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December 2020: Silent nights, cry for me

Little did we know that December would not be the year-ender we all anticipated filled with merrymaking.



(Artwork by Patricia Jardin/TomasinoWeb)

Little did we know that December would not be the year-ender we all anticipated filled with merrymaking. Its bittersweet and low-spirited events infused with unjust prejudices have made it burdensome for us to endure and enclose this year’s final month. 

We’ve been immersed in real-life Black Mirror way too harshly after being placed against a multitude of dark and unfortunate series of events, month after month, and week after week. The mental and existential dread has left us at the final pinnacle of the year. Here is a round-up of the events that December offered, in which we wished the good could have at least outweighed the bad for one last time. 

1. The illegal arrest of Amanda Echani, fabricated stories and injustice on Human Rights Day

Photo courtesy of Anakpawis



As we divulge into the first hollow days of December, Amanda Lacaba Echanis, daughter of NDFP Peace Consultant and Anakpawis Chairman Randy Echanis, was illegally arrested with her one-month baby in Cagayan by the Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, and CIDG. With falsified claims and warrants of illegal possessions of firearms followed by prevalent red-tagging, this perpetuates the immoral yet normalized incidents of planting ‘evidence’ towards activists and the marginalized. Additionally, this is a manifestation of the collateral damage propagated by the Anti-Terror Law through arrests and red-tagging with no due process from a broad and unclear legal basis the same event that happened to Reina Mae Nasino and her child, Baby River, earlier this year. 

Photo by Kathy Yamzon

Amidst Human Rights Day, another incident of impunity and abuses continually rose as the PNP arrested six trade unionists and a journalist for the alleged possession of illegal firearms, which are conventional charges held against activists. Without due process, the fabricated allegations and charges were held against Journalist Lady Ann Salem, Unionist Dennise Velasco, Unionist Mark Ryan Cruz, Unionist Romina, Raiselle Astudillo, Unionist Jaymie Gregorio, Unionist Joel Demate, and Unionist Rodrigo Esparago. The progressive publication of Journalist Salem was also red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Activists and progressive groups have since condemned the arrests. 

The atrocities and impunity brought by these abuses must not be romanticized as Filipino resilience to eradicate accountability and impartiality. Rather, these events serve as a wake-up call, demanding for vigilance, solidarity, and justice towards standing with Filipinos, who continually resist and fight for our democracy even when they are challenged. What transpired is a byproduct of the normalized and glorified macho-feudal culture of the administration, fuelled by the enablers and the protectors of the unjust system. Hence, we must continually uphold vigilance and demand for accountability.

2. Report on post-holiday surge

(Photo by Krizjohn Rosales/PhilStar)

In retrospect, we’ve seen how the recent months gradually eased the safety protocols by leniently opening establishments and events. As we put our face shields down, clinking our glasses in the local coffee-shops for that Instagram story, we must be aware of the possible upbringing of the consequences brought by our actions. 

After meeting with scientists and mathematicians, health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire warned that a possible post-holiday surge of COVID-19 cases may emerge due to the gatherings and festivities. Accordingly, the Department of Health has coordinated with several hospitals and regional health offices in order to increase the capacity of hospitals. 

However, these contingency plans are not tantamount to the lack of manpower and the deteriorating health sector. They discouraged family gatherings and events that rendered possible virus transmission through crowded areas. Hence, we must continually and responsibly practice safety protocols for the welfare of the collective good, as preventive measures remain unmatched to the cure. With COVID-19 cases ceaselessly increasing, what more if we fail to lessen viral transmission at the expense of the medical frontliners and the vulnerable? 

3. Enclosing the rivalry of love teams in ‘Start-Up’ finale

Photo courtesy of ‘Start-Up’!

So, how many times have we seen gifs of Han Ji-Pyeong on our feed everyday? A source of solace and anticipation has always been embedded in Korean dramas. For the past few months, ‘Start-Up’ has been the most anticipated feel-good K-drama on Netflix, which tackled the youth conquering the ups and downs of starting a business. Amidst the bizarre energy held between the two male leads, Nam Do San and Han Ji Pyeong, the contrast in their characters were factors to the show’s well-deserved anticipation. 

Regardless of which love team you’re rooting for, it finally aired its final episode, enclosing the end of its captivating and meaningful lessons and stories on youth, love, hard work, and friendship. 

4. Senate panel approves SOGIE Bill

Photo courtesy of SunStar

The blazing pot of gold gradually casts a rainbow of validation after the difficult thunderstorms brought by this month and the year 2020 in general. On December 9, the proposed Anti-Discrimination Act sponsored and passed by the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality chaired by Senator Risa Hontiveros was finally approved by the Senate panel. 

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression Equality (SOGIE) Bill aims to impede the marginalization, discrimination, and violence towards sex characters, gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation. Moreover, this fortifies its formal and institutional recognition by providing equal access to healthcare and public services and the right to employment and education. Penalizations include encouragement of stigma and discrimination on educational mediums and perpetuating violence or sexual harassment against any individual belonging to the SOGIESC as it extends equal rights through programs, communities, and workplaces. 

This is a manifestation of the masses’ resistance towards equality, inclusivity, and diversity as we continually pushed its approval as a law with the power of our voices. We are valid, you are valid. 

5. Taylor Swift releases sister album, ‘evermore’

Screengrab from Taylor Swift’s Instagram account

After Taylor Swift released her album, ‘folklore’, in July, we thought that was enough to satiate the abrupt sorrows and difficulties that ensued in 2020. However, on December 11, she surprisingly released her 9th studio album, titled ‘evermore’. As the artist added how they couldn’t stop writing songs, she tackled folkorian core and escapism, delving into the dreamscapes and imaginary tales. Listeners found that these songs in the album reflected the melancholy, dread, and isolation felt during the entirety of 2020. 

As Swift enters a fresh and unconventional era, devoid of her usual forte of pop and previous rebellious concepts, she imparts her versatility through her artistry as she allows us to feel the desolation and emptiness brought by this year.

6. ICC finds basis for Durterte’s notorious war-on-drugs as a crime against humanity

Photo from AsiaPacific

Justice gradually emanated as the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addressed the reasonable basis for the crimes and killings committed by President Rodrigo Duterte. Bensouda reported that the Office believes that crimes against humanity were committed under Article 7(1)(a) for murder, Article 7(1)(f) for torture, and Article 7(1)(k) for infliction of severe physical injury and mental harm as other inhumane acts were committed in the Philippine territory between July 2016 to March 2019 years that propagated the War on Drugs. Additionally, she noted that the formal investigation phase may be ushered due to restrictions on the coronavirus pandemic. 

Nevertheless, the prevalence of the atrocities committed by the administration has concerned and alarmed international institutions to a global scale, in which intervention for mediation is necessary. Where international laws provide more protection in delivering justice than the country’s own laws and enablers, it is time to remind leaders that they are meant to serve us, not their self-interest. 

7. Weeping as TWICE releases single ‘CRY FOR ME’

Photo courtesy of CJ ENM

As more artists have helped us get through the last days of 2020’s finale, TWICE released a new song during the Mnet Asian Music Music Awards (MAMA), entitled ‘CRY FOR ME’. After releasing ‘Eyes Wide Open’ and an English version of ‘I CAN’T STOP ME,’ fans were once again surprised with the fresh, dark, and astonishing performance and concept delivered by the members, as its musicality and style strayed away from their usual and iconic cute and colorful concept. 

Their beautiful growth, versatility, and artistry in this performance manifested a newfound era for TWICE. ‘CRY FOR ME’ perfectly encapsulates getting rid of the toxicities we’ve been entangled with, especially in 2020.

8. Duque drops the ball to secure vaccine and its prioritization towards several cabinet members

(Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler)

Just when vaccines were finally being reproduced and disseminated, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III failed to file an important document that would have secured 10 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for the Philippines. According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, the vaccines have been disseminated to Singapore instead, while the narrative of Secretary Duque begged to differ as he stated that he failed to submit the documents because the process of coordinating with Pfizer was still ongoing. 

Following the distribution of vaccines in other countries, uncertainty surged as new COVID-19 strains began to emerge within England. It was reported that the mutated virus is 70% more contagious. The first cases appeared in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. 

Succeedingly, some Cabinet officials and militants have already been vaccinated against COVID-19, ahead of the multitudes of suffering medical workers. This only reveals to us that those with the upper hand only aim to protect and maintain their position on the status quo, regardless of the innocent and irreplaceable lives placed on the line — to them, the end justifies the means. 

Despite the evident history of the lack of urgency of the DOH, headed by the incompetence of Secretary Duque, and the calls of the masses and medical frontliners for his resignation, stagnant and inadequate change still prevails. At the expense of sacrificing the lives of the Filipino masses countless times, we once again witness the normalization of heinous practices in the administration. 

9. Briones notes opportunities for face-to-face classes in January 2021

(Photo by Henz Austria/Senate PRIB)

Despite the unsatisfactory and insufficient actions of the DOH in coordinating and securing the vaccine, Education Secretary Leonor Briones emphasized that children are more likely to contract the virus in their home than in school. However, experts argued that it was too early to determine whether it was safe enough to go to school. 

Recently, President Duterte cancelled the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes next year due the mutated virus strain and traveller from the United Kingdom that tested positive for COVID-19. While neighboring governments reimposed travel restrictions, Secretary Duque stated in a live press briefing that travel bans would only be implemented once a case of the mutated virus has been detected in the country. The same lack of urgency has caused and damaged irreplaceable lives against the Filipinos last January. We can no longer repeat the same mistake as we can only handle so much. 

With the ongoing call of the masses for a #LigtasBalikEskwela, the government must first ensure that the safety and health of the masses would be prioritized through the equal and inclusive dissemination of the vaccine. 

10. Glowing screens in UST’S Virtual 2020 Paskuhan

(Photo by Ralph Rainell Estrella/TomasinoWeb)

In this silent night, we concretized our hollow sorrows through our screens. The warm shades of yellow that illuminated the campus orchestrated with the flowing music have been replaced with empty stadiums, fields, and a glowing tree that stood alone. Little did we know, we’d be jamming not side by side with our friends, but alone in somber silence. 

This year’s Paskuhan held a virtual “Concert for a Cause” on Friday night, which featured wonderful pre-recorded performances from Lola Amour, Brisom, MilesExperience, Magnus Haven, The Ransom Collective, Callalily, Spongecola, and Ben&Ben. A UST Minecraft Tour was also held, which was nostalgic of the Christmas Paskuhan spirit the campus had evoked. 

Regardless of the circumstances, we should still be thankful for the stakeholders who made Paskuhan 2020 possible. It was a cathartic event to remember how to breathe after everything that had transpired. What a silent night, indeed. 

11. Devastation struck by Typhoon Vicky and earthquakes on Christmas week

(Photo by Erwin Mascarinas/Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Another natural disaster hit the Philippines as Typhoon Vicky strengthened on December 19, causing devastations of flood and landslides within the vicinity of Visayas and Mindanao. This damage has caused thousands to evacuate, displaced families, swept shores, and left nine people dead. Additionally, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Batangas on Christmas morning, at 7:43 am, with the epicenter within the vicinity of Calatagan.

The mental and physical state of the Philippines has not fully recovered, even after the devastation imparted by Typhoon Ulysses. We must not leave our fellow brothers and sisters behind, especially in the middle of a pandemic. The government must redirect its prioritizations on addressing and strategizing climate change and fund the natural disaster risk reduction sector. Donation drives and advocacy groups continually heed for our help and assistance as we arise and stand together. 

12. Glorified police brutality ensues as police shoots innocent mother and son

Photo by the Philippine National Police

TRIGGER WARNING: Mention of murder

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Streaks of bloodshot red wrongfully painted this month of Christmas. Situated in Parañaque, Senior Master Jonel Nuezca unjustly shot mother Sonya Gregorio and son Anthony Gregorio in Tarlac after a property right-of-way argument. As the heated dispute escalated, an infuriated Nuezca directly shot Sonya, who embraced her son, Anthony, in her last moment. He then shot the son twice and fired again at Sonya who was already on the ground. According to a witness, the cop held no remorse as he took his daughter with him. 

The video has surfaced online, causing angered individuals, groups, and politicians to criticize the abusive catastrophes ironically caused by those meant to serve and protect us. Nuezca was then arrested and charged with double murder. However, it was not tantamount to the psychological trauma that ensued for the innocent victims, their families, and even his daughter. 

The psychological effect of the macho-feudal culture that tolerates fascism and imperialism was evident throughout the video, in which the daughter, who proudly claimed that her father is a police, watched him shoot the innocent mother and son in broad daylight. This is a manifestation of indoctrinated mindsets instilled in children in glorifying authoritarian and patriarchal figures as a way of submissively respecting parental and institutional entities without questioning it. 

Without the video, this event would merely be buried alongside unrecorded and unreported incidents of the killings by the police tagged as “nanlaban”, or had planted evidence. With the PNP discouraging the public from recording evidence and publicizing it online, what does this tell us about? This wake-up call urges the masses to continually demand transparency, reforms, and justice for the system. How many more Filipinos will we sacrifice for the realization to dawn upon us, that something has to change if we continually tolerate impunity and selective justice?

There is no lie that the past events have made it difficult for us to see the silver lining this final month of 2020. As we connote the month of December for flickering hope, reminiscing the memories of the past year, undoubtedly this year’s merrymaking will be less merry. In a year where chaos seems to grow ceaselessly, hitting us from the most inevitable directions, we recollect the sentiments, books, shows, and people that made this year at least a bit tolerable for us, especially those who reminded us that we don’t have to endure everything alone. 

So, is there meaning and purpose for still clutching onto hope and justice, after everything? 2021 will not be perfect. However, we must continually cling unto that courage and grit that allowed us to ride out the year 2020. More than ever, we will gradually climb from the depths and holes of 2020 as we demand change, justice, soar, and fight for hope. 



Thomasian musicians to add to your playlist

With all the new takes on OPM, let’s not forget about our fellow Thomasians who are persevering to let their craft be known in the mainstream media. Support local, support Thomasian artists.



The rise of Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and other music-streaming platforms paved the way for more artists to share their craft with a broader audience. It is now easier to promote your material through social media, while people can seamlessly listen to your music through different audio platforms on-demand without splurging too much cash. A basic subscription plan lets anyone stream all the music they want and play your songs on repeat. With this boom in the music industry through technological advancements, artists are inspired, now more than ever, to produce more music and give sick beats to avid listeners.

Here is a shortlist of Thomasian musicians you can stream on your music platforms.

1. Al James

(Photo courtesy of Jilson Tiu)

Before he was front and center in most gigs and before his music was blasted through the speakers of bars, Alvin James Manlutac, famously known as Al James, also sat in the rooms of Beato as a student under the College of Fine Arts and Design. In launching his first hit, he also doubted himself because he knew his style did not follow hip-hop norms. But fast-forward to today, his crafts are among the most famous songs played in the nightlife scene, as well as in casual get-togethers with your friends.

Manlutac permeated the fine line between underground and mainstream when he released his song ‘Pahinga,’ gaining more than 7.3 million views since its release three years ago.

Screengrab from Presko Life PH

2. Migo Señires

(Photo from DBTK)

Like Al James, Migo Señires also spent his college days in Beato, studying Advertising Arts in the College of Fine Arts and Design. They are both a part of the Baryo Berde crew, a multi-talent collective that fixates on culture and art. 

Señires released his song, Kara,which garnered more than 141,000 views since it was posted on his channel. He claims that he wrote it for the younger people who forgot their roots and the older ones who get frustrated when they can’t keep up with modern times. 

3. Schumi

(Screengrab from YouTube/Schumi)

When he is not walking around the halls of Ruaño, he may be singing center stage. Albert Guallar, famously known as Schumi, has been catching ears in the local hip-hop scene. He first started producing music and uploading it to SoundCloud, which then garnered the attention of people who had an interest in hip-hop. In an interview with TomasinoWeb, he said that his Schumi persona — writing music and such, is his gateway to express his emotions. It was an effective venue to vent out feelings of heartbreak and sadness, which, in this instance, was his breakup with his girlfriend. 

Schumi’s hit song ‘Bakit Why Not’ talks about breaking norms and protesting against some stereotypes like gender roles. Its music video has amassed more than 10 thousand views within two months of its release.



4. Himig Borhuh

(Photo from Himig Borhuh’s official Soundcloud)

From walking around the halls of the Albertus Magnus to being in the spotlight of #USTPaskuhan, Himig Austin Borja, a Music Technology student from the Conservatory of Music, has been making a name for himself. In an interview with UST Tiger TV, he said that he didn’t really envision himself to major in music since he was inclined to sports and was a basketball varsity player during his high school years. He also did not expect his hit song, ‘Watawat,’ to become well-known and was surprised that lines from his song became widespread after its release.

Himig Borja’s ‘Watawat,’ featuring Schumi, was a song that garnered attention during the last UAAP season. The line ‘ang medalya at korona ibalik na sa España,’ reflected the community’s yearning to secure another championship and showed the support Thomasians have for all our sports teams as well as the pride we have for our school. 

5.  Adrian Aggabao

(Photo from Adrian Aggabao’s official Instagram account)

Adrian Aggabao, popularly known as ‘Don Bao,’ is a Raymund’s local from the College of Commerce and Business Administration. Like Schumi, his music career also began when he started publishing his music on SoundCloud. Since then, he has secured multiple gigs during his downtime. Most of his music speaks about social realities and what’s nice about it is that he has his family as his inspiration. 

Don Bao’s song ‘Pasanin’ emphasizes on the lessons that a life filled with struggles and obstacles brings. Having dropped this first video on his Youtube channel about a year ago, it has garnered more than 2.3 thousand views. 

6. BarbaCola

(Photo from BarbaCola’s official Facebook page)

From UST Musikat’s band pool, the band BarbaCola was formed with Renz Jerique from the Faculty of Arts and Letters on vocals, Raja Rayas from the College of Education on bass, Cedrick Santa Cruz from the Faculty of Engineering on lead guitar, and Raemonn Petr on drums.

BarbaCola’s song ‘Senseless’ runs along with the themes of alternative and indie genres, mainly focusing on the ups and downs of love and how it is a war that one might not survive.

7. VFade

(Photo from Patrick Valentine Cabanayan’s official Facebook account)

Patrick Valentine Cabanayan, more commonly known as VFade, hails from the College of Science under the Department of Mathematics. In an interview with UST Tiger TV, he stated that his interest in music developed when he was in Senior High School, specifically during an apprenticeship under the Music, Arts, and Design track. He tried out music production and also ventured into rapping. 

His song ‘Andito Lang Ako’ expresses love and affection for a significant other. The song itself embodies the wide array of emotions one might feel when in love and how some minute details in the world seem brighter in the presence of strong feelings of attraction.

8. OMEN, Carty and Ballen

(Screengrab from YouTube/OnlyOneOmen)

All coming from the same Advertising Arts class in the College of Fine Arts and Design, third year students OMEN (Ron Flores), Carty (Zack Garcia), and Ballen (Allen Agulay) recently made their brainchild available to the public. The trio, who consider themselves brothers from another mother, has collaborated to release a new song entitled ‘Karma Comeback.’

As a collective, they claim that they made the song ‘Karma Comeback’ for fun since quarantine made it hard for them to bond and share their sentiments. By collaborating, they delved into their passion, music, art, and dumb sh*t, as they say.

Thomasians have always been present in every field, more prominently in the music industry. Their growth as artists and musicians will be exponential if we continue to support them and their work. With all the new takes on OPM, let’s not forget about our fellow Thomasians who are persevering to let their craft be known in the mainstream media. Support local, support Thomasian artists. 


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How to apply clown makeup

Did you know that circus clowns make $60,000 a year while you’re out here doing it for free?



(Artwork by Patricia Jardin/TomasinoWeb)

When Miles Edgeworth said, “You are not the clown. You are the entire circus,” I felt that.

Did you know that circus clowns make $60,000 a year while you’re out here doing it for free? It’s the first day of April and what better way to commemorate this annual holiday than putting on your best clown makeup! From McDonalds to your local emoji, we’re here to help you channel that inner Boo Boo the Fool in you. 

First, make sure your skin is prepped nice and clean. Bold assumptions and hasty generalizations usually make a good base. These tend to last longer because you refuse to take them off. You can use your two fingers, a sponge, or your foolish thoughts to apply it evenly. 

Now it’s time to build on those assumptions and paint your canvas. Start off by carving out spaces on your eyes and mouth where you will be applying the colors. Depending on your preference, you can choose to paint the eye with the same color or two different colors. When deciding which color, be quick and impulsive. Then, remember to paint it with inconsistency just like your thoughts and words. 

The cheeks and mouth will be red. Luckily, there are a variety of rouge shades in clown makeup. We recommend using the palette “Red Flags,” which you can get for free when you use the code “NOLABELS” or “CAN’TCOMMIT” at checkout. Color in your cheeks with a soft red color, perhaps in the shade “Here for a good time, not a long time” or “Only talk about themselves but never ask about you.” Don’t spend so much time blending because the key here is completely ignoring it.

The mouth is the highlight of clown makeup. Our tip is to overline your lips to the degree you overthink. You can then go ahead and color it in, but this time with a more intense shade of red. The shades “Entitled,” “Manipulative,” and “Caught cheating in 4K” are the most tolerated in the clown community. 

Accentuate the details of your look by making outlines around your eyes and mouth. Again, depending on the look you’re going for, you can make the outline as thin as your chances with that person you’re simping over or as thick as your audacity to get back with your ex after getting off a 3-hour phone call with your best friend who clearly told you not to. 

Of course, we can’t forget about the cherry on top and the crowning glory of clowns: the wig. There’s a wide variety of colors you can choose from but select a wig that will fit your head and perfectly cover up all your tomfoolery, bamboozlement, and wishful thinking. 

If you have cash to spare, throw in a costume and some oversized shoes that will help you jump into conclusions better. Don’t forget to pop on a red nose and voilà! The circus is complete. 

The art of clownery is one that is hard to master, yet the community keeps growing. And that speaks volumes. Clowning isn’t just a coping mechanism, it’s a cultural reset, a lifestyle, a reason to breathe, and an escape from this cruel world. 

Most importantly, it’s harmless because the only person you’re fooling is yourself. Happy April Fools‘!

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