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#TWenty: The TomasinoWeb 2014 Year-Ender

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The route that the Thomasian community took during 2014 was a glorious one, albeit a path filled with tiny bumps which halted, but never faltered, the Thomasian spirit. For us Thomasians, there were people, events, trends, and even places which defined our 2014. There were influential people who made an impact, people who left, and people who we welcomed into our community. There were events which were devastating, but were made up for by the events which resonated with the relentless chanting of “Go USTe!” We saw trends come and go, and we explored new places in and out of the campus.

We recognize all these things here at TomasinoWeb. As such, we have put together a list of the 20 people, places, events, and trends which defined the Thomasian community’s 2014.

Without further ado, here is #TWenty.


20. Miriam Defensor-Santiago


One of the most frequently heard names in the realm of politics is Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. From Santiago’s accusations against Senator Juan Ponce Enrile to her witty comebacks and biting commentaries in relation to various issues that have circulated in the country, the senator has managed to be one of the most influential figures this year.

Early in July, Santiago announced via press conference that she has Stage IV cancer in her left lung and had expressed her plans of taking a “magic tablet”, which would give her “all the effects of chemotherapy without the side effects.” Later in August, together with news reports about Santiago’s tumor shrinking, the senator mentioned her openness to running for presidency in the 2016 elections. In October, the senator announced that 90 percent of her cancer cells were dead, however, she was still weak.

Just this December, Santiago launched a new humor book entitled “Stupid is Forever”, which is a collection of her jokes and witticisms.

Words by Rozelle Javier
Photo from Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s official website


19. Fr. Louie Coronel and the Social Media Bureau


The Social Media Bureau is the newest University office, headed by Fr. Louie Coronel (pictured right). It manages the University’s official social media accounts which help promote University events and Thomasian ideals to the whole world.

In his talk during the Thomasian Martyr’s Week, Coronel encouraged Thomasians to become “modern martyrs through small acts.” Fr. Louie specially referred to Thomasians and said that greatness comes from who we are rather than how we look or where we are from. Through his talks, the Domnican priest continues to be a source of inspiration especially to the Thomasian community.

Words by Xuxa Rivero and Xave Gregorio
Photo by Joe Lugti


18. USTv: Unang Dekada


With its tenth year in giving honor to television programs that showed “evangelization, education and nation-building” influencing the Thomasian community, the Student Organizations Coordinating Council (SOCC) proudly tipped off this year’s USTv: Unang Dekada, Gabi ng Parangal.

Started in 2004, the USTv Students’ Choice Awards gave value not only to the content of the show but also the Thomasian values present in the show itself. This annual event focuses on influencing people to form an advocacy toward responsible media that sets it at a distance from other student-driven award-giving bodies.

Among the outstanding TV programs that received recognition in this year’s USTv Awards were: ABS-CBN’s Rated K’sSenakulo” episode for Students’ Choice for Catholic Feature, ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol for Students’ Choice of News Program, and GMA 7’s Bubble Gang for Students’ Choice of Comedy Program.

Some of the notable Thomasian alumni were also awarded, with Arnold Clavio and Sandra Aguinaldo as the Outstanding Thomasian Male and Female Media Personality.

Words by Rogelio Pascua
Photo by Monica Pantaleon


17. UST’s Board Exam rankings


The efficiency of a university’s efforts towards providing quality education can be proven based on the results of licensure examinations that students take after graduation. Also known as Board Exams, these tests are given to gauge the students’ knowledge on their profession.

The University of Santo Tomas has proven that it is still one of the top universities in the Philippines, having attained placements in the licensure examinations given this year. The University has successfully penetrated through the list of the Top Performing Schools in the Physician Board Exams as well as the exams for Science and Allied-Health Programs such as: Pharmacy, Medical Technology, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Nutrition, and even the first board exam conducted for Psychometricians. The University has also received favorable results in the exams conducted for the fields of Engineering, Architecture, and Education.

Words by Gianpaolo Alzaga
Photo by Vitt Salvador


16. #USTFreshmenOrientation


The Thomasian Welcome Walk and freshmen orientations happen annually, but this year, both events had some notable differences which separates it from the previous years.

Aside from the departmental freshmen orientations which are held by respective faculties and colleges, a University-wide orientation formally introduced the University to the newest breed of Tigers. “We decided that it should be unique, it should be all freshmen together,” said Assistant to the Rector for Student Affairs, Prof. Evelyn A. Songco, Ph. D.

Rains and floods have marred the Thomasian Welcome Walk for years, with the Walk or the concert being postponed due to inclement weather. However, this year saw the freshmen pass through the Arch of the Centuries under a bright, clear sky, with no signs of looming rain.

Words by Xave Gregorio


15. UST Faculty Union and the Collective Bargaining Agreement


The previous year proved to be very tumultuous for the Faculty Union (USTFU) that had fought for a wage raise, teaching load, medical benefits and protection of professors who have not earned their masteral or doctorate degrees until they reach an understanding with the administration.

After donning black clothing, legal battles and strike threats, the Union’s fourth successful collective bargaining agreement (CBA) had come to a conclusion early this year. USTFU had ratified last March a new CBA that endorses the salary raise of 3-19% after trying to avoid further clashes in the previous month.

With the ‘compromise’ between the Union and UST, every Union member is now to receive a share of the P10 million fund saved by the Union but the petition for the P26 million medical and hospitalization benefits was not approved by the Supreme Court.

Words by Anna Mogato
Photo by Genevieve Aguilan


14. New Thomasian National Artists


The National Artist award is one of the highest honors the country can grant to remarkable individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of the Philippine arts.

Six Filipino artists entered the prestigious roster this year after a five-year hiatus following the 2009 controversy which surrounded the nominations of four individuals into the list.

Among the six artists are Thomasians Jose Maria Zaragosa and Cirilo F. Bautista who were conferred the titles National Artist for Architecture, and National Artist for Literature, respectively. Zaragosa is best known for his ecclesiastical designs such as the Sto. Domingo Church and the St. John Bosco Parish Church. Bautista, on the other hand is a critically acclaimed poet and fictionist, bagging the Makata ng Taon award for his piece Sunlight on Broken Bones.

Words by Rozelle Javier and Xave Gregorio
Photo by Johmar Damiles


13. Student’s Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Week


This year has been a leap for the rights of Thomasian students as the University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (CSC) held its first ever Students’ Rights and Welfare (STRAW) Week last October to inform the students about their rights while studying in the Pontifical, Royal and Catholic University.

The STRAW Week was celebrated through a series seminars to inform the community about the Magna Carta of Students commonly known as the Student’s Code. More than that, the CSC also brought the idea creatively by launching the STRAW Song with the help of the Conservatory of Music. The song tackled tuition-fee increase, student-parenthood and other sensitive issues. The week concluded with a meaningful candle lighting ceremony at the Plaza Mayor.

The Students’ Code will be the primary basis of the rights of every Thomasian. The said code specifically discusses matters such as discrimination towards the members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and the right of University publications to publish “freely”. More importantly, it empowers Thomasians to participate in the policy making and upholding freedom of information.

Formally filed in 2004, the decade-old student’s code was repeatedly revised until present due to changes in leadership. “Since this is the longest academic year for us, I think this is the chance na mapapasa na natin ito… we have ample time to do this,” CSC President Ina Vergara said as she hoped that ten would be the lucky number.

Words by Mac Norhen Bornales
Photo by Shelley Badayos


12. AB Hair Policy


Amidst the discussion on Students’ Rights and Welfare, a dispute involving the Faculty of Arts and Letters administration and its student body flared up regarding a proposed haircut and hair color policy. The regulation made liberal arts majors “frown,” as quoted in their released manifesto, implying that it was an indication of the suppression of their freedom of expression.

They were upset about the rule created by the administration stating that “every student must follow the grooming decorum of the University.” The opposing body defined liberalism through a statement and defended that everyone in the Artlet community has the right to “liberally” style their hair and groom themselves in whatever way they want.

They believe that external appearances do not make one “a lesser person” and do not affect the way he/she performs inside the University. They also argued that having a unique sense of style does not “violate any moral ground”, which is what all regulations are fashioned for.

Due to heavy criticism of the proposed measure, its implementation is suspended until a dialogue between the student body and the administration happens. Dialogues have been repeatedly scheduled, but they have also been repeatedly postponed.

Words by Bernadette Pamintuan and Xave Gregorio
Photo by Amirah Banda


11. Typhoons and flooding


The University’s campus is infamous for being easily flooded whenever a heavy downpour occurs. As such, students are often stereotyped as “waterproof” as Thomasians are well acquainted with heavy rains and rising waters.

When Tropical Storm Mario hit the country last September, it caused a series of unfortunate events involving the Thomasian community. Aside from class suspensions in all levels, the scheduled University of Santo Tomas Entrance Test (USTET) was cancelled, and the departure of Journalism seniors from their retreat in Caleruega was postponed. One of the casualties of TS Mario was UST Medicine student Siegfried Arcilla who was electrocuted by a live wire along España Blvd.

Typhoon Ruby also disrupted University activities, with the annual Paskuhan being rescheduled for the first time.

Words by Leah Camangon and Christelle Lois Ann Mapa
Photo by Charmin Cauilan


10. UST Files and Omegle


Social media played a big role in 2014, with it mainly being a vehicle for societal change. However, for Thomasians two things stood out this year when talking about social media: the Facebook page UST Files, and website Omegle.

UST Files is somewhat of an online diary wherein Thomasians can share their thoughts and experiences on the page for the public to read. Those who share their stories on the page are only identified through nicknames and the colleges where they belong. While these stories about love, heartbreaks, and random experiences could forge a connection between Thomasians, it could also be a source of conflict.

In an “open letter” to the students of the Faculty, Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina said that he is “well aware of the existence of a certain social media forum where some students, under the cloak of anonymity, unabashedly vent their frustrations and disappointments with the Faculty of Civil Law, its professors or fellow students, regardless of its merit or lack of it.” Divina was pertaining to UST Files offshoot Civil Law Files, which operates the same way as the former – publishing stories in anonymity.

Yet another brainchild of UST Files is the use of chat site Omegle to connect with fellow Thomasians. By default, going on Omegle would mean chatting to a random stranger through text and/or video. By adding “UST” and “UST400” as interests, the strangers are filtered out to only include Thomasians, and sometimes, Thomasians-at-heart.

Words by Tristan Carpio and Xave Gregorio
Illustration by Humphrey Litan


9. UST in Sports


It has been a year of victories and defeats for the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers. Tallying 274 points, the Tigers fell short against De La Salle University Green Archers with 289 points in the general championship race in the UAAP Season 76. But the wind seemed to change its direction, going back to España Boulevard as the black and gold squad led the overall championship race with 152 points at the end of first semester, bagging title victories in women’s beach volleyball, men’s taekwondo, and in men’s and women’s judo.

[Ang] UAAP hindi lang naman more on basketball. It’s about all sports,” Institute of Physical Education and Athletics (IPEA) athletics coordinator Rodrigo Sambuang said. Indeed true, the teams that haven’t received much recognition from the Thomasian community made noise for themselves with the triumphs they had this season. At the start of the second semester, the UST Lady Tracksters snatched the tiara, ending the 11-year reign of the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, while their male counterparts brought home the bronze. The Tiger Fencers also capped off their season with a second place both in men’s and women’s division.

Unfortunately, the UST Men’s Basketball team lost two of their coaches within a year as the head tactician Pido Jarencio left the Tigers’ lair and chose to improve his game in PBA last January, while Estong Ballesteros resigned from the Asst. Coach post this month and decided to mentor Tanduay Light, a team in the PBA D-League. And with every goodbye, there will be someone who will surely say hello as Bong dela Cruz took over the position of the head coach of the Tigers.

But the sports-related issues surrounding the University seem to be unending. Earlier this school year, IPEA removed football from the Thomasian Goodwill Games, the annual tournament among different faculties and colleges. The decision caused uproar within the UST football community, prompting them to establish the UST Football Alliance (USTFA) to further solidify their stance on the issue. Despite the letters sent to their office, IPEA is firm with their decision, not even allowing a student dialogue to materialize.

Words by Rea Stevens
Photo by Lara Murallos


8. Removal of Filipino from the college curriculum


The almighty field of the academe is no exemption for disputes. 2014 was a year that saw major shifts in curriculum, imposed by both the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) on their respective scopes. But perhaps it was the removal of Filipino subjects in the tertiary level that had many crying foul.

With the title ‘General Education Curriculum: Holistic Understandings, Intellectual and Civic Competencies (GEC)’, the CHED Memorandum Order No. 20 Series of 2013 (CMO 20-2013) would remove all general education courses of higher education programs—including Filipino—from the tertiary level to pave way to a new curriculum more focused on Science and Technology. These subjects would then be relegated into senior high school core courses.

While the views towards the issue are of stark contrast, the majority of the opposition instigated protests, most notably from an alliance popularly known as Tanggol Wika or Alyansa ng mga Tagapagtanggol ng Wikang Filipino, which comprised of educators and college professors from various colleges and universities around the country.

Tanggol Wika argues that the memorandum would lead to employment woes, with professors either losing their jobs or being displaced in other disciplines. It would also compromise the further development, intellectualization and study of the Filipino language.

Words by Jaehwa Bernardo
Photo by Patrick Palencia


7. New food stores inside the campus


One of the biggest dilemmas we regularly face in college doesn’t happen inside the four corners of our classrooms. In fact, it happens after dismissal or during breaks, when the bell rings and our stomachs rumble with need: “Saan tayo kakain?” followed by the inevitable answer, “Kahit saan.

Fortunately, we usually don’t have to go too far or think too hard for the Multi-deck Carpark inside the University is jam-packed with dozens of restaurants. This year, new stores were added to the roster.

Headlining the list is the irresistible Krispy Kreme, which was met by a very warm welcome, as manifested by the seemingly unending queues during its opening week. Thomasians can now treat themselves to the mouthwatering doughnuts and coffee that the store serves.

On the opposite end of the row are two more recently-opened stores. The first is an Asian restaurant founded by an engineering and medicine alumnus. With the tagline, “Fantastic feasts served fast,” and a witty name Mr. Fast Foo, it offers a wide variety of Chinese cuisine like Lechon Macau, black bean fish fillet, dimsum, wanton noodles, and more. Beside it is Cyndi’s Grill, which offers Filipino dishes like adobo and bangus, homemade pasta, and breakfast meals in affordable rates, just like its predecessor Ate Eva’s Grill.

This year has also marked the opening of two new stores in the Quadricentennial Pavillion. Facing the Roque Ruaño building are Chicken Deli, a Bacolod-based franchise which offers a menu similar to Mang Inasal’s with rice-all-you-can barbeque meals, and the much awaited Family Mart, a Japanese convenience store known for retailing international brands and the infamous twirl-all-you-can ice creams.

Words by Diane Garduce
Photo by Ferlyn Landoy


6. Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council’s (ABSC) “lost funds”


Officers of the Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Council (ABSC) are in hot water this year after the AB Board of Majors (BOM) released a statement saying that the council has lost funds amounting to approximately P50,000.

According to the statement, the missing funds should have funded the Athena Cup, the NGO Fair, and the general staff assembly.

In their own statement, the ABSC representatives pledged to “take full responsibility” on the stolen cash fund. Aside from these statements, both the ABSC and the BOM have remained mum on the issue as the Students’ Welfare and Development Board continue its investigation.

Words by Monica Hernandez and Xave Gregorio
Photo by Denise Sabio


5. Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building


The Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. (BGPOP) building, or commonly called as the alumni center, opened its doors to Thomasians during the first semester of 2014 particularly to the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management along with the Faculty of Arts and Letters. Standing 12 stories high, the building does not disappoint Thomasians, especially with new facilities, plus the vending machines!

The construction took a few years but it’s like waiting to receive something new wherein you can’t wait but get your hands all over it. The new building within the campus definitely made the students eager to set foot inside. The classrooms are quite impressive with their new chairs and glass blackboards, but the view of the campus is such a scene-stealer. It is definitely something big to kick off the school year.

Words by Mary de los Santos
Photo by Miguel Aquino


4. Preparations for the Papal Visit


Almost twenty years passed since Saint John Paul II graced the country with his presence during the World Youth Day in January 1995. Now, it’s only a few more days before Pope Francis visits the Philippines.

Different sectors, especially the religious sector, have been arranging the necessary preparations for the Pope’s arrival and his whole itinerary during his stay here – from January 15 to 19 next year, including a visit to the pontifical University.

These preparations aren’t limited to building the picturesque altars and papal seats. They are also encouraging everyone to be spiritually prepared for the Pope’s coming to the country.

The very long anticipation for the Pope’s visit is undeniable, and the experience on January next year would probably be extraordinary for those who’ll make the effort to see Pope Francis, and be blessed and enlightened by his word.

Words by Jackie Bouvier Arias
Photo by Patrick Palencia


3. Salinggawi Dance Troupe


This year was a big comeback for the Salinggawi Dance Troupe (SDT) as they ended the drought for a podium finish, settling on the third spot in the UAAP Season 77 Cheerdance Competition (CDC) last September.

2010 was the last time the SDT tasted the top spot as they placed third that year. 2013 saw them placing seventh, their lowest placing since the inception of the UAAP CDC. For four years, the España-based dance troupe struggled to climb back to the top, until they finally did this year.

Matagal na naming hinihintay na makabalik sa top 3, tapos ngayon parang sa lahat nang pinagdaanan namin, nakatulong ‘yung pagkalaglag namin last year para makuha namin siya ngayon nang mas maganda,” Former SDT Captain Danrev Dimaculangan said.

“We’ll go for the gold na po next year, sobra-sobrang paghahandaan po namin talaga siya. Siyempre ayaw naman namin na ma-disappoint ‘yung supporters namin kaya sobrang gagawin namin lahat ng best namin para makakuha ng gold sa UAAP,” SDT Captain MC Cruz assured.

Words by Mac Norhen Bornales


2. Paskuhan: Full Blast


Upon crossing the threshold of fantasy and reality, UST’s annual Paskuhan kept both realms interweaved each year.

Since its inauguration in 1991 until reaching the brew-point of being a University tradition, thousands of students flock to witness this much anticipated year ender as a celebratory custom. Going back to UST’s quadricentennial year, Paskuhan 2011’s ‘Pagsalubong para sa ika-5 siglo’ had the biggest crowd amounting to 100,000.

This year, the festivity reached onto greater heights, which included the Thomasian unity for the Pope’s visitation in January. After all, the Eucharistic Celebration is what highlights the whole Paskuhan event. The Agape was also done, wherein university employees and professors could claim free food as a sign of brotherhood. From ‘no-fireworks-display’ due to donations for Typhoon Yolanda victims in 2013, crestfallen Thomasians were back on cloud nine after watching a six-minute pyromusical display.

Paskuhan had a flock of 70,000 individuals, music, food, and camaraderie. Now isn’t that a blast?

Words by Samanthea Caballero


1. Academic Calendar shift


This year the university has made yet another milestone that will surely grant a significant change in the academic lifestyle of students and professors – the academic calendar shift.

UST Secretary General Rev. Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. officially approved the University’s collegiate calendar for A.Y. 2014-2015, marking the beginning of regular classes on July 14 instead of the usual first Monday on the month of June.

A number of major changes in schedule in examinations, celebrations as well as school breaks happened as a result of the transition of classes starting on July instead of June such as the Welcome Walk, usually held around August to September of the academic year, was now held on July 11, before the start of classes.

Preliminary examinations were now scheduled on the first to second week of September while the final examinations were on the first to second week of November. The accustomed semestral break during the second to third week of October until the first week of November was removed from the new calendar, merging with the Christmas vacation after the finals. Lastly, the traditional Paskuhan festivities normally held a day or two after final examinations was now scheduled three weeks after the final examinations.

The adjustment in the calendar was done in preparation for the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2015 allowing new and greater opportunities for international student exchange programs within the ASEAN community.

Words by Janine Soliman
Photo by Bria Cardenas

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Patungo sa Panibagong Yugto

Maligayang pagbati, bagong Tomasino! Dito nagsisimula ang isang bagong yugto at paglalakbay tungo sa magandang kinabukasan.

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Kuha ni Christine Annmarie Tapawan ng TomasinoWeb

Pagdiwang! Dumating na naman ang panahon ng pagsalubong sa humigit-kumulang na 15,000 na bagong Tomasino! Ang Thomasian Welcome Walk ay ginanap noong Martes, ika-6 ng Agosto. Ang taunang pagdaan sa ilalim ng makasaysayang Arch of the Centuries ay itinuturing na simula ng buhay Tomasino. Hinati muli ang programa sa dalawa, ang unang kalahati ay nagsimula ng alas-nuwebe ng umaga at ang pangalawa naman ay alas-dos ng hapon.

Samu’t saring ingay at saya ang bumalot sa Unibersidad. Malalaking ngiti at makikislap na mata ang makikitang nakapinta sa mukha ng mga bagong Tomasino. Handang-handa na sa panibagong kabanata ng kanilang buhay kolehiyo. Kasabay ang kalabog ng mga puso, sa bawat hampas ng tambol—ito ay dumadagundong. Ramdam na ramdam ang bagong enerhiya na dala ng mga mag-aaral mula sa iba’t ibang fakultad at kolehiyo. Ano nga ba ang pakiramdam na makapasok sa arko patungo sa maraming oportunidad at pangarap na naghihintay? Ibinahagi ng mga bagong mag-aaral ang kanilang mga saloobin at pakiramdam sa ilang panayam kasama ng TomasinoWeb.

Para kay Keziah Taguba na mula sa Legal Management, masaya pa rin ito kahit pangalawang beses na niyang dumalo. “It still feels surreal,” aniya. Kada taon, malaki ang preparasyon na ginagawa ng mga mag-aaral upang makapagbigay ng masayang karanasan na hindi kaagad malilimutan. “Nakakatuwa ‘yung warm welcome ng Thomasian community lagi sa mga freshman nila, family talaga yung turing nila sa ‘min.” 

Kuha ni Ralph Estrella ng TomasinoWeb

Ang bagong yugto na ito ay nagdadala ng mga bagong pagkakataon at oportunidad upang makilala ang sarili, makagawa ng mga masasayang ala-ala, at syempre, tuparin ang mga pangarap. Para kay Abby Salvador, galing din sa Legal Management, ngayong nasa kolehiyo na siya, inaasahan niya ang mga kaganapan sa Unibersidad katulad ng UAAP season, Paskuhan, at iba’t-iba pa. “Mas gusto ko pang ma-experience ‘yung Thomasian spirit ngayon na college na.” 

Pamilya. Isang salita na naglalarawan sa mga Tomasino. Ayon kay Red Ronas mula sa Advertising Arts, ito ang naramdaman niya ngayong Welcome Walk, “Masaya pa rin at na-feel ko na part pa rin ako ng family.” 

Bagama’t masaya ang byahe patungo sa mga pangarap, hindi maiiwasan ang mga problema na darating. Para kay Renzi Queral na isang Medical Biology freshman, “Masaya [yung welcome walk]. It’s a new experience pa din and at the same time ‘yun nga may [feeling ng] pressure din pero yung pressure na yun, I look at it as a motivation na lang. May kasama din akong iba in this journey.” 

Kuha ni Ralph Estrella ng TomasinoWeb

Given na ‘yung mas magiging challenging siya pero on the brighter side, mas magiging fulfilling siya kasi mas nararanasan na namin yung totoong buhay,” aniya. 

Kay Kiara Gimao, na galing din sa College of Science, isang karangalan ang maging isang Tomasino. “Syempre po masaya tsaka honored, pero tsaka syempre pressured din kasi dala namin yung pangalan ng UST sa kahit anong gawin namin,” aniya. Maraming bagay ang pwedeng mangyari at maranasan sa kolehiyo at para sa kanya, gusto niyang tumutok sa mga gusto niya, “[Sana] mas ma-expose kami sa mga bagay na gusto talaga namin. Magiging specific siya unlike sa SHS na broad pa ‘yung lessons at syempre looking forward sa events.”

Pagkatapos ng Welcome Walk, nagtungo ang mga mga mag-aaral sa Quadricentennial Pavillion upang makinig at ipagdiwang ang banal na misang pinangunahan ni Rev. Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. Dala din ng bagong pagkakataon ang bagong mga hamon. Maari man itong humadlang sa ating mga pangarap, dapat nating tandaan na huwag tayong hihinto. 

Kuha ni Troy Jacob Quinan ng TomasinoWeb

My dear Thomasians, after this orientation week, you will return to this place again in 2024. You have started your journey today to QPav. It begins today,” ani Rev. Fr. Dagohoy. “When your journey becomes tough and you want to stop, don’t!” dagdag niya. 

Pray that God may speak to you in your dreams, in your vision, and even in your deep sleep. Is it possible? Yes, because you are God’s beloved children.” Tinapos ni Rev. Fr. Dagohoy ang homiliya ng pagbabati sa mga bagong Tomasino. “Welcome to the University of Santo Tomas, where champions in life are born.” 

Maligayang pagbati, bagong Tomasino! Dito nagsisimula ang isang bagong yugto at paglalakbay tungo sa magandang kinabukasan. Ipakita mo ang marka ng pagiging isang tigre at sinasalubong ka ng Unibersidad nang may pagmamahal at pagtanggap. 

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Heist School, pelikulang likha ng Communication Arts alumni, kalahok sa Cinemalaya Short Feature 2019

Isang grupo ng Communication Arts alumni ang tatahak ng kategoryang Short Feature ngayong Cinemalaya 2019. Mga nagsipagtapos noong isang taon, ang Last Minute Films ay kalahok sa nasabing film festival dala ang kanilang pelikulang Heist School. 

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Photo from Last Minute Films.
Litrato mula sa Last Minute Films

Isang grupo ng Communication Arts alumni ang tatahak ng kategoryang Short Feature ngayong Cinemalaya 2019. Mga nagsipagtapos noong isang taon, ang Last Minute Films ay kalahok sa nasabing film festival dala ang kanilang pelikulang Heist School

Desperadong maipasa ang kanilang klase sa matematika upang makapagtapos, ang apat na bida ng Heist School ay ‘di-inaakalang magtitipon at magtutulungan upang makamit ang imposible. Higit na naimpluwensiyahan ng pagkakaibigan nina Julius Renomeron, Jr., ang direktor, at Johmar Damiles na co-writer, ang ideya ng isang heist film na salin sa lokal na konteksto ay matagal nang nabuo. Ang mga pelikula ng Oceans Eleven at ang indie film na Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo ang nagsilbing inspirasyon ng grupo. Nilikha ng Last Minute Films ang Heist School bilang isang simpleng istorya ng magkakaibigan. Minabuti nilang siyasatin ang impluwensya ng eskwelahan at kapaligiran sa pagbuo ng mabuting asal ng isang tao.

Nagsimula bilang isang grupo sa film class, ang Last Minute Films ay sumulong mula sa pagpupulong sa loob ng silid-paaralan patungo sa pakikipanayam sa CNN Philippines. Sa likod ng Last Minute Films ay siyam na tao: si Klaire Dulay, ang production manager; si John Paolo Barrameda, ang sound recordist, sound designer, editor at manunulat; sina Pauline Carlos at Zhino Koe, ang mga casting directors; si Ezren Caneda, ang location manager at production designer; si Johmar Damiles, ang director of photography, editor at manunulat; sina Alvin Jamora at Keanu Managuas, ang mga assistant directors; at si Julius Renomeron, Jr., ang direktor at isa sa mga editor at manunulat.

Ngayong sila ay nakapagtapos na ng kolehiyo, dito nagkaroon ng problema ang grupo—nahirapan sila sa pagpupulong matapos nilang lisanin ang kanlungan ng mga Tigre. Kahit na mayroon itong dalang pagsubok, ang mga natitirang miyembro ay handang gumawa ng ibang pelikula. Sa ngayon, pinag-iisipan ng grupo na mag-angkat ng bagong tao sa Last Minute Films, ibinahagi ng direktor na si Renomeron sa isang online interview kasama ng TomasinoWeb.

Mula nang kanilang mapanalunan ang Sine Reel X, isang kompetisyon ng pelikula sa pagitan ng mga magtatapos na mag-aaral ng Communication Arts, ang Heist School ay unti-unting nakilala sa loob ng Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas hanggang sila’y makilala sa film festivals ng ibang unibersidad. Ang Heist School ay lumahok sa One La Salle Film Festival noong Hulyo ng nakaraang taon kung saan ibinahagi nila ang pelikula sa mas maraming tao.

Inilarawan ni Renomeron ang karanasan bilang “humbling and pressure-filled” na mapaligiran ng kapwa mga direktor, mga manunulat at filmmakers mula sa iba’t-ibang unibersidad. Dito, sila’y nagbahagi ng kaniya-kaniyang karanasan sa produksiyon ng kanilang mga pelikula. 

[B]eing a filmmaker din siguro ay yung pag-build mo rin ng support system from your fellow filmmakers kasi in the end naman, kayo-kayo din ang magkikita sa industry,” dagdag ni Renomeron. Nais niyang magkaroon ang Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas ng ganitong uri ng kulturang pelikula dahil ito’y mas maliit kumpara sa ibang unibersidad.

Pagkatapos ng One La Salle Film Festival, ang Heist School ay nakilahok sa Indie Un-film Festival, at sa Maginhawa Film Festival noong huling Disyembre. Para sa ibang Tomasinong filmmakers, ibinahagi niyang huwag sumuko sa sariling mga pangarap, maging maunawain sa mga pagpuna at “it takes time to learn how to master a craft you want to pursue but it also takes patience to survive”.

Sa pamamahagi ng kanilang pelikula sa mga film festivals, malaking bagay ang pagkakaroon ng matinding suporta, paliwanag ng director of photography na si Johmar Damiles. Mula sa mga dating propesor tulad nina Sir Nico Hernandez at Sir Seymour Sanchez, mga kasamahan sa organisasyon tulad ng TomasinoWeb at Thomasian Film Society at lalo’t higit nang mula sa mga kaibigan at pamilya, ang kanilang tulong ay malaking bahagi ng kanilang pagpapatuloy. 

Pagkatapos ng Cinemalaya, nais ng Last Minute Films na isumite ang Heist School sa iba’t-ibang international film festivals kung kakayanin ng kanilang pondo. Nang tanungin ng TomasinoWeb kung may kasunod na kabanata ang Heist School, sagot nila’y ibig din nilang lumikha ng iba pang pelikulang hindi pa nila nakikitang ginagawa.  

As young filmmakers, the Cinemalaya experience has been overwhelming for us,” bahagi ni Johmar Damiles. “It gives me anxiety and at the same time, excitement as [a] Thomasian filmmaker.” Salaysay niya, ang pagiging kalahok ng Cinemalaya ay isa nang malaking pribilehiyo para sa isang grupong hindi ganoon kasanay sa paglikha ng pelikula. 

Opisyal na poster ng pelikula

Ang Heist School ay ipapalabas kasama ng ibang kalahok na pelikula sa ika-labinlimang iterasyon ng Cinemalaya Film Festival mula sa Agosto 2-13. Maaaring mapanood ang mga pelikula at short features hindi lamang sa Cultural Center of the Philippines, kundi pati rin sa mga piling Ayala Malls sa Luzon, Ayala Malls Legazpi, Capitol Central Bacolod, Abreeza Davao, Vista Cinemas Pampanga, Vista Cinemas Naga, at Vista Cinemas Iloilo.

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A road he didn’t walk alone: the valedictorian who realized ‘we’ is better than ‘I’

Through others, he realized things about himself that he could never do so alone and because of this, he was able to grow and become much stronger, not just for himself, but for everyone else.

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Photo grabbed from John Rabena's Facebook account

In this time and age, it has always been ideal to be independent, to not rely on anyone but ourselves. The belief that people should be able to make it on their own had always left a gaping hole in one’s heart as the feeling of incompleteness settles in. Eventually, life becomes a search for meaning—a quest to look for something to piece everything together. 

People believed that being at the top meant being alone. Those who run ahead often leave others behind and continue down an empty path where success becomes their only fuel for motivation. It’s a lonely feeling but it doesn’t have to be that way. To celebrate with, to be with, and to love others is what this graduate from Philosophy mentioned in his speech.  

Having been given the award as valedictorian for Batch 2019, John Alfred Rabena shared with TomasinoWeb his thoughts, his experiences, and his realizations during his stay in the University.

He’s grateful for being the only one in the world, unique and gifted in his own way—but it doesn’t stop there. “Subalit, ang ‘ako’ ay hindi maaaring mapag-isa at makulong sa sarili, sapagkat kulang ang ‘ako’ kung wala ang ‘ikaw’,” he stated.

Rabena realized that he was not alone and this simple realization changed his views on life. Through others, he realized things about himself that he could never do so alone and because of this, he was able to grow and become much stronger, not just for himself, but for everyone else. “Kaya’t sa kabila ng sakit at pait na iniwan ng taong minahal natin o patuloy nating minamahal,” he explained, “masasabi nating mas nakikilala ang sarili sa pagbangon araw-araw at mas lalong tumatatag sa pagharap sa buhay.”

Rabena also took the chance to extend his gratitude to the people that gave him endless support right from the start, up until the very end of his Thomasian journey. To his family and his friends, who were always there for him through his ups and downs and the ones who never got tired of cheering him on and telling him that he will make it.

“To our teachers who went beyond the minimum in order to boost our willpower when we thought that the routine [seems] to be endless and obscure,” he continued, “To our librarians and staff who quietly and persistently work in order for us to receive the education that we deserve.” He also thanked the security guards who always put the safety of others as their priority instead of their own, a selfless and kind act that deserved to be recognized and appreciated.

Of course, hardships and problems are inevitable. Rabena admits to feeling like giving up and hopeless, just like everyone else but he gives out a reminder to just hold on and hold on tight, “kayang-kaya ko ito dahil may tayo.” He points out that as education increases academic knowledge, it should also help in nurturing talents so that the life lived will be inclined to one with purpose and meaning. To live a life with love and compassion is enough proof that what was learned inside the classroom could be manifested into actions. For knowledge and promises to be acts of kindness and service, it’s the highest form of success anyone could imagine. “These are the people who gave me the courage to say: KAYA KO ‘TO!”

“Because our education does not end in the cultivation of IQ or the feeding of inert ideas,” Rabena expounds, “We ought to live up to the mission of our University: to spread the light! LUMINA PANDIT.”

To stand up for what is right is what he believes in, even if it’s scary, even if no one else is doing it, do what is just. Life can be better understood if people would step out of the box that’s keeping them from realizing that knowledge is useless if it’s just words. The only time education has fulfilled its purpose is when what was learned turns into what should be done. “Only then can we say that our education has gone from the classroom to the real venture called “life”,” Rabena stated.

The world is a cruel place, but this doesn’t serve as an excuse for it to stay this way. While change is still possible, aim for it—aim for a world where everyone is safe and on equal grounds, where hate could no longer be defined. It’s not too late to fight for what is right, for what is the truth, all while being kind and compassionate. To feel scared is normal and understandable, but don’t let that fear take over—push through.

“Panalo ang Tomasino dahil siya’y may paninindigan sa katotohanan. Panalo ang Tomasino dahil siya’y nagmamahal,” Rabena continues, “Panalo ang pamilyang Tomasino, dahil ang bawat isa’y tumatatayo para sa “tayo.” Tomasino, tayo naman!”

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