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Think Better, Not Bitter

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MALAPIT na naman ang Independence Day nating mga “hopia” at sawi sa pag-ibig. Hindi naman kulay pula ang February 14 sa kalendaryo pero para sa atin, ito ay isang holiday na mas mahalaga pa kaysa sa ibang araw. Siguradong may makikita na naman tayong mga “walking dangwa” na halos di na makita dahil sa hawak nilang mga bouquet ng bulaklak na ibinigay ng kanilang mga kasintahan.

Bakit ba ugali nating pag-isipan ng masama ang ating sarili dahil lamang sa wala tayong kasama sa Valentine’s Day? Hindi tayo pangit. Hindi tayo masama. Hindi tayo malas pero hindi lamang ito ang tamang panahon para tayo ay magkaroon ng relasyon sa ibang tao; darating at darating din ang pag-ibig sa atin. Nararapat lamang na matutunan nating mag-hintay.

ACCEPTANCE – alam nating mahirap tanggapin na maaari tayong ipagpalit sa iba, na hindi ikaw ang nanalo ng pagmamahal niya, hindi binigyan ng bulaklak at hinarana pero kailangan nating tanggapin ang sakit ng katotohanang ito. Walang taong nagiging matagumpay sa buhay na nagpapaiwan sa sakit at lungkot na dulot ng kanyang nakaraan. Hindi madali pero kailangan; mahirap pero kakayanin. Siguro kaya tinawag ang “nakaraan” na nakaraan dahil dumaan lamang ito – hindi tumagal at ganoon din dapat natin tingnan ang bawat hamon sa atin ng buhay.

Lagi nating naiisip si “babe-to-be” o si “boyfie” natin tuwing Araw ng mga Puso ngunit hindi natin namamalayan na halos nakalilimutan na natin ang mga taong tunay na nagmamahal sa atin at tumanggap sa ating pagkatao mula ng ating kabataan – ang ating pamilya at ang Diyos. Kung tayo ay nasasaktan, mas nasasaktan sila, hindi lamang dahil sa nasasaktan rin tayo, kung hindi nakalimutan na natin kung paano sila mahalin at ang pag-ibig nila sa atin na ay hindi magwawakas.

Photo By Gian Chung

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Short Does Not Mean Lacking: Short+Sweet Theatre Festival

Famous for their 10-minute plays, Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is a theatre play festival where writers get the chance to have their scripts be realized in Short+Sweet’s stage. It originated from Sydney, Australia in 2002 and slowly began expanding, reaching cities like Dubai and eventually Manila in 2015.

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Short+Sweet theater play
Photo by Andrei Tolentino

Clearly, “The biggest little play festival in the world” did not just mean the length of the pieces performed. It also meant making sure that they made the most out of every second.

When we think of indie productions, we often think of movies or songs that offer something outside of the norm. Rarely do we associate it with theatre plays or musicals; we often see these as productions done in cinemas or high-end theaters. Little did we know, some of the best theatrical pieces sat right under our noses and took less than an hour of our time! Such an example is Short+Sweet Manila and their annual Short+Sweet Theatre Festival. 

The Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is a theatre play festival where writers get the chance to have their scripts be realized in Short+Sweet’s stage. It originated from Sydney, Australia in 2002 and slowly began expanding, reaching cities like Dubai and eventually Manila in 2015. While not limited to theatre plays, Short+Sweet is most famous for their 10-minute plays. These plays have become the opportunity for actors, directors, and writers get together to bring their creations to life.

This November, I had the chance to witness some of their performances that were held in The PARC Foundation in San Juan. There were 3 time-slots of shows namely the Wildcard, Mainstage 1, and Mainstage 2. The tickets were seemingly affordable at 350 pesos as compared to a full blown production and the means to get them were very simple. Not to mention, they provided a specific guide on how to get to the venue. Other than that, here are some ways that Short+Sweet show that they are indeed “The biggest little play festival in the world”. 

The diversity of themes and topics that they present

One of the things that make indie films great is the fact that they are given the liberty to tackle any topic that they see fit. Short+Sweet Festival’s plays are no different. The writers are given freedom on what they want to talk about in their works and it makes for some of the boldest yet most candid takes on some of the less-talked about topics in society.

The plays that I was able to watch gave unique takes on commonly tackled topics in today’s media, without being cliche or too predictable with the plot. They were also very candid on their opinions of the topics without being insensitive or offensive. The takes were open and honest, giving a straightforward depiction that ultimately prove a point by the play’s end. It was never too careful nor too brutal.

theater play open arms

The 10-minute format makes for interesting storytelling

One of the most popular characteristics of the Short+Sweet Theatre Festival is that the plays are exactly that: short and sweet. The plays are given only 10 minutes of runtime which leaves it to the writers, directors, and actors to come up with the best way to tell the story to the audience. Amazingly, they are still able to develop the characters as well as tell a deep and convincing story without feeling rushed or worse, lacking. They were also very creative with the plot twists each play had, leaving the audience in awe at the end of each play.

I had the opportunity to talk to one of the directors namely, Mr. Phillip Latonio. He was able to give some of his insights on the format. Latonio is a Thomasian alumni from the Faculty of Arts and Letters, who is also the director of the play “Misadventure Time”. He said that he finds the format “fun yet challenging” as he has to come up with a way to fit the writer’s vision within the 10 minutes that was allotted.

Theater sitting at table

Easily accessible for independent writers, directors, and actors/actresses.

One of the things that Philip was able to tell me was how he found out about Short+Sweet Manila. He said that he was invited by a friend to join and has continued to follow Short+Sweet since. According to him, the process is relatively simple for someone who would like to be a director or talent. All they would have to do is submit a resume or CV when the openings come up and wait for a response. If accepted, they get the chance to select the script they want to direct from a pool of scripts submitted.

For writers who want to submit their script, the Facebook page as well as the website offer up instructions on how they can send in their work. The page serves as a means to notify and update actors, directors, and writers on the updates regarding their applications. Actors may also submit videos of their prior performances in place of an audition. Such is the experience of Angelo Del Rosario who had learned about Short+Sweet after a director asked him to audition to replace a cast member who had fallen ill.

Theater Auditions

Auditions being held for the Short+Sweet Theatre Festival. Source: Short+Sweet Theatre Manila Manila Facebook Page

A pleasant environment for everyone

The actors roamed freely around the venue as they were preparing for their plays. You can hear the support from each other as they traded uplifting words across the halls. There were also some who congratulated performers of the prior timeslot. The viewing angle was also at the eye-level of the audience which made the production that much more immersive. 

Philip Latonio stated that he enjoys participating because it allows him to meet new friends as well as to explore his creativity as an actor and as a director. Angelo on the other hand, finds it as an opportunity to escape from his job as a college professor. The experience also allowed them to explore a different type of style and in the case of Philip, used the experience as a gateway to other forms of theatre.

Short+Sweet bench

Short+Sweet Manila’s theatre festival proved to be a showcase of some great talents that may not have been appreciated without their stage. It offers an experience that captures the imagination of their audience and inspires the creativity of their artists. The broad range of topics and the candid takes on these topics provides a refreshing new look that audiences will surely enjoy or at least respond to. Add to that the affordable price and the friendly staff to match, and you will surely have a great time in “The biggest little play festival in the world.”

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12 Tweets summing-up this year’s CDC

The Salinggawi Dance Troupe never faltered to show the magic of their performance. The question is, what did the Twitter-verse say in the midst of every leap and toss of CDC’s dancers?

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Photo by Christine Annmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb

What’s up CDC? Yesterday, the Salinggawi Dance Troupe never faltered to show the magic of their performance. They not only managed to win the hearts of their fellow Thomasians but also the hearts of people from its competing universities as they landed 4th runner-up in the overall ranks. The question is, what did the Twitter-verse say in the midst of every leap and toss of CDC’s dancers?

Here are some of the tweets that documented the highlights of this year’s Cheer Dance Competition:

1. This year’s themes are:

 

2. So, you’ve heard of the rumor that Thomasians are shapeshifters.

 

3. Jokes on you all. Thomasians are allegedly the Lord’s favorite. 

 

 

4. There’s quite an uncanny resemblance here!

 

 

5. Calling all FEU students! A go-signal has been declared. 

 

 

6. Did anyone see the mayor coming?

 

 

7. Get you a performance that could serve you all 4 of these looks!

 

 

8. Magic is within Thomasians as shown by Salinggawi. Want more evidence? Expecto Patronum!

 

 

9. Speaking of magic, are you ready to have the most magical night next month? *coughs* Paskuhan? *coughs*

 

10. GO USTe! GO USTe! GO USTe! GO! GO! GO! GO!

 

 

11. CDC brought to you by yours truly, your mom.

 

 

12. Blame your fever on this one!

 

 

The Cheer Dance Competition once again proved that Thomasians, or maybe other students of UAAP schools too, always have a strong school spirit. Not only does the support ooze from those who stay in the University right now but also from its alumni and those who admire it. 

Together with one mind and spirit, we chant, “Go USTe!”

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There’s Bad Blood: What Taylor’s ownership battle is telling us

Artistic rights have been a long-standing issue in the industry. It is shady enough to manipulatively take the rights of an artist’s records. Yet, to exploit their hard work is plainly immoral. However, this move is not new in an industry like this. 

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Taylor Swift during the MTV Awards 2019 | Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris from Getty Images

From Kanye West to Katy Perry, Taylor Swift is once again stuck in feud. I’m going to let you finish, but this one does not involve an ex-boyfriend or a fellow artist. This is a battle that it involves her career as an artist and a whole lot more.  

The internet is in outrage after 29-year-old pop singer Taylor Swift released a statement regarding her battle against music mogul Scooter Braun and former label CEO Scott Borchetta. If you’re only waking up to this news, let me give you some knowledge about what’s happening.

Last November 2018, Taylor announced her departure from long-time music label Big Machine Records. She then went to sign with another music label. Recently this year, her former label has been acquired by Scooter Braun. Yes, it’s the same Scooter Braun who manages other pop artists like Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. What seems to be another business move has turned the tides for her. For a hefty price of $300 million, Scooter has acquired not only the recording label but also the rights to her music catalogue. So, what does this mean exactly? 

Taylor, who is scheduled to receive the Artist of the Decade award at the American Music Awards, wishes to perform a medley of her hits for the past decade. However, she states that Scooter and Scott are preventing her to use her prior releases in her performance and in an upcoming Netflix documentary about her life. They claim that this would technically be re-recording her old music—something she is not allowed to do until next year. 

 

Big Machine Records has since then denied the accusations. In a statement to CNN, the label defended that, “Taylor Swift can 100% perform all her catalog, past and present, on the AMAs. Big Machine has no issue with her performance going out on the live broadcast, because it recognizes it doesn’t have the right to block her”. 

As much as we’d like to excuse ourselves from this narrative, we are consumers that only get to see and hear the end products. For every song we stream and every concert we attend, we contribute to the profit of companies and their artists. This controversy is bringing visibility and spreading awareness on what goes down behind every song that goes out in the market and how artists are treated. 

Artistic rights have been a long-standing issue in the industry. It is shady enough to manipulatively take the rights of an artist’s records. Yet, to exploit their hard work is plainly immoral. However, this move is not new in an industry like this. 

In Karl Marx’s theory of alienated labor, factory labor under capitalism separates the workers from the products they create. These products would then be sent off to different places for others to make money out of it. In this case, the record an artist produces are those of which that are distributed to music platforms. As they are consumed, record labels gain profit from them. Under the rules of capitalism, the artists are detached from the products they make. The only way out, according to Marx, is for the workers to revolt and fight the system which is what Taylor is doing in social media.  

The music industry can be very toxic because of executives that bend the rules in their favor. For years, many artists have fallen victim to this abuse of power and it’s sad to think that their life’s work and creativity are held hostage by an ink deal and a few pages of paper.

Unfortunately, these aren’t the only issues coming into light. Artists who have gone through the same fate as Taylor, like JoJo, TLC, and Kesha, showed that there is a need for women to go beyond their limits in order to get what they deserve. Surprisingly enough, silencing women doesn’t only happen in the music industry. 

Gender-based discrimination caused Indian filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava’s film “Lipstick Under My Burkha” to be initially censored for being “lady-oriented”. The filmmaker admitted that she had to “fight to get the right equipment and decent studio time slots” in creating her first feature film.

Icelandic artist Borghildur Indriðadóttir witnessed her Facebook friends and photos deleted after she shared a promo of her exhibition entitled, DEMONCRAZY, that featured photos of topless women standing in front of portraits of older men in public buildings. She defended that her exhibition was purposely made for people to question why numerous paintings of men that used to rule in power are seen in public buildings. 

Rather than being an environment that fosters creativity, magnates have turned the artistic industry into a strategic gameplay between them and their artists. With the power they hold, it’s as though they are puppet masters who benefit from the public by shamelessly controlling their marionettes. 

If a situation like this is happening to a mainstream artist like Taylor, what goes on behind closed doors for those who are just starting out? This on-going war between Taylor and her former label executives is creating a big step not only for artists with established careers but also for those who are waiting to sign their future record deal.

This is a fight for the budding artists who spend sleepless nights to release their first single without even knowing that it won’t be theirs in the future. Artists deserve ownership and credit for what they create. It’s high time for executives to serve them that justice. 

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