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February 2021: Tales of nostalgia, heartbreak, and hope

Instead of butterflies, this year came fluttering with other unexpected things that added flavor to an otherwise bland month of love. 

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Photo courtesy of Jonathan Cellona/ABS-CBN News

It is finally time to bid goodbye to the season of excessive flower bouquets, stuffed toys, and floating hearts. While the pandemic may have barred us from seeing others for another month, a few of us still managed to pull strings and make the most of this season of love and giving. But instead of butterflies, this year came fluttering with other unexpected things that added flavor to an otherwise bland month of love. 

Here’s a look back at events that made headlines this February.

1. Mayor Isko Moreno approves UST’s bid for face-to-face classes

(Photo by Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb)

Without a vaccine rolled out to the public, the uncertainties towards conducting face-to-face classes only grew. But on February 3, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno gave the green light to the university to conduct limited face-to-face classes for its medical and health allied courses. He also stated that other universities are welcome to apply for the same grant. Along with UST, the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and Centro Escolar University (CEU) have also been allowed by the City of Manila to resume face-to-face classes. 

Earlier this month, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Commission on Higher (CHEd) Education also released a joint memorandum stating the guidelines that higher educational institutions must comply with when resuming face-to-face classes. This includes limiting face-to-face delivery for specialized laboratory courses and hospital-based clerkships and internships. Stringent measures such as proper hand hygiene and wearing face masks, face shields, and other personal protective equipment must also be practiced by the students, faculty members, and school staff. 

2. Taylor Swift releases own version of Love Story

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Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift

Just when we thought that the back-to-back release of ‘folklore’ and ‘evermore’ saved us from the drought of good music, we were wrong. On February 11, Taylor Swift woke up and chose violence once again. 

After her deal ended with her long-time label, Swift revealed that she would be re-recording her old music as she now holds ownership for her masters. True to her words, the 31-year-old singer released a re-recorded version of her 2008 classic ‘Love Story’ that made her a household name. 

Swift’s modern version still held the same nostalgic feelings of experiencing love for the first time. ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ was musically faithful to her original, proving just how immaculate Swift’s vocals are even after all these years. 

The re-recorded version of her second studio album ‘Fearless’ will be dropped on April 9. Swift announced that the upcoming version will include 26 songs, with 6 never before released tracks. And yes, get your tissues out because it includes a 10-minute recording of ‘All Too Well.’

3. Kris Aquino resurfaces on social media as a meme

Screengrab from ABS-CBN News

With everyone still grappling with the effects of the pandemic, netizens have yet again found another source of entertainment to fulfill their joys and express their frustration.

Earlier this month, a new meme featuring Kris Aquino saying ‘Because?’ made rounds on social media. The actress even joined in on the fun and asked her followers on Instagram to send her questions she can answer using the meme. 

 

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A post shared by KRIS AQUINO (@krisaquino)

While the post that sparked the trend is yet to be found, the ‘Because?’ meme actually originated from the actress’s interview with Kim Chiu on her 2014 talk show, ‘Kris TV.’ When Chiu was asked to express her gratitude to her fans, she couldn’t help but tear up. Aquino then asked the actress to explain why she was emotional, giving birth to the iconic meme.

4. Moira dela Torre breaks more hearts with ‘Paubaya’

5. Screengrab from the ‘Paubaya’ official music videoDue to the pandemic, this year’s celebration Valentine’s day was different, with most of us spending it with our loved ones at home and with our friends online. However you may have chosen to spend it, one thing’s for sure: you found yourself having an existential crisis at 10 pm because of ‘Paubaya.’ 

As if things couldn’t get lonelier on February 14, singer-songwriter Moira dela Torre surprisingly dropped her latest single, ‘Paubaya,’ through a music video featuring real-life exes Joshua Garcia and Julia Barreto. Collectively known as JoshLia, the pair broke hearts all over the internet through a heartbreaking tale of two lovers who end up separating at the altar, with the bride (Julia) leaving the groom (Joshua). 

In true internet fashion, netizens did not pass up the opportunity to create memes from the dialogue between the couple, which helped us to somehow escape the hollow sadness and  heartbreak the MV brought. 

Since its release, the music video has garnered more than 21 million views.

Relieve the story of heartbreak, forgiveness, and acceptance in ‘Paubaya’ here.

5. NASA’s Perseverance rover finally lands on Mars

photo of the Mars Perseverance Rover descending from its skycrane

Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

After almost seven months and 292.5 million miles of journeying, NASA’s Perseverance rover safely landed on the surface of the red planet on February 18. Perseverance is the fifth Mars rover crafted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

The mission, which will take about one Mars year (around 687 Earth days), is mainly targeted to explore the past habitability of the planet. The Perseverance rover is built with various scientific instruments that will enable it to collect core samples or Martian rock and soil, which will be brought back to Earth by a future mission for further analysis. It is also expected to determine the planet’s geological characteristics, the chemistry of its terrain, and even its climate. The rover will also be rolled out to take panoramic images of the planet that more than 10 million Earthlings signed up a boarding pass for. 

But this won’t easily give a definitive answer to the debate whether life can be supported on the planet. It may give clues, but we’d have to wait a few more years and Mars missions. For now, we can let our mind roam free in the panoramic view of the rover’s landing site.

6. Shootout between PNP and PDEA leaves 4 dead

Photo courtesy of Mark Demayo/ABS-CBN News

On February 24, a misencounter between the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) near a mall in Quezon City left two police officers and two anti-drug agents dead in its trail. 

PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana stated that they will investigate the incident and asserted that what occurred will not affect the operational relationship and coordination between the PNP and PDEA against illegal drugs. 

At a press conference in Camp Crame, PDEA chief Wilkins Villanueva called the encounter “the saddest day in the history of drug law enforcement.” He then stated that they will cooperate in the joint investigation between PNP and PDEA to make sense of what transpired. PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas also clarified that both the agents and officers were on a legitimate anti-drugs operation. 

Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, stated that President Rodrigo Duterte will ask the Congress and the Senate to delay their investigations on the case to give way for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to impartially and properly probe on the matter.

7. The 35th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Cellona/ABS-CBN News

This year marked the 35th anniversary of the historic revolution that ousted the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and restored the country’s democracy. To commemorate the collective efforts of millions of Filipinos, several groups and organizations took part in protests and activities. Together, they emphasized the downsides of historical revisionism and the importance of freedom and democracy, especially in today’s day and age. 

At the People Power Monument in EDSA, a flag raising and wreath laying ceremony was spearheaded by Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte. A mass conducted by papal nuncio Archbishop Charles John Brown then followed at the EDSA Shrine. Catholics were among the millions that flocked EDSA 35 years ago, led by former Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin.

Along with keeping justice and democracy alive, former President Fidel V. Ramos urged the Filipino people that “the revolution is not over and remains unfinished until every Filipino enjoys the freedoms and rights embodied in our Constitution.” He further called on the people to continue remembering the value of nationalism and the revolutionary spirit of the holiday we celebrate each year.

8. President Duterte signs COVID-19 vaccine indemnification law

Photo courtesy of Daily Tribune

It has been over a year since the first case of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in the country. However, rather than feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, we may be looking at a ray of hope against the invisible enemy that turned our lives upside down. 

Among the current vaccine candidates, the Philippines is expected to receive 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca and 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine. These are part of the targeted 44 million doses of COVAX that would potentially protect 20% of the Philippine population from the viral threat. 

Initially, 117,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine were expected to arrive mid-February. However, this was delayed due to the lack of an indemnity deal. On February 27, President Duterte signed the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021. This law allocates P500 million as an indemnity fund that would cover compensation for vaccine recipients that might suffer from adverse reactions following its inoculation. 

This week, WHO Country Representative Rabrindra Abeyasinghe confirmed that about 5.2 to 9.2 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine have been approved for emergency medical use in the Philippines. 

The said vaccine was reported to have an efficacy rate of 63.09%, with new research showing that a delayed administration of the second shot may boost its efficacy.   

Within the 28 short days of February, we’ve gone through hell and back. But somehow, small victories and joys have made their way in between our collective sufferings and frustrations due to the current situation. In one way or another, these tales of nostalgia and hope help relieve our burdens and give us a reason to fight through another day in isolation. 

As we enter a year since the Luzon lockdown, may we look at tomorrow with a beam of hope and burning desire to call for change to materialize within our country. There is no obvious guarantee that this would happen overnight. So, we should take this time to reconnect with our surroundings and allow ourselves to think critically about societal issues that affect everyone’s lives. Otherwise, anomalies and misdirected leadership would no longer be the root causes of unsolved problems, but rather our social indifference. 

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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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