July 2022 is a dystopia of epic proportions

By Andrei Miguel Hermosa

(Photos from Viva Entertainment, Getty Images, UST Central Council, Gerard Seguia and Reuters. Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb)

The second half of 2022 is finally here, and it’s clearly not off to a good start.

With virus outbreaks, shooting incidents, and the usual political disappointments, the month of July was a huge disaster. Although there were a few triumphs along the way, it wasn’t enough to outweigh the misfortunes and catastrophes that we had to endure this month.

Here’s a roundup of the events that made July such a crazy ride.

1. Ella Cruz faces backlash for ‘history is like tsismis’ gaffe

(Photo from Viva Entertainment)

“History is like tsismis (gossip),” actress Ella Cruz said in an interview when asked what lessons she learned from starring in Darryl Yap’s upcoming movie, Maid in Malacañang.

Cruz’s comment immediately drew flak from netizens who believed that comparing history to gossip is an insult to historians and history itself.

“I am a history major student and just to clarify, we do not go to our campus or museum just to flock and talk about chismis,” one netizen wrote in a tweet. “We study really hard everyday thru reading and authenticating data to give the rightful information and preserve history.”

Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo also spoke up and denounced the actress’ remark, saying: “Don’t confuse history and chismis. History may have bias, but it is based on facts, not opinion. Real history is about truth, not lies, not fiction.”

Ella Cruz’s faux pas can be compared to the controversial Pinoy Big Brother episode where teen contestants incorrectly answered questions about Philippine history in a quiz bee segment. Both of these situations are indicative of poor history education in the Philippines. Hence, netizens are calling to “open the schools.”

2. Inflation soars high; Marcos Jr. expresses disbelief

(Photo from Getty Images)

On July 5, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the country’s inflation rate in June 2022 shot up to 6.1 percent, the highest since October 2018’s 6.9 percent, amid a rice crisis and currency slump at that time. This is significantly higher than the 5.4 percent previously recorded in May 2022 and the 3.7 percent in June last year.

According to National Statistician and PSA chief Dennis Mapa, the surge in inflation rate was driven by rising food prices, which climbed from 4.9 percent in May 2022 to 6.0 percent in June 2022, as well as higher transport costs, which climbed from 14.6 percent in May 2022 to 17.1 percent in June 2022. Mapa stressed that these prices, particularly food prices, will continue to increase.

However, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said that he disagrees with PSA’s reported inflation rate, claiming that it is “not that high.” He believes that the country’s inflation rate will eventually cross the government’s target of 4 percent or less.

In response to the President’s objection, PSA remained firm in its stance. “The Philippine Statistics Authority stands by its report,” the agency said.

3. UST allows in-person welcome walk after two years

(Photo by Christine Annmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb)

For the past two years, the pandemic robbed Thomasian first-years of the opportunity to experience the iconic Thomasian Welcome Walk, an annual tradition where college freshmen walk through the historic Arch of the Centuries during the start of their freshman year, formally marking the beginning of their academic lives as Thomasians.

Instead of experiencing the in-person tradition inside the campus, the previous two batches of Thomasian freshmen experienced merely a virtual tour of the UST campus through Minecraft, a popular video game that allows players to create virtual worlds.

But for this year, the University will finally bring back the tradition and allow incoming college freshmen to experience the magic. According to the Office of the Secretary General, the traditional Welcome Walk, as well as the ROARientation and Welcome Mass, will be held onsite on August 9 for the first time in two years.

Incoming second-year and third-year students are also in for a treat. As they did not experience the Welcome Walk during their freshman years, UST is planning to conduct a separate Welcome Walk for them. While no dates or details about the planned event have been confirmed yet, this news brought immense joy to the students.

4. Monkeypox declared global health emergency

(Photo from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Following a surge in cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the recent monkeypox outbreak a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ — the agency’s highest level of alert.

Since the first cases were detected in May 2022, the virus has affected more than 16,000 people in nearly 80 countries. The risk of the virus is currently low, but it shows “a clear risk of further international spread.” Thus, WHO hoped that this declaration will urge countries to take the outbreak seriously and start taking clear actions in reducing the virus’ transmission.

5. Three dead in Ateneo shooting incident

(Photo from Aaron Favila/AP Photos)

What was supposed to be a special day for law graduates turned into a traumatic memory when a gunman opened fire at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) campus and killed three people on Sunday, July 24 — just as the University’s law school was about to hold its graduation ceremony.

Among the casualties were former Lamitan City mayor Rosita Furigay, her long-time aide Victor George Capistrano, and Ateneo security guard Jeneven Bandiala. Meanwhile, Furigay’s daughter Hannah, a graduating law student, and Julia Manabat, a nurse, were wounded and are currently confined in the hospital.

The gunman was identified by the police as Chao Tiao Yumol, a 38-year-old physician and resident from Lamitan, Basilan. Yumol was indicted with a string of criminal charges, including three counts of murder, frustrated murder, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and car theft.

Moreover, the shooting incident was confirmed to be an assassination of ex-mayor Rosita Furigay. According to the Quezon City Police Department, Yumol committed the crime due to “personal motives’’ and a history of conflict with the ex-mayor.

6. PH detects 19,536 new COVID-19 cases from July 18 to 24

(Photo by Ian Tolentino/TomasinoWeb)

As of July 25, the Philippines has logged a total of 19,536 additional COVID-19 cases from July 18 to 24, which is 33% higher than the cases reported the previous week.

Based on the Department of Health’s (DOH) weekly case bulletin, the daily case average for the week of July 18 to 24 jumped to 2,791 from the 2,091 recorded from July 11 to July 17. The total number of COVID-19 cases reported during that period was 14,640.

DOH predicted that the number of detected cases will be on a “continuous uptrend” until the end of August, which may lead to a total of 19,000 daily cases by August 31. However, this increase may be reduced if vaccination and booster rates are improved and compliance with minimum public health standards is maintained.

7. Marcos Jr.’s first SONA gets mixed reactions

(Photo from Gerard Seguia)

Last July 25, newly-inaugurated President Bongbong Marcos Jr. delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). In an hour-long speech, he discussed his plans for economic recovery, foreign policy, agrarian reform, resumption of face-to-face classes, environmental protection, and more.

The SONA received both praises and criticisms.

Legislators and economists lauded Marcos Jr. for tackling several key issues and highlighting specific solutions and legislative priorities. His speech was described as “comprehensive” and “data-driven.”

On the other hand, critics and progressive groups were disappointed by the SONA as it left out other pressing concerns. These include human rights, war on drugs, contractualization, press freedom, and corruption, among others.

Marcos Jr.’s proposal to make the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) mandatory was also criticized. Many netizens argued that the implementation of mandatory ROTC will not address the current needs of students and may only cause additional burdens.

8. EJ Obiena makes history in World Athletics Championship

(Photo from Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters)

EJ Obiena’s name is one for the history books.

The Filipino pole vaulter delivered the Philippines’ first ever medal in the World Athletics Championship, clinching bronze in the men’s pole vault final at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, USA last July 25.

After committing a fault on his first attempt, Obiena bounced back and easily cleared 5.94 meters on his second attempt, breaking the previous Asian record of 5.93m that he himself set in the International Golden Roof Challenge in Austria last year. He finished third in the finals, behind world-record holder Armand Duplantis in first place and Christopher Nilsen in second place.

Following this historic performance, Obiena has climbed to third place in the world rankings in pole vault with 1,408 points, going up three rungs after previously being in sixth place.

Obiena has brought enormous glory to the Philippines and will continue to do so in the next chapters of his career. He is set to compete in two major European tournaments next month.

9. Patrick Joshua Francisco Uy ranks second in interior design boards

(Photo by Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb)

A Thomasian secured the second spot in the July 2022 Interior Design Licensure Examinations, in which UST notched a 67-percent passing rate.

UST alumnus Patrick Joshua Francisco Uy garnered an 86.85 percent mark, the second highest among 405 interior design board takers nationwide.

Joining Uy in the top 10 are fellow Thomasians Marjorie Mae Maranan Dizon and Alexis Nicole Ymaz Sze, who scored percent marks of 82.90 (№8) and 82.80 (№9) respectively.

The examinations were held from July 5–7.

10. Earthquake devastates northern Philippines

(Photo from Lisa Marie David/Reuters)

A massive 7.0-magnitude earthquake jolted the northern Philippines on July 27, killing six and injuring 320 people.

The quake struck at 8:43 a.m, with an epicenter of about 8 miles southeast of Dolores, Abra. The affected regions are Regions I, II, and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), which comprises 15 provinces, 15 cities, 218 municipalities, and 6,756 barangays.

As the quake hit, several structures and buildings in the affected areas have been destroyed. These include 621 national bridges, 275 public school buildings, 23 government hospitals, and 417 other public buildings. As of this writing, the temblor has accrued about P596 million of infrastructure damage.

With the severity of these damages, it may take a long time before the victims can fully recuperate. To help the affected regions, the government has been delivering relief response to the victims. Government officials, including DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo and President Marcos Jr., also visited the affected areas after the earthquake to monitor the situation and distribute relief goods to the victims. Aside from the national government, health workers, rescue teams, and various organizations have also lent their helping hands, providing medical services and donations as much as they could.

11. Ateneo shooter’s father shot dead in Basilan

(Photo from John Unson/Philstar)

Less than a week after the shooting incident at Ateneo, the father of Chao-Tiao Yumol was shot dead.

The victim, identified as Rolando Yumol, 69, was shot at least four times outside his house in Lamitan, Basilan at around 6:45 am on July 29. Initial reports by the Philippine National Police (PNP) showed that Yumol was killed by two motorcycle-riding men using a .45 calibre pistol.

PNP spokesperson PCol. Jean Fajardo said that the police have been conducting thorough investigations on the case. He also discouraged the public to avoid making speculations on the case. As the police are still gathering evidence, it is “premature” to link the case to the recent shooting incident in ADMU.

12. PH logs first monkeypox case

(Photo from Reuters)

July 29 marked the day the Philippines detected its first case of monkeypox.

The virus was detected in a 31-year-old Filipino who arrived from overseas last July 19. He had previously travelled to countries with confirmed monkeypox cases.

The 31-year-old had already recovered but is currently undergoing strict isolation and home monitoring. Authorities identified 10 close contacts, including three from the patient’s family. All are not exhibiting any symptoms but are also being quarantined and monitored.

According to DOH Undersecretary Beverly Ho, the Philippines has been coordinating with the United States to secure vaccines for monkeypox. However, she asserted that not everyone needs to be vaccinated; only population groups who are at most risk will be prioritized.

With everything that has happened this month, being hopeful is slowly turning into an impossible task. Just thinking about what will happen on the first day of the next month is already distressing.

But perhaps, this is all just a phase. If good things can come to an end, so do the bad things. Someday in the near future, the darkness in our paths will soon be replaced by a bright glimmer of hope.

Hopefully.

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