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Christmas flicks to watch to cure your Yuletide blues

Once again, ‘tis the season to be jolly! This is also the time to snuggle underneath a warm blanket as you sip on hot chocolate while watching films. To cure your Yuletide blues, here are some Christmas films to lift your holiday spirits up.

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Days are getting shorter and colder, the smell of bibingka and puto bumbong wafting through the cold December air, the voice of Mariah Carey and Jose Mari Chan echoing through the crowded malls, and the whole family coming together for Noche Buena only mean one thing—Christmas is fast approaching. Once again, ‘tis the season to be jolly! This is also the time to snuggle underneath a warm blanket as you sip on hot chocolate while watching films. To cure your Yuletide blues, here are some Christmas films to lift your holiday spirits up.

Gremlins by Chris Columbus

Photo from eBay

Do not feed them after midnight! This Christmas horror flick is about Billy and his pet mogwai, a furry creature he received as a present from his father. The catch is, the mogwai must not be exposed to water or fed after midnight or trouble will ensue. When the rules were broken, these furry creatures then proceeded to wreak havoc around town.

Die Hard by John McTiernan

Photo from IMDb

Wait, isn’t this an action film starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman? Well, it is, and it is definitely a Christmas movie! This highly-debated film set on Christmas Eve follows John McClane, a police officer who tries to foil the skyscraper terrorist plot of Hans Gruber, who plans to steal the money inside. In its 30th anniversary, 20th Century Fox released a recut trailer featuring Die Hard as your typical feel-good Christmas film. 

Home Alone by Chris Columbus

Photo from Pinterest

This holiday classic features Kevin, who is accidentally left in his house by his family who went to a Christmas vacation in Paris. Two burglars, Harry and Marv attempts to rob the house before the family arrives. Little did the burglars know that they were in for a surprise as they are faced with a booby-trapped house courtesy of Kevin.

The Nightmare Before Christmas by Henry Selick

Photo from EuroPosters

Who says you can’t turn Christmas into Halloween part two? This stop-motion film inspired by a Tim Burton poem brings us Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween Town, who discovers Christmas and attempts to bring it to the denizen of the town. Will he succeed in bringing Christmas to this scary town or will he spread terror instead?

The Santa Clause by John Pasquin

Photo from JoBlo

After making Santa fall from the roof, Scott then finds Santa’s clothes, and is prompted by his son Charlie to wear it and assume the role of Santa Claus. However, Scott found out that due to “the Santa Clause,” he had to become Santa and return to North Pole next Thanksgiving. He then slowly transitions as Santa Claus, gaining the characteristics of the iconic Christmas figure throughout the film.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Ron Howard

Photo from Pinterest

Based from a Dr. Seuss storybook shows the Grinch, a green creature with a disdain for Christmas and the residents of Whoville due to his experiences in the past. He then met Cindy Lou Who, a girl who tries to get into his cold, green heart. He then proceeds to ruin Christmas, stealing everything from the inhabitants of Whoville. Of course, you’ll also see Jim Carrey’s iconic ear-to-ear grinch grin here. 

Love Actually by Richard Curtis

Photo from Byrd Theatre

Ten stories, nine tales of love, one holiday – all interconnected with each other. This star-studded flick shows love stories set five weeks before Christmas. From an airport chase, cue card confessionals, to another rendition of All I Want For Christmas is You, this film gives you everything you want from a rom-com Christmas flick.

Elf by John Favreau

Photo from Athena Posters

You won’t sit on a throne of lies after watching this film. Buddy is a human mistakenly raised by elves on North Pole after climbing up on Santa’s sleigh when he was a baby. After finding out the truth, Buddy then travels to New York to find his real father. Along the way, Buddy tries to make people, especially sceptics feel the spirit of Christmas.

The Polar Express by Robert Zemeckis

Photo from eBay

Remember when you were a child, dreaming of going to North Pole to meet Santa Claus? Well, this film is just about that! The film is about a boy doubting about Santa, only to find a train outside his house taking him to a magical journey to meet Santa himself. The film tackles the belief in Christmas, as well as our childhood dream of experiencing a magical Christmas.

The Christmas Chronicles by Clay Kaytis

Photo from IMDb

Upon losing their father, Teddy and Kate tries to keep the Christmas spirit alive with their mother Claire. While watching Christmas clips from the past, the two hatched a plan to see Santa Claus, which they did, managing to his sleigh in the process. After causing a mishap on Santa’s sleigh, they tried to help him fix it to deliver presents before the Christmas spirit vanish.

The Princess Switch by Mike Rohl

Photo from IMDb

This Netflix original features Vanessa Hudgens playing two roles in one film This Prince-and-the-pauper story is about a baker named Stacy, who switched places with Margaret, a duchess set to marry the crown prince of Belgravia. The switch went well, until the two realized that they are in love with each other’s love interests.

Klaus by Sergio Pablos

Photo from IMDb

This Santa origin story centers around Jesper. He is a postman exiled by his father in the town of Smeerensburg for him to post 6,000 letters there, only to find out that the townsfolk rarely send letters due to a feud between two families. He later meets Klaus, a woodsman making toys who helped him establish a postal service by giving toys to children. This animated film in full 2D style is a refreshing take on animated films, exploring the potential of 2D animation in storytelling.

Let it Snow by Luke Snellin

Photo from IMDb

This film is adapted from a young adult novel of the same name written by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. A Christmas Eve snowstorm brought together three different groups of high school students, their love life intertwining together as Christmas day drew nearer, ending in a party where they all collide and resolve their issues.

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Which UST street are you?

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Artwork by Tricia Jardin

Another year, another Buzzfeed-esque quiz that is based on purely subjective notions. This quiz can somehow garner questionable results as they can be entirely different from how one sees oneself, but still feel free to take a (good) three-minute break and validate which UST street completely molds your Thomasian existence. Enjoy! 

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‘Awit’ and the normalization of transphobia

With music as a tool for liberation, we must not let the likes of “Awit” to limit our minds, let alone poison our culture with prejudice.

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Screenshot from the album cover of the now deleted song "Awit" on Spotify.

Erich Gabriel Bongon, also known as Young Vito posted a video of himself on Twitter singing a preview of “Awit” last Dec. 5, 2019, a song he that composed with sexist undertones and transphobic lyrics. Netizens were quick to call out the rapper when the preview is posted, prompting him to delete the video and issue an “apology.”

What happened afterwards? Was he cancelled? Was he given career opportunities after the incident? Did he change his ways and most importantly, did he educate himself on gender rights?

Young Vito is known to have signed a recording contract with Viva Records. With the record label having full knowledge of the incident, Young Vito and Viva Records have enabled themselves to go further: to release the same song with the same infamous lyrics, capitalizing off its notoriety on social media.

Awitis just one of the many Filipino songs propagating harmful ideas that does not only target the transgender community, but also encourages the normalization of transphobia and a culture of hate in the country.

Young Vito’s “Awitis a trans woman, with the singer implying that the woman deceives men, that there is something wrong with them. 

The song’s album art depicts a trans women using a urinal, as if implying that they should use the male’s comfort room; a controversial choice due to the ongoing debate on trans peoples’ comfort room access.

After receiving flak, the rapper posted an apology on Twitter, at the same time refusing to delete his video and liking tweets saying that people are “too sensitive.” He deleted the video afterwards.

A few days later, the rapper signed a five-year contract with Viva Records. After that, the song is released on multiple streaming platforms last Jan. 17, 2020 under Viva Records, with Emmanuel “NEXXFRIDAY” Salen producing and providing the beat for the track.

Photo grabbed from Young Vito’s Instagram account @youngvitoph

“Despite the controversy surrounding the song, Awithas been turned into a full-blown bop…,” the caption of the now-deleted lyric video in Viva Records’ Youtube channel reads. 

The song is then deleted on Spotify one day after its release.

Awitis just one of the many Filipino songs with transphobic lyrics. Songs like Abra’s “Gayuma” and Kamikazee’s “Chiksilog” portray trans women as someone who deceive men with their looks, while also spreading the notion that trans women are still men even if they have already identify themselves as women. 

One may think that the lyrics of these songs are harmless but for the transgender community, it makes their lives more difficult than it is.

In a country where the trans community are ostracized, where even some members of the LGBTQ+ community preach transphobia, where the likes of Hermie Monterde are still discriminated in the workplace, where personalities such as BB Gandanghari and Jake Zyrus are mocked online, where women like Gretchen Diez are shunned and arrested for entering the comfort room, where people like Jennifer Laude and Jessa Remiendo are murdered for being transgender – these songs spread dangerous ideas to the public. 

These songs normalizes harmful prejudices embedded in our culture. It hinders the LGBTQ+ community, especially the trans community’s fight for equal rights. It makes the idea of targeted discrimination and hate crime acceptable, painting a harmful image on people’s minds that it is normal to mock transgenders with the help of a song.

Music has been used to break the status quo, teach important lessons, and in some cases, aid in bringing down tyrants. With music as a tool for liberation, we must not let the likes of “Awit” to limit our minds, let alone poison our culture with prejudice. 

If we want true progress, we must lose the chains of backwardness binding us, and we can start by taking small steps—starting with picking good songs to listen to.

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Kadenang Ginto is more complex than ever

The show may seem ordinary in the spectrum of teleseryes, but with the bouts of recognition and attention it harbors, shows like Kadenang Ginto may have the tendency to succumb to society’s patriarchal roots—a premise that has been the show’s subdued message from the very beginning.

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Photo from ABS-CBN News

Media and entertainment industries, especially in the Philippines, have undoubtedly created a number of teleseryes that got viewers hooked. Iconic lines from television shows made their way through social media, thus birthing an irreversible decade of video parodies, i.e. “Cassie, hindi ka muna papasok sa iskul” which came from the ABS-CBN afternoon prime show, Kadenang Ginto (directed by Jerry Lopez Sineneng and Avel Sunpongco). This particular boomerang created by the show serves as a primary example of the proliferation of teleseryes into the in-betweens of people’s mundane realities. 

Usually, Filipino TV formulas have just been restricted to cookie-cutter stories such as rich girl-poor girl rivalries, wife versus mistress conflicts, and other types of predictable stories with a recurring plotline—dramatically mirroring the struggles of which people could sympathize and in some cases, empathize with. 

Now, with the recent narratives of most materials, it is fitting to raise the question: do teleseryes, such as the case in point, subconsciously imply a patriarchal and capitalist society which can water down women’s roles as simply pawns of the men-splayed environment?

Dissecting the Initial Premise of the Show

The whole idea of the show displays a tangled story between Daniela Mondragon (played by Dimples Romana) and Romina Andrada (played by Beauty Gonzales). Romina, a glorified Secretary, marries the business tycoon and father of Daniela, Robert Mondragon (played by Albert Martinez).

Caused by jealousy, Daniela strived to emerge relevant by physically and emotionally belittling Romina to death, hoping that she could at least gain more relevance in the old Mondragon’s life. It gets more complicated when Daniela marries Romina’s past lover, Carlos (played by Adrian Alandy), who still has unresolved feelings for the latter.

While Daniela’s past actions remain important both in their family business and in the lives of the men involved, it seems questionable that all her intentions were for the sake of these men.

While it is also applauding that Daniela and Romina are their own persons who are fully responsible to stir changes necessary to keep the show going, one may question the end of not just the character’s intentions, but as well as the writers’ inclination to probe and provide a substantial arc for these characters.

It raises the question, especially during a period when a new character was introduced in the persona of Richard Yap, a rich businessman, who somehow became a catalyst on how the character of Romina can get back on track. 

Are the women in Philippine teleserye doomed to always be swept off their feet by some men to garner the easiest way out?

The show may seem ordinary in the spectrum of teleseryes presented by the network, but with the bouts of recognition and attention it harbors, shows like Kadenang Ginto may have the tendency to succumb to society’s patriarchal roots—a premise that has been the show’s subdued message from the very beginning.

Now (with the plot lines tangled and recurring), the characters and their progressions can be attested to hopeful major changes (thankfully), as lead female characters are taking matters on their hands especially with Romina Andrada-Mondragon gaining more control over her circumstances, a (seemingly progressive) march of silent revolution, veering away from the initial premises of the show – yet still bound to its original plot line.  

Trudging the Conventional

While the network’s teleseryes’ cookie-cutter and cardboard characterizations of women are proven formulas, fresh perspectives are always a welcome venture with the exploration of complex female characters. 

Writers and show producers must become more socially-reverberant that they not only choose to showcase shows that pay the rent. In the Philippines, it is slowly building its pace with independent films being at the forefront.

Unfortunately, most mainstream media consumers are still inclined with choosing the proven formulas so mass media practitioners also stick to what generates more audiences. What the consumers can do now is to try to become more adamant to good and progressive changes – utilize the everlasting “get out of your comfort zone” notion. 

Media, as compared to what it tries to cater to before, has certainly come a long way with the sprouts of powerful women characters here and there. Unfortunately, Philippine mainstream media and its consumers sat way comfortably in the reassurance of these boxed and usual beliefs.

It may possibly take a while for these teleseryes to do the same with their high intentions to generate money, even if the essential purpose of art to heighten and challenge the empathic tendencies of the people can definitely suffer.

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