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The Scent of Force

It was just an ordinary night and I was home away from home.

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Artwork by Fernardine Hernandez

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article contains sensitive content which some people may find triggering. The author’s name will be hidden for confidentiality. 

It was just an ordinary night and I was home away from home. After dinner, I was tasked to deliver a document downstairs. Familiarity, the echoing of my every step on the tiled floors, and the sense of security filled the hallways. I am safe because I am home. I pressed the elevator button going down while I clutched the brown envelope on my chest. 

There was another person inside, standing at the farthest left. The elevator was quite spacious, on a busy day, it could fit six up to nine people. My feet began to move. Elevators don’t have signals inside so I decided not to use my phone but instead, look straight, not at anything, but to only look straight. 

His perfume lingered every inch of the four corners of the elevator. I tried not to crinkle my nose for he might mistake my sensitivity for disrespect and until he spoke, there was only silence. He attempted to break the silence by saying “Normally, compliments make me a tad awkward but his words made me clench my jaw. I was told that I had beauty in me and that he liked my eyes. In fear, I took in his words like nothing just to kill the conversation. 

The elevator ride became much longer until the doors finally opened. As soon as it opened, I walked out and took a whiff of the sleeves of my sweater which made me crinkle my nose. I didn’t care if he saw me, I knew I was already a few feet away from him. He went inside the convenience store which made me relax my shoulders. The delivery service wasn’t there yet so I waited. 

While I was browsing my phone, a figure stood right beside me. My jaw clenched and my palms became cold. 

“Maybe he is waiting for something too.” 

I assured myself to keep my mind clear and balanced with my emotions. Using my phone, I pretended to talk to someone and make me look as if I’m busy but that didn’t stop him from asking questions. 

“Maybe he’s trying to become a nice building neighbor.” 

I assured myself again. He kept asking if I lived there, but I didn’t, I was only visiting my uncles. That’s a fact. His expression looked as if he was doubting me. He asked how old I was. I answered seventeen when in reality, I was nineteen. It was a lie but red alarms keep going off in my head. The advice of the women in my life kept ringing in my ears, “Just be polite, and eventually, they’ll leave.” No questions escaped from my lips, only answers. 

“Where do you study?” I answered, “Manila.”

“So, where do you live?” I repeated my response. 

“Do you have a boyfriend?” I answered yes even though it was a lie. 

“Really?” He was in doubt again.

“What is your name?” I nervously chuckled in response. 

“Do you want to go to my unit?” 

Finally, the delivery service arrived. I blinked twice to jolt me back to my senses. After handling the envelope, I started to walk only to be approached by the same man again. He asked me if I was available. I said no. He asked again and insisted that we go upstairs and go to his unit. I shook my head. 

Numbness took over me as he suddenly hugged me and kissed my temple. His scent made me crinkle my nose. At his touch, my body felt like it was not mine anymore. At his grip, I wanted to cry. At his release, I felt weak. The proximity and the gesture weren’t called for. I know for a fact that he wouldn’t not care if I refused and he had the audacity to act as if he owned me. I was frozen for a moment that felt like an eon. 

His scent was on my body, clothes, and skin. As I went back inside the building and entered the elevator, I was alone. There was nothing. I rushed to the bathroom and  broke down in tears. I turned on the faucet and scrubbed as hard as I can to get rid of his touch until my skin became irritated. All I felt was the ice-cold water splashing on the burns of my arms. I looked down on the bathroom floor. Trembling at the fear that history might repeat itself. This was not an ordinary night.

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ARMYs in a state of ‘euphoria’ as McDonald’s launches BTS meal

According to the McDonald’s PH website, the limited-edition meal will be available nationwide from June 18 to July except for the following stores: SM City East Ortigas, Meycauyan, Anonas, Aurora Blvd, Baguio Sunshine, SM Sta. Mesa, Petron North, Mindanao Avenue, Dumaguete Perdices, and Roxas Boulevard.

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The BTS meal launched by McDonald's on June 18. Photo courtesy of Erika Briones.

With the recent release of the McDonald’s BTS meal in the Philippines on June 18, fans of the South Korean superstars came flocking to stores and food delivery applications. 

For 270 pesos, customers get 10 pieces of chicken nuggets with medium fries, a medium Coke, and new dipping sauces. The meal is packaged in paper bags adorned with the boy group’s logo in purple—their signature color. 

BTS, also known as Bangtan Boys, debuted in 2013 under the label Big Hit Entertainment. The group is composed of Kim Namjoon, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi, Jung Hoseok, Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung, and Jeon Jungkook. Their rise to fame was due to their catchy songs and the support from their strong fanbases (or ARMYs) all around the world. In 2018, the group had their first performance at the Billboard Music Awards and was nominated in the Top Social Artist category for the second time. 

Considering the massive number of BTS’s local fanbase, the arrival of the meal flooded the internet. ARMYs were quick to post their goods with the hashtag #BTSMealPH and #BTSXMcD. 

Bea Masiclat, a creative writing senior, shared that she initially decided not to buy the meal. But to her surprise, after tweeting about the BTS meal, one of her best friends ordered for her on the day of its release.

Nagulat ako kaninang umaga habang natutulog ako, kumatok ‘yung kapatid ko tapos may hawak na BTS meal…pinadala pala ng isa sa mga best friends ko,” she said. 

Masiclat was ecstatic as ‘MUSTER’, a special event by BTS, just finished days before she had the special McDonald’s meal.

The music of BTS is well-received by their fans of all ages, as even parents and adults cannot escape from their talent. 

UST journalism program coordinator Felipe Salvosa II shared that as an SNL ARMY and a huge fan of the McDonald’s chicken nuggets, he felt that it was about time that the two fandoms collided.

“This is also a reflection of the marketing genius of BTS and its agency, the now publicly listed, HYBE,” he said. 

Salvosa also mentioned that the collaboration is a “tremendous success of South Korea’s creative economy strategy and projection of soft power.” 

“My fascination over BTS centers on their music and artistry, but having been a business journalist, it goes beyond that,” he added. 

 

BTS-themed packaging and new dipping sauces

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Compared to McDonald’s regular chicken nuggets, the BTS meal comes with two new sauces––Cajun and Sweet Chili. On the McDonald’s website, the Cajun flavor was described as “hot mustard with chili peppers,” while the latter is “sweet and sour with a touch of heat.”

While Masiclat preferred the Cajun flavor, she also recommended the Sweet Chili one for spicy-flavor lovers.

As a Taehyung and Jungkook bias, AB Communication senior Erika Briones felt excited as the two large names have come into a collaboration.

Dumagdag rin sa excitement ‘yung fact na people already tried it and [are] waiting for you to buy one rin,” she said.

Briones also lauded the visual appeal of the meal’s packaging, as well as the food riders’ handling of the product.

Since the BTS meal is a limited-time offer, there are ARMYs who put the food packaging in frames and acrylic boxes as a memento.

However, some people take advantage of the fans’ sentiments. On eBay, some of the boxes and cups used for the BTS meal are being sold for more than 20 US dollars.

 

Should you buy it? 

Masiclat believed that the experience of eating and having the meal was worth it, “Kahit ordinary na nuggets lang at fries, the fact na inendorse siya ng BTS makes me happy,” she said.

Given that the meal is complete, Briones felt that customers get what they pay for. “I think it’s a reasonable price naman for a collab, since the McNuggets alone costs around 180 [pesos] na ata? So I think the 270 is okay.”

The price of the regular a la carte 10-piece McNuggets is 190 pesos without drinks and fries, while the 6-piece meal with fries and drink is sold at 196 pesos. 

According to the McDonald’s PH website, the limited-edition meal will be available nationwide from June 18 to July except for the following stores: SM City East Ortigas, Meycauyan, Anonas, Aurora Blvd, Baguio Sunshine, SM Sta. Mesa, Petron North, Mindanao Avenue, Dumaguete Perdices, and Roxas Boulevard. 

The BTS meal was launched in many McDonald’s branches worldwide, but some countries such as the United States, Vietnam, and South Korea had an early release on May 27. Several McDonald’s branches in Indonesia had to close temporarily after the meal’s debut on June 9 due to the COVID-19 threat.

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How to be productive: Thomasians’ online class routine

“We don’t have to make radical changes, we just have to do a lot of atomic habits. Big things come from small things. Start small.”

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(Artwork by Patricia Jardin/TomasinoWeb)

After a year after starting online classes, Thomasians have developed their own routines at home—unusual to what they are used to as a means to adapt to their different learning environments. Dealing with online classes for over a year resulted in students struggling to become productive. 

In an online interview with TomasinoWeb, students from different colleges and universities shared their routine for online classes and how it affects their productivity. 

Let’s get to business

Electronics engineering sophomore Allyana Deveza, shared that she makes sure to shower first and eat breakfast before her class starts. After that, she sleeps before reviewing her lessons and finishing her activities. 

She also uses the trick of making a to-do list containing all the deliverables such as exams, activities, and lectures; and quizzes for the week and next week to help her track her requirements. 

Interior design sophomore Vera Reyes wakes up early in the morning to check her tasks and lessons before she proceeds to eat breakfast and do her morning rituals. Reyes said that this particular routine keeps her working all day. 

Accountancy junior Faith Quiambao starts her day early by taking a cold shower which keeps her awake all day. 

“[A]s much as possible, I make my morning routine automatic. One that won’t get me thinking [or deciding pa] because if I think a lot, then I do less. If I think less, I do a lot,” she emphasized. 

Checking her phone in the morning is something that she wouldn’t do because according to her, “starting the day with social media will lead to unproductivity.” 

Keeping a planner for her online classes and internship also helps Quiambao keep track of the things she has to accomplish for the day or week. For her, a physical planner saves her from mental clutter because it acts as her “second brain”. She shared that after a long day, she ends it with meditation which provides her a “fully-rested feeling” as she prepares for the next day. “Sleeping early is the key to waking up early, and consequently to having a better day,” she said. 

Graduate student and professor Raffy Apolinar shared that his routine changes every day. In the morning, he prepares his breakfast and proceeds to the university where he teaches. As a quasi-admin, reporting to school twice a week is a requirement as well as instructing conducting a synchronous class once a week. 

In his final year for his master’s in Philosophy in UST, he expressed that he had a hard time balancing his studies and teaching. Through that, he appreciated his students who work at the same time.

“Before wrapping up the day, school pa din—both of my obligations sa grad school at sa pinagtuturuan ‘ko, ‘yun pa rin ‘yung ginagawa ‘ko up until I end my day. Ordinary but not methodical kasi nag-iiba iba naman every day,” he said. 

On productivity

With her routine being efficient in terms of deadlines, Deveza rarely crams her deliverables and has time to review. But when reviewing lessons, she said that it is too cramped. Since her program requires them to practice methods and solutions and not just memorize the formulas, she has to allot time to practice which, for her, is the most difficult thing to do. 

For Reyes, her routine allows her to efficiently prioritize what she needs to do for the day. This affects her productivity both positively and negatively.

When I am not feeling my best shape, this routine could make me tired in just a short amount of time,” she said. 

Productivity becomes easier to attain if one feels happy from within. According to Quiambao, her procrastination is manageable because her planner acts as her “metaphorical secretary” that tells her what needs to be accomplished for the day. 

These are minor routines to be honest, it won’t take much of your time but it will give you the best results––[it’s a] butterfly effect,” she said.

For Apolinar, being spared from the hassle of commuting makes his routine productive because he has to get things done and that are scheduled. Choosing to be productive is what’s best for Apolinar as he manages thesis writing, being a student, and a professor. 

“We have the luxury of time to do kung ano man ‘yung mas gusto natin,” said Apolinar.

How effective is it?

Deveza admitted that in terms of learning, it has been tough. She said that online classes are effective for her in passing her subjects but not in learning since it focuses more on the tasks at hand than truly learning. Certainly, studying in the library or in the pavilions around the campus with your friends is more enjoyable than studying alone in your room. 

For Reyes, she said that her routine was effective before, but now that a lot of things happened at their home, she felt more tired.

Quiambao said that her routine has been proven effective for her. Although she used to slack a lot during the first commencement of online class, she felt better and saw good tangible results after changing her bad habits. 

She added that she can actively work for 15 hours without getting tired from juggling online classes, research, and an internship.

Apolinar, on the other hand, said that virtual learning is not problematic for him. He added that if you know that it is your obligation, then you really need to be productive. 

“To be honest, may times na mate-tempt ka talaga mag-slack off lang o kaya maging complacent lang kasi sasabihin mo ang daming time. Pero in general naman hindi kasi choice mo talaga yan,” he said.

Sticking with it

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Being inside the comfort of your home, your bed or sofa could be distracting and makes you want to lie down all day. It could be hard to stay focused on accomplishing tasks and sticking to your routine but you just really have to push through. 

The key to maintaining Deveza’s routine is to have a goal in mind and discipline. She said that by having a concrete goal in mind, a person can think of different ways in achieving it, including whether to decide to sacrifice more personal time to academics.

Planning ahead and thinking of how she could use her time is what Reyes does to maintain her routine that she has been sticking to for almost a year now. 

Although Quiambao’s routine is not perfect, she said that she always tries to maintain good study habits. 

“Everything starts from trying and everything starts from small things,” she said. “We don’t have to make radical changes, we just have to do a lot of atomic habits. Big things come from small things. Start small.”

For Apolinar, valuing time management and self-discipline is important since he has obligations to fulfill both in graduate school and in teaching. 

He added that there are people who are expecting from him in his work and his family and for him, it served as his motivation. 

Take it in and pass it on

Deveza imparted that making a list of things to do and arranging them according to urgency helps in preventing cramming of dues and feeling anxious about deadlines. 

While for Reyes, she said to not forget to give yourself the time to breathe and rest to avoid burnout. 

According to Quiambao, one should start with creating better habits and breaking the bad ones. She shared that one of her habits is to use a specific table and chair which tricks her brain to use it solely for studying and working instead of using her bed as a place to study. 

“Motivation is overrated, ‘creating [a] better environment’ is superior,” she said. 

She also added that the counterpart of productivity is consumption and it should be managed for not everything that we consume is good for us while recommending the books Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport for media consumption and Atomic Habits by James Clear for habits and productivity. 

Apolinar emphasized that one’s productivity and daily routine, which can be formed through discipline, should contribute to one’s development as a person. 

Hindi naman kailangan big time. Siguro at least may progress kahit maliit lang,” he said. 

The bottom line

As vaccines have finally arrived in the country and people get vaccinated, there is still no clear answer as to when the pandemic will end. Now that it seems as if we are back to square one, face-to-face classes in the university are still uncertain. It may take a longer time for us to be greeted by the Arch of the Centuries or the Main Building. 

Routines keep us grounded. Although we cannot avoid the drastic changes in the world, at least routines can give us a sense of control even in the smallest or mundane tasks. 

It can be overwhelming for some people to know that others devote themselves to a detailed and strict routine. Others wake up early in the morning to jog for more energy throughout the day while others just get out of bed (or not) and then proceed to study or work. It all goes down to how different people are in doing things in their own way and what system works best for them. 

In these trying times, productivity can look different. It may be as simple as getting out of bed or at least making it through the day. Remember that who you are is not determined by what you are capable of—you are more than that. If you find yourself in stillness, there’s nothing wrong with that. We all need a breather from all the chaos at our own pace.

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Driving Forward with Arnet Paguirigan

Journalism junior Arnet Paguirigan, who was molded by her previous experiences as a student-leader, takes her chance at being the next Central Student Council (CSC) secretary. 

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Photo courtesy of Arnet Paguirigan

[Disclaimer: TomasinoWeb remains to be a non-partisan media organization and does not campaign for any candidate.]

As the election for the University’s highest student government approaches, several hopefuls have tossed their hats into the electoral ring, hoping to win the hearts of Thomasians. Journalism junior Arnet Paguirigan, who was molded by her previous experiences as a student-leader, takes her chance at being the next Central Student Council (CSC) secretary. 

Prior to her candidacy, Paguirigan has already taken on many leadership roles as early as senior high school (SHS). She was one of the pioneering members of Tiger SHOOT, the events management organization of UST SHS. Her role as director exposed her to various experiences and struggles, and shaped her into the person that she is now. 

“Seeing how the organization is thriving, and na-appreciate siya ng iba-ibang senior high school students, it gives me joy and happiness, na nakikita na anuman ang na-establish with the organization, na-amplify pa rin hanggang ngayon,” she said

When she went into college, Paguirigan shared that she applied for a position within the CSC as an executive staff to the research and publications committee. This stint, according to her, ended up being one of the defining moments of her freshman life. 

“Honestly ‘yun yung best time ng first year ko.” she said.

“Dati I was busy in Senior High School lang, but when I entered college, nag-ano lang ako eh, parang suntok sa buwan––Let us try applying for CSC and see what the outcome is,” she added. 

Paguirigan mentioned that her role in the CSC helped her develop a wider perspective on leadership. The experience fostered her growth as a student-leader and allowed her to discover the core of her drive, which is servant-leadership. 

“’Yung growth ko as a student-leader, lumawak,” she said.

The lone secretarial bet, who currently serves as the CSC’s executive coordinator to the secretary, emphasized the importance of growth and improvement throughout her journey as a student-leader.

“All throughout my experiences, I can say that I always strive for progress, rather than perfection. It’s important for me that I always learn and educate myself on what important matters there are right now,” she explained.

She also mentioned the importance of communication skills and empathy as a student-leader. “Kailangan mayroong marunong makipag-usap, maitaas ang boses ng bawat Tomasino, magkaroon ng discussion with the administration. […] Kailangan natin na meron tayong empathetic and compassionate leaders,” she said.

Paguirigan has her fair share of struggles amid the pandemic. Her leadership roles, coupled with her academic workload, make for a stressful concoction as she divides her time quite meticulously. In terms of keeping in track, she shared that she schedules her tasks and properly plots her tasks days ahead. 

“Crucial eh, kapag wala ka sinusundan na schedule, it’s chaotic. Lalo nawawala yung sense of normalcy,” she said.

“Part siya (struggles) eh, not just of being a student leader, but life in general. Struggles will mold you into who you want to be in the future,” the candidate added. 

Paguirigan’s candidacy, she mentioned, is anchored by her desire and passion to serve Thomasians. 

“I saw the need of how crucial it is to have student-leaders at this point in time in the pandemic,” she said.

As the CSC polls draw near, Paguirigan encouraged every student to practice their right to vote. 

”Through voting, it is our way of holding our leaders to a higher standard, integrity, and accountability.” 

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