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The battle for truth

“Journalism’s loyalty is to the people — to the poor, to the marginalized, to the oppressed and to the suppressed rather than those who are comfortable and those who have power,” National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Director Raymond Villanueva said.

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Photo grabbed from The Bedan's Twitter account (@TheBedan).

The Philippines is now under an information war as fake news and disinformation dominate the internet — increasing confusion within the people and further dividing the nation.

In the battle for the truth, The Bedan, San Beda University’s College of Arts and Sciences’ official publication hosted last Wednesday the seminar titled “Aletheia: The Role of Responsible Journalism in the Age of Online Media” which aimed to equip young journalists in combating online disinformation and champion truth in their profession.

Rowena Paraan, head of ABS-CBN’s citizen journalism arm Bayan Mo Ipatrol Mo, foregrounded the seminar by discussing important social issues and the role of journalists in bringing these issues to light, specifically how journalists had a responsibility to uphold truth in their reporting and oppose the spread of disinformation.

“Facebook’s algorithms are a problem,” she said, “the youth are particularly vulnerable to the spread of disinformation on social media.”

These algorithms create so-called “echo-chambers” where a user’s feed is tailored based upon their browser history and online behavior. Paraan said this is potentially dangerous as users only encounter news and information that fits and amplifies their own political perspectives and biases.

Paraan also discussed how ensuring that news remains objective and factual was becoming increasingly difficult at a time when no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself was acting as a source of disinformation, citing a video by non-profit investigative journalism and fact-checking organization Vera Files.

Using video recordings of statements given by the President, Vera Files showed examples of how Duterte often contradicts his own statements on the war on drugs, repeatedly misconstrues important government figures and data, and deliberately obscures his relationships with apparent political allies, as well as being openly hostile towards those who are critical of his policies — including the press.

“Mas magandang maging journalist sa panahong kailangan ng public ng makatotohanang information,” Paraan said.

However, there are times when neutrality and objectivity amongst journalists can become a silent submission to the greater powers.

Raymond Villanueva, director of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, said that “journalism’s loyalty is to the people — to the poor, to the marginalized, to the oppressed and to the suppressed rather than those who are comfortable and those who have power.”

“Good journalists are not those who simply string words together; good journalists are those who ask ‘why’ until they come up with an inevitable conclusion that social injustices cause many miseries to this world. And then, they ask ‘why ‘to come again to the inevitable conclusion that the world must be changed,” he added.

 

Mind over cursor

The internet, particularly the social media had granted the people the power to inform and to be informed, and also there are some instances where their power was used to abuse.

Niña Terol, co-founder and chief fireball of Kick Fire Kitchen, tackled the insurmountable power of social media to affect a person, and even a nation.

“The Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom was drafted on Google Docs,” she said. “It was the first-ever crowdsourced bill and it shows na with the power of social media, you can also be part of the legislation. So hindi mo na kailangan maging senate staffer to make things work.”

Terol also detailed how she experienced backlash due to her past affiliations as a member of Sen. Francis Pangilinan’s communications team. Although she had already left back in 2012 to work in an advertising agency, she received backlash from pro-administration supporters, tagging her as “dilawan.”

“That, to me, is an illustration on how social media can betray you,” she stated, “I have biases, but there is always a context kasi lahat tayo may pinanggalingan.”

In the face of great power, Terol emphasized that, as users of social media, especially as young journalists, “you have to know your truth, you have to speak your truth, you should not hide behind fake names and fake accounts. Why do we have to hide?”

“Aletheia: The Role of Responsible Journalism in the Age of Online Media” was held at the Abbott Conference Hall in San Beda University and was hosted by The Bedan in partnership with the Bedan Scholars’ Guild.

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Science, Commerce bets lead this year’s TYAA

College of Science’s Lorenzo Montes and College of Commerce and Business Administration’s Manjit Kaur Singh topped candidates from different faculties and colleges in this year’s Thomasian Youth Ambassador and Ambassadress.

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Photo by Miguel Yap/TomasinoWeb.

Representatives from the College of Science and the College of Commerce and Business Administration led this year’s set of Thomasian Youth Ambassadors and Ambassadresses (TYAA) at the Plaza Mayor Saturday last week.

Science’s Lorenzo Montes and Commerce’s Manjit Kaur Singh topped candidates from different faculties and colleges, however, the Student Organizations Coordinating Council (SOCC) announced that all contestants would share the same title of “Thomasian Youth Ambassador and Ambassadress” of their respective colleges.

“For this year po, the TYAA […] focused more on molding the student to be an ambassador and ambassadress of UST since [he or she] adopts the new program which is the formation program,” said Jasper Limon, SOCC Vice President for Service Assurance.

Limon said the program that they developed this year helped the contestants to bond more.

“Nakakatuwa na inaaccept nila yung formation at [nakita ko] mas naging family, mas naging less competiton [at] mas nag step-up yung bawat isa,” he said.

Faculty of Arts and Letters’ Christian Josef Patacsil and Alfredo M. Velayo – College of Accountancy’s Elaine Pineda bagged the Congeniality award. Montes and Singh nailed Best in Advocacy Presentation.

Faculty of Pharmacy’s bets Jasmine Norleen Addun and Harold William Tan owned the Best in Cultural Attire award. Tan and Science’s Alyssa Jasmin Perez snatched the Thomasian Youth for Public Relations.

College of Fine Arts and Design’s Justin Aaron Castro and Faculty og Engineering’s Mary Chile Balana were hailed as Thomasian Youth for Community Development.

TYAA is an annual pageant organized by the SOCC which seeks Thomasians who would represent the University in leading projects and activities for a specific advocacy.N.A. Perez

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The unknown hands of Philippine cinema

“It’s wrong. Dapat iisa lang ang pelikula, dapat hindi siya divided [into “mainstream” and “indie”] kasi strategy ‘yan to segregate a product na hindi nila gawa,” veteran filmmaker Ato Bautista said.

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Marc Benjie Paulino/TomasinoWeb.

I was jittery—because first, it’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed in an unfamiliar place, Miriam College, with lots of trees and hills, and where the only men other than an us are either security guards or professors; and second, with my love for cinema, I cannot help feeling ecstatic to hear from the esteemed speakers from MCinema’s CinemaTALKgraphy.

The moment we stepped through the lecture hall, Ato Bautista’s words regarding how the classification between indie and mainstream movies divide the Philippine cinema stuck to me.

“It’s wrong. Dapat iisa lang ang pelikula, dapat hindi siya divided kasi strategy ‘yan to segregate a product na hindi nila gawa,” Bautista said.

An alumnus of the University of Santo Tomas, Bautista is a veteran director whose prowess lies with the Philippine thriller genre, and yet Bautista remains unknown to his fellow Filipinos despite being a renowned filmmaker overseas.

“You don’t know me or any of my films and tanggap namin ‘yan. It’s a price we are willing to pay, as ‘indie’ filmmakers,” Bautista said.

He also expressed his frustration on how the industry of the Philippine cinema lags behind despite being the first country in Asia to form a film studio, citing that one of the major factors of our slow progress is the monopolization of the big studios that courts the mainstream audience.

“Filmmakers make films that courts, mga pelikula na [ginawa] para ligawan ang mainstream,” he added, “lagi natin kino-compare yung kung anong meron tayo sa ibang bansa [kahit] ibang-iba yung kultura sa atin. Meron tayong sariling problema and kung ano yung solusyon nila, hindi necessarily ‘yun ang solusyon sa atin.”

Still, Bautista was hopeful that Philippine cinema will improve—vowing to continue crafting indie movies so that the consciousness of the audience does not get monotonous.

Through his eyes, I saw desperate hope: Bautista still has faith in the future filmmakers sitting in front of him; with fire burning in his eyes, I saw his eagerness to impart the flame not only through us, but also to the whole Filipino audience.  

And now with the advent of technology, Elaine Lozano narrated how difficult it was to make movies then and how much the technology used in filmmaking has changed.

“Before, to be able to manage a single camera, you need four people, sometimes five […] But now, you can operate with one camera. Ang dali gumawa ng pelikula ngayon because it’s so convenient.”

It was funny twist of faith—Lozano was on her journey to be an actress that she even became the understudy for the role of Kim in Miss Saigon from the same batch as Lea Salonga. However, instead of being the one basking in the spotlight, she became the one who worked wonders behind the scene.

Today, she is a veteran producer in the industry, where her works garnered fame such as Ang Panday and Manila Kingpin.

Lozano began her filmmaking journey with an Arri 435 camera where back in the days, four minutes of negatives were worth 7,000 pesos and the budget for film rolls alone peaked at 250,000 pesos. In comparison, only three years ago, Elaine produced a movie for 350,000 pesos.

Producing movies are now cheaper, but she expressed her distaste in the industry since  people tend to be so tight in the budgets.

“Kita mong nangamatay na yung mga direktor, mga production manager. That’s really stressful!” She added, “I was line producing it, I was production manager, I was production designer, and make-up artist. People are going down to this level of filmmaking [and] I don’t know why! To prove a point?”

Producers and directors can earn millions with one film. The less money is spent, the more the producers earn from it–yet as the other part profits tremendously,  the actors and the production team suffers from its limited budget. However, amidst all the difficulties and risks, it’s still all worth it.

“ I love this job,” she added, “if you’re gonna do something, you have to love it.”

I went home reflecting on what I have  learned: Elaine Lozano talking about how love transcends barriers, how love pushes you to do great things; and Ato Bautista, telling us that we have to keep on doing what we love, no matter the risks.

How amazing it was to hear just how passionate these people are, that, when tasked to deliver a talk about the evolution of cinema, they told us not just how cinema changed over the years, but how cinema changed them.

Passion pushes people to greater heights—it takes you to places that not even your imagination can breach. With their fire and immense love for their craft, Bautista and Lozano kindled a greater flame within their audience, hoping that their fire can fuel the Philippine cinema to a far more greater destination through the budding filmmakers sitting here with me.

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Marc Henrich Go: Lines and photos

(UPDATED Feb. 26, 12:30 p.m.) “Growing up in a family of engineers, Marc Henrich Go always thought he will tread the same path.” Get to know the Thomasian who topped the January 2018 architecture boards.

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(UPDATED Feb. 26, 12:30 p.m.) To be able to say that you are making a good living out of something you are passionate of is rare; we are often taught that we simply cannot have one with the other— another must be sacrificed, and such is often the case with the sciences and the arts.  

Growing up in a family of engineers, Marc Henrich Go always thought he will tread the same path since at such a young age, he was already exposed to engineering’s technicalities and he was also immersed in construction sites.

And this 2018, Marc topped the board exams. Not for engineering, but for architecture.

“I realised that I was also inclined to the artistic aspects as much as the technical portions. Since architecture tackles both the arts and sciences, I felt and still feel that it’s a good fit for me. Now, I am the first architect in the family, and I am very happy because of that,” the new architect shared to an interview with TomasinoWeb.

His love for the arts manifested itself early on. While in high school, Go took it upon himself to be their family’s official photographer during trips, and he would often find himself capturing the scenery via his mobile phone. Upon graduation, his parents gifted him with his first camera, and this started his journey as a photographer for Vision Magazine, the official collegiate publication of the College of Architecture.

From there, he took photography more seriously and would later on establish, along with fellow alum Paul Quiambao, Fotomasino, and later on becoming the guild’s president. It was after meeting photographers like Quiambao and other lensmen such as Jilson Tiu, Ezra Acayan, Christian de Leon, and many more during his senior year when he contemplated on the concept of a group dedicated to the art of photography.

“I thought to myself, ‘if we have this much talent and potential in the University working on our own, what more could we achieve if we have a group wherein like-minded photographers share and learn from one another?’ That was the reason Paul Quiambao and I founded Fotomasino: To create an environment conducive to creativity, learning, and inspiration in the field of photography,” Go said.

He credits being a good architect for having photography skills. This complements how he believes that his training and discipline in architecture is what honed his eye for photography. The goal for him now is to pursue both side by side.

Having to balance both while he was in the University, however, proved to be a challenge since both required tremendous time and effort. UST’s College of Architecture features rigorous training meant to keep their students on their toes. They are given mock board exams during their third and fifth years, which they are required to pass if they want to move up to the next level.

“During our actual review, the lessons would have been more familiar, and we would already have had created our personal system on how to tackle the load,” Go recalled. In his case, that system he created for himself triumphed despite already having a loaded schedule. As they always say, you end up doing everything you can for the things you are passionate about.

Now, Go is planning to continue his work with Budji + Royal Architecture + Design firm of which he has spent the past two years with and has grown with personally. He has done work for Drs. Vicki Belo and Hayden Kho, two fellow Thomasian alumni whom he was actually with upon finding out he had topped the boards.

“We were in a wedding of a common friend where I was asked to do the photographs of the welcome dinner in Tagaytay,” Go recounted. “I noticed a call from a batchmate of mine; she called me up to congratulate me. I was very excited to check if I passed the exam, and was officially an architect. But to my biggest surprise, she told me I was a top notcher, and the top 1 nonetheless! I wouldn’t believe her because the list might be edited! I had to check several sources before I actually believed it.”

He further reminisced by saying that the groom and bride actually told him to stop shooting for a while to savor the moment.

When asked if he was expecting to top the boards, the architect explained how every person probably begins their journey hoping to finish the exams in first place. As the load got heavier, however, he found himself doubtful. It was time to be realistic, he eventually thought. The goal went from topping the board to simply passing, but that did not stop him from pushing himself.

“I reviewed day and night, only stopping to sleep, eat, use the toilet with the more achievable goal of just passing the exams in mind,” Go added, “but something at the back or my mind was always pushing myself to do better. If you do your best then you will always find contentment no matter the result. I think topping was just a bonus to passing the exam.”

And a bonus it was. Go graduated back in 2014, nearly exiting the Arch of the Centuries with every college student’s much coveted label: Cum laude. He missed the required grade point average by just 0.1 percent, but it motivated him to go the extra mile.

To every aspiring architect out there currently enduring a sleepless night filled with plates, Go had this to say: “Don’t let your past disappointments determine your future successes. Make them stepping stones to achieving your full potential.”

ERRATUM: Marc Henrich Go’s name was misspelled as “Mark.” The article has since been updated. We apologize for the error.

 

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