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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.



(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

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.



April 2021: Inadequate progress brings us back to last year

The way the pandemic is being handled seems unchanged, resulting in a feeling where it seems like we are reliving the nightmarish 2020 all over again.



Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

The way the pandemic is being handled seems unchanged, resulting in a feeling where it seems like we are reliving the nightmarish 2020 all over again. Our progress in getting over the pandemic seems stagnant compared to our neighboring countries. We can always try and hope for the best, but with some of the events that transpired this month, our once glimmering hope is gradually losing its luster.

Here is a rundown of the major events that occurred on April 2021. 

1. NCR Plus goes through ECQ again

Photo by Wander Fleur on Unsplash

On March 29, NCR and some of the surrounding provinces, coined as the ‘NCR Plus,’ were put under ECQ until April 4, following the advice of the IATF. On April 3, however, it was announced that the quarantine for NCR Plus was to be extended until April 11. If we recall, it was also April of last year when a memorandum was released, stating that ECQ was extended up until April 30, 2020. 

Community quarantines like these surely severs the income of some Filipino households and bruises the economy. What does this really have to say about our country’s progress in trying to manage this pandemic if a year has already passed and we are doing the same things all over again?

2. Netizens weigh in on lugaw dispute

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Is lugaw essential? The PNP clarified last April 1 that food products, with the inclusion of lugaw are considered essential, thus, not warranting a need for reprimanding when delivered despite the ECQ status of a place. This issue stemmed from a viral video where a food courier personnel was reprimanded by authorities saying that he is not allowed to deliver lugaw in that village due to the imposed ECQ. We are one year into this pandemic, and yet, minute regulations like these aren’t still clear. The Grab driver reprimanded in the video is also seeking help because he still gets threats from barangay officials in Bulacan.

3. VP Robredo launches mobile COVID-19 testing facility

Photo courtesy of the Office of the Vice President’s official Facebook page

Vice President Leni Robredo’s COVID testing facility on wheels called ‘Swab Cab’ was initially launched last March 29. This program aims to test a target community in places considered as COVID hotspots, or where incidences of transmission are very high. It started off stationing around the streets of Malabon and, this April, it was brought to Cavite. The Office of the Vice President aims to expand their reach as well, hoping to bring the Swab Cab to other areas under the NCR Plus bubble to be able to test more citizens. An initiative like this from the vice president also made #LetLeniLead trend this month. 

4. Attack on Titan releases its final chapter

'Attack on Titan' Final Season New Teaser Image | HYPEBEAST

Screengrab from ぽにきゃん-Anime PONY CANYON’s TVアニメ「進撃の巨人」The Final Season PV video

The events of the first part of Attack on Titan’s final season kept us at the edge of our seats. As both Isayama and MAPPA leave us every week both in tears and in awe, the story finally comes to its final chapter. For manga readers, Chapter 139 was already released last April 9 and has seen how the story ends. For those who solely watch the anime, maybe after months of patiently waiting, all our questions will be answered and we can only hope for the best for the fate of our favorite characters, whose lives we have avidly followed in the last eight years. 

5. Ivermectin conflict

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

The information that Ivermectin, an anthelmintic drug for veterinary use, was the cure for COVID-19 (despite not having indications for it) spread like wildfire this month. The Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines also released a statement discouraging masses to self medicate with Ivermectin due to lack of scientific evidence proving its efficacy against COVID-19. Drugs naturally intended for animals pose severe adverse effects to humans and spreading information like these could only make things worse.

6. #ABSCBNTraydor trends amidst partnership announcement with Chinese media

(Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler)

The ABS CBN News Channel announced that they will be airing Chinese News TV on cable television to regularly report Philippine headlines in Mandarin. They claim that this aims to promote the enrichment of the Filipino-Chinese culture. This announcement then garnered backlash from masses, claiming #ABSCBNTutaNgChina. Eventually, ANC cancelled their partnership with Chinese News TV. Additionally, days before the first launch of CNTV on air, armed Chinese vessels chased out ABS-CBN news crew out of Ayungin Shoal. 

7. Secretary Nograles insists the government is listening

Photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin

Vice President Robredo called out the government for failing to recognize their shortcomings when it comes to coming up with an effective COVID response plan. In response, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles claimed that it is not fair for people to say that the government does not take the citizens’ grievances when coming up with a plan in trying to address the pandemic. He stated, “Nakikinig naman kami. Nakikinig naman ang gobyerno at lahat naman ng dapat at kailangang gawin ay tinutugunan naman namin at binibigyan naman natin ng pansin.” Scrolling through the bird app, the people also shared their sentiments about this statement. 

8. Filipinos initiate community pantries

(Photo by Gerald Carreon/Rappler)

Magbigay ayon sa kakayahan, kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan. This tagline has been posted up on community pantries all over the country. What started off as a small cart along Maginhawa has ignited a ripple effect that continues to help countless Filipinos. The initiative stemmed from the growing need of some Filipinos for some food and basic necessities because the pandemic certainly took a toll on their source of livelihood. With this, a collective effort somehow alleviates the daily struggles of those who need assistance in trying to get by — those who have an extra hand to give now have a medium to extend their help and compassion. 

Patricia Non, the spearhead of the community pantry in Maginhawa and inspired other districts beyond Metro Manila to set up a pantry of their own, was red-tagged. After her initiative became viral, armed police men showed up to her house and started interrogating her, questioning which organizations are she a part of. A post on the Quezon City Police Department’s Facebook page also claimed that these pantries were a recruitment hub to enlist people to join the New People’s Army. After a series of red-tagging, some community pantries also suspended their charity work, in fear of being red-tagged, and with the controversial Anti-Terror Law, the fear only grew deeper.

9. Online registration for National ID now open

Photo courtesy of Tempo

In August of 2018, Republic Act No. 11055 was signed into law to have a unified identification system for Filipino residents to provide valid proof of identity. On April 30, 2021, it was announced that Filipinos can now get registered online to acquire the National ID, in just three steps. The Philippine Statistics Authority announced on the first day of online registration that their system has encountered technical difficulties. This incident raised concerns of privacy and inconvenience to those who tried registering for this on its pilot day.

Lack of progress in terms of addressing the problems at hand makes us feel like we’re reliving the same year over and over again. As months pass by, our optimism may start to waver. We, too, are not a fan of toxic positivity and we all yearn for concrete plans and change. Patricia Santos


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How ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ celebrates self-growth and freedom

Listening to these songs as adults hits differently not only because we’ve loved and lost, but also because it serves as an anthem of freedom and a celebration of women in music.



Photo grabbed from Taylor Swift's official Twitter account

I was only 7 when Fearless came out in 2008. But it was only about 2 years later when I came to know about Taylor Swift’s existence. Back then, YouTube was a luxury and Spotify was still nonexistent. I remember almost being late to school because I waited for her music videos to come out on MYX’s Daily Countdown. Our version of streaming was paying P30 to patiently watch her music videos in computer shops, and not to mention the laborious process of buying her physical CD, importing it to our computer, and then to our phones and iPods. Thanks to Taylor, we get to relive that nostalgia today and open our eyes to so much more. 

Taylor’s sophomore album Fearless (2008) debuted at number one on Billboard Hot 200, with all her five singles peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs. It won her Best Country Album and her first Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2009, making her one of the youngest artists to receive such accolades. Needless to say, it was the record that catapulted her to become the country and pop icon she is today. 

Contrary to the magic and stardust that Fearless embodied, events weren’t so enchanting after Taylor’s departure from her former label and the sale of her master recordings to Scooter Braun, who later sold it to an investment fund. Two years later, quoting one of her songs in reputation, she “got smarter, got harder with the nick of time” and pulled one of the greatest UNO reverse cards in music history. On April 9, Taylor came back stronger than a 90s trend with the release of the first of six albums she plans to rerecord but, this time, with full ownership of her masters and publishing rights. 

Fearless (Taylor’s Version) revisits the nostalgia of experiencing love and heartbreak for the first time. The 2-hour walk down memory lane showcased rerecordings of the same 19 songs from the original, the 2010 single ‘Today was a Fairytale,’ and six unreleased songs from the vault, which admittedly had us all reminiscing memories of our younger days and 2008 Joe Jonas. In this review, we dive into the similarities and differences between the two versions, break down Taylor’s lyricism in the new songs, and discuss what lies ahead for the young artist.  

The same record 13 years later: What changed and what stayed

Decoding the meanings to Taylor’s songs is one thing, but dissecting the differences between the two versions is another. Musically, the 2021 version does not greatly differ from the original recordings. It features the same key and tempos, the same instruments, the same musicians, and the same Taylor, but now with a richer, deeper, and more mature sound. However, in terms of sound quality, the rerecordings are undoubtedly crisper and cleaner than the originals, making the instrumentals more prominent as opposed to the 2008 version where they sounded a bit muffled. The banjo lines and fiddle riffs in ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘Love Story (Taylor’s Version)’ sound so crisp and clear that even a casual listener would easily notice and find very satisfying. 

Taylor in the Fearless era had the country twang to her songs, which somehow got lost in the pop mix following the birth of the 1989 era. As someone who religiously listens to Speak Now, I was manifesting hard for a comeback. Lo and behold, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) pays homage to her country roots and reincarnates her country twang from the depths of Pennsylvania. It’s subtle and not as strong and prominent as the one she had on her first few albums perhaps due to her more pop-inclined vocal tone and range, but it’s there. On the bright side, her enunciation was evidently better in the current version. The way she sings with clarity makes us realize how many lyrics we had been singing wrong all this time. 

During the production for this rerelease, Taylor revealed that she went “line by line” on every track and improved upon some parts. True enough, there are subtle differences on how she sings the rerecordings, but these neither makes Taylor’s version less better nor takes away the character of the songs. Rather, it shows how her vocal technique has improved throughout the years. The belting in ‘White Horse (Taylor’s Version)’ and ‘Tell Me Why (Taylor’s Version)’ showcases her wider vocal range. The sharp breath that every Swiftie sang like a lyric in the ‘You Belong With Me’ bridge is also nowhere to be found, which only shows how much her breath control has improved. The changes in the ad libs also gives a new personality to her songs like how the laugh in ‘Hey Stephen (Taylor’s Version)’ brings in a more mature Taylor and how the silence that comes after she softly sings “Here’s to silence” in ‘Forever & Always (Piano Version) (Taylor’s Version)’ delivers a more painful stab in the heart. 

A modern retelling and reimagining of letters from the past 

The six songs off her vault stay true to the motif of Fearless by encapsulating the growing pains of young love and giving listeners an introspect on 18-year-old Taylor. Though originally written 13 years ago, most of the tracks are musically reminiscent of her recent releases. The muted ballads ‘You All Over Me’ and ‘When We Were Happy’ did not tread far from the alternative, folk-pop core of folklore and evermore, while ‘Don’t You’ and ‘That’s When’ felt like the long-lost parents of ‘Clean’ in 1989. After all, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, who each had a hand in the production of these albums, were also called by Taylor to work on the vault tracks.

The never-before-released catalogue also features country artists Maren Morris, who she once shared the stage with on her reputation tour, and Keith Urban, who she opened for when she was just starting out in the music industry. Harmonies from Maren and Keith laced with Taylor’s deep and rich tone enhance the emotional delivery and impact of the songs, which allows each word to truly resonate with listeners. 

Besides nostalgic melodies, it’s not surprising that each track had lyrical and thematic parallels to many of her songs, while still having their own character. Like Marvel, Taylor has her own emotionally and mentally stimulating universe built from her discography. 

In the ‘You All Over Me’ chorus, Taylor and Maren sing, “I lived, and I learned, had you, got burned / Held out, and held on / God knows, too long, and wasted time.” These words seem like a response to her 2006 hit ‘Picture to Burn’ that touched on a painful breakup: “Watch me strike a match on all my wasted time / As far as I’m concerned, you’re just another picture to burn. 

This is not the first time Taylor has used fire as a metaphor for relationships as heard in many of the songs like ‘Red,’ ‘Dress,’ and ‘ivy.’ The vault track ends with, “But no amount of freedom gets you clean / I’ve still got you all over me,” which is later echoed in ‘Clean’ from 1989: “You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore.” 

The fan-favorite ‘Mr. Perfectly Fine’ that embodies the classic Taylor Swift breakup anthem we all missed singing along to also has its fair share of lyrical similarities. In one of the 28 repetitions of “mister” in the track, Taylor sings, “Hello Mr. Casually Cruel.” Every Swift disciple would be quick to point out how it alludes to the climactic bridge of ‘All Too Well’ in Red: “You call me up again just to break me like a promise / So casually cruel in the name of being honest.” It is also interesting how the line, “Mr. Looked me in the eye and told me you would never go away,” is lyrically related to excerpts from ‘Forever and Always’ (“You looked me in the eye and told me you love me”) and ‘Last Kiss’ (“You told me you loved me / So why did you go away”). Well, it goes without saying that hearing these gut-wrenching words triggers our fight-or-flight response towards 2008 Joe Jonas.

On ‘We Were Happy,’ Taylor reminisces on memories of a seemingly perfect relationship that sadly ended. The imagery used in “We used to watch the sun go down on the boats in the water” is later mirrored in ‘Mine’ from Speak Now: “Do you remember all the city lights on the water?” Despite this similarity, it’s worth noting how both songs are a contrast of each other. ‘We Were Happy’ talks about a future that two people dreamed of having, while ‘Mine’ recounts memories of two lovers living out their happy ending.  

The deep dive into the Fearless rabbit hole continues with Taylor and Keith contemplating on the what ifs of a past relationship in ‘That’s When.’ This seems to have been the precursor to other duets in her succeeding albums like ‘The Last Time (ft. Gary Lightbody)’ in Red and ‘exile (ft. Bon Iver)’ in folklore, which followed the same structure of back-and-forth conversations between two lovers going through the aftermath of a breakup.  

‘Don’t You’ describes the early stages of acceptance. Taylor’s storytelling in this track is similar to ‘You’re Not Sorry,’ which talks about rejecting the other party’s desire to get back together. The moral of self-healing and moving on in ‘Don’t You’ is thematically carried in ‘Clean’ from 1989, giving us the therapy we all need after a painful breakup. To make it even more devastating, this track would perfectly fit the summer love affair narrative in folklore either told from Augustine’s perspective after James chose Betty over her or from Betty’s perspective after finding out about James’ affair. 

All the tears are finally swept away with ‘Bye Bye Baby’ that talks about bidding goodbye and fading into the memory of a great love. Taylor describes the breakup as how “It wasn’t just like a movie / The rain didn’t soak through my clothes, down to my skin,” which thematically relates to ‘If This Was a Movie’ that contrastingly talks about a lost love coming back. Shen then sings about getting “lost in the gray” and trying to “grab at the fray” encapsulates the heartbreaking emotions of holding onto pieces of a crumbling relationship or one that was bound to end. The line “And all the pages are just slipping through my hands” foreshadows the book and page theme later described in ‘Story of Us’ in her next album, Speak Now. 

The themes of love and heartbreak have become mainstream in pop culture. But what sets Taylor apart is her innate brilliance as a writer and artist to capture a range of emotions and refine it into simple words that resonate with many people yet still hold so much meaning and depth. On top of that, the parallelism of her past and present writing demonstrates how her understanding of the human experience of love has evolved and matured. 

Are we out of the woods yet?

READ  A Youth Decides to Believe

When Taylor first announced the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version), everyone was looking forward to the six new tracks. From her fans’ point of view, it was heaven on earth. But from a business standpoint, this was a lucrative decision as additional songs on the rerecorded version would draw more listeners and licensing deals to her songs and, as a result, further devalue the earning potential of her old recordings. 

Legally, Taylor can rerecord 4 (Taylor Swift, Fearless, Speak Now, 1989) out of the 5 remaining albums she released under Big Machine Labels (Sadly, reputation has to wait until 2022). Nothing has been confirmed yet but following her cryptic clues on Instagram and the snippet of a ‘Wildest Dreams’ rerecorded version in a movie trailer, fans speculate that 1989 would be the next to roll out. If she decides to do the same strategy as she did with Fearless, then it’s checkmate on the business moguls that bought her old masters. 

More than that, Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is her first step to regaining creative control and full ownership of her life’s work and legacy that brought her to where she is today. It’s no strange fact that Taylor has been caught in many celebrity feuds throughout her career, but this battle is different. It is monumental for the music industry as it may lead to changes towards artists’ rights. As she continues to take bold steps to take back what is rightfully hers, Taylor serves as a lesson and an advocate for aspiring artists across all industries waiting to sign their first contract. 

13 years ago, these tracks left us feeling like an emotional train wreck (and it still does today). It’s a memoir of our youth and a reimagining of our past because fan or not, her songs have impacted our lives in some way. But Fearless (Taylor’s Version) is more than just nostalgia. Listening to these songs as adults hits differently not only because we’ve loved and lost, but also because it serves as an anthem of freedom and a celebration of women in music. So the next time you hear that “hallelujah” in ‘Change (Taylor’s Version),’ allow yourself to feel empowered and free just as Taylor is now. 


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Thomasian musicians to add to your playlist

With all the new takes on OPM, let’s not forget about our fellow Thomasians who are persevering to let their craft be known in the mainstream media. Support local, support Thomasian artists.



The rise of Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and other music-streaming platforms paved the way for more artists to share their craft with a broader audience. It is now easier to promote your material through social media, while people can seamlessly listen to your music through different audio platforms on-demand without splurging too much cash. A basic subscription plan lets anyone stream all the music they want and play your songs on repeat. With this boom in the music industry through technological advancements, artists are inspired, now more than ever, to produce more music and give sick beats to avid listeners.

Here is a shortlist of Thomasian musicians you can stream on your music platforms.

1. Al James

(Photo courtesy of Jilson Tiu)

Before he was front and center in most gigs and before his music was blasted through the speakers of bars, Alvin James Manlutac, famously known as Al James, also sat in the rooms of Beato as a student under the College of Fine Arts and Design. In launching his first hit, he also doubted himself because he knew his style did not follow hip-hop norms. But fast-forward to today, his crafts are among the most famous songs played in the nightlife scene, as well as in casual get-togethers with your friends.

Manlutac permeated the fine line between underground and mainstream when he released his song ‘Pahinga,’ gaining more than 7.3 million views since its release three years ago.

Screengrab from Presko Life PH

2. Migo Señires

(Photo from DBTK)

Like Al James, Migo Señires also spent his college days in Beato, studying Advertising Arts in the College of Fine Arts and Design. They are both a part of the Baryo Berde crew, a multi-talent collective that fixates on culture and art. 

Señires released his song, Kara,which garnered more than 141,000 views since it was posted on his channel. He claims that he wrote it for the younger people who forgot their roots and the older ones who get frustrated when they can’t keep up with modern times. 

3. Schumi

(Screengrab from YouTube/Schumi)

When he is not walking around the halls of Ruaño, he may be singing center stage. Albert Guallar, famously known as Schumi, has been catching ears in the local hip-hop scene. He first started producing music and uploading it to SoundCloud, which then garnered the attention of people who had an interest in hip-hop. In an interview with TomasinoWeb, he said that his Schumi persona — writing music and such, is his gateway to express his emotions. It was an effective venue to vent out feelings of heartbreak and sadness, which, in this instance, was his breakup with his girlfriend. 

Schumi’s hit song ‘Bakit Why Not’ talks about breaking norms and protesting against some stereotypes like gender roles. Its music video has amassed more than 10 thousand views within two months of its release.



4. Himig Borhuh

(Photo from Himig Borhuh’s official Soundcloud)

From walking around the halls of the Albertus Magnus to being in the spotlight of #USTPaskuhan, Himig Austin Borja, a Music Technology student from the Conservatory of Music, has been making a name for himself. In an interview with UST Tiger TV, he said that he didn’t really envision himself to major in music since he was inclined to sports and was a basketball varsity player during his high school years. He also did not expect his hit song, ‘Watawat,’ to become well-known and was surprised that lines from his song became widespread after its release.

Himig Borja’s ‘Watawat,’ featuring Schumi, was a song that garnered attention during the last UAAP season. The line ‘ang medalya at korona ibalik na sa España,’ reflected the community’s yearning to secure another championship and showed the support Thomasians have for all our sports teams as well as the pride we have for our school. 

5.  Adrian Aggabao

(Photo from Adrian Aggabao’s official Instagram account)

Adrian Aggabao, popularly known as ‘Don Bao,’ is a Raymund’s local from the College of Commerce and Business Administration. Like Schumi, his music career also began when he started publishing his music on SoundCloud. Since then, he has secured multiple gigs during his downtime. Most of his music speaks about social realities and what’s nice about it is that he has his family as his inspiration. 

Don Bao’s song ‘Pasanin’ emphasizes on the lessons that a life filled with struggles and obstacles brings. Having dropped this first video on his Youtube channel about a year ago, it has garnered more than 2.3 thousand views. 

6. BarbaCola

(Photo from BarbaCola’s official Facebook page)

From UST Musikat’s band pool, the band BarbaCola was formed with Renz Jerique from the Faculty of Arts and Letters on vocals, Raja Rayas from the College of Education on bass, Cedrick Santa Cruz from the Faculty of Engineering on lead guitar, and Raemonn Petr on drums.

BarbaCola’s song ‘Senseless’ runs along with the themes of alternative and indie genres, mainly focusing on the ups and downs of love and how it is a war that one might not survive.

7. VFade

(Photo from Patrick Valentine Cabanayan’s official Facebook account)

Patrick Valentine Cabanayan, more commonly known as VFade, hails from the College of Science under the Department of Mathematics. In an interview with UST Tiger TV, he stated that his interest in music developed when he was in Senior High School, specifically during an apprenticeship under the Music, Arts, and Design track. He tried out music production and also ventured into rapping. 

His song ‘Andito Lang Ako’ expresses love and affection for a significant other. The song itself embodies the wide array of emotions one might feel when in love and how some minute details in the world seem brighter in the presence of strong feelings of attraction.

8. OMEN, Carty and Ballen

(Screengrab from YouTube/OnlyOneOmen)

All coming from the same Advertising Arts class in the College of Fine Arts and Design, third year students OMEN (Ron Flores), Carty (Zack Garcia), and Ballen (Allen Agulay) recently made their brainchild available to the public. The trio, who consider themselves brothers from another mother, has collaborated to release a new song entitled ‘Karma Comeback.’

As a collective, they claim that they made the song ‘Karma Comeback’ for fun since quarantine made it hard for them to bond and share their sentiments. By collaborating, they delved into their passion, music, art, and dumb sh*t, as they say.

Thomasians have always been present in every field, more prominently in the music industry. Their growth as artists and musicians will be exponential if we continue to support them and their work. With all the new takes on OPM, let’s not forget about our fellow Thomasians who are persevering to let their craft be known in the mainstream media. Support local, support Thomasian artists. 


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