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A letter from the editor

To say that 2017 was a challenging year is an understatement: 2017 was a terrible year—which is honestly funny, considering how just exactly a year ago, we were all probably tweeting how 2016 was the #WorstYearEver (it’s Twitter; sharper expletives are welcome).

If anything, the past year was merely a teaser for worse things to come, and it seems that 2017 picked up where 2016 left off: The Growling Tigers continued their dismal performance in the UAAP, securing only a single win this season; the government’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs continue to claim the lives of thousands, even teenagers; and hazing has killed another student, and this time, it’s a Thomasian—all while the Dutertes enjoy lavish photoshoots in the Malacañang.

Mocha Uson is now an actual government official (which, more or less, gives legitimacy to her blatant misinformation frenzy), martial law is in full swing in Mindanao after a series of terror attacks, and candidates who lost to abstentions in the student council elections have threatened to take over the vacant posts.

It was a terrible year, but it was also the year we fought back.

A hashtag has given sexual harassment victims a voice to decry and expose abusers. Thousands marched in the streets of Manila last Sept. 21 to protest the government’s inhumane drug operations and harassment of farmer and indigenous communities. Mental health advocates also fought the stigma surrounding mental health conditions with a hashtag and Ariana Grande showed the world that we could respond to terrorism with love and solidarity.

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It’s undeniable that we are living in dangerous times—and that we are facing even more challenging times ahead. Despite all the things we hated this year, we are here, on the last day of the year, hoping that we could fight our way through 2018 like we did this 2017.

With that, I now present to you the top 20 people, issues, events, and trends that defined the spirit of 2017.

My comrades, Thomasians, Filipinos, netizens: Here is #TWenty.

The fight continues,
Philip Jamilla

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Blogs

8 apps and web extensions to boost your productivity

We’ve listed 8 apps that are perfect procrastination blockers and productivity boosters for this semester. 

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Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

The beginning of a new semester can be very daunting especially when you think about how much stress you’d have to manage for another four to five months. Along with the dreadful 7 am classes, perhaps the biggest enemy we have to deal with is procrastination. Motivation is great, but when you lack willpower and discipline, nothing will really come out of it.

Fear not for we’ve listed 8 apps that are perfect procrastination blockers and productivity boosters for this semester. 

1. Google Calendar

Photo from GCF Global

Juggling deadlines with other important dates in your life is quite the task. When we’re too committed and focused on finishing tasks, we tend to forget a friend’s birthday or important meetings because we lose track of time. Well, Google Calendar is here to help keep your student and personal life organized. This productivity tool works pretty much like a digital planner which you can easily access on your phone, laptop, and other gadgets. It boasts powerful features such as multiple calendars, shared schedules, and push notification reminders. 

Pros: Simple design and interface, easy to navigate, customizable, cross-platform integration

Cons: Only accessible with an internet connection

Available for free on IOS, Android, and PC (App & Site)

2. Forest

Photo from Mashable

Focusing on tasks can be difficult because of the temptation to check our phones every five to ten minutes. During study breaks, we also tend to get distracted and find ourselves scrolling through Twitter or Tiktok for hours instead of minutes. 

With the theme, “Stay focused, be present,” the Forest app helps improve your focus and self-control while doing important tasks by keeping you away from distractions caused by social media and gaming apps. Using Forest, you can set a timer for a specific task you want to accomplish. If you successfully accomplish it without exiting the app, a tree is planted in your digital forest. However, if you exit the app while the timer is still running, your tree will die and be included in your forest as a reminder. Once the timer is up, you can set another timer for a short study break. For this reason, Forest has been widely used for the Pomodoro studying technique

Pros: Easy to navigate, simple and creative design, stats and progress can be monitored, powerful affirmation method, can be used offline

Cons: Includes in-app purchases

Available for free on Android and PC (Google Chrome Extension) | IOS (₱99.00)

3. Notion

Photo from Notion

Staying organized is never easy, especially when you are suddenly bombarded with deadlines and personal matters left and right. With too much chaos going around you, everything gets overwhelming that you end up staring at your screen for hours. 

Notion helps keep your workplace organized in one place. Think of it as a journal and a notebook in one. With Notion, you can boost your personal productivity by managing your tasks into organized pages, databases, to-do lists, and kanban boards. It also serves as an efficient note taking app with powerful features such as toggle lists, callouts, code, and inline equations. Notion is also lauded for its feature that allows you to embed sub pages, files, videos, links, and many more into your notes. The emojis and icons it comes with give more appeal to your workspace. Its cloud storage system makes it easier to access your workflow from different devices as well as share it with others in your class or organization. 

Pros: Easy to navigate, simple and minimalist design, comes in light and dark mode, unlimited pages & blocks, lock page feature to prevent edits, pages can be exported as PDF, HTML or Markdown format

Cons: Can’t do annotations unless exported as PDF

Available for free on IOS, Android, and PC (App & Site)

4. Anki

Photo from Elite Medical Prep

At this point, we can all agree that online classes are very overwhelming. The amount of workload we need to get done combined with the truckload of information we have to take in within a short period of time causes nothing but stress. So, rather than actively retaining information, we only passively learn them. The answer: spaced repetition and active recall.

Anki is an open-source flashcard program that specializes in these techniques. There’s no doubt that encoding and highlighting your notes are aesthetically pleasing. However, research has shown that traditional studying techniques like rereading and highlighting aren’t really effective in retaining information. With Anki, you can earn, retain, and even memorize huge loads of information in the long term using customizable digital flashcards. It boasts powerful features like cloze deletion, image occlusion, and multiple choice that, when combined with spaced repetition and active recall, serve as the secret sauce in getting that uno in class. Like the previous apps, its cloud-based storage allows you to access your cards from different devices, share your decks, and even download other users’ decks when you’re too lazy to make one. 

Pros: Spaced repetition and active recall feature, can be used offline, easily customizable 

Cons: Difficult to navigate for beginners, complex interface

Available for free on Android and PC (Software) | IOS (₱1,250.00)

5. Quizlet

Photo from TechCrunch

If Anki’s interface is too complex for you, then you may try your luck with Quizlet. This app needs no introduction because I’m pretty sure everyone has stumbled upon it when they were desperate. 

Quizlet is like Anki’s distant cousin. Like the previous app, it also specializes in active recall as a studying technique through customizable digital flashcards. This online learning tool includes features that allow you to learn and memorize terms, definition, vocabulary, and even equations. You can either make your own study sets or use pre-made ones by other Quizlet users. It has seven study modes (Flashcards, Learn, Write, Spell, Test, Match, Gravity) that not only allow you to retain information better, but also help you test yourself by simulating what exams look and feel like. 

Pros: Easy to navigate, shared decks, simple and flexible design

Cons: Includes in-app purchases, spaced repetition feature requires paid upgrade 

Available for free on IOS, Android, and PC (Site)

6. Weava

Photo from Prototypr

A lot of the work we do as students requires a lot of research and reading. In doing so, we almost always end up with multiple tabs on our browser, making it difficult to remember which site or journal we got certain information from. 

Weava is a Chrome extension that allows you to highlight important information from sites, online PDFs, and research journals. Once highlighted, the extension saves the information along with the source in your personal dashboard, which makes it easier to revisit in the future. You can also add annotations on your highlights as well as organize them into categories using different colors. These simple features of Weava come in very handy for students and professors dealing with research and/or theses that require a lot of reading and collating information. 

Pros: Easy to navigate, simple design 

Cons: Some PDFs cannot be highlighted 

Available for free on Google Chrome

7. Cluster

Photo from Cluster

This next one on the list is also the holy grail to your multiple tabs problem. Cluster is a window and tab manager Chrome extension that basically, as the name suggests, clusters all your tabs into one window. Let’s say you’re dealing with three different research works and having multiple tabs open irks you, but you can’t really exit on some tabs since it contains important information. With Cluster, you can save and organize these tabs into one window, which you can later access on your dashboard when you need it. It also comes with tools that help you manage, sort, and navigate your saved tabs in your dashboard. Restored windows will appear in a suspended state to reduce the time when loading multiple tabs at once. 

Pros: User-friendly, simple design, easy to navigate, suspend functionality

Cons: None

Available for free on Google Chrome

8. Cold Turkey

Photo from Cold Turkey

Distractions are no stranger when dealing with online classes. Maintaining discipline when finishing school tasks can also be tough because of the temptation to explore other apps and websites. Five hours later, you find yourself checking out items from your cart rather than turning in your work before 11:59 pm. 

Cold Turkey, as it claims, is the toughest website blocker on the internet. This web extension allows you to block websites, apps, and even your entire computer. You can lock these blocks using a password within a specified time window, schedule, or after typing a customizable amount of random text. Like Forest, Cold Turkey also features pomodoro-style breaks that help reduce distractions. As the creators suggest, Cold Turkey will be there for you when your willpower won’t. 

Pros: Simple design, easy to navigate 

Cons: Pro features require paid upgrade

Available for free on Google Chrome

Being productive isn’t just about downloading all these apps and extensions then posting about it how aesthetic it is on your Instagram stories. Give each one a fair try and select the ones that will work to your advantage. Integrate them to your daily life and learn how each one can maximize your time and increase your output. In doing so, you’d hopefully be able to create and commit to an effective routine that will turn your student life for the better and help you get through this semester stress-free. 

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Literary

This Thing

Swallowing the sun and rain
But myself still remains
Soaking up all my validity
It eventually shifts my reality

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I don’t know when it came
For there is no one to blame
On the other side of this face
There, standing with disgrace

This is a source of danger
A voice of a slipping reminder
Is this probably the truth?
Feeling estranged from my youth?

Conflicted with my ideals
Finding what would appeal
My mind that was in blight
Would eventually find its light

All alone this body is terrified
This takes over just to terrorize
Authenticity has been eliminated
Like the luster being defeated

Lies ahead were vivid hues
I was blinded, but I would choose|
Reaching out to that lucidity
Maybe to achieve serenity

Leaving this catastrophe
Can’t be done casually
But possible with a tenacity
Evacuating from that apathy

Swallowing the sun and rain
But myself still remains
Soaking up all my validity
It eventually shifts my reality

Not anymore fragmented
This, that has been connected.

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Which is the best motorcycle-taxi service in the Philippines?

“Habal-habal” originally began as a mode of transport in rural areas where public transport isn’t as developed. Years later, it finds itself striving hard to be recognized as a legal mode of transport in the country.

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Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb

While the commute has severely gotten worse over the years, Filipinos continue to find ways to beat the traffic. The existence and prevalence of motorcycle-taxi services have lifted much of the burden of commuters despite the hurdles that the government throws in its way.

“Disastrous” is what best describes the current state of transport in the Philippines. Congested streets and seemingly endless road repairs continuously draw the ire of the masses who need to adapt to the rapidly changing world. Ingenuity becomes a necessity and not merely an advantage for students and workers.

“Habal-habal” originally began as a mode of transport in rural areas where public transport isn’t as developed. Recently however, it has found its way to the city with the presence of private motorcycle-taxi services that operate in secret. It was eventually given a bigger presence with the launch of services like Angkas making its way in 2017. Years later, it finds itself striving hard to be recognized as a legal mode of transport in the country.

This year began the launch of competing services like JoyRide and MoveIt. Both were introduced to keep Angkas from having a monopoly over the motorcycle-taxi industry and aid in the research of the government to determine the feasibility of such services. In its current state, these services provide training for their drivers to maintain a standard and ensure safety.

With quicker travel times and lower prices compared to apps like Grab or the conventional cab, motorcycle-taxis have changed the way people commute. Rapid developments have made this service more practical with same-day deliveries becoming a prominent feature. Take a look into the most widely used apps and see which service is the best.

Angkas

Screenshots from Angkas app

Angkas is the most recognizable name when it comes to motorcycle-taxis, it has become synonymous the concept itself in recent times. Originally launched in 2017, Angkas built a reputation of reliability and affordability in comparison to other ride-hailing services like Grab and Uber before it merged with Grab. Another defining trait of Angkas is not within the app but rather with its social media presence as it pokes fun at other services, the detractors, or even itself when glitches or problems arise in the service.

The app interface is clean and intuitive but its most recent iteration has drawn flak from some users as its original design was already considered to be adequate. There were also problems with booking in this iteration but most of it has been fixed. Nonetheless, booking in the app is simple and quick. The availability of riders as well as cost is relative to the location of the user. 

Angkas also reminds the users constantly of the safety protocols such as what not to wear and the grounds to which riders can refuse passengers (such as weight or clothing). The riders of Angkas undergo training and screening to make sure that they provide the best and safest experience for their passengers. This translates to the ride experience as the riders clearly show attention to safety and closely follow traffic rules as well as driving well under the speed limits. Even if you’re not used to riding in a motorcycle, Angkas riders will certainly give you the ease of mind with the way they ride.

JoyRide

Screenshots from JoyRide app

JoyRide is one of the new players that the government introduced to compete with Angkas. It is the second most-popular service in this new industry but its name did not grow immediately because of its quality. JoyRide has faced a lot of scrutiny regarding its true owners with allegations being made that it is being run by a government official, their management has denied this.

JoyRide’s app is reminiscent of Angkas’ app with minor changes in detail to set it apart. Pinning locations is easy and quick with options such as notes or promo codes being made visible should the user have any use for it. Prices between JoyRide and Angkas are usually similar but there are certainly moments where Angkas becomes more expensive but again, these factors are relative to location as well as availability of riders.

Resemblances don’t end with apps when it comes to JoyRide. From helmets to vests, JoyRide clearly took inspiration from Angkas. Riders wear purple variants of their gear as opposed to Angkas’ blue. The vests come with a handle that passengers can hold onto during their ride and this has been consistent with every rider so far. Ride experience varies from rider to rider as some riders may drive too fast but similar to Angkas, tapping on the shoulder of the rider would be a gesture to slow down.

MoveIt

Screenshots from Move It app

Another one of the players that aims to compete with Angkas, MoveIt tries to set itself apart in its appearance from Angkas in an effort to be recognizable. It tries to merge what was good with Angkas and Grab to become a possible all-in-one solution when it comes to express courier services. While not as popular as JoyRide or Angkas, it certainly deserves a mention in the conversation of motorcycle-taxi services.

MoveIt’s app is much more different than the last two offerings: a pro and con. The user is greeted with different options of what they could do with the app such as delivery or booking a ride and reloading a virtual wallet to pay with. While the uniqueness certainly sets it apart, the design looks dated and plain. This doesn’t affect the usability of the app itself but compared to Angkas and Joyride, it feels noticeably jankier. 

Ride experience is similar to Angkas and Joyride but appearance-wise, MoveIt’s riders are a lot more subtle. The red long sleeves or jackets that they wear stand out a lot less than Angkas or JoyRide’s uniforms. Another difference of MoveIt is with their helmet. It sports a different style compared to Angkas or JoyRide’s half-face helmets. This can be annoying as the size is a bit smaller than expected which could make the fit awkward for passengers. 

Facebook groups

Screenshots from Facebook app

Feeding off the popularity of Angkas, more and more Facebook groups offering the same service popped up after the prior’s launch. While not being recognized by the government and thus not being legal, this has become one of the ways that users book motorcycle-taxis for even cheaper than those offered in the apps. What makes it most convenient is the fact that no other app would be needed to book a ride.

Being a Facebook group, it simply runs within the Facebook app itself or through a mobile browser. The only thing a user has to do is to follow a specified format and post a request of a ride, delivery, or purchase. Any special request can be made within the post and can be negotiated between the rider and the passenger. The glaring downside of booking through this group is the lack of enforcement of rules or any safeguards for the rider or the passenger.

Ride experience will vary wildly from rider to rider as there is no screening process involved in booking a rider. Simply choose a rider from the myriad of riders who will comment and leave messages and hope that the ride will at least be okay. The ride is entirely up to the rider but you can still communicate whatever you may need from them. To sum it up shortly, the entire experience is solely at your discretion.

 

READ  8 apps and web extensions to boost your productivity

Commuting in the Philippines for some is a lot more tedious than the work they actually have to do for the day. Motorcycle-taxis have become an effective medium for transport despite the scrutiny of the government and the unease of others. It has also opened up job opportunities for more people and has helped ease the stress of commuting for a large portion of Filipinos. 

At the end of the day, motorcycle-taxis cannot resolve the problem of heavy traffic in the Philippines. These kinds of services only serve to make the problem somewhat manageable for the moment. Services such as Angkas or Grab should not have to be a necessity for Filipinos to get to where they need to be on a daily basis. What we really need is a solution that addresses the problem effectively and permanently.

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