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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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Shameless Pride: Why the Face of Belongingness Lives on in the Streets

There is an ongoing turmoil within the community that needs to be discussed, and so they continue to go out into the streets together. This tells us that they have more stories to tell. Their existence tells us that what the world needs is not to ignite hate but to spread love.

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Photo by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo

It is an inevitable sight: a depiction of a rainbow in several forms—a flag draped over an arm and a wristband fastened on wrists that make up a crowd. Sometimes the details are subtle: a pin attached on a collar and a hint of a dyed layer of hair, perhaps done in the middle of the night, hours before the march. Yet this expressive and riotous aspect of the Pride Month retains its sense of being triumphant through its buoyancy and evocative command. It is the time of the year when the LGBTQIA+ community dismisses every custom that seeks conformity by simply huddling together and being in the moment.

A manifestation of multi-colored resilience

Resiliency is something that is vital to any form of resistance. For Jolo Gonzales, a first-year Economics student from the Faculty of Arts and Letters, the Pride March is not merely a celebration; it is the very embodiment of the LGBTQIA+ community’s tenacity throughout the history.

“Those people who join Pride, it is a choice for them to go out and celebrate or come out as who they really are,” Gonzales shared to TomasinoWeb. “And in this country, that choice is present to those who are courageous enough to accept and to fight for who they are.”

Photo by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo

Gonzales, who identifies as a bisexual, believes that Pride Month is not just about gender and sexuality; it is about being the kind of person who you truly want to be. As a member of the community, he does not condone stereotypes among the other members, for he thinks it is contradictory to what they are fighting for.

There is an underlying issue that often remains undiscussed. According to JV Reyes, a student from the College of Fine Arts at the University of the Philippines – Diliman, there are “threats that seek to falsely sensationalize the community” in regards to the interests that do not exactly concern it. What actually concerns the LGBTQIA+ struggle, he believes, is oftentimes disregarded by many.

“Perhaps one main struggle that, I think, each member of the community has is the conflict with fearing who you are and, eventually, fearing for yourself and the people that you value,” Reyes said. “There is the fear of rejection, which may come from our respective families and loved ones, and as well as the society we live in.”

But the community’s struggle is an intricate matter; it transcends personal battles and affects one’s social status and economic position. There is the fear of securing a stable job, the threat in one’s health condition, and the presence of violence and direct aggression. There is also little representation and recognition.

“And the thing is, despite these vulnerabilities from various threats, we don’t get as [many] rights as heterosexuals do. We don’t get as much protection,” Reyes added.

When asked if he would be able to name at least one place where he feels comfortable with his sexuality, as someone who identifies as queer, he said: “As long as this society disregards that we exist and that we deserve equal and fair treatment, I won’t feel safe of judgment and discrimination from anywhere.”

Overcoming heteronormative barricades

Jeman Malibiran, a senior high school student from the University of Santo Tomas, plans to attend this year’s Pride March. “[It] is a manifestation of resistance,” he said. “It is not merely a statement on who we are, on identity, but more so a statement about our dissatisfaction with the status quo and about how we envision such to change.”

Malibiran went on, “It will be my first time because I only recently have fully confirmed that I identify as pansexual, come out to my mother, and found true people who genuinely support my identity.”

Photo by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo

Gabriel*, a first-year student from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde who identifies as asexual, believes that acceptance is the true meaning of the community’s struggle. “Giving them a home and a place to express themselves,” he explained.

Because the nature of his identity is rooted in fairly intimate concerns, Gabriel usually struggles when it comes to explaining how his orientation works. “It’s a bit aggravating,” he confessed. “It wasn’t just a ‘phase’ or ‘I haven’t met the one.’”

There is rarely any conversation about asexuality as well. “If there is any, it’s in the fringes,” Gabriel said. “So there really wasn’t a guide to how I felt, or how to put words into feelings. It’s not exactly a point of public discourse at the moment.”

Malibiran emphasizes that this is the reason why LGBTQIA+ members have a hard time expressing affection in public and often face stigma.

“There is still a struggle of being wrongly perceived as sinful, lustful, and disease-carrying among the community due to the dominant patriarchal mindset and the lack of education about gender and sexuality,” he added.

Carving out safe spaces

Protests are not something we should overlook; they must upset us. They are unsettling for a reason. Aurora*, a freshman student from the Faculty of Arts and Letters, has gone to two Metro Manila Pride March—one from 2017 and one last 2018—and plans to do so again this year.

“I went to the Pride March 2017 out of curiosity. I wanted to feel what a Pride march is,” he remarked. “I went to the march again last year because of the people I met. I wanted to meet more amazing people who are just like me. I wanted to experience the rain, the chants, the clothes, the program, and the love all over again.”

“[These] celebrations are for our brothers and sisters who were persecuted and being persecuted for being who they are,” he added. “[The] March is not only parties about our genders and sexualities, [but it also] is a protest for our rights.” The true meaning of being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, for Aurora, is for them to look out for one another. “We fight for them and for those who perished in our battles,” he said.

Jules*, a first-year student taking up International Studies at De La Salle University, believes that the Pride March is, first and foremost, a protest. “We see its roots in the Stonewall riots. Nothing about that was pretty. It was queer people fighting back against the police. They laid their lives on the line so we can have a little bit of safety, a little bit of acceptance, just enough so we can continue the fight,” she said.

Photo by Elizabeth Nicole Regudo

“So when I look back at history, I see Pride March as a protest against the system, against repressive institutions, against hate,” Jules added. “It’s going into the streets to revolt as one, and nowadays we have a lot of things to revolt about as well.”

Aurora believes that coming out is not merely a self-acknowledgment; it is the declaration of one’s willingness to be part of something real and honest. “I want everyone to know that I am a bisexual man,” he said. “Because I want everyone to know that people like me exist.”

For Jules, it is something that has a different meaning for every queer person: for some, it may mean being out and proud; for others, it may mean a select few only. “You define your journey,” she said. “What’s important to remember is that being out to only a few people doesn’t mean that you are less brave. We are all brave for living our truth in ways we’ve made our own.”

Aurora admits being a victim of internalized homophobia, which is still seen in dating applications like Grindr and Blued. These applications, according to him, have a niche of homosexual men who cater Masc4Masc dating scenes, which is when masculine, discreet queer men only date men of their own description. For him, this entails heteronormative narrative of gay acceptance.

Bi-erasure is also often left unspoken within the community. “Bisexuality faces a lot of stigmas still today,” Jules said. “The conversation [between] masculinity and femininity should also be discussed. Why is there a stigma against effeminate gays? How does this stigma feed harmful stereotypes?”

“I remember being bullied for being feminine,” Aurora revealed. “It gave me some kind of trauma that still affects me to this day. I’m still scared walking down a hallway full of men, anxious to be noticed and made fun of.”

The Pride March is not only a symbol of resistance; it is also the overt prompting of the community to seek a safe space. “It’s carving a place in this unforgiving world and sharing the burden of the fight with people who understand,” Jules said.

This is why protests are unsettling—because the way of life the LGBTQIA+ people are succumbed to is unwelcoming. There is an ongoing turmoil within the community that needs to be discussed, and so they continue to go out into the streets together. This tells us that they have more stories to tell. Their existence tells us that what the world needs is not to ignite hate but to spread love.

This is what is truly inevitable about the LGBTQIA+ struggle: the community’s sheer denial to believe what it has been conditioned to think it deserves. It is the community that speaks back and takes a stand, after all—and it will do this with the message of courage and compassion. Do not wonder why they come out into the streets and leave a trace of their vivacity behind. Instead, ask why they must keep doing so.

Names with asterisks (*) are pseudonyms. Pronouns used in the article are the preferred pronouns of the interviewees.

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Independence Day: Of Ceremonial Defeats and Freedom Myths

The history of our country immortalizes the meaning of our life then, as well as the scuffles and tragedies that wrote our present. But what we celebrate does not often mean we remember, for why and what we see today are contradictory to the freedom we sought after.

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Artwork by Kurt Tecson

From Lapu-Lapu, Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio to the warriors of the Philippine revolution and veterans of World War II—we remember the heroes who resisted those who attempted to conquer us by celebrating Independence Day. After all, history is a series of recollections. We remember Ninoy Aquino’s words—“The Filipino is worth dying for”— with such clarity that we can almost convince ourselves we have heard them even before we left our mother’s womb.

History may be a time long gone, kept only in books and mumbled in university lectures. But history signifies character and the Philippines is brimming with it. The history of our country immortalizes the meaning of our life then, as well as the scuffles and tragedies that wrote our present.

But what we celebrate does not often mean we remember, for why and what we see today are contradictory to the freedom we sought after.

In certain times we forget the true meaning of our independence. For instance, we as Thomasians no longer pause for a moment and sing the national hymn with necessary courtesy. Outside the school premises, our sense of freedom as Filipinos has been tainted in ways that now we have been constantly barraged with news of public accusations and political posturing. Aside from the execution of the war on drugs by the Duterte administration and the ongoing Martial Law in Mindanao, the China conflict has further aggravated the territorial disputes.

Yet it is clear that several things have not descended in some of the Filipinos’ consciousness, such as that of the way of the youth to resist submission. Instead, we reprimand them for their courage in never cowering in silence.  We overlook the organized language they speak in the streets, the shared protests they cultivate in their art, and the blatant refusal they hurl with raised fists and collective voices.

Photo by Dainish Santos

We forget that the youth of today are no different from the likes of Rizal, whose command over words has proven to be one of the things we continue to hold dear. Another Thomasian we ought to remember is Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, also known as ‘Don Bosyong’, who waved the first Philippine flag. He finished law in the university and was one of the people who co-wrote the Philippine Independence proclamation.

The youth who resist are some of the heroes we must not forget. ‘Ang kabataan ay ang pag-asa ng bayan,’ Rizal said. They are the heroes who do not brandish themselves with rifles. Instead, they arm themselves with a philosophy meant for the people and the hope that the freedom of Filipinos will be recognized once more for what it truly is—the very embodiment of our country’s right to life and liberty. This is what the fight is all about: to call to mind the legacy our ancestors left behind and to live it out in our everyday life—because we must not flinch from the threats; we ought to break free from them through resistance and defiance.

The celebration of our Independence Day does not only mark the remembrance of the past; it is also the struggle we continue today for those who have been forgotten, hurt, and misled. It is our way of reminding ourselves over and over again that it is the compassion and love for the people that make being a Filipino meaningful.

We were a nation that fought for the freedom of the Filipino people. We can still be that nation today. And we ought not to forget that our country’s history, at its core, does not simply remind us—it lives within us.

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Where Champions are Born

More than 10,000 graduating Thomasians proved that champions are made, not born as they cross the Arch of the Centuries for the last time.

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Thomasian singing we are the champions
Photo by Jacqueline Martinez

Festive, as one would put it. Banners, balloons, and bubbles surrounded the field as the different colleges showcase their own unique flares as they march with pride and dignity to the beat of our very own UST Yellow Jackets parading this year’s Baccalaureate Mass last Friday, May 24.

“Salamat, UST!” the graduates chanted out loud. With every beat of a drum is a restless heart, a long-kept excitement of taking the final step towards the finish line. “Sa wakas, ga-graduate na ako!”

Screams of excitement and joy echoed the four corners of the University as the graduating students fill up the streets to take their last walk around the campus. The sky was honoring every kiss and whispers of goodbye. Hugs were warm and tender, firm and sweet. Mellow May winds touched every skin causing goosebumps, making eyes let go of tears of joy, complementing the already humid atmosphere of a day whose skies were prayed for to be patient.

Thomasians dance to the tune of their batch song," Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon

Thomasians dance to the tune of their batch song,” Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon | Photo by Tantan Deang

Cameras flashing and selfie sticks dancing from left to right. Everybody was smiling, not only the graduates but also the parents and students from the lower batch bidding goodbye to their beloved seniors. Beats from the Yellow Jackets kept making everybody hyped and pumped for the big event. “Go Uste! Go Uste!” the graduates chant as they do the iconic cheer.

Among the students who are about to graduate was fourth year accountancy student Ed Russel Tayag who shared how his journey molded him to be the person he is right now.

“It was a rollercoaster ride from the beginning,” Tayag shared to TomasinoWeb. “I didn’t expect it to be hard. At first I thought that college would be just fun, but there are full of trials din pala and I’m thankful din for AMV for forming me to [be] who I am today.”

There would be times where everything seems to knock us out, pull us down, but the aspiring accountant emphasized that courage and conviction, good friends, and a proper mindset are the things we need to have to face these challenges.

“Tatagan mo lang. It would all be worth it in the end. Pahalagahan mo [ang] mga kaibigan mo kasi hinding-hindi ka nila iiwan. Always pray and believe that you can always do it. Stay optimistic,” Tayag said.

There is also the constant need to conform. A delay may seem to make you an outcast, but graduating engineering student Mary Anne Evangelista reminded everyone that we should focus more on our achievements rather than comparing ourselves to others.

“I have learned na tatagan yung loob ko. Iyong kahit sumuko ka, you just have to rest, and go on,” Evangelista said. “Kahit kailan ka pa grumadweyt or what time it [takes], okay lang. As long as you try, that’s good.”

As students ready to take on the world, there would always be realizations that what you may have planned in the beginning only remained as mere plans. Hearts fired with courage will sometimes be muted when problems arise but we should always remember to trust ourselves. Bryan Lim from the College of Fine Arts and Design shared his experiences in UST.

“In my stay in UST, I’ve learned that not everything the way you planned [getting to the university] pans out.” he said. He started in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences and has now graduated with a degree from the College of Fine Arts of Design. “It’s [experiences]  really different and I have experienced so much in the five years that I was here.”

Sometimes, the world takes you to where you really belong. There would always be hardships, trials, and fear, but all of these are part of the journey. “To my freshman self, go with your gut because in the end of all of this, you’d still end up where your heart is.” Lim said.

A Thomasian writing her farewell message on a uniform

A Thomasian writing her farewell message on a uniform | Photo by Jacqueline Martinez

With pens in their hands, this year’s valiant legions wrote farewell messages on one another’s Type A uniforms as part of the age-old tradition. They were laughing as they screamed their heartfelt messages to one another, as drum beats overpower their farewells. Feet were stomping in joy, running towards old and new friends alike, unbothered by the splashes of mud from the ground that was dampened by an earlier drizzle.

The University Grandstand calmed down. The skies reflected lilac, distinguishing itself from fragrant violet, as the shy sun slowly laid repose on the western horizon, surrendering to ominous-looking clouds, the cool wind engulfing everyone, signaling a shift to solemnity as Thomasians prepare for the Holy Mass.

“This is your endgame,” University Rector Very Rev. Fr. Herminio V. Dagohoy, O.P. said in his homily. “Having spent thousands of hours in the University, reading voluminous pages of books, answered hundreds of examinations, survived the tensions of graded recitations and practical tests, you are here today rejoicing, for these experiences would finally end.”

Endings usually have sad implications, ‘bittersweet’ as the Rector would put it, but he reminded everyone that endings, as part of every journey, should excite us for it opens a door to a myriad of possibilities.

“Such words like ‘I love you 3000’… are memorable, because these words express not only the pain that goes along with living but also a fervent desire for a good beginning,” he added.

Leaving the University also means leaving all the cherished memories we made inside the campus. Reliving her experiences in the University throughout the years, Asian Studies major Denielle Nicole Viray nostalgically shared how she became emotional that she has had to let go of the University that she became emotionally attached with.

“Since high school kasi nandito na ako sa UST, so marami na akong na-witness na achievements ng school na ‘to and I’m really proud na ga-graduate ako ngayon as a Thomasian student and hindi basta-basta makakalimutan yung Thomasian spirit na meron itong Thomasian community.” Viray said.

Suddenly, the lights dimmed. The University Grandstand turned into a sea of candles, waving back and forth in majesty. A familiar rhythm embraced the crowd, conjuring a spirit that transcends the souls of each and everyone—the Thomasian spirit. The crowd sang the UST Hymn with firm conviction and appreciation.

Students don the Thomasian Cross on each other

Students don the Thomasian Cross on each other | Photo by Gillian Robles

Shallow tears trickled down as if they were already aching to break free from warm eyelids. The mixture of joy and sadness that enveloped the atmosphere turned into excitement as the iconic conversation from the blockbuster movie Avengers: Endgame played.

And, one by one, the sparks that illuminated the dark skies danced through the beat of the drums of Queen’s We Will Rock You. Gasps upon gasps, the Thomasians, with their heads staring up high at the magical display of colors, shouted “We Will Rock You” in unison. This is where champions are born.

Thomasians watch in awe as light rain down from the night sky

Thomasians watch in awe as light rain down from the night sky | Photo by Gillian Robles

The graduates raised their fists as they sing the last piece “We Are The Champions”. They spread their arms, like birds ready to leave their nests, the widest and looked at their fellow champions with pride and dignity. The sky turned golden yellow, celebrating the royalty of the Thomasian success, as the song reached its climax.

They exited the Arch of the Centuries as new beings, noble and great. Years ago, they entered the Arch with flaming passion, now their passions are roaring as ever to face the endgame.

With their friend's standee as proxy, Thomasians ran towards the Arch of the Centuries

With their friend’s standee as proxy, they ran towards the Arch of the Centuries | Photo by Jacqueline Martinez

Hands held each other, they ran to the finish line. They gave their loudest roars as they plunge into a whole new world, a door to a series of possibilities.

“Champions are made, not born,” they said. This thought lingered to every single one as the crowd subsided, emptying the historic walls and streets of the University.

Once again, it was still and quiet. The Main Building stood strong, its Blue Cross guarding the campus. The centuries-old Arch celebrated peacefully in front of España Boulevard its new set of graduates and said, “Yes, as life is a process, as they enter their new lives, they are once again born.” She giggled for a moment and sighed “and this is where champions are born.”

Roll up the curtains for the Tigers who have finally earned their stripes—their journey as Thomasians has finally come to an end.

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