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#YouthRESIST tells Duterte: ‘The resistance is here’

“We cannot stay behind the comforts of ranting on social media,” 13-year-old Shibby de Guzman said.

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Students of St. Scholastica’s College wave cardboard signs to protest against the government’s war on drugs. Photo by Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

Millennials have been called “vain, selfish, and apathetic” — but in last Tuesday’s #YouthRESIST movement, they were more than eager to prove otherwise.

Waving different cardboard signs and marching to Les Miserables’s “Do You Hear the People Sing”, students of St. Scholastica’s College-Manila, along with different youth groups and student organizations, staged an ‘alternative’ youth State of the Nation Address less than a week before Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s second on July 24.

Taking their voices to Leon Guinto St., they called for an end to the extrajudicial killings and the government’s bloody “war on drugs” which is claimed to have taken an estimated number of 7,000 to 12,000 lives.

“We cannot stay behind the comforts of ranting on social media,” said Grade 9 Scholastican Shibby de Guzman. “It’s no longer just about us, it’s about everyone.”

13-year-old Shibby de Guzman urges the youth to “keep fighting” despite online harassment. Photo by Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

Similar protests were also held in Cebu City and General Santos City.

De Guzman caused an uproar online when she was photographed by The Benildean last November leading her schoolmates in the streets to protest the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Despite being targeted by trolls and online harassment, the 13 year old only became more vocal with her sentiments and has since served as the face of the #YouthRESIST movement.

“Keep fighting. Don’t mind the backlash. Always remember the country,” de Guzman told TomasinoWeb—all while marching once more to the streets.

‘Fight for what you believe in’

Karla Yu from Millennials Against Dictators also faced similar attacks for taking part in numerous protests.

But like De Guzman, she urged the youth to be more vocal about social issues.

Karla Yu of Millennials Against Dictators tells youth to “fight for what they believe in.” Photo by Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

“[The #YouthRESIST movement] has proved that we have the numbers who are willing to speak about this,” Yu spoke to TomasinoWeb. “At the end of the day, we fight for what we believe in.”

UP Sociology student Adrienne Onday, who popularized the “cardboard justice” protest last year, said that having other students follow suit is “an effect I never dreamed of having.”

“To see that a lot of people have really picked it up, I think I’m very proud to say I’ve been part of this,” Onday told TomasinoWeb, “na ako yung isa sa mga tao na talagang humikayat sa marami na magsalita, especially sa kabataan.”

Students wave cardboard signs similar to Hope Swann and Adrienne Onday’s “cardboard justice” protest last year. Photo by Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

Like Yu and De Guzman, Onday has battled with harassment online and offline after she walked around Manila wearing a cardboard that read “lahat tayo posibleng drug pusher.”

Killing the youth

The rising death toll of Duterte’s drug war has left thousands of bereaved families on its wake.

Lea Calano, a widow, narrated how her 5-year-old niece and her brother-in-law were killed.

“Kakaunti nalang sa amin ang may kayang magsalita,” Calano said. “Mapapawi ang takot ng iba kung ang tapang sa ating mga kabataan ay magsisimula.”

She also added that “walang sinuman ang pinangarap maging adik, o mapagbintangan na adik [at] papatayin ng walang hustisya.”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros also expressed her disgust over the unlawful “killing spree” as the government seemingly “honors the corrupt and kills the poor.”

“All these senseless deaths and tragedies are proof that government is not listening to the poor, it’s killing the poor and the youth,” Hontiveros lamented.

Nonetheless, she told the government that “millennials are watching.”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros announces “we are the resistance.” Photo by Von Ozar/TomasinoWeb.

Hontiveros also encouraged the youth to lead the nation and to stand against the government’s “creeping authoritarianism.”

Quoting the popular television series Game of Thrones, she proclaimed “winter is here; the night gathers, so does the resistance — and we are the resistance!”

#YouthRESIST was organized by Akbayan Youth, Millennials Against Dictators and the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, along with various student and community-based organizations.

Similar protests were also held in Cebu City and General Santos City.—with Philip Jamilla

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Practice leads to permanence: small steps towards a Greener UST

Even by doing the smallest of things, it could give way to the greatest of changes. To further these advances, the UST CSC is leading the Thomasians in spreading the call against climate change last Sept. 17.

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greener ust central lab
Photo by Neo Garcia

Even by doing the smallest of things, one step at a time, could give way to the greatest of changes if we firmly believe in it. Although environmental problems have been plaguing the earth since time immemorial, a new surge of interest to the environment’s cause was brought upon by the popularization of metal straws. Advocates have been promoting for a strawless UST since 2016 and more students are heeding the call to cut some carbon footprint one Thomasian after another.

To further these advances, the UST Central Student Council is leading the Thomasian community in spreading the call against climate change. Last September 17, Thomasians took part on an active collaborative effort to advocate for a greener and a more environmental-friendly University during Greener UST Phase One: Environmental Assessment Resolving Threats to our Home (E.A.R.T.H)

By inviting speakers who are passionate in championing for environmental rights, Thomasians are given a wide range of topics that served as eye-openers to the crux of the earth’s plight for sustainability in the first phase of this event. Among them are Rodne Galicha, Country Manager for The Climate Reality Project, Paul Soriano, Communication Specialist for DENR’s Climate Change Service, Lia Alonzo, Program Coordinator for the Center for Environmental Concerns – PH and Engr. Ludwig Federigan, Executive Director for the Young Environmental Forum.

In an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb, CSC Auditor and Project Head, Adrian Fernando, shared the rationale behind this project who not only sees it as his brainchild, but a personal advocacy as well.

“The problem is happening right now […] it’s not too late sana to fix it,” according to Fernando on the reason why he conceptualized such event.

As shown by the catastrophic effects of the recent typhoon Ompong, the populace is urged to act now to prevent and lessen the aftermaths of future disasters. For us Thomasians, we are fortunate to have Greener UST as a wakeup call, to stop living like climate change is not affecting our daily lives and it urges us to act on the immediate concern about the environment that could help in alleviating the effects that global warming seeks to enhance.

Promises of doing the 3Rs, not littering, lessening the use of plastic and styrofoam are some examples of the pledge by Thomasians in response to the question, ‘What could you do for me?’ written in a makeshift tree that symbolizes the Mother Earth. These may not guarantee an immediate effect on the state of the environment, but at least it is a good start.

The fight to sustain the environment remains a daunting task. The minutiae of recycling and cutting plastic might seem futile, but having the will and initiative to conserve the only home we know is a stepping stone towards more permanent and progressive means of preservation such as living waste free and lobbying for nature’s protection.

“Yung tinatarget namin [ay] maging parang bridge kami [para] makahelp sila sa environment”, Fernando said.

Practice leads to permanence—-a little alteration to the age old saying that acts as the backbone of this project should be remembered by all Thomasians. If it only takes 5 weeks to develop a habit, we can practice extreme diligence especially for a cause that will not only achieve a greater and a collective good but also a future for the generations to come.

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United against one storm

Last September 17, the Lumad people visited the University to establish bakwit schools. The Lumads went all the way to Manila to assert their right to self-determination, to their ancestral lands, and to an education that is national, scientific, and mass-oriented.

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Photo by Gillian Robles.

Filipinos are always featured as being resilient. Amidst life challenges, we always find a way to cope. When facing a big storm, we always find the strength to look at a brighter side even when things are being torn asunder.

But resilience is not just a matter of adjusting to problems that we know are systemic; it is being able to be united against one common enemy in times of great crises, holding hand-in-hand to achieve great changes.

protesting lumads

Photo by Jude Angelo Camot

Last September 17, the Lumad people visited the University to establish bakwit schools. The Lumads went all the way to Manila to assert their right to self-determination, to their ancestral lands, and to an education that is national, scientific, and mass-oriented.

Their ‘Lakbayan’ is a form of protest, a quest of finding solace, a preparation for posterity, and an echo of their cries as a people who were forced to leave their ancestral lands and peaceful lives in the countryside because of intimidation, human rights violations, seizure and encroachment of their lands, and militarization due to Martial Law in Mindanao.

;umads protesting under the rain

Photo by Jude Angelo Camot

They were greeted on a Monday, with the resentful afternoon sky, and in turn, the Lumads and the Thomasians’ thunderous chants rumbled the whole University as they enter the centuries-old Arch of the Centuries. Despite the heavy downpour that covered the supposedly orange skies, their banners waved their calls for justice and their placards shouted for the upholding of rights.

Libro, hindi bala! Edukasyon, hindi giyera!”
Thomasians and the Lumads shouted in unison as they enter the Arch. The sky soon gave off its tearful confirmation making everyone shout, “Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

Throughout the program, it rained–of messages of solidarity, of hidden cries behind strong facial expressions, of grudges far beneath.

lumads creating a person, shot scene

Photo by Rohm Rizzel Bautista

It was still raining when Lumad students stood up to perform a cultural presentation reliving their grim experiences in the grassroots and depicting the death of Obello Bay-ao, a bakwit student, a friend, who one year ago was killed while harvesting his cornfield, who until now hasn’t yet got the taste of justice, along with hundreds more victims of arbitrary killings.

lumad lying down

Photo by Rohm Rizzel Bautista

Their faces wore fear, lingering pain, and sorrow–fresh from the memories that continues to wound them as people.

“Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

It rained throughout the Lumad integration when students visited the Central Seminary Gym to hear their stories and experiences. Meanwhile, Ompong unleashed its wrath. Crops were put to waste; the blood and sweat of the farmers were left in vain. Classes were suspended.

“Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

When another victim of Oplan Tokhang was left in the streets with blood gushing through his temples, it rained. Another arbitrary arrest of an innocent child due to Oplan Tambay happened while raining. It rained when a teacher who volunteered to extend the reaches of education to the grassroots was red-tagged and received various trumped-up charges for simply trying to help. It rained as the workers of NutriAsia were violently dispersed for standing up for their rights.

“Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

protesting lumads entering arch of the centuries

Photo by Jude Angelo Camot

It was on a Monday afternoon when they had to go. Throughout the week, they taught the Thomasians to manifest their Thomasian value of Compassion through showing the value of integration with the basic masses. It rained when Thomasians joined the Lumads as they rallied around the campus back to the Arch and called for an end to Martial Law and militarization in Mindanao, and a respect for their culture, rights, and ancestral lands.

“Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!”

Despite all the mishaps that their people had experienced, their unity as a tribe and our support continued to solidify their hope for a much brighter future ahead.

Ang Martial Law sa Mindanao ay parang bagyo na hindi matigilan, at gaya natin [sa harap ng malakas na pag-ulan] nagkakaisa tayo,” said Manilyn Gantangan, Grade 10 student from CTCSM Lumad school. She told Thomasians to open their eyes and hearts to what’s really happening in our society and encouraged the students to join their fight as the key to success is holding hand-in-hand amidst the ongoing storm.

There really is a great significance in the phrase, “Umulan man ay tuloy pa rin ang laban!” and if there is one thing to learn about the plight of the Lumads, it is this: Whenever misfortune comes and however big it seemed for us to handle, it is nothing in the face of a thousand arms stretched, holding one another–united against one storm.

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The sounds that sang hope

Indeed, music is a language that everybody understands; it connects the most confused minds to create the most articulate message. And while music is but a phantasm, a sea whose depth is only accessible to the bold, it continues to live and comfort as there are still wind that blows to brass, beats on a familiar percussion, and hands that tickle the most dauntless of strings–singing the songs that remind us of hope.

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orchestra flutes and violinists
Photo by Gillan Robles/TomasinoWeb.

The first gasps of September air greeted the crowd with gentle raindrops as they bid the last days of August farewell—marking evenfall as the sun lay repose on the western horizon. Church bells rang their solemn chants as they left the Thomasian community frozen, locked in an intimate, sobersided posture—closing the day with faith on their hands and hope in their hearts.

As dusk fell, people began to fill the decades-old Santisimo Rosario Parish—with its gallant art deco speaking of modesty and elegance as she showcase her age-old beauty poised by a touch of modernism—with longing and drive to hear this year’s Ugnayan sa Tugtugan, with UST Symphony Orchestra (USTSO) in collaboration with the prominent ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra (ABSCBNPO).

Whispers of excitement were cut in mid-air as the revered Philippine National Anthem was played, formally starting the program as it reignited the hearts of the audience. The crowd beat their clenched fists on their chests as they harmoniously sang the UST Hymn filling the chapel with echoes of the Thomasian Spirit.

orchestra conductor in play

Photo by Gillan Robles/TomasinoWeb.

Adding more fire to the flame of the hundreds of burning hearts of the audience was a powerful rendition of Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80, conducted by Maestro Gerard Salonga of ABSCBNPO, which exhibited a part of Brahms’ strong emotional feeling, his deeply expressive manner, and exposed his fondness for Classicism. After the majestic performance, the crowd gladly gave back its thunderous applause.

Suddenly, Denise See, alumna of UST Conservatory of Music, took the piano seat and serenaded the audience with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18: I. Moderato, together with Maestro Gerard Salonga as the conductor. The pianist’s playful hands weaved the Russian Romantic back to life together with his precision, clarity, and his ability to articulate the abstract and discern enigmatic movements through his profound rhythmic structures. The crowd began to feel the unsolicited emotional baggage of Rachmaninoff’s Concerto that melted the hardest of hearts.

When asked regarding the significance of the event, UST Conservatory of Music student Cloi Sugano shared to TomasinoWeb, “[sa event na ito] ipinakita natin na in everything that a musician [does], yung pine-perform namin, talagang andoon yung puso, andoon yung determination para mabuo yung isang production na ganito kaganda.”

She even recollected how music helped her in her studies and how fellow musicians became a symbol of inspiration, a force that continues to drive her to push further. “Nakaka-uplift ng boost para mag-aral, [to] improve yung craft mo as an artist, parang to aim always for excellence,” she added.

orchestra cello player and violinist playing music

Photo by Robert Garcia/TomasinoWeb.

Meanwhile, Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco Overture, as conducted by Maestro Herminigildo Ranera of USTSO, opened the second part of the program. Italian opera and its dramatic expression filled the room, wiping the audience’s tears after a session of Rachmaninoff’s–replacing it with fancy, iconic flashes of Nebuchadnezzar II and the plight of the Jews.

Students from different universities also marveled with awe as Thomasians showcased their talents. After watching a live performance of Verdi’s Nabucco Overture, Music Production student of University of Makati Vhon Ehmil Solito shared how he felt.

Natuwa ako doon sa [Nabucco] Overture kasi ‘yon yung isa sa mga pina-practice ko ngayon, tapos ganito pala.. ang galing,” said Solito. He then shared how he was inspired by the piece and how we should value music amidst today’s crises. “Nakaka-inspire siya lalo na ngayon na marami nang kabataan yung nalululong [sa droga], tapos nakakatuwa na napanatili natin yung culture natin [as] Philippine musicians [na may pagpapahalaga sa musika].”

Bea Solina, a student of UST Conservatory of Music, also aired out her thoughts regarding the event. “Isang malaking achievement siya sa Conservatory of Music kasi minsan lang kami magkaroon ng event na maso-showcase yung talent[s] ng college namin,” said Solina. “Kasama pa yung ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra. Sa career nung mga kasali sa [UST Symphony] Ochestra, malaking bagay ‘yon [para] sa [future] nila.”

orchestra singers singing

Photo by Gillan Robles/TomasinoWeb.

Various opera pieces from Donizetti (“Una Furtiva Lagrima” from L’Elisir d’Amore), Mozart (“Ach ich fühls” from Die Zauberflöte), and Puccini (“O Soave Fanciulla” from La Boheme) then followed, all conducted by Maestro Herminigildo Ranera and performed by Tenor Francisco de Guzman Jr. and Soprano Nerissa de Juan.

Maestro Salonga once again took the baton to lead the orchestra for the last time with Manuel De Falla’s Final Dance (Jota) from El Sombrero De Tres Picos, bidding the people a frisky adiós.

Behind every successful event is a rigorous preparation. But according to UST Symphony Orchestra President Ram Sajota, all that happened that night was but a mere accident fulfilled by destiny’s nod.

Itong production na ito, it was accidental,” shared Sajota to TomasinoWeb. “We initially planned na tumugtog sa [Buenaventura Garcia Paredes O.P. Building] (BGPOP).. then ayaw pumayag ng BGPOP so nagpunta kami [sa] Albertus Magnus, ngayon [doon], inisip namin how to fit 140 members of orchestra.”

He then recalled how, with the Conservatory of Music Dean Antonio Africa and USTSO Maestro Herminigildo Ranera, they opted to seek out the help of Rev. Fr. Louie Coronel, the parish priest, and their request to perform at the Santisimo Rosario Parish was granted, making the event possible.

Ugnayan sa Tugtugan not only meant to showcase Thomasians’ excellence in music but also to create a partnership that will give birth to a night filled with wonder. “It’s not just to perform, it’s a culminating activity of the coaching sessions, Sajota recollected. “Bukod sa pag-showcase, educational din siya kasi tinrain ng [ABSCBNPO] members yung [UST Symphony] Orchestra kaya merong ‘Ugnayan’ sa Tugtugan,” Sajota added.

orchestra violinist smiling

Photo by Robert Garcia/TomasinoWeb.

Indeed, music is a language that everybody understands; it connects the most confused minds to create the most articulate message. And while music is but a phantasm, a sea whose depth is only accessible to the bold, it continues to live and comfort as there are still wind that blows to brass, beats on a familiar percussion, and hands that tickle the most dauntless of strings–singing the songs that remind us of hope.

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