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¡Qué horror!: Scary spots to check out in UST for paranormal junkies

Planning for your next ghost hunt? Here are some places inside UST that you might have missed.

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(UPDATED  Nov. 1, 2:15 p.m.)  While every school has a ghost story of its own, a 406-year-old university like UST is certainly fertile ground for more than one ghost story.

While new tales of horror crop up every year, similar tales across generations of Thomasians have proven that certain locations in the University are hotspots for paranormal encounters.

Planning for your next ghost hunt? Look no further than UST! TomasinoWeb has rounded up both familiar places and spots that you might have missed inside the University:

Women’s restroom (St. Raymund de Peñafort Bldg., first floor)

St. Raymund’s Bldg. has its own fair share of spine-tingling stories but one of its most popular ones happen around the girls’ bathroom on the first floor. The sobs of a woman covered in blood are often heard by students, especially at night. — Danielle Baranda, Faculty of Arts and Letters

Men’s restroom (Main Bldg., first floor)

The slow hum of the exhaust fan, the eerie feeling of being watched, the rhythmic dropping of water from the faucet, and the uneasiness when one passes by the mirror have all sent a lot of chills running down the spine of every student as they enter the men’s restroom. — Jezreel Dave Colorge, Faculty of Pharmacy

Botanical Garden

During the day, it is an inviting escape from the heat and even solace, but as the night falls, the stillness of the pitch black surroundings and its murky atmosphere, adds to the eerie vibe of this particular place inside the University. With its thick flora, an unshakable feeling of being watched is often felt by anyone frequenting here. — Danielle Arcegono, Faculty of Arts and Letters

Villamor Drive

You are being watched — the eerie vibe emanating from the dark alleyway behind St. Martin de Porres Bldg. never fails to send shivers down the spine of anyone who dares walk down the path at night, especially in considering the fact that Villamor Drive runs just behind the infamous hallway of preserved organs inside St. Martin de Porres. — Cielo Erikah Mae Cinco, Faculty of Arts and Letters

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Got other places in mind? Comment below or tweet us at @TomasinoWeb and share with us your own set of horror spots inside UST!

Photos by Darryl Lance Limpin, Mark Darius Sulit, Elizabeth Nicole Regudo, and Abbie Vinluan

Post-processing by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo and Genelaine Urbano

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Hexenringe: The circus and beyond

“Hexenringe did not stand alone as a common romance, but as a rich canvas for the collective.”

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Photo by Mark Darius Sulit/TomasinoWeb.

The doors are opened to the crowd and the fools are led to their seats.

Just as the solemn melody on the piano fades out, the stage’s most prominent figure steps in. He masks the atmosphere with his resounding voice, powerful and compelling: just as one would have expected a ringmaster to be.

As to whether he was to be respected or feared, the spectators had much to stick around for to know.

Hexenringe is Mediartrix’s minor production for the academic year, and their awe-inspiring performance projected itself as a culmination of the many talented students that define who they are as a group.

As it relied on a storyline that was wittingly crafted, a multitude of themes were creatively explored without striking its audience as ambitious. Rather than presenting itself as simply a product for mass consumption, it had taken into careful consideration the messages that the production wanted to get across. Many of which were topics that were often disregarded by mainstream media because of how unlikely they were to become marketable.

It did not stand alone as a common romance, but as a rich canvas for the collective.

The plot was a treat to experience in its totality, but a couple of accessory details added to it felt out of place. While expletives and smooches are used in art pieces to evoke certain emotions towards a piece, the amount of scenes with them brought it to a point of ineffectivity. Nonetheless, each character’s personality was preserved with depth throughout the script to stage rendering. They were unpredictable and whimiscal, wholeheartedly committed to their acts.

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Mediartrix continues to present themselves as a home for brilliant minds to collaborate and celebrate the wonder of art. In an emotion-filled performance, it owned its audience by pulling in the crowd into their enigmatic fantasy world and letting them have a taste of the make-believe dream. With its heart-racing story progression and its immersive performer-spectator connection, the intermission became necessary to allow the audience to catch their breaths.

If you’re skeptical of getting into theatre, Mediartrix can sure convince you to become their next fan.

by Sophia Iglesia

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Tagay: what friendship doesn’t tell you

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Photo by Trisha Pre/TomasinoWeb

(UPDATED Feb. 7, 6 p.m.) In Teatro Tomasino’s apprentice showcase for its 40th season, Tagay vividly depicts how deeply rooted friendships are.

How does a person survive in a world full of different people with clashing beliefs and perspective? It seems so despairing to live in that reality; yet we still try to connect—attaching each heartstrings to other’s core that gave birth to a miracle called friendship. Tagay is a great example of how deeply rooted a friendship can be; to the extent that a decision can have a domino effect on the people closest to you.  

Written by Jo-Anne Quiros and directed by Jeremy Nechaldas, the story involves the characters Karen, Nikko, Jaypee, and Von and their struggles to keep their friendship intact while living different lives in college, as well as trying to arrive at the same level of understanding despite their disparate point of views. The dichotomy between the opposing views on the topic of communism and student activism was clearly depicted by the characters of Jaypee and Von, the former being against and the latter being for it. Later on, it would be known that their beliefs were fueled by their strong emotions.

What made Tagay a remarkable piece is its characters—they painted a picturesque image of reality, taking its audience to a trip down their own lives where their story intertwine with the portrayed characters. In the play, Karen, the thoughtful friend who acts as the strong glue binding the group together, reminds the audience that one friend who makes all the adjustments for the sake of the group and Nikko, the funny one, who does not fail to crack jokes to lighten things up when it gets somber.

However, there are a few minor setbacks in the plot: the ending fell into the pit of predictability, yet the way the scenes build up tension and the intensified emotions of all the characters leading up to the conclusion of the story made up for it. Second, the “life-like” appearance of Von was not entirely new, the same concept was used in different plays, however the emotional connection he still had on his friends made it unique from the others. And lastly, there should have been more depth to the character of Nikko, because it was very promising, yet he was not given ample time to express his emotions on their dilemma.

Overall, Tagay tells us that we never really choose who are friends should be, sometimes we do, but no matter who they are or what they are in the end, they are now a part of our lives; we are basically bound with each other. A close-knitted friendship is just one of its theme as it also made a brave approach on the topic of student activism and the different views about it in the society by showing the perspective of the persona involved and the people around him. In the end, Tagay in itself is a symbol of an effort to be able to forget the hurt and bitterness each character feels, for each shot is the desperate act of drowning ones’ demons.

ERRATUM: Tagay is Teatro Tomasino’s apprentice showcase for its 40th season, not its season opener. We apologize for the error.

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Logan Paul and the murky standards of YouTube’s community guidelines

Logan Paul and PewDiePie’s controversial videos reflect YouTube’s crisis on content moderation.

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Logan Paul Vlogs/YouTube.

(UPDATED Jan. 12, 2 p.m.) Merely days into 2018, the Internet already found a new target for its outrage—and rightfully so.

YouTube star Logan Paul had his name all over headlines for the past few days due to a video about his trip to Aokigahara forest at the base of Mount Fuji (which he had confused with Fiji), notorious for its reputation among locals and tourists as Japan’s “suicide forest.”

In the since-deleted video, unsubtly titled We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest…, Paul and his friends found a body of a suicide victim hanging from a tree just a few kilometers into Aokigahara; however, instead of respectfully turning his camera off (or even cutting the footage from the final video), Paul continued filming, even repeatedly zooming in on the corpse’s face.

“This was supposed to be a fun vlog,” he said, before making fun of the victim while wearing a cartoonish green headwarmer. The group laughed and cracked jokes beside the body.

Paul might have thought the whole ordeal was funny; after all, he amassed a following of nearly 20 million (and mostly young) subscribers for performing challenges, stunts, and pranks wrapped in his brand of rowdy shock humor, and the controversial video was supposed to be a part of his Tokyo Adventures series, where the 22-year-old vlogger obviously staged various pranks.

In the following video, Paul and his friends ran around Tokyo as they yelled at strangers and walked in the middle of the metropolis carrying a dead fish and an octopus tentacle.

 

 

In another, Paul engaged in downright cultural appropriation and disrespect (a fact he actually acknowledged during the video) by wearing traditional garbs and even going as far as washing his hands with holy water in a temple. The group was later kicked out of the temple, and their Japanese tour guide could be seen apologizing to authorities on their behalf.

 

 

These videos are still up on Paul’s channel. Nonetheless, the 22-year-old deleted the graphic video less than 24 hours after it was uploaded as outrage began pouring in from the YouTube community and the general public—but not before it was viewed 6.3 million times, even earning the 10th spot in YouTube’s trending list.

In a lengthy apology posted on his Twitter account, Paul said that he “didn’t do it for views” and that his intention was”to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention” (the controversial video was not monetized).

However, his efforts to “raise awareness” by including suicide prevention hotlines and disclaimers in the video were slammed by various netizens, YouTubers, and personalities as hypocritical at best and self-praising at worst, considering how Japan seriously deals with cultural norms and its high suicide rate.

Nonetheless, Paul’s video is not the first YouTuber to face outrage on the platform for producing content that explicitly violated community guidelines.

His rival, Felix Kjellberg, more popularly known as PewDiePie, also faced similar backlash February last year for paying two Indian freelancers to dance while holding a banner that read “Death to all Jews”—a clear violation of YouTube’s guidelines on hateful content.


Is YouTube slowly losing its grasp on the content being uploaded to the platform or are they no longer firm in safeguarding their audience?


Kjellberg retorted in an apology letter on Tumblr saying that the stunt was simply a joke overblown by the media and that it was only meant to show “how crazy the modern world is.” However, a report by The Wall Street Journal noted that anti-Semitic and Nazi imagery and references were present in at least nine of his videos since August 2016; neo-Nazi groups and white supremacist sites such as The Daily Stormer were already praising Kjellberg for his use of Nazi imagery, despite some of his followers defending his jokes as mere “satire.”

Both Paul and Kjellberg share almost the same brand of shock-inducing, absurdist humor masked as satire, which has become an increasingly ubiquitous part of YouTuber culture. While both of them faced consequences such as termination of partnerships and the removal of their channels from YouTube’s preferred-advertising service, it is safe to say that these controversies will only become mere blunders in their careers: Kjellberg continues to have a strong following, and Paul’s subscriber count had only increased by 600,000 in the past week.

Various users, during the time the video was still up, flagged the video as it obviously violated YouTube’s community standards and guidelines on violent and graphic content, which explicitly says “it’s not okay to post violent or gory content that’s primarily intended to be shocking, sensational, or disrespectful.”

A spokesperson from YouTube confirmed the violation but did not comment on whether Paul’s channel was given a strike or if they have manually reviewed the video (as of press time, Paul’s channel was already given one); other users who reposted Paul’s video in their own channels, however, were given strikes—and according to YouTube’s policies, channels that receive three strikes within three months are removed from the platform.

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While Paul has subsequently apologized again in a video, YouTube has seemingly addressed the backlash through a Twitter thread last Jan. 10, saying that they were taking steps “to ensure a video like this is never circulated again.” They did not, however, disclose the specific steps they would take.

However, it is now necessary to ask why the Internet’s leading video sharing platform allows content that violates its own guidelines to stay and proliferate within the platform. Is YouTube slowly losing its grasp on the content being uploaded to the platform or are they no longer firm in safeguarding their audience? On both questions, perhaps not—and, if anything, YouTube is very much as culpable as its creators.

It is important to note that while the video was repeatedly reported to YouTube, it was Paul who took it down eventually—not moderators. Furthermore, according to a member of YouTube’s Trusted Flagger program, the video was manually reviewed and moderators decided that it should remain on the platform—even without an age restriction.

Even Kjellberg’s video remained accessible during the height of the controversy according to a report by Time Magazine, despite initial reports that the video was already removed (it is now unavailable).

These controversies highlight YouTube’s long-running crisis on content moderation, on how it moderates and censors the content of its top creators (if YouTube actually does), and on how it plays favorites and double standards, and how the platform tacitly encourages the production of provocative, offensive, or extremist content that would surely garner millions of views—and these views would inevitably translate to advertising revenue.


… if anything, YouTube is very much as culpable as its creators.


For one, Kjellberg’s Nazi references staying under the radar for so long only goes to show how YouTube is willing to bend its own rules for creators that get millions of views and make profit for the platform. A piece from The New York Times puts it plainly: “The YouTube platform plainly incentivizes such attention-grabbing behavior.”

The piece also considered how YouTube “is considerably and deliberately less hands-on with its talents” and YouTube might be more than willing to use this to wash their hands from any responsibility; however, Paul is a high-profile collaborator. He is set to star in a film produced by YouTube’s premium tier, YouTube Red, much like how Kjellberg starred in the tier’s Scare PewDiePie series before its second season was cancelled following Kjellberg’s controversy.

While YouTube has put its collaborations with Paul on hold, his Tokyo Adventures videos are still reportedly making as much as 90,000 dollars from views, according to analysts, in stark contrast to how YouTube responded to Kjellberg and other creators—and it all comes down to advertisers.

Last year, advertisers threatened to boycott YouTube as they discovered that their advertisements ran in videos “promoting terrorism and anti-Semitism,” according to a report from TechCrunch. YouTube began demonetizing videos—including innocent channels—in what became known as the first “adpocalypse,” and these continued following the discovery of inappropriate content running in YouTube’s standalone children-oriented app, YouTube Kids, by taking advantage of the platform’s algorithms.

In order to combat the loopholes in its algorithms, YouTube announced just last month that it would hire 10,000 human moderators to police content, punish creators that violate guidelines, and make sure that advertisements run alongside content that advertisers deem appropriate for their brands.

The platform now seemed ready to come clean—but Paul’s controversial video showed that YouTube is still not ready after all.

Perhaps, unlike neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism, advertisers do not care about Paul’s insensitive mistake on making fun of suicide, he even allegedly monetized his own apology video (the controversial video was not), and there are no threats from advertisers to boycott the platform.

Ironically (or perhaps not), even Kjellberg called Paul a “jackass” and “a straight-up sociopath,” with the video “[encompassing] everything wrong with YouTube, the clickbait, the sensationalism”—and he is not entirely wrong: If anything, Kjellberg only echoed what other YouTubers have been saying all along (it is also important to note that Kjellberg does not want Paul’s channel to be taken down.

If YouTube cannot violate the editorial independence of its content creators, then this leaves the public to pressure YouTube to revise or clarify its community guidelines, uphold policies and strengthen their enforcement, and give more transparency in handling reports and complaints.

However, its complex ecosystem of algorithms, moderators, and corporate interests—and how they exactly work to enforce community guidelines despite their inherent contradictions—is still up for debate.

Nonetheless, the call still stands: YouTube needs to let go of its profitability for once and own up for its complicity in the mistakes of its creators—and, of course, punish them accordingly.

by Antoine Kyle Balo


EDITOR’S NOTE: The article has been updated to reflect YouTube’s responses and actions regarding the controversy.

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