The Ironic Commemoration of the People Power Revolution

by: Kassie Fallorina || Photo Credit: Alchetron

On February 23 last Thursday, Malacañang issued Proclamation No. 167, moving the celebration of the EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary “from 25 February 2023 (Saturday) to 24 February 2023 (Friday).” The switch in dates, the proclamation states, will enable Filipinos to enjoy a longer weekend pursuant to the principle of “holiday economics.”

Perhaps realizing that the Palace advisory, as worded, appears to assign a greater value to the enjoyment of a long weekend than to the commemoration of the event itself, whoever wrote the proclamation added the following, obviously as an afterthought: “provided that the historical significance of (the) EDSA People Power Revolution Anniversary is maintained.”

This use of awkward phraseology is representative of the ironic situation we face today as a nation. We have a president who, in his official capacity, enjoins the nation to remember and celebrate a historic event that booted his own father and namesake from the presidency after decades in power.

A brief look at official news sources would reveal that the martial law era was never a “golden age,” contrary to what your relatives claim nostalgically, or what social media trolls insist on belligerently. Students, teachers, activists, farmers, and suspected dissidents who dared protest were either caught, tortured, killed, or salvaged. Amnesty International estimates that the Marcos regime killed, tortured, and wrongfully imprisoned at least 177,200 people, with most surviving victims yet to be compensated by the state for the human rights violations they sustained under the late dictator’s rule. 

In an interview with CBC Radio, Chris Sorio, a student activist during Marcos Sr.’s tenure, recalled his experience of being tortured and detained in a prison camp for two years. 

I was just looking at the ceiling and I was praying and … prepared myself to die at that point,” he said as he narrated how he was forced to strip naked as military officers tied him to a chair and administered electric shocks to his private parts.

Despite hearing countless firsthand accounts of human rights violations, members of the Marcos clan continue to undermine the damage caused by their late patriarch’s regime. On February 25, Senator Imee Marcos uploaded a Facebook post saying that her family never stopped wishing for “peace, healing, and progress,” even going as far as giving “a big hug to those who loved (her) family.” For his part, President Bongbong Marcos offered a “hand of reconciliation” to those who hold different political views, saying that he joins the nation in remembering the peaceful EDSA uprising, which he described as “a time in our history that divided the Filipino people.”

The hypocrisy in these tone-deaf statements proves that clearing their blood-ridden surname precedes the best interests of the Filipino people. 

As poverty, corruption, and economic hardships continue to define our national life, the euphoria of those four glorious days has slowly dimmed for some, with revisionists questioning and belittling that pivotal event in Philippine history.

The memory of something does not need to be experienced firsthand for people to express empathy and solidarity. To remember is to memorialize those who sacrificed their safety and personal lives so that future generations would not suffer what they did. 

It even becomes more imperative that we remember, especially now that disinformation, historical denialism, and the Marcosian myth continue to persist. Ironically, they are back at the Palace, and we somehow find ourselves once again on a similar page of history. 

Like an audience of a teleserye with no control over the plot, spectatorship is our default mode of involvement: we take sides without demanding active participation. 

EDSA represents the hope that such passivity has not always been the case. In those fateful moments in 1986, the idea of democracy became greater than the people who claimed to be its champions. 

Serving Food for the Rich

by: Esmar Angelo M. Abobo || Photo Credit: AFP-JIJI/The Japan Times

It is without a doubt that onions are a staple in Filipino cuisine. From homemade meals to haute dishes, onions are highly desired with an average monthly demand of 17,000 metric tons. However, entering the year 2023, the country has been continuously experiencing a shortage of onions, causing a massive increase in inflation, with prices soaring to around 600 to 700 pesos per kilogram in local markets. 

Are onions even necessary?

“I can live without onions,” stated Senator Cynthia Villar – Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform – in an interview regarding an issue on smuggled agricultural goods.

 Given Villar’s position, this statement is not only uncompassionate to those who are affected by this crisis, but it also signifies her lack of knowledge on how a simple crop is essential to many Filipinos’ lives, especially considering that onion continues to be a staple in Filipino cuisine.

What are the causes of this shortage and massive inflation and how is it currently being addressed?

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, onion production in the third quarter of 2022 was recorded at 23.30 metric tons, which is only a 1.7 percent increase from an unacknowledged output in the same quarter of the previous year.

Along with the absence of an experienced secretary for the Department of Agriculture, there is a multitude of other reasons that may have caused this price hike. For one, the Philippines, as a tropical country, is relatively subject to climate change with rising temperatures, fluctuations in the weather, and increased rainfall, therefore making the country’s crop growth susceptible to disruption. On top of that, the Russian-Ukraine War also contributes to this issue. With the constant global supply chain in disrepair brought by the war, prices also have increased due to the shortage.

Although President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. acts as the current secretary for the Department of Agriculture, the focus on agricultural problems has significantly lessened. With the duties he has as the head of the country, juggling the roles of both vital positions is definitely not the best way to go about this crisis. The president must appoint a skilled DOA secretary that would not just attend to the current onion inflation but also other problems in the agricultural sector.

Currently, the government has resorted to boosting onion importation, increasing the prices due to overseas transport, and overlooking the country’s local farmers. Up to this day, the public is still in the dark about whether or not there’s a guaranteed permanent solution to the shortage. The once standard ingredient that was made for every Filipino now suddenly turned into a delicacy that only the higher class can enjoy without worry. And as its prices continue to increase,  the longer the public continues serving food for the rich.

To Manufacture Consent: The Maharlika Investment Fund

by: Sean Marcus V. David || Photo Credit: Rappler

One thing that the people tend to forget whenever discussing the State and the Government is that these figures derive their authority not simply from the trust of a higher power or the laws they wrote; this authority exists through a social contract between the State and its people. Whether to enforce its belief systems and moral principles, to facilitate economic interests, or simply to provide protection, the State and its institutions exist solely through the people’s consent to be governed—consent only given when the people trust the State to do its duties using its elevated positions of power.

The Maharlika Investment Fund, more commonly known as the Maharlika Wealth Fund, is a Sovereign Wealth Fund proposed by House Bill No. 6398. Like most institutions, it is supposed to take surplus funds—which arise when government revenue far surpasses budgetary expenditures—and invest it in stocks, bonds, and other security nets and provide the Government with recurring income. In addition to having a massive budgetary surplus, most nations that decide to establish sovereign wealth funds have little to no international debt to service, thereby freeing up funds that could be turned to maximizing long-term returns on investments by the Government. Due to its nature, the Maharlika Wealth Fund would have much greater risk-tolerance—the willingness to accept the risk inherent to the volatility of the investment’s value—compared to pension funds and the Central Bank, and, to much concern, greater lack of transparency.

It is with this context that we explore the concerns the Filipino people have with the Maharlika Wealth Fund, starting in particular with its source of funds. As originally envisioned, the Fund would have sourced its seed capital from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Social Security System (SSS), the Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP). These sources do not count as surplus funds, and in fact, the funds of the GSIS and the SSS aren’t even public funds. Pouring the funds of the GSIS and the SSS into a volatile investment fund like the MWF would be putting the hard-earned wealth of the people at great risk, which the people deemed to be unacceptable—leading to their removal as sources from the bill. Furthermore, the Landbank and the DBP are already required by law to pay 50% of their annual profits to the General Fund of the Government. Thus, further cutting into their funding would risk their ability to operate and the government programs they support. It should also be noted that the Philippines does not have any commodity-based surplus funds sourced from external trade conducted by state-owned enterprises.

The nation clearly lacks the surplus funds required to set up the Maharlika Wealth Fund, but what it does have is a massive budgetary deficit of ₱13.64 trillion, or $246.34 billion. This debt comprises a whopping 63.7% of the National GDP as of 2022–a massive jump from 39.4% at the start of the pandemic. This is on top of low growth projections by the Central Bank of the Philippines and the worries of the Filipino people, with over two-thirds of the people surveyed by TransUnion expecting an economic recession by the end of 2023. With the perfect storm of pandemic anxiety and lack of investor trust in President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. due to his family’s association with grave government corruption, some doubt the state’s ability to keep the economy afloat. 

Between the lack of fiscal capital to set it up, the incredible debt garnered by the administration through its mishandling of the pandemic response, and the lack of trust from foreign investors and the Filipino people, it is no surprise that people are dubious of how the House of Representatives abruptly approved the House Bill No. 6398. 

Is it strongly imperative that a Sovereign Wealth Fund be created for the nation, even when it doesn’t have the funds to reliably service its foreign debts? Are there truly no better alternatives into pouring what little funds we do have into bouncing back from the damages brought by the pandemic? Are we even sure our funds are in safe hands, when the President still hasn’t braved the herculean hurdle of rising above the reputation his family name has? In what seems to be another issue to add to the pile of unpopular laws passed by the Administration, the MWF could only lead to further instability within the nation, either through gross mishandling of its funds, or worse. It is important for the Government to first prove itself capable of both building back the economy and placating the people’s concerns before it strives to pass laws that could impact the nation for decades to come. For in its current state, any controversy could be the straw that ultimately breaks the camel’s back.

Pinoy Pride Complexities: The Need and Want to Escape the Philippines

by: Danielle Bryn Anos || Photo Credit: Joxyne Gravoso

In the lenses of reality, the Philippines stands as a land stricken with crime, poverty, and illusion. Dull skies linger above the cramped houses in the slums while those in power and the rich continue to pursue their selfish aspirations. One might think there is no longer hope for this nation. No remaining hope for their motherland to even prosper in the future. However, amidst this dreary place, a ray of hope strikes the lands—a light source coming from miles away, foreign to the people. Lo and behold it’s… from overseas?

The mammoth Filipino population scattered all around the world should not be surprising now. Being situated in a nation where improvements are hardly evident, those parents working abroad, relatives migrating, and students opting to study at universities overseas actually have valid standpoints for their decisions. The obvious high income and increased opportunities pave the way for these people to help better their lives and to achieve their dreams even if it costs them to leave the country for good.

Although one’s sense of nationalism is acknowledged, the term “Pinoy pride” remains to be a complex puzzle in this viewpoint. If they are so proud of their country, then why is there the need to flee it? What exactly awaits overseas that lures Filipinos to go there? And in those circumstances, do they just embody their pride in the hands of another country?

Going abroad frankly stands as one of the few jutting ways for an individual to thrive. What this country offers is inadequate, and those who solely yearn to be rightfully compensated and to live a better life are not to blame for migrating. These opportunities mean life to them, and prospering is nothing but an upright path to follow. 

Hence, why would the people be at fault here? They could still embody the Filipino spirit and rightfully represent us by flourishing and putting themselves out there.

To get a grasp of it, we can take Lea Salonga as an example. At a very young age, she started playing numerous musical roles in the Philippines, exhibiting her passion for performing with an audience. And at 17, she got the leading role in a musical in London that marked her international debut. This then gave her the chance of a lifetime to be able to play on Broadway and many more. She really did get to swim in opportunities abroad that the Philippines could not have provided for her. If she never left the country, it would not have been possible for Salonga to satisfy her love for the stage and perform all over the globe as a world-famous singer.

Another case would be the majority of Filipino nurses working in first-world countries. Considering how the occupation is undervalued and overworked in the country, these individuals choose instead to be overseas just to be treated properly. Unbeknownst to most, the stereotype alone of why parents push their children to pursue this degree is for them to have a pathway to live abroad, directly illustrating the severity of the situation, especially to the nation’s healthcare workers. It is then, of course, worth considering for nurses to apply away from the Philippines to improve their lifestyle with their occupation.

Despite having richness, talent, and ambition present in the country, Filipinos still draw away due to the lack of opportunities and options to flourish. However, this does not provide grounds for blaming them; leaving the country does not automatically mean being unpatriotic. After all, the Filipino spirit in each and every one of us lives on by thriving even at such a distance from home.

Choosing to seek a life abroad is not necessarily an immediate badge of pride nor a definite means of success; rather, it is simply answering the door when opportunities come and knock.

#SupportLocal, but Locals are Unsupported?

by: Jana Maisei Venigas || Photo Credit: Tiffany Afable

Squid Game, directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, premiered in September 2021 and quickly became popular among Filipino viewers—ranking first on the Top 10 List of Most Watched Titles. Following this, the most Googled 2021 South Korean dramas were: True Beauty, Vincenzo, Nevertheless, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, and many more. This only goes to show the appreciation Filipino viewers have for South Korean dramas, but some are willing to burst this bubble. 

In the budget hearing for the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), Senator Jinggoy Estrada expressed banning Korean dramas or K-dramas, as he observed a lack of support for locally made films. While it is not a hidden fact that our entertainment industry produces a string of films and shows that sometimes falls flat among local viewers, this is not due to competition from foreign films. 

Filipinos won’t embrace local films. They just won’t have a choice.

Estrada believes that by reducing competition, or international film imports, we can promote local entertainment to its home consumers: the Filipinos. But this is not the case. Left to a narrow number of films and shows, the diversity of the entertainment we consume and create will diminish.

Rather than looking up to quality international production, we are looking myopically into ourselves; into the lousy scriptwriting, lackluster acting, and poorly-shot Philippine soap operas. In fact, forcing people to consume entertainment from solely their home country will not push them to foster a love for it, but would instead just reduce their choices, which seems to be a trend among our lawmakers.

#SupportLocal, but Locals are Unsupported?

The substandard quality of our entertainment is not due to the lack of talent among our Filipino scriptwriters, actors, and directors, but rather to the lack of support they receive. Many indie-quality films have the potential to compete internationally, but they are indie for a reason. The crews of these films are on their own, with meager funding to start with. Despite the flourishing talent present in many of our Filipino creatives, testing the waters and getting experimental through film is risky.

The difference between the Filipino film industry and that of South Korea and other countries is its government’s neglect of the former. Instead of nourishing creativity and allowing Filipino viewers to organically embrace locally-produced entertainment, we are stunting the growth of our filmmakers and suffocating those who wish to consume good cinema. Moreover, our film creatives are scouring to get by, unable to reach their utmost potential because their government does not allow them to shoot for the stars. On top of that, Filipino viewers also sense a class barrier when it comes to viewing. With theater visits at an inaccessible price for some, the déclassé soap operas streamed on TV take up a large percentage of the films viewed by the masses.

After Estrada received heaping backlash from K-drama fans for his comments in the FCDP hearing, he later clarified that he did not actually mean to ban K-drama or foreign films in general, but wished that Filipinos would have the same passion for local films. Still, if he intended to appreciate local creatives, he should have realized that the best support for the industry comes from the government, whether that be through cutting taxes, increasing funding for scriptwriters, directors, and actors, and lowering theater ticket prices. 

Our film industry will never flourish in the entrapping grips of protectionism. Much like how a flower wilts when deprived of water, our aspiring artists cannot produce quality films that Filipinos will genuinely watch and love when they have to worry about putting food on the table.

The Education Crisis: Overwhelmed, Inactive, and Underprepared

by Christian Lawrence Tan || Photo Credit: Kyle Nase

         As the familiar noise of idle chatter and academic activity once again graces the buildings of learning known as schools, a foe also returns and bares its fangs toward the Filipino people. The nightmare that not only haunts the minds of children but even those of the country’s leaders: the education crisis.

         With Vice President Sara Duterte as the acting DepEd Secretary after being offered the position by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., people are anticipating change because of their promise to improve education in the Philippines. However, not much change is being felt in the country at the moment. Teachers and students alike are overwhelmed by the shift in conditions from online to in-person classes as the quality of education remains substandard. 

         The DepEd Secretary herself has also made promises and plans to solve the education crisis, the reimplementation of Mandatory ROTC training being one of them. Many see it as either pointless or something that should not be a priority given present difficulties. Some expressed how it would simply add another layer of responsibility and burden to a workforce and system that are already stretched paper thin. 

Read: Mandatory ROTC

         Thankfully, Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte has already created a list of other potential responses to the crisis, ranging from student profiling to remedial classes. On the other hand, it is uncertain how well she truly understands the obstacles in the way of Philippine education due to having no background or accolades in the said field. Her lack of prior experience as an educator proves to be a concern for some who worry that her enacted plans will only increase the already great strain on the system.

        Vice President Duterte has also mentioned that if DepEd is given 100 billion pesos in its budget, she would take steps to improve the state of education in the country, leading to her six-year plan. However, the exact steps she plans to enact remain unclear, thus leading to a few posing questions about the concrete details of her fix for a problem that has piled up over decades. It also poses a model of concern how plans for something as crucial as the country’s education and the youth’s future remain at the bottom of the list of priorities.

         With education as the foundation of every individual, it is essential to ask if the steps that were and will be taken will bring us to the right direction. Although some may applaud the achievements, it is still a far cry from what could have been done in the past to remedy the situation. Indeed, too much talk with only a few actions has become the Achilles’ heel of the Department of Education and is the cause of the steady progression of the education crisis over the years. 

Glitz and Gutter: 100 days under Marcos

by Tiffany Glenne Afable || Photo Credit: Ashkinaz Canonoy

Slightly over a hundred days have passed since the Philippines witnessed another Marcos rise to the highest seat of power. Now, the people of the nation are left asking what exactly has the new administration accomplished under his regime. 

It has been a long-standing tradition for the President of the Philippines to mark their first 100 days in power with an accomplishment report. The advent of this tradition could be traced back to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression in 1933. This was then adopted by the Philippines under the administration of 11th President Corazon C. Aquino, where she outlined her government’s activities in the first 100 days. However, 16th President Rodrigo Roa Duterte broke the tradition by declaring his achievements for the first 50 days—rather than a hundred—with a “50firstdays” campaign. 

Marcos, too, has broken the 100 days tradition, albeit differently. 

“Unlike his predecessors, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is not keen on releasing a report for his first 100 days in office and is actually wondering if it was necessary,” Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said in an interview a week before the President’s official marking of his first hundred days. 

The people of the nation, therefore, took it into their own hands to retrace President Marcos’s achievements and milestones over his first 100 days in office.


As the Philippines continues to face the pandemic, one would believe that a leader’s first priority is the country’s state of health. However, the seat of the Department of Health (DOH) Chief Secretary remains deserted, with only the Officer-in-Charge, Maria Rosario Vergeire, currently holding the reigns. The absence of a full-time DOH chief secretary only further exposes the plight of the country’s health workers amidst the pandemic as they find themselves overworked and underpaid, with some resorting to seeking better pay and more lenient working conditions abroad. 

“We have to remember that the DOH is not about COVID alone. It’s about public health in general. That’s another side of it, and it’s as important as COVID is,” said the President regarding the people’s concerns of who is meant to lead the Philippines towards the end of this health crisis.


The economic crisis also takes its spot as one of the country’s most pressing issues. Although the direness of this situation is felt across all parts of the world, it has strongly taken its toll on the people as most Filipinos feel the burden of high prices yet low pay. Farmers and fisherfolk expressed their suffering as they shared how the prices of commodities, transportation, and utility costs keep rising at a staggering rate while no substantial aid is being provided. 

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, inflation quickened 6.9% year-on-year in September 2022, which was much faster than the 6.3% recorded in August. In fact, the country’s economic team confessed that it is most unlikely for the Philippines to meet its inflation target this year.

Read: The Philippine Sugar Crisis 

Marcos on his first 100 days

When asked about his administration’s performance for the first 100 days, Marcos responded, “I think what we have managed to do in the first 100 days is put together a government which is functional and which has a very, very good idea of what we are targeting in terms of strict economic targets.”

He also affirmed his gratefulness for his economic managers who helped transform the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so in the coming years. 

The President also highlighted the success of his recent engagements, such as his conversations during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and his state visits to ASEAN countries, namely Indonesia and Singapore. 

However, his SG trip sparked controversy as the Marcos couple were spotted enjoying their time in the exclusive F1 Paddock Club, along with their son Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, and a few dignitaries, only days after the devastating Typhoon Karding hit the Philippines. Fuel was only added to the fire as photos of the event also revealed the attendance of House Speaker Romualdez’ wife Rep. Yedda Romualdez and Sandro Marcos’ rumored girlfriend, actress Alexa Miro. The situation garnered much criticism as people labeled the trip to be “ill-timed” and ignorant of the suffering of the Filipinos. 

Despite the backlash the First Family received, former Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles wrote in a post on October 3, “Naging produktibo ang pagdalaw sa Singpore ni Pangulong Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. Pinagpatibay niya ang mga pangunahing usapan sa huling state visit sa bayan na ito, at pinatuloy ang paghihikayat sa pag-invest sa bayang Pilipinas.” 

[Translation: “The visit of President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. to Singapore was productive. He strengthened the initial discussions from his earlier state visit and continued encouraging investors to invest in the country.”]

When the people demanded transparency on the funding of the Grand Prix trip, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said, “It’s beyond the issue. It’s not relevant at all to question, to ask kung sino gumastos. Basta he [Marcos] was doing something for us.” 

He also added that it “shouldn’t be a problem” if public funds were used for the official trip, although it is important to note that the Palace did not officially inform the public of the First Family’s Singapore trip beforehand. 

The first 100 days and what it signifies for the country

Although some believe Marcos to be unlucky for inheriting an enormous debt and a slew of problems that were brought about the pandemic and the incompetencies of the previous administation, it is still part of his duty to minimize the worst effects of this crisis so that the people of the country do not suffer any further. But when all that Filipinos can witness are frequent partying and inadequate action, it is no surprise that the questions and protests only grow louder.

Even if a hundred days are not enough to draw a conclusion for where the current administration is going to lead us in the next 6 years, it provides us enough of a glimpse of who might abandon this ship once its starts sinking. 

The country can only hope it is not the captain of our nation. 

Stench of the Philippine Economy: Why the Country Repels Foreign Investors

by Jana Maisei Venigas || Photo Credit: Nathalia Canlas

            Gas prices sit at scarily huge numbers. The daily commuter spends twice as much than they used to pay in past years. The dollar weighs heavier than it ever has to the Filipinos. These are just some of the effects resulting from the economic crisis the Philippines currently lives in. With the war between Russia and Ukraine, the rest of the world is having a difficult economic time, most especially third-world countries such as the Philippines. 

            Truly, international conflicts obstruct the economic growth of the Philippines, but could this really be the only reason? Should we completely disregard those with the power to change the course of things?

            From September 18 to 24, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. traveled to the United States to speak at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). His goal in having done so is to secure foreign investors, emphasizing that the Philippines is a growing economy. Given the economic situation of the Philippines, foreign aid would help overturn the impacts in these times, as well as accelerate national recovery. However, foreign investors seem harder than ever to grasp.

            Despite Marcos’ efforts, it seems that foreign investors themselves turn away from aiding the Philippines. The Philippines is deemed unattractive for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), according to Oxford Economics’ FDI scorecard. The scorecard heavily emphasizes the quality of infrastructure, which former president Rodrigo Duterte tried to salvage through his “Build, Build, Build” program. Still, the Philippines, as a developing country, faces the worst of the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine economic effects. Having foreign investors refuse us not only exposes the deep lack of this country’s competency in economic development but also the deep financial hole our government has dug us into.

What directed away the appeal to invest in the Philippines?

            The attractiveness of a country to foreign investors is highly reliant on its quality infrastructure. But other than that, the Philippines also proves to have lackluster performance in other parts: firstly, the country’s funding for agriculture is inadequate. Its farmers scrape by, experiencing the lowest pays despite being the primary producer of the country. 

            Secondly, investors veer away from governments whose corruption leaks in large quantities. There is growing concern that the Philippines’ appeal to foreign investors is diminishing due to the uncertainty of the government’s integrity. 

            Statistics show that the Filipino people are poorer in 2022 than in 2018 [1]. But while there may be many factors that affect today’s poverty, such as COVID-19 lockdowns and the Russia-Ukraine war, there is no reason to believe this is a matter that cannot be helped. After all, the job of our country leaders is to assert themselves and initiate fruitful economic growth. Yet at times the country most needs it, the reek of the Philippine economy repulses foreign investors.



Mandatory ROTC: The Art of Forced Submission

by Sean Marcus Valle-David || Photo Credit: Kyle Nase

Abraham Maslow once said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

Reserve Training Corps, or what most people know as ROTC, is a part of the National Service Training Program (NSTP)—a program meant to enhance the youth’s civic consciousness and defense preparedness. Currently, it is optional for college students to participate due to the political pariah surrounding it after the 2001 exposé of Mark Chua and his subsequent death. However, there are now ever louder voices calling for the restoration of its mandatory nature, not just for college students but for senior high school students as well.

Funny enough, the most notable of these voices are Former President and self-proclaimed strongman Rodrigo Duterte, who has famously bragged about faking tuberculosis to dodge the ROTC, and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who hasn’t entered a Filipino College, let alone ever qualified to participate in the program at all. Along with them are a slew of primarily right-wing politicians like Vice President Sara Duterte and Senators Robin Padilla, Francis Tolentino, and Bato dela Rosa. These politicians cited the strengthening of public defense and the instilling of discipline, teamwork, and patriotism among the youth as reasons to make it mandatory. 

However, the severe backlash that sparked against the mandatory nature of the program after Mark Chua’s 2001 revelation of the underlying corruption in the ROTC institution must never be overwritten. It is important to remember how it unmasked the institution’s facade and uncovered its role as an authoritarian tool that ingrains messages of blind obedience among the youth. Such a system of mandatory military training only exposes the youth to harsh conditions and even harsher punishments, teaching them not discipline but rather fear of daring to step out of the line of blind submission. 

Furthermore, the amount of equipment and adjustments to the curriculum—which still requires vast academic improvement—needed to make room for the possible implementation of Mandatory ROTC for college and senior high school students is simply an additional burden to CHED and DepEd, who are both occupied with transitioning to post-pandemic learning. Moreover, with the massive budget cuts these departments received under the current administration and the larger problems that loom over the nation, there seems to be not enough reason to bring back its mandatory nature. 

“More people are needed for national defense preparedness.” Isn’t the impending economic crash a more immediate threat than any conflict with a fellow nation in the foreseeable future?

“The youth need to be taught better manners.” Won’t the liberal application of violence as a form of punishment only teach the youth that violence is the most efficient way to solve problems? 

When all you have is a hammer, won’t everything start looking like a nail? 

It is increasingly apparent that the restoration of Mandatory ROTC isn’t an earnest attempt at solving the nation’s problems but instead a blunt political tool meant to suppress the growing discontentment and calls for change emanating from the youth. Its reimposition is yet another attempt by an increasingly authoritarian regime to wrestle control of the narrative from the masses by forcing the youth—the country’s future—into another hail of indoctrination on levels unheard of since the fall of the late Marcos Sr.’s dictatorship. 

Therefore, it is the responsibility, nay, the necessity, of the youth as well as the masses to stop the powers that be from restoring a program that has such tainted history and motivations from ever going into fruition, for its success may very well be the beginning of the end of our hard-earned democracy—as flawed as it may be—that our ancestors fought, bled, and died for.

Saving Lives: How a Little Compassion Can Prevent the Preventable

by Kassie Fallorina || Photo Credit: Nikki Ela Tabaranza

Trigger Warning: 

This article contains discussions of suicide and references to depression and other mental health disorders that may act as triggers. Continue at your own discretion. 

Stress. Anger. Doubt. Frustration. Sadness

These feelings may seem familiar to many these days. While some can manage on their own, others get overwhelmed and, eventually, stuck in an unrelenting hole of self-doubt and depression. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 700,000 people die by suicide each year; that’s approximately one person every 40 seconds. The United States Department of Health and Human Services reported that at least 90 percent of these people suffer from one or more mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and alcoholism. 

In the Philippines, mental health workers have noted an increase in calls to suicide prevention hotlines since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This increase has been attributed to depression over the inability to earn a living, academic pressure, social isolation, and in some cases, disruptive home environments.

To those who are not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair, it may be difficult to understand what drives so many individuals to take their own lives. But a suicidal person is in so much agony that they can see no other way of finding relief except through death. 

The best way to prevent these deaths is by recognizing warning signs and knowing how to respond to them. Warning signs may include talking about killing or harming oneself, exhibiting feelings of hopelessness, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as drugs and weapons. 

If you spot these warning signs in someone you know, offer an empathetic listening ear. Let them know that they’re not alone and that you care. Don’t, however, try to minimize their pain. Instead, encourage them to seek help and see a mental health professional. You can offer support, but you can’t expect yourself to make them get better. 

As we commemorate World Suicide Prevention Month, it is important that we check up on our friends and relatives, not only today but for all the days to come as well. Strike a conversation and ask them how they’re doing because even the ones with the brightest smiles are hiding the deepest scars. It is not only with the presence of warning signs that we must tap the people around us.

Lastly, to anyone going through a hard time right now: You are not alone. Don’t be afraid of opening up, and find strength in vulnerability. Things will get better. 

If you or someone you know is exhibiting suicidal tendencies, you can dial the following hotlines for help: 

National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline 

Globe/TM: (0917) 899-8727 

Smart/Sun/TNT: (0908) 639-2672 

Telephone: (02) 989-8727 


PLDT: (02) 804-4673 

Globe: (0917) 558-4673 

Smart/TNT: (0918) 873-4673

In Touch Community Services 

Cellphone: (0917) 800-1123 

Telephone: (02) 893-7603

PSHS-EVC Guidance Counseling Unit

Official GCU Site: (use your PSHS email to access)