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Ilaw ng Tahanan, Sagisag ng Lansangan: Rage Against Feminine Archetypes

Comical as it seems, it has become so indoctrinated in the narrative of what it means to be a woman, that essentially it has become a means to favor and please the men in our society—to put it simply, the feminine archetype is a catalyst for the patriarchy.

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Artwork by Tricia Jardin

A natural beauty, she was. Daisy-fresh. Frail and delicate, with her small frame and timid silence. Her hair constantly smelled of vanilla, and she had a smile that came with her almost effortless grace. She is painfully soft-spoken. Her cheeks resembled that of the skin of a peach—supple, smooth, tinging coral. And above all that she had eyes that could lure you in. It was almost as if she knew the kind of beauty she held, but not enough to be flaunting it.

Here is an example of a misrepresented woman as shown by the ideal woman trope. In literature, we see her as Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby; in film, Summer from 500 Days of Summer. Women in fiction, yes, but still prototypes of the ideal woman, told from the account of a man, that sooner or later, serve to cater to the male gaze.

This is the feminine archetype, contemporarily known as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl or the Femme Fatale: the idea that a woman, in all her precious glory, should be of natural, flawless beauty—none of that cake on the face, none of those fillers and such. She should be modest, otherwise if she is vulgar she is an embarrassment. She should attend to her husband like a real woman, whatever that is supposed to mean, because it is her responsibility to do so. She should be dainty! If she must fix herself up she must do so without going overboard. 

But this is relevant… exactly how?

These templates of the ‘perfect woman’ teaches young girls and the children who may come to identify as girls, beyond reasonable standards to live up to, furthermore decentering from their freedom of expression and identity. Comical as it seems, it has become so indoctrinated in the narrative of what it means to be a woman, that essentially it has become a means to favor and please the men in our society—to put it simply, the feminine archetype is a catalyst for the patriarchy.

This continues to be a challenge for contemporary feminists as it has been for their predecessors. Years upon years of uprisings and nth wave feminism movements helped established the New Woman, who, on this day and age, in contrast to the feminine archetype, is no longer soft-spoken, doe-eyed, or motherly—but resisting, self-sustaining, and non-conforming. She is tenacious, and is unafraid to bring her revolution to the streets, like all other female activists that preceded, but the objective is not to discredit them.

This is to introduce an entirely new breadth of feminists who willingly engage in activism in and out of the streets, who challenge the still-in-existence feminine archetype, who fight against those who continue to disparage women, and most importantly, to empower those who need empowering. Women and their eagerness to champion equal rights have prevailed even in social media platforms—a brand new kind of solidarity that cuts through the one-dimensionality of the digital world, which is now without limitation in addressing a variety of sociopolitical issues.

The feminine archetype is but a small part of a bigger issue that continues to misrepresent women as charming, frail, and subordinate—much like in movies and literature—which in turn contributes to, and may even elevate to a great deal of oppression and abuse. Once we value other women as much as we do those in our lives, once we acknowledge that some women might not even be female at birth, and that some may not even appear to be women, we perpetuate intersectionality and a mindset that more often than not, empowerment is more important than power.

 

Happy Women’s month to the cis-females, the transwomen, those who identify as women, women of color, female activists, women who were rape and sexual abuse victims, women who are victims of social injustices, comfort women, and all the other women in the world.

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10 things you probably have encountered in an online class

Ever since online classes have been rampant in UST, we have noticed some interesting phenomena that happens in almost every class. These vary from each situation so if you have encountered some of these, you’re most likely going to relate!

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Artwork by Tricia Jardin

A decade ago, suspension of classes were a big nuisance especially to the pace of the academic year. This is because we did not really have a platform that was capable of holding more than 20 persons in a call. However, with the advancement of technology, it has paved the way to conduct classes online without the fear of falling behind the schedule.

Ever since online classes have been rampant in UST, we have noticed some interesting phenomena that happens in almost every class. These vary from each situation so if you have encountered some of these, you’re most likely going to relate! The following are the 10 things you probably have encountered in an online class.

1.  A dog

Your dog or your blockmate’s dog have probably taken the spotlight in this one. Cue the “aww!”s and the “your dog is so cute!” to inform people there’s a new member in your block.

2. Some bedroom noises

These bedroom noises vary in category. It could be your newborn sibling crying in the background or your sibling groaning as they stretch before they get out of bed. It could also be your neighbour’s feel good music that’s blasting on full volume. (What did you think the noises were going to be?)

3. Your mom’s voice in the background

You’re probably familiar with the sentence, “Anak! Nakalimutan mo nanaman maghugas ng pinggan!”. This is your cue to quickly wash the dishes or to ask your brother or your sister to do it for you. Just don’t forget it the next time.

4. The sound of vehicles driving past your house

It’s 9o’clock in the morning and everyone is still sleeping. Your professor is rambling about the adjusted schedule because of the suspension of classes. Everything was silent until you hear that loud “VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM” that broke that silence you thought you had. A notification. Your blockmate typed, “Kaninong tricycle ‘yun?”.

5. The neighborhood chicken

No one in your house is awake yet to cook breakfast and you’re 10 minutes late to your online class. You’re hungry and sleepy but you are determined you’ll focus on this class you need to catch up on. You sit down with your laptop, head propped by your arm to try to stay awake. Then suddenly, you hear a faint cock-a-doodle-doo from your speaker. A notification. Your professor typed, “Guys, sorry, wag kayo mag-alala. Ipriprito ko na yun mamaya.”.

6. A comfort room break

The waterworks are on duty today but you’re unsure if your strict professor would allow you to go to the comfort room to release whatever your body needs to let go of. It’s funny how we still have to ask even when comfort is at our disposal a few steps away. Imagine what it’s like for your blockmate who often needs the toilet. 

7. Your younger sibling who keeps on crying

If it’s not your mom, it’s most likely your younger brother or sister who’s making the noise. You should probably check on them right now though. I assume they need something or someone.

8. The teleserye your lola is watching

It’s 10 in the morning and you are in your living room. Suddenly, your lola picks up the television remote control to watch her favourite teleserye. She hands you the remote control to raise the volume higher. Don’t worry. It’ll just be an hour of your time everyday. Just wear your earphones. It’ll be over soon!

9. Your blockmate who’s often M.I.A.

Better call them now. You definitely don’t want them to miss another class.

10. Conversations that are best kept on Messenger

It’s best to keep your block’s conversations in another messaging app. I know you know what I mean. 

We all have different practices in our face-to-face class as well as in online classes. However, in the midst of the distances from our second home – our school – let us not forget the reason why we do this: to learn and to later on serve our country. 

Lastly, use your time productively and don’t forget to wake up your blockmate!

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A Weekend Dive Into the Abyss: Art Fair Philippines 2020

This year, the exhibit showcased a wide range of local and international contemporary art that were more than just eye candy.

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Onib Olmedo's “Triumph of Everyman” on display at Art Fair PH 2020

With the Philippines being a cultural hotspot, Art Fair Philippines returned on its 8th year to gather local and international artists, curators, and enthusiasts to celebrate appreciation for the arts. This year, the exhibit showcased a wide range of local and international contemporary art that were more than just eye candy.

I, for one, am not the best critic nor an enthusiast of art. As an art novice, I generally enjoy it for the aesthetics and calming ambience it exudes when hung on a wall or placed on a coffee table. Other than that, I had no idea how a Picasso differed from a Monet, or how oil differed from acrylic.

Since it was my first time attending an art exhibit, navigating myself through the maze was quite the ordeal. But then I noticed that each piece was set up without a definite path to follow and, at some point, I even found myself getting lost in a simple painting of a beach. Maybe that feeling of getting lost is also part of the beauty that art brings. With every artwork giving me a unique cultural narrative and experience, I left the exhibit with the insatiable curiosity on what other stories and emotions can the growing local art scene continue to unfold.

From February 21 to 23, Art Fair Philippines once again opened its doors to thousands of local art-goers that share the same passion and interest for art. As part of this year’s special project, each floor welcomed its visitors to Sol LeWitt’s texted-based art, “Wall Drawing #1217”, that was loaned out by his estate. The text, “These words are written on the wall”, was inscribed in four different languages: English, Filipino, M’ranaw, and Baybayin. New York-based curator Carina Evangelista says that these four iterations were meant to “illustrate the Philippines as a culture that’s polyglot ”. But most of all, this served a commitment to the late artist’s artistic principle whose craft was built on “the democratic hand” that gives people the liberty to draft his works on any wall in the world.

The amount of talent showcased in this year’s exhibit was overflowing, to say the least. But here are some of the many pieces that I believe have left a powerful impression on everyone that visited.

“Triumph of Everyman” by Onib Olmedo

“Triumph of Everyman” by Onib Olmedo

This year’s run continued the tradition of featuring projects made by established contemporary Filipino artists. Though all the pieces displayed in this space were evocatively abstract, it was Onib Olmedo’s “Triumph of Everyman” that caught my attention. Spread out on the green walls of the room was a compendium of his sketches that depicted the Filipino everyman’s inner reality and turmoil. The same way each face is different, Olmedo’s portraits reveal different facets of the human self. Rather than appearing symmetrical, the inner self and its realities were depicted in its purest and most vulnerable form: faces that were obscured with eyes giving out a penetrating gaze to show a state of distress, instability, and crisis. It was a haunting yet cathartic experience that gave me an in-depth understanding of the human psyche through strokes and shades on paper.

“Tuko” by Salvador Joel Alonday

“Tuko” by Salvador Joel Alonday (Photo by Marcianne Gaab)

Another noteworthy piece from the exhibit’s projects was this part human, part animal terra cotta and kaolin clay sculpture. Rather than merely sculpting a larger-than-life reptile, Salvador Joel Alonday’s molded his visual idiom through a human seemingly morphing into its animagus—the house gecko. Though small in size, house geckos assert their dominance in household as they tower over everyone from the ceilings and walls that they stick to. Similarly, “Tuko” portrays man’s tendency to succumb to this reptilian nature of being territorial and aggressive.  At this time of societal pandemonium, Alonday’s creation greatly mirrors how a number of politicians and religious leaders are lazily sat on their comfortable seats at the top of the food chain while their constituents are struggling for a democratic and just life under their mandate. While we grapple for coexistence, our society’s “tukos” will continue to prey on our fears and weaknesses.

“Opera – Screaming Faces” by Gabriel Barredo (Silverlens)

“Opera – Screaming Faces” by Gabriel Barredo (Silverlens) | Photo by Marcianne Gaab

This art piece was a visual feast difficult not to miss because I had to admit, it was relatable. The large-scale theatrical art piece that featured rows of 39,000 miniature screaming faces was a small fraction of the late Gabriel Barredo’s massive installation. The UST alumnus & sculptor, who was known for amalgamations of the macabre and the beautiful, wanted to each screaming face to portray the endless scream we constantly go through in life. True to the ethos of his craft, it was a very immersive experience. It was as though I could hear the faces actually screaming. And it felt like for every step I took to look closer, the screaming grew louder.

“Look at Her” by Nikki Luna

“Look at Her” by Nikki Luna | Photo by Marcianne Gaab

This piece by artist and activist Nikki Luna was a head turner for anyone who went to the fair. At first glance, it looked like an ordinary mirror to take that obligatory mirror selfie with. But embossed in bold font were the words, “As long as there are many beautiful women, there will be more rape cases”. Sound familiar? Well, it’s just one of the many misogynistic remarks pulled out from the incumbent president. In contrast to bright colors and thick strokes, this was a simple and minimalistic piece that carried a powerful message. Standing in front of the mirror with these words written on gave not only a reflection but an emphasis on how rape and sexual violence continue to be normalized in this hedonistic culture. Perhaps, Luna used a mirror to purposely invite its viewers for a photo not as an addition to your feed aesthetic but as a call of action to not tolerate this utterly abhorrent and toxic culture.

 “Karnebal” by Max Balatbat

“Karnebal” by Max Balatbat | Photo by Marcianne Gaab

Stepping into the room with black wall and small statues felt like I was in a trance. At the corners and the center, stood 3 sculptures of young girls selling sampaguita with their underwear pulled down almost at their feet. These creations of Max Balatbat accentuate the toxic and alarming reality of rape culture that even the most helpless and vulnerable young girls, who struggle to get by with a decent livelihood, get raped and murdered.  It was also striking how the top half of their faces were carved into a merry-go-round rather than eyes. Perhaps, this was a way of the artist telling how these inhumane acts that are repeatedly done go unnoticed.

 

My first time at an art exhibit was quite overwhelming, but every turn and every corner still had its own provoking surprise. Every visual channel in the exhibit carried their own impression of life that deeply resonated with me. When words fell short, art and all its complexities spoke. It is astounding what visual art can do and how it transcends beyond skill and technique. The artworks and the artists led me to have a momentous experience that at the end of the day, I forgot that I was in a multi-story car park.

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That’s too much, man!: Bojack Horseman and the philosophical pursuit of being good

Bojack Horseman, as a character, was endearingly built to have different polarities, allowing audiences to see themselves relating with him as an equally-flawed being who can sometimes make bad decisions and celebrate instances of making good ones.

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Artwork by Tricia Jardin

Warning: Mild spoilers ahead! 

The world overflows on thoughts of changing for good that another thought solely intended to think about change would create streams of vomit, splattered across surfaces and terribly missing the hollow which it should be settling into. Some would gush away from the first figure that speaks about good change, not because they are afraid to embody it, but because it has always been pictured in a somewhat far-fetched state. Then came Bojack Horseman, a show that has elaborately explained the process of changing and being good, and surprisingly with the help of partially insentient beings portrayed as humans.  

The second leg of the season finale of Netflix’s Bojack Horseman dropped last January, ending its six-year run. Throughout the show, it has always placed color on topics which would be otherwise shun by small talks: mental disparities and its many faces, substance abuse, and like most shows, a comedic take on politics. Although other arrays of interesting philosophy were raised in this show, the recurring theme that echoes with most of Bojack’s actions is the question of being a good person; despite our titular character consciously and subconsciously going down the ladder. 

In fifth grade, we learned that energy is not created nor destroyed, which explains how  in this season finale, Bojack’s past actions reverberate back to the present. Although he had made amends with some of his victims of emotional manipulation (albeit lacking sobriety at the moment of remorse) and is nearly becoming a better person, the loose ends of the past would tangle with whatever it is he has in the present. This answers the question on accountability; we learn that there is no one formula to be held accountable. Either you are forgiven, you are chosen to be forgotten, or you have been simply cut off.

Moreover, the boomerangs of his past actions to the present day Bojack ultimately suggests that although our actions are just one bit of ourselves, in retrospect, we are somewhat still the sum of our parts. However, it is up to us if we decide to be greater, to paint a bigger picture that doesn’t necessarily hide the ugly, but makes an effort to put a more vibrant color that highlights the good parts of the canvas. 

“There’s no such thing as ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’”, was thrown out in the air in the last season by Diane Nguyen, Bojack’s moral compass (who is equally mapping and figuring out things herself). “…and all we can do is try to do less bad stuff and more good stuff, but you’re never going to be good, because you’re not bad.”

The statement doesn’t mean to cradle the bad actions which people have done, whether it was a pertinent decision or a subconscious spur-of-the-moment thing. It was meant to explain the moral philosophy of consciously doing good things and lessening self-retributions. It doesn’t shy away from the concept of allowing people to weigh in on the gravity of their past actions. It gives the assurance that there still holds a considerate room for changing for the better. 

The concept of change and bringing oneself to actually make changes are easier said than done. Thoughts of being good and changing can only do so much reminding, but our individual abilities to reason out would still lead us to become an-okay person—not a saintly individual abstaining from vices, but someone who we would genuinely like and cherish. 

Bojack Horseman, as a character, was endearingly built to have different polarities, allowing audiences to see themselves relating with him as an equally-flawed being who can sometimes make bad decisions (i.e. nearly killing himself in his latest bender which has emotionally weighed on Diane) and celebrate instances of making good ones (i.e. committing to change). At the end of the day, all the Bojacks of the world can still become okay persons, if they willingly try. 

As a show, it definitely hangs with the greats as it bravely prompted discussions of existentialism which was what was normally suppressed by the mainstream platform of entertainment. As the show is down to its last minutes, Diane (with her knack for saying the most heart-wrenching things followed by pregnant silences) said that there are people who can help us become the persons we are today, even if they are not meant to exist forever in our lives.

The characters of Bojack Horseman have (painfully) helped us explore the grey areas at some point. Hopefully, we would not forget whatever it is they imparted, especially the pursuit of being good, as we continue to individually navigate through. 

 

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