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.

 

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.

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.

Medyo mapagpalaya: A “lesson” on hypocrisy and assertion

Inscribed on the very walls of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) are three words which for so long, the institution has fought for: midyang malaya at mapagpalaya.

A free press. One which liberates the people.

Time and again, the college’s studentry has proven itself to be outspoken and militant against the injustices which threaten the rights of the people, as well as that of the country’s future media practitioners. However, with recent developments curtailing the students’ democratic right to organize, CMC’s ideals as an institution are put on the line of questioning.

Packaged as a document listing guidelines dictating which student organizations are duly recognized by the college, the Faculty-Student Relations Committee (FSRC) manual obstructs CMC students from exercising their right to organize through measures such as the 15-member minimum requirement and the prohibition for freshmen to join these groups during their first semester.

This led to the dying out of organizations such as Filmmakers’ Guild of UP, UP Mass Communicators’ Organization and UP Aperture.

During a town hall meeting conducted last week, a Film Institute faculty member justified this phenomenon, citing it as the “life cycle” of organizations.

While these inhibiting regulations are strictly enforced by the administration, the college’s duties to the organizations which are also listed in the manual are often neglected, as is the case with the right to student spaces. Renovations in the college basement displaced student organizations such as the Union of Journalists of the Philippines – UP, UP Broadcasters’ Guild, Anakbayan Maskom, STAND UP CMC; including the college student council and Tinig ng Plaridel itself.

In protest of the CMC admin’s unwillingness to address dissent, CMC organizations withdrew their application for college-based registration, refusing to adhere to their fascist policies.

Instead of viewing the unified action as an indication of this view, the admin countered by imposing room reservation fees on CMC students themselves. Since free use of rooms are limited to college-based orgs, renting a classroom during weekdays now costs P250 per hour, while the CMC Auditorium costs P1,120 per hour during weekends.

The same admin welcomed officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP) into the college, supposedly for a communication skills workshop. Notwithstanding the 1989 agreement between the UP System and the Department of National Defense, the PNP is not allowed to enter university premises except for cases of emergency and hot pursuit.

These officers visited the college for a partnership proposal to teach them “communication skills”, an administration officer said earlier.

This is the same institution carrying out state-sponsored killings under the blanket of the campaign against drugs, all the while establishing even deeper the culture of impunity which CMC claims to fight against.

While some organizations in CMC organize and conduct media literacy workshops for students and communities nationwide, the CMC administration chooses not to extend support and instead exposes its priorities by offering a helping hand to the police force. To help the PNP communicate the injustices they commit is to help justify the blood they have on their hands.

These fascist attacks by the CMC admin should not, in any way, dilute the solidarity reached among the organizations, even though the admin itself consists of CMC alumni who have been part of the very organizations they are trying to suppress.

Instead, these actions should further bridge the students to fight against an institution hell bent on disregarding their rights.

Rattled as we are with what is happening within the college, something greater is afoot. All over the country, campus publications are being shut down or taken over by their respective college administrations; student activists are being harassed by police; national minorities, peasant leaders, and urban poor turn up dead everyday; and communities are being bombed.

Through his consolidation of political power and the wars he waged against his people such as War on Drugs, Oplan Kapayapaan, and martial law in Mindanao, the Duterte administration is actively cultivating conditions that make smothering the people’s rights easier, and these conditions have steadily made their presence known in our university.

The role of the media in times of ardent crises and blatant fascism is historic; our loyalty is to the people and our mandate is to keep the state in line. Moreover, time and time again it has been proven that when the youth brave the frontlines in times of turmoil, success is inevitable.

Now more than ever, students of mass communication and future media practitioners are called  to serve the people. Now is not the time to remain silent and complacent, especially as we are looking at darker times ahead.

The challenge now for the alagad ng midya is to be one with the Filipino people in their fight against a system that stifles the fight for freedom and rights, and to remain steadfast and militant in rejecting any form of repression inside and outside the college. For the alagad ng midya, there is no other path to take but the path of struggle— because ours is a just fight, and a just fight will always succeed.

Compromise and consensus

The University of the Philippines’ (UP) militancy has proved its legacy of victories for decades, but in the debate on a document formally declaring our rights as students, questions and doubts remain.

In these times of uncertainty, however, it is important to assess if we, students, are asking the ideal questions and fighting the right struggle.

The Students’ Magna Carta has divided the UP community to choose between two polar premises—that the Magna Carta will weaken UP’s long-running student movement and that the document will safeguard the rights of its students.

The much-debated codified students’ rights was first drafted by student council chairpersons, sectoral representatives, and randomly selected UP students in the summer term of A.Y. 2014 to 2015. The representatives who crafted the document came from the different organizations and political parties, proving that it is not an endeavor only of a sole political party.

After the process of drafting, informing the students, and conducting a referendum that resulted to a 94 percent support from the student body, the University Student Council of has finally made their stand last January 24, 2016 to support the Magna Carta.

On November 4, the current USC made a decision to suspend a stand-making on the Magna Carta. The University Student Council garnered widespread attention on their treatment of the Magna Carta, and drew criticisms from the student body.

Recognizing the growing public concern on the issue, the USC released a statement regarding the decision, stating that among the most contentious provisions of the document was in Section IV of Article 4, where the “students shall have the right to be consulted on any proposed increase or creation of school fees” by the Board of Regents (BOR).  As of January 13,  the USC voted to support the Magna Carta in a 19-10-1 vote.

Following the basic premise of RA 9500 that gives power to the BOR to increase school fees, and that the Magna Carta cannot in any way, supersede the law, students must realize that it is not the document that they should be questioning in the first place but the very law and system that the document falls under.

Another point of contention raised is that the document allows the administration to “facilitate the operations of campus publications.” This phrase is in fact derived from Article V, Section 1 which exactly states that: “Students shall have the right to establish and run structures of self-governance, mechanisms for advocacy, and systems of decision-making. To this end, the University shall support and facilitate the creation and operation of student councils and student publications.”

The contention is clearly taken out of context as it implies that the document condones the administration’s control over the operations of publications– the exact opposite of what it truly suggests. Section 6 further supports student publications when it stated that: “All publications produced by students shall be self-regulated. School authorities shall not unduly sanction members of campus press and media.”

If students want their rights to be recognized by the UP administration, they must work around a multifaceted approach with the passage of the Magna Carta being but one aspect of it.

Rather than debating on whether UP students ought to have a formal declaration of rights, we should address the fact that while the document should be seen in good faith, it will never be enough, and this is where collective action comes to play.

Since the document is being created under a framework that is presently governed by repressive policies, it must be subjective to further amendments in the future, amendments that shall be representative of all students and for students.

While the system is obviously flawed, students must work around it, not as a form of compromise but as a way to gain better footing against those in power through both legal and collective action.

UP has been known for its long-running mass movement, and it should not limit itself to such. The UP community must remember that the means to defend students’ rights have no hierarchy and that there are other avenues to forward students’ rights. The success of Kabataan Partylist in representing the youth to the Congress and the continuous forwarding of sectoral groups’ demands by the Makabayan bloc are some concrete examples that a different approach in attaining change does not preclude the mass movement.

We have achieved victories in part because we know the rights we are entitled to and because we are determined to fight for them. History has also witnessed that no code, or law for that matter, is ever superior to our own voices. After all, the document can only be maximized by the junking of existing repressive policies through the student movement.

Establishing a document codifying UP students’ rights is but a single step. What more progressive action we can do is to see the bigger picture and fight for a nation where free education for every student is upheld. The bigger battle for a quality and accessible education across the country still holds.

However, it is time we give support where support is due. Questions and doubts have been answered, and should continuously be, as long the lines of communication of all parties involved are open. Students must go beyond party politics and focus on continuously watching for those who are in power.

The Student’s Magna Carta is neither the supreme solution nor a signal to devalue collective action. The struggle for attaining our rights must grow stronger now, more than ever. #

Editorial: A shift in perspective

Far beyond the confines of its walls, the University of the Philippines (UP) has long stood for causes bigger than itself.

More than the prestige of its academe, the university prides itself in the artists, politicians, and activists who have upheld the tenets of honor and excellence.

Since its establishment in 1908 during the American occupation in the country, UP has been living up to the mandate that comes with the title of being the Philippines’ premier university: to be at the forefront of defending the rights of the Filipino people.

Generations of Iskolar ng Bayan have been pulling the tides of the country’s narrative, raising the discourse and struggles of different issues such as gender emancipation, education and national industrialization to the national level.

History witnessed UP’s studentry against state oppression in the form of widespread corruption in the government and oil price hikes during the First Quarter Storm of the 1970s. Together with students from schools nationwide, UP led the movement to overthrow former President Ferdinand Marcos from his second term. These series of protests in the first three months of the turn of the decade led Marcos to declare Martial Law, using the threat of communist insurgency as an excuse.

In 1971, UP Diliman barricaded itself from Marcos’s Metrocom police, marking the university’s reputation as a hotbed for militant and progressive activism with what the Philippines now calls the Diliman Commune.

This period in UP’s narrative gave recognition to names such as Ma. Lorena Barros, Maria Elena Ang and Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Ma. Sison.

Alongside the university’s solid foundation in fighting oppressive hegemonies, however, exists at least six years of ironic divergence from UP’s militant, pro-people nature.

The term of current University President Alfredo E. Pascual bore witness to several protests from different sectors of the UP community brought about by anti-student and anti-people policies.

One policy that marked the Pascual term is the replacement of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP) with the Socialized Tuition System (STS) in 2013.

Pascual had deemed STFAP, established in 1989, as “no longer responsive to the needs of UP students,” after a UP Manila student committed suicide apparently for being unable to pay her tuition fees.

With an online two-page application process instead of STFAP’s required 14-page application form, STS also has a different income bracketing system from the previous tuition system, yet students still condemn the new system for the same problems the administration promised it would solve: mismatches between students and brackets, non-comprehensive application process, and inadequate provisions and benefits for those in the lower brackets.

Pascual’s term impacted not only the university’s academic community. In 2014 threats of eviction from the Business Concessions Office worried the campus vendors, in addition to an order for the removal of chairs and tables in front of the kiosks.

The latest in the list of anti-student decisions is Pascual’s controversial eUP Project.

Opting to import technicians and computer systems instead of utilizing homegrown talents, the current UP President shows no plans of relenting in the face of the opinions of the biggest stakeholder in the university–its students.

With the selection of the 21st UP president comes the hopes for change—for the readiness of the university’s highest official to listen and consider.

With the selection of the newest member of the highest decision-making body in the university, the UP community emphatically calls for a shift in perspective, for the biggest stakeholders to be the priority and be included in the decision- and policy-making processes in order to be represented properly.

We call for no hesitance in standing with the marginalized. We call for the scrapping of oppressive policies that plague our students, our faculty and our employees. We call for approachability, transparency, and accountability.

With the selection of the new UP president, we call for change.

Editorial: What Never Truly Left

When President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972, the military and police were granted a dangerous amount of power.

Human rights were immediately stripped from the Filipino people with the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, which allowed the arrests of people without access to due process.

The moment people rose against the dictator–with angry shouts and clenched fists–they were immediately chained back down and put behind bars, and those who live to tell the tale speak of heinous torture methods—electric shocks delivered to private parts, gallons of water forcefully pumped in one’s mouth, sexual assault and constant beatings, among others.

Human Rights advocacy group Amnesty International tallied 34,000 Filipinos who had become victims of such human rights violations in one of the darkest periods of the country’s history.

The non-government organization also listed 70,000 arrested individuals, 3,240 victims of summary executions, and at least a thousand victims of enforced disappearances in said era.

More than 40 years later, the Philippines remains subject to much of the same conditions as it was before.

The culture of impunity persists with President Rodrigo Duterte’s iron rule, which pays little regard for due process and human rights, scarily reminiscent of the ousted dictator’s regime characterized by fascism and heavy reliance on the country’s armed forces.

While the Philippines may no longer under Martial Law, Duterte has declared a “state of lawlessness” in the Philippines, authorizing armed forces to suppress any deemed lawless violence.

The writ of habeas corpus may still be intact, however, fairness still escapes alleged drug pushers and abusers, or at least those from the lower class.

While the poor are targeted and killed in cold blood, those from the other end of the spectrum–such as radio DJ Karen Bordador, who was caught selling illegal drugs amounting to P 2.2 M at a club in Fort Bonifacio last month–enjoy the human right to a fair trial.

Since Duterte’s inauguration in June 30, the drug-related killings have claimed more than 3,000 lives according to a Philippine Star report dated Sept. 11.

The president refuses to acknowledge these as human rights violations, despite many of the victims allegedly having willingly surrendered. Only recently, he had called the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon a ‘fool’ after he condemned the cases of summary killings in the country and said these acts were illegal and clear violations of human rights.

However, it is not only Duterte who has kept the country shrouded in Martial Law.  

The administrations following Marcos have continued this tradition.

Not one president has been spared these accusations, and despite his promised change, Duterte has not extinguished the fascist actions of the state. Instead, he has enforced it.

Despite the Constitution stating that no person shall be imprisoned by reason of political beliefs and aspirations, Filipino political prisoners still await their freedom while the numbers of enforced disappearances–2,300 since the 1970s according to the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearance (AFAD)–cannot be unseen.

These political prisoners include UP College of Mass Communication film student Maricon Montajes, who, together with Ronilo Baes and Romiel Cañete, are collectively known as the Taysan 3. In 2010, the group was unjustly detained on yet-to-be proven allegations of illegal possession of explosives and firearms.

While it cannot be denied that human rights violations have become rampant under the first stages of Duterte’s regime, one of the current administration’s commendable efforts is the resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and National Democratic Front (NDF).

This initiative has resulted to 16 political prisoners released for participation in the peace process. However, these releases are only temporary and account for so much less than the total of 550 unjustly arrested.

While chants of opposition against historical revisionism and Martial Law ring louder more than ever, the Duterte administration has chosen to respond to this by honoring Marcos with a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LMNB), repeatedly insisting that the former president’s service as a soldier is what makes him qualified for the burial.

In doing so, the Duterte administration has ignored the National Historical Commission of the Philippines proof that Marcos lied about the war medals he received as well as soiled his hands with the lives his regime claimed during Martial Law.

Even the Official Gazette of the Philippines has not escaped from the clutches of historical revisionism. In a publicity material released Sept. 11, the online graphic tried to conceal the atrocities of the Marcos regime by stating that the former president and dictator had “stepped down from the presidency to avoid bloodshed” in 1986.

While the caption was edited later on to remove its initial inaccuracies, the fact remains that Duterte not only shares similarities with the former president but as well as aids in turning history to his favor.

Allowing this burial to ensue, along with the persistence of the ideology that Marcos is a hero, is historical revisionism at its finest, a negation of the freedom and the democracy the Filipino people have fought for and paid for in blood.

Nevertheless, it is not too late to fight back and oppose these human rights violations.

While social media may no longer be a desirable platform due to the persistent hate comments arising whenever an online user criticizes the president, the streets are more than open to those who wish to express dissent towards the administration’s war on drugs—its war on the poor—as well as its decision to bury the deceased dictator among heroes and brand him as such.

The streets are more than welcome to those who wish to support reconciling with Asia’s longest-running communist insurgency as well the release of those who have been imprisoned due to a different political ideology.

The streets are more than unobstructed to hear the voice of the people that has long since cried for societal change targeting the destruction of fascism and with that, the persistent culture of impunity.

The streets are open to the cries of ‘never again to what never really left.’

 

Editorial: No hits, all miss

Has there been an assault on academic freedom and freedom of expression?

When the eUP Project Team released a statement against Krixia Subingsubing and Ronn Bautista’s report on said initiative, they labeled the Department of Journalism’s best investigative thesis a “witch hunt disguised as an academic endeavor” and a “poorly conducted research work.”

In response to the statement, UP College of Mass Communication (CMC) Dean Elena Pernia aired a response, Aug. 25, saying there was no attack on academic freedom and freedom of expression upon the eUP Project Team’s critique of the investigative report.

While the eUP Team has every right to criticize the Bautista-Subingsubing thesis, it has no right to defame students’ reportage on an issue that not only involves UP students but also the general public with outgoing UP President Alfredo Pascual acquiring and utilizing government funds to implement his project, one he fought for tooth and nail since its implementation in 2012.

Ironically and surprisingly, instead of defending an academic work from a department that has been hailed a Center of Excellence by the Commission on Higher Education, the dean chose to place herself in a grey area, defending everyone’s “freedom of expression.”

It is disappointing that the dean of the College of Mass Communication, full of students repeatedly taught to defend itself against censorship and pressure from governing bodies and authorities, has failed to defend the role of a journalist as the public’s watchdog and even more so, the right of the public to information and to the truth.

In calling the investigative thesis a “witch hunt” that contains “misleading claims, questionable conclusions and false allegations” without concrete basis to counter the evidence presented in the report, officials behind the project have made direct attacks not just against Bautista and Subingsubing but also against the public to whom they owe transparency.

It is a shame that the college’s topmost official has no clear grasp of the idea of freedom of expression, and that she has reduced such a pillar of mass media to merely choosing a thesis topic and posting opinions online.

Freedom of speech is not limited to disseminating information on social media or bagging the award for best thesis. Rather, it encompasses the right of citizens to criticize those in power without the threat of being shot down, especially when there is sufficient proof to back their conclusions.

Most of all, freedom of speech does not equate to one’s right to repress another’s freedom of expression as done by the eUP Project Team and the UP administration.

On issues like that of eUP, discussion and debate are integral; however, repressive retaliations, which exude a chilling effect, are not.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis put it this way: ‘If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.’”

However, in defending the eUP Project Team’s allegations against the rigorously conducted and thoroughly verified thesis, Pernia has been an agent of enforced silence, gagging students who wish to criticize the programs and policies of a university that has been implementing repressive neoliberal schemes.

So, has there been an assault of freedom of speech? Has there been any attempt on the part of UP administration to prevent the exercise of the freedom of expression?

As a publication that upholds campus press freedom and defends journalists who are constantly repressed by those in position or power and as future media practitioners who will soon use our skills to expose anomalies and provide a voice to the unheard to serve the people, we rise and respond to Dean Elena Pernia: yes, the UP administration has committed the highest form of oppression against free speech, and ironically, in defending the eUP Team’s malicious claims and watering it down as merely right to express, she has also done the same.

Editorial: No Punchlines

Davao City Mayor and presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte was recently recorded joking about the rape of an Australian missionary in 1989. Outrage from women’s groups, international organizations and social media users ensued, but in an interview with reporters, the mayor has categorically refused to apologize.

Rape is not a laughing matter to be joked about by anyone, more so by a frontrunner in the presidential race.

Duterte, who is known for candidly admitting his womanizing habits and seeming objectification of women during his electoral campaigns, has lashed out once again, prompting an outrageous hubbub in social media after saying he should have been first in the gang rape of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill in 1989.

“Nirape nila lahat ng mga babae so ‘yung unang asolte, kasi nagretreat sila, naiwan yung ginawa nilang cover, ang isa doon yung layminister na Australyana. Tsk, problema na ito. Pag labas, edi binalot. Tiningnan ko yung mukha, ‘tang ina parang artista sa America na maganda,” Duterte told a laughing crowd of supporters in a campaign rally in Quezon City.

Putang ina, sayang ito. Ang nagpasok sa isip ko, nirape nila, pinagpilahan nila doon. Nagalit ako kasi nirape, oo isa rin ‘yun. Pero napakaganda, dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang,” he added.

Hamill was among the five hostages killed in a hostage-taking incident by inmates of Davao City’s prison in 1989, when Duterte, the city’s long-standing mayor, was incumbent.

Hamill was raped, her throat slashed, before military troops stormed the prison, killing all 15 hostage-takers, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune dated August 16, 1989.

It is not the first time Duterte, who has recently been leading opinion surveys, has been put under the spotlight for his actions towards women. As a candidate, he is often seen campaigning and kissing girls at times without consent as well as bragging about his two wives and two girlfriends, a clear and direct affront to women’s rights.

He prides himself in his machismo, speaking in thuggish language to assert his iron fist, creating for himself an image of a dictator, ruling the public with fear and controlling the people with his infamous Davao Death Squad who has been responsible for extrajudicial killings in Mindanao.

Earlier, he even claimed he would not take back what he said and would not apologize for being honest. Furthermore, Duterte also says he would rather lose the presidential elections than apologize for being himself.

Duterte issued a statement of apology on April 19, saying he had no intention of disrespecting women and victims of rape, adding that his mouth can sometimes get the better of him.

While the mayor claims his comment on Hamill as part of a narrative that forwards his role as the country’s “crime fighter,” he does nothing to fight rape, despite the fact that it is indeed a crime, as he let his supporters, his very own constituents laugh about the Australian missionary’s demise.

He has done nothing to chide his supporters upon laughing at Hamill’s fate. He does not even ask them to be silent or sympathize with the victim. Instead, he allows the laughter to flourish in the crowd and by that, allowing the prevalence of rape as a trivial matter to become the dominant thought in his miseducated audience.

Despite issuing an apology for his recent remark, Duterte has failed to apologize for his past actions against women. For the presidential aspirant to prove he respects women, he must acknowledge the past offenses he has made against them. The issue of his rape joke must not be singled out. Rather, it ought to be viewed together with Duterte’s previous behavior and his handling of the women sector.

Although Duterte has also said in interviews with major media outlets saying that he had only made such comment due to anger, creating a joke out of anger does not justify it, especially if the subject of the joke is highly sensitive and utterly dehumanizing.

If one must be truly angry at the persistence of rape culture, one must make statements that would fight against it instead of transforming it into a trivial matter that can be easily dismissed or laughed about.

Contrary to what his cult-like supporters believe who would defend him until death, Duterte is not a crime fighter. He is not a hero. Rather, with the recent incident and with his fascist disposition, he is the embodiment of crime itself.

Duterte is a candidate who allows rape culture and the oppression of women to persist by allowing his supporters to propagate them both as seen in this instance. He has done nothing to contradict it in his campaign. Instead, he has promoted to the public the male gaze, the idea that women can become separate from themselves and viewed as bodies men can easily own.

Remarks like these become a looming threat, a dangerous thinking promoted to a vast number of followers both online and off-ground who would readily build walls to protect their candidate, treating him ‘holier than thou’ despite his morally wrong principles.

Duterte supporters have been known to stick by Digong despite the seemed immorality of his actions. They have been known to have violent tendencies online when a social media user dares to criticize their candidate for his behavior and unorthodox ways.

Renne Karunungan, an outspoken advocate against Duterte’s presidency, has filed a police report against Duterte supporters who have made threats against her, hitting her with insults such as “Sana ma-rape ka.” and calling her “pokpok.” She says the mayor’s online supporters have used her womanhood against her in an attempt to silence her from campaigning against Duterte.

Rape jokes and acts committed towards Karunungan are not new and are so common in a patriarchal society such as the Philippines’, and these japes and threats perpetuate the stigma of rape, all the more making it prevalent.

Even though our right to free speech is enshrined and protected by the constitution, it does not mean we have the right to use it to malign and degrade a certain sector of the society who remains powerless in this system—the women.

More than condemning the actions of Duterte, citizens must engage in the struggle against the patriarchy that have so long oppressed us and controlled our society. It is not the time for armchair activism to prevail when what is at stake is the future of the country, a future that may be in the hands of a misogynist and fascist mayor who has no respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Now that the issue has become viral and picked up even by international media, it is high time that Filipinos reflect on the state of gender equality in the country and along with that, fight against the persistence of rape culture.

With Quezon City now implementing a law criminalizing catcalling and street-level sexual harassment against women, it is time for the Philippine society to reevaluate its moral principles and its perspective on women. It is time for us to expand these laws and strengthen them, especially now in a society where being a woman, just being a woman, is equivalent to being a threat.

It is also time for us to break the double-standards and acknowledge that men, too, can become victims of rape and sexual abuse. They, too, are victims of the system. Instead of shaming men and labelling them as weak, Filipinos must join them in their fight to lift this horrible stigma in society, a result of the patriarchy which has deemed women as weak and men as strong. With that, Filipinos must work collectively to crush the patriarchy that has burdened us, that has constantly victimized all of us, keeping in mind that this pressing gender struggle is related to a larger class struggle, which can only be resolved through societal change.

Editorial: All but a numbers game

We are no strangers to the University Student Council (USC) drama, and its all-star cast clad in blue, red and yellow.

The USC, the University of the Philippines’ student government, with its general assemblies lasting until the wee hours of the morning have become online sensations for Iskolars ng Bayan who care to know, especially when juicy bickering and witty banter are included in the package.

But if we care enough to look at the USC and criticize its leadership during the previous year, we can say it has practiced a certain game—a game of numbers. The conflict within the grounds of the USC has been merely reduced to a battle of numbers instead of being a healthy discourse on principle.

Discourse has always been present in all forms of government, yet it is surprising that UP’s USC practices a number game where discourse becomes futile as decisions have been made beforehand by the dominating party.

More often than not, the opinions of the minority members of the council are easily diminished or disregarded, and the party with the most number of members in position prevail when it comes to the council’s projects, advocacies and decisions.

Instead of executing an open-minded exchange of ideas between parties, what should have been fruitful and rational debates have become arenas where political parties engage in low-blow combats where a sure advantage is strength in numbers.

Text messages asking particular party members to adhere by the decisions of their respective political affiliations do not allow members in position to decide for themselves nor to listen and understand what is being said or forwarded by those in opposing parties.

They do not allow critical thought to enter the process of decision-making, as they rely on their personal biases to make the decisions for them, turning a deaf ear to what is being said by another side and a blind eye to the different perception of another group.

This kind of leadership—one that is deaf and blind—is what prevails in a university that ironically encourages its students to question what they know and to act upon it.

This is the student leadership that governs a university that produces students and professionals who ought to be able to challenge the status quo and think for themselves, a university that claims to promote honor and excellence in the service of the Filipino people.

Effective leadership requires going beyond what is necessary—even shying away one’s political color just to arrive at a consensus where everyone will benefit from.

Because of this mandatory adherence of the members to the decisions made by the prominent political party, the fight of the minority during council affairs become a pointless, voiceless battle they wish to carry despite being outnumbered.

The student body, therefore, does not get the adequate representation it demands and deserves from its council, and the struggles of other Iskolars ng Bayan who side with the minority or believe in the minority are easily dismissed due to the lack of effective leadership dynamics.

We have seen the same phenomenon occur in present Philippine society where minority sectors are repressed and neglected by those in power or position.

Hacienda Luisita farmers remain landless after countless agrarian reform programs. The Lumad of Mindanao continue to be ravaged by the military and the paramilitary as they attack their schools and communities, terrorizing the lumads with the brutal and chilling murders of their kin. The culture of impunity persists, and journalists continue to be slain while the masterminds behind the heinous Ampatuan massacre, which claimed the lives of 32 media practitioners, remain free to roam and even run for office. State universities and colleges continue to experience budget cuts with each year’s cut increasing and the state of tertiary education getting worse.

Even the mainstream media cannot escape the guilt from such act of repression as they, too, have frequently drifted towards reporting the trivial or the trending rather than focusing on the unheard voices of society.

With such institutions retaining the same dynamics of power play, those unheard continue to be oppressed and pushed back in the corners of society. Although it is not a unanimous choice among these institutions as there are some who still wish to forward the struggles of the people, the prevalence of neglect towards these repressed sectors reflects their inclination to side with society’s ruthless oppressors. With this year’s student council elections coming up fast, students must call for and vote for a leadership with sufficient and genuine student representation.

The USC must not be a numbers game. Rather, as a council representing the student body, it must push for pro-student rights and seek to include advocacies, decisions and projects that can and would cater to all students, regardless of their political affiliations or personal ideologies.

The USC must be an avenue that reaches out to Iskolar ng Bayan whom they serve and not a battleground for whose political principle must prevail and dominate the campus.

The elected must dare to be different from the leaders seated in the country’s current administration. As those in position, they ought pay attention to the unheard voices of the university and engage them in a discourse that would not only benefit the student body but would also be good for the student government.

It is time to get back the University Student Council we have long lost—a USC that will continuously fight for the rights not only of the students but also those of the greater masses outside the university.

Review: M Café

There’s a new “M” in the college.

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Text by: Andrea Adan and Clarist Zablan

Photos by: Glenn Barit, TNP Resident Photographer
(Updated Oct.26, 2014 |16:00)

PLARIDEL HALL, UP Diliman – There’s a new “M” in the college.

A new food provider opened its doors late August that provided some students, faculty, staff and college visitors a proximate fix to their growling stomachs.

Manterey Food Services operates the new canteen. They also run the food facility in the UP College of Human Kinetics.

The café offers a wide menu where its customers can select their pick of the day: the typical viand-rice meals, sizzlers, pasta selections and sweet fix-ins. And of course, the café is not complete without its coffee bar – a stopover perfect for students and professors who stay up too late the night before and needs quick caffeine boost.

The college canteen facility is now equipped with an air conditioning unit, providing a more comfortable eating experience to its customers even when the sun is at its peak.

However, the price range of the menu items is dramatically higher than that of the last food provider that occupy the spot – a typical viand-rice combo now ranges from P70 to P99 compared to the P35 to P50 of the past concessionaire. With this, students with tight budget normally buy their lunch from the kiosk outside the college or  the “siomai rice” food stop at the Media Center Building instead.

Also, vegetable selections seem almost absent from their daily menu aside from the spoonful side dish they provide in every viand-rice order, making vegetarians and veggie lovers go to nearby college canteens to eat instead.

Service is also slow. Even though it is rare that a queue emerges, typical time of completing a purchase transaction is five minutes, and can even be longer especially for take outs. This is very disadvantageous to those with tight schedules, especially to students who sneak out of their classes to buy food to fill their empty tummies.

Given all this, it is apparent that M Café serves a very specific market: those who have a hefty daily budget. For a canteen that serves a college in a state university, it is advisable for the canteen to trim down their prices so that more students can afford their offerings.

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A different call

As repeated chants resonated among thousands converging at one end of Luneta Park, a certain participant of the day’s protest preached of his own take on the PDAF and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as well as his presidential dream to passers-by and picnic-goers relaxing on the other end.

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by Maverick Russel Flores and Bryan Ezra Gonzales

With many Filipinos still skeptical of the administration’s commitment to dispose of the pork barrel, the Million People March saw an inevitable sequel this year.

Resisting the scorching afternoon heat, various groups returned to the vast open space in front of Quirino Grandstand to express their disapproval of the alleged continuation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) ,also known as pork barrel, in the 2015 national budget and to register their support for the people’s initiative to dismantle all kinds of pork.

At the site, people lined the different stations located around the open space, hoping to change with their signature the future course of the country’s political train.

As repeated chants resonated among thousands converging at one end of Luneta Park, a certain participant of the day’s protest preached of his own take on the PDAF and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) as well as his presidential dream to passers-by and picnic-goers relaxing on the other end.

Armed with his own megaphone and a spurt of passion, Manong Ignacio walked the stretch of Luneta park and tirelessly attempted to convince ordinary park visitors to believe in his grand vision of running for the presidency. His 13-year-old daughter and a sympathetic neighbor accompanied him in his campaign, distributing statements which he himself wrote.

But Alejandro Ignacio, 76, was unlike most “presidentiables” who found their immediate beginnings in the plenary halls or showbiz industry. His only claim to fame was having been featured in GMA Network’s public service program, “Wish Ko Lang!”

A native of Pampanga, he now resides in Rodriguez, Rizal and drives a cab around Metro Manila, which gets him around P800-1000 a day to spend for his 12 children.

With none of his children having finished their studies, Ignacio remains the family’s sole breadwinner.

“Wala silang aasahan kundi ako (I’m the only one they can rely on),“ Ignacio said.

Despite his family’s situation, however, he worries more about the fate of his countrymen under the current government system.

Manong Ignacio once wrote a complaint to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), regarding the widespread cheating and vote-buying happening in every election. He said the commission appreciated and even admired his letter.

“[They told me that] the time will come that I will make the country a better place,” he said.

In hopes of erasing these election offenses for good, along with the rampant graft and corruption in the country, Ignacio has resolved to file for candidacy in the 2016 presidential race. He said, however, the battle he is about to enlist in does not favor principle, rather, which candidate has more “show money.”

“Ang pera, galing sa pork barrel scandal. Ang puhunan po nila, hindi nila pera, pera ng taumbayan (The money came from the pork barrel scandal. The capital they use is not their money, it’s the people’s money),” he said.

For Manong Ignacio and many others, the number of people who trooped to Luneta this year proves that the fight against the pork barrel system has definitely continued beyond the Million People March in 2013.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. estimated the crowd to be at around 20,000 people, while police estimated a peak attendance of 5,000.

But Manong Ignacio was not just a mere addition to these figures.

For a day, Manong Ignacio was able to present himself as a potential player in the country’s political arena, unfazed by the disgusting realities of the game and confident in his personal platform. All Filipinos possess such potential, but for now, they will continue to watch from the stands while those in power control the playing field.

Will we ever see the day when a humble taxi driver will triumph in the race for the highest position in the land?

Whoever crosses the finish line first is still uncertain, but the 2013 Million People March and its sequel this year have shown that ordinary people, like Mang Ignacio, are growing tired of sitting quietly on the bleachers.

The need for game-changers is greater than ever, and more people are getting ready to step up to the challenge.