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Thomasians join protest to demand for better, affordable public transportation

Thomasians joined students from other universities in the Black Friday Protest held at Morayta to voice out their dissatisfactions on the present condition of public transportation system, Friday, October 12.

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Photo by Robert Lionel Garcia/TomasinoWeb

Thomasians joined students from other universities in the Black Friday Protest held at Morayta to voice out their dissatisfactions on the present condition of public transportation system, Friday, October 11.

Students from different organizations like Anakbayan, League of Filipino Students (LFS), Kabataan partylist and National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) called out the current administration’s solutions on the transportation crisis being experienced today. 

Majority of the protesters are commuters hailing from different cities in Metro Manila and experience the burden of public transport first hand. 

“Dapat hindi pagtuunan [ang] pagpa-privatize ng mga serbisyo, dahil doon sa madaling salita ginagawa nilang negosyo ang dapat na maging serbisyo. Pagtuunan nila ng pansin kung ano ang tunay na problema,” Karch Rafael from Kabataan Partylist UST said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

They also showed their disappointment and condemned presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s prior statement, “If you want to arrive early in your destination, then you go there earlier.”

According to Angelo Rosario, spokesperson of Anakbayan UST, for more than five years he’s been commuting from Cavite to Manila, waking up 2 hours early, he would still be late in class. He said that this only shows how lame and far from reality Panelo’s solutions are. 

The students are not only suffering physically from the hassle of commuting but their academic standing as well, according to a student from Anakbayan. He added that waking up at an earlier time does not alleviate the problem but only adds insult to injury.

When questioned whether transportation crisis exists or not, Lloyd Manangon of NUSP answered, “Meron, makikita natin siya sa kahit anong street dito sa Metro Manila.” He added that Panelo’s attempt to commute for a day is not an answer to the problem and is just a mere publicity stunt.

“Panelo doing the challenge to commute for a day is just futile. The challenge is supposed to make him experience first hand the hassle of daily commuting, however, it just turned out to be a plublicity stunt.  He was just making fun of the daily inconvenience the commuters are experiencing,” Josh Marcus Romasanta from Anakbayan FEU said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

Three days prior to the said protest, Panelo denied that there is a mass transport crisis and insisted that all is well. However, students present in the rally disputed his statement and believed that the crisis is existing. They claimed that the solution of Panelo to “go earlier” and the “jeepney phase out” are detached from reality and will not solve the problem.

“The problem is the system itself, the government should focus on funding the social services that are for the public rather than focusing on funding the police and military. The youth are not against modernization of transportation, they are against  [in]genuine reform, Francis Raveles,” head of research committee of LFS said. Hazel Camba and Jose Ama Rosario

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Students not ready for self-directed learning—EdTech director

Students “may not be really ready” for self-direction and learning independence without “prodding from the teachers,” the University’s Educational Technology Center (EdTech) director said yesterday, June 27.

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Screengrab from the Learning in Focus webinar

Students “may not be really ready” for self-direction and learning independence without “prodding from the teachers,” the University’s Educational Technology Center (EdTech) director said yesterday, June 26.

“With or without pandemic, no single tool really and no amount of technology would be the solution to all our instructional problems,” Asst. Prof. Anna Cherylle Ramos, president of Philippine e-Learning Society, said during a webinar about shifting from classroom to online term.

Virtual monitoring sessions and centralized e-learning support unit, according to Ramos, was provided by the University to the teachers for the implementation of an online learning system.

“For the context of the University of Santo Tomas that has been using online technology for almost 20 years since 2002, we had the edge of implementing our continuity plan for teaching and learning right away after the declaration of the lockdown,” she said.

Ramos mentioned that in a survey conducted by the University, 98-percent of the faculty and 94-percent of the students have no stable internet connection.

“Out of our survey, we were able to locate the students with no internet connection and with our partnership with major telecom companies who were able to deliver the devices and the pocket wifi devices, so that they are able to finish the semester,” she said.

“I guess for me, COVID-19 also provided some positive contribution because it has unleashed a revolution in our education,” Ramos said.

Challenges ‘more psychological’

The bigger challenge in taking the education online, according to De La Salle Lipa College of Information and Engineering Dean Jorge Bacobo, is more psychological than technical.

“Those [technological problems], we know what the solutions are,” Bacobo said. “It’s getting the people who are involved for example in our schools, teachers, parents, administrators, to adjust to a revolution that’s forced [on] us by pandemic.”

“It’s really the evolution of people and how they have to change their relationships with each other in order to address the new needs of a new normal,” he added.

Bacobo emphasized that the pandemic changing the whole world challenged more the relationship between the students and the teachers and between the teachers and their teaching platform.

“Teachers suddenly realized they’re not anymore the sages on the stages. They’re now set aside. They’re more like guides on the side…They are no longer the medium of instruction,” he said.

Bacobo explained that the digital infrastructure has become the new medium and the teacher’s “avatar” or representative.

Department of Education Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan also said that online learning is “a very potent tool.”

“When we talk about the learning continuity in this time of COVID and doing distance learning, online learning is only one of the modalities,” he said. 

“Our viewers and our parents and learners and the public and sometimes even policy makers equate distance learning with the online learning platform,” he added. 

Technological challenges of online learning, according to Malaluan, are the capacity of teachers in delivery of large-scale online learning, conversion of classroom-based learning resources to distance learning resources, and the cost of online learning to the students.

Ramos urged the students that despite the teachers being “converted into text,” students should be more understanding as the issue of bandwidth impedes the online availability of the teachers.

“Online technology or online instructions would just be one of the many things we can do to be able to deliver that content,” Ramos said. “[Students] must realize that while we are doing something like this, we still have your teaching presence.”

“The learning activities themselves and the step by step procedure being given by the teachers is in fact the teaching presence themselves. There should be that understanding on both parties,” she said.

The webinar, “Learning in Focus,” was organized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inq To be You, and INQUIRER.net.

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CSC decries ‘unlawful arrest’ of ‘Pride 20’

The University Central Student Council (CSC) condemned the “violent and unlawful” arrest of 20 protestors who participated in the Pride March held in front of Mendiola Peace Arch, Friday morning, June 26. 

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

The University Central Student Council (CSC) condemned the “violent and unlawful” arrest of 20 protestors who participated in the Pride March held in front of Mendiola Peace Arch, Friday morning, June 26. 

“[It] is a clear abuse of undignifying power against our LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters,” CSC’s statement read.

The protestors who were arrested called to junk the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which is set to lapse into law on July 9. 

Different progressive groups who joined the rally were dispersed by the police, despite observing health protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks.

“Our expression of dissent will never be an act of terrorism. Pride is a protest. #FreePride20!” CSC said. 

According to reports and posts circulating online, several police were seen “hijacking” one of the demonstrators’ private vehicles to bring them to the police station. 

The police nabbed 20 people, 10 of which are members of Bahaghari including its spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas, eight members of Gabriela, and two drivers.

Salinas took to Twitter to express her concern on their arrest: “Hinuli man kami ngayon, walang pandemiya, walang lockdown, at mas lalong walang mga pasistang baboy ang makapipigil ng pagsinag ng Bahaghari. #SulongWagPatinag.” 

#FreePride20

The arrested protestors were not informed of their violations and were not read of their Miranda rights, which angered the netizens.

The #FreePride20 trended on Twitter as netizens called for the immediate release of the ‘Pride 20,’ which were currently detained at the Manila Police District headquarters.

Miss Universe 2019 Catriona Gray as well as groups such as Gabriela Women’s Party, Bahaghari, and Metro Manila Pride also condemned the arrest. 

Three minors were already released, but the remaining are set to spend the weekend in detention as inquest proceedings resume on Monday.

The Metro Manila Pride March was originally set on June 27. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event was cancelled and will be held via virtual gathering instead. 

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Equality fight ‘far from over’—LGBT rights advocates

Equal rights advocates urged the LGBTQ+ community and allies to amplify the ongoing fight for equality during a webinar on gender-based violence last Wednesday, June 24. 

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Screengrab from the KAAKIBAT: Webinar on Gender-based Discrimination & Harassment and Laws for Gender Equality webinar

Equal rights advocates urged the LGBTQ+ community and allies to amplify the ongoing fight for equality during a webinar on gender-based violence last Wednesday, June 24. 

Advocates said that the fight “is far from over” as it is more than just lobbying for policies against gender-based discrimination and violence. 

Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders co-convenor Jael Gonzales talked about the salient points and provisions of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bills filed in the Senate and Congress.

Gonzales stated that it is important that the country’s law acknowledges SOGIE in order to fully implement and cover the whole base of the spectrum.

“Our laws don’t recognize SOGIE and if they don’t recognize SOGIE, they cannot penalize SOGIE based violence and discrimination,” he said. 

Among the provisions included were profiling, discriminatory practice of employers, admittance policies of academic institutions, and hate crimes.

Different versions of the SOGIE Equality Bill, also known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill, have been filed in congress since the year 2000. 

It is considered to be the one of the longest bills lobbied in the congress, and it has been refiled for the 18th congress by Senator Risa Hontiveros.

On educating the mass

Award-winning filmmaker Cha Roque put forward her advocacy in destigmatizing the notions of the mass towards the LGBTQ+ community through creating films that “inform, challenge, and mobilize” audiences to manifest safe spaces for all. 

Gender-based discrimination, according to Roque, started through micro-aggressions coated in homophobic statements, which were often unnoticed. 

“These remarks…aakalain mo silang simple opinions [and] statements pero they’re very dangerous especially when it comes from people with power and platform and has the capacity to influence,” she said.

Roque stressed not to take these statements lightly. 

“It normalizes gender-based discrimination… [at] hindi lang ito ang mga nangyayari. Hindi lang sa public office, [kung hindi] pati sa iba’t-ibang institutions like schools.  It incites a culture of hate—a culture of violence,” she said. 

Roque reminded everyone that simply calling out and educating friends, in whatever capacity and platform, will “go a long way” in breaking stereotypes and fighting for equal rights. 

“Talagang nakakatulong sya. Hindi in a sense sa grand scheme of things like passing laws ganyan, pero kailangan pa rin,” she said.

The webinar, “KAAKIBAT: Webinar on Gender-based Discrimination & Harassment and Laws for Gender Equality,was hosted and organized by the Tiger Committee in partnership with Benilde Hive, The Initiative PH, PLM Propaganda, KASARIANLAN, and PNU Katalonan. Paolo Alejandrino

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