EDITORIAL: Ganito sila noon, ganito pa rin ngayon

Buksan ang telebisyon, basahin ang mga dyaryo— nagtataasan ang mga presyo, nagkakatanggalan sa trabaho, nagsasara ang mga pahayagan. Pakinggan ang mga bulong sa bahay, ang mga kuro-kuro at tsismisan— maraming pinapatay na magsasaka, binubusalan ang mga lumalaban. May diktador daw sa Malacañang.

Dumodoble ang mga pangyayari, umuulit ang mga kaganapan. Silipin ang kalendaryo; 2018— halos 50 taon na ang lumipas noong sinupil ang diktaduryang Marcos ang bansa at magkakamukha ang mga eksena, tila kinuha sa iisang dula–ganito sila noon, ganito pa rin ngayon.

Halos isang taon pa lamang ang lumipas mula nang umupo ang bagong presidente at anim na peryodista na ang naitalang pinatay. Ang mga insidenteng ito ay may basbas mismo mula sa kanya. Aniya, ito’y karapat-dapat lamang dahil ang mga pinaslang naman ay “corrupt.”

Mailap rin ang presidente sa pagpapapasok ng midya sa kanyang mga press conference. Kung may nasabi man siyang mali, kahit naibalita na ay kaya pa rin niya itong bali-baligtarin upang mapaniwala ang kanyang mga tagasuporta.

Kasabay nito ang patuloy na pagguho ng tiwala ng mga mamamayan sa mga alagad ng midya. Ang mga peryodista na pilit tumututol sa presidente ay patuloy na pinagbabantaan, hindi lang ang kanilang mga trabaho kundi pati na rin ang kanilang mga buhay.

Sa gitna ng kabi-kabilang atake ng gobyerno, nitong nakaraang linggo lamang ay mahigit kumulang 60 manggagawa mula sa CNN Philippines ang nawalan ng trabaho. Karamihan sa mga ito ay matagal na sa serbisyo—mga alagad ng midya na pilit inilalagay ang kanilang buhay sa panganib para sa paghahanap at paglalahad ng katotohanan.

Sumunod naman rito ang desisyon ng Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) na hindi bigyan ng lisensya ang Rappler para mag-operate, sa kadahilanang nilabag raw nila ang Konstitusyon. Hindi raw nararapat na makapaghayag ang Rappler dahil hawak daw ito ng mga dayuhang kumpanya. Isa rin ang Rappler sa mga diumano’y kritiko ng gobyerno, kaya talamak rin ang siyang kagustuhan ng mga nasa pwesto at ang kanilang mga tagasuporta na ipasara ang ahensya.

Maging ang mga mamamahayag sa radyo ay hindi nakaligtas. Mahigit 30 estasyon ng radyo sa probinsyang pinanggalingan ng pangulo ang nais ipasara ng National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) dahil sa diumanong “kawalan ng permit”.

Malinaw man na atake sa malayang pamamahayag ang mga ito, ginamit pa ito ng Kongreso upang maghain ng pagbabago sa Konstitusyon mismo–iginigiit nila na ang kalayaan sa pananalita ay hindi isang karapatan, ngunit isang pribilehiyo ng isang demokratikong bansa.

Para sa gobyerno, ang mga alagad ng midya na ginagawa lamang ang kanilang mandato ay “mapang-abuso” at nararapat lamang na limitahan.

Sa Kolehiyo ng Panmadlang Komunikasyon, hindi kakaiba ang mga pasistang atake sa hanay ng mga estudyante. Kamakailan lamang, nasaksihan ng mga alagad ng midya ang iba’t ibang represibong polisiyang biglaang inimplementa noong kasagsagan ng panawagan sa pagpapabasura ng FSRC manual at sa kampanya para sa libreng edukasyon. Nananatiling sarado sa mga organisasyon ang abot-kaya o libreng paggamit ng mga pasilidad sa loob ng kolehiyo.

Ilang beses na ring tumanggi ang administrasyon sa pagsagot ng mga katanungan at hinaing ng mga estudyante sa pamamagitan ng pagsasara ng comments section sa ilang posts sa Facebook at pagblock sa ilang mga estudyante.

Nakapanlulumong mismong ang kolehiyong tagapagbandila diumano ng midyang malaya’t mapagpalaya ay isa ring institusyong gumigipit sa kanilang mga estudyante. Ikinundena ng Departamento ng Peryodismo ang mga naging atake sa midya, ngunit nakabibingi pa rin ang katahimikan ng administrasyon ng CMC pagdating sa mga atake sa mga pahayagan, maski sa mga atake sa mga mamamayan.

Sa pagpasok ng bagong tao’y sunud-sunod ang mga atake ng administrasyong Duterte laban sa sambayanang Pilipino. Minadali ang pagpasa ng Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, isang panukalang pumeprente para raw sa kaginhawaan ng mga manggagawang may mabababang sweldo, ngunit kasabay naman ng malwakang pagtaas ng mga bilihin.

Isa ring atake sa mamamayan ang Jeepney Phaseout, na sinasabing para sa pagpapabuti ng kalikasan ngunit nilalagay lamang nito sa alanganin ang kabuhayan ng libong mga drayber at operator, maski ang mga commuter na sasalo ng mataas na pamasahe. Ang tunay na pinaglilingkuran ng ganitong mga patakaran ay ang naghaharing uri, na siyang kakamal ng kita sa pagbenta ng mga e-jeepney.

Kung ipagtatabi ang mga pangyayari noon sa ngayon, tila’y ‘di maaninag ang pagkakaiba. Dekada na ang lumipas pero marami pa rin ang naghihirap, talamak pa rin ang paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Ilang presidente na ang nagdaan, pero negosyo pa rin ang serbisyong panlipunan, ipinagkakait pa rin ang mga batayang karapatan.

Halos 14,000 maralita na namatay sa ilalim ng unang taon ng Oplan Tokhang ni Duterte— liban pa riyan ang nangamatay na alagad ng midya, magsasaka’t pambansang minorya sa kanayunan, at mga progresibong pwersang pinaslang sa kanilang paglaban.

Sa kabila ng magkamukhang karahasan sa ilalim ni Marcos at Duterte, maasahan ng rehimen ni Digong na lalakas din ang daluyong ng pakikibaka ng mamamayang Pilipino. Dahil walang binubunga ang krisis ng lipunan kundi paglaban, handa ang sambayanan tapatan ang lahat ng atakeng ilulunsad ng estado.

Hamon sa ating mga alagad ng midya na walang pagod magsiwalat ng katotohanan sa harap ng kabi-kabilang banta sa ating kalayaan sa pamamahayag. Ngunit hindi natatapos ang laban sa huling tuldok ng storya, o sa huling pagkurap ng lente— hindi ang pluma at kamera ang huling mga armas na ating dapat tanganan.

Dahil sa pagkilos lamang, sa pagsandig sa malawak na hanay ng sambayanan, doon natin makakamit ang ating tunay na kalayaan— kalayaang labas pa sa malayang pamamahayag, ngunit kalayaan din mula sa pagkalugmok sa kahirapa’t karahasan buhat ng interes ng mga naghaharing uri.

Hamon sa atin na laksa-laksang tumungo sa lansangan, kalampagin ang mga kalsada, dinggin ang hinaing ng masa. Tayo’y tumindig kasama sila ‘di lamang bilang alagad ng midyang buhat ang katotohanan, ngunit bilang parte rin ng sambayanang sawa na mapagsamantalahan.

Buksan ang telebisyon, basahin ang mga dyaryo— libo ang nasa lansangan, panawagan ay hustisyang panlipunan. Lumabas sa mga bahay, iwan ang mga silid-aralan— dinggin ang sigaw sa kalsada, harapin ng buong tapang ang kaaway. Babagsak ang diktador ng Malacañang.

Dumodoble ang mga pangyayari, umuulit ang mga kaganapan. Markahan ang kalendaryo; 2018— halos 40 taon nang lumipas nang mapabagsak ang diktaduryang Marcos. Magkakamukha ang eksena, tila kinuha sa iisang dula— lumaban sila noon, lalaban din tayo ngayon.

 

Students stand with Diliman community in fight against tax reform, jeepney phaseout

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Beatriz Zamora

With a new semester in tow, UP Diliman students and multisectoral groups urged the UP community to fight against the anti-people policies of the Duterte administration in a series of protests held yesterday.

“Nakabilin sa ating mga kabataan ang paglaban sa pamamasista ng rehimeng Duterte. Kasama natin ang mga maralita, kasama natin ang iba’t ibang sektor,” Student Regent Shari Oliquino said.

Progressive youth groups expressed their support for the UP community— vendors, jeepney drivers, and personnel— in light of the recent implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

The TRAIN Law increases take-home pay of employees, cutting off tax reductions for those whose annual income amounts to P250,000. However, the prices of basic commodities are set to inflate, particularly petroleum and sugar-based products. In addition, not everyone with income lower than P250,000 will benefit from the TRAIN law because most of them are minimum wage earners.

While not getting increased take home pay, they [the poor] will have to endure price hikes as a direct or indirect effect of higher consumption taxes,” stated think tank IBON Foundation.

The protests also condemned the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) closure order of Rappler. Inc, wherein the online news organization is accused of violating the Constitution which mandates local media to be owned by Filipinos.

UP College of Mass Communication Student Council (CMCSC) chairperson Mikko Ringia compared this with Marcos’ martial law era, wherein major news outfits were forced to shut down due to the dictatorship.

“Ang atake sa mga peryodista ay atake sa demokrasya, atake sa mga mamamayan,” Ringia said. He encouraged media practitioners to be one with the masses’ fight for democratic rights.

Union of Journalists of the Philippines – UP (UP) chairperson Mark Kevin Reginio emphasized this plea, saying that the recent turn of events are manifestations of the state’s refusal to side with its people.

Students carried over the protest to Village B and C, where they joined the local community in calling for the  junking of the tax reform law.

UP Diliman students slam ‘anti-poor’ TRAIN law

Photo by Jamme Robles

Text by Merryll Phae Red Carao

Kicking off the start of the semester, University of the Philippines-Diliman students held a protest against the Duterte administration’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

Progressive student groups led by Anakbayan UP Diliman denounced the newly passed TRAIN Law and called for its junking due to its effect of raising the price of basic commodities.

The TRAIN law exempts those who earn less than P250,000 annually from income tax, which spells a bigger take home pay for minimum wage earners. According to the Department of Finance, the law is expected to help 99% of Filipino families because of the exception to personal income tax.

This is coupled with an increase in excise tax, or taxes on products that use sugar, salt, oil, and coal. This paves the way for even the most basic commodities to inflate. The cost of transportation is also expected to increase given the oil price hikes that will follow the passing of the TRAIN law.

Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that higher excise taxes should not be feared because it will be ‘minimal and temporary’ only.

According to think tank IBON Foundation,, only 7.5 million FIlipinos are expected to benefit from the income tax exemption, with 15.2 million Filipinos expected to bear the burden of the increase in excise tax.

Moreover, not everyone who earn below Php 250, 000 will feel the impact of the income tax exemption, as many of those workers earn minimum wage and do not pay taxes.

“Most of the country’s total 22.7 million families do not pay income tax because they are just minimum wage earners or otherwise in informal work with low and erratic incomes,” said Sonny Africa, head of IBON Foundation.

“Even if TRAIN reduces income taxes paid by most of the reported 7.5 million personal income taxpayers, this still leaves as much as 15.2 million families without any income tax gains,” he added.

Presyuhan sa Diliman

The UP community is already experiencing the TRAIN Law in every meal; prices of sweetened drinks and student meals have gone up, especially among the ranks of the many kiosks or food stalls inside the university.

Sweetened drinks have gone up by as much as 5 pesos, and meals with processed food like hotdogs and instant noodles are expected to inflate by the same amount in the coming months.

Students denounced the Duterte administration for neglecting to consider the worsening poverty in the Philippines through the implementation of neoliberal policies that are more detrimental to the Filipino people’s situation.

Irene Hilario from the League of FIlipino Students-UP Diliman said that the TRAIN law is just one of the many anti-poor policies that the Duterte administration are subjecting his constituents to, and that from the start, Duterte was insincere about helping the Filipino people.

“Kung titignan natin, sino nga ba ang makikinabang sa mga neoliberal na polisiyang ito? Malinaw na ang mga dayuhang kumpanya lamang,” Hilario said.

He added that the ‘anti-poor’ projects and programs of the Duterte administration are in no way for the development of the country, but instead a profiteering scheme of foreign companies.

According to Anakbayan UP Diliman, the collected taxes from the increase in excise tax will not reach the Filipino people in the way that they should. The money will go into foreign debt servicing and into Duterte’s Build, Build, Build program, which is expected to see a rise in infrastructures such as malls and, but not of basic social services such as affordable medical facilities or housing.

However, this is just the first step of four of the Duterte administration’s tax reform program. Packages 2-4 are expected to be implemented in the next years.

Free education from TRAIN?

Students are also hard pressed to avail of the free tuition inside State Colleges and Universities (SUCs) such as UP because of the lack of budget. UP has started prompting their students to opt out of free matriculation to receive, for example, allowance or stipend from the school.

Last year, Duterte said that the budget for free education will come from the tax collected under the TRAIN law. This statement was decried by progressive groups, saying that the government pits the interest of students for free education against the interest of poor Filipinos to afford basic commodities.

Part of the money collected from excise tax will also go to Duterte’s Martial Law and Oplan Tokhang, which continue to claim lives in the streets and to deal human rights violations against the Filipino people, according to Kate Raca of Alay Sining.

‘Ganito ang itsura ng rehimeng US-Duterte. Gigipitin niya ang nga mamamayan para tumaba ang kanyang bulsa sa pagpatay,” she said.

According to the student groups, they are planning bigger protests against the TRAIN law, and the impending jeepney phaseout in the coming weeks to show the administration that with every fascist and neoliberal attack, their fight grows stronger.

‘Dapat malinaw sa atin na habang tumataas ang mga bilihin ay tumataas ang militansya ng mga kabataan laban sa pasistang rehimeng ito,’ said Raca.

 

On a cold Christmas Eve

Photo by Maegan Gaspar

Text by Jobelle Adan and Beatriz Zamora

 

In a kingdom where the iron fist reigns mighty above all men, the winds of an absent winter echo the mourning of the families of the slain.

Good tidings foregone in the aftermath of their loss, tradition binds them to celebrate the festivities they once found merry.

What they wish for, the world denies them.

“Sana wala pang Pasko,” the fallen man’s daughter prays. “Sana wala pang new year.”

December 25 would mark the first Christmas since the tragedy that has struck them. A chair sits empty on the eve of the 25th in honor of those they have lost while the man in Malacañan sits on his throne, fingers drenched in the blood of those he deemed unworthy of living.

“Kung mayroon lang sanang hustisya,” she hopes.

Wounded hearts

Tomorrow night, the yuletide lights will not shine in a distant corner in Butuan City.

“Masakit eh. Parang walang Pasko sa amin. Ang hirap tanggapin kasi,” says 29-year-old Jovie Mejorada.

The wounds of her loss are fresh. Mejorada witnessed her father pass away at the mercy–or lack thereof–of armed men who ravaged the peace and quiet of her provincial home.

Vivencion Sahay, a religious man, kept to their house and the church. As far as they were concerned, he had done absolutely nothing to deserve an untimely death.

She still recalls vivid images of the morning of November 23. A man in a black hat, head wrapped tight in a gray bonnet. Black clothes and a slingbag. Shades which showed off all the colors in the spectrum whenever the sunlight touches them.

Most vivid of all, a gun.

“May kunin ako tas may narinig akong putok, tatlong beses. Na-ano si Papa, parang napahawak sa ulo niya tas napa-upo,” she recalls.

Mejorado did not see her 53-year-old father fall to the ground. She had followed his lead and ducked, her seated position the only protection from men who were clearly out to kill them.

A minute or two later, Mejorada was able to escape. But not without having fear instilled into her.

Three gunshots, then one. Mejorada  planned to run back home yet the man followed her still.

“Humingi ako ng tulong,” she said, “pagsigaw ko, bumalik siya sa daanan niya.”

Why guns were trained on Mejorada’s family, however, they have yet to find out. A month after her father’s death, the night before Christmas, no trace has been tracked.


Mysterious and brutal though it may be, this killing is only one of thousands that have left broken families in its wake.

There has been no shortage of deaths recounted in the daily news, its sickening normalcy dawning on many. If a country’s history binds its people, the Philippines is then tightly bonded in a rope of carnage.

Bodies have been piling up in the streets for the many wars being waged against the people this government once swore to serve.

“Masakit eh,” Mejorada said, her brief statement caught between shaky breaths. She does not elaborate. There is no need. Yet hers echoes the story of hundreds of families ravaged by guns and bullets.

Bullets, not bells

Bodies have been piling up in the streets for the many wars being waged against the people this government once swore to serve.

One is the war ravaging Mindanao, a war on the people and their land disguised as martial rule meant to protect the people.

The other is the war on dissent, leading to disappeared, jailed, or murdered activists.

And finally, the infamous war on drugs, leaving thousands slain, be it men, women or children.


All of them, according to the police, fought back and earned their grave, even when the police reports fail to add up.

One such case is that of Carl Arnaiz.

Months after the case, justice remains a mere Christmas wish to the family.

The administrative case filed against the police involved in Carl Arnaiz’s horrendous killing has last been updated in November.

“Bale yung recommendation ng IAS is tanggalin na sa serbisyo yung mga pulis, pero na kay (PNP Chief General) Bato pa rin daw yung final decision,” Eva Arnaiz, Carl’s mother, explained.

She said they hoped to hear news around December, giving the government weeks of leeway.

But the carols are nearing their end and the month’s final week is fast approaching with no justice in sight.

Naughty and nice

The hard work to get the case where it is now was nothing, Eva said, but the agony lay in the empty hours spent in between.

Naiiisip ko rin yun, na matagal, pero ang nilalagay ko nalang sa isip ko rin na di bale nang matagalan basta makuha namin yung para kay Carl,” she says.

She speaks with a steady voice, untinged with the strain that the past new months had burdened her with. Still, despite the promise of Christmas, the silences in between the forced holiday cheer are heavily filled with what had been lost.

Not that they were lavish when it comes to Christmas celebrations anyway, she explains. But small families held on to the simple joys of intimate moments and Carl’s last Noche Buena was what his mother remembers as the best.

Cold weather and all, Carl had been busy making bread rolls for anybody who was interested, in exchange for a small sum of money. Before his final stop for Christmas eve dinner at his own house, he had been stopping over at his friends and relatives’ homes to do what he did best.

“Masaya siya nung last year na Christmas e. Isa sa pinakamasaya niyang Christmas yun kasi nagstart na rin siya nung magbusiness. Yun siguro mamimiss namin, kasi yung last Christmas niya memorable na sa amin yun e,” she says.

Tonight, on the eve of the twenty-fifth, there is nothing more that Eva wanted than her son to come home through their front door; happy and content, no different from a scene in Christmas past.

Another wish denied, along with those of the many mourning families from this land.

On the other side of the fence, others will be celebrating a Christmas happier than most; their circumstances brought about by a all too familiar combination of political influence and wealth.

This Christmas eve, a man accused of stealing from his people will be allowed to spend the holidays with his family. Bong Revilla and his former aide will sit warmly in their own homes tonight, basking in the luxury they always had and always will have.

“In the spirit of Christmas”, Aegis Juris leader Arvin Balag, is set free, the case of Horacio Castillo dishonored and left to dust.

As with years before, that several powerful families will celebrate in the multimillion confines of their homes, feasting and bathing in power while the impoverished are left with scraps for Christmas eve dinner.

These are the stories of a cold Christmas eve, in a land where snow does not fall but blood runs like a river.

SPORTS COLUMN: Utak at Prinsipyo

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Denver Del Rosario

And it was uttered, “…all good things must come to an end, but all great things come back.”

A familiar beat of the drums echoed inside the MOA Arena, a familiar sea of maroon cheered in excitement.

Finally, they were back.

After their non-participation last year, the University of the Philippines (UP) Pep Squad took center stage again in the recently concluded UAAP Season 80 Cheerdance Competition. Donning the usual maroon highlighted with yellow and purple, the team’s performance was about the story of the iskolar ng bayan, a routine dedicated to the Diliman faithful for their unwavering support, despite the pressure and the backlash.

Many were shocked when the official list for last season’s cheerleading competition was released. Only seven schools were in the lineup—it was missing a familiar name, a competition staple, a team synonymous to the sport, a pep squad loved by all.

The UP Pep Squad made a bold and principled moved by skipping last season’s cheerleading competition, the first time the ‘pep squad ng bayan’ chose not to participate in the league’s history. At the day of the contest, the absence was greatly noted— seats were left unfilled, and the Araneta Coliseum was missing a familiar element.

After a third place finish in UAAP Season 78 with their ‘utak-puso’ routine, UP filed a protest questioning the overall results which “did not reflect adherence to the competition guidelines and criteria”. Despite their non-participation, the UP Pep Squad was given the opportunity to represent the country in last year’s Asian Cheerleading and Dancesport Championship, together with the UP Filipiniana Dance Group—they took home six medals.

The UP Pep Squad has always made a statement in their performances—and so did their absence.

One of the most decorated teams in UAAP history, the UP Pep Squad has always been in a league of their own. It isn’t just the high-level, gravity-defying stunts, or the way their energy fills up the entire arena—they make sure every performance banners an advocacy, a commentary to our society, a true mark of being an Iskolar ng Bayan.

As a sports fan, I was sad not to see UP Pep Squad compete last season, just because they have always brought a certain level of excitement–they always bring something new to the plate and set the bar for the competition. Everyone loves and respects them, regardless of whichever school they come from, because they have always surpassed what is expected of them. Bearing an advocacy means nothing in the official scores, but they always go further by sending out a message to the public. The cheerleading competition is one of the many times the UP community becomes driven by a purpose—for instance, a few years back, rainbow flags, girls lifting boys, a community advocating for equality. This has always set us apart from the others.

But this UP student has always been proud of his pep squad taking a stand, even if it meant them losing the opportunity to perform in the cheerleading stage. There is nothing wrong in questioning the system when you see something is wrong—their story is the story of the iskolar ng bayan, ang matapang at matalinong iskolar ng bayan, not afraid to address the status quo and stand for his principles. They may have lost a chance to regain their glory in the tournament, but they have represented the true essence of what a UP student should be, an individual of honor and integrity, and with that they have won. The Diliman community is proud and will always stand by them.

Their comeback this year, although sweet and momentous, was also difficult. Questions were left unresolved, and they were put in a situation where they had to choose between standing up for their principles or representing the university. But this year wasn’t really about winning for them; members would always say their performance was for the UP community. The decision, for them, felt easy to make.

The UP Pep Squad may have had its first non-podium finish in UAAP history, but it is more than that. It isn’t just about winning medals and trophies for the UP Pep Squad—it is about representing the ideals of the university and standing for something, that sometimes making a difference is more important than the spotlight.

#MAROONAKONGISKO: UP graces CDC anew

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.