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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.

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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.

“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

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Para sa malaya at mapagpalayang pamamahayag. Executive Editor, TomasinoWeb.

#TWenty

#TWenty: The 2017 TomasinoWeb Year-ender

2016 was a merely a teaser for​ more terrible things to come—but 2017 was also the year we fought back.

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A letter from the editor

To say that 2017 was a challenging year is an understatement: 2017 was a terrible year—which is honestly funny, considering how just exactly a year ago, we were all probably tweeting how 2016 was the #WorstYearEver (it’s Twitter; sharper expletives are welcome).

If anything, the past year was merely a teaser for worse things to come, and it seems that 2017 picked up where 2016 left off: The Growling Tigers continued their dismal performance in the UAAP, securing only a single win this season; the government’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs continue to claim the lives of thousands, even teenagers; and hazing has killed another student, and this time, it’s a Thomasian—all while the Dutertes enjoy lavish photoshoots in the Malacañang.

Mocha Uson is now an actual government official (which, more or less, gives legitimacy to her blatant misinformation frenzy), martial law is in full swing in Mindanao after a series of terror attacks, and candidates who lost to abstentions in the student council elections have threatened to take over the vacant posts.

It was a terrible year, but it was also the year we fought back.

A hashtag has given sexual harassment victims a voice to decry and expose abusers. Thousands marched in the streets of Manila last Sept. 21 to protest the government’s inhumane drug operations and harassment of farmer and indigenous communities. Mental health advocates also fought the stigma surrounding mental health conditions with a hashtag and Ariana Grande showed the world that we could respond to terrorism with love and solidarity.

It’s undeniable that we are living in dangerous times—and that we are facing even more challenging times ahead. Despite all the things we hated this year, we are here, on the last day of the year, hoping that we could fight our way through 2018 like we did this 2017.

With that, I now present to you the top 20 people, issues, events, and trends that defined the spirit of 2017.

My comrades, Thomasians, Filipinos, netizens: Here is #TWenty.

The fight continues,
Philip Jamilla

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SHS music org is reigning champion in 2017 Musikapella

Selah also bagged four other awards in this year’s Musikapella.

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Aside from the championship, Selah bagged four other awards. Photo courtesy of Musikapella, grabbed from Selah’s Facebook page.

With enchanting voices that mesmerized crowds, UST Senior High School’s Selah brought home the championship crown in this year’s Musikapella last Saturday, Nov. 25 at the AFP Theatre.

With the theme, “A Tribute to Paskong Pilipino,” Selah serenaded the people with Simbang Gabi as part of their contest piece, along with their choice piece, Kampana ng Simbahan.

Aside from the championship, Selah bagged four other awards: The People’s Choice Award, Sulyap ng Musika 2017 Winner, Best Interpretation of Choice Piece, and Best Interpretation of Contest Piece.

Triumph would not come without sacrifice: Balancing academics along with long excruciating hours of chorale training with their new choirmaster, Mark Raeniel Agpasa, Selah proved that no matter what hurdles they face, they will come emerge victorious.

President Veronica Therese Rivera narrated their journey in an exclusive online interview with TomasinoWeb.

“As an organization, Selah felt that there were unsaid expectations to excel, to make a name for UST Senior High School, since this was the first ever inter-school competition joined by UST SHS Selah,” Rivera said.

The group felt the need to step up as two other UST SHS organizations, dance troupe Galvanize and performing arts group Singtala, have already made a name in their respective fields.

But all in all, while winning was an ideal goal, Rivera stated that Selah wanted to do their best in the competition and perform their hearts out, even if that meant winning merely one award that night, as they valued the solidarity and community that Selah had brought with them.

Selah’s new choirmaster was overwhelmed with the support the Thomasian community gave them.

“Having that much likes and shares in social media sends a strong message — that people believe in Selah, that there are literally thousands of people who are part of Selah,” Agpasa said.

Musikapella is an annual choir competition and fundraising event for the University of the Philippines Economics Society Scholarship Fund.

Watch Selah’s winning performance below:

by Mykel Alen Tan

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The art that saves

Here’s what you missed at UNESCO Club’s INDIE+GENIUS: Indie Night for Indigenous People.

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MUSIKAT performs on INDIE+GENIUS: Indie Night for Indigenous People, a benefit concert organized by the UST UNESCO Club for the indigenous peoples of Tarlac. Photo by Earl Balce/TomasinoWeb.

The art saves the heart and soul — but through UST UNESCO Club’s INDIE+GENIUS: Indie Night for Indigenous People at the Engineering Concert Hall last Wednesday Nov. 29, art also saves the education and literacy of the indigenous peoples (IP) of Tarlac.

The concert kicked off as MUSIKAT serenaded the crowd with songs popular in the local music scene such as Kathang Isip by Ben & Ben, and June by Oh! Flamingo.

Raphael Sanchez from the UST UNESCO Club also performed Sila by SUD, and Treat You Right by TJ Monterde.

Students from the Faculty of Arts and Letters performed heart-wrenching spoken word poetry pieces.

Legal Management junior Rey Rebollos performed a piece on love and heartbreaks — of moving on and acceptance of the past.

Meanwhile, Communication Arts sophomore Manisha Mirchandani showed her painful journey from being apart from her family and finding her home within her.

Brimming with sentiments and advocacy, Louise Meets and Henri Igna from Words Anonymous also showcased their prowess in evoking emotions through poetry.

Meets’ performance was about heartbreak, separation, brokenness, healing, and self-acceptance.

“We kept naming it forever. Kept trying to water the garden that blooms behind our home even when nothing grew,” Louise Meets said on her piece, Museum of Broken Things.

And as for Igna, home is not a place: It is the person you hold dear.

“Pag hinto ng taxing sinasakyan ko, sa tapat ng kinatatayuan mo, sisigaw ako ng “”Manong! Para. Nakauwi na ako,”” Igna said in his piece, Taxi.

Their last performance was a collaborative piece that they had also performed during this year’s Pride March. It portrays a vibrant future for homosexuals where they can raise their own children and be accepted by society, testifying that their love are real. Both artists fight for equality, rights, and acceptance of the LGBTQIAP+ community.

In collaboration with various artists, the UST UNESCO Club organized INDIE+GENIUS as a charity concert to provide the basic necessities for education for IPs in Tarlac, asking the audience and advocates to donate a notebook and two pencils as their entrance pass.

“[We want] to help build literate indigenous communities through education. Pwede pa [sila] magdonate ng notebooks and pencils sa org room namin sa Tan Yan Kee Student Center Room 3N,” Alyssa Rafael, the director for education of UST UNESCO, told TomasinoWeb.

Rafael also encourages everyone to join them in their upcoming outreach program, “Halubilo” for the benefit of the indigenous community in Tarlac.

“Anyone can join us. They can contact us through our Facebook and Twitter accounts or pwede din sila dumaan sa org room para magtanong,” she urged.

by Lanz Nathan Hernandez

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