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No ‘abstain’ in upcoming CSC elections; students develop new electronic voting system

In a press conference on Thursday, Central Commission on Elections Medicine Commissioner Ivan Pulanco elaborated that they have removed “abstain” in the new system developed by Computer Science students, but voters could leave their ballots unanswered.

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Photo by JC Alvero/TomasinoWeb.

(UPDATED March 10, 1:10 a.m.) There would be no “abstain” option in the upcoming Central Student Council (CSC) elections as the polls switch back to an electronic voting system developed by the University’s Computer Science students.

In a press conference on Thursday, Central Commission on Elections (Comelec) Medicine Commissioner Ivan Pulanco elaborated that they have removed the option—which won the CSC posts for president, vice president, auditor and treasurer in the last elections—but voters could leave their ballots unanswered.

“Unanswered means unanswered. That is our official stance. We are following the procedures conducted by the local elections in the Philippines for voters are allowed to leave positions blank and we don’t feel that it is proper to compel a student vote for an individual… So it’s not abstain, its unanswered,” Pulanco said.

This move is in accordance with the order of the Central Judiciary Board last year, which stated that including “abstain” in the ballots was a violation of Article X Section 5 of the UST Student’s Election Code of 2011 as ballots should only contain “the printed names of candidates, their positions and their parties , a box before each candidate’s name, serial number and the instructions” with no mention of an “abstain” option.

 

Thomasians develop new voting system

The Computer Science Society (CSS), in partnership with Comelec and the UST e-Service Providers (STEPS), developed the Evosys system, the very first electronic voting system developed by Thomasian students which they said would ensure fast, reliable, accurate and secured canvassing of votes through the use of the University’s local servers provided by STEPS.

“For this upcoming elections,  we will be hosting it with STEPS [with their] local servers…. It’s intranet, [meaning] within the internet of UST, so transferring of data will be fast,” CSS President John Regalado told reporters.

The elections last year became manual after the proclamation of elected officers in the 2016 CSC elections were delayed due to technical glitches with the Blackboard e-Learning Access Program, where the polls were hosted.

Evosys Project Manager Angel Luis Santos said the system would be more reliable than manual voting since “it requires a login to access the system and it automates the canvassing of votes” and that “the counting will be done by the system.”

Comelec Vice Chairman and Evosys Project Head Mely Cherrylyne Cruz said that Comelec, Potato Codes, an organization of Thomasian developers, and the Office for Student Affairs (OSA) decided it would be best that CSS would develop the system.

“There is no other competition… outside UST. [Developers outside the campus] cannot develop the software for UST because that would bring about concerns on outside influence, etc. This is why we chose specifically and only CSS,” Cruz added.

Santos also ensured the election’s security, saying that the system “underwent rigorous testing from developers and some faculty members of the Computer Science department.” She also said the system is secure from hacking since votes can only be accessed within UST’s local servers.

 

Security, technical concerns

Santos demonstrated the new voting process, which involves verification of voters by assigned deputies, the actual voting of students, submission of all votes and upon completion, and the acquisition of reference numbers as proof that a student has finished the entire voting process.

While students would be using their student numbers as theirs username in voting, Comelec Chairman Arvin Bersonda said that the password would be unique in every voting session and that it would come from verifiers.

“Malalaman lang namin yung password nila on the day that they will vote, on the day they were verified as a Thomasian voter kasi we have verifiers, sila yung mag-eencode and ‘dun palang nila makukuha yung access code nila sa elections upon entry sa [computer laboratory],” he added.

Bersonda said that if computer units crash during the voting period, the system would only process finished and submitted ballots so that students could still resume voting.

To accommodate all voters,  there would be an allotted time for every individual to vote, according to Allan Theo Hernandez, OSA’s staff for student activities.

University-wide mock elections held to earlier today to test the system. The filing of the certificates of candidacy would be on March 21; elections are set to be held in April .—B. Laforga

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dates regarding the exact schedule of elections and proclamation of officers were removed due to disputing claims from officers of Comelec.

 

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Millions of Filipino faithfuls display devotion to Black Nazarene for Traslación 2019

In display of their unwavering devotion, the devotees, young and old, mostly barefooted, endured a 21-hour long procession of the annual Traslación, Wednesday, Jan. 9.

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black nazarene/Traslación
Photo by Christine Tapawan.

The devotees, young and old, mostly barefooted, endured a 21-hour long procession of the annual Traslación, a re-enactment of the passage of the dark-skinned, cross-bearing Jesus Christ from Intramuros to the Minor Basilica, Wednesday, Jan. 9.

For centuries, the Filipino faithfuls have displayed their fervent devotion to the revered Black Nazarene, a historical and iconic statue that has become a symbol of fierce faith, devotion and sacrifice, as millions of devotees clad in maroon braved the push and shove in hopes to experience its supposed miracles.

Lola Mel, a devotee from Sta. Ana, Manila testifies to the graces she’s received from joining the procession.

“Nararamdaman ko ‘yung resbak niya sa’kin, feel na feel ko, hindi material—talagang hindi rin ako bumibitiw,” she said in an ambush interview with TomasinoWeb.

She added that the tradition of flocking to the route of the procession has been passed down onto her, generation after generation.

“Minana ko pa ito sa lolo ko, sa tiyuhin ko, sobra hindi ko na mabilang. Maliit pa ako nag-jo-join na ako,” she said.

Some faithfuls also believe in the miraculous healing powers the image hold.

Lita Castaño, 59, said she trooped to Quiapo to pray for her daughter and sister’s healing.

“This time ‘yung youngest daughter ko may sakit siya and my sister may cancer siya,” she said.

According to the Quiapo Church website, quoting Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio, the devotion that has drawn millions to the Black Nazarene, he admitted, is a “remnant of the animistic faith of Filipinos.”

He added: “People have sensed the spiritual wealth in Quiapo Church and there is a huge attendance for Mass every day and especially on Friday.”

Fridays are known colloquially to be “Quiapo Day” where devotees pay homage and veneration to the renowned icon. Outside Manila, various grand celebrations also took place in Northern Samar and Cagayan de Oro.

“Filipinos are resilient, but where is this resiliency coming from? It’s the practice of our faith,” Msgr. Ignacio elaborated.

Furthermore, History Prof. Xiao Chua said that Filipinos established connection with the image because of its “skin tone and resilience.”

“When we look at the Black Nazarene, kulay natin siya, maitim siya tapos naghihirap siya pero alam natin na mabubuhay siya ulit so that is also the hope that every devotee brings into his heart,” Chua said in an interview published on 2013.

The day before the procession, the traditional Pahalik (Kissing) vigil already witnessed throngs of devotees as they awaited the morning mass that commenced the celebration.

According to Metro Manila Police Chief Guillermo Eleazar, nearly 4 million faithfuls took part in various activities including 2.5 million devotees who joined the Traslacion.

The image returned to its home in Quiapo Church at exactly 2:21 am of Jan. 10, after the procession started at around 5 am of Jan. 9.

Tightened security

According to the Philippine National Police, a total of 7,200 police secured and maintained peace and order on the route of the celebration. The Metro Manila Development Authority, on the other hand, deployed 850 personnel to aid the police and military.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) deployed 400 personnel on stand by and 600 manning the route, with 18 first-aid stations and 50 ambulances scattered along the procession route.

By noon, PRC already aided and assisted 619 devotees, including 18 people who sustained major injuries like bleeding, difficulty in breathing and bone fractures, while some 131 devotees suffered minor injuries.

In 2018, an approximate of 1,150,000 devotees attended the celebration that took 22 hours to complete. — With reports from Alecsandra Go and Christine Tapawan

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Disney-themed Paskuhan attracts 100,000 crowd

This year’s highly anticipated Disney-themed Paskuhan Fair with the theme “Light from Light for the Prince of Peace” drew thousands despite experiencing light rainfall throughout the event last December 21.

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yael yuzon singing in paskuhan
Photo by Miguel Yap

This year’s highly anticipated Disney-themed Paskuhan Fair with the theme “Light from Light for the Prince of Peace” drew thousands despite experiencing light rainfall throughout the event last December 21.

According to the UST Central Student Council (CSC), this year’s Paskuhan played host to a crowd of an estimated 100,000 people, over 30,000 more than the previous year’s festivities.

The Paskuhan Fair concert at the UST Grandstand started at around 3 PM with a performance from the UST Drumline which went around the campus. It was followed by performances from I Belong to the Zoo, Fourplay, Quest, The Ransom Collective, Sponge Cola and other Thomasian bands and artists.

Thomasian Dance troupe ACES also graced the stage with a dance number and the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe rocked the stage with their CDC 2018 performance.

The concert finished with the much awaited pyromusical display featuring Disney movie theme songs “I See the Light” from Tangled, “We Know the Way” from Moana, “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, and “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, lasting about 15 minutes..

Before the concert, raffle draws for minor prizes were held in front of the Main Building while major prizes were drawn during the concert. This year’s Paskuhan started with the opening of lights and the traditional Thomasian Agape held last December 4.

No Paskuhan date, no problem

In the weeks leading up to the Paskuhan season, many Thomasians on social media expressed (rather jokingly) their frustration over their lack of a date for this year’s Paskuhan, some even going so far as to advertise their need for one on Twitter. But most Thomasians managed to get along just fine even without a date.

Angel Adora, a senior high school student, said she still managed to enjoy the event even without a partner.

Una sa lahat, yung happiness hindi palaging nagre-revolve sa jowa, makukuha mo rin ‘to sa friends mo and family. May mga friends akong nandito” Angel expressed.

Gabriel Enriquez also shared the same sentiment when it comes to having a Paskuhan date:

For me, mas OK na nagsasaya ka lang kahit wala kang kasamang lover, ayos lang yun.” Gabriel said.

Non-Thomasians were also present in the 27-year-old Thomasian yule tradition. Both Maria Victoria Dela Rosa and Nathaniel Arizala felt “welcomed and one with the UST community.”

Hindi ko na-feel na out of place ako, kasi feel ko na welcome ako sa UST.” Arizala shared.

One of the highlights for them is the pyromusical display that capped off the event and made everyone in awe of the spectacle.

Highlight ng gabi ko ay yung Disney-themed fireworks, para talaga akong nasa Disneyland.” Dela Rosa said.

The yearly University Christmas celebration started in 1991 and included the sharing of donations to calamity victims, which is still observed today, and was formally named Paskuhan in 1993.

The Christmas lights and other decor inside the University will remain lit every night until January 6.

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University’s Rare Map collection featured in International Map Symposium

The 36th International Map Collector’s Society (IMCoS) Symposium visited Miguel the Benavidez Library’s Antonio Vivencio Heritage Section’s collection of rare and historical maps yesterday, October 16.

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one of UST's rare map
Photo by Corinne Vizconde.

Participants of the “Insulae, Indiae, Orientalis”: The 36th International Map Collector’s Society (IMCoS) Symposium visited Miguel the Benavidez Library’s Antonio Vivencio Heritage Section’s collection of rare and historical maps yesterday, October 16.

International delegates and local map collectors converged in the said event for the first time not just in the Philippines but in South East Asia held at Ayala Museum, Makati City.

Assoc. Prof. Giovanna V. Fontanilla M.A., Director of UST Office for Public Affairs, welcomed the international delegates and local map collectors participants of the event.

In his welcoming speech, UST Secretary General Rev. Fr. Jesus Miranda O.P. said that, “You made the right decision to visit the 407-year-old University of Santo Tomas […] Whether you like it or not, this is the pride of the Philippines and of the whole South East Asia when it comes to the rich collection of artifacts about our heritage and history.”

The University’s Prefect of Libraries, Rev. Fr. Angel Aparicio O.P. said in his words of appreciation that, “For some people, maps are a powerful tool, for others a tool of power. For me, a map is a metaphor, a vehicle carrying me through my piece of paper, parched me in canvass, or screen to another place that can be real or imaginary.”

“One of the speakers of this symposium has written that, and I put, ‘The Philippines is a young nation with a long history. Its narrative complex.’ From my own personal stand as a Spanish, as a Dominican, a resident of this beautiful islands and people, I like to make a personal correction to that statement. The Philippines is a young nation with many stories waiting for a historian to give us a coherent narrative, said Fr. Aparicio.

He added, “These maps I have seen in this exhibit tells many stories. I really commend and appreciate the efforts of the organizers of this symposium, to assemble all these map nobles, collectors, researchers and dealers around the Philippines, ‘Insulae, Indiae, Orientalis.’”

A small map exhibit will follow today, October 17 until October 26 at the library’s exhibit area and along 5th floor hallway from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Philippine Map Collector’s Society, which is an affiliate of the London based IMCoS, and Gallery Prints organized the said event which presents series of lectures and excursions to libraries and museums and visited the Antonio Vivencio Heritage Section of the Benavidez Library as part of the said event.

The Antonio Vicencio del Rosario Library is a repository of rare and prestigious collection of books about the country’s history including Filipiniana rare books, rare periodicals, rare collection of books of medicine and pharmacy, and some collection of Chinese books.

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