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Radiating Farther and Illuminating Further

With focus on health, awareness, and student representation, Robert Dominic Gonzales runs for presidency of the UST Central Student Council.

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Photo grabbed from Robert Gonzales’ Facebook account

With focus on health, awareness, and student representation, Robert Dominic Gonzales takes a step forward by running for the presidency of the University of Santo Tomas Central Student Council (UST-CSC) for the academic year 2019-2020. As issues within and outside the campus continue to surface, he aims to Radiate Farther and Illuminate Further as we realize our duties as Thomasians and Filipinos, coupled by his hope to Elevate student representation and participation.

A vocal and active student leader and an aspiring physician, he champions not only issues of health awareness, especially mental health, but also the upholding of students’ rights and welfare. A born-leader, he has managed to get executive positions since high school. Robert is also fond of teaching. When he was still a sophomore, he has since been the go-to of his fellow batchmates and lower years. “Currently, up to this year, kahit Med student na ko, kahit nasa Council (UST-CSC) na ako, nagtuturo pa rin ako, not just sa freshies ng [Faculty of Pharmacy], pati rin sa review centers outside,” Gonzales shared in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

But behind these leadership campaigns, advocacies and platforms, and fora, Robert Dominic Gonzales is like any other student struggling with academic pressure and expectations. Behind textbooks and highlighters is a love for fiction, manifested in a collection of Harry Potter books; a fondness for some risk, as told by the dripping of sweats from hours of playing volleyball, badminton, and swimming; and a contempt for his archenemy: veggies.

As the eldest of four siblings, Robert grew up determined. He has always been sure on what path he intends to tread: to graduate at the UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. He recalled how when he was still young, he have always wanted to become a doctor, and consistently reminded his mom, “Ma, malapit na akong maging doktor.” A curious child enchanted by the wonders of Science and the universality of Mathematics, as reflected by and upon Nature, he went on with his “destiny.”

“Mas nag-ignite or nagpa-spark sa akin sa Field of Medicine was when we conducted one medical mission nung college ako,” Gonzales recalled how applying knowledge in a very helpful and concrete way of service made him more formidable with his principles. “Sobrang saya sa pakiramdam everytime magte-thank you sa’yo yung pasyente… sobrang fulfilling na nakatulong ka sa pagpapahaba ng buhay niya.”

With this comes the interest of furthering his service, hence his running for the UST-CSC presidency. But why, then, should the Thomasians choose a Robert Dominic Gonzales to represent the studentry? Here’s how he answered, with firm conviction:

“Siguro kasi ako yung isang student leader na hindi lang tumitindig sa karapatan ng bawat estudyante, ng bawat Thomasians, kasi makikita mo rin ako na nagpa-participate sa mga laban sa lansangan—sa mga pagra-rally, pagpoprotesta [para] sa karapatan ng mga mamamayan natin—ng mga manggagawa, ng mga Lumad at mga indigenous people.”

He was there holding a placard and speaking out in the streets from a megaphone condemning the massacre of the nine farmers of Sagay. He was also there to welcome when the University opened its doors to our Lumad brothers and sisters who have decided to establish bakwit schools in the campus to assert their right to education and self-determination.

He also noted that the University should be a defender and a sanctuary of human rights. “Being a Royal, Pontifical, and a Catholic University, kailangan tumitindig din yung UST sa mga karapatang pantao, not just of the Thomasians, but also [of] the Filipinos,” he said.

Student elections, like national elections, is saturated by campaigns and speeches. But behind the political theatrics, it is more of practicing democracy and our rights and the finding of the right representative, as a student leader is the voice of the studentry. With this comes the responsibility to become critical. Gonzales shared some tips in assessing aspiring candidates:

“Meron akong tatlong tinitingnan, ito yung natutunan ko sa pag-attend sa mga forum [on] voters’ education: Una, ‘yong pagiging Makatao; pangalawa, Makabayan; pangatlo, Maka-Diyos. Tatlong katangian na hinahanap natin dapat sa mga kumakandidato, not just sa University but also in the national elections.” He, then, shared that we must also assess candidates’ track records in order to figure out their integrity and credibility. “Doon natin makikita yung mga hindi dapat iboto.”

To radiate farther and illuminate further is to ask, for whom do we step forward? Who will benefit from our toils and sacrifices? For whom do we dedicate our passion? “We are not just Thomasian student leaders; we are Filipino Thomasian student leaders,” Gonzales replied when asked whether students and student leaders should participate on national issues. “And as Filipinos, we also have a duty sa bansa natin, that is if kaya natin, if we have the capability [and] capacity na ipaglaban yung karapatan ng mga kapwa natin mamamayan, bakit hindi tayo tumindig para doon?”

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Cheering for the Cheerleaders

“Ilang gabi naming siyang pinagpractice-an, ilang gabi naming siyang iniyakan tapos six minutes lang naming siya ipapakita sa buong sambayanan.”

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Photo by Alec Go

In every game at any sport, the cheerleaders’ presence are always seen, if not, heard. As an instigator of spirit in both the audience and in the game, they are the vital voice and image of encouragement— in leading chants, “Go USTe!” and representing the University’s growl. 

Their astonishing air times cement the Salinggawi Dance Troupe’s excellence in the eyes of Thomasians. For Querstine Flandez, this is more than a cheer dance, this is the drive that they carry within themselves.

Querstine, who calls herself as Q, has been an athlete under Salinggawi for the last six years. Pumped up for the Cheerdance Competition this upcoming November 17, Q shares in an interview with TomasinoWeb, “I’m very thankful for Salinggawi because malayo ako sa [immediate] family ko. So, sobrang minahal ako ng Salinggawi at tinanggap ako ng buo.” The sport has become a second family, bringing out the best in her.

Years of performing for ‘Gawi has garnered numerous recollections of memories and experiences both—molding who she is today. Unforgettable, like her debut in CDC, opening her eyes to how the dance troupe tackles the competition. There are also memories that serve as lessons, undesirable injuries and misapprehension with teammates. These experiences are unavoidable and part of the training. Nevertheless, this never stopped her from pursuing and showing the best of her abilities. 

Since the competition is nearly here, Salinggawi is preparing for their grand theme, training harder than before. Q and her teammates are filled with excitement, toppling their nervous thoughts. It helps that the team cannot wait to exhibit their striking air time to the rest of the world. 

“You’re like in Cloud 9,” Querstine exclaims. While in the air, she emphasizes that trust is not built on whether her teammates will be able to catch her, but it’s also how they make you feel that they trust you as well. It goes both ways. 

 

 

Querstine Flandez during a practice of Salinggawi a week before the 2019 UAAP Cheerdance Competition | Larizza Lucas/TomasinoWeb

From her debut all those years ago, Querstine’s sentiments remain unchanged—their purpose is clear. The black, gold and white crowd is the most imperative symbol in every game. For her, the means and ends of Salinggawi is esteem. “Kung gaano minamahal ng UST ang Salinggawi at kung gaano din nagmamahal ang Salinggawi sa UST,” she explains. With the competition fast approaching, the Thomasian community’s fervor makes them feel like they are not alone in this journey.

Heartbreak is a constant part of every competition. In this case, last year’s defeat in the UAAP season. Seemingly, this does not halt Q’s mindset of aiming for a better performance in her sixth and last year of being an athlete, “Sa pagiging Thomasian mo, kahit matalo ka, andiyan pa rin sila para sayo.

Expectations and pressure from the UST community is evident in the atmosphere, accelerated when the team released teasers with the hashtag #OneFORESTpaña! When asked as to how the team handles outlooks from the university, Q believes that inner circle character-building comes first—how they fight for it and to whom they offer their countless routines.

This is the result of their blood, sweat and tears, an offering of their efforts first for themselves then to the public. This tactic allows them to tackle the pressure from the outside of their circle. 

Effort, as accentuated by the team, are the days they offered themselves in the mat and the innumerable amount of routines. “Ilang gabi naming siyang pinagpractice-an, ilang gabi naming siyang iniyakan tapos six minutes lang naming siya ipapakita sa buong sambayanan,” Querstine laments. 

To better understand Salinggawi, one must place their feet in their training shoes first—walking by the routine that the team follows is not an easy task for the light-hearted. Commonly, they train from Monday to Saturday, from 6:00 in the evening down to 10:00 PM. When its off-season, trainings are by segment with basics and foundations but shift to quality-checking of routines by strengthening their formations when the competition is nearing.

The time has come and Salinggawi is prepared to serve not only the Thomasian community but also the vigorous spectators of this year’s UAAP CDC Season ’82. Support from various individuals will be witnessed by the team and they are more than ready to bring back the gold to where it belongs—to España and its tigers. 

Sa screams nila, sa sigaw nila ng ‘Go USTe!’, parang nah-hypen up kami. Nab-boost kami, nawawala yung pagod namin sa buong routine.”

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OneFORESTpaña! Thomasians show support for Salinggawi

Representing the University of Santo Tomas, the Salinggawi Dance Troupe are set for the UAAP Season ’82 Cheerdance Competition; with the theme, “OneForestpaña.”

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salinggawi qpav
Photo by Ann Corinne Vizconde

Charm, grace, and beauty. UST’s Salinggawi Dance Troupe captivates attention as they continuously carry triumph in their performances. Thomasians convey their ever-constant support and encouragement—hoping for ‘Gawi to win the crown once again.

Representing the University of Santo Tomas, the Salinggawi Dance Troupe are set for the UAAP Season ’82 Cheerdance Competition; with the theme, “OneForestpaña.”  The Forest symbolism represents the untouched realm and beauty of the unknown—where awe-inspiring trees are as tall as skyscrapers, fresh air that soothes the soul and the fathomless beauty of nature while unraveling its mysteries. More magical than before, a glimpse of what Thomasians are expected to see from the University’s pride.

Loud roaring cheers are prepared for the team. The Growling Tigers’ famous chanting eagerly awaits the SM Mall of Asia Arena on November 17. Last year, the Salinggawi placed 4th in the Cheerdance Competition—a narrow miss to finish third-place against Adamson Pep Squad by 0.5 points in the tally. 

On the 2017 UAAP Cheerdance Competition, all the glory was for Espana when the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe successfully bagged the first place with their tiger-inspired theme. Therefore, the Thomasian spirit never falters, holding onto the promising victory once more. 

España is all for OneFORESTpaña

With last year’s UAAP Cheerdance Competition still fresh in mind, students from all-over the university did not hesitate to support them with beaming optimism. John Edrich Allarey from the Faculty of Arts and Letters shared his sentiments in an interview with TomasinoWeb, “I still support them because they represent our University. Also, ang ganda ng ginawa nila, parang may continuity from their performance last time. I expect na higitan ‘yung performance nila kumpara last year. Goodluck Salinggawi Dance Troupe!”

“UST UAAP CDC Pep Rally November 11, 2019: Tigers from Faculty of Arts and Letters’ way of showing their support to Salinggawi Dance Troupe at Quadricentral Pavillion” | Photo by Marklance Talento

Jacob Isaac Enriquez from the Faculty of Pharmacy happily shared with TomasinoWeb his support for the team, “Salinggawi Dance Troupe is the premier prestige and pride of the University of Santo Tomas. For me, they are really showcasing what a real and true Thomasian talent is through the UAAP community.” 

His advanced message of success is testament to the Thomasians’ unwavering support and confidence in the group, “As early as this moment, I just want to congratulate Salinggawi Dance Troupe for doing a job well done, enjoy and show your best. Break a leg! Don’t forget that they are performing not just for the University but also for themselves.”

“Smiling altogether for Salinggawi from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the UST Qpav on 11th of November 2019” | Photo by Marklance Talento

Impressed upon this year’s theme, an Environmental Biology student from the College of Science explains with TomasinoWeb, “Relatable kasi ‘yung theme sa course ko.” He added, “Salinggawi Dance Troupe deserves all the support they [can] get kasi they excel naman talaga sa mga performances nila. I’ve watched their pep rally last year and sobrang amazing. Goodluck Salinggawi and One FORESTpaña!”

Senior High School student Luis Miguel Rosales also expressed his thoughts for the dance troupe. “They really give their whole heart fighting all the way for UST. That’s why I know they would give it their all and wholeheartedly persevere—striving to win and representing the University of Santo Tomas but not only for the school but also the student body as we, Tomasinos, are also cheering for them,” he shares in an interview with TomasinoWeb. Offering more comfort, he cheers, “We will support you all the way, Salinggawi!”

“Senior High full support for the PEP Rally at QPAV on November 11, 2019.” | Photo by Marklance Talento

Voices ringing with hope and confidence for the beloved team, the atmosphere in the campus is rimmed with faith and solidarity. Proudly portraying the wholeheartedly devoted Thomasian community that is seen in the huge crowd lined up to support the UST UAAP CDC Pep Rally at  Quadricentral Pavillion on November 11, 2019. Aiming for excellence, the Salinggawi Dance Troupe is a beacon—showcasing UST’s commitment, compassion and competence as best as they can. Every Thomasian sees this clearly, supporting them all the more for it. 

Counting down the days to the anticipated performance, a thousand cheers from every breathtaking stunt and graceful motion during the pep rally is a surefire show of support for Salinggawi. Thomasians have faith that they will show yet another thrilling performance. Executing every jump, lift and toss exceptionally, Salinggawi will capture not only the hearts of Thomasians but also of everyone who will lay their eyes on their insignia: the mystic of España

As they take their final stances, one thing is for sure. The Salinggawi Dance Troupe will not stand alone—for a huge crowd in their brightest yellows will be right behind them, chanting, “Go USTE!”

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QCinema 2019 continues to hold its prime

This year, the QCinema International Film Festival exhibited a new set of entries from aspiring Filipino and International filmmakers, producers and actors who, in turn, showcased their top-caliber skills, featuring it through their unique, creative and enthralling films. 

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Photo from QCinema Facebook page

“One City. To the World.” 

Carrying ideals from years past to its 7th year, QCinema International Film Festival 2019 ensures stability and a promising future. This year, the film fest exhibited a new set of entries from aspiring Filipino and International filmmakers, producers and actors who, in turn, showcased their top-caliber skills, featuring it through their unique, creative and enthralling films. 

QCinema International Film Festival is the official film festival of Quezon City. Held last October 19 until October 22, the event was first set in motion in 2013 by the Quezon City Film Development Commission (QCFDC) and is the only Local Government Unit that has its own commission in the film industry.

This year, there were more than 60 film entries including three featured Filipino films in the competition under Asian Next Wave; Cleaners, Babae at Baril, and Kaaway sa Sulod. The film fest aired for one week in various cinema venues within the city which included Trinoma, Gateway Cinemas in Cubao and Robinsons Galleria and other micro-cinemas around the city. 

Within these 60 film entries, awards will be chosen among the best stars, hence, the film festival also gives annual pylon awards to the actors, producers and the entries that showed remarkable and exceptional performance.

The Filipino film entry “Cleaners,” garnered three awards, winning under the category of Asian Next Wave as The Best Film, Audience Choice Award, and Best Screenplay of the year. It was directed by Glenn Barit, who did a remarkable job as the film went beyond the standards of filmmaking. Barit dived deeper into the imagination—directing the film by photocopying the 43, 000 frames, painting the scenes and digitally arranging it in a way that gave the film its retro-vibe. 

One might wonder, what’s with all the neon lights in the monochromatic film Cleaners? The pictures of the characters were highlighted, hence, it appeared pleasing to the eyes of the audience. This creative strategy made it stand out among the rest. Moreover, the story was set circa 2007 to 2008 in a high school in Tuguegarao, Cagayan. The film showed the accuracy of how students struggled in this era, and the different kinds of people you will meet— making anyone feel nostalgic of their high school days. 

Photo from QCinema website.

In an exclusive interview with TomasinoWeb, instructor Marc Kevin Romulo, a National Service Training Program lecturer in Quezon City University expressed his sentiments towards the film Cleaners. “Wala akong masabi but standing ovation talaga yung movie,” he remarks.

Romulo is in curriculum development and has actively supported indie films since 2013, including Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP). He was amazed when he found out that the film was made in an entirely different manner. “The best film kasi ang ganda ng pagkakagawa, especially the creativity.”

Romulo exclaims after seeing the film, further commenting on its timeliness—especially for the youth. “Yung message ng movie is very quite related sa curriculum instruction development. Ipinakita rin kung paano nagaadapt yung mga bata ngayon sa mga problems, encountered feelings and kung paano sila gumagawa ng kanilang sariling mundo,” he added. 

In addition, Romulo’s take on the film’s title is centered on responsibility “It [Cleaners] shows our duty as being human and as a part of the society na lahat ng feelings and mistakes kaya nating linisin.” Assuredly, the film is a must-watch for all ages, leaving an impacting conclusion. 

Another interview with TomasinoWeb, instructor Marc Kevin Romulo also watched Babae at Baril and admired its concept which portrayed the harsh reality for a woman, “Ipinapakita doon ang realidad ng buhay—it’s a kind of indie film na ipinapakita yung pagkamatotoo sa nangyayari sa buhay ng tao.” 

Bagging the Gender Sensitive Award is another film entry under Asian Next Wave. “Babae at Baril” directed by Red Rae and produced by Iana Bernardez. Rae Red was victorious as the Best Director while the leading lady of the film, Janine Gutierrez won the Best Actress Award. 

The film speculates the reality amidst toxic masculinity in society, clearly illustrating how women are faced with discrimination, harassment, and unfairness—suffocating them in a life that could lead to the worst possible scenario: violence. The day that the meek sales lady, played by Janine Gutierrez, found a gun on her doorstep and clutching it in her hands,  a rush of empowerment went through her: the life that she knew starts to shift. 

Photo from QCinema website.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb,  Jholo Baybayon, an electrical engineering student and head editor chief of LIKHA Production at Quezon City University explained his depiction of the film’s setting, “The world is really cruel if you look into the deeper side. ‘Pag tumingin ka sa marginalized sectors, doon mo makikita ‘yung mga anomaly na ginagawa nila. Sa Babae at Baril, it’s unusual to see a woman that uses a gun. Pero dahil sa sitwasyon ng bida (Janine Gutierrez) nakita ko kung bakit niya kailangan gamitin ‘yun.” 

Gutierrez’s character as a timid sales lady went through work discrimination and sexual abuse. The gun was her way of finally defending herself, to feel empowered, and to be free from the shackles of the harsh environment she constantly lives in. 

Deviating from heavy dramatic themes, an Australian film entry, Top End Wedding, addresses the life struggles and culture within a family through comedy. Directed by Wayne Blair, co-written by Miranda Tapsell and Joshua Tyler, and starring Gwilym Lee and Miranda Tapsell.

Top End Wedding is a story about Lauren (Miranda Tapsell) and Ned (Joshua Tyler), an engaged couple euphoric on thoughts of their dream wedding. However, they are faced with the conflict of saving a marriage that is on the verge of falling out where Lauren’s (Tapsell) mother disappeared somewhere in the northern part of Australia. 

Photo from QCinema website.

Audience member Sofia Palmiano shared her views with TomasinoWeb. Stating that the film was unexpectedly beautiful, “[] nagustuhan ko yung twist. Nung yung mother ay naghanap ng alone time para makahanap ng courage to face her family, at noong broken siya eh bumalik pa rin siya sa family niya.” This portrayed how unbreakable their family bond is. When asked if she will recommend this film to her friends, her reply was a definite yes. 

Sketching a picture of cultural diversity welcomed wholeheartedly, the film’s marital nature played true to its word with the wedding scene. Samantha Palmiano, another audience member, recalls, “[…] pinaghandaan talaga yung wedding and with all the struggles, they were finally married.” Ensuring the reality of your dream wedding is truly a fairytale. Top End Wedding showed that no matter the conflict thrown your way, as long as you have your loved ones, you will find a way to resolve it. 

Generously bestowing grants to its entries, 1.5 million in peso was granted to the featured films under Asian Next Wave by the film fest. The chosen featured documentary entries received 500 thousand pesos and 200 thousand pesos was under QCShorts film competition. 

There were twelve deserving entries that received these grants under their respective categories. The winners from Asian Next Wave Competition are Cleaners, which won the Best Film Award, Audience Choice Award, and Best Screenplay. Babae at Baril as Gender Sensitivity Award and its director Rae Red as Best Director and Janine Gutierrez as Best Actress.

Best Actor was given to Por Silatsa of the film Long Walk. NETPAC Jury Prize was given to Suburban Birds directed by Qui Sheng. Best Artistic Choice Award for contribution in editing under Asian Next Wave Competition was won by Lee Chatametikool from the film Nakorn-Sawan. 

The winning entries under QCShorts film competition are Judy Free directed by Che Tagyamon as the Best Film,  Excuse Me, Miss, Miss, Miss directed by Sonny Calvento as the recipient of Audience Choice Award and Tokwifi directed by Carla Pulido Ocampo as the winner of Special Jury Prize.

Truly one of the dazzling highlights in Quezon City, the film festival embraced local and international films of all genres, and provided a wide yet creative perspective fitting to all movie enthusiasts. The festival serves as a bridge to show the beauty and artistic capabilities of local and international filmmakers. 

QCinema is a perfect opportunity for anyone yearning to step up their game and showing their exceptional skills—leaving a mark in the film industry. 

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