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The allegory of Alyx Arumpac’s “Aswang”

“Aswang” by Alyx Ayn G. Arumpac paints the “war on drugs” in the two-year duration of its peak to its aftermath.



Photo courtesy from Rappler

The idea of aswang lurking in the stretch of the night conjures a fear that spares no age. In the provinces, the mythical folklore hoists the agimat and garlic necklaces alongside the statues of the Sto. Niño which are mightily believed to lure the carcass-hungry creatures away. Children, equally blessed and cursed with innocence, would let the fear eat their chances of staying up late. It remains a myth to the skeptical eye whose sight only lands on the evidential flesh with which the aswang is made out of. For some, however, it proves to be alive in the blood trails it has left behind. 

Premiered late last year at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the award-winning documentary “Aswang” by Alyx Ayn G. Arumpac paints the “war on drugs” in the two-year duration of its peak to its aftermath. It was a seed project of institutions outside the country (such as France, Qatar, Germany, and Norway) as Arumpac and her team are familiar with the repercussions of creating content of dissent in this administration. 

Arumpac morphs the ferocious characteristics of the aswang into the perpetrators of the war on drugs and their parallel abilities to stir palpable fear amongst their prey. What places the former in a more dangerous stride are the bodies deduced to mere statistics and the thousands of families they left eternally grieving.

“Naglalagay ng sisiw sa ibabaw ng kabaong kung hindi kilala ang pumatay. Kung walang hustisya, kakatukin daw nito ang konsensya ng maysala.” 

“Aswang” separately follows two characters, visibly conceived in two different places in society, are entangled in the similar fate of being witnesses to the realtime struggles of the extrajudicial killing (EJK) victims of the Duterte regime. 

“Bakit kalaban ang tawag mo sa mga pulis?” asks the woman behind the camera to Jomari, a child left to fend for himself after both of his parents were involved in a drug-related case. The question was followed by not a flicker of fear in the child’s answer, but by a steady and almost-instinct response that tells how the kids like Jomari inherently see the aswang given a new form. “Bata pa lang ako sabi na sa akin ni mama… kaya minsan po, tuwing nagtatakbuhan na, aalis na ako”. Jomari, who Arumpac interviews in the wake of Kian Lloyd Delos Santos’ death, revealed that he had looked at Kian as his older brother. 

In 2018, the three policemen involved in the killing of Delos Santos were convicted of murder at the Caloocan Regional Court Branch 125. The conviction came a year after Delos Santos was brutally murdered. The likes of Delos Santos and all other unnamed victims of the EJK, most of which gunned down and left coldly in the street, proves too-grand-for-this-world Jomari that there exists a reason to run.

The other subject, Brother Jun Santiago, is a man of the Church who hears the pleas of justice echoed by the victims’ families and deals with the technical beats of post-mortem. The character’s juncture shows the context of religion in the advent of the EJK. Throughout the film, the mention of the Church and Gospel songs bring an eerily cradling harmony that begs to question why the killings are prevalent in a country wherein majority of its citizens subscribe to the religious belief anchored in a commandment of loving one another as you love yourself. Still, the clips of relatives bearing their souls for the dead pit the question as a mere dot in the grander and devastating scheme of things.

“Pero hindi sasantuhin ng aswang ang katok ng kahit pa sanlibong sisiw.” 

The political climate of the Philippines for the duration of the drug war is a subtle testimony that the existence of a policing body is never for the benefit of the masses, which “Aswang” cements in its narrative. In one of the radio soundbites in the documentary, a question of why the poor are the target of the “war” on drugs and never the drug lords is answered with an argument that drug users are mostly among the poor. The truth of the matter is that the perpetrators move with an ease like that of a black and white situation and believe that to topple the surging drug cases in the country is to nitpick the vulnerable.

Arumpac’s “Aswang” bravely sheds light on the unjustly condemned and disputes the oppressive administration. The documentary magnifies the rawness of the emotions from those who are left to sweep the blood, those who shout in the name of justice, and those who carry only pictures and testimonies that would never be heard. It haunts the comfortable and voids itself of any mechanical arguments from those who man and command the bullet. Save for the body counts, which the documentary grapples its stand on, and a clear message is sent: they are grander than the statistics which they are reduced to. 

“Aswang” leaves the viewers in various emotional shapes, but it does not serve to entertain nor only document the circumstances—contrary to the roster of international documentaries highlighting the EJK. It is not to showcase cold hard facts alone, nor produced to glorify the suffering. It took its time in unfolding the truth, combing with an aggressive ardor that grits directly through the unforgiving tether of this administration. 

The online premiere of Arumpac’s brainchild is relevant now more than ever. The documentary immortalized what has happened in the fulfillment of Duterte’s promise, which serves as a reminder of the liberty stripped from those whom they deem suspects in the drug war. She revealed in an interview with GMA News Online that the anti-terror bill has heavily influenced her decision to release “Aswang” last weekend. “Don’t be silent. Don’t be complicit. Don’t be afraid.” she said. “This anger and discontent should fuel action and change.” 

Sitting through eighty-five minutes and seeing the bloodshot eyes of the families of the victims in an intimate perimeter has placed a weight of responsibility on the informed and emotionally aroused Filipino audience: to look the proverbial aswang in the eye and hold the line just as Jomari and Brother Jun did. 

Even though the consequences threaten our freedom, and countless aswangs will remain unshaken, we will wrestle for the mothers and fathers who weep the loss of their children. For the Jomaris. For the orphaned. For the countless Kians. For the unnamed and unjust.



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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How to apply clown makeup

Did you know that circus clowns make $60,000 a year while you’re out here doing it for free?



(Artwork by Patricia Jardin/TomasinoWeb)

When Miles Edgeworth said, “You are not the clown. You are the entire circus,” I felt that.

Did you know that circus clowns make $60,000 a year while you’re out here doing it for free? It’s the first day of April and what better way to commemorate this annual holiday than putting on your best clown makeup! From McDonalds to your local emoji, we’re here to help you channel that inner Boo Boo the Fool in you. 

First, make sure your skin is prepped nice and clean. Bold assumptions and hasty generalizations usually make a good base. These tend to last longer because you refuse to take them off. You can use your two fingers, a sponge, or your foolish thoughts to apply it evenly. 

Now it’s time to build on those assumptions and paint your canvas. Start off by carving out spaces on your eyes and mouth where you will be applying the colors. Depending on your preference, you can choose to paint the eye with the same color or two different colors. When deciding which color, be quick and impulsive. Then, remember to paint it with inconsistency just like your thoughts and words. 

The cheeks and mouth will be red. Luckily, there are a variety of rouge shades in clown makeup. We recommend using the palette “Red Flags,” which you can get for free when you use the code “NOLABELS” or “CAN’TCOMMIT” at checkout. Color in your cheeks with a soft red color, perhaps in the shade “Here for a good time, not a long time” or “Only talk about themselves but never ask about you.” Don’t spend so much time blending because the key here is completely ignoring it.

The mouth is the highlight of clown makeup. Our tip is to overline your lips to the degree you overthink. You can then go ahead and color it in, but this time with a more intense shade of red. The shades “Entitled,” “Manipulative,” and “Caught cheating in 4K” are the most tolerated in the clown community. 

Accentuate the details of your look by making outlines around your eyes and mouth. Again, depending on the look you’re going for, you can make the outline as thin as your chances with that person you’re simping over or as thick as your audacity to get back with your ex after getting off a 3-hour phone call with your best friend who clearly told you not to. 

Of course, we can’t forget about the cherry on top and the crowning glory of clowns: the wig. There’s a wide variety of colors you can choose from but select a wig that will fit your head and perfectly cover up all your tomfoolery, bamboozlement, and wishful thinking. 

If you have cash to spare, throw in a costume and some oversized shoes that will help you jump into conclusions better. Don’t forget to pop on a red nose and voilà! The circus is complete. 

The art of clownery is one that is hard to master, yet the community keeps growing. And that speaks volumes. Clowning isn’t just a coping mechanism, it’s a cultural reset, a lifestyle, a reason to breathe, and an escape from this cruel world. 

Most importantly, it’s harmless because the only person you’re fooling is yourself. Happy April Fools‘!

READ  Hexenringe: The circus and beyond


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