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#SelfiEscolta: A Snapshot of Manila’s Heritage

THE Queen of streets of Manila or simply the no-less than Calle Escolta, has been fired up once again.

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THE Queen of streets of Manila or simply the no-less than Calle Escolta, has been fired up once again.

The Heritage Conservation Society Youth along with the Escolta Commercial Association Inc. raised Philippine heritage awareness as they unveiled #SelfiEscolta: The Manila Heritage Festival last July 5.

Aiming to promote conservation and appreciation of heritage buildings of old Manila, the whole-day event was far spanking among other fairs as it embraced guided tours, photo exhibit, bazaar and concert.

Steered interested participants about the resemblance of European facades on the evolving architectural styles of structures found in Escolta, Clara Buenconsejo, Secretary General of Heritage Conservation Society Youth (HCS Youth), drew attention on the realization of people that there’s more to Manila than what meets the eye.

    “A lot of people don’t know about Escolta. A lot of people nowadays either think that Escolta is dead or tipong hindi talaga nila alam kung anong makikita sa Escolta,” Buenconsejo said.

The organizers dared to change the perception of the people regarding the once-renowned center of luxury and urbanization Escolta by gathering the public through an informative and fun-filled pioneering affair.

The Selfie Campaign

Volunteers from HCS Youth including architecture students from HCS-UST Youth Chapter lead over the free guided tours for students, travelers, people from the media and entertainment industry, independent artists and heritage and cultural conservation enthusiasts.

Starting from the Pasig River Station, the ferry, walking and tranvia ride tours transported goers around the prominent spots of Calle Escolta and its surrounding neighborhood. Participants were given photo opportunity to take a “selfie”, or self-taken photographs of themselves, with the heritage buildings fostered in the world of social media through the hashtag #selfiEscolta.

    “Through the tours, they’ve heard the stories. We told the people some facts about the buildings, but more than that, we gave them stories within their walls. And through the people’s selfies, we hope that the rest of the Philippines would like to know the buildings’ stories as well,” Stephanie Yap, one of the tour guides and Public Relations Officer of HCS-UST Youth Chapter, explained.

The itinerary includes stops at some of Manila’s most historical: First United Building, Regina Building, Juan Luna eServices Building, Insular Life Building, Uy Chaco Building (the first skyscraper of Manila),  Syvel Dep’t Store and Capitol Theater (Juan Nakpil’s masterpieces), the BPI Escolta of iconic architecture designed by the newly recognized National Artist Maria Jose Zaragoza, and the renowned 100 year-old El Hogar Building, which is currently at risk of demolition.

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     “The building is old, but it doesn’t mean that if it’s old, wala na, hindi na interesting,” Buenconsejo said on the increasing consciousness of the people concerning the conservation of admired facades of Manila that bare the identity of Philippine architecture.

The Art and Vintage Publicity

Aside from the guided tours, the street fair was one of the major attractions as well. Calle Escolta was filled with food bazaar, shops that sold arts and crafts items, personal pieces and paintings by independent artists, paintings, posters and old photographs of Manila and photo printing booths.

The photo exhibit added the cultural cognizance of the sightseers located at the ground floor of the First United Building where the usual Saturday Market is held. Reprints of photographs from the J. Tewell collection were displayed to provoke viewers to reminisce the prime of Escolta. Printed “selfie” photos were also posted in the exhibit.

An Exhibition of Unique Talents

The entire event was enthused by a wide-range of performances from independent artists and performers that prove the matchless flair of Filipinos. Ethnic music by Sanghabi, Dance performance by hoola hoop dancer Star Ore, showcase from Ukulele Philippines Ensemble and more acts from One Hit Combo, Axie Cano and Slow Sink stirred up the street festival.

“Tara Na Sa Escolta” Street Concert was held as the whole-day culminating activity was wrapped in a loud rainy evening. Heard around the event site were performances from artists Gary Granada, Tres Marias (Cooky Chua, Bayang Barrios, Lolita Carbon), Plagpul, Kuya Kurt, Persephone, Estribo, Fiona, Geo Ong and Pio Balbuena.

 

The Heritage Conservation Society Youth aspires to uphold the significance of old Manila’s legacy by imparting treasured history to the community.

     “Heritage Conservation isn’t just about restoring and salvaging beautiful structures; it’s also about saving the stories of these buildings. We cannot let them destroy the structures that made Manila to what it is today,” Yap said.

 

Photo by Patrick Jason O. Palencia

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Counter military, police propaganda-based disinformation—veteran journalist

Rappler managing editor urged aspiring journalists Friday, Oct. 23, to fight propaganda-based disinformation caused by law enforcers.

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Photo grabbed from Rappler.com

Rappler managing editor urged aspiring journalists Friday, Oct. 23, to fight propaganda-based disinformation caused by law enforcers.

Glenda Gloria, a journalism alumna of the University, said that the military and the police do not seem to understand the role of the media as the fourth estate because of their “very utilitarian” view of information. 

“They use information as propaganda because they think it has to achieve something for the organization, whether that means further securing the country or defeating the enemies of the state,” Gloria said in a fact-checking webinar. 

According to her, the attempt of law enforcers to speed up their propaganda is due to the tremendous pressure to eliminate insurgency before President Duterte steps down in 2020. 

“The biggest factor behind the politicization of the armed forces is the commander-in-chief. Whatever the President wants will determine the political influence of the military,” she said. 

Gloria reminded aspiring journalists that no war has been won using propaganda as a primary tool and to “continue the fight against lies” that are being weaponized for the mass destruction of the country.

The webinar titled, “Propaganda, State Secrets and Other Issues in the Security Sector,” was hosted by MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler. Vhey Tapia and Raheema Velasco 

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Flatten curve to revive economy, solon says

The government should remain in its goal of flattening the curve to revive the economy, a lawmaker advised Saturday, Oct. 24.

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Photo courtesy of the UST Central Student Council

The government should remain in its goal of flattening the curve to revive the economy, a lawmaker advised Saturday, Oct. 24.

“Klaro naman na hindi natin kailangan pumili between saving lives and livelihood. Hindi na tama na ang trade-off between the two…[b]ecause we can save both,” Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo said. 

Quimbo, who is also an economist, stressed the importance of evidence-based policymaking and monitoring, as well as business continuity and job projection interventions. 

The solution and interventions included grants for technical assistance, subsidies for COVID-19 testing, and wage subsidies with retention clauses. 

“We can afford to rise, pero dapat balansehin so as not to fall into a debt crisis… [b]ecause as we all know napakadali po to become poor pero napakahirap mag-exit sa poverty. Importanteng importante ang datos,” Quimbo said.

Quimbo also laid out the framework for the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE), which she is one of the principal authors. 

Under the ARISE, a comprehensive plan will be followed to address the pandemic-brought economic crisis with a proposed P1.3 trillion budget over three years.

In the bill still pending in the Senate, Quimbo specified transitional, financial, sectoral, and structural support that, according to her, were the basis of the framework for the “mini-version” of the Bayanihan 2 that is in effect until the end of this year.

‘Reform the economy’

IBON Foundation executive director Sonny Africa urged the government to “reform and shape” an economy that benefits everyone. 

According to Africa, the government’s current response is focused on a “very artificial poverty reduction” by granting cash transfers without addressing the structure that continues poverty.

“The government is very keen on infrastructure to promote economic growth, but the Philippines is so lacking in economic fundamentals as it uses infrastructure as a short-cut to growth,” he said.

Africa also criticized that while the government is focused on infrastructure development, decades of neoliberal health privatization eroded  the public health system, which worsened the mortality rate even pre-pandemic.

The webinar “EkonDisyon: Philippine Economic Recession and COVID-19” is a part of the MulaTalakayan organized by the University’s Central Student Council. 

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Tourism recovery to revamp economic sectors, officials urge

Tourism officials stressed the importance of a responsible and “new normal-ready” recovery in the tourism sector amid gradual easing of health protocols in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Photo courtesy of the UST Research Center for Social Sciences & Education

Tourism officials stressed the importance of a responsible and “new normal-ready” recovery in the tourism sector amid gradual easing of health protocols in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Officer Alfonsus Tesoro called for sustainable and strategic recovery efforts to support and revamp economic sectors.

“Tuloy-tuloy dapat ang pag-conduct ng tourism site assessment and planning kasama ang iba’t-ibang stakeholders from the national government agencies, provincial government offices, and the private sector,” Tesoro said in a webinar, Thursday, Oct. 23. 

According to Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes, a survey conducted in Eastern Visayas showed that 66 percent of the respondents admitted that health risks affected their decision to travel, while 80 percent are now eager to visit tourism sites within the region only. 

“This gives us an idea of what tourism activities we should prioritize when we reopen our [tourism] sites. A large majority expect health and safety protocols in place, there should be value for money, and that fun activities will still be offered even under the ‘new normal,’” she said.

Tiopes added that despite the steady reopening of the tourism sector, health protocols would still be strictly employed to ensure safety of tourists and residents. 

The webinar titled, “Philippine Tourism Development and COVID-19 Pandemic: Recovery through Sustainable Development,” was spearheaded by the University’s College of Tourism and Hospitality Management in partnership with the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines, Inc., and co-organized by the UST Research Center for Social Sciences and Education. Paolo Alejandrino 

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