (UP) jins.

For the first time ever, the UP Poomsae team missed the podium finish as they finished fourth with two silvers and two bronzes in the UAAP Season 80 poomsae tournament, Tuesday, at the Ateneo Blue Eagle gym.

The Diliman-based squad has been in the top three since 2013 with a bronze, two silvers, and a gold, which they notched in 2014, but this season is a different story altogether.

With the men’s team division as their only chance for a podium finish, the trio of Lyan Llanto, Jayboy Buenavista and Juanito Sandoy Jr. fell short by a fraction of a point in their final performance accumulating 8.200 points to place second behind the 8.320 of the men’s team of De La Salle University (DLSU).

The Maroons’ poomsae men’s group was also not able to carry momentum to a first-spot finish in the semi-finals with 8.320 points.

“They did their best during the competition and I told [them] whatever place na nakuha natin this season we deserve it. Parang our opponents did also their best, so maybe they deserve that place,” UP head coach Janice Lagman-Lizardo said.

Bright spots for the Fighting Maroons were the bronze medals of Patricia Jubelag in the women’s individual competition and of the duo of Buenavista and Nikki Oliva in the mixed pair.

The women’s team, composed of Jubelag, Oliva and Aina Callos, grabbed the silver.

However, the 2-2 record of UP was still not enough to overcome the 1-1 tally of Far Eastern University as they notched a gold courtesy of the team performance of Faye Crisostomo, Gean Dela Cerna and Nicole Landrito, and a bronze from their male counterpart. The Tamaraw-jins took home the bronze.

“I know the players did their best, we did our best this year. Siguro factor na rin yung pagkawala ng captain (Dustin Mella) namin na super naging anchor ng team,” national team player and women’s team captain Oliva said.

Mella, the former captain of the jins, graduated this year and is now coaching the National University poomsae team.

Meanwhile, University of the Santo Tomas (UST) reclaimed the title with three golds all by the combined forces of national team players Jocel Ninobla and Rodolfo Reyes Jr., and a bronze in women’s team division to dethrone defending champions DLSU.

Coach Lagman-Lizardo, nonetheless, assured that they will bounce back come the next season. “We’re not going to stop training. So, hopefully next year we will be on the top,” she said.

The UP poomsae jins will still join the national team selection before the year ends.

Hot-shooting Maroons score 106 against NU, end season with a bang

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Luisa Morales

It’s been one hell of a ride for the Fighting Maroons.

In their last game of the season, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons dominated the National University (NU) Bulldogs in a blowout win, 106-81, today in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The win resulted in State U’s best outing of the season, finishing the game with five Maroons scoring double figures. UP skipper Paul Desiderio and the Gomez de Liaño brothers tied their career high in scoring with 30, 22 and 17 respectively.

Center Ibrahim Outtara packaged a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards. Juan and Javi also contributed 13 and 10 rebounds apiece.

However, the Maroons fell short of a shot for the Final Four, with the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws booking the last spot after winning against Adamson University.

It was all UP from the get-go, relying on their stingy defense and hot shooting to put themselves at the forefront throughout the game.

Both teams started strong in the first canto, going back-and-forth in the first few minutes. The Bulldogs tasted their first and only lead early in the first, 13-11 courtesy of a Manuel Mosqueda bucket.

It didn’t take long for the Maroons to pull away. Triggered by nine straight points from Desiderio, UP caught fire to end the first with a double digit lead, 34-21.

By the second period, both teams traded baskets but the Bulldogs failed to lessen the gap and UP ended the half still leading by 13, 58-45.

It was the same story for the Maroons post-half. Going into the third without losing momentum, UP outscored NU 26-15 and the lead ballooned to 24 with ten minutes left in the game.

Despite the huge advantage, UP continued to play all out. Graduating captain Andrew Harris scored a bucket to help State U reach the 100-mark.

The last few minutes of the match saw contributions from other outgoing seniors Paolo Romero and Rob Ricafort to end the game with UP’s largest lead, 106-81.

With UP’s season coming to a close, four Diliman ballers–Ibrahim Ouattara, Romero, Ricafort and Harris–end their career with the Fighting Maroons with the emphatic win.

“I really have mixed feelings about this game. This is just a fitting farewell for these valiant guys,” UP head coach Bo Perasol said.

The seniors reflected on giving their all, regardless if it was their last game or not.

“We wanted to make sure that we came out and played our best. It doesn’t matter how many minutes we played, every time we’re on the court binigay namin ang lahat,” Ricafort said.

Despite not qualifying for the final four, it was a happy way to end the season for the team.

UP finishes the season in fifth place with a 6-8 win-loss record, making it State U’s best record since 2006.

UP MBT bows down to Ateneo, slips away from F4

Photo by Mikee Garcia

Text by Denver Del Rosario

The going gets tougher for State U.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons suffered another setback atthe hands of the unbeaten Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, 82-96, today in the UAAP Season 80 men’s basketball tournament at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Diliman squad gave the Eagles a scare in today’s Battle of Katipunan, leading by as much as 12 points in the game.

The Maroons lost their rhythm in the final minutes of the last canto as the Katipunan squad took advantage and pulled away with the victory.

Rookie Juan Gomez de Liano led State U with 21 points, while captain Paul Desiderio and Jun Manzo provided 16 and 13, respectively.

Matt Nieto spearheaded Ateneo’s campaign with 19 points, registering 63% from the field, while Isaac Go and Gian Mamuyac contributed 13 each.

The opening quarter proved to be heated as both teams went back and forth. The Maroons relied heavily on Juan and Manzo for offense, ending the quarter with a slim one-point lead, 23-22.

The two squads continued to play neck and neck in the second canto, registering five deadlocks. A Juan triple and a Jarrell Lim fadeaway jumper in the last few minutes of the quarter gave State U a six-point lead going into the half, 48-42.

The Maroons took advantage of their momentum in the third quarter as they tasted their biggest lead of the game, 54-42. However, the Eagles staged a last-minute rally to end the quarter with a narrow one-point deficit, 63-64.

The Diliman squad suffered a hiccup in the last salvo as Go and Rafael Verano collaborated for Ateneo to take the driver’s seat, 68-79. Refusing to surrender, State U came back with a team effort  to tie the game, 79-all.

However, the Maroons lost steam in the last minutes of the final quarter as Ateneo went on with a 17-3 run to end the game, 82-96.

Despite the loss, UP coach Bo Perasol commends the fight he saw in his team and remains positive going into their final game of eliminations.

“The effort of the guys, their confidence, their desire to get back—that is what I wanted, but I told them that it’s not enough to want to get ahead of the best teams,” he said.

“What is in our heads right now would be to have a good game against NU, and make sure that we win first,” he added.

With the loss, UP’s chance of getting the Final Four slot gets slimmer, with their future depending on their final outing and the turnout of the remaining games.

If the Maroons pull off a victory against the National University (NU) Bulldogs  and third-ranking Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons beat fourth placers Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws on Saturday,, UP will force a Final Four playoff against the Tamaraws.

Reconnect: Mental health in the age of apathy

Photo and text by Kristine Chua

To have your suffering invalidated is an almost unbearable form of violence.

For the six million Filipinos who suffer from mental health disorders, it was a sucker punch to hear Joey De Leon treat their reality as his favorite genre of entertainment–comedy.

“Filipinos are still backwards in viewing mental illness,” said Marc Eric Reyes PhD, a clinical psychologist, during a panel discussion centered on raising awareness on mental health organized by the UP Psychology Society to celebrate National Mental Health Week.

“Which is why what Maine Mendoza did, when she shut down Joey de Leon and defended mental health, was an immensely powerful thing. Millions of people saw that,” Julia Maan̄o, a journalism student in UP Diliman, said.

Maan̄o was diagnosed with depression when she was only 13 years old. She mentioned that her mental health state can be traced from their family’s predisposition; her mother’s death nine years ago also contributed to it.

“I’ve sent too many apology emails to my professors na ‘sorry ang dami kong absent, daming kong missed deadlines,’” Maan̄o shared, explaining how the pressure at the university overwhelmed her.

System error

Millions of Filipinos, however, suffer not only verbal invalidation but systemic as well.

Only about seven percent of all public and private hospitals in the Philippines have a psychiatric unit or ward. Up to now, mental health has not been included in any insurance packages offered by the government.

Filipinos may have to wait a couple more years for a health package that includes a little more sprinkle of support and care from the government.

Depiction in the media is another problem altogether.

“Media can make or break,” remarked Felicitas Soriano, MD, acting chief of Veterans Memorial Medical Center.

Inaccurate depictions of mental health on media can lead to further increasing the stigma that already exists. Media plays a major role in educating the public about the reality of mental health and how it affects the lives of those who suffer from it.

58-percent of the Philippine population are active social media users on a monthly basis, the 15th highest penetration rate in the world, the study said.

Television shows and movies such as 13 Reasons Why and Last Night received critique as they were said to contribute to the growing stigma that surrounds mental health. Hannah Baker, the main character in 13 Reasons Why, was bullied and assaulted when she was still alive. The show centered on how she left tapes for the people responsible for her suicide.

13 Reasons Why also glamorizes suicide, with decorated lockers, pep rallies, students taking selfies by Hannah’s locker, mysterious packages, audio taped travel hunts, and even flashback scenes that keep Hannah “alive” in the series,” Psychology Today reports in a review of the controversial series.

“Mental health shouldn’t be exploited or commercialized,” Reyes said. People suffering from mental health illnesses should be portrayed more than their diagnoses, Jarvin Tan, RPh, the Director for Research at Youth for Mental Health Coalition said.

Likewise, Maaño said that private individuals and even media could battle stigma.

“Negativity should stop with you,” Reyes stressed. He advised everyone in the room to avoid posting or sharing negative content that can possibly harm or offend others.

UP falters against Adamson, slides to fifth place

Photo by Cleverlyn Mayuga

Text by Selina Jo Paredes

After surviving a late game thriller against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons failed to overcome the Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons, 70-86, today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Maroons were plagued by foul trouble all throughout the game. The Soaring Falcons had a huge advantage in the charity stripe, hitting 25-of-28 free throws while UP only had 8-of-10.

Both teams went back and forth in the first frame with all of UP’s starters contributing a bucket, but careless defense made the Soaring Falcons a frequent visitor on the stripe.

Despite this, State U managed to keep their opponents at bay by being down just a point at the end of one, 17-18.

UP committed an early turnover in the second frame, but Maroon Kyles Lao secured a jumper to give State U their second lead, 19-18.

State U found themselves once more in the penalty late in the second and failed to fend an onslaught from Soaring Falcon Papi Sarr late in the frame. At the half, UP trailed by eight points, 31-39.

It was all Adamson in the third as they went on a scorching 13-0 run, leading by as much as 19 until UP skipper Paul Desiderio broke the Maroons’ scoring drought by shooting a pair of free throws. UP ended the quarter down, 50-69.

Determined to get back in the game, State U sparked a 10-0 run early in the fourth led by Desiderio, Gomez de Liano and Jun Manzo to narrow the gap within eight, 66-74.

However, UP could not overcome their cold shooting as they were nailed to 66 points in the closing minutes of the fourth.

In a last ditch effort, Jaboneta made both free throws and Gelo Vito made a bucket to end the game, 70-86.

“I was looking for a reason what numbers they were ahead of… I saw that they attempted 28 free throws out of our 10. It may say a lot about how badly [we] defended because ang dami naming fouls.” UP Head Coach Bo Perasol said on the disparity of free throws in the game.

Three Maroons scored in double figures with Desiderio leading the way with 20 points followed by Manzo with 15, and Javi Gomez De Liano packaged the double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Papi Sarr led the way for Adamson with 25 points and 17 boards.

Dropping to fifth place with a 5-7 record, UP will go up against the still undefeated Ateneo Blue Eagles in a crucial game this Wednesday to stay in contention.

Sown In Solidarity

Photo by Jobelle Adan

Text by Agatha Gregorio

You reap what you sow.

The words ring a sense of familiarity in most people’s ears, but it is nothing but cruel humour for the Filipino farmer. 40-year old Adelfa Alvarez toils everyday for her harvest, bending under the scorching heat of the sun as a coconut farmer in Camarines Sur. In exchange, she earns an average of P2,000 every three months.

P14,250 is the current daily minimum wage in the capital, a far cry from Alvarez’s average profit in a month, being P667. With the Philippines being a dominantly agricultural nation, one would think that farmers would be given more priority and financial security, or at the very least, rights.

This is only one of the many pleas she, along with farmers from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao have been forwarding in the “Kampuhang Magsasaka sa Department of Agrarian Reform” that happened on Tuesday.

The event was merged with a Grand Solidarity Night, organized by the Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) to showcase their advocacies with performances from musicians and dancers alike.

Alvarez, a member of Gabriela Women’s Party, has been joining the collective protests for five years now. She still fights against the same repressive policies against Filipino farmers.

Some farmers are burdened with having their lands and harvest taken from them. Abellardo Delos Reyes, a 39-year old farmer since he was 12 years old, joined the protests for the first time, having experienced the struggle of having what he had sown and harvested taken away from him. Retaliation, however, came at the expense of people’s lives.

“Maraming namamatay dito sa amin, dahil kinukuha nila ang niyugan. Ninanakaw nila. Ang gustong sabihin namin ay ibalik sa amin. Kawawa naman kaming magsasaka. (Many people die here in our area because they take the land from us. They steal it. What we ask for is that they return it to us. As farmers, we are unfortunate.)” Delos Reyes said.

A sign of refuge came in the form of a man who, like them, also knew what struggles and injustices farming in the country posed. He was appointed for a position that could have changed farmers’ lives, even having engaged in free land distribution with at least 300 titles given to farmers during his term.

Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano, the former Chairman of KMP and former Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), was recognized for his strong passion towards genuine agrarian reform for farmers. On Sept. 27, he was rejected by the Commission on Appointments, much to the disappointment of most Filipino farmers.

Additionally, there have been talks of junking a number of the administrative orders he had issued during his term, namely those that have been of great assistance to local farmers.

However, Mariano still trusts in the department’s ability to implement policies addressing farmers’ concerns with integrity, saying, “Ipaglalaban nila ang patuloy na pag-iiral at masugid at malaganap na pagpapatupad ng mga sabing mga mahahalagang DAR administrative orders and issuances na aking pinirmahan at inilabas sa panahon ng aking mahigit isang taong panunungkulan bilang secretary ng DAR. (They will fight for the continued existence and strong and pervasive implementation of the important DAR administrative orders and issuances that I have signed and released during my time of over a year being the secretary of DAR.)”  

Until their concerns have been entirely addressed, farmers continue to gather in the name of their rights, in hopes that the higher powers of the nation will hear and attend to their pleas. With colourful banners splayed out in a space of ardent expression for the significance of activism, the Grand Solidarity Night stood for a variety of advocacies, written out in paint, saying, “Stop tyranny!”, “End Martial Law!” and “Stop killing farmers!”

Having seen students and other members of the youth partaking in the activities, current KMP Chairman, Danilo Ramos expressed gratitude in the increasing awareness among Filipinos about the plight of farmers.

“Ang usapin sa lupa at reporma sa lupa at pambansang industriyalisasyon ay isyu ng taong bayan, (The issue of land reform and national industrialization is an issue of the Philippine people.)” he said, regarding the significance of the farmers’ struggles and call for collective action.

The national farmers’ struggle remains prevalent, as they continue to be deprived of land, and their labour consequently fails to translate to earnings, to reaping.

Still, there is a glimmer of hope reminiscent in the collective people’s march towards the equal treatment of national farmers.

“Naniniwala kami na magtatagumpay ang nakikibakang mambubukid. Magtatagumpay ang nakikibakang mamamayan para sa lupa, para sa pambansang kalayaan at demokrasya sa ating bayan. (We believe that the farmers in protest will succeed. The people in protest will succeed for land, for national freedom, and democracy in our country.)” Ramos said.

And oftentimes, it is the sowing of unified ideology that reaps the most bountiful of harvests.

Silakbo ng panawagan

Kuha ni Mikee Garcia
Panulat nina Jobelle Adan at Red Carao

Hindi na bagong tanawin sa Quezon City Circle ang parada ng pula’t dilaw. Gabi-gabi, maaaninag ang dagat ng pulang bituin sa kalsada dahil sa humaharurot na mga dyip at daan-daang mga kotse. Dadaan, aalis.

Ngunit isang gabi, dala ang nag-aalab na mga panawagan, pininta ng mga magsasaka ang QC Circle ng pula ng mga sulo. Bawat apoy, isang bituin. Bawat mukha, isang kwento ng pakikibaka. At nitong Lunes, dinala nila ang libo-libong mga kwentong ito sa Maynila para maghayag ng iisang mensahe:

Patuloy man ang pagtalikod sa kanila ng estado, hindi nila isusuko ang paglaban para sa lupa at karapatan.

“Sa araw na ito, libo-libong mga magsasaka, agricultural workers, mga sakada, peasant women, mga mangingisda, maralitang lungsod… Determinado tayong isulong ang ating laban hanggang sa tagumpay,” pambungad na mensahe ni Danilo Ramos, tagapangulo ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Kasama rin ni Ramos ang iba pang tagapangulo ng iba’t ibang sektor sa agrikultura upang ipakita ang iisa nilang panawagan sa tinaguriang Lakbay Magsasaka. Dito, nagtipon ang mga magsasaka mula sa iba’t ibang rehiyon ng bansa, pinagkaisa ng iisang panawagan para sa lupa’t hanapbuhay.

Binubuo ng maraming sektor ang Lakbay Magsasaka tulad na lamang ng kabataan, mangingisda’t kababaihan.

“Kung hindi kikilos ang kababaihan, hindi pwedeng magtagumpay ang anumang kilos sa kanayunan,” paalala ni Zen Soriano, tagapungulo ng Amihan, pambansang kilusan ng kababaihang magsasaka.

Lumalaki ang panawagan para sa pagkakaisa, hindi lamang dahil sa patuloy na pang-aapi sa uring magsasaka, kundi dahil na rin sa tahasang pagbingi-bingihan ng estado.

“Nagpatawag nga ng dayologo itong si OIC Rosalino Bistoyong, ang pumalit kay Ka Paeng (Mariano),” anunsyo ni Jun mula KMP, “Pero hindi nila isinali ang organisasyon ng Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas at yung mga kasamahan natin sa Mindanao na mahigit isang linggo nang nagkakampuhan dito sa harapan ng DAR.”

Si Secretary Bistoyong ang pumalit kay Rafael ‘Ka Paeng’ Mariano nang ito’y tanggalin ng Commission of Appointments sa pwesto niya bilang kalihim ng DAR.

Mindanao ang may pinakamalaking ambag sa produksyon ng coconut, mais, saging, at iba pang pananim na madalas ilabas sa bansa, ayon sa Philippine Statistics Office. Hindi magiging posible ito kung wala ang libo-libong magsasaka sa rehiyon.

Dagdag pa ni Jun, pinag-uusapan raw sa DAR ngayon kung papaano matatanggal ang mga administrative order na tinakda ni dating DAR Secretary Mariano, ang kauna-unahang secretary na nanggaling sa hanay ng mga magsasaka.

Liban pa sa kawalan ng lupa, dala dala ring panawagan sa Lakbay Magsasaka ang pagpapatigil ng walang habas na pagpatay sa mga lider magsasaka sa kanayunan, na nangunguna sa laban para sa kanilang mga batayang karapatan.

Iniulat ng Karapatan, isang organisasyong pangkarapatang pantao, na 91 na ang mga magsasakang napapaslang sa ilalim ng administrasyong Duterte.

Isa si Rose Lammawing sa mga magsasakang naglakabay mula sa kanilang probinsya patungo sa Maynila. Siya ay kalihim ng Innabuyog, isang organisasyon ng mga babaeng magsasaka sa Kalinga, Cordillera.

Sa kanilang lugar, talamak ang pagpatay sa mga diumano’y drug suspect, ngunit ang pinupuntirya naman ay puro magsasaka. ‘Di man sila nakararanas ng mismong presensya ng militar at pulis sa kanilang komunidad na sa ibang rehiyon ay pumipigil sa mga magsasaka na magorganisa, mayroon namang nabiktima na ng Oplan Tokhang sa kanilang lugar.

Dalawampung taon na si Lammawing sa Innabuyog, at sumali siya rito bilang isang ina na nakakaranas ng kawalan ng tulong mula sa gobyerno lalo na sa pagpapagamot at pagpapaaral ng kanyang mga anak.

“Kulang na kulang ang budget sa amin sa Kordilyera. Lalo na sa edukasyon. Kulang ang classroom at mga guro,” aniya. “Karamihan pa ng mga eskwelahan ay malalayo. Ilang oras ang nilalakad ng aming mga anak para lamang makapasok.”

Nananatili ring luma ang proseso ng pagsasaka sa Kordilyera, ani Lammawing. Wala silang ginagamit na modernong kagamitan, at sariling lakas lamang ang nagtataguyod ng produksyon sa kanilang lugar. Mataas din raw masyado ang halaga ng pangsaka nila’t mababa naman ang presyo ng kanilang produkto.

Ganoon pa man, tuloy lamang raw sila sa kanilang pag-alpas at pagtuligsa sa binging estado. Hanggang sa tagumpay.