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Philippines: Blessed with Freedom

ON June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo unfurled the first Philippine Flag in Kawit, Cavite and declared the country’s independence from Spain.



ON June 12, 1898, General Emilio Aguinaldo unfurled the first Philippine Flag in Kawit, Cavite and declared the country’s independence from Spain. Both Spain and the United States (US) did not recognize this action by Aguinaldo and simply dismissed it as a clumsy farce.

     However, the US did eventually grant us a faux independence on July 4, 1946, unsurprisingly coinciding with their declaration of independence from Britain.

     A few decades forward, in 1972, late President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law which suspended the Constitution, dissolved Congress, and made him the authoritarian ruler of the state.

     Then US President George H.W. Bush loved it. He loved all of it, including all the demonstration-banning, media-censoring, and general disrespect towards the freedom of the people. He loved it so much he called the declaration of Martial Law as an “adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process.”

     This blatant adherence to democratic principles was generally disfavored by the masses. On February 22, 1986, various people coming from different sectors went to Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to express their distaste for the Marcos’ brand of democracy and to show their preference for a democracy with a new leader – Corazon Aquino.

     This new democracy gave birth to the current constitution of the country, which, according to its preamble, aims to secure “the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace.”

     But, what exactly is freedom?

     ‘Freedom,’ according to the Textbook on the Philippine Constitution, was favored over its 1935 counterpart ‘liberty’ because the latter does not cover freedom from want, fear, and ignorance.

     Freedom is what we enjoy today as Filipinos. We are free to do whatever we please, as long as it is within the boundaries of law. We are lucky because we live in a free country – a country which ensures our well-being, a country which protects our rights.

     We are blessed because we are a free nation, a free nation which ranked third in Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2014 Global Impunity Index. A blessed country where there are more than 50 unsolved journalist murders – 32 of them are victims of the Ampatuan Massacre. God bless Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma who stated once, “makatwirang sabihin na sa kasalukuyan ay hindi na po umiiral [ang impunity],” for he is truly right.

     What a great country we live in, for we are assured by the Constitution that “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech:” provisions that were duly respected by our nation’s great leaders as they brought libel into cyberspace. We should be thankful towards our lawmakers, who prioritized restricting free speech on the internet rather than giving the public the information that they want via the Freedom of Information Act.

     We can never be truly grateful enough for our country’s leaders as 20 senators, and 100 congressmen are implicated in the multi-billion pork barrel fund scam, all of whom exercise their freedom to avert charges. Perhaps the best way to thank our beloved leaders is by simply telling them, “Salamat, kaibigan.”

     Because yes, they are friends, and real friends like watching other friends exercising their freedom to die because of poverty, starvation, and illiteracy, while lavishly spending millions for their own personal welfare. Our friendly bond between each other is tainted with the blessings of independence and democracy, namely: sexism, homophobia, racism, ignorance, and apathy, among many other things that make our society truly Filipino.

     Ninoy Aquino once stated that “The Filipino is worth dying for,” and true enough, because Filipinos are dying for us like sacrificial lambs, their heroic acts being immortalized and glorified in the headlines: “OFW from Bukidnon beaten, raped, and left for dead in Saudi desert,” “China executes Filipina drug mule,” “Politics may hinder Yolanda rehab,” “DepEd chief fears rise of out-of-school youth.”

     When our ancestors fought against the numerous tyrants that chained our freedom, all they asked was that all must be ready to die for the country. Now that the freedom that they have fought for a long time ago is bestowed upon us at birth, we are called to do a similar thing. As we exercise our freedom to suppress free speech, to promote corruption and all things that are beneficial for our country, we must die, not for the country, but because of it.

By Xavier Allen Gregorio
Photo by Ferlyn Landoy




After fourteen successful years of independent local movies that never fails to give us fresh discoveries and original crafts, Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival presents us with ten full-length movies and ten short feature films you wouldn’t surely miss this August!



Photo taken from the official website of Cinemalaya

DISCLAIMER: All posters used in this article are not owned by TomasinoWeb.

Rise up all Filipino indie film stans! Cinemalaya is back!

After fourteen successful years of independent local movies that never fails to give us fresh discoveries and original crafts, Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival presents us with ten full-length movies and ten short feature films you wouldn’t surely miss this August!

1. ANi (The Harvest) by Kim Zuniga and Sandro del Rosario

In the year 2050, an orphaned boy together with his malfunctioning robot is set on an adventure that might save his estranged grandfather, Mauricio, and the crops in his farm, too. Is this just another movie about a human being forming a friendship with a robot or will this open our eyes to the endless possibilities and consequences of technology in the next thirty years?

2. Belle Douleur (Beautiful Pain) by Joji Alonso

Does age really matter? In today’s society where people still consider May-December relationships taboo, Belle Douleur presents us Elizabeth – a woman in her late 40s who considers living on her own until she meets Jon, a young man who is twenty years younger than her. This film does not only showcase an unconventional relationship between star-crossed lovers, but it also gives us a side of Elizabeth and her submission to happiness through complete surrender.

3. Children of the River by Maricel Cariaga

The waves do not always wash away your worries. Maricel Cariaga’s coming-of-age film tells us a story about a young boy named Elias and his three other friends who have to face the cruelties of life and suffering while their fathers are away. To be independent is to also face your own battles by yourself. How will Elias overcome every challenge he and his friends take without succumbing to their own demons?

4. Edward by Thop Nazareno

There is no trailer released at this moment, but Edward takes us on an interesting life of a young teenager who tries to live life like a normal teenager whilst being forced to live under his ailing father’s hospital bed. This may probably never be just another coming-of-age film and we all wonder how Thop Nazareno will pull a twist on the possible life-and-death and father-son relationship between Jojo and his father?

5. Fuccbois by Eduardo Roy Jr.

The modern term “Fuccbois” is probably enough to pull our attention into this film, but what is this film really all about? Fuccbois tackle the lives of two young men namely “Ace” and “Miko” who both aspires to become famous actors someday. However, just like in real life, the path to achieving our goals may seem far out of sight as we realize that life takes us to a different direction.

6. Iska by Theodore Boborol

A grandmother’s unconditional love to her child may sound sappy and oversentimental at first, but Theodore Boborol, a known director for ABS-CBN and Star Cinemas, immerses himself to this film as he narrates the life of Iska – an impoverished grandmother who takes care of a child with autism. Is love more than enough to support a child with special needs against all odds? This film will open our eyes to the media and how it often clashes with poverty, and of course, the importance of educating ourselves to mental health issues.

7. John Denver Trending by Arden Rod Condez

Your name trending on social media, a blessing in disguise or a curse? Based on true events, John Denver Trending unveils the story of a teenage boy whose life changes after his video of assaulting a classmate goes viral on the internet. With all that has happened to the young boy, should we all view him as the bully who deserves the heat he’s getting, or should we sympathize with him since he is also a victim? With the unpredictability of social media, one thing is for sure: what’s on the internet will never be forgotten.

8. Malamaya (The Colors of Ash) by Danica Sta. Lucia and Leilani Chavez

Malamaya’s trailer only gives us a glimpse of art and nothing else. Still, this film will not just showcase how intrinsic and beautiful art is, but how an uninspired middle-aged artist reignites her burning passion for the arts and how she also changes her perspective in life as Nora finds herself smitten over a young photographer.

9. Pandanggo sa Hukay by Shéryl Rose Andes

A job outside the country is deemed promising especially for a young midwife who only hopes to sustain the needs of her family. Directed by Sheryl Rose Andres, we’re also hopeful to see Iza Calzado’s promising and interesting take on Elena as we follow her footsteps on her way to a job interview abroad.

10. Tabon by Xian Lim

Tabon is Xian Lim’s directing debut and everyone is curious about how this movie will turn out. There is no official trailer released at this moment, but this film catches up with the harsh sufferings some of our fellow Filipinos go through, especially when a person is wrongfully accused of a crime he never committed.


1. ‘Wag Mo ‘Kong Kausapin (Please Stop Talking) by Josef Dielle Gacutan

Wag Mo ‘Kong Kausapin is an animated short film that revolves around a father whose mending his relationship with his estranged son.

2. Disconnection Notice by Glenn Lowell Averia

Juggling between your responsibilities while repairing your relationship with your younger sibling is not an easy thing to do. In Disconnection Notice, we’ll follow Paul’s hardships as the eldest sibling.

3. Gatilyo (Trigger) by Harold Lance Pialda

The aftermath of war can be scarring especially to those who survived it. Gatilyo unveils the story of a lone survivor of an ambush who’s haunted by the war he survived.

4. Heist School by Julius Renomeron, Jr.

Heist School, directed by Julius Renomeron Jr, a Thomasian alumnus, and TomasinoWeb’s former President, showcases a group of four graduating students and how keeping up with your grades can get in the way of friendship.

5. Hele ng Maharlika (Lullaby of the Free) by Norvin de los Santos

Hope and despair intertwine in Hele ng Maharlika as a child meets an orphaned boy who seeks to be sheltered amidst the uncertainties of an ongoing siege.

6. Kontrolado ni Girly ang Buhay N’ya (Girly is in Control of His Life) by Gilb Baldoza

Let’s raise our flags and follow the footsteps of a gay teenager named Girly who is looking for a job in a world that feels new to him.

7. Sa Among Agwat (In Between Spaces) by Don Senoc

A promise of a good life is reassuring at best until Jun is slammed with the reality that a good life meant being apart with his mother, Dita, and his brother, Mako.

8. Sa Gabing Tanging Liwanag ay Paniniwala (Belief as the Light in Darkness) by Francis Amir Guillermo

Sa Gabing Tanging Liwanag ay Paniniwala leads us to a town captain and his son who is desperate for answers after the continuous disappearances of townsmen.

9. Tembong (Connecting) by Shaira Advincula

A T’boli man transcends beyond expectations and cultural norms as he tries to weave a series of patterns shown by an Abaca Goddess in his dreams.

10. The Shoemaker by Sheron Dayoc

Does first love never die? Set in the shoe capital of the Philippines, a lover makes a surprise appearance to an old shoemaker after three decades.


For a full list of screening locations, visit the Cinemalaya facebook page or their website for more details regarding the event.


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KOLATERAL: Hip Hop as a Voice and a Weapon

KOLATERAL echoes the grievance that not everyone knows. Every contraction of voices Sandata has put into the songs signifies the hate and dismay of people towards the system from the view of its victims’ eyes.



Official Album Art of KOLATERAL

DISCLAIMER: This article may contain graphic depictions of violence as this tackles the drug war in the Philippines. The album contains explicit content.

Various Filipino artists, twelve tracks, one community.

KOLATERAL is a digitally-released album produced by Sandata, a hip-hop group comprised of various Filipino rappers who opt to open the eyes of every Filipino to the realities of the drug war in the country. It showcases factual narratives of the drug war from the front lines backed by real data that is a product of two-years of actual research. The album united artists such as BLKD, Calix and etc. who sang about the current administration’s drug war, also known as Oplan Tokhang, influenced by the thousand stories of its victims and from gathered media reports and interviews from affected communities. 

KOLATERAL echoes the grievance that not everyone knows. Every contraction of voices Sandata has put into the songs signifies the hate and dismay of people towards the system from the view of its victims’ eyes. The illustrative innuendos of gunshots and wailings bring a vivid image of such scenarios. The same pair of eyes piercing through the darkness, waiting for another target to pass by, and the same heart-wrenching voice heard after the gunshots.


Bala ang batas, bala ang pitaka

Bala ang balitang ‘di makilala

Ito’y digma at ito ang pasinaya:

Mga anak, kayo ang makinarya

Makinarya projects President Duterte as the “father” of law enforcers and personnel as part of the system of killing in the name of “peace and order” the drug war is supposed to entail. It also showed how the administration goes about its propaganda to dehumanize the victims in order to desensitize the masses from retaliating against blatant human rights violations.

It also showed how the whole system of the drug war lacks due process as described by the lyrics, “ang aking salita ang siyang magiging armas; ang aking salita ang siyang magiging batas.


Boy explicates how poverty is the main cause of crime in society, especially on marginalized communities where “big guys with black face masks” roam and exploit the youth to do their dirty work. It also illustrates the fear and question of teens who, instead of peacefully roaming around playing basketball with their friends are now filled with fear. They are mostly on the lower sector of the society and the ones who lack information regarding Oplan Tokhang.

Being in such a situation results for these individuals to question the things they cannot understand and are not taught. They just end up fearing the unknown and taking preventive measures. 


Anak, andyan ka pa ba? ‘Wag mo please sabihin na wala ka na.” 

Distansya, evident from its title, shares the story of an OFW who suffers maltreatment but is still dedicated to working for her child’s education. It is narrated through the lens of a single mother, in the form of a call, who checks up on her child from time to time back in the Philippines, making sure that they are reaping the crop in which she sows abroad.

This track shows the irony of the government’s praising of OFWs as the “modern heroes” but cannot give preventive measures, adequate support for such cases.


Pulang mantsa na alaala ng aking itay.” 

Papag started by explicating the story of an ordinary Filipino family living in the slums. It described society as having sharp and pointy nails that scratch the poor even lower in the system. It also showed how there is no place for mistakes, there are no second chances for the poor; once you make one, you’re considered as dead.

Papag also tackled child prostitution, maltreatment of hired workers, and a narrative of a child tasked to clean the blood of his father on the floor. It leaves its listeners in disarray after listening to a child’s voice at the end of the song.

Giyera Na Bulag

Isang turo, limang libo iyong ulo ay numero sa padamihan ng mapapatay.”

The track haunts its listeners with the whispers and voices of different individuals, pleading to be treated as human beings. They share their sentiments about the killings—that they are killed not because they are caught in the act, but because their names are written on a piece of paper without having any further proof. The song also questions why lives are killed when instead, people can be jailed and rehabilitated. 


“Sa pagputok ay ninakaw ka nila.” 

Holding your partner’s hand until the end while witnessing them laid to rest would truly be the most painful scene one could not bear to see. The song is not asking and is not angry. It tries to peacefully share the pain of both the couple from childhood until death. 


Maraming nagkawatak-watak mga anak na walang patnubay. Kaya ‘di lang mga pinapatay ang inagawan ng buhay.” 

Opening with a “news story”, Pagsusuma starts to talk about the operations around Metro Manila, Quezon City, and other places. It mostly focuses on the total number of victims revealing the inhumanity in the drug war. It also talks about how the drug war greatly affects the lives of the victims’ family members. It also emphasized that the value of life is neglected in the action.


“Pinapalitan kada bungo, ilang libong pisong madugo? Buhay na buhay mga tropang hanapbuhay magnakaw ng buhay.”

Opening with Duterte’s words, the track sets in the nighttime where certain individuals loom in the shadows, lingering to kill its prey. It also talked about the absence of safety and security in a place that allows these people to multiply the number of corpses in several occasions. 

Parasitikong Abusado

“Sino-sino pang mananagot sa inyo?”

An enraged song, Parasitikong Abusado depicts the irregularities and injustice during the drug war. It also talks about money that played a huge role as it has been the root of all the abuses that have happened.

Walang Maiiwan

“Nakatayo kami’t nanawagan, buong komunidad nanawagan.

Pagka’t kung tanikala lang ang mawawala, oras nang lumaban!”

An empowering track, it gives the point-of-view of poverty-stricken individuals especially the family of the victims who have suffered and bereaved due to their loved ones’ death. It points out that the indigent should be united in fighting against the system that is oppressing them. 

Stand By (Tambay)

Sa dinami-rami ng mga kriminal ng mga may mga nagawa ng iligal, kami pa talaga ang una ninyong sinala? Pwede na bang ebidensya ang hinala?

Set in a typical hangout at night of bystanders in the streets, Stand By depicts their sentiments of being assumed as drug-users by the people who allegedly want them dead. They are hastily accused as the root of the problem of the drug war.


“Ito na ba [ang] pangako mo – madugong daan, madugong kanto?

‘Kala mo santo kung manghusga, puro lang mahirap ang pinupuntirya.” 

Powered by seething voices and splitting verses, the song reveals the current system—how it fails Filipinos and how it disfavors the oppressed. It speaks about the losses and the grievances that etched in their hearts, both of which became a weapon to fight back against the system. 

Calix announced that they won’t be releasing a physical copy of the album, but it can be downloaded for free through Mediafire, Google Drive, and Dropbox

KOLATERAL is also available for streaming through Soundcloud and Spotify.


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Binge-watch worthy films and TV series to keep you by this summer



Poster from Netflix
DISCLAIMER: Posters used in the article are not owned by TomasinoWeb.

While patiently waiting for the academic year to kick in, peacefully start the vacation with a number of exceptional binge-watch worthy movies, shows, and documentaries.

Get those socks on and find a snack as we dig into a list of shows to eye on before August starts!

Poster from Netflix

1. Always Be My Maybe | 1 hour 42 minutes

Genre: Comedy, romance

Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Synopsis: Although starting early is a good thing, keeping the sparks could be challenging. Ali Wong and Randall Park stars in a movie where in childhood sweethearts are reunited after 15 years and are reconnected as adults. Since the couple lived in different worlds, adjusting with each other’s growth became a challenge.

Review: Although a laugh-out-loud romantic film, Always Be My Maybe shares a good dose of cultural observations concerning Asian-American culture. 


Poster from Netflix

2. I Am Mother | 1 hour 53 minutes

Genre: Thriller, Sci-Fi

Director: Grant Sputore

Synopsis: I Am Mother is a one hour sci-fi chiller. After an apocalyptic cataclysm wipes out the human race, only a single human is left alive. Robots called “Mother” are tasked to take care of a single girl, or so they thought.

Review: The movie exhibits great visuals in technical aspects. Low on budget but shares caliber visuals. The movie features clean appearances of robots which shows that the production stretched out its budget and capabilities on making the film. 


Poster from Netflix

3. My First First Love (Korean series)

Genre: TV Drama, Coming of age drama, romance

Director: Oh Jinseok

Synopsis: Mutuals of five will leave you guessing what life can bring with this coming-of-age drama. Different teens with different privileges and personal endeavor tries to cope through living outside their family’s house and finds a home through friends.

Review: This drama contains eight episodes. Short, but never short on life lessons which are surely relevant for college students. It tackles family life, financial problems and the hardships and trust needed of standing on one’s feet. 


Poster from JTBC worldwide

4. My ID Is Gangnam Beauty (Korean series)

Genre: Comic-based Drama, Romance

Director: Choi Sungbum

Synopsis: Im Soohyang and Cha Eunwoo radiates the beauty and developed personality of their characters. A mellow high school teen suffers bullying and rejection due to physical appearance. After surgery, the teen enters college but the past still haunts her from people who knew her before surgery emergence.

Review: Cosmetic surgery is a fast-paced trend. People tend to judge whether or not the surgery is ethical or socially acceptable. This drama of 16 episodes focuses on the psychological effects of beauty standards and the before-and-after reaction towards people with the surgery.


Poster as shown on IMDb

5. Friends (comedy show)

Genre: Sitcoms, Comedy

Creators: David Crane and Marta Kauffman

Synopsis: Different individuals of six ended up living off of each other and later on ended up as friends. They are individuals who lived in the heart of New York with different goals. They steadily aim for their own career paths and future goals.

Review: The long running series does not only let the viewers grow; the characters also grow with the audience. Learning and failing, and learning all over again is a cycle which was shown where the audience could light a bulb from.


Poster as shown on IMDb

6. That 70’s show

Genre: Sitcoms, comedy

Creators: Mark Brazill, Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner

Synopsis: A bunch of 17 year olds with interconnected relationships, diverse traits and beliefs spent most of their time in the basement. Friends of nine individuals revolved their time in the series thinking about life, family, and future plans while bumping into adventures and mishaps.

Review: Throughout the show, the series did not only showcase different plots but also exposed the continuous development of the characters with their acting. If watching Friends left you craving for more comedy series then start again with this show. 


Poster from

7. What The health (Documentary) | 1 hour 32 minutes

Genre: Food and travel

Directors: Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn

Synopsis: Fast food is surely not healthy, and so is meat. Kip Andersen, a filmmaker, shares what he found about the real effect of meat in our bodies and why such information is hidden from the masses.

Review: The 1-hour documentary searched for a dire truth. It did not only expose the negative effects of some so-called nutritious food, but also exposed what money can do and what money is doing and is willing to compromise.


Poster from Netflix

8. Busted (Korean variety show)

Genre: Mystery

Creators: Cho Hyojin, Chang Hyukjae, Kim Joohyung

Synopsis: Cameos, great comedians, idol members, mystery, mind games and a little bit of horror makes ‘Busted’ unique. The hosts are supposedly there to act as so-called detectives but due to uninvited guests and gunshots, they turn into rookie detectives and starts solving for the continuous mysteries at the end of every episode.

Review: Sliding off from the usual Korean comedy variety shows, this show comprises of ten episodes which will leave the viewers amazed with the answers of each mystery and will help the viewers work their minds throughout the show. 


Poster from JTBC worldwide

9. Knowing brothers (Men on a Mission) (Korean variety show)

Genre: Talk show, Comedy

Director: Choi Changsoo

Synopsis: With seven hosts from different fields of the entertainment industry, they too welcome different personalities from various areas such as entertainment, business or even sports.

Review: ‘Knowing brothers’ is a variety show with a classroom set up and introduces different games for both guests and hosts. At the end of every episode, a team faces the consequences and another indulges their win which every viewer would have fun watching out for.


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