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The four pitfalls of being an irregular student

As if retaking a few subjects isn’t terrifying enough, we are also bound to fall in one (and even more) pitfall just because we didn’t make it to the cut.

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Artwork by Jomari Robiso/TomasinoWeb.

P*ta, bagsak nanaman ako.”

While sitting on a pavilion outside Roque Ruaño, it dawned on me: I’m not graduating on time. Just when I thought that I could reclaim that sweet “regular” status, I’m seven decimal points short from the goal.

A year has passed and I have accepted my fate as an irregular student. Yet, I still feel unaccepted. As if retaking a few subjects isn’t terrifying enough, we are also bound to fall in one (and even more) pitfall just because we didn’t make it to the cut.

Pitfall 1: Never being good enough to belong

Huwag kayo diyan sa mga irregular [students], wala kayong magagawa dahil magkakatalo kayo sa schedule,” a reminder I keep hearing from some professors I’ve met.

Different schedules won’t make thesis activities—or any kind, for that matter—impossible.

Irregular students are alienated and stigmatized in this academe. We are judged beyond our shuffled schedules, labelling us as lazy and negligent. You’ll either be the least prioritized or be removed from the narrative.

Krizia Estrabo, an AB Behavioral Science graduate, shared her experience as an irregular student.

Marami akong section na napasukan na para talaga akong invisible,” Estrabo told TomasinoWeb. “May isang time, wala pala yung professor. Sabi nung isa kong kaklase, nag-GM (group message) yung PRO ng class. Doon ko naramdaman na bakit may pa-GM pala [tapos] di man lang ako sinend-an. Lalo na kapag groupings, walang kumukuha sa akin. Or kapag may groupings at absent ako, wala akong kaalam-alam kaya I’ll end up doing something para ma-compensate ko yung activity na ‘yun.

Pitfall 2: Never being good enough for your family

Students are pressured by their loved ones the moment they step inside campus grounds while carrying the notion that a good transcript is equal to “poverty alleviation.” Credibility is measured by how well you perform in exams.

Incoming third year advertising arts student Reginald Ortega expressed how he coped with his family struggles.

Kasi yung lola ko na graduate ng UST, nag-e-expect na di ako babagsak, kaya hindi ko sinabi na bumagsak ako [sa IICS] at nag-shift ako sa CFAD,” Ortega said. “Sa 3 years ko sa UST, alam niya na nasa IICS pa rin ako. [Yung] lolo ko na nagpapaaral sa akin, hindi niya alam na bumabagsak ako pero alam niyang nag-shift ako sa CFAD. Hindi niya din alam na nag-su-summer ako.”

Pitfall 3: Never being good enough to lead

Up to this moment, the University does not allow irregular students to run for positions in some organizations and student councils. Academic standing suddenly becomes a standard of leadership. Election seasons are turning into a logical face-off while student organizations are becoming intellectual strongholds.

A colleague of mine from the Institute of Information and Computing Sciences was questioned by his capability as a student-leader after being an irregular student for a semester.

Sayang, officer ka pa man sana [ng isang organization],” professors told him, stressing that his academic standing should be considered in his position. “Being a student-leader means we prioritize being a student first before being a leader. Being a student means we have to be role models within the campus–students who are capable to lead regardless of their academic status,” he told TomasinoWeb.

Pitfall 4: Never being good enough to improve

We thrive in the existence of a monopoly of numbers. We are integrated in an academic system bound to punish those who stray away from the standard of excellence.

Nowadays, students thrive in compliance of their academic requirements. Instead of studying to learn, we study to adhere. We fear failing grades because we were told that it won’t breed successful people. We forgot to remind ourselves that education should mold us to challenge and change the world.

Irregular students do not deserve persecution. Our failing grades shouldn’t be a ticket for others to make you less of a person. That red mark should never invalidate our struggle as a student, and most importantly, as a person. If you’re enrolling this academic year with an irregular status, do not be disheartened.

Don’t let those singkos define you—because you define you.

 

By Rabin Bote

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8 New Year’s Eve traditions that only Filipinos can understand

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Art by Jessica Lopez

It is truly in the heart of Filipino tradition to celebrate New Year with an extra level of effort and extravagance. From the endless varieties of food set on our tables, to the myriad gatherings of family and friends, up to the ear-splitting explosion of firecrackers and fireworks that trail the night sky, we definitely know how to party hard.

But this celebration would never be complete without the bizarre yet unique traditions that most Pinoy households take part in just to ensure good fortune for the coming year.

 

  1. Round fruits = ka-ching!

Who can miss that basket of round fruits your mother set at the center of your dining table? Beware though, trying to steal a fruit or two may bring you misfortune in the form of an angry mother.

In both Filipino and Chinese traditions, circles are symbols for prosperity. Because of this, Filipinos generally decorate their dining tables with varieties of round fruits such as oranges, grapes, watermelons, apples and many more.

  1. The family that eats sticky rice together, stays forever

Biko, puto, tikoy and the like are staple food for any Filipino feast, especially during Christmas season and  New Year’s Eve. But aside from it being commonly served in celebrations, sticky rice or kakanin symbolizes a sweeter and stronger bond between family members.

  1.  Noodles for a longer life

Noodles are also a staple food we usually see during our New Year’s feast. This tradition of eating noodles during Media Noche, which is said to be adopted by the early Filipinos from the Chinese, is thought to bring good health, longevity, and good fortune for the next year.

  1. No chicken and fish dishes during Media Noche

According to elders, serving chicken and fish dishes during the midnight dinner entails bad fortune for the next year. For most Pinoys, avoiding chicken and fish prevents them from being situated in the adage – “isang kahig, isang tuka”, which means that one will earn just enough for a meal and nothing more.

 

  1. Coins inside the pocket

Another thing that Filipinos do to attract money is keeping coins inside their pockets and shaking it when the midnight falls. Another thing which surely every child anticipates is the “money shower”. You might remember the times when your parents carried a handful or bagful of coins in their hands and sprinkled it onto the floor in every corner of your house which you and your siblings would snatch from afterwards. Both traditions are intended to bring wealth, and symbolize the continuous flow of money into one’s household.

 

  1.  Jumping in the hopes of putting on a few more inches

No one would probably want to miss out on a chance of adding a few inches to their height, especially if all it takes are few jumps when midnight strikes.

Every year, you always see children jumping (and even a few college students) as high as they can with excitement plastered on their faces. This jumping-during-midnight is mostly  done by little kids, though, there are still adults who might feel the need to do it. Those who practice jumping are believed to grow taller over the course of the year.

 

  1.  Wearing clothes with polka dots

As with the belief that round fruits will bring prosperity, so will dressing in clothes with polka dot patterns. Usually seen on children more than adults, the polka dots are said to resemble coins, and thus stand for good fortune.

Maybe we can try add polka dots to our daily wardrobe and somehow un~broke~ ourselves.

 

  1. Ear-splitting firecrackers and firework displays

Celebrating New Year wouldn’t be thrilling without the presence of loud booms and cracks of various fireworks in the sky and on the streets. Setting off fireworks is believed to drive away evil spirits, ensuring that they’re nowhere near people’s homes as they usher in the new year. Consequently, the streets during New Year’s Eve often come close to feeling like the middle of a warzone, but that’s never gotten in the way of any Filipino’s celebrations. Just be careful on those firecrackers though, you might need those complete set of fingers in the future.

Filipinos truly know how to welcome the New Year in their own way. Although some may appear strange, it just make every occasion even more exciting and memorable.

 

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Excelsior! The true hero who does not need to wear a cape

Stan Lee may not have been able to fly or lift buildings, but he was blessed with the superpower to make us believe that we can be our own heroes.

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Artwork by Kaye Iral

A LEGEND IS BORN.

To stan something is “[to look up to it] and that you genuinely watch or truly love their content”, according to Urban Dictionary. In line with this colloquialism, as fans of comic book readers and movie-goers alike, it would not be far off to say that we all stan Stan Lee and the tremendous impact his creation has made to our culture today.

This article offers a tribute to a very strong contemporary legend, to who we can credit decades of entertainment, fantasy, and full-unadulterated enjoyment.

When Marvel first hit the presses (though it wasn’t called Marvel yet at that time) with their Captain America #1,  the world was introduced to the concept of superheroes, and what could arguably be one of the largest movements in media in history. Who could have then imagined, that just after more than fifty years, that single Captain America issue would branch out into more than tens of thousands of other stories, notable works would of course include the solo-runs for Iron Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, Thor, and the like.

Stanley Martin Lieber, born December 28th, 1922 in Manhattan, New York, dreamed of nothing less than to work in the industry he would be famous for today. Known now as the Comic Book Legend and Pop Culture Creator, from this endeavor would result the hundreds of superheroes we know today, of which the Avengers and the X-Men are only a small part of.

Marvel Comics, originally started out as Timely Publications, of which Stanley Lieber, or as we know him better as Stan Lee, was a crucial part of. Established in the 1940’s, the comic publication would soon usher in the Golden Age of Comics, from which the modern heroes we find today would be created.

WHY IT MATTERS.

To newer and more recent fans of Marvel’s cinematic works, Stan Lee’s fame is only attributed to the old man he plays that appears in every single Marvel movie ever made.

But the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) would not be possible if it were not built upon a vast and colorful universe that spanned decades in the making in that old man’s original masterwork: Marvel comics.

If you’re not a hardcore fan (or a casual or simply not a fan at all ), then perhaps Stan Lee’s passing would not hit you as hard as it should.

But we should not be deterred! For it was from his interview with Playboy Magazine that he said, “You know, my motto is ‘Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.’ It’s on the seal of the state of New York. Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.” Indeed, nothing lasts forever, even Lee. But what will continue on is the wondrous world he created, and all of the heroic characters that reside in it.

It’s important to note, throughout all this, that Lee was never alone. He may have been the mastermind behind the stories we love, but the rest of the ensemble can’t have functioned by his powers alone. It was through his collaboration with other artists such as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, both of whom really helped the company flourish during the Silver Age of Comics, around the 1950’s to 1970’s.

LEE AND HIS CREATION IS CULTURALLY ICONIC.

I can speak for more than myself when I say that Stan Lee’s works as they were originally depicted in the comics and as some were given a cinematic adaptation were key pieces of our childhood, well into our adolescence and until now.

The Comic Book Legend truly left an iconic piece of work that has grown and expanded over the more than half-century since its inception; and we can say it’s iconic because we can mention the name Spiderman and those around us will almost always immediately know we’re talking about Peter Parker, and not a mutant hybrid half-spider half-man. We can mention any names of the marvel superheroes out of context and people would just know about them. Stan Lee’s characters have inarguably become household names.

Of course this doesn’t even come close to the amount of detail and worldbuilding that has truly highlighted the scope of the universe that Stan Lee has created. It is not right to say that Stan Lee is solely responsible for all of Marvel Comics, as he was simply but also the most important first step, first domino, first push. Everything else quickly followed suit.

It is hard to imagine how different the world would be if the Avengers or the X-Men never existed. Of course, we are referring to works of fiction, but the concepts and stories have been ingrained so effectively into the nooks and crannies of our culture and society that we just can’t help but imagine that they are real, and that in itself is a great tribute to someone who devoted all his life creating comic content.

Personally as a fan, I see both the MCU and the Comics not only as very creative sources of inspiration and entertainment, but also as the ever-changing medium through which different artists and authors send a message. A message that although spoken now through a different voice and written with a different pen, all originated with that first stroke of ink that Stan Lee himself wrote on the first piece of paper when he was just starting out. That is to say, he may no longer be with us, but the essence of his work will continue to persist, no matter who is behind the visuals for the comic, or is directing the movie.

It’s thanks to Stan Lee’s devotion and passion to his craft that he was able to give the world countless tales and mishaps of the many superheroes we know and love today. And we know and love them especially because they are superheroes: they are role-models who stand up for justice and fight for what’s right; perhaps more so than Stan Lee could have ever imagined, they became the creative source and inspiration for countless children all around the world.

But yet, fans and non-fans alike feel the world’s loss of a great icon: an icon who brought us more than a hundred diverse, unique, and very creative heroes, situated in a world built and cultivated over the longest time: and now time will continue on without him. It couldn’t have been done without him, but we have to see it through without him.

So here’s to Stan Lee. He may not have been able to fly or lift buildings, but he was blessed with the superpower to reach out to people by the millions, over many generations to come. He will surely be remembered as the one and only Comic Book Legend.

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On Octobers, we wear red

A day before the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) released the supposed list of schools which are allegedly recruiting grounds of communists rebels for the “Red October” ouster plot against the regime, we were already protesting along Dapitan denouncing it.

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Artwork by Mikhail Reaño

A day before the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) released the supposed list of schools which are allegedly recruiting grounds of communists rebels for the “Red October” ouster plot against the regime, we were already protesting along Dapitan denouncing it.

We knew very well at that point that the University would be tagged: after all, UST had welcomed the Lumad bakwit school into the campus—the Lumad schools that AFP considers to be training grounds of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), the schools that have experienced harassment and abuses from the military. The student activist movement in the University also saw a boom in recent months, and the University itself had become more outspoken against state violence and human rights violations under the regime of Rodrigo Duterte.

When AFP released their supposed “list” of schools yesterday, the condemnation from the administration and the Central Student Council was swift—and rightfully so. It is irresponsible and dangerous, a blatant attack on academic freedom and the rights of students to free expression and organization. The list put the security of the University at risk, particularly student leaders and those involved in the martial law week campaigns, which the AFP said was how communists recruited students.

However, it is not enough for us to condemn that one incident: the past few weeks saw the regime relentlessly (or desperately?) tag protests and opposition groups as part of a supposed communist-led “Red October” ouster plot, from the mass mobilization  at Luneta last Sept. 21 to leaders of the political opposition—a not-so-subtle attempt to silence and scare dissenters by tagging dissent as “terrorism” or “rebellion,” regardless of political color affiliation.

If the list has a target, it’s definitely not the University administration, as AFP pointed out themselves. The AFP is tagging groups that are at the forefront of political struggle under Duterte: striking workers calling for an end to contractualization and abusive labor practices, urban poor groups demanding decent housing, Lumad students and teachers calling for an end to military attacks in their schools and communities—and now, the military is targeting students leaders and student activists for their alleged connections to the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

This a serious allegation, and the University must actively continue to campaign against it. Such accusations have dire, even deadly implications and consequences as it puts the lives of students and their security at risk—a brazen example of red-baiting or red-tagging, in which state actors “publicly and detractively classify government-critical individuals and organisations as state enemies, communist terrorists or members of communist front organisations.”

The consequences are fatal, and it spares none—not even students activists like Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, who were illegally abducted, detained and tortured at the hands of military forces in 2006 after they were accused of being members of the CPP-NPA. The AFP is putting the security and lives of students at risk simply because of their affiliations or even for simply being critical of the regime.

No different to how the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos arrested his opponents on the basis of being “communists,” “rebels” and “subversives,” Duterte is using the same cheap tricks from his idol’s playbook.

The AFP might say that this article is part of the CPP-NPA’s information drives linking martial law atrocities to those committed under the Duterte administration—but then again, communist or not, where is the lie? Nothing can cover up the fact Duterte is a cheap, fascist dictator wannabe who’s now using McCarthy-style red scares against his opponents who are out to supposedly “destabilize” Duterte’s regime, a regime that was never stable to begin with.

By doing so, the President is simply orchestrating his own downfall by giving his attention to a fabricated and poorly-concocted fake news of an ouster plot while turning a blind eye to the plight of the people—just like what he did to Sheila Eballe who simply asked the President to put an end to quarrying in Naga City, Cebu after a landslide.

Duterte’s response? A misogynistic remark and a claim that Eballe was being trained by NPA.

In the face of the crisis of rising prices of rice, bread, and other basic commodities brought by inflation and higher taxes, this “destabilization” is Duterte’s own doing—and if our memories serve us right, he was the one who repeatedly told the public that he is a murderer, and he even threatened to bomb Lumad schools and shoot female rebels in their vaginas.

Duterte is this country’s top terrorist, along with his lapdogs in the military and police force. Expect an intensified crackdown on activists and dissent this October, but we will not be scared into silence—they are only forcing more and more people to join the growing resistance to Duterte’s murderous regime. State violence breeds militant resistance, and fascist dictators only build their downfall.

Now is the time to fight, and to fight a madman like Duterte is just. After all, it’s no secret that the people already want him out—and it’s not because of any conspiracy for an ouster plot. It’s Duterte’s own fault.

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