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SHS music org is reigning champion in 2017 Musikapella

Selah also bagged four other awards in this year’s Musikapella.

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Aside from the championship, Selah bagged four other awards. Photo courtesy of Musikapella, grabbed from Selah’s Facebook page.

With enchanting voices that mesmerized crowds, UST Senior High School’s Selah brought home the championship crown in this year’s Musikapella last Saturday, Nov. 25 at the AFP Theatre.

With the theme, “A Tribute to Paskong Pilipino,” Selah serenaded the people with Simbang Gabi as part of their contest piece, along with their choice piece, Kampana ng Simbahan.

Aside from the championship, Selah bagged four other awards: The People’s Choice Award, Sulyap ng Musika 2017 Winner, Best Interpretation of Choice Piece, and Best Interpretation of Contest Piece.

Triumph would not come without sacrifice: Balancing academics along with long excruciating hours of chorale training with their new choirmaster, Mark Raeniel Agpasa, Selah proved that no matter what hurdles they face, they will come emerge victorious.

President Veronica Therese Rivera narrated their journey in an exclusive online interview with TomasinoWeb.

“As an organization, Selah felt that there were unsaid expectations to excel, to make a name for UST Senior High School, since this was the first ever inter-school competition joined by UST SHS Selah,” Rivera said.

The group felt the need to step up as two other UST SHS organizations, dance troupe Galvanize and performing arts group Singtala, have already made a name in their respective fields.

But all in all, while winning was an ideal goal, Rivera stated that Selah wanted to do their best in the competition and perform their hearts out, even if that meant winning merely one award that night, as they valued the solidarity and community that Selah had brought with them.

Selah’s new choirmaster was overwhelmed with the support the Thomasian community gave them.

“Having that much likes and shares in social media sends a strong message — that people believe in Selah, that there are literally thousands of people who are part of Selah,” Agpasa said.

Musikapella is an annual choir competition and fundraising event for the University of the Philippines Economics Society Scholarship Fund.

Watch Selah’s winning performance below:

by Mykel Alen Tan

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United against one storm

Last September 17, the Lumad people visited the University to establish bakwit schools. The Lumads went all the way to Manila to assert their right to self-determination, to their ancestral lands, and to an education that is national, scientific, and mass-oriented.

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Photo by Gillian Robles.

Filipinos are always featured as being resilient. Amidst life challenges, we always find a way to cope. When facing a big storm, we always find the strength to look at a brighter side even when things are being torn asunder.

But resilience is not just a matter of adjusting to problems that we know are systemic; it is being able to be united against one common enemy in times of great crises, holding hand-in-hand to achieve great changes.

protesting lumads

Photo by Jude Angelo Camot

Last September 17, the Lumad people visited the University to establish bakwit schools. The Lumads went all the way to Manila to assert their right to self-determination, to their ancestral lands, and to an education that is national, scientific, and mass-oriented.

Their ‘Lakbayan’ is a form of protest, a quest of finding solace, a preparation for posterity, and an echo of their cries as a people who were forced to leave their ancestral lands and peaceful lives in the countryside because of intimidation, human rights violations, seizure and encroachment of their lands, and militarization due to Martial Law in Mindanao.

;umads protesting under the rain

Photo by Jude Angelo Camot

They were greeted on a Monday, with the resentful afternoon sky, and in turn, the Lumads and the Thomasians’ thunderous chants rumbled the whole University as they enter the centuries-old Arch of the Centuries. Despite the heavy downpour that covered the supposedly orange skies, their banners waved their calls for justice and their placards shouted for the upholding of rights.

Libro, hindi bala! Edukasyon, hindi giyera!”
Thomasians and the Lumads shouted in unison as they enter the Arch. The sky soon gave off its tearful confirmation making everyone shout, “Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

Throughout the program, it rained–of messages of solidarity, of hidden cries behind strong facial expressions, of grudges far beneath.

lumads creating a person, shot scene

Photo by Rohm Rizzel Bautista

It was still raining when Lumad students stood up to perform a cultural presentation reliving their grim experiences in the grassroots and depicting the death of Obello Bay-ao, a bakwit student, a friend, who one year ago was killed while harvesting his cornfield, who until now hasn’t yet got the taste of justice, along with hundreds more victims of arbitrary killings.

lumad lying down

Photo by Rohm Rizzel Bautista

Their faces wore fear, lingering pain, and sorrow–fresh from the memories that continues to wound them as people.

“Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

It rained throughout the Lumad integration when students visited the Central Seminary Gym to hear their stories and experiences. Meanwhile, Ompong unleashed its wrath. Crops were put to waste; the blood and sweat of the farmers were left in vain. Classes were suspended.

“Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

When another victim of Oplan Tokhang was left in the streets with blood gushing through his temples, it rained. Another arbitrary arrest of an innocent child due to Oplan Tambay happened while raining. It rained when a teacher who volunteered to extend the reaches of education to the grassroots was red-tagged and received various trumped-up charges for simply trying to help. It rained as the workers of NutriAsia were violently dispersed for standing up for their rights.

“Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

protesting lumads entering arch of the centuries

Photo by Jude Angelo Camot

It was on a Monday afternoon when they had to go. Throughout the week, they taught the Thomasians to manifest their Thomasian value of Compassion through showing the value of integration with the basic masses. It rained when Thomasians joined the Lumads as they rallied around the campus back to the Arch and called for an end to Martial Law and militarization in Mindanao, and a respect for their culture, rights, and ancestral lands.

“Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

Despite all the mishaps that their people had experienced, their unity as a tribe and our support continued to solidify their hope for a much brighter future ahead.

Ang Martial Law sa Mindanao ay parang bagyo na hindi matigilan, at gaya natin [sa harap ng malakas na pag-ulan] nagkakaisa tayo,” said Manilyn Gantangan, Grade 10 student from CTCSM Lumad school. She told Thomasians to open their eyes and hearts to what’s really happening in our society and encouraged the students to join their fight as the key to success is holding hand-in-hand amidst the ongoing storm.

There really is a great significance in the phrase, “Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!” and if there is one thing to learn about the plight of the Lumads, it is this: Whenever misfortune comes and however big it seemed for us to handle, it is nothing in the face of a thousand arms stretched, holding one another–united against one storm.

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The sounds that sang hope

Indeed, music is a language that everybody understands; it connects the most confused minds to create the most articulate message. And while music is but a phantasm, a sea whose depth is only accessible to the bold, it continues to live and comfort as there are still wind that blows to brass, beats on a familiar percussion, and hands that tickle the most dauntless of strings–singing the songs that remind us of hope.

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orchestra flutes and violinists
Photo by Gillan Robles/TomasinoWeb.

The first gasps of September air greeted the crowd with gentle raindrops as they bid the last days of August farewell—marking evenfall as the sun lay repose on the western horizon. Church bells rang their solemn chants as they left the Thomasian community frozen, locked in an intimate, sobersided posture—closing the day with faith on their hands and hope in their hearts.

As dusk fell, people began to fill the decades-old Santisimo Rosario Parish—with its gallant art deco speaking of modesty and elegance as she showcase her age-old beauty poised by a touch of modernism—with longing and drive to hear this year’s Ugnayan sa Tugtugan, with UST Symphony Orchestra (USTSO) in collaboration with the prominent ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra (ABSCBNPO).

Whispers of excitement were cut in mid-air as the revered Philippine National Anthem was played, formally starting the program as it reignited the hearts of the audience. The crowd beat their clenched fists on their chests as they harmoniously sang the UST Hymn filling the chapel with echoes of the Thomasian Spirit.

orchestra conductor in play

Photo by Gillan Robles/TomasinoWeb.

Adding more fire to the flame of the hundreds of burning hearts of the audience was a powerful rendition of Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80, conducted by Maestro Gerard Salonga of ABSCBNPO, which exhibited a part of Brahms’ strong emotional feeling, his deeply expressive manner, and exposed his fondness for Classicism. After the majestic performance, the crowd gladly gave back its thunderous applause.

Suddenly, Denise See, alumna of UST Conservatory of Music, took the piano seat and serenaded the audience with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18: I. Moderato, together with Maestro Gerard Salonga as the conductor. The pianist’s playful hands weaved the Russian Romantic back to life together with his precision, clarity, and his ability to articulate the abstract and discern enigmatic movements through his profound rhythmic structures. The crowd began to feel the unsolicited emotional baggage of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto that melted the hardest of hearts.

When asked regarding the significance of the event, UST Conservatory of Music student Cloi Sugano shared to TomasinoWeb, “[sa event na ito] ipinakita natin na in everything that a musician [does], yung pine-perform namin, talagang andoon yung puso, andoon yung determination para mabuo yung isang production na ganito kaganda.”

She even recollected how music helped her in her studies and how fellow musicians became a symbol of inspiration, a force that continues to drive her to push further. “Nakaka-uplift ng boost para mag-aral, [to] improve yung craft mo as an artist, parang to aim always for excellence,” she added.

orchestra cello player and violinist playing music

Photo by Robert Garcia/TomasinoWeb.

Meanwhile, Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco Overture, as conducted by Maestro Herminigildo Ranera of USTSO, opened the second part of the program. Italian opera and its dramatic expression filled the room, wiping the audience’s tears after a session of Rachmaninoff’s–replacing it with fancy, iconic flashes of Nebuchadnezzar II and the plight of the Jews.

Students from different universities also marveled with awe as Thomasians showcased their talents. After watching a live performance of Verdi’s Nabucco Overture, Music Production student of University of Makati Vhon Ehmil Solito shared how he felt.

Natuwa ako doon sa [Nabucco] Overture kasi ‘yon yung isa sa mga pina-practice ko ngayon, tapos ganito pala.. ang galing,” said Solito. He then shared how he was inspired by the piece and how we should value music amidst today’s crises. “Nakaka-inspire siya lalo na ngayon na marami nang kabataan yung nalululong [sa droga], tapos nakakatuwa na napanatili natin yung culture natin [as] Philippine musicians [na may pagpapahalaga sa musika].”

Bea Solina, a student of UST Conservatory of Music, also aired out her thoughts regarding the event. “Isang malaking achievement siya sa Conservatory of Music kasi minsan lang kami magkaroon ng event na maso-showcase yung talent[s] ng college namin,” said Solina. “Kasama pa yung ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. Sa career nung mga kasali sa [UST Symphony] Ochestra, malaking bagay ‘yon [para] sa [future] nila.”

orchestra singers singing

Photo by Gillan Robles/TomasinoWeb.

Various opera pieces from Donizetti (“Una Furtiva Lagrima” from L’Elisir d’Amore), Mozart (“Ach ich fühls” from Die Zauberflöte), and Puccini (“O Soave Fanciulla” from La Boheme) then followed, all conducted by Maestro Herminigildo Ranera and performed by Tenor Francisco de Guzman Jr. and Soprano Nerissa de Juan.

Maestro Salonga once again took the baton to lead the orchestra for the last time with Manuel De Falla’s Final Dance (Jota) from El Sombrero De Tres Picos, bidding the people a frisky adiós.

Behind every successful event is a rigorous preparation. But according to UST Symphony Orchestra President Ram Sajota, all that happened that night was but a mere accident fulfilled by destiny’s nod.

Itong production na ito, it was accidental,” shared Sajota to TomasinoWeb. “We initially planned na tumugtog sa [Buenaventura Garcia Paredes O.P. Building] (BGPOP).. then ayaw pumayag ng BGPOP so nagpunta kami [sa] Albertus Magnus, ngayon [doon], inisip namin how to fit 140 members of orchestra.”

He then recalled how, with the Conservatory of Music Dean Antonio Africa and USTSO Maestro Herminigildo Ranera, they opted to seek out the help of Rev. Fr. Louie Coronel, the parish priest, and their request to perform at the Santisimo Rosario Parish was granted, making the event possible.

Ugnayan sa Tugtugan not only meant to showcase Thomasians’ excellence in music but also to create a partnership that will give birth to a night filled with wonder. “It’s not just to perform, it’s a culminating activity of the coaching sessions, Sajota recollected. “Bukod sa pag-showcase, educational din siya kasi tinrain ng [ABSCBNPO] members yung [UST Symphony] Orchestra kaya merong ‘Ugnayan’ sa Tugtugan,” Sajota added.

orchestra violinist smiling

Photo by Robert Garcia/TomasinoWeb.

Indeed, music is a language that everybody understands; it connects the most confused minds to create the most articulate message. And while music is but a phantasm, a sea whose depth is only accessible to the bold, it continues to live and comfort as there are still wind that blows to brass, beats on a familiar percussion, and hands that tickle the most dauntless of strings–singing the songs that remind us of hope.

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Ang ilaw sa gilid ng kalsada

Isang ngiti ang palaging suot ni Nanay Govelyn, handang harapin ang mga tao na bibili sa kaniyang munting tindahan. Simpleng manamit, madalas ay nakatawa, maalaga sa kaniyang mamimili si Nanay Govelyn.

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tindahan ni nanay govelyn
Kuha ni Dainish Santos/TomasinoWeb.

​Iba’t ibang paninda ang makikita sa bawat sulok ng Unibersidad.

Mapadpad ka man sa kalye ng España, Lacson, P. Noval, o Dapitan, tiyak na may makikitang iba-ibang taong naghahanap-buhay. Mula sa maliliit na puwesto hanggang sa mga naglalakihang fast food chains, sari-saring nga paninda ang bubusog sa iyong mata, at siyempre sa tiyan. Sa pagdaan ng araw-araw na sila’y ating nakakasalamuha, hindi madaling makikita ang mga mapait na kuwento sa likod ng mga ngiti ng mga tindero’t tindera.

​Tingin sa kaliwa, tingin sa kanan. Mga kotseng nagmamadaling makaalis, mga tricycle na nagsasakay ng mga pasahero. Sa isang sulok ng kalsadang napupuno ng tao at usok, madadaanan mo ang mga nakabitin o mga nakalatag na kanilang mga paninda; mula sa panali sa buhok, junk food, panyo, at maging sapatos, halos lahat ng pangangailangan mo, mapupunan dito.

Gutom? Naiinitan? Naiwanan ang payong habang umuulan? Sa kanto kung saan nagtagpo ang España at ang M.F. Jhocson, matatagpuan ​ang puwesto ng 34-anyos na si Nanay Govelyndala-dala ang sagot sa inyong mga problema. Tinapay, payong, at panali ng buhok gaya na lamang ng sanrio at mga headband—iilan lamang ang mga ito sa mga paninda niya.  

Isang ngiti ang palaging suot ni Nanay Govelyn, handang harapin ang mga tao na bibili sa kaniyang munting tindahan. Simpleng manamit, madalas ay nakatawa, maalaga sa kaniyang mamimili si Nanay Govelyn.

Isang simpleng maybahay si Nanay at mayroong siyang dalawang anak – parehong babae na kasalukuyang nag-aaral. Katuwang ang kaniyang asawa, binubuhay ni Nanay Govelyn ang kanyang mga anak sa pagtitinda.

mga paninda ni nanay govelyn

Kuha ni Dainish Santos/TomasinoWeb.

Nang tinanong ng TomasinoWeb kung paano nila nasusustentuhan ang kanilang pangangailangan, “ito, yung asawa ko, nagta-tricycle,” itinuro ni Nanay Govelyn ang 31-na-anyos na si Manong Erchie, “ako naman, nagve-vendor,” wika niya. “Kaya naman namin, onting tiis lang, ganon. Tiyaga talaga.”

Mula sa walang humpay na pagbuh​os ng ulan hanggang sa matinding sikat ng araw, hindi kailanman inisip ni Nanay Govelyn ang tumigil. Sa hirap ng buhay, tanging ang walang tigil na pagbabanat ng buto ang sagot sa kumakalam na sikmura.

Ngunit hindi lamang sa ulan, baha, at hirap ng buhay natatapos lahat ng problema ni Nanay Govelyn. Ayon sa kaniya, siya raw ay kalimitang nahuhuli ng Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, o mas kilala bilang MMDA. Hindi man sila sinasaktan ng mga ito, kinukumpiska naman ang kaniyang mga paninda at dinadala siya sa Manila City Hall. “Pupunta kami kay mayor, dun kami makikiusap,” pag-alala niya.

Gaano man kahirap ang kaniyang nararanasan, tinitiis niya ito para sa kaniyang mga anak. Bilang ina, masakit sa kaniyang kalooban na makita silang nahihirapan, nagugutom, at nasasaktan. Kaya naman gagawin niya ang lahat para lamang tunay siyang makapagbigay ng ilaw sa kanilang munting tahanan.

Si Key Althea, ang kanyang panganay, ay nasa ika-9 na baitang. Ibinida ni Nanay Govelyn ang taglay na husay ni Key sa Agham at Matematika, samantalang ang bunsong anak naman niya na si Kate Aleah ay nasa daycare pa lamang.

Katulad ng lahat, si Nanay Govelyn ay isang tao rin na may mga pangarap sa buhay, dahil minsan na niyang pinangarap ang maging guro.

imahe ni nanay govelyn

Kuha ni Dainish Santos/TomasinoWeb.

Teacher po talaga ako, kaso ‘di ko napagpatuloy,” wika niya, “isang taon nalang dapat po [para makagraduate ako].” Bali-baliktarin man ang mundo, sa kabila ng kanyang dinanas, hindi pa rin nagbabago ang kaniyang pangarap.

Ngunit, sa kabila ng pag-iba ng agos ng tadhana, masaya si Nanay Govelyn dahil sa kaniyang pagiging isang street vendor, may mga tao siyang nakilala na tumatak ang kabaitan sa kanya.

“Taga-The One siya, kape lang [lagi ang] binibili niya, anim na piraso tapos hindi na niya kinukuha yung [sukli],” kuwento ni Nanay Govelyn. “Siyempre, nakakahiya.” Sinusubukan daw niyang ibalik ang sukli ngunit hindi na raw ito tinatanggap. “Siyempre, naaalala mo, lagi-lagi talaga siyang bumibili sa akin.”

Ang panandaliang engkwentrong ito ay habang buhay tatatak kay Nanay Govelyn. Ang maliit na pagkawang-gawa, ay nagsilbing inspirasyon kay Nanay Govelyn na kahit papaano, hindi siya nag-iisa sa mga hamon ng mundo.

​“Kapit lang,” wika ni Nanay Govelyn para sa kanyang mga anak nang may ngiti. “Kapag may pagsubok na dumating sa buhay, kakayanin natin ‘to.” Bakas sa kaniyang mga mata ang pag-asa at makikita sa kanyang napakagandang ngiti ang paniniwalang malalagpasan rin nila, bilang isang pamilya, ang mga problemang kanilang kinakaharap.

​Ang lahat ng mga magulang ay may pamana sa kanilang mga anak, maaaring ito’y materyal na bagay, sikreto, tradisyon–kung ano man ang sa tingin nila ang pinakamaipagmamalaki ng kanilang mga anak. Para kay Nanay Govelyn, edukasyon lang ang kaya niyang ipamana sa kanyang mga anak. “Ay, wala akong ibang maipapamana sa mga anak ko, kundi yung patapusin ko sila sa pag-aaral,” paliwanag ni Nanay, “kasi ayokong matulad sila sa akin na ganito.”

Bilang isang inang araw-araw na nagsasakripisyo simula nang tayo’y ipinagbuntis, ang gusto lamang niya ay makitang maginhawa ang buhay ng kanyang mga anak. Hindi naghihirap, hindi napaparusahan ng mundo para sa mga kasalanang hindi naman sila ang gumawa. “Syempre, yung hirap na naranasan namin, ayaw namin na iparanas namin sa mga anak namin,” wika niya.

taong bumibili sa tindahan ni nanay govelyn

Kuha ni Dainish Santos/TomasinoWeb.

​Walang pamilyang perpekto. Ito ang katotohanang kailangan nating tanggapin. Maraming pagkukulang, problemang hindi kayang ayusin, at pangangailangang hindi kayang punan. Ang haligi ng tahanan? Paulit-ulit na nagkakamali. Ang ilaw ng tahanan? Mayroong nasasabing hindi kaaya-aya. Ang mga anak? Madalas na binabalewala ang paghihirap ng kanilang mga magulang. Ito ang katotohanan – ngunit hindi ito nangangahulugang wala nang pag-asa; na hanggang dun na lamang.

“Kaya kayong pag-aralin ng magulang niyo, huwag niyo na sayangin. Kasi ‘pag wala kang pera, ‘di ka makakapag-aral. Sana mag-aral kayo ng mabuti, kasi nagsisipag ang mga magulang niyo para sa inyo.” Isang paalala galing sa isang ina, na umaraw man o umulan, tirik man ang araw o hindi, gagawin niya ang lahat, lahat para lamang mailigtas ang kanyang mga anak sa isang kapalarang maaaring hindi nila gugustuhin. Ito ang isang ina.

Kahit paulit-ulit na nagkakamali at paulit-ulit na naghihirap, sinusubukan pa rin ng ating mga magulang na itama ang ating pagkakamali, punan ang ating mga pangangailangan, at maiahon ang pamilya sa kahirapan – dahil ang nais lamang nila ay magkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang mga anak.

Sa mata ng isang ina, ayos lang na sila’y mahirapan, basta ang kanilang anak ay mabuhay ng may maayos na hinaharap at matayog na pangarap. Joellene Landingin, Therese Tura

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