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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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Sila-Sila in its spectrum

Being under the constant waves of change, companionship paves through distances and personal struggles. The movie emphasizes that ‘ghosting’ also happens between friends and rekindling episodes are a challenge.

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Screengrab from Sila-Sila movie trailer

Giancarlo Abrahan’s entry for Cinema One Originals Film Festival Sila-Sila is a groundbreaking film that sprouts a queer narrative molded by queer people. Anchored to the intimate stories of real people, this ghosting film pierces through the lens of post-breakup experiences.

Its lead actors, Gio Gahol and Topper Fabregas had a harmonious rhythm as Gabriel and Jared inside one frame. With Gab being helplessly displaced and Jared as someone who craves settlement, they were in an endless loop of push-and-pull, making every scene burst in different colors of expectations.  

The film revolves around the story of Gab (Gahol), as he tries to reconcile with his friends (Phi Palmos and Dwein Baltazar) and his ex-boyfriend, Jared (Fabregas) after ‘ghosting’ them for almost a year. Fueled by guilt and regret, the old lovers find themselves igniting a fire that once burned the bridges that connected their lives.

Five minutes in and the sensual relationship between Gab and Topper will cuff the audience with its bare exposure of same-sex actualities. These characters played by both theater artists allow the scenes to flourish with remarkable nuance.

The scenarios in the film allow you to peek at realities that manifest through Gab’s life as a person who fails to find his roots being settled in one place. As his portrayal walks you through the story of uncertainties, the progress of the film lets you trace into a deep contemplation whether or not you may be the Gab or Jared in your own story.

Despite having fragments of scenarios that lowers the momentum of the film, it serves as a breath of fresh air as Gab undergoes the phase of vacillation. Gab’s journey of finding a home in people he once felt was is a cycle anyone can relate to. His doubts linger in trust issues and the feeling of not belonging. It soon uncovers that the quest of settling in places, people, and experiences will be unending unless one finds their sense of home.

Phi Palmos and Dwein Baltazar’s characters are spices to the story as they portray a decade-long friendship of overcoming tendencies. Being under the constant waves of change, companionship paves through distances and personal struggles. The movie emphasizes that ‘ghosting’ also happens between friends and rekindling episodes are a challenge.

Sila Sila won the Best Picture Award. Its undeniably well-plated palette satisfies the eye of the audience. A lot of scenes will tickle one’s humor especially if you are used to friendships that blatantly roast each other as a way of showing one’s love language.

Alongside its award-winning cinematography, Sila Sila also received the Audience Choice Award and Best Screenplay by scriptwriter Daniel Saniana. Also, Fabregas was recognized as Best Supporting Actor for his role.

“We’ll always love each other, however it manifests, it’s just always going to be there.”, this line by Jared carves through the hearts of those who had to let go of a person but never the love that they have for them. Gab’s relationship with Jared shows that there is never just one way of loving someone. Every day, with every version of themselves, love prevails. 

Distance can never make things small. It only deceives you from thinking that you’ve escaped your troubles. One way or another, you will find yourself crawling back because time never lets anyone off its claws—Sila-Sila teaches this. Furthermore, sometimes, having no closure is not the closure.

The character of Gab serves as an example that a person will remain trapped in the past unless they find closure from people and from themselves. People are bound to face the naked truth that we need to find our sense of home in this world that is full of broken fragments of imperfect individuals.

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Metamorphosis, a film that challenges the conventional

Tiglao tells this story through the never-before-seen character of a Filipino intersex teenager, and he tells it almost flawlessly, with the scenes that make you nostalgic, like you’ve been there before—a sort of déjà vu.

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Screengrab from Metamorphosis Trailer

As a coming-of-age film that probes more extensively into the adolescent psychosexual conflict, J.E. Tiglao’s Metamorphosis is dangerously daring. The film stirred a wave of controversy when the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) classified it as X-rated for exploring intersexuality, later on, it was reclassified into R-16, permitting its screening in local cinemas. 

It opens with a scene at a waterfall in a 1:1 aspect ratio and ends in the same setting, where we find the protagonist, Adam, exceptionally portrayed by Gold Azeron, no longer irresolute. Supporting actress Iana Bernardez, who plays Angel, complements Azaron almost naturally—Adam isn’t without Angel, vice versa. However, the gorgeous visuals of Metamorphosis overshadow the disarray that’s often ignored in the film.

Tiglao tells this story through the never-before-seen character of a Filipino intersex teenager, and he tells it almost flawlessly, with the scenes that make you nostalgic, like you’ve been there before—a sort of déjà vu. Apart from the brilliant footwork of Tey Clamor, the film’s cinematographer, the musical score by Divino Dayacap, from the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music, gave the film its oomph: as if the music understood the complexity of emotions portrayed, and the aesthetics with it.

Tiglao almost easily got away with poor writing by compensating for the other elements in the film. Instead of sustaining its relaxed delicateness, it lost its momentum when Adam’s exploration into his intersexuality was hastily overturned by uncalled-for predatory themes, and sexual awakening was realized by means of harassment.

The film relied heavily on aesthetics while leaving the plot unsustained and undernourished. It undermined the audience’s capacity to understand beyond the script because there was very little depth to it—the metaphors were surface-level and revealed themselves too easily. Some scenes appeared to over-explain themselves because expository writing was brought to an excess. Nevertheless, the film communicated what it sought to: the magnitude of embracing your own uniqueness in pursuit of self-acceptance.

Perhaps one of the most moving scenes in the film was when Adam’s father, a conservative Catholic and a pastor with a strongly-held vision for Adam to reverse his intersexuality – an “Ok, boomer” moment – abandons his unyielding bigoted principles at long last, giving Adam the autonomy to decide on and for his own. Here, the conservative adult matures with the troubled adolescent—and it is this shared acceptance that is unique to Metamorphosis.

Although the film suffers from tacky dialogue and some questionable subplots, it does exactly what a coming-of-age film is supposed to: the audience becomes an echo chamber, where we feel for the protagonist while accompanying him into growth and resolution. 

Metamorphosis, along with its stillness and vulgarity, makes for an ample directorial debut. The “I” in LGBTQIA+ rarely gets talked about, but Tiglao changed that by giving us Metamorphosis: it contests machismo without overemphasizing the feminine, it astounds without unnerving, and most of all it is unrestrained. Metamorphosis, even with its sloppy writing, is sufficiently beautiful—it questions and challenges the conventional, and it does it without fear.

 

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Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo: An Endless Cycle

Falling in love in this generation is like using a trial and error method that gets you nowhere. In the emergence of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble and websites like Omegle, finding a prospective partner has become fairly easy but also quick to lose.

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Screengrab from Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo official trailer

Labels. There is a silent debate going on about whether labels are important or a factor for complications. Though there is a need to define relationships to know where to draw the line between friends and lovers, it is often terrifying to know what the truth really is. The word ‘commitment’ may seem an intimidating word for some, but it is also loved by many. 

Tayo Muna Habang Hindi Pa Tayo is one of the entries for the Cinema One Originals 2019. Written and directed by Denise O’Hara, who won an award for Best Director in this year’s Gawad Urian for a movie called Mamang, a film about dementia and the struggles of remembering one’s life. 

The film festival ran from November 7 until November 17 in selected malls and microcinemas. Starring Jane Oineza and JC Santos as Alex and Carlo, the story portrays the characters’ struggle in the process of falling in love, falling out, being confused, and being sure at the same time. 

Falling in love in this generation is like using a trial and error method that gets you nowhere. In the emergence of dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble and websites like Omegle, finding a prospective partner has become fairly easy but also quick to lose. 

Alex, played by Jane Oineza, is a woman with big dreams and ambitions, eager to prove to the world that she is more than just a pretty face. Carlo, played by JC Santos, on the other hand, is your typical go-with-the-flow kind of guy who works in the field of graphic design and freelance work. The story progresses as the two create something that neither of them knows what is and what to call. 

By slowly cracking her shell and breaking down her walls, Carlo manages to see the parts of Alex that no one really sees. Underneath her cold gazes and intimidating aura, lies a sappy and marupok girl. One night, after planning and talking about the design for Alex’s upcoming project, a cockroach scare prompts a rush to the bedroom; ensuing a somewhat emotional conversation that turns the atmosphere into purple and red hazes. 

After that night, awkwardness sits between them in the office. Alex, trying to figure out what happened, asks Carlo directly; as to his reply, along with the words “Masaya pa rin naman ‘diba?” creates a questionable feeling both to the characters and the audience. 

Stemming from the title itself, the movie—from start to finish—draws a problematic and complicated cycle that reflects dating and almost-dating. The dialogues lacked a bit of emotional appeal and the concreteness of thought cannot be easily grasped. The movie has a back and forth sequence, showing the past and the present, how the moments came to be, what arguments were thrown out to get to the scene where they chase each other in the sidewalk with pain and hesitation in their eyes. 

Cinematography-wise, the color palette of the film shifts along with the emotion that is being presented on the screen, making up for the lack of substance in the exchange of dialogues. It is a mess, paralleling to Alex and Carlos’ relationship, the shaky camera angles and the abrupt shift from one scene to another provides support in pulling off the movie’s complicated narrative. It could have had more backstory and fewer gaps in the storyline but it somehow works as it leaves you hanging and still questioning what happened. It keeps you in the cycle even though you have stepped out of the cinema already. 

Filled with contradictions and trouble waiting to happen, O’Hara’s work garners attention from those who are in the same position. The film dwells on complex-minded characters, pretty much like our generation, and their decisions on whether they should leave or keep fighting for something that is vague. It is a ticking time bomb of tears and regret or maybe, just maybe, something magical and worthwhile. 

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