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Keeping the Thomasian Spirit Alive: UST’s First Virtual Paskuhan

Capping off the first semester of the academic year is not the same without the Paskuhan concert. A night like no other, Thomasians welcomed the 29-year-old tradition in the warmth and comfort of their own homes.



(Photo by Ralph Rainell Estrella/TomasinoWeb)

Capping off the first semester of the academic year is not the same without the Paskuhan concert. A night like no other, Thomasians welcomed the 29-year-old tradition in the warmth and comfort of their own homes.

Instead of the cacophony of noises from thousands upon thousands of Paskuhan attendees, the sound of crickets and rainfall filled the open field as the clock hit 7 on the night of December 18. The bright red, yellow, and blue lights of the Christmas tree stood out in the dark, a sure symbol and testament to how Paskuhan can never be skipped nor forgotten despite these trying times. 

With the UST Tiger TV main hosts Gayle Resubal and Kobe Dayao on-site to lead the event, this year’s Paskuhan virtual concert kicks off with a donation drive for the rehabilitation of the typhoon victims in Albay and an auction for Black Candy cosmetics, even a short recap on the event’s history. First named as Paskong Tomasino, Paskong Pilipino ’91, the original Paskuhan was also done for a cause to help the victims of the Mount Pinatubo explosion and the Ormoc flood. Twenty-nine years later, Paskuhan remains true to the essence of the Christmas spirit, with the two and a half-hour livestream accumulating 9,300 in donations.

Paskuhan continues to be the most-awaited season of the year, with the live stream garnering over 6,000 viewers. Thanks to the UST Educational Technology Center, Thomasians still got to experience Paskuhan and all its glory even just through their phones and laptop screens, perfectly embodying the hashtag, #PaskuhanKahitSaan. The community remained alive and well as festivities reminded us of our home away from home, and how it will always be home no matter the distance or the length of time spent in separation is – after all, that is what Christmas is all about.

Being “extra”, the Paskuhan concert featured a short Minecraft-version of a campus tour created by the UST Minecraft players, showing off all the lights and decorations put up around the university that surely would have been loved ten times over by Thomasians, should they have been able to witness it in real life, just like old times. 

Just like old times, this year’s Paskuhan had a return segment from last year: The Thomasian Choice Awards. The categories included the trends and crowd favorites made during the quarantine period like Best Online Class Platform, Best Workout Instructor, Best Quarantine Film, Best Quarantine Live-action Series, Best Quarantine Album, Best Artist of the Year, Best Korean Drama, Best K-Pop Group, Best Quarantine Trend, and Best TikTok Trend. 

As Paskuhan concerts are known for the lineup of bands and performers that precede the fireworks display, this year featured live footage from the most memorable performances from the previous years. Starting off with last year’s hit performer Magnus Haven, the band once again took over Paskuhan with “Imahe”, followed by the 2017 guest performer Brisom with “Balewala”, Miles Experience in 2016 with “Silakbo”, The Ransom Collective in 2018 with “Run” and “Settled”, Lola Amour in 2019 with “Fools”, Yeng Constantino in 2016 with “Hawak Kamay” and “Ikaw”, Callalily in 2017 with “Stars” and “Magbalik”, Spongecola in 2018 with “Tambay” and “Jeepney”, and of course, the Thomasian crowd favorite Ben&Ben in 2019 with “Araw-Araw” and “Ride Home”.

In between these performances, the winners for the Thomasian Choice Awards were hailed, with Google Meet winning Best Online Class Platform, Chloe Ting for Best Workout Instructor, Enola Holmes for Best Quarantine Film, The Queen’s Gambit for Best Quarantine Live-action Series, Folklore by Taylor Swift for Best Quarantine Album, Taylor Swift for Best Artist of the Year, Start-Up for Best Korean Drama, BTS for Best K-Pop Group, Dalgona Coffee for Best Quarantine Trend, and “Wah! It’s me and my jowa!” for Best TikTok Trend. 

Together with Gayle and Kobe, social media hosts Alysia Petras and AJ Supe man Twitter for the trends, tags, and posts of Paskuhan 2020 attendees, wherein they post questions under the #BakaNamanNgayongPaskuhan hashtag. Devoted Thomasians join in the fun as they tweet cheesy wishes like “sana may plot twist”, while others resort to expressing their gratitude for the community “virtually” coming together. 

Just shortly before 10:00 p.m., the concert ended with “Paskong Tomasino”, a song composed by Kenneth Reodica and Jarl Francisco, and performed by Gab Ayangco, Tweety Alarkon, Tom Targra, Keith Vicencio, Jarl Francisco, and Kenneth Reodica covering the much-awaited fireworks display and echoing every Thomasian sentiment for a chance to celebrate all these fulfilling events together in person once again.

And the song rings true:

Nangingibabaw ang pag-ibig,
Walang tatalo sa Paskong Tomasino.



Are our twenties on hold?



The pandemic has created a huge shift in all working environments. Schools, offices, and other institutions and agencies had to adapt to the new normal in order to continue operations, turning to an online setup despite the number of limitations it presents to its users. In lieu of personal, face-to-face meetings, modern technology redefined the essence of social interaction through its online video call platforms, where people can “gather” and hold classes, meetings, workshops, hangouts, and even parties. As human beings are naturally social creatures; such contraptions of modernity hold utmost significance at a time where being social in real life is discouraged—but at what cost?

As the pandemic drags on, Thomasians continue to feel the brunt of its prolonged stay in their lives. With the quarantine hitting its one-year mark and no definite conclusion yet on sight, virtual life is all they could invest in—an option that stretches these young adults too thin with regards to exploring their youth, starting their careers, and altogether building their future. In this light, Thomasians shared with TomasinoWeb their thoughts and experiences on facing the pandemic in their twenties. 

For Psychology junior Alexa Aurellano, the pandemic peaked her Asian eldest daughter problems. “It’s hard to juggle the online classes as a college student, as a daughter sa bahay, and bilang older sister sa kapatid. The responsibilities are twice as hard unlike before.” 

She dwells on the life she’s missing as the pandemic continues to overstay its welcome. “I believe that twenties should be the age where a person should enjoy his or her life, like live life to the fullest and start establishing yourself pero with the pandemic it’s impossible. As simple as meeting my friends, eh, limited. The things we took for granted pre-pandemic…parang there’re a lot of regrets.”

In the context of changing perspectives for the future, Chemical engineering junior Miyami Tamaki laments the plans that got cancelled as the pandemic forges on. “To be honest, parang dumadalas na ‘yung pag-question ko sa life everyday dahil lang sa sitwasyon ngayon. Feel ko wala na tayo mapatutunguhan at mamamatay na lang tayong lahat. Nakakalungkot kasi ang daming cancelled plans for the upcoming years such as OJTs, gala with friends, family bonding, atyung plan ko na puntahan si Civri [her partner], tapos nawala lang bigla.”

Aurellano shares the same sentiment as she relays how uncertain she is of her future. “I really want to enter med school pero if online class pa rin, nakakawalang-gana kasi mahirap matuto and most likely it’s self-study. We’ll be paying expensive tuition fees tapos ‘di naman sulit. Parang nakakahiya na sa parents mag-demand ng ganun.” 

She goes on to explain how different the employment landscape will be for her and her batchmates in other colleges as well, especially with the upcoming surge of fresh graduates with no actual on-the-job (OJT) experience. “I feel like finding a job once I graduate would be hard knowing na down ang economy and that many businesses are laying off their employees. I also feel like recruiters or human resource officers wouldn’t really hire new employees who graduated online as wala namang OJT experience.”

Some would say being in your twenties is being in your selfish years—a decade meant for investing in yourself and immersing yourself in new surroundings; exploring the world and the options it offers for your future, meeting new people, building and strengthening connections, and taking the first steps toward full-fledged “adulting”. For Thomasians in their twenties, it’s a time for making the most out of the years left in their college lives and all its ups and downs: all-nighters (whether for thesis or parties), spontaneous trips, and drinks out with friends after classes, internships, graduation jitters, and the likes. But with the pandemic robbing them of these essential college experiences, it becomes a race against time. 

Creative Writing major Lance Angelo upon reflecting on how to move forward from this ordeal, says: “Maraming nagbago sa paningin ko para sa kinabukasan ko at sa mga gusto kong gawin pagkatapos mag-aral. Bukod pa dun, sadyang criticism at pagbabago talaga sa mga authority ang kailangan natin para maayos ‘yung kinabukasan natin.

Tolerating hard limits has also become a new normal during the pandemic. With everything going on, Thomasians still have to make room for their academics in the midst of a crisis that surpasses mere health concerns and greatly affects social, political, and economic spheres––such is the concern for Angelo. 

Pagdating sa online class, mahirap siya as a limit, but we have no choice eh, sana lang maging mas maayos ang pag-handle ng schoolworks and requirements, though understandable since we’re new to this, but it’s been a year so at least sana may pagbabago.”

Tamaki has also voiced her concerns about the hard limits she eventually learned to tolerate in her changed curriculum. “Super ibang-iba siya sa face-to-face set up, and ang scary kasi if nag-board exam kami bakadi enough ‘yung gantong learning. Kaya kahit online classes, I make sure na everytime na may synchronous class, dapat lagi ako nakakapag-notes kahit ‘yung mga important details lang para ma-keep track ko if babalikan ko.” 

When it comes to restricted physical interactions and emotional independence, Aurellano expressed how she adjusted her needs to cope with the current situation by becoming more sensitive to how her peers are carrying just as much baggage as she is. “As someone na gusto ng socializing, I have to make do with online catch-ups kahit mahirap kasi I really miss hugging my friends, going to milk tea shops, movie marathons, and overnights. I also have to deal with everything myself, like if I have problems, instead of opening up sa iba mas okay na lang na i-keep ‘yun kasi less hassle and feeling ko nakaka-bother ako ng iba since they’re also dealing with their own problems.”

Family matters have also been a hard limit to grow accustomed to, as not everyone’s respective household environments are conducive for learning. For Tamaki, who is currently working while having online classes to help lessen her family’s financial problems, the prolonged lockdown has put a toll on their family dynamics. “’Pag matagal mo na kasi sila nakakasama na kayo-kayo lang, maraming lumalabas na toxicity. Pero ayun, habang tumatagal naman, we eventually tolerated each other and natuto kami mag-adjust sa isa’t isa.

Nakaka-miss ‘yung feeling bago pa mag-pandemic,” Angelo says as he looks back on the mundane things he used to do that posed no risk as opposed to now. “’Yung simpleng risk of going out ‘di natin alam baka mamaya naapektuhan na tayo, so talagang extra careful dapat.”

With everyone trying to get by amidst a global crisis that has inevitably robbed millions of people of their livelihoods, stability, and future, Angelo remains most vigilant of the people who contribute to this misfortune and calls for others to do the same. “Maraming kamalian ang na-expose dahil sa sitwasyon natin ngayon, sana lang ang tao ay wag na magbulag-bulagan kasi sila rin naman apektado.”

Our twenties is a decade supposedly meant for making mistakes and learning from them, collecting experiences and lessons as we go on to greener pastures. It is a period of our lives that ironically promises both freedom and responsibility as we bask in a time of self-exploration. Under the current circumstances, however, the challenge of living a “fulfilling life” is heightened by such a large, seemingly unmovable hindrance. As everyone grapples with this, young people in their twenties continue to wonder: will they run out of time? 


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How Thomasians view online classes: one semester down, more to go

If there’s one thing virtual learning has showcased, it would be the apparent technological divide among students which is split into two: those who could afford the necessities connected with online learning and those who couldn’t afford it by any means.



(Photo by Deojon Elarco/TomasinoWeb)

The previous semester was proved to be draining and there’s no lie to that. Students were falling behind in many aspects including academic, social relations, and mental health and it’s a massive success to everyone who managed to trudge through the excruciating four months of the semester. Now that it’s almost the beginning of the second semester for the A.Y 2020-2021, some Thomasians shared their insights in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

The effectiveness of online classes has been put to test during the previous semester which has been nerve-wracking due to the sudden shift to online learning leaving students choosing either to carry on with the purpose of not being left out or not enroll and waste their time trying to learn when certain things (intermittent internet connection, technological divide, financial problems, etc.) would only hinder them from learning. 

Creative Writing junior Fatima Clare Castillo, shared in an interview that, “Nothing beats face to face learning. At least then, you have your blockmates [and] friends available beside you if you have to ask questions about lessons or other details they probably understood more than you did.” 

She added that even though it’s easier to attend classes to get perfect attendance, do homework in-between classes, and get back to previous lectures because they’re recorded, it’s not the same situation for everyone else.

Advertising junior Sofia Erin Gancenia said online classes are an “inconvenience” as much as it’s a convenience because even though she doesn’t have to commute to school every day, everything is “new” to her as well as to the professors.  

Communication Arts junior Rebekah Eslao narrated her experience with online classes last semester and how it proved that online learning is an “ineffective” method of teaching, “mostly because of the professors and their ineptness in teaching through online means.”

“Most professors only read their lessons from the PowerPoint slides without properly explaining them. They would give handouts and files to self-learn, as well as activities and projects to do which is not effective learning for the student,” Eslao said. She also shared how the synchronous classes were not maximized by most professors because they prefer to just give activities instead of teaching. Eslao explains that this only prompts students to procrastinate more and focus solely on receiving a passing mark for motivation. 

“Being at home will leave the students torn in dividing their time as a student and as a family member unless they properly schedule it. [During] the last semester, I only looked forward to attending one class and it is because the professor thoroughly explained the lessons and she did not give me multiple things to do. But for the other classes, I did not learn as much as I expected to,” Eslao said.

In terms of online classes leaving barely any boundary between home and academics, Paolo Cyro Feliciano, a Medical Technology sophomore from the College of Pharmacy, shared how students like him, “were expected to work with the same or even heavier workload”. 

Feliciano explains that he “felt like in some situations there was no longer a pause between work, and rest has been taken away”. 

Indeed, virtual classes became an extension of working tirelessly to finish deadlines and submit papers and projects on time, leaving no space for warmth, rest, and comfortthe space occupied by one’s home. 

Feliciano added that the online setup of classes in the previous semester was not as effective as he had hoped for. 

“Being in a medical-related course, laboratory skills are one of my main priorities to learn and even though substitutes, such as online programs and visual aids, were implemented, I still found them insufficient since I was not able to experience the laboratory processes myself,” he said. 

Accountancy sophomore Jerahmeel Perolina said that the new learning setup is “not as effective” as on-site learning, mainly because not everyone has the privilege to buy the necessary devices for the system and have a conducive learning environment at home. 

If there’s one thing virtual learning has showcased, it would be the apparent technological divide among students which is split into two: those who could afford the necessities connected with online learning and those who couldn’t afford it by any means. After all, privilege plays a massive role in exhibiting the disparity among learners, and there would always be students left behind. 

“The learning materials are accessible on Cloud Campus the whole semester, so it’s way more convenient to review them during quizzes and examination weeks. However, the downside of this type of learning is that interactions are lessened,” Perolina said. 

“What makes [online classes] even more difficult is the fact that backtracking is not allowed during quizzes and examinations. Unlike [the] face-to-face setup, we could not skip the difficult items first and proceed to the easier ones,” he added. 

When asked what they would consider being the biggest challenge they have encountered during the online classes, Gancenia said it’s forcing herself to work at home, “My house is not the best place for me to study and do my plates because there are just way too many distractions and noises that you won’t have to hear if [you’re] at school.”

Castillo said it would be the miscommunication with professors, blockmates, and friends, “Unfortunately, the texting language doesn’t apply to everybody. In fact, one wrongly used punctuation mark leads to plenty of heightened emotions that could easily lead to personal issues concerning both parties,” she added. 

Castillo added that another challenge would be the strength to be patient and compassionate with every person she talks to, considering that they don’t have the same experience or privilege behind the screen. 

Eslao stressed time management and motivation, “It has also been mentally exhausting because of the lack of social interaction, and the constant environment and routine,” she said. 

Feliciano, on the other hand, said it’s “the constant need to quickly cope with every scenario we are put in.” He also explained that even though this was already expected of them even before the pandemic wreaked havoc in the world, the semester of online learning felt even heavier. 

Perolina stressed that the biggest challenge would be the intermittent internet connection which was what the majority of the students considered a hindrance to the online classes, “At times, the UST Cloud Campus would experience technical difficulties,” he stated. 

Truth be told, there have been instances the UST Cloud Campus rendered students speechless when, during the crucial hours of their classeswhether they be listening to a lecture or answering an examination after days-long preparationit decided to turn blue, which left students feeling gray.

With the upcoming semester, Gancenia says, “I’m expecting a better performance from myself and from my professors as well since we already know how online classes work.”

Castillo says she’s expecting that it’s going to be more difficult because their thesis is coming up. “As someone who’s striving to become better in Creative Writing, I have to read and research before putting thoughts into carefully arranged words. Most likely, there has to be more patience due to various exchanging of works to critique each other. Hopefully, no one gets left behind,” she added. 

Eslao expects professors to do an “excellent” job in teaching students. “I am hoping that the University will give the students an education that is worth the money spent even if it is only done online.”

Feliciano aired the same sentiments, stating how he hopes for “more assurance” when it comes to the implementation of the directive concerning online classes, “Since no one expected the past semester to be in this setup, I feel like most people were still unsure of how to approach it. This is why hopefully with the feedback from instructors and students, the system will be improved and will focus more on the welfare of the students,” he explained, further emphasizing that “not many changes can be done without support from the country’s education department.”

Perolina expects the next semester would be the same as the previous one. “I could not say that we are fully getting used to this learning setup. Surely, students would still have to adjust to this system,” he added.

With the previous semester proven to be exhausting, the continuation of the academic year would result in students finding a myriad of ways where they could find solace in or different strategies of which they can cope with the seemingly fast-paced learning environment.

Gancenia says she would do what she always does. “I don’t force myself to work when I am not mentally and emotionally okay. I take a break and come back once I’m ready again. Also, good time management helps me a lot so I won’t let my academics take over me and I’d still have time for other things I want to do.”

Castillo shared that her ways of coping involve binge-watching series, reading books, and taking care of her pets. “Take a few minutes off from being online to self-meditate with breathing exercises and list down small goals to accomplish so it doesn’t overwhelm me. It’s therapeutic to find other hobbies outside your course as temporary distractions like playing the Kalimba or drawing comic strips.”

“This semester, I will prioritize health––eat the right time, get enough sleep, exercise my body, and take care of my mental health,” Eslao stated.

Feliciano said he plans to focus on knowing when to rest. “I feel like last semester, there was somehow a pressure to always be productive. This has led to the feeling of burning out and made me focus more on finishing the tasks and lessons rather than aiming to gain something from them. Taking breaks shouldn’t make me feel bad as they were assigned to us to step away from our work and rekindle our minds.”

Keeping yourself afloat boils down to finding what would fit one’s standard of dealing with difficulties and what would help them get by every day. Deciding which coping mechanism would be beneficial to one’s self is commendable enough, especially in these trying times when one’s mind can be clouded and overwhelmed with thoughts. 

There might be ways virtual learning can be proved as a conducive learning environment, but not this time. Not when students are left feeling “burned out” and pushed to be “more productive”. Not when their only motivation for attending classes is compliance. Not when professors aren’t technologically equipped for this foreign virtual learning. Especially not when students deem online learning contrary to what learning should be like. 

The last semester not only tested Thomasians’ strength but also their patience. In crucial times like this, compromising could only go to a certain extent but anyone subjected to this online class setup would be exhausted in the long run, as proven by several Thomasians on their stand to online learning. Despite issues, students are still trying their best to cope with this tiring setup by taking breaks and adapting, one step at a time. 


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‘Malaya Ba Si Ligaya?’: Unpacking the symptoms of social inequality

Last March 1-5, 2021, the UST Central Student Council (UST CSC) introduced a week-long campaign, Malaya Ba Si Ligaya?, in commemoration of the International Day of Violence Against Women (VAW) and this year’s Women’s Month.



Photo courtesy of the UST Central Student Council

“I inspire and want to have a future na wala nang babae ang magdurusa dahil sa kasarian niya. Karapatan niyang maging malaya dahil kung hindi, hindi rin malaya ang lipunan,” Marianne Manalo states in an online interview with TomasinoWeb.

As children, we were often told horrifying stories about violence as a cautionary tale. However, growing up in an inherently patriarchal society, those that were once cautionary tales are now a topic of conversation that accounts for the larger issues of gender-based violence. Violence Against Women (VAW) is an issue characterized by silence—silence from the victims and silence from perpetuators. It knows no social, economic, or cultural boundaries and it is a symptom of deep-seated discrimination and inequality that perseveres as one of society’s greater issues that is more often than not overlooked.

Last March 1-5, 2021, the UST Central Student Council (UST CSC) introduced a week-long campaign, Malaya Ba Si Ligaya?, in commemoration of the International Day of Violence Against Women (VAW) and this year’s Women’s Month. The campaign was headed by Director of Campaigns Marianne Manalo and Marinell Peralta of UST Central Student Council (CSC), Judy Borja of UST Hiraya, Julia Isidro of Teatro Tomasino, Jan Ivan Gordola of Artistang Artlets, and Archie Pangilinan of Mediartrix.

A portrait of a woman in chains

Ligaya, the main subject of the campaign, is representative of all women suffering from violence.

“I want to use this project as a safe space for everyone to talk about what others refuse to talk about,” Manalo shares. “The subject of gender equality, violence, and human rights should not be a taboo or a restriction to openly discuss and educate others on what women are unceasingly facing.”

It should go without saying that on the topic of this subject, there exists a substantial societal resistance that hinders confrontation and resolution to these realities. Ligaya, however, sought to reach out to the audience by exploring these jarring realities of inequality and violence.

The name Ligaya, according to Manalo, is a nod to Ang Huling El Bimbo: The Musical, since the story paralleled their vision for the campaign, “As a language major, we tackled the origin and history of languages, and for sure, you would expect historical contexts behind these words. The story of Ligaya—actually si Joy ‘yun kasi anak niya si Ligaya, similar to what was presented in Ang Huling El Bimbo.”

Since discussions on media representations of violence and abuse have become more nuanced as of late, there has been growing criticism of such media—that it is subject to misinterpretation and may ultimately discredit actual experiences of victims and survivors. Manalo addresses this issue, that Ligaya is in no way an accurate representation of those who have suffered abuse and oppression, “Ligaya may be just one of those who struggled or a collective representation, but I would not want to limit her identity because I am the author of this title.”

Not just a campaign

Many people refer to the media for information regarding difficult social issues and it is the intention of Malaya Ba Si Ligaya? to present a more progressive portrayal of various issues not just on the subject of violence against women but as well as the conditions that constrain victims from living safer lives. “I specifically want to shed light to students and also marginalized women, because both are having difficulty in reaching out for help, for their voices to be heard, and to be represented. ‘Pag mahirap ka, saan ka aabot ng tulong kung wala kang pera?”

Just like art in general, Malaya Ba Si Ligaya? depends largely on how the audience perceives it and what they will make of it. Manalo has hopes that the campaign succeeded in unnerving the audience, “Bilang isang alagad ng sining, lagi naming sinasabi na ‘the arts should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed,’” as well as inspiring them to become progressive in their pursuits, “The audience has the power to educate and mobilize others in building the same platform we started. Kailangan ‘pag nanood ka, dapat sa susunod na makakita, makaranas, o makarinig ka ng nanghihingi ng tulong, kailangan kumilos ka.”

The widespread online sharing of cause-related campaigns has prompted a surge in slacktivism and performative activism, to which Manalo says, “It is unacceptable to deny this social responsibility because I never intended or wanted this event to be performative. Gano’n ako ka-seryoso sa event na ‘to. Maraming kababaihan ang kailangan ng tulong at hindi matitigil ang paulit-ulit na abuso kung hindi magsisimula sa atin ang hakbang para matapos ‘to.

Because most of the aspects in society are determined by social and political structures, even art in itself is inherently political—it challenges the existing order of things, the status quo. “Dapat pagkatapos nito, binubuhat mo yung tungkulin na imulat ang iba dahil kasalanan na ang pumikit ulit.”

However, the process of bringing Malaya Ba Si Ligaya? into reality was not without its difficulties. The project took five months of preparation, and Manalo shares that the script debriefing was especially rigorous, but with the help of her directors, it was a success. “Let’s face it, hindi biro ‘yung topic, mabigat siya. We placed disclaimers and trigger warnings because I’m not going to filter anything.”

As a woman, the heavy themes of the campaign overwhelmed even Manalo, the project head herself, “Dagdag na rin sa akin na babae ako, na maaring mapunta din ako sa sitwasyon na pinagdadaanan ng mga kapwa kong mga babae, napaka-hirap i-digest ‘yung gravity ng event.” 

However, that didn’t set her back in leading the production of Malaya Ba Si Ligaya?, “Di ako babae lang, babae ako. That’s what I thought.

The shadow pandemic of violence and abuse

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In the context of the ongoing pandemic, violence, especially in vulnerable sectors has become more aggravated. Women are more prone to experience different forms of VAW inside their homes and the strain of compromised health and security conditions adds to this burden––incapacitating certain victims from getting the help they need.

“Just because we cannot see it, does not mean it is not happening,” Manalo says. 

One of the most alarming facts about VAW is that more often than not, the perpetrator is closely related to the victim and when we blatantly disregard these facts, we endanger their lives by denying them safety. “Paano na ‘tong pandemya? Totoong nangyayari ‘yung abuso sa loob ng bahay at sobrang nakakatakot kasi wala tayong kontrol do’n dahil limitado yung kakayahan nila na manghingi ng tulong. Saan sila tatakbo o pupunta kung ‘yung mismong perpetrator nasa loob ng bahay?”

Manalo also acknowledges that there are insufficient laws that serve to protect victims and survivors alike. Additionally, the pandemic continues to compound these already-in-existence issues, and one of the most insidious repercussions that come at the cost of this health crisis is the increase in domestic violence. “In the situation in the Philippines, violence against women is more amplified than before,” Manalo remarks.

Ending campus violence

Sa totoo lang, nakakapagod na nagiging branding na “dahil Catholic institution tayo,” kaya kahit kaming student leaders, nalilimitahan gumalaw para maipahayag ang aming adbokasya,” Manalo says.

Malaya Ba Si Ligaya?, as a work of art, is a tip-off to the Thomasian community for all the injustices occurring within and outside the institution. “Kailangan gisingin ang mga Tomasino at lalo na rin ang taong bayan dahil tungkulin ng sining na lumikha ng obra na inilalarawan ang dumi at kapangitan ng lipunan. Hindi perpekto ang mundo at mahirap mabuhay sa lipunan na pabayang tinatanggap ang kamalian ng paggalaw na ‘to, pero ‘di lang dapat tayo nanonood lang.”

Despite the subdued conversation on gender-based inequalities in a traditional institution, it goes without saying that the university itself is not restricted to these incidents. Thus, the question persists: why isn’t tackling inequalities and violence openly and thoughtfully encouraged in order to address the larger problem that is on-campus gender-based violence?

Manalo addresses the evaded conversation on the injustices happening within the university: “It is evident that there are still on-going and increasing cases of gender-based violence in the university,” recognizing these, the story of Ligaya intends to rouse the student body to reclaim safe spaces, especially for women. She also adds that fellow student leaders should time and again inform students about the grievance system in the event that cases related to violence might occur.

“We want to make sure that the students entrust us that we promote safe spaces and inclusivity in the four walls we reside in. We all share the small struggle,”  Because the university is a micro system within the larger context of society, all issues occurring within campus should not be undermined. “I am certain, with all my strength, that collective action with, and for the students is the most powerful tool in eradicating these injustices to women,” Manalo notes.

Paano natin maabot ang hangarin natin kung tayo-tayo lang makakaintindi nito? That’s why as a Thomasian, who is taught to respect the human person regardless of race, gender, religion, and class status, and who strictly condemns violence, I want the story and the voices of others to reach out to those who need to hear it,” Accordingly, this was one of the ambitions of Malaya Ba Si Ligaya?: to be able to amplify the voices of those who suffer, regardless of the oppressive institutions that deliberately hamper the victims to be heard. 

“We will, and will always, stand with them,” Manalo states, “The end of perpetuating this form of violence, starts with us.”

Combating violence starts with creating a culture that takes inequality and injustice seriously, not one that glosses over these realities. Although institutions pose larger barriers in allowing these to happen, as long as it is in existence, we cannot afford to be tolerant—not when these inequalities interact to reinforce larger edifices of oppression. Being a woman, while sometimes exhausting, is one of the most powerful things we can be, especially in a world that is inherently patriarchal.


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