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An Open Letter to Filipinos in the Time of COVID-19

Thursday, September 24, 2020

An Open Letter to Filipinos in the Time of COVID

Seven months have passed.

Still in 2020, we yearn for some good things and events to happen. Everything that happened in the earlier months would easily wind up in a list of tragic and painful experiences. We still have another four months to see what this year has in store for us. We ask ourselves, how long will these tragedies last? When will this end?

Few months before we started 2020, we were busy finishing a bunch of tasks, attending parties and other social occasions, and performing our responsibilities in our work or in school. More importantly, we breathe in the air without the slightest worry, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life without any consequences to our health.

Suddenly, the world was overwhelmed by a disease that would leave its footprints in history. And the world was never the same again.

Filipinos’ lives changed abruptly. Our daily tasks were hampered by a series of lockdowns and community quarantines. Face masks and face shields became necessities, and social distancing became a must. These and more rules were carried out in a matter of weeks that stretched into months. Sounds simple? Unfortunately, it entails grave changes in the lives of many.

How can a pandemic steal our freedom? How can Covid-19 cripple the country and the rest of the world?

We started living in between paranoia, and battling against the illness, while juggling our commitments to keep ourselves afloat, and afford basic needs to survive. The number of lives that the pandemic claimed continued to increase, many businesses closed, many people starved, and frontliners ended up leaving their work, or worse, dying while in service. The pandemic sowed fear, anxiety, and exhaustion that led to the deterioration of mental health in many, and worsening of the living conditions of thousands of Filipinos.

Now, we feel the loss of strangers from their families and friends who died because of the pandemic. We may not know them, but we extend our sincerest condolences and sympathy. And while our economy continues to decline, we do simple gestures that promote local businesses, and foster their development.

It was almost unbearable to wake up in the morning, hearing the same news every day, bothered by the number of unemployed workers who struggle with what was left of them because companies have shut down and can no longer sustain their livelihood. On top of that, we are frustrated by the incompetence of the officials who have lost track of their priorities and responsibilities, and have turned a blind eye to the suffering of all, if not many, regular civilians.

We wish we could just put an end into everything. Perhaps, wake up from a nightmarish slumber and go back to our old normal state where we left our lives before the pandemic even began. But this, my friend, is a rude awakening. The new normal is beginning to reveal many truths: the ineptitude of our leaders, and their relentless apathy, the significance of our health that we had taken for granted many times before, and the company of the people we care about the most.

This is the time to contemplate what we have missed and what we are still losing. We have been battling the crisis and we will succeed above it. Nothing, after this, should ever be the same again.

What is there to believe that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel or a silver lining for us to hold on to? Something to grapple in the midst of our dark days and the darkest that has yet to come?

We long for the things that we used to do. We daydream for the better tomorrow - a future that is far from what we witnessed today. We imagine, after this has ended, we will restore, and we will learn. From that view afar, we can only dream. We can only hope. The country needs resiliency and it needs to deepen its faith - something to hold on to when nothing makes sense and seems clear in the present time. When our strength falters, we support one another, uplifting each other.

Before it’s too late, let’s ask ourselves, what is this story telling us?

Until then, we will continue to ask.

Written by: Claui de Guzman

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The utter hypocrisy of Filipinos in the face of sex scandals

Friday, June 12, 2020

Sex Scandal - Metroscene Mag

Some Filipinos are sex predators! There, I said it. 

For sure there are those of you who probably disagree. But If that's the case, then at least I have your attention.

Well, let’s face it, as much as we like to insist that we’re a wholesome bunch, our actions pretty much speak for themselves.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but for the past consecutive years the Philippines has been one of the most sexually preoccupied countries in Asia, more than Japan. Pornhub stats can attest to that. Sexual crimes such as sextortion have been blatantly happening in the country,  but we've had enough. 

Welcome to our TED talk

In the country, people scour the depths of Facebook and Twitter just to find sex scandals— some people even ask video links publicly without thinking twice. Everytime a scandal gets leaked, Filipino men hunt on these contents like blood-thirsty hounds but no one bats an eye. It's disgusting.  

But what really makes my blood boil, is how these people justify their actions. In my observaion, when a sex scandal gets leaked, majority of these people always blame the woman involved. 

I have read tons of comments from people, calling the woman ‘pokpok’ or ‘haliparot’ and it's just not right. Some comments even condemns the woman by saying, “If she wants respect, she needs to respect herself first.” or "deserve niya yan" further imposing sexual objectification of Filipino women.

Well, sit down and let me school you: SHE IS NOT THE PROBLEM. People like you, who share and gobble up on these kinds of videos, are. The woman is clearly a victim. It is her body and yes, she can do whatever the hell she wants with it. It’s just that, people like you exist. 

What's more upsetting is that the public completely ignores the participation of men in it. It only proves that the country is also misogynistic. af.

Well, I got news for you. 

Many Filipinos might not know it, but sharing video scandals and illegal sex tapes online without the owner's consent is an actual crime. And  If caught, prosecuted, and convicted, offenders face jail time and hefty damages according to the 1987 Constitution. 

Women's alliance groups and networks such as Anakbayan Women, and Gabriela are only some of the many groups one can run to.

One of the things that I see why these certain problems in the country exist to this very day, is not because we lack ways to address it but simply because we refuse to address them at all. Up to this day, Filipinos still consider these issues as taboos, not realizing that it's causing more damage to our youth than ever.

Text by: Mark Baccay

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Fighting the COVID-19 is no excuse for the government to ignore transparency

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Metroscene Mag

In times like these, transparency matters more than ever. At the start of the COVID-19 dilemma, President Rodrigo Duterte assured that the government "will never hide anything" from the public — yet a crisis of transparency is brewing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic demands swift action but fighting the COVID-19 is no excuse for the government to ignore transparency. With that, Filipinos are now urging the government to be transparent in providing information on the outbreak. 

Transparency builds trust

As the country answers to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to make the decision and policy-making public. Without transparency, fake news and conspiracy are set to spark along with the virus, infecting communities with nothing but misinformation. 

Vice President Leni Robredo once stressed the importance of transparency to dismiss speculations such as alleged "underreporting" of the number of COVID-19 cases.

"Iyong transparency, nakakataas ng tiwala ng tao sa pamahalaan, so sana...sana maging very transparent. Sana walang pagduda iyong taumbayan na mayroong mga information na hindi 'sinisiwalat," she said in her radio show on Sunday, March 8.

Even though #LuzonLockdown is being implemented in the country, public servants should still be agile and communicative to ensure open access to urgent discussions. Right decisions require useful information, and it is neither right nor fit for democracy to hide or exclude the public from health-related decisions or deliberations.

Transparency is a responsibility

The right to information is a matter of life and death during the COVID-19 crisis. The actual number of cases and fatality should be disclosed in public in order to determine the real state of the country. It is a responsibility our leaders should remember. Yet with the continuous spread of the virus, it seems like the country is being shrouded by secrecy. 

The Department of Health (DOH) recently faced the allegations of hiding the actual number of COVID-19 mortality in the country. It happened after renowned GMA newscaster Arnold Clavio posted on Instagram pertaining to a hospital in Metro Manila that was allegedly instructed to stop counting deaths of patients due to COVID-19. DOH has then denied the statement. 

"Maging tapat para 'di kumalat. Naghihintay kami, [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque. Ano ang totoong Sitwasyon sa Pilipinas?" Clavio said in his post.

While the spike in COVID-19 cases nationwide show no signs of stopping any time soon, there is no need for the people to be kept in the dark. The government needs to get rid of secrecies for it is their responsibility.

The rallying cry of these difficult times is truth and credibility. We agree, and that includes keeping everyone in the loop when it comes to decisions that could cause long-lasting damage to our country after the crisis has passed.

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Redefining Rap Culture In The Philippines

Friday, March 20, 2020


Admit it or not, I know that you know that we all had our phases wherein Rap songs became the anthem of your lives. I don't know about you but in my time, "Kabet" and "Highschool life" would be blasted on the radio, and you can hear them whenever you go, the rap groups such as "repbalikan" and "Hambog ng sagpro" are the real deal and part of every student's playlist. Now that times have changed, maybe "Batang Pasaway" and "ZEBIANNA," might be more familiar to you. The trap light sounds of Ex Battalion can be heard daily on the radio, whether in the streets of Manila of the comfort of the province. Rap battle culture is also alive and well, with Fliptop ranking as one of the world's most-watched battle leagues.

Well, the Rap culture of the Philippines has been thriving for the longest time but still faces a hunch in gaining the respect it deserves. From Francis M. to Gloc 9 to the newest rap artist out there, Pinoy rap is still perceived as inferior to western rap. It is not an exaggeration to say that we have a fair share of responsibility to its dreadful state, Let's be real, a lot of us have been acting elitist over it and we have labeled Pinoy rap songs as "baduy" and "jeje" So I say, Pinoy rap isn't "jeje" and we shouldn't be ashamed to like it.

Image result for ex battalion

One could argue that the reason it's considered "baduy" and "jeje" is that there are some raps with nonsense lyrics and sexual undertones, but let us not forget that the most prominent consumers of this genre are the masses who relates to the song. But even with the negative connotation about Pinoy rap, no one can replace the fact that unlike other local scenes around the world, rap is very often seen as a window into life in the Philippines. Rapper such as Gloc 9 raps about politics and current events and I think it's the beauty and uniqueness of Pinoy Rap, because of its substance, realness, and challenges the status quo..

If you keep an open mind, you'll find that the Philippines have several talented artists in the industry who have great content. We also need to stop regarding things that are very Filipino or "pang-masa" as lesser or embarrassing just because it doesn't fit our taste. With any genre of music, there are songs that are bad, downright terrible, average, right, and brilliant.

By: Mark Elwyn Baccay 

Metroscene Mag