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How June 2020 defined the world in this “new normal”

In response to current events, others have found a significant boost as people came together to express outrage and push for social change.

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Artwork by Patricia Jardin

While the world is essentially glued to their smartphones, computers, televisions, and radios, no injustice comes unrecognized as the public closely watches each event unfold and passionately seeks accountability from those responsible.

June 2020 has been yet another rollercoaster of events all over the world as each country does their best in trying to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. It has brought out the ills of society and made people express their dissent and outrage at the respective responses of their leaders. With people spending more time on social media, the existing system has been subject to even deeper scrutiny causing the rise in awareness for problems that have persisted even before the pandemic struck.

Movements have been organized, with respect of course to social-distancing, aiming to address these issues on the international level. Beginning way before the quarantine and lockdown, some have found themselves gaining even more attention and support with most of the world glued to the internet. And in response to current events, others have found a significant boost as people came together to express outrage and push for social change.

1. Black Lives Matters Protests

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A movement dating back to 2013, Black Lives Matter started as a response to the killing of Trayvon Martin caused by a suspicion of his eventual shooter, George Zimmerman. The movement has since been a strong voice of each racially-driven crime and a loud response towards the subsequent death of Eric Garner and others. 

This time, it serves as a response to the killing of George Floyd, who died of police brutality after being pinned to the ground with a knee over his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. This event that prompted mass protests over racism and police brutality has touched everyone all over the globe, including prominent Filipino personalities such as Chris Ross, Joe Devance, and Kobe Paras among others.

2. Hong Kong Protests

Photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Stemming as far back as March 2019, the Hong Kong protests were primarily about upholding the democratic freedom and independence of Hong Kong. Initially starting as a protest against an extradition bill, it had quickly become a larger movement even after the bill had been dropped. 

Currently, it has taken the worldwide stage again with concerns of police brutality being rampant as the government tries to silence the protesters through shootings led by officers as well as countless arrests of protesters. Still, all these are being endured by protesters to fight for Hong Kong’s independence and democracy.

3. #SpeakingOut Movement

Photo from CBR

Professional wrestlers are typically known for bringing the action in the ring. This time, however, these larger than life characters are bringing the fight outside the ring and into social media with the #SpeakingOut movement.

Originating from stories of harassment and abuse in the UK pro-wrestling scene, the movement branched out into the US scene. Numerous stories have been posted and tweeted about abuse from trainers or misconduct from other pro-wrestlers towards fans and co-workers. These allegations prompted companies who have hired these wrestlers to suspend or terminate them from future shows.

4. The battle against COVID-19

Photo from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Serving as the proverbial push that set the vigilance of the world in motion, the over 3-month battle against COVID-19 has been the biggest example of the world’s unity and division.

Although some countries have seen tremendous success in containing the cases, others have seen a surge after attempting to re-open day-to-day operations. To prevent further spread of disease, businesses have considered using other means of payment and service to limit risks. This brought out the resourcefulness of business-owners coming up with innovative solutions to this problem while also minimizing lay-offs and for some, accommodating even more employees.

5. Mass lay-offs and economic recession

Photo from Forbes & Getty Images

With the closing of public establishments, profit losses are simply inevitable. This has caused companies to lay-off employees and for businesses in all scales to give pay-cuts or even shut down entirely.

Numerous businesses have considered shutting down operations due to their inability to pay their bills and employees, while some industries, like the food industry, found solutions in utilizing delivery services to continue serving their customers albeit on a lower scale. Other struggling industries found themselves backed against a corner as safety measures continued to prevent operations. Resorts and hotels have temporarily used their accommodations to shelter incoming OFWs for quarantine. Also, transport services have been utilized as shuttle services for companies operating under quarantine policies in the Philippines.

6. Brands pull ads out of Facebook

Photo by SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Recently, big name brands have decided to pull their ads from Facebook citing concerns over misinformation and hate speech.

Popular brands and companies, such as Unilever and Coca-Cola, have decided to boycott Facebook over hate speech in line with the recent Black Lives Matter protests. Concerns over political biases that Facebook have helped propagate over the years have also been raised. This pledge is in response to countless demands and requests for Facebook to better moderate the content that is published on its platform. Owing to public pressure, Facebook promised to tighten its content policies.

7. Facebook “fake accounts” fiasco

Photo from Rappler

While calls for change picked up steam all over the world, the Philippines has had its own share of battles, ironically not with the virus that has brought the world to its knees in the past months.

Earlier this month, numerous Facebook accounts which appeared to be clones of existing accounts, started to surface on the website and raised concern amongst citizens voicing their displeasure with the proposed Anti-Terror Bill. As a response, affected citizens banded together, making Facebook groups to mass report these fake accounts. There have also been efforts to create websites or tools designed to track and index these accounts based on their predictable format. 

8. Philippines’ transition from ECQ to GCQ

Photo from the Philippine National Police

Months after placing NCR and other regions under ECQ, President Duterte finally lifts the status of the community quarantine to GCQ, but not without consequences.

Last month, the president decided to lower the status of the country from ECQ to MECQ. A while later, he placed NCR and other areas under GCQ in hopes of boosting the economy after the decline under the ECQ period. This has sent thousands of workers back to the streets looking for a way to get to their workplace. Some employees wound up having to walk hours due to the lack of transport options while others waited long hours for the shuttle buses to arrive. The increase in foot traffic has unsurprisingly caused a surge in positive cases which has become a cause for concern for individuals all over the country.

9. Ballooning of national debt

Photo from FreePik

Citing lack of funds for medical response and relief efforts, President Duterte loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to aid in the country’s COVID-19 response.

In the president’s numerous addresses to the public, he has claimed the shortage of funds for the COVID-19 response efforts. Since then, multiple loans reaching millions of dollars have been made almost on a weekly basis. This has sparked concern for most as the increase in the national debt could be detrimental to the country moving forward. Numerous groups have sought reports stating the use of funds as, despite the loans, many families have yet to receive relief packages and subsidies. Multiple anomalies within local government units have also caused citizens to protest the distribution scheme for relief goods and subsidies.

10. Anti-Terror Bill and the fight for freedom of expression

Photo by JL Javier/CNN Philippines

Neither mutually exclusive nor inclusive, this has been the greatest concern of citizens this month of June. 

Earlier this month, President Duterte placed the Anti-Terror bill as urgent in line of perceived terrorist threat both inside and outside of the country. This has raised concern, however, in light of the countless abuses and anomalies in the laws present today, namely the violations made regarding COVID-19 protective measures by PNP Chief Major General Debold Sinas as well as Senator Koko Pimentel. Some lawmakers as well as most citizens fear that the enactment of this law could lead to abuse and the silencing of the president’s critics. In response, a “grand mañanita” was set into motion on June 12 to protest against the bill as well as the other injustices made by the administration.

11. The verdict on Maria Ressa and Rey Santos Jr.

Photo by Dante Diosina Jr/Rappler

 

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Maria Ressa and Rey Santos Jr. of Rappler were recently convicted for cyber libel in what is seen as a clear attack on press freedom in the country.

An article from May 2012 has put Rappler in hot water after Wilfredo Keng filed a case for cyber libel against them years after its publication. Since then, Rappler has exhausted all possible avenues to fight against the conviction citing points such as the cybercrime prevention law not even being an actual law when the article was published. Despite these efforts, Maria Ressa and the article’s author Rey Santos Jr. were ultimately found guilty for committing cyber libel. Journalists from universities as well as from major networks protested this stating how it is an attack on press freedom and an oppression of journalists in the country.

12. #FreePride20

Photo by the League of Filipino Students

Finally, one of the marquee movements of this month is the Pride March which needs no introduction about what it stands for.

#FreePride20 made its rounds on social media after 20 individuals were arrested during the annual Pride march held in Mendiola. The arrested members from the organizations Bahaghari, Gabriela Philippines, and Karapatan were expressing their dissent towards the government’s recent actions, particularly on the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Bill which posed a risk to the country’s freedom of expression. The Commission on Human Rights has stated that they will perform an investigation regarding these arrests after organizations expressed their concerns over the police apprehending the protesters without a warrant.

13. NTC orders shutdown of Sky Cable operations

Photo by the Daily Tribune

After successfully terminating the broadcast of ABS-CBN in May, the NTC with the advice of Solicitor General Jose Calida is now setting its sights on shutting down the biggest satellite TV service in the country.

ABS-CBN ended its broadcast on free TV last May 5 after receiving a cease and desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). Since then, hearings have taken place with lawmakers questioning Sky Cable’s continued operations despite ABS-CBN being off-air. If the shutdown of Sky Cable (and ABS-CBN TV Plus) pushes through, 55 million citizens will directly be affected. Foremost of these are families who live in areas where other television networks have poor or no reception at all that need information amidst this pandemic.

Having more time to spend keeping up-to-date with the latest news has given us the opportunity to better understand what is happening in the world and in the country. The social injustices that have been brought to the forefront because of recent events should be enough reason to speak out and demand actions. It is part of our duty as citizens of the Philippines to be vocal about the injustices in our country. Protesting, whether physical or virtual, brings a strong voice to demand solutions to these problems. 

Although protests have drawn the ire of some, considering them as irresponsible acts that could lead to a greater spread of the disease, this month’s events have shown that making their voices heard while taking proper safety precautions is still possible. The strong military force placed as a response to protests show that they are indeed being heard by those that they are meant for. While some lawmakers and law enforcers label these protesters as terrorists, it needs to be known and heard that activism is not terrorism.

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Marcos is still not a hero

After everything that has been, is Marcos still your idol?

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MARTIAL LAW ANNIVERSARY 2018. (Photo by Christine Annemarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb)

When we look a few years back, we remember that one of the biggest political controversies we have encountered is Ferdinand Marcos’ burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani. The rites were private and intimate for the family and he was also given a 21-gun salute. Is this 21-gun salute an ode to the 21 years that Marcos has ruled as a kleptocratic dictator? This event has garnered negative criticism since a number of Filipinos don’t consider Marcos as a hero. It may have given peace to Marcos’ family, but it caused the victims of the Marcos rule to remember a grim chapter in their lives.

A few days into the present year, Bongbong Marcos sent out a statement calling for the revision of history books used in the academe, which he deems are only teaching the students lies about what his father, former President Marcos, has done. He believed that those from the opposition are in control of the data in published materials, that’s why it is so against his father. He also claimed that the contents of these textbooks were just used as propaganda against their family and that the allegations that his father was a thief and murderer were never proven. The thing is, if these allegations weren’t true, then why was the Presidential Commission on Good Governance recovering money from the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth? 

During Marcos’ rule, Proclamation 1081 gave the military power to arrest, detain, and execute those who are standing up against the government or those who are pushing other people to do so. A proclamation like this is set to violate a series of human rights, and yet it went on for several dreadful years. According to Amnesty International, about 70,00 people were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured under Marcos’ term. 

In 1991, Marcos was found guilty by the US Federal Court system of ‘crimes against humanity,’ which covered torture, summary executions, and forced disappearances. The Philippine Constabulary was the law enforcing body during those times and was notorious for being liable for numerous human rights violations. Take the case of Dr. Juan Escandor, a Radiation specialist from the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital, who was involved in nationalist initiatives and even founded a leftist student organization, was killed by constabulary troopers that ended in a crossfire. Though authorities say that he died due to the gunfight, his autopsies show signs of torture, with his skull emptied and filled with trash, plastic bags, rags, and underwear, and his brain placed inside his stomach cavity. 

Bongbong Marcos has always justified his father’s ways. Although he acknowledged the numerous human rights violations that were committed during his father’s regime, he says that people should also remember the numerous projects his father launched, which includes thousands of kilometers of roads built, progressive agricultural policies, power generation, and the highest literacy rate in Asia. However, could these projects ever compensate for the pain inflicted on the victims of Martial Law? Even if the Marcoses’ contributions to the country are worthy of acknowledgment, it is not a valid argument to be used to push the people to leave their dreadful experiences in obscurity. Marcos apologists can’t tell others to just ‘move on’ because failing to acknowledge the people’s grievances during Martial Law is purely insensitive.  You can’t just tell people to forget such inhumane acts brought about by a leader they all trusted to lead them through progress. 

Recently, it was shared to the public that House Bill No. 7137 was approved to declare September 11 as ‘President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day’ in Ilocos Norte, which aims to honor the late dictator. Senate President Vicente Sotto III then said that bills with local applications like this are usually easily approved in Senate hearings. This, in turn, has sparked controversy and garnered criticism from the people.

Members of different rights groups and numerous people have expressed their disapproval of this bill. They say that this bill encourages the alteration of narratives of the dark days of Philippine history under Martial Law during the Marcos regime and that it practically promotes the invalidation of what people went through during the strongman rule.

We ought to #NeverForget the numerous accounts of torture and abuse that normal Filipinos went through. In case one forgets, the Twitter account @PangulongMarcos is devoted to tweeting daily on whether Marcos is a hero today.

The approval of this bill not only pushes to erase the kafkaesque events in our history that took place during Martial Law, but it also neglects the loss of the people who mourned for the loved ones that they lost in an all-out battle against the provisions of a power-hungry government that only sought to assert dominion over the people it ought to serve. It also makes us look at tyranny straight in the eye and just be resilient about it, without being able to #ResistTyranny. After everything that has been, is Marcos still your idol?

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Why “Pinoy Pride” exists in online Filipino culture

The toxic “peenoise” that flock and bash personalities misinterpreting the culture are the same ones that gather in posts which have the slightest hint of Filipino culture.

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Artwork by Ana Victoria Ereño/TomasinoWeb

Filipinos entering the foray of different online media allowed for Filipino culture to gain an even larger audience, but it inevitably exposes aspects that would otherwise only be seen within our borders.

Emman Nimedez and Lloyd Cadena’s passing has shown how impactful online media has become for the youth. While traditional media like TV and radio broadcasting maintains the largest audience in our country, we have slowly crept into the online world with the rising presence of Filipino personalities. Though this puts our heritage on a much larger stage, it has unfortunately exposed the pitfalls in our society. Any Filipino browsing comment sections on their favorite social media and video platforms will have inevitably seen the words “peenoise” and “Pinoy Pride” on their screen at least once, usually bearing a negative connotation. How have Filipinos managed to set themselves apart so negatively online that it yielded such labels on online platforms?

“Peenoise” was a term originally coined by online users within gaming communities to refer to Filipinos who are considered to be toxic in-game. Now, it is generally used to describe Filipinos who exhibit toxic behavior online, such as trolls or bullies. On the other hand, Pinoy Pride is another aspect of “peenoise” that is less aggravating but is much more reflective of who we are as a society. Pinoy Pride revolves around being endlessly proud of a Filipino personality for achieving something that led to global notoriety. 

How have Filipinos managed to set themselves apart so negatively online that it yielded such labels on online platforms?

These behaviors, ironically enough, could be coming from the Filipinos’ prioritization of family values. The toxic “peenoise” that flock and bash personalities misinterpreting the culture are the same ones that gather in posts which have the slightest hint of Filipino culture. Our innateness to find “kababayans” and treat them like family could both be a blessing and a curse in situations where we band together to defend our identity. This is even exploited in media channels that release “Filipino-themed” videos where personalities would experience Philippine culture or would have a part-Filipino cast member be the center of the content.

Another aspect that could be contributing to these online behaviors is the lingering effects of crab mentality in our society. As this blog puts it, we are quick to throw praise and be proud of our own people once they achieve success, but are also quick to call something “cheap” if it has not achieved prominence. But this even goes beyond Filipino artists as any individual who has the slightest hints of being Filipino is quickly embraced and celebrated as if they were our own. We like living through other people’s success as if they were one of our own, yet we pay no heed to those still climbing the ladder and even go as far as ridiculing them for their efforts. 

The toxic “peenoise” that flock and bash personalities misinterpreting the culture are the same ones that gather in posts which have the slightest hint of Filipino culture.

Finally, these attitudes don’t really hinge on being Filipino, but rather being Filipino outside of the Philippines. Pinoy Pride only begins to matter once something done by a Filipino gets recognized outside of the Philippines. This can be attributed to the Filipino’s “American dream” or the notion that the ultimate goal as a Filipino is to make it outside of the Philippines. 

If we ask most college students what their goals are after graduation, it will probably be about building their careers until they can go abroad. Whether it’s nurses, teachers, or artists, they’re usually aiming for a career outside the country and for good reason. The same professions would normally be paid less here, not to mention having to work harder just to get paid half of what they would’ve made had they gone off to work abroad. 

A few weeks ago, a wave of posts took Facebook by storm as Filipinos started sharing images from Harvard and placing either themselves in the context of being Harvard students or Harvard being a university in the Philippines. While this short-lived trend was merely humorous for most, it shows how we ultimately aspire to live a life outside the country rather than to flourish within it. It shows the condition which we live in and how we’ve had to make do with subpar standards in our country.

In summary, the “peenoise” and “Pinoy Pride” attitudes that Filipinos are showing online is not about patriotism, but rather defensiveness and the desire to live better. They hinge on the strong family ties Filipinos are known to have which, while bringing a strong sense of unity, also brings to light the aforementioned “crab mentality” that some tend to have. Ultimately, it comes down to the desire to live a better life than what our current social and political situation allows. 

In summary, the “peenoise” and “Pinoy Pride” attitudes that Filipinos are showing online is not about patriotism, but rather defensiveness and the desire to live better.

Much like how we’ve stood out in beauty pageants and boxing, we also stand out as audiences but in an unflattering light. While such behaviors do not necessarily include all Filipinos, these do exist in our online space. We have the ability to change this and, while we cannot enforce it onto others, starting with ourselves can be a huge step in the right direction. Rather than embodying the bad sides of our culture, we can showcase our most prominent characteristic: bayanihan.

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Cramming Playlist: Buzzer Beats

Yeah, it’s big brain time.

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Artwork by Ayeesha Panotolan

The most dreadful time of the semester is here and with it comes every student’s best friend: cramming. We all know that it’s an ineffective and unhealthy way to retain information. Yet, we still choose to condense weeks worth of lectures into hours of late night study sessions because it somehow still gets the job done. 

Studying in the wee hours of the morning means you need something to keep you and your brain awake and functioning. Below, we’ve compiled a playlist that will surely get those neurons firing as you burn the midnight oil.

 

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