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USTingan discusses Popular Literature

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     FOUR prominent literature personalities visited the University of Santo Tomas for the USTingan, a round-table discussion on issues concerning Popular Literature, held at the Tanghalang Teresita Quirino of the Benavides building last September 22.

     National Book Development Board Director Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores, Don Carlos Palanca Awardee Asst. Prof. Paolo Manalo, UST AB Communication Arts Graduate Nida Ramirez of Visprint Publishing House, and writer-TV host and poet Lourd de Veyra were the guest speakers of the event.

     Atty. Pasion-Flores presented demographics of the Filipinos who read from years 2003-2012 and concluded that as years pass, the number of the Filipino readers goes down. She also laid out proportions showing that 80% of the populace read books.

     “What is the reason why Filipinos read?” she asked. “They read for two things: number one, to gain knowledge and, number two, as an entertainment source,” the chic literature author further concluded that more and more people turn to books as a source of entertainment other than a source of knowledge.

     The fiction writer also enumerated the three most read books: the Bible, romance, and cook books.

     Asst. Prof. Manalo defined Popular Literature in terms of cognition and said that it is the product of popular imagination.

     “If man is the measure of all things, then deep inside us, at least we are pattern-oriented people,” explained the University of the Philippines professor.

     He said that fan fiction is everything except popular literature. “The kind of popular imagination that we have is what makes it easier to anticipate and to predict.”

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     Ramirez, coming from Visprint, publisher of the famous Bob Ong books, also defined Popular Literature.

     “It is characterized by the taste and preferences of the reading majority. It is the product of social realities including predominant social status, ideology, economic conditions, history, and social memory,” she said.

     The last speaker of the event is “Evening News” host Lourd de Veyra. He talked about the celebrity authors and their best-selling books which topped the 33rd Manila Book Fair.

     He wondered if Ramon Bautista, Tado Jimenez, and Stanley Chi were considered as “celebrity authors” because of their books or that their books are marketable, considering the authors were famous before writing them. Being a writer himself, he asked if people buy his books just because they’ve watched his videos.

     The “Word of the Lourd” host talked about his experiences as a writer and said that he often received negative comments from anonymous people.

     USTingan is organized by the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies and was attended by Thomasians and representatives from the Far Eastern University, Philippine Women’s University, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, De La Salle University, and San Beda College-Alabang among others.

By Charry Fatima D. Garcia
Photo taken by Justine Fay Refuerzo

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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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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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