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Online classes: Paghandaan, pagdaanan, lagpasan

Matututo kaya ako? Paano kapag biglang nawalan ako ng internet sa gitna ng klase? Kaya ba ng laptop ko kaming magkakapatid? Kaya ko ba? 

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Litrato ni Annie Spratt galing sa Unsplash

Ang panibagong taon ng pasukan ay nagpapaypay sa iyo ng mga paru-parong may iba’t ibang kulay ng pag-aalala at pangamba. Bagamat nakasanayan mo na ang pakiramdam na ito bago magsimula ang klase, ngayon ay napagtanto mo na mas malalakas ang hampas nila sa iyong bituka sapagkat hindi pamilyar sa iyo ang panibagong mukha ng edukasyon. 

Upang maipagpatuloy ang paghahatid ng edukasyon, ipinatupad ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon at Komisyon sa Mas Mataas na Edukasyon ang pagkakaroon ng online classes para sa darating na panuruang taon. Marahil ngayon ay naglalaro ang mga katanungan sa iyong isip na tila ngingangatngat ang lingid ng kapayapaang iyong pinaka-iniingatan. Matututo kaya ako? Paano kapag biglang nawalan ako ng internet sa gitna ng klase? Kaya ba ng laptop ko kaming magkakapatid? Kaya ko ba? 

Bago magsimula ang online classes

Litrato ni Kyle Gregory Devaras galing sa Unsplash

Karaniwan ang pakiramdam ng pagtahak ng daan sa dilim sa mga bagay na kakambal ng pangangapa — tulad noong panahong napag-desisyunan mong kumuha ng entrance exam sa unibersidad o noong pumasok ka sa silid-aralan nang walang nakikilalang mukha. Ngayon, ang kanto lamang ng iyong silid ang magsisilbing pugad ng iyong pagkatuto. Wala mang bagong mukhang tatambad sa iyo, maaari namang mahaluan ang iyong almusal ng sansinukob na problema mula sa loob at labas ng bahay.  Ito ay maaaring magdulot ng pagka-paralysa sa gawain, pagkawala ng inspirasyong magpatuloy ng trabaho, o pilit na pagsubsob sa trabaho. 

Sa isang kumot ng mga posibilidad at pagkabalisa, mainam na iyong panghawakan ang kahit gahiblang tiwalang may hangganan din ang lahat, na lilipas din ang sitwasyon, kasabay ng pagtanggap ng buong kalooban sa sistema at proseso. 

Gumawa ng sariling iskedyul

Litrato ni Estée Jansens galing sa Unsplash

Simulan mo ang panibagong taon sa pamamagitan ng paggawa ng iyong iskedyul kung saan nakatala ang oras ang pag-simula ng bawat klase. Mainam rin na isaayos mo ito ayon sa iyong pangangailangan at kagustuhan. . Isa ito sa mga paraan ng paglalagay ng kontrol sa iyong araw lalo na sa panahong nababalot ng walang-kasiguraduhan. 

Mas makabubuti rin kung isasama mo sa iyong mga pang-araw-araw na  gawain ang mga bagay na nagpapaalab sa upos ng iyong damdamin. Sa ganitong paraan, ang bawat araw ay hindi pawang nalulunod sa gawaing pang-paaralan lamang at sa halip ay may kaunting puwang para magpahinga.

Sabihin ang nararamdaman sa mga taong malapit sa iyo

Litrato ni Andy Art galing sa Unsplash

Ang kaisipan ng pagsasagawa ng online classes sa loob ng ilang buwan kasabay ng pag-aalala sa pangkalahatang sitwasyon ng ating bansa ay maaring magdala ng bigat sa iyong damdamin at magdulot ng pagkawala ng inspirasyong magpatuloy. Tuwing ito ay nararanasan, mainam na isipin na ikaw ay hindi nag-iisa sapagkat ito ay kolektibong karanasan na pinagdadaanan ng bawat estudyante. Ang simpleng pangangamusta at pakikipagkuwentuhan sa iyong mga kaibigan ay maaaring makatulong sa paghahanap muli ng saysay upang matuto. Gamitin mo rin ang social media upang makihalubilo sa mga tao’t diskursong nakararanas at nakaiintindi ng iyong pinagdadaanan. 

Sa gitna ng online classes

Litrato ng SCREEN POST galing sa Unsplash

Kaagapay ng pagtanggap at paglalagay ng pananampalataya sa proseso ay ang pag-ayon at pag-aangkop ng sarili sa sitwasyon. Bagamat iba-iba ang pagdaloy ng emosyon sa bawat tao, mayroong mga paraang makatutulong sa pagbuo nito na siyang magdudulot sa malusog na kalusugang pangkaisipan.

Humingi ng tulong kung kinakailangan

Litrato ni John Schnobrich galing sa Unsplash

Ang simpleng pagtatanong sa kung paano gawin ang takda sa isang paksa at paglapit sa pamilya, kaibigan, at mga eksperto tulad ng guidance counselors ukol sa iyong nararamdaman ay ilan sa mga paraan upang matulungan ang iyong sarili. Mainam na gawain ang pagkilala sa mukha ng tulong at paghingi nito, maging ito man ay nauugnay sa pang-akademikong kaanyuan o patungkol sa pangkalahatang konteksto. 

Maging mabait sa sarili

Litrato ni Kinga Cichewicz galing sa Unsplash

Bagamat pawang sirang plaka na ang mga paalala ukol sa pagpapagaan ng damdamin, ang pagbaon ng mababait na salita para sa sarili ay makatutulong upang magawa ang mga gawain sa paaralan. Maging matiyaga sa pagpapaalala na tayo ay mayroong kanya-kanyang panahon at paraan sa paggalaw. Maging mas mabait sa pagbatid sa kabiguan bilang kapatid ng kapalaran kung sakali mang ito ay mararanasan. Ang ganitong pananalita ay higit na magiging kaagapay hindi lamang sa pagtahak ng iyong papel bilang estudyante, ngunit pati na rin bilang isang taong nababalot ng kapayapaan. 

Maglagay ng linya sa pagitan ng iyong mga papel

Litrato ni Mike Tinnion galing sa Unsplash

Isa sa malalaking balakid sa kinagagalawang mundo ngayon ay ang malimit na pagkarita sa pagitan ng pagpapalawig ng kaalaman sa bansa – kahit na puno ng nakapanlulumong balita – o ang pag-hilom at patuloy na pagyabong ng kalagayan ng mental health. Ito maaari ang isa sa mga kadalasang nagdudulot ng stress, lalo na sa pagsasagawa ng makabagong pamamaraan ng pag-aaral na naka-angkla sa plataporma nang walang hadlang. Maari mong ipaghiwalay ang oras sa paggamit ng social media para sa paaralan at paggamit nito para makakalap ng impormasyon. Mainam na ugaliing magpasya ng oras para sa mga papel na iyong ginagampanan upang maiwasang mapagod ang isip at damdamin.

Magkaroon ng mga kutkutin o pagkain kasabay ng pag-aaral

Litrato ni Pixzolo Photography galing sa Unsplash

Karaniwang bahagi ng mga alituntunin sa klase ang pagbabawal ng pagkakaroon ng pagkain sa loob ng silid-aralan. Ngayong dinadala na ng online class ang mga silid-aralan sa ating tahanan, kaakibat nito ang kalayaang gawin ang mga bagay na hindi papayagan sa paaralan. Kumuha at kumain ng mga pagkaing kinahihiligan habang nagkaklase upang magkaroon ng sigla at lakas habang nakikinig o gumagawa ng gawain. Ang mga pagkain tulad ng mani at tsokolate ay nakatutulong din sa pag-aalala ng mga aralin habang nag-aaral o nakikinig sa talakayan.

Sundin ang iskedyul sa klase kasama ang mga break at recess

Litrato ni Cathryn Lavery galing sa Unsplash

Nakasanayan na sa tuwing papasok ay makaligtaan ang pagkain dahil sa dami ng mga gawain sa paaralan. Subalit ngayong nasa tahanan na lamang, maiging pagtuunan mo ng pansin ang wastong pagkain bilang paraan na rin ng pag-aalaga sa iyong sarili at pagpapalakas ng iyong resistensya sa panahon ng pandemya. Ugaliing sundin ang schedule sa klase maglaan ng kaunting oras upang makapagpahinga at mabawasan ang nararamdamang stress na maaaring idulot nito sa sarili. 

Maglagay ng mga gamit o mga paalala na nakagagaan at nakapagpapalakas ng loob

Litrato ni Vana Ash galing sa Unsplash

Sa kasalukuyang panahon, bagama’t marami ang nakararanas ng bigat na dulot ng online classes, nangingibabaw pa rin ang pakiramdam ng pag-iisa at kalungkutan. Maaari itong maging sanhi ng burn-out na matinding kalaban ng mga mag-aaral lalo na sa matataas na antas. Makabubuti sa kalusugang pangkaisipan at damdamin ang paglalagay ng mga bagay o paskin na magpapalakas o di kaya’y makapagpapagaan ng loob upang maibsan ang mga matinding damdamin na nararamdaman.

Sa pagtatapos ng online classes

Litrato ni Priscilla Du Preez galing sa Unsplash

Matapos ang isang mahabang araw sa pakikipaglaban kasama ng mga guro at propesor, mabuting ihanda mo ang sarili para sa pagpapahinga. Hindi man tulad ng mga manggagawa sa araw-araw na nakikipagsapalaran sa kabila ng peligrong kinakaharap, may sariling digmaan pa rin na kinakalaban ang mga tulad mong mag-aaral at sangguruan. 

Kasama ng mga ilang manggagawa na nasa work-from-home na sistema, kalaban din sa bawat online class ang mga mahinang signal ng internet, mabagal na computer o cellphone, at maingay o madilim na paligid. Kaya naman sa dulo ng bawat araw na malalampasan ang mga hadlang na ito, mainam na bigyan ang sarili ng espasyo upang huminga’t makawala.

Maglibang gamit ang mga streaming site o mga video games

Litrato ni JESHOOTS.COM galing sa Unsplash

Sadyang kinatutuwaan ng lahat ngayon ang panonood ng mga palabas sa mga website tulad ng Netflix o mga vlog at mga bidyo sa YouTube. Bilang pasasalamat sa iyong sarili, maaaring manood at maglibang pagtapos ng mga klase. Kung ang kinahihiligan mo naman ay ang maglaro, maaaring maglaan ng oras para maglaro ng mga video games tulad ng Mobile Legends. Pagkakataon din ang mga online na larong ito upang magkaroon ng panahon na makasama ang mga kaibigan kahit sa virtual na pamamaraan lamang.

Kausapin ang mga kaibigan at ibang mahal sa buhay

Litrato ni Andrea Tummons galing sa Unsplash

Isa sa mga kapana-panabik para sa iba ang pag-uwi sa tahanan upang makasalamuha ang pamilya. Mayroon ding nag-aabang ng pagkakataong lumabas kasama ng mga kaibigan o sinisinta. Bagama’t may mga limitasyon lalo na sa pisikal na distansya, maaari ka pa ring magkaroon kahit papaano ng paraan upang mas mapalapit sa iyong mga mahal sa buhay. Mula sa pagkakaroon ng group call kasama ng barkada, watch party kasama ng sinisinta, o di kaya’y pagsasama-sama sa hapag ng pamilya, marami pa ring maaaring gawin upang payabungin ang mga ugnayan sa ating mga mahal sa buhay.

Maglaan ng panahon para magmuni-muni o magnilay-nilay

Litrato ni Priscilla Du Preez galing sa Unsplash

Kabilang sa mga pagsubok na kinakaharap ng lahat sa panahong ito ay ang mga emosyong naiipon o naiimbak dahil sa pagkawala ng mga nakasanayang libangan. Gayunpaman, maaaring mong subukan ang pagninilay-nilay o ang simpleng pagmumuni-muni upang mas madaling maproseso ang iba’t ibang damdamin sa buong araw. Makatutulong din ito upang maibsan ang bigat ng iyong dinadala dulot ng iba’t ibang dahilan sa buhay. 

Ang pagbaybay mo sa mundong ginulo ng ‘di inaasahang krisis ay kabilang sa bilyong mga buhay na malubhang naapektuhan. Kaisa mo ang bawat guro at mag-aaral na pilit nakikipagsapalaran sa kabila ng mga limitasyon matagal nang tinik sa tagiliran ng bawat isa. Hindi ka nag-iisa sa bawat pagsubok na iyong kinakaharap at gaano man kahirap ang suliraning pagdaraanan, palagi mong tatandaan na mayroon kang kakayahan upang malampasan ito. 

Sa patuloy nating pakikipagbuno, laban sa sakit at laban sa ating mga sariling anino, mahalaga na bigyang pagpapahalaga ang ating kalagayan. Palaging bigyang priyoridad ang ikabubuti ng sarili sa kabila ng mga matataas na ekspektasyon ng sistema. Huwag hayaang manatiling nakayukod ang ulo sa kabila ng unos sapagkat darating din ang panahon na lahat tayo’y makakabangon.

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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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