VP Robredo: Quo warranto may be admin weapon against dissent

(Photo from Ideals Inc.’s Facebook page)

Text by Kristel Limpot

Vice President Leni Robredo called for the defense of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, saying that the quo warranto petition filed against her could be used by the administration as a weapon to kill dissent.

“Hindi maaaring mananahimik nalang tayo. Kailangan nating isantabi ang ating takot at ipaglaban ang ating hudikatura,” said Robredo at the Free the Courts Forum held at the University of the Philippines Diliman on Monday.

Last March, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against Sereno, questioning her validity to hold position as Chief Justice.

The petition, which seeks to remove her from office, raised Sereno’s failure to file her Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) when she was a professor at the University of the Philippines. The Solicitor General has also accused Sereno of fabricating some of her SALNs.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), however, said that the Constitution provides that the Chief Justice can only be removed through impeachment.

According to IBP President Abdiel Fajardo who also spoke at the forum, to oust the Chief Justice through means such as the quo warranto petition would thus be unconstitutional.

Should the move succeed, it can also become the “final blow” to justice in the country, said Robredo.

“Our constitution ensures that [our impeachable officers] are not strong-armed by those in power, and our obligation as citizens enjoins us to stand up to those who go out of the very institution that is supposed to be our last shield against abuse,” she said.

Democracy under attack

The quo warranto petition against the Chief Justice isn’t the only attack made by President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration against democracy, said UP Law Professor and Former Akbayan Representative Barry Gutierrez.

“We have been witness to consistent attacks on every institution which has attempted to exercise their duty of oversight – Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Ombudsman, the courts, the Senate, the United Nations, the Church, civil society, and the media.”

In September last year, the House of Representatives has attempted a de facto abolition of the CHR, which has been investigating on the President’s bloody drug war, by voting on giving it a meager budget amount of P1,000. Months before, Duterte has accused CHR of defending criminals and having “only criminals” for clients.

Earlier this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also ordered the dissolution and closure of Rappler, an organization that has repeatedly been on the receiving end of attacks from the President himself.

But the case of Rappler is only one example in a multitude of attacks against the media, said Gutierrez.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CFMR) and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) came out with a report detailing at least 85 attacks on journalists during the first 22 months of the Duterte administration. These attacks on the press come in the form of non-renewal of media franchises, online harassment, intimidation, libel cases, police surveillance, death threats, and murders.

More recently, the Bureau of Immigration ordered Patricia Fox, a 71-year-old Australian missionary, to leave the country after the President has asked them to conduct investigations on her engagement in “partisan political activities.”

Fox has been working in the Philippines for 27 years. She has immersed with farmers in the country, visited political prisoners in Compostela Valley, and has joined the picket of Coca-Cola workers in Davao City.

“Clearly, the aversion on any form of oversight – or for that matter, any form of dissent – has become a full-pledged policy being implemented by the full might of the national government,” said Gutierrez.

“There is no silver lining. There is only the unapologetic, unrestrained, and unscrupulous exercise of government power intended to repress our democracy into a tyranny. And the sooner we realize this hard, difficult truth, the sooner we can get to taking the first difficult yet necessary step to putting up an effective and ultimately victorious resistance to it,” he added.

STAND UP councilor candidate wrongly states that gov’t requires jeepney operators to have at least 10 jeepneys.

By Richard De Leon (J 196 WUV)

CLAIM: Ivy Taroma, who is running for University Student Council (USC) councilor under Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (STAND UP), claimed April 18 that public utility jeepney operators are required to have a minimum of 10 jeepney units in order to be granted a franchise under  the government’s jeepney modernization program.

At andiyan na rin yung [patakaran] na makabili ng sampung units. At kung iisipin natin, sixteen million ‘to para sa isang operator ng jeepney (And there’s the rule that requires operators to buy 10 units. If you think about it, this means P16 million for a jeepney operator),” Taroma said at the “Kape o USC” forum held at the Yakal Residence Hall.

Recording can be found here. (1:25 to 1:36)

FACT: There is no existing minimum requirement for jeepney operators, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Technical Division Chief Joel Bolano said in a personal interview, April 20.

(W)alang minimum number of jeepney kasi ang target kasi ng modernization natin is to eliminate na yung one operator, one unit (There is no minimum number of jeepneys required even as the modernization program aims to eliminate the one-unit, one-operate setup) ,” Bolano said.

The Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) Department Order No. 2017-011, otherwise known as the Omnibus Franchising Guidelines, imposes the 10-unit minimum requirement only on taxi, tourist bus, and  transportation network vehicle service (TNVS) operators.

Bolano said the government’s 10-point jeepney modernization program aims to consolidate individual operators into corporations or cooperatives per route. He said the total required number of jeepneys per route will vary, depending on the route rationalization project being conducted by the DOTr and local government units.

KAISA UP councilor bet claims he is a member of UPJC this academic year. This is partly true.

By Merinette Retona (from J 196 WUV)

CLAIM:

A publicity material released April 19 in the official Facebook page of USC councilor candidate Marco Dava (KAISA UP) claimed that he was a member of the internal affairs committee of the University of the Philippines Journalism Club (UPJC) for academic year 2017-18.

FACT:

The UPJC said Dava applied for membership during the first semester of AY 2017-2018 and was a “conditional” member after he failed to complete the application process.

He became a member by the end of the first semester, and was assigned to the internal affairs committee of the organization during the second semester, according to UPJC.

However, he failed to deliver his responsibilities as a UPJC member.

On February 11, Dava sent UPJC Vice President and committee head for Internal Affairs Jane Bautista a message through Facebook Messenger saying he “feel(s) like he really couldn’t commit to the responsibilities and tasks assigned to (him)” because of his commitment to another organization.

Bautista replied to Dava’s message by asking him if  he would be able to address his duties as a UPJC member after finishing his other commitments, but Dava never replied.

“The only time he attended a meeting was during the first committee meeting. He then became unresponsive, hindi na siya nagreply nung nagtanong ako ng ‘Magiging active ka pa ba (he didn’t reply when I asked him, ‘Will you still be active)?’ The executive board took that as, he withdrew his commitment from the org,” Bautista said.

This inactivity became the basis for UPJC to send Dava a notice of suspension on April 14.                                                                                       

He was subsequently served a notice of expulsion earlier today after he failed to appeal his suspension. UPJC said it is still awaiting Dava’s response.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kundiman: Undying love of country

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by John Patrick Manio

It is interesting to look at Art and social media as means rather as ends in themselves, especially in Art.  Regardless of age or generation, Art exceeds beyond mere form.

To Maestra Adela, played by Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino, this form is the kundiman. Its transcendental life is its power to resist and to inspire others to do so. She is pulled out of retirement by the activist Bobby, played by Kalil Almonte, to share with the new generation the almost forgotten power of the kundiman.

The Kundiman Party closes Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas’ (DUP) 42nd Theatre Season and UP Playwrights’ Theatre’s (UPPT) 26th Theatre Season, celebrating the tagline of Honoring Defiance. Directed by Dexter M. Santos, it is playwright Floy Quintos’ last jab at writing for theatre after a 10-year run.

A recurring theme throughout this season is the lingering persistence of the dark past, and the current efforts of resistance. In this instance, the dark past is in the essence of the Marcos administration that lives in the present in the form of the current regime.

The play follows Maestra Adela as she reviles having gained prominence through the influences of the Marcoses, notably Imelda, the infamous Iron Butterfly.

However, she had dedicated the last years following her retirement to amend for this fact – using her talent and craft to fight against the inhumanity of the Marcos regime, sacrificing grandeur and artistic merit to the elite and hurting her career in the process.

Now, with the tyranny looming, Adela joins with Bobby and the rest of the Kundiman Party to brace a different generation. The Kundiman Party is comprised of fellow kundiman artists and activists who supported Adela in her tirade against the Marcoses and are still active in activism in the present. She returns to a world where the art of the kundiman is almost forgotten, while fearing the lost of its and her relevance to the changing world.

The stage set is adorned by the relics of Maestra Adela in her prime, haunting her of the images of what she could have become if she had not utilized the kundiman for political agenda. The production design was made specifically to highlight her lifestyle as a recluse, isolated and left behind by an ever-changing world.

And an aspect of a world in which Adela barely knows is the advent of social media. It is constructed, like art, as a medium and means for ideas, therefore a weapon for propaganda. And like art, has been used by the state for such, also. With the efforts and knowledge of tech savvy Bobby, the Kundiman Party has honed the power of social media to magnify their reach to the public and get their message across.

The aspect of using art to further socio-political agenda is not new. The context of the play in weaponizing Art served as counter-culture to the infamous state-funded Arts for the same function of propaganda in the heydays of the Marcos administration.

From the construction of the Manila Film Center, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the Philippine International Convention Center to the establishment of the Manila International Film Festival and the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines along with other works of ghostwritten autobiographical literature and self-centric films, the Marcos stain was everywhere. The holding of massive events like the Beatles concert of 1966, the Miss Universe of 1974, and the Thrilla in Manila boxing event of 1975 also support the claim that the Marcoses utilized the Arts for their own gain with other purposes as mere fronts.

The most well known, however, was the incorporation of the Malakas and Maganda folklore to the creation of the Ferdinand-Imelda mythmaking in the public sphere.

Veering away from the elitist and exclusive type of Art that Imelda nurtured, Maestra Adela instead ventured to the more accessible and mass-oriented Art that seeks to capture the human condition. This choice and sacrifice makes her worthy to be deemed as the successor of the legacy of the legendary sarswela performer Atang dela Rama, a fellow artist and humanitarian.

Floy Quintos and Dexter M. Santos weaves a narrative about the weaponizing power of Art in the socio-political stage. Their storytelling is coupled, enhanced even, with an artist lineup that did not fall short of the technical skills required for the elaborate play. It is not an easy feat, after all, to breathe life into written names and characters.

The Kundiman Party boasts a powerful ensemble of stage veterans who are more than capable of getting the message of the play across. Playing the lead is Shamaine Centenera-Buencamino as Maestra Adela and Kalil Almonte as Bobby.

Joining them is the titular Kundiman Party played by multiple renowned stage actresses. The play was also blessed by the presence of Teroy de Guzman, playing Bobby’s father, who graced the stage for a short but pivotal scene. It is also worth noting the skill of on-stage pianist Farley Asuncion, playing Ludwig – Maestra Adela’s companion. The musical director is Krina Punsalan Cayabyab and the production designer is Mitoy Sta. Ana.

The Kundiman Party will run until May 6, 2017 at the Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero Theatre, 2F Palma Hall Building, UP Diliman.

UP triumphs over UE in season endgame; vows Final Four comeback

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Nica Rhiana Hanopol

After a slow start in the first set, the University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Fighting Maroons finished off their season run with a victory against the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors, 14-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23, at the Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym, Saturday.

After the win, the Lady Maroons ended the season at sixth with a 6-8 record, tied with Adamson University.

Hindi ko talaga priority ‘yung palo no’ng una, pero siguro gusto ko talaga [na manalo],” UP outside hitter Isa Molde said after leading her team for the first time this season with 14 attacks, four service aces, and a kill block.

Backs against the wal

The UP squad had a slow start in the first with captain Tots Carlos and Isa Molde exchanging smart attacks with UE outside hitter Judith Abil and graduating ace spiker Shaya Adorador.

Molde managed two consecutive aces with added help from the soft touch by UP co-captain Ayel Estranero, that allowed UP to take the lead early in the set, 8-5.

But the tables turned when Adorador stepped into the service line, making it difficult for the Lady Maroons to convert receives to attack points.  

The Lady Warriors led a 0-8 run, with the help of UE libero Kat Arado who did not allow any ball to fall on their side of floor and Adorador’s service aces.

UE lost its momentum with an error from a rally, 9-13, but State U returned the favor by committing a series of defensive errors that let their oppointent manage another 0-4 run.

UP setter Rem Cailing finally stopped the bleeding with a one-two play, 10-17. But Coach Gody Okumu took her out of the court after another error, putting in UP wing spiker Marian Buitre who has not played for several games in the season with Estranero acting as setter.

UE won rally after rally with Arado keeping their defense alive, 11-19.

Despite having their backs against the wall, UP did not go down without swinging as Carlos and Molde string some off-the-block hits, 13-20.

Still, State U’s errors proved to be the winning strategy of the Lady Warriors, ending the set at 14-25.

Bounce back

By the second set, the Lady Maroons were still trailing behind the Lady Warriors as they committed hitting errors courtesy of Carlos, Cailing, and middle hitter Jessma Ramos.

UP captain Tots Carlos elevated and kept her team afloat, 6-7. But UP took two steps back, giving away easy points to UE.

Meanwhile, UP middle blocker Layug woke up to shift the momentum back to the Maroons with blocks on Adorador’s attacks, 9-8.

UE’s Me-an Mendrez retaliated with a quick down-the-line hit, but Buitre replied with a block on her second try.

Both Layug and Buitre contributed to the scoring spree with service aces and quick attacks to bring their team up, 12-10. Molde also got fired up, attacking from the crosscourt and through the hands of Mendrez.

The Lady Maroons tried to keep the lead on their side with Ramos killing an over-receive off of Buitre’s service, 14-11.

But UE captain Baliton will not let her team down with quick-witted attacks and a service ace, 14-13.

Both squads chase the lead, deadlocking at 14-14, 15-15, 17-17, but UE reclaimed the lead with Adorador serving once again.

UP still struggled to find their groove and gave up another point with an attack error 18-20.

Determined to bounce back, UP managed to keep the ball in the air, allowing Carlos and Molde to strike hard-driven spikes.

The match tied with UE’s errors, 21-21, but Layug surprised the opponent defense with her intense serves, leading the team to match point, 24-21.

UP completed its bounce back with a lucky save by libero Justine Dorog that pushed UE to commit an error at the antenna, 25-22.

Fighting Maroons

It was a seesaw battle with the game tied one set apiece.

Both eager to get ahead in the game, the teams rallied point after point, 1-1, 3-3, 5-5, 9-9, 10-10, and 12-12.

But Coach Okumu, who seemed unsatisfied with the head-to-head match, tried to experiment with his lineup and replaced UP captain Carlos with rookie Lady Maroon Roselyn Rosier.

Rosier quickly attacked on the service line, getting help from Buitre who amazed the crowd with her decisive hits and blocks.

With Molde unloading strong services, Rosier directed an off-the-block hit in the frontline, 14-12.

UP accomplished a 3-1 run, with Estranero playing setter and winning a joust against the tall UE lineup, 16-13.

But the Lady Warriors responded with a 0-8 run, courtesy of service aces by Abil, completely dismantling the efforts of the State U, 16-21.

Buitre, enjoying her court time, handled a kill block and an attack, 18-21.

Carlos returned to the game with a rejuvenated block, inching closer to a tie. No team allowed their opponent to pull away, 21-21 and 22-22.

But UP demonstrated their fighting spirit, headed by Buitre who ended the set with another kill block, 25-23.

Returning strong

With a two-set advantage, the Lady Maroons came in the fourth set armed with strong serves and clever attacks.

During the first half of the set, UP played catch up with Adorador putting pressure on the defense of UP, 7-10.

The Lady Warriors continued to enjoy a comfortable cushion, with Arado handling the hits of Buitre, Ramos, Carlos, and Molde, 9-13.

UP caused a 4-3 run against the Lady Warriors, with a one-hand block by Layug against veteran Adorador.

Unfazed by Arado’s defense, Carlos hit a strong spike and Molde with a fierce crosscourt attack to inch closer to UE, 17-18.

Molde took over the scoring streak through three consecutive off-the block hits, 20-20. She also tricked Arado with an off-speed attack, gaining the lead for the UP squad.

UE also showed their warrior spirit, as Mendrez, Adorador, and Abil take off with their forceful downward angle against the UP defense to tie the game once again, 23-23.

But the errors on the UE side swung the momentum to the State U, allowing Carlos to finish the season with an angled hit.

It was strong, but I was thinking of a 3-0,” said Coach Okumu after her team suffered a total of 40 errors in the game, almost at par with the turnout during their first encounter with the UE squad.  

Despite not fulfilling their final four hopes, the UP squad is looking to come back next season with a stronger and more intact team under the headship of the Kenyan Coach.

Matanda na kami, so uhaw na kami diyan [final four],” said Carlos, who garnered 11 attacks, one kill block, and two service aces.

Coach Okumu also guaranteed that they will not wait for anyone to lose next season, putting their fate into their own hands to finally return to the final four.

 

UP stuns Ateneo in straight-set win

Photo by Summer Padilla

Text by Nica Rhiana Hanopol

In a heart-stopping match, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons silenced the blue-clad crowd after sweeping the higher-seeded Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Lady Eagles in the final stretch of UAAP Season 80 at the Mall of Asia Arena, 28-26, 25-23, 26-24, Saturday.

Armed with sharp services and sturdy blocks, the Lady Maroons gave the Lady Eagles a taste of their own medicine, tying the Battle of Katipunan this season.

Sinasabi na lang namin na no pressure, laro na lang. Kita naman sa laro na sobrang nag-eenjoy kami every point,” said UP captain Tots Carlos, who amassed 22 points off of 18 spikes, three service aces, a kill block, and eight excellent digs.

The Lady Maroons are out of contention as the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs defeated the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors in a three-set match today.

Head-to-head

Relying on the sharp attacks of Isa Molde and Carlos, the UP squad led a tough first set.

The State U was going head-to-head against Ateneo open hitter Kat Tolentino’s towering spikes, 5-3, 7-5, 9-6, 11-8, and 13-10. But middle blockers Maris Layug and Jessma Ramos played equally aggressive at the net to match the Ateneo wall.

Meanwhile, setter Rose Cailing distributes the ball smoothly to her spikers, 14-10, but does not leave her scoreboard empty after orchestrating her one-two play against the Lady Eagles.

Throughout the set, both squads tried to outwit each other, with Ateneo playing catch up as Tolentino produced the points for her team.

She also had the aid of captain Maddie Madayag’s running hits and Jho Maraguinot’s crosscourt assault.

Late in the set, UP continued to enjoy a comfortable cushion with all-around-player Ayel Estranero bringing the team in the 20-point mark, with her smart plays and loaded serves.

But Ateneo displayed their heartstrong mantra as Maraguinot string more points, to add to her team’s 4-2 run to inch closer to the Maroons, 22-20.

Carlos responds with her fierce down-the-line spikes, but it proved to be UP’s errors that helped Ateneo tie the match in 24 points apiece.

Ateneo returns the favor with a crucial spiking error, 28-26, despite UP’s several misqueues toward the end of the set.

The Diliman Wall

Both teams exchanged errors at the start of the second set, but UP stabbed Ateneo’s defense with Carlos’ precise hit, giving them the first lead.

It was a see-saw battle as the Katipunan squads rally point-by-point, in total of six deadlocks in the set. But UP soon gave Ateneo the advantage, 15-19, as they committed consecutive errors at the net.

Unfazed by 11 errors in the match, the UP squad bounced back quickly in the set, blocking the powerful attacks of Madayag and Maraguinot.

Molde completed UP’s come-from-behind rally with two service aces in a row to tie the game, 21-21.

But Madayag took advantage of another error on the UP side, quickly scoring in the middle to inch her team closer to a set win and, 23-21.

Grappling for a set win, Ateneo setter Deanna Wong attempted a one-two play, but Estranero swipes and draws the match again at 23-23.

UP captain Carlos successfully swings back the momentum to her team with a critical jump serve ace, but it was the Diliman wall courtesy of Layug that ended the set, 25-23.

Finishing strong

The third set suffered the same fate as the second, with both teams rallying for each point and trading errors, to keep a tight score.

Ateneo pulled away in the middle of the set, 14-19, with Tolentino and de Leon soaring for the Eagles, while a Carlos’ service error allowed them to step in 20.

UP looked calm in spite of 13 errors and continued to play their game until they recovered through  off-the-block hits by Molde and Carlos, and an ace by rookie Abbie Lim, enough to close the match at 22-23.

But Ateneo was not about to let State U steal the match just yet, as Maraguinot makes up a forceful attack from a poor service-receive, 24-24.

Carlos saved the second set point with her hard and fast spike, with the help of Ramos’ heavy serve and Layug manning the net, 25-24.

Hindi naman pwede na papatalo lang kami. ‘Di sila [Ateneo] ‘yung mabilis mag-give up, sila yung team na sobrang lakas ng loob, confident,” Carlos said.

The UP Lady Fighting Maroons played a comeback game after last winning against the Ateneo squad in a four-set match in Season 78, where they also held a spot in the final four.

They garnered a total of 11 block points against the best blocking team, who attained only eight in the entire match.

Every time na nakakablock ako, ‘yun yung para sa nangyari sa akin nung first round,” said Ramos, who suffered a right foot sprain in their first round meeting against Ateneo.

Despite losing their final four chances, the UP squad still aims to finish strong in the season, evidently seen in their 21 excellent sets and seven service aces against Ateneo’s 18 and one.

I say we finish strong. That’s what we ought to do, that’s what we came to do, and that’s what we did,” said Coach Okumu, who also thanked the fans for never giving up on the team.

UP hopes to bring the same mindset in their last game for the season against UE, vying for back-to-back-to-back straight set victories.

UP scores sweep at expense of skidding NU

Text and photo by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons have bounced back in spectacular fashion.

Keeping their final four hopes alive, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons overpowered the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs in straight sets, 25-18, 25-22, 25-20 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Relying on loaded serves and powerful attacks, State U fought their way to the team’s first straight-set win of the season.

UP dedicated the emphatic win to the late Lourdes Guerrero, former president and founder of the UP Women’s Volleyball Team Alumni Association, playing the match with black armbands on their sleeves.

Guerrero suited up for the Lady Maroons back in 1988 and served as the president of the alumni association until 2016.

UP catches groove early

It was a back and forth affair at the start of the match with both squads exchanging runs early in the set.

NU had the upper hand in the beginning, leading 7-4 but a 7-point flurry from the Maroon offense courtesy go-to hitters Tots Carlos and Isa Molde quickly placed them at an advantage, 11-7.

Despite efforts from the Lady Bulldogs to trim the lead, UP held on to draw first blood, 25-18.

Playing catch up

Unfazed by UP’s one-set lead, the Lady Bulldogs were quick to bite in the second. The Sampaloc-squad doubled up on State U early, 10-5.

But the Lady Maroons took advantage of NU’s errors, and the same time orchestrated attacks of their own to trim the lead to two by the second technical timeout, 14-16.

UP eventually caught up to put the teams at deadlock, 19-all.

Launching attacks from all parts of the court, UP rallied to take the set with an Ayel Estranero hit, 25-22.

State U finds endgame

Carrying the momentum from a 2-0 lead, it was all State U in the third and final set. The Diliman squad held a comfortable cushion, 13-7.

The Lady Bulldogs tried to get back and trailed only by three late in the match, 18-21 but UP had it all under control.

State U ended the match with a Jessma Ramos hit, 25-20.

It was a team effort for the Diliman squad, skipper Tots Carlos led the squad with 18 points while Molde chipped in 10.

Lady Maroon Ayel Estranero attributed the emphatic win to proper execution on the court. “We were able to apply very well what we actually did in training like all the instructions of coach and all his reminders were really put into play” she said.

For Carlos, the sweep provided a boost to the team’s morale after all their struggles this season.

“Syempre, sobrang saya… sobrang lakas ng team nila, lalo na si Jaja (Santiago) [pero] naapply namin yung ginawa namin sa training” Carlos said.

Santiago led the Lady Bulldogs with a game-high 19 points.

UP improves to a 4-8 standing. But even with the win, the team’s final four hopes are still hanging on a string.

Lady Maroon head coach Godfrey Okumu says his team is simply focusing on the remaining games ahead, regardless of the F4 results.

“As I said before, we want to finish the season strong” he said.

Okumu and his team hope to build on this win when they go against higher-seeded Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles on Saturday, April 7.

UP F4 hopes diminish after loss to FEU

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Luisa Morales

The Fighting Lady Maroons can’t seem to stop the skid.

Despite another strong start, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons faltered against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws in four sets, 25-21, 15-25, 20-25, 22-25 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Suffering their third straight loss, UP finds themselves buried in the rankings with a dismal 3-8 record.

Silent but strong start

It was a peculiar situation for the Lady Maroons.

The match started quietly with the ever-present UP Pep Squad Drummers missing in action. But the silence seemed helpful to the Diliman squad. With a quick 7-1 lead early on, UP was on fire.

State U was able to sustain the energy, leading FEU by as much as eight, 20-12.

The Lady Tamaraws would pose a run of their own to inch closer to the Lady Maroons.

But the comeback was dashed with a Carlota Hernandez service error to give UP the set, 25-21.

Losing momentum

Carrying over from their first set win, UP was once again able to start strong.

Both squads traded blows and kept the game close midway, 10-all.

However, frequent errors from the Lady Maroons and a balanced offensive effort from the Lady Tamaraws gave FEU an advantage.

UP couldn’t adjust in time and gave the set to FEU, 16-25.

Morale woes haunt Lady Maroons

Seemingly disheartened by the set loss, UP was kept at a disadvantage for most of the third.

Struggling to catch up with the Morayta squad, UP held them at deadlock in the middle of the set, 10-all.

But the Lady Maroons couldn’t go over the hump. Smart offense from FEU helped them pull away from State U, 21-15.

Despite an effort from the Diliman squad to get back in the game, the deficit proved too much as they dropped the third, 20-25.

Comeback in clutch falls short

Looking to get back into the match, UP once again picked up the pace.

The Lady Maroons held a sizeable but short-lived lead early, 8-5. The Lady Tamaraws were quick to recover, resulting in a deadlock, 12-all.

Riding on momentum, FEU continued to outperform State U to reach match point, 24-20.

UP managed to save two more points but eventually succumbed to the Tamaraws, 22-25.

Go-to scorers Tots Carlos and Isa Molde paced the Lady Maroons with 23 and 18 markers each. While FEU skipper Bernadeth Pons led the Lady Tamaraws with 15.

UP head coach Godfrey Okumu once again rued his players’ lack of attention and inability to execute their gameplan.

“We prepared well, but sometimes if we don’t stick to the plan… we really have to face the [consequences] by losing the game,” he said.

The Lady Maroons’ bid for a final four spot is hanging by a thread. With only three remaining games in the season, Coach Okumu wants a positive end for his team – no matter what the standing.

“I still want to win… I want to finish strong,” Okumu said.

Meanwhile, team captain Carlos stays determined to give their all in spite of their semis chances.

“Kailangan namin maglaro ng maayos… [kahit] medyo konti nalang yung pag-asa na nasa final four kami. Gusto lang namin ibigay yung lahat ng meron kami,” she said.

UP hopes to break the silence and score their third win when they go against higher-seeded National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs on April 4, Wednesday.

Tony Takitani, an ode to loneliness

Text by Audrey Kho

“Loneliness is like a prison; that’s how Tony saw it.”

On March 16, the Haruki Murakami Festival in Manila, organized by the Japan Foundation, brought Murakami films to the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. The UP Film Institute held a free screening of Tony Takitani, the first full-length adaptation of a Murakami story.

Tony Takitani is a quiet, enchanting film about the pangs of loneliness and coping with grief. Adapted from the similarly-named novel of acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami, the film delicately touches on the emptiness that comes with being alone, filled with slow-panning scenes and haunting, evocative piano music. It is a subtle, beautiful translation of Murakami’s writing style to the film medium, a movie that is the epitome of minimalism and simplicity, but still leaves viewers curiously satisfied at the end.

The film tells the story of Tony Takitani, a reclusive technical illustrator who has lived most of his life alone. Early on, he was unable to meaningfully connect with anyone around him, resulting in a withdrawn, antisocial disposition that echoed in the art he drew and in the way he lived his life.

Being alone was the most natural thing for Tony, until the young, beautiful Konuma Eiko showed him what it was like not to be. Though Tony was fifteen years her senior, they happily got married. There was but one hiccup: Eiko’s all-consuming obsession with clothes.

Fans of Murakami’s books will be pleased to know that the film is utterly faithful to the book, as it captured the essence and the feeling of the story, the characters and the overall aesthetic of the tragic tale.

Narrated by Hidetoshi Nishijima’s captivating voice, the film played out like a love poem to loneliness, much like Murakami’s lyrical writing style. Enjoined with the aesthetics of the film, the camera movement, and the raw, truthful performances from the cast, Tony Takitani presents us the full package of a film one would like to delve deep into, and surface with an aching but content heart.

Terrifying loneliness and the pains of grief

The film presents a realistic account of grief and loneliness one can feel throughout his life. For a plot centered largely on losing a loved one which could have easily turned into a cliche drama, the film balanced equal parts true-to-life and daydream aesthetic.

Helped by the poetic narration of the story, the plot moved unhurried, succeeding in telling a story that developed such as life usually unfolds: day by day, slowly, unrushed. Though realistic, the pace of the film added a daydream-like quality that made viewers feel as if they were floating through someone else’s life just watching from the sidelines.

However, note that one would need some degree of patience to get through this movie, because it really does develop quite slowly. Camera positioning and movement were very consistent, had little variation, and were taken from angles that suggest viewers were watching the plot unfold from afar, panning ever so slowly to the right to signify the passage of time. The reality of the plot and the rawness of the film’s emotion, however, is worth the relatively slow pace of the film.

The score of the film was the golden nugget in the center of the otherwise washed-out colors of the movie. It was largely comprised of slow, melancholic piano music that, though quiet and subtle, added to the magnitude of loneliness the characters felt. The music was sad all throughout, helping to key in that the film was meant to make viewers feel the same way.

Equally important as the score were the moments of silence. Some scenes were entirely silent but were just as heart wrenching, proving that one does not need to do much to say a lot.

Last, but not the least, the performances from the cast did not fall short of stellar. Issei Ogata, who plays Tony Takitani, adapts this stoic expression for Tony that was so convincing, it becomes alarming to finally see him smile around Eiko’s presence. Ogata also plays Tony’s father, Takitani Shozaburo, and there is such a striking difference between the emotionless Tony and the happy-go-lucky Shozaburo it takes a while to realize they are played by the same person. Rie Miyazawa as Konuma Eiko was less awe-inspiring than Ogata, but her subtle facial expressions and body language created a hauntingly beautiful character one could simply not forget. Their extraordinary performances created characters so grounded and layered, that one could not help but empathize with them throughout the film.

As a love story, Tony Takitani does not exactly qualify as realistic; however, as an account of loneliness and grief, it is one of the most realistic films out there. Director Jun Ichikawa has blessed the world with a truly haunting account of what it is to be alone, a film that renders a viewer aching for more while simultaneously content with the outcome. After all, life doesn’t really have endings nor beginnings – it simply continues to unfold, unhurried.

UP falls to UST in four sets, slides further away from F4

Photo by Summer Padilla

Text by Luisa Morales

The Fighting Lady Maroons are skidding once again.

The University of the Philippines (UP) suffer another setback, falling against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigresses in four sets, 25-19, 28-30, 20-25, 16-25 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Unable to capitalize on a first set win, UP found themselves lost and out of focus in the match.

UP finds groove early

The Lady Maroons were off to a strong start. A balanced offensive effort from State U gave them the lead early, 8-5.

But the Tigresses were quick to recover, catching up with the Diliman squad, 10-all.

Both squads traded blows in the middle of the set, resulting in seven deadlocks and four lead changes.

Eventually, UP was able to pull away in time to draw first blood, 25-19.

Back-and-forth affair

By the second set, it was UST’s turn to start strong.

Relying on high flying attacks from Sisi Rondina, the Tigresses led State U for most of the second.

Determined to swing momentum back on their side, the Maroons made runs of their own to catch up with UST, 15-all.

Attacks and errors from both sides kept the set close, with neither team pulling away. The Tigresses were the first to reach set point at 24-23, but the Lady Maroons had other plans.

Clutch plays extended the set until a final deadlock at 28-all, but a block point from UST and a crucial error from Lady Maroon Isa Molde eventually gave the set to UST, 30-28.

Comeback falls short

It was another stellar start for the Espana squad in the third. Bringing their momentum from a huge second set win, UST dominated early in the match.

Errors plagued State U and gave UST a comfortable cushion, 15-7.

Just when the Lady Maroons looked out of the fight, heroics from Molde and Ayel Estranero slowly chipped away at the Tigress lead to cut it down to one, 14-15.

Despite the comeback, UST was able to capitalize once again on UP’s errors and clinched the set, 25-20.

Down and out

Frustration started to kick in for State U come the fourth set, another hot start for the Espana team had the Lady Maroons scrambling to find any offense.

Despite attempts to try and cut into the lead, UP just couldn’t get back on their feet. Losing steam, UST eventually overpowered them to take the set and match, 25-16.

Wasted chances

UP head Coach Godfrey Okumu lamented his team’s performance in the game, attributing their loss from a lack of concentration and trying to do too much.

“They lost their cool… they were trying to do two or three things at a time. We didn’t have peace of mind” Okumu said after the game.

The Kenyan coach also expressed frustration on wasted chances in the match.

“We started well, the two sets were perfect… we had so many chances to win that second set but we just let it go,” he said.

UP skipper Tots Carlos led the Maroons in offense with 24 markers, while Rondina paced the Tigresses with 25.

Carlos, meanwhile, rued the issue of morale among the team after the match. “Morale talaga eh, yung attitude ng players… biglang hindi nalang kami gumalaw, hindi na kami lumaban,” she said.

The loss puts UP at a 3-7 slate and with their final four hopes hanging by a thread, State U will hope to slow down and get back on the win column when the face higher-seed Far Eastern University on Saturday, March 24.

UP community: ‘Fight for free educ not over’

Photo by Migui Sunga

Text by Jane Bautista

The fight for free and accessible education for all continues as the University of the Philippines (UP) community gathered at the Engineering Theater to criticize the loopholes and flaws of the Free Higher Education Law, Thursday.

The event was also held to commemorate the fifth death anniversary of former UP Manila student Kristel Tejada who committed suicide after being forced to file a leave of absence due to her incapacity to pay for tuition. Tejada’s parents, Christopher and Blesilda, were also present during the gathering.

Despite the passage of Republic Act No. 10931 or the Universal Access for Quality Tertiary Education Act last Aug. 2017, only 86 of the 114 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) waived tuition for the academic year but continued to collect other school fees (OSF), said Raoul Manuel, Deputy Secretary-General of the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP).

Moreover, Manuel slammed the delay of the implementation of free education by highlighting the technicality of the process. “August 2017 napirmahan ni Duterte ang batas. 60 days after signing the law, kung may IRR man o Implementing Rules and Regulations, mayroon man wala, dapat gumulong na at implemented na agad yung pagbibigay ng libreng edukasyon,” Manuel said.

Manuel further explained that these consequences resulted from a ‘commercialized’ Philippine education system where the interest to ensure profits from SUCs remains the top priority.

A parent’s perspective

Christopher Tejada, father of Kristel Tejada, also shared his insights on the Free Higher Education Law and recalled how former UP President Alfredo Pascual lifted the “No late payment policy” after the passing of her daughter.

“Nagalak din ako dahil nga nagkaroon na ng bill for free education so ang sabi ko paano na? Paano na yung mangyayari? Macoconsider ba natin as a victory talaga sa youth sector? Kumawala na ba tayo sa hawla na hindi na natin iintindihin yung tuition and ang po-problemahin na lang natin is yung perseverance ng bawat estudyante na makatapos?” Tejada said.

Meanwhile, Kristel’s mother Blesilda Tejada said she was delighted when she heard of the passage of the law. “Natuwa [ako] pero kasabay noon, siyempre, parang nanghihinayang na sana, buhay si Kristel. Sana kasama siya dun sa batch na naranasan na libre nga ang edukasyon,” she said.

Tejada also said that whenever their acquaintances in the government discover that they are the parents of Kristel, the officials and lawmakers tell them that they pushed to pass the law because of her.

Understanding the challenges

UP Student Regent Shari Oliquino discussed the neoliberal attacks against the education system in the Philippines, as well as the developments and challenges of the fight for free education.

One of the flaws that Oliquino pointed out is the exclusiveness of the said law. According to her, the opportunity is not granted to everyone because students who are delayed, overstaying, and are in their second (Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy) degrees are not qualified for the said law.

“Ibig sabihin, hindi pa rin tinitingnan ng kasalukuyang rehimen, ng ating estado na ito ay karapatan na dapat natatamasa ng lahat,” she said.

Moreover, Oliquino also questioned the provision of the said law where a voluntary opt-out option from the program should be ensured by the SUCs. She mentioned during her talk that the College of Business Administration forced students to opt out of the program last semester, saying that they (students) are “already rich and can afford to pay.”

After the gathering, the attendees proceeded to Quezon Hall where a candle lighting protest  was held to remember the death of Kristel Tejada and call everyone to join the fight for free and accessible education.

 

Lady Maroons suffer DLSU blowout

Photo and text by Luisa Morales

The Fighting Lady Maroons are back to their losing ways.

Haunted by reception woes once again, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons fell victim to another sweep against the De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers, 15-25, 19-25, 19-25, today at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The defending champs bombarded UP with a total of 15 service aces. Combining this with a strong offensive outing, the Lady Spikers were able to shut down State U.

Last season’s finals MVP Desiree Cheng and Kim Kianna Dy led the way for DLSU, scoring 14 points each. The duo also scored nine out of La Salle’s 15 service aces.

UP skipper Tots Carlos and Isa Molde were the only bright spots for the Diliman squad, scoring 16 and 10 markers, respectively.

Slow starting Maroons

UP struggled to find their rhythm from the get-go, as DLSU held a three-point cushion at the first technical timeout, 8-5.

The green and white dominated from then on, loaded serves and attack errors kept on hurting the Lady Maroons. It was a cruise for the defending champions in the opening set as they drew first blood, 25-15.

Losing steam

It was another hot start for the Taft-based squad as UP had themselves down by four early in the set, 4-8. However, the Lady Maroons were able to recover quickly to take the lead, 10-9, courtesy of attacks from Carlos and Ayel Estrañero.

However, the lead was short lived with DLSU making a run of their own to get back on top, 16-14.

UP struggled to play at pace with the Lady Spikers but kept it close towards the end of the set, 18-21. The Lady Spikers then went on a 4-1 run capped off by an ace from Aduke Ogunsanya to take a 2-0 lead, 25-19.

Playing catch up

Determined to extend the match, it was State U’s turn to start strong, as a quick 3-0 start helped the team maintain the lead at the start of the third, 8-5.

Banking on their experience and maturity, the Lady Spikers played unfazed as they pulled away by the second technical timeout, 16-13.

However, the ladies in maroon weren’t going to give up just yet as they were able to trim the La Salle lead to one, 17-18, prompting DLSU coach Ramil de Jesus to call time.

Coach RDJ’s timeout proved effective as the Lady Spikers eventually dumped UP, 25-19 to take the match.

Failed offense

UP head coach Godfrey Okumu lamented his team’s inability to take advantage of their good defense in the match.

“As you can see today, we had a plan but luck was not on our side. We defended well but we couldn’t counterattack. We had many chance balls but we couldn’t use them,” the Kenyan tactician said.

The loss puts UP at a 3-6 slate. With the season in full swing, UP puts itself in a crucial position to fight for a final four spot; however, Okumu remains positive and aims for improvement.

“By playing hard and winning most of our remaining games, that’s the way we could go back,” he added.

The Fighting Lady Maroons hope to duplicate a first round win against the skidding University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigresses as they face them on Saturday, March 17.