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Never again to martial law?

“‘Di lamang kwento ng mga Marcos at Aquino ang Martial Law […] ito ay kwento ng sambayanang Pilipino,” historian Michael Charleston Chua said.



Militant groups gather around the “Rody’s Cube” effigy at Mendiola during the National Day of Protest, Sept. 21. Photo by Audrey Janelle Fontilla/TomasinoWeb.

“History repeats itself” is very much an overused — if not, often erroneous — saying.

However, for those who were lucky to survive the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos, it seemed like the current administration is replicating what happened 45 years ago.

It was this agitation that led activists from various sectors to take to the streets last Sept. 21 not only to commemorate the anniversary of Marcos’s proclamation of martial law in 1972, but also because they are seeing the same pattern in President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

With his declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the streak of various human rights violations committed in the name of his anti-drug campaign and even a threat of nationwide martial law, activists are claiming that Duterte is closely following Marcos’s footsteps.

In the forum “What Now? Martial Law: Yesterday and Today” last Sept. 26, a historian, a Martial Law-era survivor and activist, and a Lumad volunteer teacher gave their insights on the events of both past and present to assess if the Philippines is indeed leading to another dictatorship.

De La Salle University historian and lecturer Michael Charleston Chua discusses the events that led to Marcos’s declaration of martial law. Photo by Christel Maliksi/TomasinoWeb.

Beyond Marcos and Aquino

Martial Law, for historian and lecturer Michael Charleston Chua, was a product of various factors both inside and outside the country — but he claims that a large portion of it was driven by Marcos’s own delusion of power.

“There is nothing as successful as success,” Chua read from one of the late dictator’s entries after successfully declaring martial law.

He also added that the Marcoses “were great in perpetuating themselves in the mind[s] of the people” by building numerous public infrastructures.

Thus, Chua said, Filipinos developed different perspectives based on what they experienced, with some favorably viewing the Marcos regime as an era of peace and order.

However, the lecturer urged Thomasians to also consider the other side of the story, particularly the stories of those who were killed fighting for the country’s democracy.

“[The] EDSA [People Power Revolution] was not [a] four-day peaceful revolution: It is only the highlight, the climax, of a 14-year struggle,” Chua said.

However, he also encouraged the youth to look beyond binaries, particularly those concerning the Martial Law era.

“Hindi lamang kwento ng mga Marcos at Aquino ang Martial Law at People Power; ito ay kwento ng sambayanang Pilipino.”

Martial law activist and playwright Bonifacio Ilagan discusses his experiences during the Marcos regime. Photo by Christel Maliksi/TomasinoWeb.

Martial Law then and now

Meanwhile, for Martial Law activist and Palanca Award-winning playwright Bonifacio Ilagan — whose struggle during the Marcos regime was portrayed by actor Alden Richards in the recent GMA documentary “Alaala” — very little has changed since then.

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“Yung iilang naghahari noon, sila pa rin ang naghahari ngayon,” Ilagan said.

Ilagan recounted his life as as student in UP Diliman during the years leading up to martial law, as well as how he was driven underground and subsequently arrested in 1974 where he was subjected by the Philippine Constabulary to different forms of torture.

Freed in 1976, he continued to be involved in the activist movement after his sister, Rizalina, disappeared and was never found shortly after he was freed.

Ilagan’s sister is just one of the many cases of forced disappearances — or desaparecidos — during the Marcos regime.

The activist also supplemented Chua’s historical background, saying that similar events during Marcos’s regime are becoming prominent again under Duterte’s administration.

“Ang best practices ng martial law ang ginagawa pa rin ngayon. Extrajudicial killings, one of the best practices,” Ilagan lamented.

Nonetheless, he also called on the youth to act against Duterte’s “creeping tyranny” and the revising of Martial Law era history.

“Nasa [kabataan] ang hamon upang pigilan ang pagbabaliktad sa kasaysayan. Sana ‘wag niyong biguin ang ating bayan.”

John Romero, a volunteer teacher of the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services, also recounted his experiences of martial law in Mindanao and on how it has affected him and the Lumad communities.

Romero lamented that even before the declaration of martial law, increased military presence in Lumad communities are hindering the right of Lumad children to education.

The military has repeatedly claimed that Lumad schools are being run by the New People’s Army (NPA). However, Romero denied these allegations.

“Ang mga Lumad ay biktima rin ng pangkakamkam ng mga lupa […] even private companies are taking the opportunity na walang edukasyon ang ating mga katutubo,” Romero said, detailing how mining companies are using private armies to drive indigenous peoples away from their ancestral lands.

With Duterte’s open threats to bomb Lumad schools, Romero fears that the attacks on their communities will worsen.

“Kailangan na kailangan ng mga Lumad ngayon ang edukasyon kasi kung wala, vulnerable sila sa attacks ng militar,” Romero said.

However, the volunteer teacher was steadfast, saying that being a teacher is his form of “resistance.”

“Kapag may crisis, sooner or later, may resistance. At ito ang porma ko, ang pagtuturo sa kabataang Lumad.”—with Michellene Joy Camcam



Science, Commerce bets lead this year’s TYAA

College of Science’s Lorenzo Montes and College of Commerce and Business Administration’s Manjit Kaur Singh topped candidates from different faculties and colleges in this year’s Thomasian Youth Ambassador and Ambassadress.



Photo by Miguel Yap/TomasinoWeb.

Representatives from the College of Science and the College of Commerce and Business Administration led this year’s set of Thomasian Youth Ambassadors and Ambassadresses (TYAA) at the Plaza Mayor Saturday last week.

Science’s Lorenzo Montes and Commerce’s Manjit Kaur Singh topped candidates from different faculties and colleges, however, the Student Organizations Coordinating Council (SOCC) announced that all contestants would share the same title of “Thomasian Youth Ambassador and Ambassadress” of their respective colleges.

“For this year po, the TYAA […] focused more on molding the student to be an ambassador and ambassadress of UST since [he or she] adopts the new program which is the formation program,” said Jasper Limon, SOCC Vice President for Service Assurance.

Limon said the program that they developed this year helped the contestants to bond more.

“Nakakatuwa na inaaccept nila yung formation at [nakita ko] mas naging family, mas naging less competiton [at] mas nag step-up yung bawat isa,” he said.

Faculty of Arts and Letters’ Christian Josef Patacsil and Alfredo M. Velayo – College of Accountancy’s Elaine Pineda bagged the Congeniality award. Montes and Singh nailed Best in Advocacy Presentation.

Faculty of Pharmacy’s bets Jasmine Norleen Addun and Harold William Tan owned the Best in Cultural Attire award. Tan and Science’s Alyssa Jasmin Perez snatched the Thomasian Youth for Public Relations.

College of Fine Arts and Design’s Justin Aaron Castro and Faculty og Engineering’s Mary Chile Balana were hailed as Thomasian Youth for Community Development.

TYAA is an annual pageant organized by the SOCC which seeks Thomasians who would represent the University in leading projects and activities for a specific advocacy.N.A. Perez


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The unknown hands of Philippine cinema

“It’s wrong. Dapat iisa lang ang pelikula, dapat hindi siya divided [into “mainstream” and “indie”] kasi strategy ‘yan to segregate a product na hindi nila gawa,” veteran filmmaker Ato Bautista said.



Marc Benjie Paulino/TomasinoWeb.

I was jittery—because first, it’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed in an unfamiliar place, Miriam College, with lots of trees and hills, and where the only men other than an us are either security guards or professors; and second, with my love for cinema, I cannot help feeling ecstatic to hear from the esteemed speakers from MCinema’s CinemaTALKgraphy.

The moment we stepped through the lecture hall, Ato Bautista’s words regarding how the classification between indie and mainstream movies divide the Philippine cinema stuck to me.

“It’s wrong. Dapat iisa lang ang pelikula, dapat hindi siya divided kasi strategy ‘yan to segregate a product na hindi nila gawa,” Bautista said.

An alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas, Bautista is a veteran director whose prowess lies with the Philippine thriller genre, and yet Bautista remains unknown to his fellow Filipinos despite being a renowned filmmaker overseas.

“You don’t know me or any of my films and tanggap namin ‘yan. It’s a price we are willing to pay, as ‘indie’ filmmakers,” Bautista said.

He also expressed his frustration on how the industry of the Philippine cinema lags behind despite being the first country in Asia to form a film studio, citing that one of the major factors of our slow progress is the monopolization of the big studios that courts the mainstream audience.

“Filmmakers make films that courts, mga pelikula na [ginawa] para ligawan ang mainstream,” he added, “lagi natin kino-compare yung kung anong meron tayo sa ibang bansa [kahit] ibang-iba yung kultura sa atin. Meron tayong sariling problema and kung ano yung solusyon nila, hindi necessarily ‘yun ang solusyon sa atin.”

Still, Bautista was hopeful that Philippine cinema will improve—vowing to continue crafting indie movies so that the consciousness of the audience does not get monotonous.

Through his eyes, I saw desperate hope: Bautista still has faith in the future filmmakers sitting in front of him; with fire burning in his eyes, I saw his eagerness to impart the flame not only through us, but also to the whole Filipino audience.  

And now with the advent of technology, Elaine Lozano narrated how difficult it was to make movies then and how much the technology used in filmmaking has changed.

“Before, to be able to manage a single camera, you need four people, sometimes five […] But now, you can operate with one camera. Ang dali gumawa ng pelikula ngayon because it’s so convenient.”

It was funny twist of faith—Lozano was on her journey to be an actress that she even became the understudy for the role of Kim in Miss Saigon from the same batch as Lea Salonga. However, instead of being the one basking in the spotlight, she became the one who worked wonders behind the scene.

Today, she is a veteran producer in the industry, where her works garnered fame such as Ang Panday and Manila Kingpin.

Lozano began her filmmaking journey with an Arri 435 camera where back in the days, four minutes of negatives were worth 7,000 pesos and the budget for film rolls alone peaked at 250,000 pesos. In comparison, only three years ago, Elaine produced a movie for 350,000 pesos.

Producing movies are now cheaper, but she expressed her distaste in the industry since  people tend to be so tight in the budgets.

“Kita mong nangamatay na yung mga direktor, mga production manager. That’s really stressful!” She added, “I was line producing it, I was production manager, I was production designer, and make-up artist. People are going down to this level of filmmaking [and] I don’t know why! To prove a point?”

Producers and directors can earn millions with one film. The less money is spent, the more the producers earn from it–yet as the other part profits tremendously,  the actors and the production team suffers from its limited budget. However, amidst all the difficulties and risks, it’s still all worth it.

“ I love this job,” she added, “if you’re gonna do something, you have to love it.”

I went home reflecting on what I have  learned: Elaine Lozano talking about how love transcends barriers, how love pushes you to do great things; and Ato Bautista, telling us that we have to keep on doing what we love, no matter the risks.

How amazing it was to hear just how passionate these people are, that, when tasked to deliver a talk about the evolution of cinema, they told us not just how cinema changed over the years, but how cinema changed them.

Passion pushes people to greater heights—it takes you to places that not even your imagination can breach. With their fire and immense love for their craft, Bautista and Lozano kindled a greater flame within their audience, hoping that their fire can fuel the Philippine cinema to a far more greater destination through the budding filmmakers sitting here with me.


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Marc Henrich Go: Lines and photos

(UPDATED Feb. 26, 12:30 p.m.) “Growing up in a family of engineers, Marc Henrich Go always thought he will tread the same path.” Get to know the Thomasian who topped the January 2018 architecture boards.



(UPDATED Feb. 26, 12:30 p.m.) To be able to say that you are making a good living out of something you are passionate of is rare; we are often taught that we simply cannot have one with the other— another must be sacrificed, and such is often the case with the sciences and the arts.  

Growing up in a family of engineers, Marc Henrich Go always thought he will tread the same path since at such a young age, he was already exposed to engineering’s technicalities and he was also immersed in construction sites.

And this 2018, Marc topped the board exams. Not for engineering, but for architecture.

“I realised that I was also inclined to the artistic aspects as much as the technical portions. Since architecture tackles both the arts and sciences, I felt and still feel that it’s a good fit for me. Now, I am the first architect in the family, and I am very happy because of that,” the new architect shared to an interview with TomasinoWeb.

His love for the arts manifested itself early on. While in high school, Go took it upon himself to be their family’s official photographer during trips, and he would often find himself capturing the scenery via his mobile phone. Upon graduation, his parents gifted him with his first camera, and this started his journey as a photographer for Vision Magazine, the official collegiate publication of the College of Architecture.

From there, he took photography more seriously and would later on establish, along with fellow alum Paul Quiambao, Fotomasino, and later on becoming the guild’s president. It was after meeting photographers like Quiambao and other lensmen such as Jilson Tiu, Ezra Acayan, Christian de Leon, and many more during his senior year when he contemplated on the concept of a group dedicated to the art of photography.

“I thought to myself, ‘if we have this much talent and potential in the University working on our own, what more could we achieve if we have a group wherein like-minded photographers share and learn from one another?’ That was the reason Paul Quiambao and I founded Fotomasino: To create an environment conducive to creativity, learning, and inspiration in the field of photography,” Go said.

He credits being a good architect for having photography skills. This complements how he believes that his training and discipline in architecture is what honed his eye for photography. The goal for him now is to pursue both side by side.

Having to balance both while he was in the University, however, proved to be a challenge since both required tremendous time and effort. UST’s College of Architecture features rigorous training meant to keep their students on their toes. They are given mock board exams during their third and fifth years, which they are required to pass if they want to move up to the next level.

“During our actual review, the lessons would have been more familiar, and we would already have had created our personal system on how to tackle the load,” Go recalled. In his case, that system he created for himself triumphed despite already having a loaded schedule. As they always say, you end up doing everything you can for the things you are passionate about.

Now, Go is planning to continue his work with Budji + Royal Architecture + Design firm of which he has spent the past two years with and has grown with personally. He has done work for Drs. Vicki Belo and Hayden Kho, two fellow Thomasian alumni whom he was actually with upon finding out he had topped the boards.

“We were in a wedding of a common friend where I was asked to do the photographs of the welcome dinner in Tagaytay,” Go recounted. “I noticed a call from a batchmate of mine; she called me up to congratulate me. I was very excited to check if I passed the exam, and was officially an architect. But to my biggest surprise, she told me I was a top notcher, and the top 1 nonetheless! I wouldn’t believe her because the list might be edited! I had to check several sources before I actually believed it.”

He further reminisced by saying that the groom and bride actually told him to stop shooting for a while to savor the moment.

When asked if he was expecting to top the boards, the architect explained how every person probably begins their journey hoping to finish the exams in first place. As the load got heavier, however, he found himself doubtful. It was time to be realistic, he eventually thought. The goal went from topping the board to simply passing, but that did not stop him from pushing himself.

“I reviewed day and night, only stopping to sleep, eat, use the toilet with the more achievable goal of just passing the exams in mind,” Go added, “but something at the back or my mind was always pushing myself to do better. If you do your best then you will always find contentment no matter the result. I think topping was just a bonus to passing the exam.”

And a bonus it was. Go graduated back in 2014, nearly exiting the Arch of the Centuries with every college student’s much coveted label: Cum laude. He missed the required grade point average by just 0.1 percent, but it motivated him to go the extra mile.

To every aspiring architect out there currently enduring a sleepless night filled with plates, Go had this to say: “Don’t let your past disappointments determine your future successes. Make them stepping stones to achieving your full potential.”

ERRATUM: Marc Henrich Go’s name was misspelled as “Mark.” The article has since been updated. We apologize for the error.

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