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A vaccine isn’t the only solution to this global pandemic

Our pursuit towards a cure should not only end with the creation of a vaccine, but should also be led towards a global effort to ban and impose strict regulations on activities that cause harm to both animals and humans.

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Artwork by Patricia Jardin

When man encroached upon wildlife for the most selfish reasons, nature had its way to bring the world on its knees. 

In late December 2019, a cluster of people were found being treated for SARS-like symptoms from an unknown source causing the Chinese government to alert the World Health Organization. While everyone was celebrating the arrival of a new decade, somewhere in the world, Pandora’s box has been opened.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared as a global pandemic, the world has been scrambling to cope with its effects.

Leaders all over the world have imposed lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. Global markets have begun to shut down in fear of a recession. Schools have shifted to online learning. Most of all, healthcare workers have been put through the most unprecedented challenge of risking their lives to save ours.

While it may be easy to put the blame on others, it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything we could have done to prevent it. 

In understanding the genesis of this nightmare, it is always best to look back on history. 

Outbreaks have been around since the dawn of civilization. The infamous Black Death in the 1300s wiped out 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population. The deadly 1918 Spanish Flu infected a third of the world’s population with a 20 to 50 million death toll. The present-day HIV-AIDS has claimed more than 30 million worldwide since its discovery in 1983.

But what makes our current crisis different? Nothing. It’s a repeat of many other epidemics, with each day becoming worse and worse. And the mere fact that we are facing this pandemic right now clearly shows that we haven’t learned our lesson. 

In the past 50 years, nearly 75 percent of emerging diseases have been largely zoonotic—that is, coming from animals. HIV-AIDS originated from chimpanzees that were consumed by bush-meat hunters in Africa. MERS-CoV was spilled over from domesticated camels in the Middle East. The 2003 SARS outbreak that spread to 26 countries came from civet cats that were likely infected by bats.  

The exact origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, remains unknown. However, genomic and evolutionary evidence in a number of studies have shown that the virus was transmitted by a bat to a pangolin before reaching a human. 

Diseases have been around naturally in the ecosystem. Natural selection allowed animals like bats to evolve ways in combating these and for it to cross over to another species requires contact. For years, there has been continuous human encroachment upon wildlife habitats and illegal trades that bridge the gap between these deadly pathogens and the vulnerable Homo sapiens population.

Much of these deals occur in wet markets and cleverly hidden alleys where wild animals are crammed in cages and stacked one on top of the other. These cramped spaces serve as the perfect breeding ground for viruses to circulate from one animal to the other and eventually cross to humans. 

If the wildlife trade poses a threat to public health safety, why is it still prevalent? The answer is, of course, money.

In 2016, the wildlife trading industry in China was worth 520 billion yuan (74 billion dollars)—a significant number in the country’s GDP. China’s legalization of wildlife farming was purposely designed as a form of rural economic development and sustainment during the 1970s. A shift in cultural norms caused the commercial value for wild animals to increase and allowed these small-scale businesses to grow into a competitive money-making industry. 

But this problem is not only present in China. Seeing how outbreaks have emerged in the past, the illegal wildlife trade is everywhere. 

Estimated at 10 to 23 billion dollars annually, the global wildlife trading, trafficking, and poaching industry has caused the endangerment and extinction of many animals and even plants. In fact, according to the WWF, the world’s rich biodiversity has suffered a 40 percent decrease in population since the 1970s. Specially designed routes have enabled illegal shipments to smuggle exotic wildlife entities in and out of countries while evading law enforcement. 

Pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammals, were classified at risk of extinction by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2014. Their scales have the highest demand in Asia for their medicinal properties. On top of that, pangolin fetuses are served in restaurants believing that it would increase men’s virility. These claims, however, do not have a scientific basis. 

The bile of the Asian black bear, the horn of the white rhinoceros, and even shark fins have also been highly prized as vital ingredients in traditional medicine. 

The consumption of exotic meat has also become a status symbol, with nobles and high-class citizens being the only ones who can afford it. Ratsnakes, bullfrogs, emus, and softshell turtles are only a few of its victims. 

Minks, raccoon dogs, and foxes have been farmed for their fur which are made into luxury goods. The endangered radiated tortoises and African gray parrots are being kept in captivity and domesticated as pets. And the list goes on and on. 

But it isn’t only wildlife trading and trafficking that should be banned. Small outbreaks of the Nipah virus in Malaysia have shown that urbanization of forests into commercial land disrupts the natural habitats of bats. This forces them to inhabit areas that are normally populated by humans and, in effect, provide another avenue for a disease to break out. 

With all that said, the message has been crystal clear since day one: hands off wildlife. Increasing disruptions on the ecosystem is basically writing a death wish for humanity. 

Our pursuit towards a cure should not only end with the creation of a vaccine, but should also be led towards a global effort to ban and impose strict regulations on activities that cause harm to both animals and humans. Protecting biodiversity can restrain pathogens from breaking out of the wild and leave animals to live in the wild without fearing for the human prey. 

For years, we’ve treated nature as a commodity to overexploit. A vaccine can cure the disease but not man’s excessive greed for money. 

For as long as these illegal activities are tolerated, the 7.5 billion lives on Earth will continue to suffer from its effects. While it seems that there is nothing to lose today, there’s everything to lose tomorrow. 

Hopefully, when this pandemic is over, we all return to our normal lives as stewards with better respect and care for the environment. After all, it’s nature whom we owe our lives to.

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Cramming Playlist: Buzzer Beats

Yeah, it’s big brain time.

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Artwork by Ayeesha Panotolan

The most dreadful time of the semester is here and with it comes every student’s best friend: cramming. We all know that it’s an ineffective and unhealthy way to retain information. Yet, we still choose to condense weeks worth of lectures into hours of late night study sessions because it somehow still gets the job done. 

Studying in the wee hours of the morning means you need something to keep you and your brain awake and functioning. Below, we’ve compiled a playlist that will surely get those neurons firing as you burn the midnight oil.

 

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12 tweets hyping up the Lady of Sorrows pubmat

And the Grammy goes to… Chromatica!

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"Lady of Sorrows" poster grabbed from the official Facebook page of the University

Today, the University published a poster commemorating the day of the Lady of Sorrows. As a Catholic university, it has always been a practice of the University to publish publicity materials about the Catholic Church’s feasts, traditions, and holidays. However, the Lady of Sorrows poster had more to offer other than the photograph of Mama Mary. What does the Twitter-verse have to say about it?

Here are some tweets that that hyped up the Lady of Sorrows pubmat:

1. An iconic upgrade.

Comic Sans MS is nowhere to be found! 

2. And the Grammy goes to… Chromatica!

I know you’re rooting for this iconic album too.

3. Ah, ah, ah!

The Lord and Mama Mary love us like that! 

4. Time to hype the party!

Wait, are we going to cry or…?

5. Time to light these bad boys up.

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)

6. And she spoke of the truth!

It really does, I swear.

7. There’s an uncanny resemblance, right?

Aren’t we all inspired by someone or something?

8. Don’t you just miss the good days?

Time to bust out those moves soon, sister.

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9. Sing it with me!

I’m a hundred percent sure you sang the next lines!

10. *Saves to Pinterest board*

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who did this.

11. Response?

We’re going to need the energy UP tonight.

12. Stream Papuri sa Diyos Remix

Prepare your dancing shoes! You’re going to bust some moves.

Whether one is religious or not, everyone can admit that the pubmat is comical yet well done at the same time. Today, Twitter truly had a laugh while touching up hints on pop culture references. All jokes aside, may we celebrate what the 15th of September is truly about: the day of the Lady of Sorrows.

And together we say, “Amen”.

 

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The 12 types of people in quarantine

We’re pretty much sure you’re #8 in the list.

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Artwork by Patricia Jardin/TomasinoWeb

The pandemic has kept people indoors and isolated from their day-to-day lives. While cabin fever set in for some, others have thrived in being able to stay in the comfort of their homes. 

Being productive while in quarantine has been a major challenge for everyone ever since it began. With normal workflows being disrupted, we had to find ways to keep our minds working amidst the recent events that have taken over the world. With that said, being productive isn’t just about continuing the grind, it could also mean finding the time to heal in all aspects of our lives.

These limitations gave birth to personalities that we did not know we had; for others, the personality they wished they could always show. Here we list down the different types of people in quarantine.

1. The news bulletin

Source: GIPHY

There might be some who feel burdened and tired by the daily news cycle, but these people are not one of them. Glued to the TV or the updates on their phones and computers, they’re the kind to stay on top of the news as it happens. These people are the ones we rely on for updates, even if it means talking to them is like listening to primetime news.

2. The health secretary

Source: GIPHY

Going hand-in-hand with the news buff, these are the types of people we can trust with the latest safety tips and tricks against the pandemic. They keep up-to-date with recent studies, at-home advice, and ideal precautions to keep themselves and everyone safe. Like the news bulletin, we can rely on them to help inform us on how to stay safe during this pandemic.

3. The quarantine entrepreneur

Source: GIPHY

Quarantine brought upon limitations, but these people have found business opportunities while at home. They’ve created different products or services that people can make use of while at home. For some, it has also been a way of helping communities by donating portions of their sales to charities and relief efforts. From delicious desserts to affordable online services, these people have kept on the hustle during the quarantine.

4. The house executive

Source: GIPHY

While the lockdowns meant work had to stop for most, these people continue the work at home. Often seen in an online meeting in Zoom, Teams, or Meet, they carry on with their job in what some argue to be a less stressful environment. At the same time, they also become sources of entertainment in calls when random background events occur.

5. The (at-home) gym rat

Source: GIPHY

Who said you had to skip your summer bod this year? With more time indoors than ever before, these people prefer to use their time to whip their body back to shape. Having less distractions, they’ve managed to find a workout plan to stick with using all the equipment at their disposal.

6. The quarantine chef

Source: GIPHY

If there was anything we loved watching more than comedy skits and dance challenges, it would be cooking videos. With people spending more time in the kitchen this quarantine, more recipes have come out to inspire our quarantine chefs to put their aprons back on. We can bet on these people to wow us with their cooking on our tables or on our smartphones when they post their cooking online.

7. The vlogger

Source: GIPHY

While most people are content with enjoying content, these people have been inspired to make them. You’ve probably seen some of your friends start a YouTube channel during this quarantine period and maybe even shared their videos in support. These people make their quarantines more interesting by exploring their creativity and producing content for friends, family, and the world to enjoy.

8. The TikToker

Source: GIPHY

Perhaps the young and hip cousin of the vlogger, these are the people who have decided to get in on the trend and produce TikTok videos. Similar to previous platforms like Vine, TikTok makes it easier to produce fun and quirky content that’s much shorter than its YouTube counterparts. Whether it’s TikTok dances or comedy skits, these people have joined in on the fun on the trending social media platform in their spare time.

9. The Netflix guide

Source: GIPHY

If the last two entries featured people who make content in quarantine, these people are the ones more content with consuming them. Finally having the time to sit back and go through their Netflix library, these people have become very reliable guides for what movie or show to watch next. Whether you’re looking for heart-wrenching dramas, light and witty romcoms, or serious and brooding thrillers, they’ve got just the thing for you.

10. The digital shopaholic

Source: GIPHY

Lockdowns may have caused malls and shopping centers to temporarily close, but these people have decided to take their business elsewhere. They find themselves spending most of their time browsing through flash deals and free shipping specials looking for the best deals. With packages coming in on almost a daily basis, these people have endeared themselves to the delivery crew in their area.

11. The Zen master

Source: GIPHY

Being at home this quarantine means you get to be in the one place you’re most familiar with. While others try to stay active physically, these people use the comfort of their homes to engage themselves mentally and emotionally. They’re the ones we probably don’t hear a whole lot from this quarantine but when we do, it’s often to hear realizations and reflections about themselves and the world around them.

12. The couch potato

Source: GIPHY

Perhaps the most recognizable and most relatable, these people are the ones that just enjoy the break from it all. These people simply enjoy sleeping in, staying in bed, or just relaxing in their own little spaces. They relish in the simpler things in life, choosing to just take a good break from all the work and stresses that they’ve had before.

The pandemic has left us with a constant feeling of uncertainty about our future. Monthly bad news and toxic arguments in social media have made us feel bogged down and burnt out. 

Regardless of the means, what’s most important is that we take care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Whether that’s by doing physical and mental activities or simply taking a well-deserved break, what matters most is that we keep ourselves afloat. 

At the end of the day, our part in staying at home is the best we can do to not only help ourselves but also everyone around us against this pandemic.

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