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A tale of orientalism: Western media’s obsession with the dark side of K-pop

The dark side of K-pop, or another internalized xenophobic headline that piques everyone’s interest, has a lot more to reveal about how Western media dehumanizes the K-pop industry into a vacuum of peculiarity.

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

Inscribed on popular Reddit forums and headlines are the words, ‘the dark side of K-pop,’ or ‘the real truth about K-pop.’ I thought my woke awakening started when I consumed these circle-jerk articles. But frankly, it only fed my echo chambers. 

Some locals, or those who are not into K-pop, like to resentfully rant that K-pop fans are fanatics. We’re collectively worshiping and spending money on weird Asian music, with humans that easily get replaced. Plenty of YouTubers and reporters craft a deep sociological analysis of how terrifying it must be to live that realitya reverie of perfectionand thank how we don’t have to experience that. 

And in truth, to give them enough credit, they’re not wrong in covering existent issues. There are reasons why it has a lot of articles. Disturbing sasaengs, strict diets, cultural appropriation, cancel culture, slave contracts, capitalist control, severe beauty standards, stigmatized mental health are among its complex problems. 

However, certain journalistic angles selectively take fractions and pieces of the story to misrepresent the whole industry. I, too, have been complicit in doing so. But there is a thin veil between the exploitation of idols and these angles by the media that should be discussed.  

The dark side of K-pop, or another internalized xenophobic headline that piques everyone’s interest, has a lot more to reveal about how Western media dehumanizes the K-pop industry into a vacuum of peculiarity.

Modern yellow peril and internalized racism 

Screengrabs from Chinese Professor, k-pop vs. orientalism, Google Images, Cloud Atlas

Trigger warning: Mentions of abuse and suicide

The K-pop industry is always “othered” as a bad place to be in as if other entertainment industries in the world are innocent of the same issues. Not only are its microaggressions rampant in the microcosm of South Korea, but it also applies to the vast majority of Asia and non-white regions. 

There is a term that may explain why Asia and the K-pop community are feminized as inferior and mystifying for the wrong reasons. 

Orientalism, as popularized by professor Edward Said in the 19th century, refers to how Europe was successful in depicting Asia and the Middle East into the so-called Orient, a believable and seizable entity to justify their superior powers over its exoticness and primitivity. In K-pop, when their groups, places, and cultures are pressed on a threshold for being different and weird, orientalism materializes. 

Let’s face it. We thought girl group aespa’s artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality concept were strange when they were first introduced to us. Netizens expressed their initial concerns about having perfect digital counterparts that were prone to sexualization, objectification while even possibly promoting body dysmorphia. 

But looking at their creative direction now, the group has been thriving musically in streams and trends while nothing precarious or life-threatening has taken place. In fact, their sensational and futuristic songs like ‘Next Level’ have marked a revolutionary start for fourth-generation K-pop. And to those fans who have been in K-pop for quite some time, SM’s unique concepts aren’t that shocking. 

Not just aespa’s digital counterparts, but a lot of K-pop’s computer-generated imagery (CGI) and production sets match the characters and themes in cyberspace movies like Blade Runner, Ex Machina, and Cloud Atlas. So it’s no wonder when outsiders let too much of these parallelisms form the wrong interpretations in covering stories about K-pop. 

“Driving through Seoul is kind of like driving through the future. It’s a bit sci-fi, it’s a bit Blade Runner, ” journalist Charlet Duboc likened in the VICE Investigates: K-pop Machine documentary. 

But YouTuber Elliot Sang (bby gang mag) critiqued Duboc’s journalistic approach as prejudicial seeing how it equated the K-pop industry to a future with synthetic humans in dystopian settings. To further the narrative, the episode was complemented with mysterious music and the journalist’s uneasy and tense attitude towards harmless and normal fans, to fantastically elevate the horrors of K-pop. But it’s not like they’re in a murder documentary. 

This exaggerated fright Western media tends to employ in modern settings is found in techno-orientalism, the reimagination of Asia in speculative fiction. One that aestheticizes an Asianized future with neon signs taken over by cyborgs in the outskirts of cities mirroring Seoul, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. With aespa’s cyber-core concept, it’s unavoidable to identify them with futuristic imageries. But the West tends to insinuate harmful subtexts and myths that K-pop and Asia have utopian visions and undertones the world should be fearful of. 

Notice how disaster or war films tend to villainize Asians as unfeeling masterminds, martial arts prowesses, nerds, hackers, sexualized, feminized machines with the infamous yellow filter. Popular clichés include: North Korea nuking the world, Middle Easterns or Russians as the grotesque war criminals, China’s communist agenda dominating other countries, whereas America would be the zero to hero in the White House. Whether they’re intentional or unintentional jabs by directors and writers, the tropes reinforce false ideas by fetishizing and reducing a race as sly and unfeeling humans. 

Akin to how Asians are characterized as robotic and cold, the same trick applies to screenshots and clips of an idol not being loud or expressive for a second, to make them appear more detached and automated. Context is either dramatized or twisted because they can be lively in other interviews and variety shows. Because news flash: moods are part of being human and they are human. But those are buried to fit a craftier narrative. 

Viewing and pitying idols as manufactured products simply forced to cog as machines are  prime examples of how the West gravitates towards binaries and othering: their “better” ideas of individualism and liberation against Asia’s “alienating” pressure on collectivism and organization. Although these ideas are arguably accurate to some extent, both have downsides, and they become misguided and hyperbolic tropes that don’t just play out within the parameters of the silver screens or books. 

Futurism would be sleek and spunky when done in Western cultures. Exhibit A: Elon Musk. But why is it creepy and “too much” when associated with Asians? Orientalism is not just an academic propositionit tells us what power imbalance and stereotypes do, and how they permeate our everyday lives. For example, these microaggressions that anesthetize society from seeing these idols as humans are: saying how they’re a copy of one another, giving them racist nicknames, making homophobic remarks, mocking lyrics, among the like. 

Orientalism proves the harm done by dominant groups in using preconceived notions to warp the views of many. One of the largest scandals that struck the K-pop industry was the 2019 Burning Sun sex scandal. Western articles often frame this angle as the event that tainted the innocent image of K-pop, as though the whole industry carries this sin. Even worse, common articles thrive on shock value, like oversimplifying the deaths of Goo Hara, Jonghyun, and Sulli. It’s incredibly off-putting and disrespectful. It is one thing to prove how a group of people’s words and actions bleed, but it is also another to pour scorn by sensationalizing their deaths as the main arguments to distort the whole K-pop community.  

Western validation is not the ruler  

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Bagging multiple awards in the States, collaborations with Western artists, and performing on American shows are all exciting. Idols and celebrities have rightfully earned the hype and love they’re receiving after years of hard work. In fact, I binge watch these ‘BTS and BLACKPINK being chaotic in the States for 3 minutes’ type of videos every time I have a rough day. So seeing them have a blast on stage, make award speeches, interact with new folks, and try new things is a thrill. 

There’s nothing wrong with cultural exchange and more opportunities but sometimes we can’t help but feel like a phase. 

“Cultural validation from the West and mega-profits fuels the engine of U.S imperialism and the K-pop industry,” argued Arianne Naranjo and Cezar Solomon in Next Level K-Pop: Heightened Capitalism from U.S Imperialism

Despite Parasite making history as the first Asian film to win an Oscar, four Oscars even, its popularity declined a month after its Oscar acceptance. “Seeing my culture being tossed in and out of style, sometimes I can’t help but think: To Western society, am I just a trend?” Kerrie Liang metaphorized the real parasites that occur when visitors come and go in the Western film industry. 

When viewers cringed at the exaggerated portrayal of the white VIPs in Squid Game, some rationalized that regardless of whether it was due to bad script or delivery, it was ironically successful in turning the tables, to show that Asians saw Americans as boisterous. When American outlets portray K-pop as a scripted and cultish universe filled with exploited celebrities and outlets, they seemingly skip the part where their own entertainment industry isn’t really the American dream people deem it as. 

The West is not the sole measure for what makes an ethical and admirable industry. Hollywood and Western shows have a history of protecting multiple predators who committed sexual harassment and child abuse like artist Chris Brown, Dance Moms’ dance teacher Abby Lee Miller, and iCarly and Victorious’ producer Dan Schneider. American media and the paparazzi also have a horrible cycle of mistreating female celebrities and their identity once they break free from their branded image (e.g. Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, Megan Fox, Miley Cyrus). They also have normalized typecasting, whitewashing, inclusion and diversity problems, gender-based bias, among a long list of legal and unheard issues. 

There is a dark side to every industry, not just K-pop. My point is how society is easily influenced by the West’s arbitrary angles in hypocritically pinning the blame and cringe on the K-pop industry and non-Western cultures. What is there to look forward to in their English remakes if their views on our own culture and identity are still stereotypical and damaging? 

Continue to like K-pop, but hold those accountable 

Screengrabs from SBS and MBC and VICE Investigates – K-pop Machine

Under no circumstances are the K-pop industry’s issues okay, nor is it fine to distance ourselves from its flaws and the idols and workers that suffer from its misdeeds. Moreover, the entire Western media is not guilty of perpetuating harmful exogenous notions on K-pop. 

There are a lot of journalists who still have nuanced, credible, and unprejudiced ways of documenting and presenting issues. Duboc was still able to cover problems in the K-pop industry such as drug trafficking and the rocky road in becoming an idol. But both issues the K-pop industry’s exploitation and the xenophobic angles of Western media should be held accountable. 

Non-minorities should avoid inserting themselves as the main characters in examining the narrative to only confirm their own internalized biases and dangerously influence a susceptible audience. 

A lot of fans are learning and growing; initiating discourse and undoing the stigma about the K-pop community, even starting videos, pages, and threads and coordinating with credible experts, people behind the scenes, and academics. Idols also advocate, translating in the meanings and themes of their songs. 

BTS has enjoined the call for #StopAsianHate in 2021, sharing their experience with racial discrimination, and even encapsulating mental health and the sign of times in ‘Life Goes On’ to social critique and protest songs like ‘Go Go’ and ‘Not Today.’ Sunmi’s ‘Noir’ reveals the duplicity of social media and false validation, and CLC has a relevant message about consent in ‘No,’ with so much more songs. 

Aside from the artists, the agencies and companies are gradually learning how to do better in protecting the welfare of their artists, such as HYBE and JYP, by being more understanding and receptive towards idols and their health breaks. But unfortunately, these fade into the horizon, away from the dominant narrative because we’re too distracted by the same stories exaggerating nothing but the brute of fandoms and companies. 

We’re all here for music, films, and entertainment at the end of the day. K-pop, as well as non-American industries, shouldn’t be framed as bizarre or exotic. It’s like every other industry out there with its own culmination of stories, music, and art to share. 

One can still be a Swiftie while recognizing Taylor’s white feminism. One can still be a K-pop fan while calling out a company that mistreats their staff and groups. One can still be a K-pop fan and not be in denial when their bias makes a mistake. 

So continue to bring your photocards on lunch dates, pretend you’re on award shows at 2 a.m, analyze the KWANGYA lore, and belt those high notes while still having these important conversations on improvement and accountability.

Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro
Blogs Editor, Blogs Writer | + posts

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2022 Elections Playlist: Tayo ang Kasaysayan

Sa darating na halalan, iboto ang alam mong titindig para sa karapatan nating lahat.

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

Sa dinami-rami ng mga pangyayaring nagdaan sa loob ng anim na taon sa ilalim ng administrasyong Duterte, hindi na lamang ito isang karapatan. Responsibilidad na natin ang pagboto. Kahit sino ka man, kahit anuman ang estado mo sa buhay, kailangan mong bumoto. Hindi lamang para sa kinabukasan mo, ngunit pati na rin sa kinabukasan ng mga taong nasa paligid mo.

Para sa darating na halalan, gumawa ang TomasinoWeb ng 2022 elections playlist kung saan mapapakinggan ang mga kanta ng Eraserheads kasama sila Francis Magalona, Gloc 9, Ebe Dancel, at iba pang mga pangalan sa larangan ng OPM. Hanapin ang liwanag sa dilim sa mga tanyag na kanta ngayong darating na eleksyon. 

Iboto ang alam mong titindig para sa karapatan nating lahat. Nagkamali man noon sa pagpili ng mga pinuno, ito ang pagkakataon upang ihalal ang tunay na nararapat. Tandaan na nasa atin ang panahon.

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It’s time we talk about fetishization in BLs

There and then, when the object of production becomes subsumed into the gaze of only those who do not own the narrative and, by extension, to sell under the status quo, these stories translate to sheer fetishism. Same-sex relationships are only seen under stereotypes and cookie-cutter characteristics. 

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

In the early days of lockdown, everyone was strapped in their homes for what would become a global health crisis. 

With time ticking ever so slowly while the world seems to collapse, people turned to entertainment to catch slivers of hope and in a time when our feelings swing unabated from anxious to sad, to fearful, to bored.

As I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one afternoon, I chanced upon this post about two young, good-looking Thai best friends (later, I learned that they are apparently love interests). People in the replies were gushing over them, of course, I had to poke around. I let it rest in my mind, at first, going on with my usual routinary, monotonous day in quarantine.

A week passed by and Bright and Win, “two best friends”, or, lovers’ names, kept horning in my feed, even on Facebook. Friends, through direct messages, kept telling me about it as well; how it was so refreshing to see a queer love story on a mainstream platform with so many fans talking about it. To put an end to all these virtual pressures, I had to check it out myself. In short, I fell into the Boys’ Love series wave.

I finished binge-watching one BL series after another. Sometimes, I’d sandwich one show with another to speed up my viewing time. Often, I’d pair it with films and other forms of content.

For me, after watching BLs, apart from the usual kilig and jitters, I feel a sense of novelty. Yet somehow I still feel discontented with what I saw. In other words, unrepresented. But before I take a deeper dive into the world of BL, I think it’s good to have a quick history lesson about it.

From yaoi to BL

Screengrab from MyAnimeList

The origins of the BL phenomenon as well as its roots as a literary genre come from Japan — primarily in its anime and manga literature — that thematizes young male homoeroticism between two men. 

Commonly referred to as “yaoi,” the genre began as fan works written by female fans from a personal interest to push the boundaries of comics at the time. 

In fact, the literary genre has been so that the term fujoshi, which translates literally to “rotten girls,” or female anime fans who enjoy and often obsess with male-to-male romantic relationships in the works came to light. This already gives us an idea how this grew as a spillover effect to the current forms of BL not only in Japan but also Thailand, China, and the Philippines. 

In its early days, it presented only fan works showcasing platonic relationships between male characters in the form of parodies. The magazine June is attributed by literary and media scholars to be the earliest iteration of the theme since it was one of the first magazines that published male-on-male tanbi literature in 1978. 

As time progressed, the proliferation of Japanese yaoi manga that was intended for women audiences and consumption converged with queer desires and transnational fandoms, generating a diverse, new set of platforms (music, films, and series) catering to broader audiences and creating more sundry narratives.

With this, I think it already gives us an overview of the problem with BLs in general, and, perhaps, it also handed me the answer to my iffy-ness with it afterward. While many developments have been made in the genre, I still do believe that BL has carried over remnants of its prime form: the intention to “sell” queer narratives to non-queer individuals who consume this content.

Just to add a caveat as well, while this is already the case for male homosexual narratives, much more whittling in terms of representation and focus is experienced by Girls’s Love or sapphic stories. Usual storylines would not even delve on their quotidian queer realities but instead highlight sex not to empower but to fetishize and become objects of sexual pleasure.

There and then, when the object of production becomes subsumed into the gaze of only those who do not own the narrative and, by extension, to sell under the status quo, these stories translate to sheer fetishism. Same-sex relationships are only seen under stereotypes and cookie-cutter characteristics. 

Towards a progressive gender politics

Screengrab from Hello Stranger/Black Sheep

How do we then draw the line between genuine representation and plain fetishism? 

I believe that the answer to this lies in the intent and the effect on its audience. With BLs’ audience getting broader, the responsibility to shift to more inclusive, gender-sensitive, and socially aware is all the more apparent. 

Of course, we can’t deny the roots of yaoi and BL. And progressive gender politics cannot be realized in a snap of a finger. What I’m saying is that perhaps it’s time to push the envelope away from stereotypes that fetishize queerness.

For BLs form and content not to develop and be swayed to the progressive causes, such as representation in media, are refusals to recognize issues that the subjects face in the context of their true environment outside of fiction. To refuse fetishism is to promote criticality and elevation of queer societal discourse.

I still do enjoy BLs, especially new releases. I just wish that moving forward, we can challenge dominant narratives, and realize our imagined aspirations. Else, we’re stuck and the genre’s progressive potential to forward causes and cultural development won’t come up to scratch.

Paolo Alejandrino
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April 2022: A new chapter approaches

Even amidst all this chaos, as what Jodi Sta. Maria said, ”papunta pa lang tayo sa exciting part.” While waiting for the new chapter to arrive, let’s look back at the events of April 2022.

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(Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb)

As days get dangerously hotter, the unpredictability of March bleeds into this month as the election season nears its climax. Thomasians also choose their next leader, both for their student councils and their country. Even amidst all this chaos, as Jodi Sta. Maria said, ”papunta pa lang tayo sa exciting part.”

While waiting for the new chapter to arrive, let’s look back at the events of April 2022:

1. Thomasians elect new CSC, local student council officers

(Photo by Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb)

UST students elected a new set of Central Student Council (CSC) and local student council officers last April 4.

Garnering 27,809 votes, former Civil Law Student Council president Nathan Raphael Agustin became the new CSC president. 

Agustin faced possible disqualification due to the non-issuance of his temporary transcript of records, which is a requirement for candidacy. 

Meanwhile, College of Education’s Francisco Mayuyu, UST-Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy’s Benjamin Amper IV, Faculty of Arts and Letters’ Dale Dale Ignatius Marollano, and Conservatory of Music’s Rhojen Sianda are the new secretary, treasurer, auditor, and public relations officers, respectively. The position of the vice president remains vacant.

The elections were also held online through an electronic polling system like last year. This year, there was also a higher voter turnout, with 30,924 votes cast compared to last year’s 28,848.

The UST Central Commission of Elections proclaimed the officers for AY 2022-2023 on April 26, where it also affirmed Agustin’s win after facing a disqualification case.  

2. Provincial bus operators, commuters bemoan new window hours scheme

(Photo courtesy of Russell Palma/The Philippine Star)

The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) implemented a “window hour” scheme to facilitate the return of provincial buses on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA).

Based on the agreement of MMDA and provincial bus operators, buses with private terminals in Metro Manila can traverse EDSA from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. 

The buses should also terminate their routes at the North Luzon Express Terminal and the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange outside the window hours instead of their terminals.

The announcement confused bus operators, announcing that they would only operate during the window hours set by the MMDA. Commuters were also left stranded at terminals in Metro Manila as the buses cannot go directly to its private terminals.

People also lamented online over the window hour scheme, expressing how commuting to Manila became more difficult. Some lawmakers also want a House probe on the said scheme for the “significant delay and convenience” it caused.

The  Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) distanced itself from MMDA’s scheme, saying that the agency is not “privy” to the agreement’s details.

3. Holy Week activities resume after two years

(Photo courtesy of Kenneth Cedric Landazabal/TomasinoWeb)

After the coronavirus pandemic halted Holy Week activities for two years, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) allowed the resumption of Visita Iglesia, Salubong, and processions this year.

Visita Iglesia is a tradition of visiting at least seven churches during Maundy Thursday or Good Friday in remembrance of the Stations of the Cross. Salubong, on the other hand, is a reenactment of the meeting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ after the resurrection.

The CBCP advised devotees to place religious images in motorized vehicles instead of carozas pushed by people and shorten the procession routes. 

Although, the Department of Health reminded the people that kissing and touching religious images are still prohibited. Minimum health standards are also still in place even as more areas shift to COVID-19 Alert Level 1, the lowest quarantine classification in the country.

4. UST becomes fifth top-performing law school in “historic” 2020-2021 exams

(Photo by Vince Imperio/TomasinoWeb)

The University became the fifth top performing school in the cluster of schools, with more than a hundred first-time takers in the 2020-2021 bar exam.

The Supreme Court (SC) announced on April 12 that UST has a passing rate of 93.05, or 201 passers out of 216 takers. 

This year’s Bar Exams gathered a “historic” 11,402 examinees, as the SC suspended it for two years due to the pandemic.  

The Bar Exams were also held digitally and locally for the first time. Coverage was also shortened, with only two testing days instead of the four-Sunday Bar Exam.

5. ‘Agaton’ onslaught leaves 224 dead, P3 billion agricultural damage

Photo courtesy of Philippine Coast Guard

Tropical Storm Agaton flooded several parts of the country, leaving 224 dead and  P3 billion in agricultural damage.

“Agaton” formed inside the Philippine area of responsibility and intensified into a tropical depression on April 9. It made landfall on Basey, Samar, in Eastern Visayas on April 11.

The intense rainfall flooded parts of Visayas and Mindanao, displacing over two million people.The Department of Agriculture also reported that “Agaton” left around P3 billion in agricultural damage, affecting the livelihood of 67,586 farmers and fisherfolk.

6. UAAP opens its doors to live audience after two-year hiatus

(Photo by Corinne Vizconde/TomasinoWeb)

For the first time in two years, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) opened its doors to a live audience last April 5. 

After initially starting Season 82 of Men’s Basketball through a “bubble” setup, the UAAP announced on April 1 that it would accept limited spectators, provided that they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and follow minimum health protocols in place.

As of the writing, the UST Growling Tigers had three wins and 10 losses and was also out of the Final Four race after losing to the NU Bulldogs on April 26.

The Women’s Indoor Volleyball Tournament will start on May 5, with the Growling Tigresses opening the season against the FEU Lady Tamaraws.

7. EJ Obiena to carry PH flag at 31st SEA Games

Photo courtesy of Jerome Ascaño

After missing the World Athletics Indoor Championships due to the Philippine Athletics and Track and Field Association’s (PATAFA) non-endorsement, Thomasian pole vaulter EJ Obiena is set to be the country’s flag bearer at the 31st South East Asian (SEA) Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

This announcement came after Obiena and the PATAFA found closure after the Commission of Audit cleared the former of his liquidation issues.

PATAFA also endorsed the pole vaulter for the SEA Games and the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.

The Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino revealed they nominated Obiena and Olympic gold medalist, Hidilyn Diaz, to carry the Filipino flag at SEA Games. Although, only one flag bearer is allowed per country.

The weightlifting star gave the other thumbs-up, emphasizing that Obiena is the “story of every Filipino athlete who fights to bring home pride and glory to the country.”

Obiena is one of the 656 Filipino athletes competing in 39 sports in the SEA Games, which will run from May 12 to 23.

8. Thomasian groups endorse Robredo-Pangilinan tandem

A month before the May 2022 elections, more Thomasians supported Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan’s bid for the two highest seats in the Malacañang.

Last April 2, six out of eight UAAP student councils, including the UST CSC, endorsed the Leni-Kiko tandem after the respective council’s mock polls.

Over 7,200 UST alumni also endorsed the tandem as both have “demonstrated integrity throughout their entire political careers.”

UST faculty members also backed Robredo, who said their students “can look up to and emulate.”

Last December 2021, several alumni, faculty, and students launched Thomasians for Leni Facebook page.

9. Several presidential bets hold joint Easter press con

(Photo by Lisa Marie David/Reuters)

Presidential aspirants Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and former defense chief Norberto Gonzales held a press conference on Easter Sunday to “call for unity.”

In the presscon, both Domagoso and Lacson hit Vice President and fellow presidential candidate Leni Robredo for “fooling” them at the unity talks before filing their certificate of candidacies.

Domagoso urged Robredo to “make the supreme sacrifice” of withdrawing from the 2022 polls as he claimed that her rivals had a better shot of winning the presidency against Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., who was the top candidate in surveys.

Lacson also said Robredo rejected his unification “framework” as it required the latter to drop out of the presidential race if she lagged behind the polls. 

Meanwhile, presidential candidate Ka Leody De Guzman chided his rivals’ Manila Peninsula presscon. He also rejected their call for Robredo to withdraw.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao was also invited but did not show up at the presscon, much to the relief of his campaign team.

On the other hand, Robredo asked her supporters to intensify their campaign for her candidacy and for them to be unswayed by emotions after the tirades against her.

Several netizens urged others to ignore the presscon as it coincided with the surprise reunion of K-pop girl group 2NE1.

10. Scientists stage worldwide protest against climate crisis

(Photo courtesy of Brian Emerson)

Over a thousand scientists from 25 different countries staged the “Scientist Rebellion,” a worldwide protest against climate change and the inaction of governments to address it.

The protest followed the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report stating that the world needs to deeply cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 to avoid “irreversible” environmental damage before 2100.

The protest went viral after National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist Peter Kalmus and other experts were arrested after chaining themselves to JPMorgan Chase & Co in Los Angeles, California, a top financier of fossil fuel projects.

“We’ve been trying to warn you guys for so many decades that we’re heading towards a fucking catastrophe, and we’ve been being ignored,” Kalmus lamented.

Many pointed out his call to the events of the movie “Don’t Look Up,” a satire about climate change and how the world ignores scientists and their findings.

The protests made the #LetTheEarthBreathe campaign went viral, prompting many to do little acts to help reduce their carbon footprint, from deleting unwanted emails to using search engines like Ecosia, which promises to plant a tree every day 45 searches.

Although some climate activists pointed out that systemic change can better save the environment, the top 10 percent wealthiest people in the world are responsible for 34 percent of the global carbon emissions, more than double what the 50% of the worldwide population in the low-income bracket produce.

11. 2ne1 rocks Coachella with reunion performance

Screengrab from Coachella’s YouTube page

K-pop legends 2NE1 surprised Blackjacks worldwide after their surprise return performance after seven years at the Coachella Music Festival last April 17.

After 2ne1 leader CL’s performance in the 88rising’s Head In The Clouds Forever, she went off stage, coming back with fellow members  Bom, Dara, and Minzy.

In a Billboard interview, CL revealed that the intention behind their performance was “simply” for the group, serving as a “celebration.”

K-pop fans also felt a wave of nostalgia, pointing out how 2ne1 remains iconic even after all these years. Fans also rejoiced after witnessing the return of Bom’s red hair, Dara’s wild hairstyles and Minzy’s dance moves.

The group debuted under YG Entertainment in 2009. The group disbanded in 2016, after their last performance as a group at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards.

12. ‘Your daughter’ remix goes viral

Screengrab from AC Soriano’s official Twitter account

Papunta pa lang tayo sa exciting part.”

A new earworm arrived in town as netizens were left repeating the  “your daughter, is sleeping with my husband” remixed monologue in the show “Broken Marriage Vow.”

The remix came from social media content creator AC Soriano’s (@ItsAC’sLife) one-man show featuring the roles of actress Jodi Sta. Maria called “Jodi Sta Maria: The Unauthorized Rusical.”

AC, who was also known for impersonating actress Toni Gonzaga’s political performances (as “Otin G”), lipsynched to Doc Jill’s dinner revelation scene mixed with Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction.”

The “Unauthorized Rusical” entertained more than 12,000 live viewers, including Jodi Sta. Maria herself. The actress even performed the acapella version at the show’s virtual media press conference.

Ian Gabriel Trinidad
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