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     SOCIAL media has become an integral part of a modern man’s life. One could simply interact with others with just a click of the mouse. People log in to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to catch up with loved ones and make it seem that distance is never really a hindrance. But apart from that, social media has emerged into something greater. From strengthening ties with family and friends, it is now working on building a nation. The government hops in with the netizens for the ride towards the “daang matuwid.”

     According to 24/7 Wall St., the Philippines is dubbed as “The Social Networking Capital of the World.” The country has dominated Facebook at a penetration rate of 93.9%. Filipinos rank eighth on Twitter at 16.1%. The numbers clearly show that the most effective way in reaching out to Filipinos is through the web. The Philippine government sees this as an advantage to catch up with its citizens. Like a parent using pop cultural references to get along with a child, the government is learning the internet language in order to relate with its people.

     At the height of the Habagat wrath, Twitter served as a medium to coordinate efforts coming from different sectors. Hash tags “#reliefPH” and “#rescuePH” were used as a systematic way for distributing goods and mapping out routes to help pick up those who were stranded in flooded areas. PAGASA tweeted updates on the weather, while MMDA switched on the green light by tweeting names of passable roads for the convenience of the motorists. Malacañang did its share by releasing official statements encouraging people to use the hash tag “#PHAlerts” so no Filipino would be left behind.

     The 21st century is powered by technology, the internet leading the way. Older generations might believe that the internet is turning humans into robots. But as seen with what the country had faced the past month, it was through the active participation online that men proved they still have the control over their keyboards. And out of the social media madness, Filipinos could still foster the bayanihan spirit in lighting up the world, one post at a time.

By Francesca S. Pangilinan

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How should you spend your Valentine’s Day?

For single pringles, how should you spend your Valentine’s Day?

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Artwork by Tricia Jardin

No, this quiz can’t guarantee you an instant date on the day of hearts. Rather, it could only suggest ways to be single on a day where one is allowed to say weirdly poetic cheesy lines and sing out-of-tune serenades as part of the kilig-induced seasonal package.

 

 

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Best dating spots in UST this Valentine’s day

Valentine’s Day is approaching fast and there is no better way to spend it than with a date with a loved one. Dating doesn’t have to be expensive as the University could make for the perfect ambiance to build new romance, rekindle old flames, or strengthen existing connections.

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Photo by Gwen Dungao/TomasinoWeb

DISCLAIMER: TomasinoWeb does not promote public display of affection or any action that goes against the University’s code of conduct.

Whether having a date on Valentine’s day is trivial or overrated, it can still be a fun way to spend the day with friends, a special someone, or even someone entirely new. Dating doesn’t have to be expensive as the University could make for the perfect ambiance to build new romance, rekindle old flames, or strengthen existing connections.

Valentine’s Day is approaching fast and there is no better way to spend it than with a date with a loved one. Not only for people with significant others, it makes for a great opportunity to catch up with an old friend or to go out of one’s comfort zone and meet someone new. Whatever and however the case may be, Valentine’s day is a day to celebrate love in all of its forms.

Most UST alumni would probably have a fond memory or two of a date within the iconic walls of the University. Whether it be across the Plaza Mayor or on the grass of the field, it has for sure made their stay memorable. As such, there is no shame in spending a day together just enjoying the different places in the University and talking about what could’ve been, what is, and what will be. Here are some of the best places on campus for a date this Valentine’s day.

UST Grandstand

Gwen Dungao/TomasinoWeb

In the busiest days, UST’s Grandstand becomes the platform in which performances are done and at times, history is made. On its off days, the Grandstand becomes a platform to see an overview of the wide UST field as well as the Plaza Mayor and the busy streets of Espana. There is nothing more stunning than watching the sky slowly turn dimmer as the night makes its way in while the campus’ lights are illuminated. All of these are complemented by the few breezes that come every now and then reminding you to relax and live in the moment.

Stone Benches

Benches in UST aren’t only made for Popoy and Basha. These stone benches just beside the grandstand are best suited to spend time whether it’s a heart-to-heart talk, making promises, renewing old ones, or simply talking about the happenings in one’s life. Similar to the grandstand, it offers a closer to the ground view of the University and the busy streets of Espana. The stone benches around the campus make for a serene place to talk about all things, new and old.

Santisímo Rosario Parish

Sometimes the best way to celebrate love is through thanksgiving of the blessings received. Whether it be a short prayer or to hear a mass, the Santissimo Rosario Parish keeps its doors open for everyone. The spirit of Valentine’s doesn’t always have to be about the romance or the moments, sometimes it is better to just keep things simple and look back on all of the memories made, people met, and wisdom obtained.

Botanical Garden

If the busy campus isn’t something that you fancy, then perhaps the Botanical Garden could be the ideal spot to date. With tables, chairs, and surrounded by trees, the shade could be a comforting change from the usually hot and bright campus of UST. Bring a board game or perhaps takeout from a favorite food chain and the botanical garden could be an excellent spot to keep each other company for Valentine’s day.

Quadricentennial Square

Sometimes overshadowed by the view of Miguel de Benavides and the Plaza Mayor, the Quadricentennial Square provides a different aesthetic with the lights and the fountain. While it is not the best idea to visit at the peak of noon; at night this place becomes one of the most comfortable places to sit down and talk as the lights carefully light the surroundings and the music from the dance troupes practicing bring the specific energy only found in the Quadricentennial Square.

UST Miguel de Benavides Library

Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

Sometimes the ideal date isn’t what one would call a date. There are times where the best way to bond is to be present in each other’s struggle. The Miguel Benavides Library could be home to many hardworking Thomasians; but this Valentine’s Day, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend time together as you both try to accomplish whatever’s on your plate today. It gives a whole new meaning to “going through ups and downs” when you’re in the company of your loved one as you try to soldier through stacks of papers and more papers.

Plaza Mayor

Vince Imperio/TomasinoWeb

Keeping up with the previous entry’s theme, sometimes the best way to spend time is to simply take a step back and watch the world move. In the Plaza Mayor, you can see students, staff, professors, and other members of the Thomasian Community go about their day. While seeing the stress on the faces of others could be distressing in one’s self, being able to talk about your day knowing that you have made it past the daily grind amidst the sea of others still going through it brings a different kind of relaxation.

Benavides Park

No spot is more iconic than Benavides Park or what’s more commonly known as “Lover’s Lane”. Naming conventions aside, it is not uncommon to see groups of friends or just individuals taking their time to unwind here. What makes this place so iconic is the shade provided by the trees which mix with the bright sun or the lights of the lamps at night. Add to this the view of the statue of Miguel de Benavides and behind him the Plaza Mayor, and surely it will make for a memorable moment each time.

 

Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers but also for those who simply want to celebrate the feeling of love as everyone is deserving to be loved. It is also not about the grand gestures of love or the expensive gifts, but the creation and celebration of the memories made with that particular person or group of people. At the end of the day, it is a reminder to everyone that love exists in all shapes and forms and romantic relationships aren’t the only metric to feeling loved.

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Which is the best motorcycle-taxi service in the Philippines?

“Habal-habal” originally began as a mode of transport in rural areas where public transport isn’t as developed. Years later, it finds itself striving hard to be recognized as a legal mode of transport in the country.

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Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb

While the commute has severely gotten worse over the years, Filipinos continue to find ways to beat the traffic. The existence and prevalence of motorcycle-taxi services have lifted much of the burden of commuters despite the hurdles that the government throws in its way.

“Disastrous” is what best describes the current state of transport in the Philippines. Congested streets and seemingly endless road repairs continuously draw the ire of the masses who need to adapt to the rapidly changing world. Ingenuity becomes a necessity and not merely an advantage for students and workers.

“Habal-habal” originally began as a mode of transport in rural areas where public transport isn’t as developed. Recently however, it has found its way to the city with the presence of private motorcycle-taxi services that operate in secret. It was eventually given a bigger presence with the launch of services like Angkas making its way in 2017. Years later, it finds itself striving hard to be recognized as a legal mode of transport in the country.

This year began the launch of competing services like JoyRide and MoveIt. Both were introduced to keep Angkas from having a monopoly over the motorcycle-taxi industry and aid in the research of the government to determine the feasibility of such services. In its current state, these services provide training for their drivers to maintain a standard and ensure safety.

With quicker travel times and lower prices compared to apps like Grab or the conventional cab, motorcycle-taxis have changed the way people commute. Rapid developments have made this service more practical with same-day deliveries becoming a prominent feature. Take a look into the most widely used apps and see which service is the best.

Angkas

Screenshots from Angkas app

Angkas is the most recognizable name when it comes to motorcycle-taxis, it has become synonymous the concept itself in recent times. Originally launched in 2017, Angkas built a reputation of reliability and affordability in comparison to other ride-hailing services like Grab and Uber before it merged with Grab. Another defining trait of Angkas is not within the app but rather with its social media presence as it pokes fun at other services, the detractors, or even itself when glitches or problems arise in the service.

The app interface is clean and intuitive but its most recent iteration has drawn flak from some users as its original design was already considered to be adequate. There were also problems with booking in this iteration but most of it has been fixed. Nonetheless, booking in the app is simple and quick. The availability of riders as well as cost is relative to the location of the user. 

Angkas also reminds the users constantly of the safety protocols such as what not to wear and the grounds to which riders can refuse passengers (such as weight or clothing). The riders of Angkas undergo training and screening to make sure that they provide the best and safest experience for their passengers. This translates to the ride experience as the riders clearly show attention to safety and closely follow traffic rules as well as driving well under the speed limits. Even if you’re not used to riding in a motorcycle, Angkas riders will certainly give you the ease of mind with the way they ride.

JoyRide

Screenshots from JoyRide app

JoyRide is one of the new players that the government introduced to compete with Angkas. It is the second most-popular service in this new industry but its name did not grow immediately because of its quality. JoyRide has faced a lot of scrutiny regarding its true owners with allegations being made that it is being run by a government official, their management has denied this.

JoyRide’s app is reminiscent of Angkas’ app with minor changes in detail to set it apart. Pinning locations is easy and quick with options such as notes or promo codes being made visible should the user have any use for it. Prices between JoyRide and Angkas are usually similar but there are certainly moments where Angkas becomes more expensive but again, these factors are relative to location as well as availability of riders.

Resemblances don’t end with apps when it comes to JoyRide. From helmets to vests, JoyRide clearly took inspiration from Angkas. Riders wear purple variants of their gear as opposed to Angkas’ blue. The vests come with a handle that passengers can hold onto during their ride and this has been consistent with every rider so far. Ride experience varies from rider to rider as some riders may drive too fast but similar to Angkas, tapping on the shoulder of the rider would be a gesture to slow down.

MoveIt

Screenshots from Move It app

Another one of the players that aims to compete with Angkas, MoveIt tries to set itself apart in its appearance from Angkas in an effort to be recognizable. It tries to merge what was good with Angkas and Grab to become a possible all-in-one solution when it comes to express courier services. While not as popular as JoyRide or Angkas, it certainly deserves a mention in the conversation of motorcycle-taxi services.

MoveIt’s app is much more different than the last two offerings: a pro and con. The user is greeted with different options of what they could do with the app such as delivery or booking a ride and reloading a virtual wallet to pay with. While the uniqueness certainly sets it apart, the design looks dated and plain. This doesn’t affect the usability of the app itself but compared to Angkas and Joyride, it feels noticeably jankier. 

Ride experience is similar to Angkas and Joyride but appearance-wise, MoveIt’s riders are a lot more subtle. The red long sleeves or jackets that they wear stand out a lot less than Angkas or JoyRide’s uniforms. Another difference of MoveIt is with their helmet. It sports a different style compared to Angkas or JoyRide’s half-face helmets. This can be annoying as the size is a bit smaller than expected which could make the fit awkward for passengers. 

Facebook groups

Screenshots from Facebook app

Feeding off the popularity of Angkas, more and more Facebook groups offering the same service popped up after the prior’s launch. While not being recognized by the government and thus not being legal, this has become one of the ways that users book motorcycle-taxis for even cheaper than those offered in the apps. What makes it most convenient is the fact that no other app would be needed to book a ride.

Being a Facebook group, it simply runs within the Facebook app itself or through a mobile browser. The only thing a user has to do is to follow a specified format and post a request of a ride, delivery, or purchase. Any special request can be made within the post and can be negotiated between the rider and the passenger. The glaring downside of booking through this group is the lack of enforcement of rules or any safeguards for the rider or the passenger.

Ride experience will vary wildly from rider to rider as there is no screening process involved in booking a rider. Simply choose a rider from the myriad of riders who will comment and leave messages and hope that the ride will at least be okay. The ride is entirely up to the rider but you can still communicate whatever you may need from them. To sum it up shortly, the entire experience is solely at your discretion.

 

Commuting in the Philippines for some is a lot more tedious than the work they actually have to do for the day. Motorcycle-taxis have become an effective medium for transport despite the scrutiny of the government and the unease of others. It has also opened up job opportunities for more people and has helped ease the stress of commuting for a large portion of Filipinos. 

At the end of the day, motorcycle-taxis cannot resolve the problem of heavy traffic in the Philippines. These kinds of services only serve to make the problem somewhat manageable for the moment. Services such as Angkas or Grab should not have to be a necessity for Filipinos to get to where they need to be on a daily basis. What we really need is a solution that addresses the problem effectively and permanently.

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