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Empowerment 2015: Innovating skills, pursuing passions

FOUR seminars opened the minds of students to innovate their skills in the fields of web technology, writing, digital arts and photography.

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FOUR seminars opened the minds of students to innovate their skills in the fields of web technology, writing, digital arts and photography. An event titled “Empowerment 2015: Exploring beyond the Box”, presented and organized by TomasinoWeb, let the students think out of the ordinary and go beyond their horizons.

Web technology, worth the venture

Despite the modern world accustomed to smart phones, tablets, WiFi, and the Internet, let’s admit that Web Technology is something that will not catch everybody’s attention. However, speakers such as Aaron Baltazar, Maylene Macalino, Patrick Tulabot, Jed Herradura and Karl Salazar, all from iConcept Global Advertising Inc., proved this notion wrong as they shared insights about the basic principles of web design, content management system, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and social media marketing, implying that there is more to discover in the realm of web design.

Baltazar, equipped with a presentation made in HTML, said an aspiring web designer should start the trend with his/her own ideas.

“Wag mo sundin yung trend, minsan ikaw ang magsimula ng trend. Kunin mo muna yung idea ng trends ngayon para makasimula ng bagong trend,” Baltazar explained. “Ang idea, parang umiikot lang yan. May makakahanap na panibago, i-iimprove niya.”

Some part-time educators from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) like Marikit Valmadrid, Kristian Guevarra and Joseph Buluran also gave inspiring talks to students who wanted to pursue their careers in web technology.

Valmadrid, who is also a community manager at the Philippine Web Designers Association, emphasized that the fundamentals in web technology cannot be learned in a short time, saying that it is a continuous learning process. To make her discussion more appealing to the audience, she used Web design tips with one-liners that double as romantic innuendos.

Moreover, Potatocodes web designers Juan Miguel Alvarez and Mhariell Mosqueriola mentioned that “patience is a must when developing the web.”

“Do something that thrills you, not something that you have to do,” Mosqueriola said.

Writing to change the society

The youth today reside in the noisy, vast community of World Wide Web where all kinds of information are free- flowing and where almost everyone can be considered as a writer. Consequently, it would take some “exploring beyond the box” to come through and be heard in this sea of words and ideas.

Palanca awardee and UST professor Eros Atalia emphasized the present decentralization and democratization of the cyberspace, which weakens the power of taste-setters, canons, editors, teachers, and critics.

“Pwede na kayong magsulat nang hindi humihingi ng basbas ng mga gatekeepers. Pwede na kayong magsulat at magbahagi ng kwento na mas malaking parte ng daigdig ang magbabasa,” he said.

Business Journalism Awards recipient and Philippine Star reporter Alexis Romero also told the delegates that due to the availability of resources, news is being democratized, and we are all potential “news gatherers.”

“We have to go beyond those basic facts because we are now competing with mobile technology,” he added. “And by the time the news comes out, alam na ng mga tao ang basic, so we have to go beyond the blotter to become relevant in this information age.”

Likewise, multimedia reporter Natashya Gutierrez of Rappler believes that making sense of the noise is how a writer could advance the conversation. She also encouraged the audience to use all the means available, especially that in online, “the more skills, the better.”

Another Palanca Awardee and Philippine Star columnist Carlomar Daoana reminded the delegates that in feature writing, it’s advisable to use the creative approach.

Moreover, Jonathan Geronimo, fictionist and UST professor, refuted the common notion on personal essay writing and discussed the need to include significant insights in it.

“Basically, lahat ng baguhang manunulat, ganito ‘yung tingin sa pagsusulat: mag-express lang,” he said. “Ngunit sinasabi din na mero [itong] malinaw na point of view; may pananaw ang isang personal essay, hindi lang simpleng ekspresyon ng sarili. Dapat may insights.”

The Manila Times columnist and blogger Katrina Stuart Santiago, on the other hand, believes that a writer should read, engage, listen, and root to write effectively.

In this fast-paced world, it is important to bear in mind that change is inevitable even in the medium of writing. The need to convey critical matters are readily met in the most accessible way without barriers.

The realm of creativity

Aspiring art enthusiasts were opened to the highs and lows of being in design by distinguished guests from the creative pool.

Rian Gonzales, UST College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) alumna, advised the delegates to “post everywhere” and “make their online presence felt.”

Likewise, Jump Digital Inc. founding director Christian San Jose shared his experience of being discovered through social media, which paved way for his clientele-building, at age 16.

“Always design. Don’t spend a day not designing,” he said during his lecture.

Plus63 Design Co co-founder Dan Matutina, meanwhile, shared how he started as an artist during his high school days. He even showed his previous works and explained how it improved due to technology.

Rob Cham, who has illustrated for various publications such as the Philippine Star (Young Star) and Hinge Inquirer’s Scout Magazine, recounted how he discovered his own style by taking inspiration from other artists.

“Lahat ng influences na ‘yun, I started putting it into my art,” Cham said, stressing on the idea that “nothing is original.”

Scout Magazine art director Martin Diegor urged the delegates to keep making changes and to never stop improving in the field while National Digital Arts Awards-recipient Vincent Aseo stressed on perseverance as the key to be successful.

Aseo challenged the delegates to determine which sub-fields of design they want to specialize in, making mention of illustration, calligraphy and 3D animation.

Other speakers were art director for advertising company TBWA\SMP Terence Eduarte and Vector X Vexel Philippines Artist of the Year Jan Carlo Ramos.

Different fields and angles of photography

There’s more to photography than camera lenses alone. It’s a continuous relationship between determination, skill, and creativity that tops a good portrait and a photographer. Big names such as Aya Cabauatan, Alexis Lim, Art Oca, Jash Manuel, Paul Ryan Tan, Joseph Silverio, and Bjorn Bedayo shared their experiences on photography despite having varying genres and styles while a similar uniting factor is present, which is passion in what they do.

Getting a new and fresh perspective on the way things are seen is what Cabauatan shared as a step to define one’s style. Oca’s nightlife photography portrays a ‘moment’ at a quick-paced, jam-packed club or festival yet it gives a “boom” on these photos. Lim’s discussion explained the things about being resourcefulness and learning how to maximize your means partnered with continuous practice.

Moreover, Tan and Silverio’s affinity for Sports photography emphasized “timing” as a crucial part in taking shots while Bedayo and his stunning photographs about fashion created another dimension of a purely different take on stylistic forms and expressions.

It’s easy to call yourself a photographer once you actually own a camera. But what’s more challenging is to be branded as a photographer depending on the quality of photos you produce. It doesn’t just come with a hobby itself. It’s a constant learning process, experience, and good company.

The series of seminars took place on February 21 for web technology; February 28 for writing; March 7 for creatives and March 14 for photography.

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The Rise of Galvanize

“Unang-una, sumasayaw kami kasi masaya kami doon. So, kung ‘di na masaya, parang nawala na yung purpose mo sa sayaw.”

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Photo from Asian Hiphop Philippines Facebook page

Known for their numerous achievements starting off as champions in Step Up 2016, honing gold from UAAP Streetdance Junior Division and down to the most recent performance as a qualifier for the Asian Hip-hop 2020 in Hong Kong—this team still manages to bring home the bacon as it was recollected by Nina Reyes, Liya Escudero, Manuel Ilagan and captain, Jonas Belgica.

Behind every success is a group that started from humble beginnings, which was formed by Mr. Angelo Sicat back in 2016 when the newly added administration and system of Senior High School in UST was established.

Fronted by Coach John, the organization always brings out their best and never forgets their roots. Besides hip-hop, they also have a contemporary division in the team which is led by Coach Dany.

Keeping up with an outstanding record, the team manages to hold up with the demand for new members every year since Senior High School only has 2 academic years. Because of this, graduating Grade 12 members are to be replaced by new ones who still have two years in their hands.

Nevertheless, despite a short exposure they still aspire for one another most especially for new recruits, “Kini-keep pa rin po namin yung bond, parang ayaw namin ma-feel na leftout sila basta as one po kami nagw-work.

Additionally, they practice devotion and praying before every competition which shows how much they value their efforts and how thankful they are with the bond they have. With this connection, they can say that they are unique from other dance organizations because of the values they uphold which strengthens them, “Nilalagay namin sa center si God.

Just like other organizations, they feel that pressure is part of the process of performing most especially how they always manage to win over every competition that they can get their feet and hands on.

“‘Tas laging sinasabi ng coach namin na ang mahalaga is mag-enjoy kayo, na after ng performance wala kayong regrets. So, manalo-matalo, masaya pa rin naman po kami and hindi namin hinahayaan yung pressure na yun mabago yung mindset namin.”, as the members narrate how they deal with expectations from the public. Trust is what makes them serve the best moves in the stage.

When asked how they accommodate their academic responsibilities notwithstanding the countless hours they dedicate to training, they find a way to patch it up by helping each other out. The key to this is by communicating with teammates, “Parehas din ng struggle mo, like, if parehas kayo ng strand makakausap mo siya in a way na magtutulungan kayo for acads and tsaka time management.”

With loads of challenges and trials upon their shoulders, they admitted that there was a time wherein it did cross their minds that they wanted to quit. But then, each of them realized that staying is much more worth it than walking away from the passion that they have for dancing.

As Nina and Liya recalls enthusiastically, “Kasi pag passionate ka po sa ginagawa mo talaga, sometimes, yung physical mo ganyan yung mental mo. Parang ayoko na talaga pero parang you find yourself pa rin doing what you love parang nasa heart mo na talaga eh.”

Manuel even shared how he battled the fear of quitting, “Ipapa-realize talaga sayo ng coach mo kung ano yung purpose mo kung bakit ko ginawa yun kahit mahirap siya. Doon mo mare-realize na it’s for your dreams din, para din sa sarili mo, para sa parents mo, para maging proud sila sayo.

Kung hindi siya masaya, hindi siya sayaw. Kasi, unang-una, sumasayaw kami kasi masaya kami doon. So, kung ‘di na masaya, parang nawala na yung purpose mo sa sayaw,” as Jonas denotes what drives him more amidst the difficult problems he faces as the captain.

With the mention of training, it is understood that it takes a lot of work and practice to master the art of dancing but some still think that it doesn’t fall under the category of sports.

Kasi naging mainstream na yung basketball, yung volleyball ganon. As in yun na yung tinitignan na permanent sport, ganon yung mga tao kasi parang limited lang yung understanding nila to what dancing really is kasi tingin nila gagalaw-galaw lang yun pero hindi nila alam na may certain requirement and certain kind of preparation na kailangan mo gawin para ma-achieve mo yung ganong klaseng mga movements,” they said.

Jonas Belgica, Darlo Emmanuel Ilagan, Lia Resabella Escudero, and Niña Marie Reyes | Christine Annmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb

There has been a stereotype about dancers and competitions because people think that since dancing doesn’t require a person to lift weights and only perform on stage for around 4 minutes, it’s not fully regarded as a sport––which is not right because it also needs training and proper discipline. The same as the amount of hardwork and effort that is put into sports like basketball and other sports. 

They reiterated that educating people about what dancing is all about will greatly change this kind of mindset.

They hope that this would change but are still grateful for the support they receive most especially with the upcoming Season 82 UAAP Streetdance and the 2020 Asian Hip-hop competition this coming May.

Dancing, whatever the genre an individual chooses to exhibit, is both a sport and art that expresses words into graceful and prodigious movements up to any extent the body can procure.

Freedom.

Love.

Fulfillment.

Competence.

For them, these four words resonated the sensation of being a dancer of Galvanize.

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“William,” gleam of a timeless gem

UST Mediartrix breathes new colors to Ron Capinding’s “William,” a rap-musical blending the works of Shakespeare and modern day culture.

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Jacqueline Martinez/TomasinoWeb

Once again proving its shimmer, a buried classic is revived in the present-day consciousness. Combined with an artist’s sentimental attachments engraved with humanity and art, deeper reflectiveness manifests—a process evident in William, an eponymous musical on the works of William Shakespeare. 

Bringing home seven trophies from the 2011 Philstage Gawad Buhay awards, William comes back to the theater scene. Written by Ron Capinding, the rap-musical blends the flavors of the 17th century with modern day culture. 

Directed by Nico Varona, UST Mediartrix breathes new colors to the piece as it presents William from the Philippine Education Theater Association (PETA). To the Thomasian audience, Mediartrix extends a story that emphasizes the importance of appreciation to classical figures and their works like Shakespeare’s.  

Heightening the vibrancy of the play, Jeff Hernandez’s music incites excitement in the audience with its lively beats and catchy lyrics. Using rap as an element of a classical 17th century figure, William bites into the modern audience’s contemporary palette. The exemplary music blends hip-hop, jazz, rap and R&B together, with artists effortlessly executing the transition from spitting rap bars to melodramatic lyrics. 

Sewn with five stories of high school students, William portrays the struggles of studying Shakespeare. The typical student stereotypes were characterized with relatable backgrounds and common denominators with real people: sophisticated Sophia, varsity-cool-guy TJ, studious Estella, student leader Richard, and the timid Erwin—each burdened with personal conflicts. Portrayed by actors who specialized in owning their narratives, their lives meet Shakespeare’s masterpieces as they find themselves in catharsis. 

Jacqueline Martinez/TomasinoWeb

Jacqueline Martinez/TomasinoWeb

Some of Shakeapeare’s works were translated into Filipino, and it brings the audience closer to his literature. It breaks the walls of people who will instantly close the pages after getting bombarded by highfalutin terms. 

The classical treasures like Romeo and Juliet, and The Merchant of Venice unfolded different worlds that still mirror today’s through the sense of humility, forgiveness, and bravery. However, their timeless value to the social fabric is often overlooked. There is an inadequate initiative in immersing with pieces of literature especially from the youth, and that is where William becomes an instrument. It approaches you with rap verses from the monologues of Shakespeare, providing an avenue to understand him in the language of people’s entertainment. 

The musical relates to everyone, especially to students. It is a treat for people who are looking for a productive but fun way to distance from their readings and other academic demands. It fuels the motivation in tackling difficult subjects like Shakespeare, leaving its audience determined to overcome intimidation, and more appreciative of learning. 

Jacqueline Martinez/TomasinoWeb

Comfort zones kill potential, discomfort is enlightening. It is not always tiring to twist and turn entanglements to understand the classics because there are countless ways to feed the minds of those who are hungry for meaning. For instance, there is William that will walk its audience through Shakespeare in a smooth-sailing ship. The playwright, musicians, actors, and entire production poured their heart into building a bridge to stroll alongside Shakespeare, one just have to take their first step.

William is screened in the Albertus Magnus Auditorium, University of Santo Tomas. The last showing will be on Feb. 1, 2020: 11AM, 3PM, and 7PM. Tickets are sold for 150 pesos only, and Mediartrix also offers ticket packages and discounts for those who will watch in groups. For ticket inquiries, contact UST Mediartrix for more information.

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Sila-Sila in its spectrum

Being under the constant waves of change, companionship paves through distances and personal struggles. The movie emphasizes that ‘ghosting’ also happens between friends and rekindling episodes are a challenge.

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Screengrab from Sila-Sila movie trailer

Giancarlo Abrahan’s entry for Cinema One Originals Film Festival Sila-Sila is a groundbreaking film that sprouts a queer narrative molded by queer people. Anchored to the intimate stories of real people, this ghosting film pierces through the lens of post-breakup experiences.

Its lead actors, Gio Gahol and Topper Fabregas had a harmonious rhythm as Gabriel and Jared inside one frame. With Gab being helplessly displaced and Jared as someone who craves settlement, they were in an endless loop of push-and-pull, making every scene burst in different colors of expectations.  

The film revolves around the story of Gab (Gahol), as he tries to reconcile with his friends (Phi Palmos and Dwein Baltazar) and his ex-boyfriend, Jared (Fabregas) after ‘ghosting’ them for almost a year. Fueled by guilt and regret, the old lovers find themselves igniting a fire that once burned the bridges that connected their lives.

Five minutes in and the sensual relationship between Gab and Topper will cuff the audience with its bare exposure of same-sex actualities. These characters played by both theater artists allow the scenes to flourish with remarkable nuance.

The scenarios in the film allow you to peek at realities that manifest through Gab’s life as a person who fails to find his roots being settled in one place. As his portrayal walks you through the story of uncertainties, the progress of the film lets you trace into a deep contemplation whether or not you may be the Gab or Jared in your own story.

Despite having fragments of scenarios that lowers the momentum of the film, it serves as a breath of fresh air as Gab undergoes the phase of vacillation. Gab’s journey of finding a home in people he once felt was is a cycle anyone can relate to. His doubts linger in trust issues and the feeling of not belonging. It soon uncovers that the quest of settling in places, people, and experiences will be unending unless one finds their sense of home.

Phi Palmos and Dwein Baltazar’s characters are spices to the story as they portray a decade-long friendship of overcoming tendencies. Being under the constant waves of change, companionship paves through distances and personal struggles. The movie emphasizes that ‘ghosting’ also happens between friends and rekindling episodes are a challenge.

Sila Sila won the Best Picture Award. Its undeniably well-plated palette satisfies the eye of the audience. A lot of scenes will tickle one’s humor especially if you are used to friendships that blatantly roast each other as a way of showing one’s love language.

Alongside its award-winning cinematography, Sila Sila also received the Audience Choice Award and Best Screenplay by scriptwriter Daniel Saniana. Also, Fabregas was recognized as Best Supporting Actor for his role.

“We’ll always love each other, however it manifests, it’s just always going to be there.”, this line by Jared carves through the hearts of those who had to let go of a person but never the love that they have for them. Gab’s relationship with Jared shows that there is never just one way of loving someone. Every day, with every version of themselves, love prevails. 

Distance can never make things small. It only deceives you from thinking that you’ve escaped your troubles. One way or another, you will find yourself crawling back because time never lets anyone off its claws—Sila-Sila teaches this. Furthermore, sometimes, having no closure is not the closure.

The character of Gab serves as an example that a person will remain trapped in the past unless they find closure from people and from themselves. People are bound to face the naked truth that we need to find our sense of home in this world that is full of broken fragments of imperfect individuals.

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