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Joining the protests today? Here are 10 tips

Is it your first time joining a protest?

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Various groups also trooped to Luneta Park Nov. 25 last year to protest the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Photo by Joshua Lugti/TomasinoWeb.

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.

Various groups will once again hold protests in different parts of Metro Manila to demand justice for victims of human rights violations during the 20-year regime of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Thousands are expected to march to the streets after President Rodrigo Duterte suspended classes in public schools and work in government offices last week by declaring Sept. 21 a ‘National Day of Protest.’

With classes suspended in the University today in anticipation of the mass mobilizations, you might have been considering joining one as an opportunity to voice out your concerns on the various issues currently plaguing the country.

Is it your first time joining a protest? TomasinoWeb prepared 10 essential tips for first-timers joining a rally:

Educate yourself first

Mobilizations are about educating people and informing the public of your cause. Thus, protests are useless if you don’t know what you are fighting for. Take time to read and do research. Get to know the organizers and what their ideologies are.

Know your rights

Paralegal bust cards are available for free on the website of Karapatan, a human rights advocacy group. You can review them, print them, or save them on your phones so you can easily access them in times of need, not just during protests.

March with your friends

A protest is always a collective effort. Bring in some of your friends so you can share with them your advocacy and unite them to the cause.

Always bring ‘extra’

Extra shirts, extra water, extra caps, extra umbrellas, extra towels, extra food, extra money. Protests can be dehydrating and exhausting.

READ  Thomasians join protest vs tyranny, ‘de facto’ Martial Law

Load up

Make sure that your family and friends know where you are by charging up your phone and having a good amount of prepaid load for calls and messages. And don’t forget your power banks!

Wear comfortable clothes

For example, groups will assemble along España Blvd. today, 12 n.n., and they will be marching to Mendiola, then to Luneta Park. A protest is a long walk — so wear your most comfortable shirt and footwear.

Creativity is a big plus

Protests are also the best places to display millennial wit and humor amidst serious political issues. Bring your wittiest and most creative placards or artworks to express your cause.

Be calm when talking to authorities

Talking to authorities can be very intimidating; however, just remember to always answer them politely and be direct-to-the-point in your responses. As much as possible, be cooperative — but always assert your rights.

Take note of exit points

Individuals joining protests are always advised to know every possible exit point in their protest area in case of emergencies.

But lastly, be brave

As activists would say, the real fight is in the streets. Be brave.

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November 2020: When it rains, it pours in

Continuing on with questionable decisions and problematic actions dashed with a glimmer of hope, here’s a look back at what November 2020 had in store for us.

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(Photo by Vince Imperio/TomasinoWeb)

Just when we thought 2020 could not be tougher with the myriad of issues we faced throughout the year, November showed that there are other things that can get worse. That said, the end of this month also gave us a sliver of hope after numerous difficult events that could have easily made us quit. 

Continuing on with questionable decisions and problematic actions dashed with a glimmer of hope, here’s a look back at what November 2020 had in store for us.

1. Typhoon triad wreaks havoc in the Philippines

(Photo by Vince Imperio/TomasinoWeb)

Barely recovered from the onslaught brought about by the strongest typhoon recorded in the world, Filipinos had to deal with two subsequent typhoons in Super Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses, the latter causing almost equal damage to the super typhoon. At the end of October, Super Typhoon Rolly ravaged Luzon with strong winds, affecting the region of Bicol the most. 

While the National Capital Region (NCR) did not suffer as severely as the Bicol region, strong winds and thunderstorms were felt even in the metro. This left countless families without homes and exposed to the continued risk of COVID-19. Typhoon Siony placed a roadblock on possible relief efforts, which further lengthened the calvary that Filipinos had to endure in the aftermath of the super typhoon. Agriculture was also severely affected, causing major loss of livelihood for those who lived in the areas most damaged by the typhoon.

The worst was yet to come, however, as Typhoon Ulysses brought strong winds and flooding to Metro Manila and Cagayan. Major outages in communication, electricity, and water also occurred which further strained rescue and relief operations by government and non-government organizations. 

To this day, the effects of the typhoon continue to be felt as public and private companies try to restore the infrastructures that were severely damaged by the winds and the floods.

2. As typhoons batter the Philippines, Filipinos look for Duterte

Photo courtesy of Inquirer.net

President Duterte received major criticisms from Filipinos online following his lack of presence in the midst of Typhoon Ulysses. In a later statement, his office said that he was currently delivering a speech to the 37th ASEAN Summit, which was held virtually during the time of the typhoon. This statement left citizens dissatisfied with the president’s response in the face of a raging storm which left many in grave danger.

Public outrage also caused the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo to trend nationwide during the typhoon. Netizens expressed their displeasure at the lack of leadership and communication from the national government as many families cried for help looking for rescue as their situations worsened. Even local governments tried to reach out to the national government as their own response teams have become severely overwhelmed with the damage that the typhoons have caused.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque then addressed this concern during the press briefing after the typhoon. He urged netizens to disregard the hashtag as the president was always with the Filipino people even in his silence during the calamity. This did not appease the netizens however as many expressed further disappointment with this remark with some even ridiculing the spokesperson for his statement.

3. President Duterte did not mince words for Vice President Robredo

(Photo by Toto Lazano/Manila Bulletin)

After being largely mum during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, President Duterte addressed the nation and immediately went on a fiery tirade against the efforts of Vice President Leni Robredo. He claimed that the Vice President’s actions were simply showboating or grandstanding after she contacted the rescue teams regarding the situation in Cagayan and other areas severely affected by Typhoon Ulysses. The president also warned her that he will expose her on the national stage should she decide to run for the presidency in 2022.

After the scathing tirade of the president, he went on to threaten the students of the University of the Philippines stating that he will defund the university should they continue to protest against his administration. This was after college students all over the country went on strike to not comply with their academic requirements until the government had properly addressed the situation in the country. The presidential spokesperson clarified in an interview later on that the president may have been misinformed regarding the protest.

Later on, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo issued an apology to Vice President Robredo regarding the accusations that the president had made, stating that the information was incorrectly given to the president. The President and the Palace, however, did not issue an apology to the vice president regarding the matter.

4. Body-shaming example in an educational material

Photo courtesy of the Philippine News Agency

What was believed to be a part of a DepEd module made its rounds on social media after an example was seen body-shaming actress Angel Locsin. The example in question was found as part of a learning material for a MAPEH class where the actress  was described as an obese woman who had an unhealthy lifestyle that must not be emulated by the students.

Netizens on social media were also quick to point out the poor grammar shown in the example. It was later found out to be a module specific only to a certain teacher and was not found in other materials made by DepEd. The module was part of a learning material in Occidental Mindoro with the teacher in question due to face sanction for the oversight. 

DepEd was quick to issue an apology for the scenario. While Angel Locsin shrugged off the insensitive example, she commented that teachers should be more mindful of the contents they place in their modules as this can greatly influence the behavior of the students when they’re older.

5. NCRPO Chief Debold Sinas appointed as new PNP Chief

Photo courtesy of the National Capital Region Police Office

Last November 6, now-PNP Chief Debold Sinas was appointed into his new position after it had been vacated. This came as a surprise after Sinas found himself caught in a controversy in May as he was part of a “mañanita” despite quarantine restrictions.

Criticisms quickly came after this decision. But prior to it, President Duterte had come to Sinas’ defense after the public demanded for his termination due to his violation. The president was adamant to have him stay in his post as he declared him to be a “good officer” and a “honest man”. Sinas also pleaded with the public to forget the entire incident after social media posts about his “mañanita” rose again with the news of his appointment.

Sinas’ appointment was also controversial as he was a large contributor to the human rights violations committed under the administration’s war on drugs. This article even notes that it was under his leadership where an increase in violence was observed. 

6. Cries for an academic break

(Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler)

In light of the recent calamities that struck the country, calls for an academic break were demanded by student activists. This is due to families of students and teachers alike needing time to recover physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally with all the stresses given not just by the typhoons that battered the country, but also by the persisting pandemic. 

Student activists also demanded for accountability from the government regarding the shortcomings in handling the calamities that have happened and the current pandemic. Academic institutions, including the University of Santo Tomas, eventually agreed to suspend classes for a week to help university staff and students recover and prepare themselves to face the challenges of online learning.

Ultimately, the Commission on Higher Education and the national government rejected the idea of a unilateral suspension with the former stating that these decisions are better suited for local government units and the administrators of the universities.

7. Youth take action to aid typhoon victims

Photo grabbed from the official page of UST Central Student Council

With the serious effects of the calamity, students and other individuals have taken it upon themselves to conduct their own efforts in helping those severely affected. As the damage caused by the typhoons became more and more apparent, social media pages became flooded with donation drives intended to assist the relief operations conducted by the government and private organizations.

Students worked in tandem with organizations and government offices, such the Office of the Vice President, in collecting monetary and in-kind donations. Some even exercised their creativity and resourcefulness by using different approaches such as raffles, exchanging services such as art commissions, and selling pre-loved items. All the proceeds were directed to the relief efforts for the communities in need. 

Transparency reports behind these efforts have shown how successful they were, exhibiting the essence of bayanihan amidst the pandemic where social distancing measures have limited interactions. However, it also shows the unfortunate reality of Filipinos having to rely largely on themselves to survive the neverending flurry of natural calamities our country is known to have.

8. COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon

Photo by Dado Ruvic from Reuters via Interaksyon

It’s been 8 months since the world was placed in some form of lockdown to protect it against the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. With vaccine development at a historically rapid pace, the light at the end of the tunnel has never been brighter as stated by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom. Efficacy reports have come out from numerous pharmaceutical companies with the success rate being between 70% and 90%.

With these findings, the Philippine government had been busy trying to secure doses to be administered to those at highest risk. The Philippine vaccine czar has recently secured a deal with AstroZeneca for 2 million doses of their vaccine once it completes further trials. The national government aims to vaccinate 20 million Filipinos to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and achieve herd immunity, which they aim to achieve by December of this year.

These developments in vaccination paints a hopeful picture of a better 2021 with a higher sense of normalcy than the one we’ve had this year. If all goes to plan, the Filipino people and the world will hopefully be able to wake up from the bad dreams that are 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic.

November, much like previous months of the year, has been a roller-coaster of emotions. While we sit at home trying to make the most of this 8-month quarantine, we’ve had  a front-seat view of the problems that have plagued our country for decades. Government shortcomings and unfortunate circumstances continue to be at the forefront of news headlines making it that much easier to be cynical and apathetic with what’s going on around us. 

Nonetheless, if this month ever taught us anything, it’s that we continue to look out for one another no matter the hardships we go through. November showed us that we have the ability to still support each other while still demanding accountability for the things our government owes us. Only time will tell if the last month of 2020 will continue to give us hope for the next year or if we’ll be expecting much of the same come January.

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The dangers of tolerating misogyny

This sin of tolerance makes people willing to be accessories to abuse, knowing that there is injustice but refusing to act against it.

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses on November 8 to 15 left several cities flooded in its wake. Several families were left stranded on their roofs, unable to evacuate as the water submerged their homes. Many were left with nothing but the clothes on their back. As the country tried to grapple its way out of this storm, many wondered where the President was. The answer came through sexist jokes.

On November 15,  President Rodrigo Duterte ended his post-typhoon briefing by cracking sexist jokes with officials in Camarines Sur. Duterte joked that “having many women” makes a man older. He also said that they should make him a secretary for him not to be “undersexed.” Later when informed that his colleague passed away due to COVID-19, the President said that it was because of being “kulang sa babae.

As usual, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was left to clean up after the President’s mess. But instead of apologizing for the President’s remarks, Roque defended him, saying that these jokes were meant to “lighten the mood.” 

Talagang hindi maipagkakait sa kanya na dahil sunud-sunod ang trahedya e kahit papaano humanap ng dahilan para kahit papaano magkaroon ng kaunting break from yung mga kalamidad na binibisita niya,” Roque said in a televised briefing. 

This was not the first time that Duterte made those jokes. This was also not the first time that the Palace had downplayed his actions. 

In the past, Duterte made several rape jokes, ordered soldiers to shoot female rebels in their genitals, and even claimed that he sexually harassed a maid when he was a teenager. The Malacañang also previously called on the public to not take the President’s jokes seriously.

We cannot deny the gravity of these sexist and misogynistic jokes. But we also cannot turn a blind eye to how people like Roque defends this type of humor.

The Palace’s constant defense of Duterte’s jokes is just a manifestation of our sin of tolerance: how people downplay or defend humor with elements of misogyny, sexism, rape and others. While the jokes itself are despicable, tolerating it is as bad as the jokes itself. 

Tolerance and inaction in the face of blatant misogyny and sexism normalizes abuse. In “prejudiced norm theory,” Ford and Ferguson argued that when disparaging jokes are made, people are less likely to analyze it critically. This causes the listeners to adapt its norm, thus making people tolerate the contents of the joke. In short, these prejudiced jokes make people more likely to tolerate prejudice in real life.

Several research also show the harmful effects of sexist humor towards women. A University of Kent research found out that sexist jokes encourages tolerance to sexism and discrimination towards women. This type of humor can also lead to men having a higher inclination towards sexual violence against women and victim blaming. Another research argued that sexist humor makes women self-objectify themselves and engage in “body surveillance” or the “vigilant self-monitoring of one’s physical appearance.”

This tolerant behavior towards sexism does not only manifest in crude jokes. It is seen when nude pictures of women are passed around like trading cards in group chats. It is seen when rape victims are scorned more than the rapists themselves. It is seen in the “locker room talks” of men like Donald Trump who boast of grabbing women “by the p****” whenever he likes. More importantly, tolerance is when we see these harmful behaviors and do nothing to stop it. 

Calling out these sexist behaviors does not immediately remove sexism itself. This can, however, put pressure on the doers of these acts to confront their wrong behavior. Letting them get away with being a sexist, misogynistic person makes them think that it is okay for them to do so, thus normalize this behavior until it escalates into abuse and violence.

Being silent about injustices was said to be worse than the injustice itself. Tolerance towards blatant sexism and misogyny makes it okay to say disparaging humor, which has harmful real-life effects on women. This sin of tolerance makes people willing to be accessories to abuse, knowing that there is injustice but refusing to act against it. While we cannot undo the injustices already done, what we can do instead is stand up against it, not letting moral cowardice get in the way of making the abuser accountable for their sin.

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BTS’s ‘BE’ is the comfort we all need in these trying times

“BE” encapsulates our collective experiences dealing with the looming anxiety and loneliness of life in isolation, and our yearning for better days in spite of the dark storm of the pandemic. 

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Photo grabbed from BigHit Entertainment's official Twitter account

It was day 133 in quarantine when I found out that the BTS was releasing another album before the end of the year. To say that I was excited would be an understatement knowing that this was as close as I can get to BTS content without having to dig through my pockets. At the same time, I was skeptical and thought that maybe this was another cash grab to compensate for their world tour being cancelled and, thus, affect the quality of their music. And lo and behold, I was proven wrong. 

Much to the delight of their fans, the Billboard chart-topping group BTS dropped their fifth studio album BE on Friday following the release of their summer hit “Dynamite.” Unlike the spectacle and extravaganza brought by “Map of the Soul: 7”, the album was more of a 28-minute moment of comfort and reassurance in this time of uncertainty. “BE” encapsulates our collective experiences dealing with the looming anxiety and loneliness of life in isolation, and our yearning for better days in spite of the dark storm of the pandemic. 

From hip-hop to funk to R&B, the musical diversity of this album highlights their growth and versatility as artists. It showcases how the group experiments with music trends without making it sound too generic and compromising the quality of music production they are known for. Despite being a different approach from their craft, the depth and musicality of ‘BE’ makes it stand out in their discography. 

Photo grabbed from BTS’s official Twitter account

The album opens with their title track, “Life Goes On”, which was more mellow and stripped down than their usual hard-hitting beats. The breathy and honey vocals paired with the slow rap resonates a light and airy feel to the song while capturing everyone’s inner frustrations of how the pandemic has distorted time and their daily lives. Its gradual build to its minimalistic chorus offers a warm and welcoming tone like that of someone opening their arms for a tight hug. For many ARMYs, the motif and words of the song can be very reminiscent of “Spring Day,” which also touched on themes of longing and comfort. While I had wished that the auto tune on SUGA’s rap was cut out to give it a more authentic feel, the message of hope and healing was still delivered in the most genuine way. 

Slightly deviating from the mellow open of the first track is the unit song “Fly to My Room” by members V, Jimin, J-Hope, and SUGA. The simplicity of the synth stabs and falsettos makes it an easy listen and a perfect song for a chill weekend in your room. The switch from an electric organ in the first verse to a 70’s piano in the chorus elevates the R&B and retro feel of the song that lowkey gives strong Ariana Grande vibes. But beneath the upbeat strikes are words that speak of the suffocating feeling of not being able to step outside. The cloud of emptiness, however, blends with a chorus that expresses the little things we can learn to appreciate despite being enclosed within the four walls of our room.

The pop ballad, “Blue & Grey”, eases listeners back into a more melancholic mood as the group candidly sings about mental health struggles that everyone grapples with during the pandemic. The acoustic instrumentals in the first verse are evocative of V’s “Sweet Night” and “Winter Bear,” perhaps owing to the fact that the song was originally part of his mixtape. Keeping the percussion minimal in the rap verses gives the song a more personal touch as though listeners are having a face-to-face conversation with the members themselves. The smooth falsettos heightens the emotional delivery of being devoid of happiness, while at the same threading a flush of warmth through its sweet and breathy vocal harmonies. 

After the emotional rollercoaster of the first half, listeners are treated with “Skit” — a 3-minute recording of the member’s reactions to the news of their summer single, “Dynamite”, charting number 1 on Bilboard HOT 100. The last time fans were treated with a skit was in their 2017 album “Love Yourself: Her,” which was a recording of their speech during their first win at the Billboard Music Awards in the same year. However, this album’s skit was more special as it immortalized their genuine thoughts as the first South-Korean group to accomplish such a feat. RM concluding with the words, “Don’t you think this is what happiness looks like?,” reminds us that even successful performers like themselves are humbled by their own achievements. 

Photo grabbed from BTS’s official Twitter account

Owing to the bright atmosphere opened by “Skit”, the latter half of the ‘BE’ experience continues with the disco-pop “Telepathy,” which was the first SUGA-produced OT7 song since 2015’s “Autumn Leaves.” The funky beat, which frankly reminds me of SUGA’s “Seesaw” and Doja Cat’s “Say So”, gives listeners an instant serotonin boost with its feel-good and dance-worthy vibes. I can easily see this as a fan favorite as the lyrics touch on the unbreakable bond of BTS and ARMYs. Against the slapping bass lines, the members reminisce about the gold old days they spent with their fans and express their longing of wanting to meet them again. Moreover, the addition of a cowbell tonks to the instrumentals brought a unique flavor to the song, separating it from its retro predecessor “Dynamite.”

BTS takes the notch of its musical diversity even higher by going old school with the hip-hop track “Dis-ease.” Its Korean title translates to sickness, whereas the English title is a wordplay of the prefix “dis” and the word “ease” (which would literally mean “not ease”). Taken together with its lyrics, it pertains to the feelings of uneasiness, anxiety, and insecurity after being set back from our usual lives. 

With J-Hope being its main producer, the instrumentals embellished in the song bring back the nostalgia of his 2018 mixtape “Hope World,” while still having its own color. Apart from the playful use of record scratching, it was J-Hope’s creative snarky rap flow coupled with his distinct style in the first verse that really set the overall tone of the song. The move to cut the instrumentals to only kicks and snares in bridge accentuates the members’ vocals even more. What makes the track more appealing is its use of acoustic snares at the end of the bridge, bringing an element of surprise that extends until the end of the song. The track’s sophistication is completed by the brass and acoustic drums in the final chorus, giving off similar vibes from the dance break in “ON.”

The upbeat tone is sustained with the unit track “Stay” by members Jin, Jungkook, and RM. “Stay,” which was originally meant to be a part of Jungkook’s mixtape, channels the pop-rock vibe of Jin’s “Moon” and the EDM beats of their 2018 track “So What.” In this future house bop, the members further emphasize on their enduring relationship with their fans no matter how far apart they may be. While the chorus seems a bit underwhelming, the track doesn’t feel over the top and has just the right amount of layers that highlights the vocals and the rap. The piano and distortion in the outro gives a smooth and perfect transition to the final track, “Dynamite.”

Photo grabbed from BTS’s official Twitter account

In true BTS fashion, the album closes with a bang (literally) and what better way to do it than their chart-topping single, “Dynamite.” The retro and funky earworm is the best conclusion to the album by bringing in a bright and optimistic tune amid all the loneliness, despair, and desolation this pandemic has brought. The brass and guitar riff add a unique color to its disco-pop palette, while the key change in the final chorus is the satisfying exclamation point the song needed. Despite its repetitive lyrics, it’s impossible not to bop along to the song in the shower or even in your sleep. 

The health crisis has truly taken a toll on lives that even the likes of BTS couldn’t escape from. In the roster of pandemic albums, ‘BE’ feels like a shoulder to lean on, offering comfort and a tenacity of hope and encouragement in these trying times. The high amount of creative input poured by the members to each song added a personal touch of their lives. It gives listeners a deep dive into their inner thoughts and feelings, while relating to every word at the same time. Furthermore, the sincerity and authenticity emanated by this album makes it more prominent that they, too, are humans who feel and go through the same struggles that we do.

This album may leave you bawling your eyes out or smiling from ear-to-ear. Either way, it brings its listeners a sense of connection and togetherness two things that we continue to yearn for during these times. In all our downfalls and triumphs, BTS is here to overcome and celebrate it with us.  

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