How the past bites back

Text by John Patrick Manio

President Ferdinand Marcos’ infamous martial law regime had brought the Philippines to one of its lowest points in history. Since then, it had been then the material of reactionary directors who would since bring the most prolific period in Philippine cinema.

This period saw directors such as Ishmael Bernal, Lino Brocka, Behn Cervantes, and Marilou – Diaz Abaya who made classics which sought to criticize and oppose the strongman rule of the administration. They stood their ground in creating films that not only promoted Filipino values but also sought to destabilize the institutions that corrupt it, not fearing the dangers their profession could bring.

Now, under a different administration’s myriad of corruption, human rights abuses, and  historical revisionism, a fellow director as critical and as competent as those mentioned above has stepped forward from the shadows to make another masterpiece of his own.

Citizen Jake marks the return of renowned Filipino director, Mike de Leon, after an 18-year absence on the big screen, this time, arguably more politicized and better than before. De Leon brought us classics like Sister Stella L (1977), Kakabakaba Ka Ba? (1980), Kisapmata (1981), Batch ‘81 (1982), and Bayaning 3rd World (2000), all of which sought to deconstruct Filipino society and its ailments with wit, cunning, and even farce.

The Past Haunts the Present

Atom Araullo stars in the leading role as Jake Herrera, a citizen journalist haunted by the misdeeds of his family and the disappearance of his mother. It is his debut performance as an actor.

He delivers a raw, powerful, and sincere performance in the movie, partially because he, like Jake, is also a journalist who has experienced his fair share of trauma in the profession. Adding to that is the real life experiences of Araullo’s mother,an activist herself during martial law.

The characters and theme in the movie share a unifying message: the present is always tied to the past. This shows an almost philosophical debate on whether characters act wholly on their free will or on the inevitable consequences of their previous experiences.

Throughout the movie, Jake insists on staying in his mother’s house in Baguio, away from the clutches of his father and brother, politicians who benefitted and are benefiting from their crony days under Ferdinand Marcos. In real life, this house was the ancestral home of Mike de Leon given to him by his mother.

Jake’s arc revolves around three aspects: protecting his mother’s house from abolition, finding the whereabouts of his disappeared mother, and exposing his father and brother from their corrupt leanings. All of these shaped Jake to be who he is in the present.

Even the setting of Baguio was scrutinized from the lens of the present to the past. The movie dedicated an ample time to inspect Baguio’s evolution from a serene vacation spot to a loud and dirty metropolis. But above all, Baguio was deconstructed as an American colonial city, with the colonizers actively claiming it for their own as natives and indigenous folk were left alienated and later objectified. This inspection from the city’s core was contrasted by the romanticization of it by the characters themselves.

Mainly, the film looks back at the legacy and implications of the Marcos regime. Characters like Lou Veloso’s Lucas interrogates the success of the People Power revolution. Are we really free from the grasps of the abusive ruling elite? Why are the Marcoses’ cronies still at large, with some even still in position?

Ferdinand Marcos’ bust, which was erected and later demolished in La Union, looms, reminding Jake and everyone else that power had remained to those willing to abuse it for personal gain. Cronyism in Jake’s family is what haunts him throughout the movie.

Victims Turned Predators

Characters’ histories revolve around a circular path of moral dilemma. Most characters have experienced being victimized in the past before being portrayed as guilty themselves.

One of these characters is Cherie Gil’s, Rosemary Velez. Velez, unlike any of the other characters, is directly victimized by President Marcos himself, being a fictionalized version of one of the starlets that he took to be his mistress.

In the movie, Velez has gone to become a pimp for the elite, victimizing desperate and struggling women to join her prostitution ring. She does this as a resentment to her days of acting as a prostitute to Marcos herself. Her actions and ‘business’ reverberated to other characters, extending the morality play to them.

Towards the end, Jake comes at a crossroads. He faces his past to overcome his demons only to end up being one himself. The movie forces characters to not only wallow in the past, but also to be consumed by it, changing them unwittingly or not. As a recurring line goes, “Kapag umikot ang mundo, kami naman ang nasa tuktok!”

Ultimately, Mike de Leon delivers a message through the film: one must know the past, and confront it in order to be free from its clutches. In the age of post-truth and historical revisionism, it is incredibly important to look at one of the country’s darkest years to know that we are again going on the path we took almost 50 years ago.

Like Mike de Leon’s past works, Citizen Jake breaks the fourth wall to let the audience know the anguished cries of its director.

This time, however, De Leon held nothing back.

He made the main character talk to the audience multiple times and even showed behind-the-scenes footage, insisting that what they are seeing is only a movie and that the stage and the injustices seen in the film extend to the real world. This approach is ingenious, as it inadvertently shattered the illusions of an escapist film to be replaced by one which is polemic in full effect.

Citizen Jake is not only the director’s message to us, but also his own action to this message himself. Going out of retirement, he made one last wake-up call to the Filipino audience. Citizen Jake is a splendid, thought-provoking, and gripping send-off by one of the masters of Philippine cinema.

 

UP SDC dances to another podium finish

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Reiven Pascasio

The Maroons flew up high once again.

The University of the Philippines Street Dance Club (UP SDC) ran away with another podium bagging third place in this year’s UAAP Street Dance Competition at the Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.

UP danced along to throwback hits like Hataw na by Gary Valenciano and Bagsakan by Parokya ni Edgar; garnering a score of 78.60, good enough to claim the bronze.

Consistently placing in the podium ever since the competition’s inception in 2011, UP went off for another great performance.

The squad trailed closely behind La Salle Dance Company – Street’s (LSDC-Street) 79.50 and Far Eastern University (FEU) Street Alliance’s 85.75 who took home second place and the championship, respectively.

The Adamson University CAST started the show with their energetic performance, tuning up the crowd’s energy. Followed by the University of the East (UE) Street Warriors, clad in their red jackets moving along with their hot moves to turn up the heat.

But hotter than the Warriors was the butt-themed performance of the University of Sto. Thomas (UST) Prime.

Then it was State U’s time to shine. The streetdance powerhouse never failed with their grooves, promoting local songs and simply having fun with the crowd.

Right after the UP SDC’s performance, the FEU stormed the arena with a gangster-themed performance.      

The show continued with the returning National University (NU) Underdawgz, giving off mafia vibes with their performance.

LSDC- street also made a good campaign to defend their crown with a fierce performance.

Ateneo de Manila University’s Company of Ateneo Dancers capped off the competition with an intense routine of their own.      

In the end, it was the FEU alliance who made their way to the top to clinch their first championship, ending La Salle and UP’s reign in the competition.

Despite not being able to reclaim the crown, UP remained positive after the show.

“We were just having fun onstage and kung ano man yung outcome nun, masaya na kami na napasaya namin yung crowd,” UP SDC captain Angel Basilio said.  

All UAAP universities showed up in this year’s competition together with the participation of NU after missing two consecutive years of dancing on the stage.

This season, the UAAP also introduced the competition in the juniors division with seven high schools competing for the inaugural SDC Jrs. crown.

UST Galvanize nabbed the first ever UAAP Juniors Streetdance title followed by the FEU Baby Tamaraws as first runner-up, and the UE street warriors placing third

Ateneo did not participated in this year’s juniors division.

UP gets revenge over Adamson in five-set thriller

Photo and text by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons are back on track.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons started the second round strong after outlasting the Adamson University (AdU) Lady Falcons in a five-set thriller, 25-18, 14-25, 25-19, 21-25, 16-14 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Relying on good passing and offense from go-to hitters Tots Carlos and Isa Molde, the Diliman squad managed to notch another win.

UP draws first blood

It was a tightly contested game at the start of the first, with neither team getting an advantage

By the second technical timeout, UP only led by a couple, 16-14.

But a series of attacks from the Maroon side helped them pull away in time to take the set, 25-18.

Adamson answers back

Unfazed by UP’s 1-0 lead, the Lady Falcons quickly recovered at the second.

The Lady Maroons would play at pace with AdU early in the set, trailing only by three at the first technical timeout, 5-8.

But the Lady Falcons continuously pounded the Maroon defense to easily extend their lead.

Adamson cruised to a second set win, 25-14 to tie the game at 1-all.

UP doesn’t falter

Despite a deflating second set loss, the Lady Maroons did not let up.

It was all UP from the get-go, firing attacks and taking advantage of their opponents’ errors to lead the Falcons, 21-9.

UP looked ready to run away with the set.But the Lady Falcons said “not yet”. AdU went on a hot 10-1 run to cut the lead to three, 19-22.

To the Diliman crowd’s relief, UP scored three straight to take the lead, 25-22.

Falcons push UP to the limit

Unwilling to let the match slip away, both teams went back-and-forth to start the set.

Adamson eventually pulled away 18-13 at the middle of the fourth.

UP rallied back to cut Adamson’s lead but the Falcons were able to stay with it and force the fifth, 25-21.

Getting the job done

Tensions were high on the court during the deciding fifth set.

Trading scores, both squads were neck and neck throughout.

Adamson was the first to reach match point at 14-13.

But clutch attacks from UP skipper Tots Carlos and veteran Ayel Estrañero gave them just enough firepower to win, 16-14.

With the win, State U splits its season series with Adamson at one win each.

“We were fighting, trying not to lose twice against the same team” UP head coach Godfrey Okumu said after the game.

He lauded the team’s passing and serving as key factors in the win.

UP had 10 service aces against the Falcons, while player of the game Rem Cailing finished with 32 excellent sets.

Carlos and Molde, along with Ali Buitre led UP’s offense. All three Lady Maroons scored double-digits, 22, 18 and 12 points, respectively.

UP improves to a 3-5 record but remains two games behind the fourth spot in the rankings.

Coach Okumu remains positive and wants to take it step-by-step.

“We just have to try to win the remaining games and I don’t care who’s in front of me or who’s behind me, just [take it] one game at a time” he said.

State U will try to build on this win when they go against defending champions De La Salle University on Wednesday, March 14.

Lawyers condemn Tokhang Relaunched, call for stronger justice system

Photo by Maegan Gaspar

Text by John Patrick Manio

Manananggol Laban sa Extrajudicial Killings (MANLABAN sa EJK) called for the end extrajudicial killings and human rights violations under Tokhang Relaunched in the Rise, Resist, Unite Against Tokhang and Tyranny forum, Wednesday.

“19 months into Duterte’s term, there is still no let up in the bloody drug war. Even under the revived Tokhang, allegedly conducted with better safeguards and during ‘office hours’, 65 were killed between January 29 and February 14, 2018 – a rate of at least four people per day”, said MANLABAN Convenor Neri Colmenares.

The organization also asked the public and authorities to seek for concrete solutions to the continuing issues of crime and corruption.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has since taken an estimated number of 12,000 people, including UP student Karl Arnaiz and youth Kian delos Santos and Reynaldo de Guzman.

The memorandum on Oct. 11, 2017 ordered the PNP to seize operations on the anti-drug war. It was then to be handled by PDEA, due to the uncontrollable degree of human rights violations. However, it was revoked on Jan. 23, 2018 under the revamped Tokhang Relaunched.

Due to its issues in overriding the law, Oplan Tokhang faced scrutiny in the past, and has continued to receive such criticism, even with its updated version, being Tokhang Relaunched.

“Project Tokhang and Tokhang Relaunched are unconstitutional. The entire circular (CMC 16 – 2016) shortcuts the justice process and assigns the PNP as judge, jury, and executioner” , said FLAG Lawyer and Dean of DLSU College of Law Atty. Jose Manuel Diokno.

The forum highlighted the little difference between the original Oplan Tokhang and Tokhang Relaunched. Some noted how this move to streamline Oplan Tokhang was implemented, simply to appease critics, instead of actually causing serious change.

Colmenares went on to say, “In fact, Tokhang Relaunched is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than the original because it was redressed to make it seem better than the former when it’s not. Also, it desensitizes us to the seemingly lesser number of EJK victims.”

Diokno mused how the whole war on drugs is defeatist to the populace to start with.

“The war on drugs is not only anti-poor. It is also anti-law, anti-rule of law, and pro-authoritarianism”, said Atty. Diokno.

Call for action and concrete solutions

The uproar and determined nature stated by individuals, groups, and institutions against EJK help moderate the killings, We haven’t stopped the killings but we have moderated the killings.” said the Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Atty. Domingo “Egon” Cayosa.

He added, “The fact that there are less EJKs under Tokhang 2 is not mission accomplished for us.”

The forum’s speakers were able to state reasons and solutions, in response to the adamant drug problem and the rampant abuse of human rights and its lack of justice.

“We, too, in FLAG (Free Legal Assistance Group) don’t want crime and corruption, but we must ask why crime and corruption are rampant in the country”, assesses Atty. Diokno. “It is because of our weak justice system and the only solution is to strengthen this justice system.”

Atty. Colmenares then gave the verdict, saying, “The solution of President Duterte should not be to eliminate the addicts, and even the druglords for that matter, but to solve also the economic problems of our society.”

Pol parties clash on issue-based activism

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Agatha Gregorio

Political parties argued on issue-based activism, as Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan (KAISA UP)  and Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP) both acknowledged it to be a means towards a grand end, while UP Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran (UP ALYANSA) asserted the need for specificity in mobilization in a forum, Thursday.

Acknowledging the ideological differences among political parties, UP Political Society Vice President for Education, Research and Training Vienne Delmonte said that the forum’s purpose was also to “discover intersections” on the kind of activism they believed should be espoused.

She addressed the upcoming student council elections on April 27, saying, “We think that what the debates during election season lack are discussions on the core ideological beliefs of the parties, and that is what this forum wanted to address. We believe that the insights from this forum will be very helpful to the students in forming a critical vote.”

The political parties’ went on to discuss individual views on the definition of activism, ‘clicktivism’, and parliamentary struggle as a form of struggle were steadily discussed. Further disparity in viewpoints arose on the legitimacy of ‘clicktivism’ in mobilization.

“If you say it is only grand end, without knowing the particularities of what you are fighting for, it will definitely make it hard for you to achieve your goals. When you say activism, you have to know the issue first.” UP ALYANSA Vice Chairperson for Education and Research Roi Pablo said, defending issue-based activism.

UP KAISA and STAND-UP representatives responded in disagreement, pointing out the problem in issue-specific mobilizing.

KAISA UP representative Jei Edora III said, “Iyan ‘yung manifestation mo ng pagkakaiba at nung systemic exploitation eh. You need to organize the struggle, in order to get it.  Akala natin in issues that affect only us, doon lang tayo kikilos, kaya tayo magiging issue-based.”

Online and off-ground

Pertaining to ‘clicktivism’, all parties recognized the merits in its practice.

However, Edora claimed it to be an illegitimate form of activism.

“Hindi namin nirerecognize ‘yung ‘clicktivism’ bilang form of activism. It’s really a way to organize and arouse. But do you really see turnouts? Or are the turnouts really progressive? Are they mobilized towards the end goal?” He said.

STAND UP chairperson Almira Abril responded with the similar sentiment of how activism must go beyond screens, encouraging on-ground mobilization.

“Pero hindi sapat, na lilimitahin natin ang ating sarili na sa isang click, kaya nating baguhin ‘yung ating buong lipunan. It takes ‘yung actual nating paglahok sa iba’t ibang mga mobilisasyon,”   she said.

All parties agreed on the equality of university-specific and national issues in prompting activism.

“The students are the next participants of this economy. They are the next victims. We need to fight for the sectoral struggle outside cohesively, in order for us to arouse here,” Edora III said.

Parliamentary struggle was acknowledged as a form of activism by the parties, but also recognized as a limited effort in forwarding concerns.  

“Mayroon naman talaga tayo naaachieve diyan sa parliamentary struggle. Pero the question is, hindi enough na masapatan tayo sa mga ‘piecemeal’ na mga games na binibigay ng isang estado na tool sa lalong pagpapahirap at lalong pagpapabulok ng sistema ng lipunan na mayroon tayo sa kasalukuyan,” said Abril.

NU bites Lady Maroons to end first round

Photo by Kezhia Maglasang

Text by Denver Del Rosario

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons ended the first round on a bad note as they crumbled against the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs in three sets, 23-25, 23-25, 17-25, today at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

Despite keeping it close in the first two sets, UP lost rhythm in the final frame as NU played confidently like the top-seed team that they are.

Graduating Jaja Santiago spearheaded the fight for the Lady Bulldogs with 17 points, followed by Risa Sato with 10.

Meanwhile, batchmates Tots Carlos and Isa Molde provided the one-two punch for State U with 15 and 11 points, respectively.

Contested Opening Set

Both teams played step in step at the start of the first set, refusing the other to pull away easily.

A block by Santiago tied the game for the seventh time, 16-all. At that point, the Lady Bulldogs started to pull away as errors plagued the Diliman squad once again.

Doria gave NU set point with an off-the-block attack, 20-24, but UP managed to score three consecutive points. However, the Lady Maroons committed a net infraction, giving away the set to the Lady Bulldogs.

Tight Second Set

NU kept in pace in the following set, taking the driver’s seat early, 4-8. The Lady Bulldogs maintained a comfortable lead going into the second technical timeout.

However, UP rallied to tie the set, 17-all, for the first time since the 3-point mark. A barrage of attacks by Carlos gave UP the lead, 21-20.

NU refused to surrender as Santiago took charge, scoring two attacks to give her team the set point, 22-24.

Molde tried to do last-minute heroics as she registered an attack, but a service error by Marist Layug sealed the set for the Lady Bulldogs, 23-25.

Meltdown Final Set

UP eventually lost steam in the third set as they failed to keep up with the Lady Bulldogs’ attacks and blocks. The lead went as large as seven points at the 14-21 mark, in favor of NU.

Another UP error gave the Lady Bulldogs match point, taken care of by Santiago with a quick attack, 17-25.

Lack of Drive
With the loss, UP remains at the bottom of the heap as the first round ends, taking sixth place with a 2-5 slate.

UP head coach Godfrey Okumu attributed this record to the team’s mental shortcomings.

“The problem is not skills–it’s that sometimes the players are not hungry enough to win,” he said. “They play better, but they play confused again.”

Okumu assessed his team’s first round performance as “inconsistent”, something he said the team needs to work going into the second round.

“We play good volleyball and then bad again,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how well you play if you don’t win–we just have to work on finishing the game.”

Finishing in the lower half of the standings, Okumu said his team needs to win at least five games in the second round for a Final Four chance.

“This is a very interesting season. Don’t count us out yet,” he said.

#UPFightsBack: UP stops skid at expense of UST

Photo and text Luisa Morales

 

Finally, the Fighting Lady Maroons had a breakthrough.

After a four-game skid, the University of the Philippines (UP) is back on the win column after closing the doors on Sisi Rondina and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigresses in four sets, 31-33, 25-23, 25-16, 25-12 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Powered by stellar defense and heroics from Tots Carlos and Isa Molde, the Diliman-based squad notched their second win of the season.

Heart-stopping start

It was a slow start for the Diliman squad. Costly errors from the Lady Maroons and high-flying attacks from Rondina had UP down in the first, 10-19.

UST looked ready to cruise in the first set but State U had other plans. With Carlos and Molde leading the charge, the Maroon offense suddenly caught on fire.

State U went on a blazing 14-5 run to tie the set at 24-all.

The set would go on and on with both teams trading attacks and errors until the squads remain deadlocked at 31-all.

But an attack from Dim Pacres and a service ace from Carla Sandoval would give UST the set, 33-31.

UP breaks the ice

The excitement did not die down after an intense opening set.

Both teams went back and forth in the second, neither squad pulling away. At the second technical timeout, UP had a three-point cushion, 16-13.

Crucial umpire calls kept the Tigresses close behind and would eventually trim State U’s lead to one, 24-23.

Careful not to let his team give up the set, UP head coach Godfrey Okumu called a timeout. During the huddle, Lady Maroon Ali Buitre channelled Paul Desiderio – shouting “Atin to” before the team went back to the match. True to their battlecry, Ayel Estranero would close the set with a powerful block to give the set to UP, 25-23.

UP’s back, shout it out

The Fighting Lady Maroons were back on their feet. Gaining confidence from the second set win, State U stepped up their game.

UST would play at pace with the Diliman-based squad at the start of the set, keeping the scores tied at 12-all. But the Tiger offense was about to be silenced.

Overall good floor defense and nifty attacks from UP would propel them to a 13-4 rally to run away with the set, 25-16.

UP was now a set away from breaking their slump.

UST shutout

By the fourth set, it was all UP.

With momentum on their side, the Fighting Lady Maroons pounded UST, shutting out the Tigresses with blocks and excellent saves.

UST was held to single-digits by the second technical timeout, 7-16.

UP continued to cruise through the set and eventually win the match with a Molde attack off the block, 25-12.

The Maroons seem to have found the answer to their woes.

Carrying more than half of UP’s 106 points, Carlos and Molde led the charge for the Maroons after scoring game-high points with 32 and 24, respectively.

Carlos reiterated the importance of finally breaking the losing streak in an interview after the game.

“Sobrang importante, sobrang bumaba kami eh… Nakakapagod matalo so kailangan namin idefend, kailangan namin lumaban,” she said.

Meanwhile, coach Okumu had a special shoutout for the Diliman community.

“The champions for UP [are] the fans. They’ve been with us, [even if] we’ve not been playing well… Thank you so much for all the fans out there,” he said after the game.

UP now improves to 2-4 and hopes to go on a win streak when they face the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs on Sunday, March 4.

 

 

Erratum: Ayel Estranero was the one to score at the end of the second to clinch the set, 25-23 and not Ali Buitre.

Battle of Katipunan: UP gets swept by Ateneo

Photo by Maegan Gaspar

Text by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons just can’t seem to bounce back.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons faltered in today’s Battle of Katipunan, losing in straight sets against the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Lady Eagles, 20-25, 22-25, 26-28 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Giving Ateneo their first sweep of the season, the Lady Maroons skid to a 1-4 record after losing four in a row.

A back-and-forth affair

It was a tight race during the opening set. Despite a 4-0 start by the Lady Eagles, UP recovered fast courtesy of a flurry of attacks from Tots Carlos and Isa Molde and led in the first technical timeout, 8-7.

Both teams exchanged attacks throughout the set but ADMU managed to pull away in time to draw first blood, 25-20.

Comeback falls short

The Lady Eagles took control once again in the start of the second, leading the Diliman-based squad 8-3 at the first technical timeout.

Numerous errors from State U and spectacular offense gave Ateneo a comfortable lead for most of the set.

Just when ADMU looked poised to run away with the second, the Lady Maroons suddenly caught fire.

Taking advantage of consecutive Ateneo errors, UP crawled back into the set. Despite the tremendous comeback and saving two set points, ADMU still managed to take a 2-0 lead.

Plagued by errors

During the third, it was UP’s turn to start strong but errors from the Maroon side kept ADMU close.

However, bad news came for the Lady Maroons when a bad fall resulted in middle blocker Jessma Ramos spraining her right ankle in the middle of the set.

Determined to take a set and extend the match, UP played at pace with the Lady Eagles.

Both teams traded attacks and errors resulting in 15 deadlocks in the final set. Despite saving two match points and reaching a set point of their own, costly errors eventually gave Ateneo the match, 28-26.

Ultimately, errors spelled the difference in the game. UP had eight more errors than their opponents, 26-18. While the squads remained almost equal in every other aspect of the match.

Carlos and Molde paced the Lady Maroons, scoring double figures with 20 and 16 points while Jules Samonte and Jhoanna Maraguinot led the Lady Eagles with 15 and 11, respectively.

“We play to win, not only play well. Because playing well never gives results, winning gives results,” UP head coach Godfrey Okumu said after the game.

Okumu reiterated that his team is in the rebuilding phase and will be facing another challenge after losing Ramos for more or less a week because of injury.

The UP mentor also remains optimistic despite the four-game losing streak. “I believe if we push just a little more like the way we pushed today, there will be different results” he added.

UP hopes to snap their losing streak when they go against Sisi Rondina and the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Diliman joins thousands in national walkout vs. Duterte admin

Photo by Maegan Gaspar

Text by Nacho Domingo, Nica Rhiana Hanopol and Edelito Mercene Jr

Vacant classrooms abound in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman as hundreds of students took part in an emblematic gesture to lock down the gates of Palma Hall.

On February 23, the Diliman community denounced President Duterte’s anti-people policies such as Oplan Tokhang, charter change, and martial law in Mindanao, among others.

“Yung mga Iskolar ng Bayan, malinaw sa kanya, may grounds, kung bakit kinakailangan niyang lumaban, at never ‘yun naging mali para sa kanya,” said UP Student Regent Shari Oliquino.

The National Day of Action for Freedom and Democracy last Friday also aimed to condemn Duterte’s jeepney phaseout program, the Tax Reform and Acceleration (TRAIN) Law, jeepney phaseout, and efforts to revoke news outlets such as Rappler and InterAksyon.

Over a thousand students, jeepney drivers, vendors and members of mass groups took part in the nationwide protest.

“Nawawalan kami ng buhay at hanapbuhay dahil sa jeepney phaseout ni Duterte. Nagpapasalamat kami sa mga iskolar ng bayan na tumitindig kasama namin,” said one of the drivers invited to speak at the event.

Despite threats from President Rodrigo Duterte to kick students out of the university, UP Diliman chancellor Michael Tan expressed his support for them, saying there is a “sharp discrepancy” between what is taught about morality and democracy and what students see in practice.

He then urged faculty members to excuse students from their classes if they choose to join the protests.

Anakbayan UP Diliman member Nickolo Domingo also slammed President Duterte’s previous threat to dismiss students who walk out of their classes to protest.

“Sabi ni Duterte na kung mag-walkout tayo ulit, tatanggalin niya tayo sa paaralan,” Domingo said. “Pero nakikita naman natin na kahit anumang sabihin niya, basta ipinapatuloy niya ang mga anti-mamamayan niyang polisiya, hindi titigil ang laban para sa pambansang demokrasya.”

On the wrong end of modernization

The crackdown on jeepneys was one of the issues tackled in the nationwide anti-Duterte policy protest.

Jeepneys aged at least 15 years old were set to be removed by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) as part of the government’s transport modernization program.

This prompted many jeepney drivers in UP Diliman to stop operations on Feb. 9, in fear of getting charged with an unreasonable amount of P5,000, five times the amount of their take home pay, if deemed having a defective and smoke-belching jeepney unit.

“Hindi tayo tutol sa pagmodernize ng jeepneys, ang tinututulan natin ang porma ng pagmodernize ng jeepney ngayon kung saan tinatanggalan sila ng hanapbuhay at binebentahan sila ng jeepneys worth 1.5 million to 1.8 million,” said UP College of Social Work and Community Development Student Council chairperson Mayo Mendoza.

“Hindi lang naman jeep ang matatanggal sa ating mga drivers; pagkain na rin sa kanilang mga mesa, pati source na rin ng education ng kanilang mga anak ay maapektuhan ‘pag tinanggalan mo sila ng kanilang hanapbuhay,” Mendoza added.

In response to DOTr’s modernization program, the UP Asian Institute of Tourism organized a forum on Feb. 22 for UP jeepney drivers to voice out their complaints on the ‘Tanggal Bulok, Tanggal Usok’ campaign.

“Ang sabi ni Duterte, dapat daw tanggalin ang mga bulok, sino ang bulok? Si Duterte at ang kanyang mga polisiya, kaya dapat siya ang dapat nating i-phase out,” said Oliquino.

History repeats itself

On February 1971, the UP student council led the Diliman Commune in condemnation of the three-centavo oil price hike during the Marcos administration.

Two decades after, students rallied together with transport workers against the tax reform law of the Duterte administration, which is expected to impose higher fuel prices in the coming months.

An effigy entitled “DuterTerorista” was also set ablaze last Friday as a symbol of their collective dissent. This mirrored the burning of a similar effigy that took place during the September 11, 2017 commemoration of Martial Law.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same. You have to be the change you wish to see,” said martial law veteran Boni Ilagan in the local protest action at UP CMC, citing the importance of the youth’s role in large scale mobilizations.

CMC students also taped their mouths in their outcry over attacks against press freedom, such as the recent barring of Rappler reporter Pia Ranada from Malacanang Palace.

Meanwhile, Enrique Navera of League of Filipino Students UPD emphasized that this broad mobilization aims to isolate Duterte as the mastermind of atrocities that have culminated in the last year.

“Tapos na ‘yung panahon ng pagiging defensive, ang hinihingi sa ’tin ng panahon ngayon ay lumaban na talaga against Duterte,” he said.

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the EDSA Revolt, but UP students have only one answer to the past lurking behind them – never again.

She resists, she rises

Photo and text by Mayumi Paras

Filipina poet Joi Barrios once wrote, “Ang pagiging babae/ ay walang katapusang pakikibaka/ para mabuhay at maging malaya.”

Now in its sixth year, the 2018 One Billion Rising (OBR) movement chooses solidarity as its primary campaign theme –– urging women to Rise, Resist and Unite against the fascist, imperialist, and neo-liberal attacks prevalent in society.

Solidarity indeed was evident last Feb. 15, when students, faculty members and women from other sectors took part in the One Billion Rising 2018 dance protest at the Palma Hall steps, organized by Gabriela Youth UP Diliman; from there, the group marched to Quezon Hall, where a cultural program took place and the dancing resumed.

“Nais nating iparating ang pinakamalakas nating tinig ng pagtutol at paglaban sa lahat ng anyo ng karahasan sa kababaihan at iba pang kasarian.” Dr. Nancy Kimuell-Gabriel of the UP Gender Office began in her opening remarks. “Ang OBR 2018 ay isang okasyon ng pagsasama-sama, at pagkakaisa, laban sa lahat ng anyo ng opresyon at diskriminasyon.”

Dr. Kimuell-Gabriel introduced the UP Laban sa Opresyon at Diskriminasyon (UP LODI), as well as its four calls to action: to end all violence against women; to end all violence related to gender and sexuality; free education for all; and to regularize workers enslaved under contractualization.

Almira Abril from Gabriela Youth UPD emphasized that being a woman activist goes beyond fighting for the rights of women, and equality between sexes; being a woman activist is to devote oneself to the plights of the masses, becoming one in the fight against industrialization and oppression.

Ang OBR ay simbolikong pagtindig ng mga kababaihan laban sa patuloy na opresyon na nararanasan ng lipunan.” Abril added. “Worldwide, binubuklod ng OBR ang tinig ng mga kababaihan; ipinapakita na tuloy tuloy ang struggle ng kababaihan kasabay ng pag struggle for genuine change.”

Present, perpetuated discrimination

Despite our society’s attempts at development and progress, mistreatment and discrimination towards women today remains ever prevalent. In fact, the Women and Children Protection Center of the Philippine National Police released a report stating that the number of cases involving violence against women, ranging from rape and abuse to abduction or kidnapping, has risen from 6,271 in 2004 to 23,865 in 2013.

Worldwide, the numbers are equally alarming.

The United Nations first reported in 2012 that one in every three women will have experienced physical or sexual abuse at one point in their entire lives; looked at on a global scale, the number reaches over a staggering one billion women worldwide.

It is this same daunting statistic that incited what is now known as the One Billion Rising movement, whose primary aim is to put a stop to sexual harassment and violence against women from all walks of life. More than 200 countries have participated in this annual protest, making it the single largest global action taken to end violence against women.

Misogyny – and his name

Under the Duterte administration, however, fighting for women’s rights becomes a much more difficult task.

Dr. Kimuell-Garcia was unafraid to call out the president and his government, stating that “walang katulad na pambabastos, pagmamaliit, pangiinsulta, panghihiya at pagdudurog sa ating pagkatao.”

Shown to have little to no sympathy to the plight of women in the country, and branded as a misogynist since before he had been elected, Duterte was once again under fire for an instruction he had given to his soldiers when dealing with women soldiers and guerilla fighters: “We will not kill you … we will just shoot you in the vagina,” adding a little after how a woman is useless without hers.

Duterte’s threats of violence have proven to be more than mere empty words; November 28 of last year saw the death of fifteen suspected members of the New People’s Army in Nasugbu, Batangas. Of the fifteen fatalities, five were women –– inlcuding Jo Lapira, an activist formerly from the University of the Philippines Manila.

As a former secretary-general and deputy secretary-general for Gabriela Youth in UP Manila, Lapira was one of the voices who emulated the spirit of women activism, relentless in calling others to militant action.

Dr. Kimuell-Garcia declared Duterte was the embodiment of sexism, machismo, and fascism, claiming that not only did the President belittle women and their struggles, “pinagmumukha niyang tanga ang mga kilusang ito.”  She also reasoned that it is the president’s very behavior that enables government officials, “mula sa taas hanggang baba,” as well as the military, to perpetuate this culture of violence and oppression against women.

Mabangis si Duterte laban sa mga mamamayan, lalo na ngayon na matindi ang paglaban kontra sa mga anti mamamayang polisiya ng administrasyon. Dinadagdagan pa ng pagiging bastos ng bibig ni Duterte laban sa mga kababaihan.” Abril said, “Minamaliit ang kakayahan ng babae at ng mamamayan na lumaban.”

To rise, resist, unite

The President’s words, however, do not deter these women, persistent in their fight for liberation.

With movements like the 2017 Women’s March aimed at then newly reinstated US President Donald Trump, campaigns like the #MeToo hashtag that spread across social media platforms against sexual harassment, and events such as the One Billion Rising protest itself, women have asserted their rights as equals –– thereby demanding the respect and visibility they deserve.

Truly, in spite of these hardships, women activists continue on in their pursuit of justice –– not only for women worldwide, but other marginalized sectors who are equally mistreated and oppressed.

“We fight against sexism, patriarchy, and imperialism,” said Monique Wilson, global coordinator of One Billion Rising. “We are rising and resisting against our own president, who doesn’t seem to know how to respect women’s vaginas.”

With the call of “Rise, Resist, Unite,” women on campus and around the world are stirred to action, overcoming whatever hindrances in order to stand –– and dance –– in solidarity and in protest for the one billion whose voices demand to be heard.

Sa araw na ito, muli natin isasagawa ang sayaw ng protesta, ang sayaw ng paghihimagsik,” said Dr. Kimuell-Gabriel, “at muli’t muli natin ‘to isasagawa hanggang mananatiling makabuluhan ang paglaban natin sa karahasan sa kababaihan. Mabuhay ang ating pagkakaisa.”

UP loses third straight, gets swept by FEU

Photo by Summer Padilla

Text by Mark Kevin Reginio

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons extend their losing skid after falling against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws in straight sets, 23-25, 12-25, 19-25, in the first round of UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Arena, Saturday.

UP had a strong start in the opening set reaching the 20-point mark first, but the Lady Maroons’ defense scrambled late in the set as Lady Tamaraw Toni Basas fired three canons from the right to snatch the set away, 25-23.

The Morayta-based squad carried the momentum in the second to limit the Diliman-based team’s offense to  only 12 points. The Lady Tamaraws took a dominating 2-0 lead after taking the second set, 25-12.

UP’s team captain Tots Carlos carried the load in the second set scoring five of her 15 points in that set while Isa Molde was limited to only four points in the whole game.

The Lady Maroons had a little show in the start of the third set but was easily ended by Isa Molde’s consecutive attack errors to give the Lady Tamaraws a comfortable 7-point lead going to the second technical timeout.

Meanwhile, Heather Guino-o and Basas led the charge for FEU with 11 and 10 markers, respectively, while team captain Bernadette Pons contributed nine points, eight coming from attacks.

UP’s head coach Godfrey Okumu said the team has had problems with finishing a game, even a set.

“Again, our finishing has been a problem for a quite sometime now. I believe my glasses are half full. I’m gonna fill it in time,” he said after the game.

UP committed 35 unforced errors in total while FEU managed to limit their errors at 23 which is half of their mistakes against the defending champions, De La Salle University in their last match.

Lady Tamaraws’ head coach George Pascua was happy about the performance of her girls especially after minimizing their unforced errors.

“Na-lessen naman yung errors [and] na-meet din naman yung expectations namin,” he said.

FEU will next face the winless University of the East Lady Warriors while UP will face their Katipunan rival Ateneo De Manila University Lady Eagles.

Valentine’s heartbreak: UP gets rejected by Adamson

Photo by Luisa Morales

Text by Denver Del Rosario

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons suffered heartbreak today as they crumbled against the Adamson University (AdU) Lady Falcons in three sets, 9-25, 25-27, 20-25, in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

The Diliman squad underperformed throughout the game, getting overpowered by the Lady Falcons both in scoring and non-scoring departments.

Team captain Diana Carlos finished as the only Lady Maroon scoring double digits with 12 points.

On the other hand, Mylene Paat and Jema Galanza led the Lady Falcons with 15 and 14 points respectively. It was a team effort for Adamson with four players scoring double digits.

Blowout opening set

UP suffered from the get-go as the three-all mark saw a 12-point run from Adamson, including five service aces by Paat to take the dominating lead, 3-15.

The San Marcelino squad proved relentless in their offense against the Lady Maroons, with Galanza and Chiara Permentilla collaborating for the lead, 7-21.

A service ace by Paat closed the set for Adamson, with UP only achieving a single digit score, 9-25.

Tighter second set

The Lady Maroons refused to back down in the second, registering four deadlocks before the first technical timeout, 6-8, in favor of Adamson.

The Lady Falcons tried to pull away midway into the set, 13-18, courtesy of attacks by Galanza and aces by Joy Dacoron.

However, UP staged a comeback as they tied the game at 18, courtesy of errors by the Lady Falcons and aces by substitute setter Rem Cailing.

From that point, both teams saw seven deadlocks as they extended the set, 25-all. However, a drop by Galanza and an attacking error by Isa Molde ended the set, 25-27 to give Adamson a dominating 2-0 lead.

Falling short

The third set started close, with UP only behind by one point going into the first technical timeout, 7-8.

Heavy serves by the Lady Falcons got them ahead of the Lady Maroons going into the second technical timeout, 14-16.

The Diliman squad eventually lost steam at the end, with the set and the match concluded with an attacking error by Marian Buitre, 20-25.

Defense and confidence woes

The Lady Maroons struggled in their defense throughout the game, only registering 39% in the digging department compared to Adamson’s 51%.

The Diliman team also achieved only 31% in their reception, while the Lady Falcons registered 49%.

Coach Godfrey Okumu attributed the team’s dismal performance to the lack of confidence he observed during the game.

“The players lost confidence in the first set. This type of thing, we cannot train—we train skills,” he said. “We have to play strong and learn to relax, but it seems like it takes time for them to adjust as well.”

Okumu hopes his team learns from the loss to play better in the following games.

“If we can pass well, we’d have good offense,” he said. “I hope with time we become stronger and get better results.”

With the loss, UP loses ground in the team rankings with a 1-2 win-loss card.

The Lady Maroons will try to redeem themselves against the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws this Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Arena.