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Fake news and CTTO: How do we deal with a misinformed ‘Marites’?

The way to engage isn’t always about us talking and spitting out the facts, but also listening to the roots of their frustrations and anxieties that led them to believe disinformation on the internet. 

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

You log in to your Facebook and you see a shared video from your tita about how the COVID-19 vaccines are bioengineered to turn us into zombies or how the earth is actually flat. The thing is, they are all obviously fake and unfounded, and it’s a scene we are all too familiar with.

Disinformation has permeated every facet of our lives. In the age of social media, it’s a crazy wildfire to control, especially when you’re up against a rigged system and extensive network of propaganda with which lies and half-truths continue to foster. 

How do we talk to people who fall prey to the extensive and strategic machinery of disinformation campaigns? Do we simply block, unfriend, move on, and never speak to them again? Or should we still engage in the hopes of turning things around? 

Well, here’s a guide on how to deal with “Marites” (our local version of the West’s “Karen”), a catchall term for people who like to gossip and spread false information.

‘Marites’ and the echo chamber of falsehoods

I used to unfriend and mute people who aren’t aligned with my political beliefs. Whenever an acquaintance or mutual friend on Facebook or Twitter would share something that goes against my non-negotiables such as human rights, I bid adieu pronto by tapping that “unfriend” button and calling it a day. Good riddance, I say after.

Photo courtesy of The Asian Parent

At first, this purging of my social media space felt satisfying, cathartic even. It made my timeline neat, reflecting only what I wanted to see and hear. People’s posts have become a litmus test of whether or not I should accept their friend request. 

But then, eventually, I realized that I’ve locked myself up into this virtual echo chamber where I only encounter beliefs, opinions, and information that reinforce and amplify my own biases. Here comes the necessity to burst this bubble and, as Gen Zs say, touch some grass. 

“Marites” may have fallen into this trap, too. With what digital media scholars call a filter bubble, it is very easy for users to quickly jump into content similar to what you’ve interacted with, especially when the platform’s algorithm itself facilitates this situation to gain more engagements. This gives us an opportunity to understand how the system works against its users and gain an overview of how we can combat it, and perhaps attempt to effectively and meaningfully engage with people who have opposing views.

The value of listening and finding common ground

It is very easy to be preachy on social media. When it comes to communicating our viewpoints, especially with extremely sociopolitically-charged topics such as the elections, vaccines, and yes, even human rights, there is the tendency to be didactic and to simplistically dismiss what the other person is saying. This practice derails conversations and may even be counterproductive to what we are trying to achieve. 

We can try being open to their opinions, even if we often find them to be unfounded and unreliable. And so, the way to engage isn’t always about us talking and spitting out the facts, but also listening to the roots of their frustrations and anxieties that led them to believe disinformation on the internet. 

Facts in the post-truth world

“[T]he misinformed is miseducated and misguided,” writes EJ Honorica, a human rights advocate, in his thinkpiece on the intellectual arrogance that drives the masses to consume media that are dubious and suspicious, and that the fault should not be placed unto them. 

Photo courtesy of The Social Dilemma/Netflix

When people come from a place of condescension with Messianic complex in educating people who are misinformed, we enable this narrative of an elitist syndrome and drive them further to consume content that they relate to the most. Simply dropping a boring, text-heavy resumé, even if all of the content is true and verified and referenced in APA referencing, is definitely the way to go if we want to alienate them. 

The battle in this era of post-truth is not only about facts per se but more about how we can compellingly make people care through narratives. It is through telling stories, personal and affective ones, that the “Marites” can receptively take. After listening to them and finding common ground, we must then contextualize this to their everyday experiences, using language that is not from the ivory towers of academia and elitism.

I first encountered the concept of Truth Sandwich in a class in my freshman year. Basically, it is a method by which one counters the lie without amplifying and giving undue publicity to the lie you are trying to refute. It follows three easy steps to counter fake news: state what is true, refute the lie, and then repeat the truth. Of course, it’s not a one-size-fits-all formula to dismantle a mindset soaked into the web of lies online, but it’s something I find useful and handy when it comes to personally engaging with misinformed folks.

Challenging dominant narratives

In a Newton Tech4Dev Foundation-funded report by Jonathan Ong and Jason Vincent Cabañes, it was revealed that disinformation production in the Philippines is a professionalized enterprise. Its problem takes its roots from the massive amount of propaganda and carefully orchestrated, targeted by operators. 

The study puts it this way, saying “The problem of disinformation production goes deeper than anyone caricatured hero or celebrity villain; it is systemic, deeply rooted, and entwined in the cultural fabric of Philippine society. Behind the madness is an invisible machine: industrial in its scope and organization, strategic in its outlook and expertise, and exploitative in its morality and ethics.”

Our individual efforts will definitely go a long way in continuing our fight against the extensive network of disinformation. However, this does not mean that we fail to acknowledge how this problem is systemic in nature, and thus also requires systemic reforms. 

Pushing back can come in different forms, from holding institutions accountable to engaging with our next-door neighbor “Marites.” It is in challenging harmful narratives meant to create hesitation, fear, and distrust that we can collectively extinguish the so-called firehose of falsehoods. 

Paolo Alejandrino
Blogs Writer | + posts

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TOMCAT jazzes it up with ‘Tunog Tomasino: Wonder in Rhythm’

This year’s artists spoke resonant themes of love, empowerment, nationalism, Filipino culture, advocacy, social issues, and emotions.  

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Photo courtesy of Instagram/TOMCAT

Brought together by music and poetry, Thomasian artists entered another year of showcasing their musicality and artistry in TOMCAT’S ‘Tunog Tomasino.’ Despite the fact that this was the first-ever online ‘Tunog Tomasino’ event since 2019, their vibrant impact still broke through.

Adhering to this year’s theme, “#WonderInRhythm,” the fruitful online concert held on Nov. 27, gathered a profound audience that wondrously chanted along the talentry of various performers such as Mimosa, Jan Damien Balolong, Nine Roses, Oh Stella!, Anne Catherryne Gatchalian, Anton Stefano Acosta, Ashley Nicole Macabeo, Jericho Pacia, Nicole Olalia, and Vincent Nicolas Mitra. 

Performers serenaded pleasing symphonies and verses as they spoke their hearts and souls out in their original pieces. This year’s singers, rappers, songwriters, and spoken-word artists spoke resonant themes of love, empowerment, nationalism, Filipino culture, advocacy, social issues, and emotions.  

Interactions and interviews with the hosts were present too, which gave the audience a glimpse of the artists’ inspirations of their songs and their narratives. Comments of the audience were very much given light as well. Amid the exciting performances, the organization also held a thrilling raffle through Instagram and Twitter. 

Check out TOMCAT’s social media accounts to also be updated with the ventures of this year’s diverse and talented lineup. 

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

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Let your unfiltered feelings flow with ‘The Purple Project’

Delve into their introspective project that fosters safe spaces for emotional health by dropping meaningful messages, joining collaborations, and copping cute apparel.  

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Photo courtesy of Hiatus Manila

For an eventful world that doesn’t seem to pause, we can’t help but sometimes want calmness to descend. In this pandemic, we tend to dilute our feelings to the side, churning down the thoughts and emotions of what we truly want to convey. 

Gazes, playlists, love languages, quality time, you name it. The mundane and spontaneous are enough to affirm us that it is okay to simply feel and take a deep breath. Akin to the color purple, consisting of different variations and tones, it tells us that our feelings can radiate in dreamy lilacs or to darker shades of solitude, making us completely valid and capable of feeling. And this is the culture of care Hiatus Manila’s The Purple Project devotes itself to. 

The Purple Project aims to echo unsaid feelings, value self-care, and reach out to those in need by evoking meaningful connections. Delve into their introspective project that fosters safe spaces for emotional health by dropping meaningful messages, joining collaborations, and copping cute apparel by referring to the mechanics: 

  1. They will be using a Google Form where the audience can drop their purple thoughts (which should be done anonymously) and they will be sharing them weekly.  
  2. They will also be posting short videos of tips and advice on how to take better care of themselves in collaboration with other artists/influencers. 
  3. Most importantly, the proceeds from this project will be allotted in establishing a foundation to provide materials/needs to target communities/partners.

In their previous projects, #HiatusCares and #ThePurpleProject, participants were encouraged to take part and post film photos that they wanted to share, especially what they miss and what they felt (e.g. missing friends and face-to-face classes). 

Photo courtesy of Hiatus Manila

But that’s not it! Get your chance to cop the “Mean It” shirts and hoodies, which contain words shared by those who participated in The Purple Thoughts drop box. Proceeds of this project will be used for donations to chosen charity.

You can also visit their Instagram: @hiatus.mnl for more updates. 

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

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#PpopRising: 6 P-Pop groups worth listening to

As a response to the prevalent phenomenon of K-pop, there has been a fueled interest in the renaissance of sensational P-pop groups. But which of them are worth listening to?

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Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

Let’s get local! From the legendary APO Hiking Society to the best-selling Philippine female group of all time, SexBomb Girls, we are no strangers when it comes to local music groups. Why? It’s because we love singing, particularly songs that touch our pathos. Truth be told, our country could even become synonymous with karaoke. And it wouldn’t be long, let alone shocking, if there comes a time a Filipino will be born with a silver mic. 

But nowadays, the Korean music industry continues to dominate our domestic airwaves. Just looking on Twitter, it’s a no-brainer that many K-pop fans are also Filipinos. So as a response to this prevalent phenomenon, there has been a fueled interest in the renaissance of sensational P-pop groups. But which of them are worth listening to?

To give you an idea about our emerging P-pop acts, here are six groups that are uncontrollably rising in the local scene.

1. BGYO

Photo courtesy of Instagram/bgyo_ph

Following the classic adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” it’s also the same for BGYO. Trained under Filipino and Korean mentors for two years to become idols, it was a long time coming for members Gelo, Akira, JL, Mikki, and Nate. Pronounced as “B-G-Y-O,” the all-male quintet’s arrival to the local music scene seems like an advent.

Obviously, expectations are high and the pressure is real, but they didn’t disappoint. Less than a year since their debut, BGYO proves that they’re unstoppable. 

Albeit rookies, they successfully tapped the international arena after dropping their debut album, The Light, last October. After charting in several countries, it is safe to say that they are on track with their goal to deliver empowerment and inspiration. My favorite from the album is ‘When I’m With You,’ as it reminds me of a laid-back One Direction song. 

That’s why it also seems fitting that BGYO’s fandom is called ACEs. Like the playing card, they are becoming a symbol of high quality and excellence. Not only do they offer an infusion of pop and electro-dance in their songs, but this five-member boy group also has a high sense of youthful fashion that I bet many influencers could learn a thing or two thereof.

No wonder it’s easier to pronounce their name as bagyo — a fitting mistake that makes sense because they’re poised to be the baddest storm of them all. 

2. BINI

Photo courtesy of Instagram/bini_ph

Being the sister group of BGYO in Star Hunt Academy, the irresistible girl group BINI first appeared in public with their captivating rendition of Ryan Cayabyab’s nostalgic novelty song,Da Coconut Nut.’ And of course, there’s no doubt that their fanbase, called Bloom, would grow upon watching their first-ever music video. But frankly, it’s not a walk in the park for members Aiah, Colet, Maloi, Gwen, Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena.

Together with BGYO, BINI has been working hard over the past two years. So for them, coming on stage together is more than a dream come true. Eventually, they debuted with a rather familiar song, ‘Born to Win,’ which gives me an early 2010s electro-pop vibe. But don’t let that stop you from listening to them. 

Indeed, I stand corrected upon listening to BINI’s debut album with the same name. ‘Born to Win’ contains bops, from the funky ‘Golden Arrow,’ to the euphoric ‘Kapit Lang’—all of which you can tune in all day long, all year long. With their charming voices and flawless dance moves, they are definitely worthy of numerous praises. 

Similar to their brother group, Born to Win is a testament to BINI’s future aspirations of global fame. In fact, the sibling groups recently had their first online concert, ‘One Dream,’ last Nov. 6 and 7. And perhaps, there are more concerts to come for the girls of BINI.

3. ALAMAT

Photo courtesy of Twitter/Official_ALAMAT

Want to stan a group that is extremely proud to represent their Filipino roots? Say no more.

Multilingual group ALAMAT loves to experiment with their singles. Starting their journey with debut single, ‘kbye,’ the eight-member act absolutely understood the assignment. Combining several Filipino languages in a catchy breakup song is like virtually visiting the different regions of the country.

ALAMAT comprises of Taneo, Mo, Tomas, R-ji, Valfer, Alas, Gami, and Jao. Each one of them is a representation of our deep and immemorial Filipino culture. The group’s distinctive sense of style, which is derived from traditional Filipino influences, has been their brand.

Daring to be unique and legendary, ALAMAT will pull off anything up their sleeve, even if that means getting out of their comfort zone. And that is visually evident in the music video for their single, ‘kasmala,’ which is a hot take on discrimination towards Filipinos.

Moving to their latest single, ALAMAT’s sentimental take on the 2011 Chavacano hit ‘Porque,’ originally sung by Maldita, is also a feast for the ears. A trip down memory lane, these extraordinary boys mix lo-fi together with traditional Filipino instruments in a way to declare to the world how versatile they are. Might as well add it on your study playlist!

4. LITZ

Photo courtesy of Twitter/official_litz

There’s a new girl (group) in town, and they’re ready to shine!

Within a few days after releasing their pre-debut single, ‘Natataranta,’ LITZ already accumulated more than 250,000 views and 25,000 likes on its music video. A JaDine fan would know that LITZ’s single is actually a cover of James Reid’s song in the 2014 teen romcom film Diary ng Panget. But what, or rather, who prepared them to be ready?

It was no other than celebrated choreographer Teacher Georcelle, the founder of the dance company G-Force and who was also the one who coined the group’s name. If you’re unfamiliar with her, she’s basically the mastermind behind the iconic choreography of Sarah Geronimo’s ‘Tala,’ the 2015 record-breaking hit that became a dance craze after resurfacing on TikTok.

With that kind of expertise, members Ashtine, Heart, Fatima, Bianca, and Yumi definitely learned from the best. And needless to say, it manifested in their praiseworthy performance of ‘Natataranta.’

Unfortunately, if you’re asking when they are going to release their official debut single, there’s no specific date yet. On a positive note, you can always check out LITZ’s social media accounts

5. 4TH IMPACT

Photo courtesy of Twitter/4thImpactMusic

Perhaps the most mature act on the list, one should not brush off a group like 4th Impact. Being in the global music scene for six strong years, the all-female quartet deserves more appreciation from Gen-Z.

Although the group was formed at the suggestion of their aunt nearly two decades ago, it was only in 2015 when sisters Almira, Irene, Mylene, and Celina reached the spotlight after competing in X Factor UK where they finished fifth place. Currently, the most streamed video in the history of the British show, 4th Impact’s audition video covering Jessie J’s ‘Bang Bang’ has already over 180 million views.

Soon afterward, their performances were highly anticipated worldwide during the X Factor Live Tour. Over the next four years, the girls’ calendar was jam-packed with live tours and shows all over the world. And in 2020, 4th Impact released their first original song, ‘K(no)w More.’ Accompanied by their powerful vocals, their latest single screams attagirl—an encouragement to get out of that toxic relationship. 

Today, the four sisters focus more on their online engagement with their fans, particularly on TikTok and KUMU, where they won the Celebrity of the Year for the 2020 KUMU Special Awards. With that, I’m confident to say that their future will further slay, so get ready for it!

6. SB19

Photo courtesy of Twitter/SB19Official

Saving the best for the last, if you’re still reading this article and you haven’t listened yet to SB19, you’re missing out big time. A year before all of us were forced to stay home, SB19 got their deserving big break in 2019 after netizens crazed over the group’s synchronized dancing in their second single ‘Go Up.’

But before emerging in the scene, SB19 admitted that they almost decided to disband and give up their dreams. Sadly, this is the heartbreaking reality in the Philippine music industry, where musicians and artists alike have to cling to big names in order to survive the dog-eat-dog world of entertainment. 

Since then, members Josh, Pablo, Stell, Ken and Justin continuously spread their influence with titles that shows their versatility and multiple talents in songwriting, singing, and dancing. And these characteristics are still greatly displayed in their extended play, ‘Pagsibol.’ With tracks like ‘What?,’ ‘Bazinga,’ and ‘Mapa,’ we all know that they have yet to reach their peak.

Even though they’re last on this list, they’re certainly the first in many things. Just this May, the group was nominated for the Billboard Music Awards’ Top Social Artist along with huge international names like Ariana Grande and Seventeen. Fast forward to October, the group was also nominated for the Best Southeast Asia Act at the 2021 MTV Europe Music Awards.

Among all contemporary P-pop groups, SB19 is currently the most streamed artist on Spotify. Personally, I believe it’s destiny, not luck, that the boys landed on newspapers and on the minds of the Filipino youth. And it’s becoming a reality that they are now paving the way for future generations of P-pop groups.

Majority of these local acts debuted amid the pandemic. Albeit unfortunate, it’s in our hands, as listeners and patrons of good music, to introduce their songs beyond the local scene. 

Supporting our local music is the first step in appreciating our very own acts. P-pop groups, from BINI to ALAMAT to SB19, have so much to offer and all of them are just waiting for us to hear them. And it’s still a challenge that some people continue to call them baduy.

This isn’t trying to overshadow K-pop and show spite towards South Korean idols. Rather, this is #PpopRising, and quoting the wise words of SB19: “Yeah we gonna go up.”

Kurt Alec Mira
Blogs Writer | + posts
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