October 2021 is a hopeful history book

Photo courtesy of Charlie Villegas/OVP

The Libra season is slowly liberating us to welcome the persuasive hands that will seal the year of 2021 — and it still feels surreal. October huddled the pieces of a foreboding history to be made, proclamations of firsts, and a hope that looks on us yet still beyond our reach.

Here are a few bookmarks from the tenth month of the year.

1. Catching ‘The Feels’ for TWICE

Photo courtesy of JYP Entertainment

October 1st granted TWICE with the release of their first official English single The Feels. And they are no mystery allure for they surely made their mark.

The girls shot through the hearts of audiences with a tune streaming the line of disco pop, and a choreography that worms its way to your arms until you dance yourself. With its music video attracting 87 million views and TWICE becoming the first girl group to place on the Billboard Hot 100 this year, the aim and fire of The Feels were definitely not amiss.

The girl group also continued to spoil listeners, especially ONCEs, with a trailer for their third full album Formula of Love O+T= < 3 to be released on Nov. 12.

2. Thomasians bask in another 2-day break

Jester Ramos/TomasinoWeb

Just like last month’s academic breather, the Office of the Secretary-General published a memorandum announcing dates for this month’s academic break.

Oct. 13 to 14 served as the Thomasian community’s 48-hour ease from school and office work. The initiative was seen positively by some students, but the huffs concerning the academic break’s brief span were still apparent. Looking forward, the University will be observing its Undas break from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3.

This is definitely a step forward to a more compassionate understanding of student grievances, but concrete action that leads to a lasting resolution is a staple we are still waiting and hoping for.

3. VP Leni Robredo joins the race for the presidential seat

Photo courtesy of Angie De Silva/Rappler

Social media aligned its color wheels to shades of pink shortly after Vice President Leni Robredo formalized her presidential candidacy in the upcoming May 2022 elections. Robredo’s announcement came two days after her deemed political rival Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos announced his bid. Robredo emphasized communication beyond her circles, not for the goals of transaction but for the goals of being united in hope, values, and principles for the country.

The presidential ring holds the weight of many aspirants, and it is up to us to screen them wisely, align them not only with our beliefs but also with how they will align our motherland to holistic stability.

4. Maria Ressa becomes first Filipino to receive a Nobel Prize

Photo courtesy of Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

Together with fellow journalist Dmitry Muratov, Rappler’s chief executive officer Maria Ressa becomes a Nobel Peace Prize laureate “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

Ressa has faced many challenges in sustaining the freedom of the press, as well as journalistic activism for the truth under the current administration. The Palace expressed their congratulations with a reminder of Ressa’s cases in court, which includes a closure order on Rappler.

With all the cobwebs that surround Ressa’s profile, the fight for getting the truth out to the public’s eyes and ears clings to certainty. The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines put their emphasis on Ressa’s win and the weight that journalism holds, especially today when barriers from factual storytelling remain to intimidate.

5. Tropical Storm Maring ravages in the Luzon islands

Photo courtesy of Edd Gumban

October 11th marked the day of Tropical Storm Maring’s landfall on Fuga Island, Aparri. The storm extended its severity along with several lands of Northern Luzon, bringing along floods, landslides, and heavy rain. Maring carried maximum sustained winds of up to 100 kilometers per hour.

Leaving the areas of Luzon under wind signal indications, a thousand evacuated families, and 23 deaths, Maring departed the Philippine Area of Responsibility on the morning of Oct. 12.

Countries like ours have a year-long vulnerability to storms and typhoons. Its geographical physicality of being an archipelago should not hinder our compassion to become one in helping however we can.

6. Joshua Aldave ranks 8th on the chemical engineering boards

Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb

A Thomasian recently brought pride to the University, as he secured the eighth spot in the Chemical Engineering Licensure Exams. With a score of 81.30 percent, Joshua Santiago Aldave led the newest batch of Thomasian chemical engineers.

UST is not among the top-performing schools, but it recorded a 45.95 percent (17/37) overall passing rate, and a 50 percent passing rate for first-time takers.

The examinations were held in Manila and provincial testing centers from Oct. 3 to 5.

7. The slow reopening of the silver screens

Photo courtesy of Dennis Abrina/Rappler

We can’t replicate the gasps of the audience and the comfy reclining seats in our rooms. But worry not, for we are finally experiencing all these again — except for the popcorn.

Cinemas in the National Capital Region have been allowed to reopen their doors from Oct. 16 to 31, following the Inter-Agency Task Force’s decision to downgrade the region’s Alert Level from 4 to 3. However, the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines confirmed in a Facebook post that Metro Manila cinemas will officially open on Nov. 10. Moviegoers are welcome to enjoy the big screen again, but with a little patience needed and several restrictions along the way.

With the pandemic still in our tracks, health and safety protocols are to be observed during the pilot reopening. Instead of filling the whole theater, the seats are only limited to 30 percent indoor capacity of fully vaccinated individuals. Moviegoers, once allowed inside, must sit one seat apart and wear their face masks all the time. In addition to that, eating snacks like popcorn are prohibited.

This sudden return to the theaters is surely not perfect, given the limitations in tow, but it’s a step in the right direction.

8. Squid Game becomes the #1 series on Netflix

Photo courtesy of Youngkyu Park/Netflix

With all the memes and theories overtaking swaths of the internet, it’s hard to avoid Squid Game.

Since its Sept. 17 debut on Netflix, Squid Game has been winning attention from the whole world. The hit dystopian drama officially becomes Netflix’s biggest series launch ever, drawing 111 million viewers within just 27 days. Squid Game is also the first Korean original series to hit №1 in all 94 countries where Netflix has a top 10 popularity chart. It is currently predicted to become the most-watched non-English series on the platform, beating the Spanish drama Money Heist.

The nine-episode drama takes audiences on a wild ride, as 456 debt-saddled contestants compete in a series of children’s games with deadly stakes in hopes of winning a life-changing cash prize. Coupled with nerve-wracking bloodshed, misanthropic themes on capitalism and neoliberalism, and emotional cruelties, this show hits all the right notes.

The trailblazing success of Squid Game is yet another manifestation of Korean pop culture’s impact on the world, following the likes of Oscar-winning film Parasite and Grammy-nominated K-pop group BTS.

9. Walden Bello drags Marcos Jr.

Photo courtesy of Rappler

Vice presidential aspirant and former Akbayan congressman Walden Bello caused quite a stir when he blasted Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. with the F-word on live TV.

Bello, along with his running mate, labor leader Leody de Guzman, was interviewed in ANC’s After the Fact on Thursday, Oct. 21 to discuss their candidacy. But things took a rather dramatic turn when the conversation shifted and brought up the other political candidates running for the 2022 elections.

Bello went hard on the late dictator’s son, calling him the “biggest joke of all,” while also pointing out that his family must not be allowed to “r*pe the country” again.

But Bello‘s expletive-laced tirade didn’t stop at Marcos Jr. alone. He went on to throw major shades on the other presidential candidates: labeling Manila mayor Isko Moreno as papogi,” ridiculing boxer-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao for his notorious absenteeism in the Congress, and questioning senator Ping Lacson’s stand in the opposition. He didn’t have much to say about Vice President Leni Robredo, but he did consider her as the “only real opposition candidate” apart from him and De Guzman.

10. CHED: No in-person classes for other courses for now

Photo courtesy of Chris Hubenthal

Face-to-face classes for other degree programs, even in low-risk areas, are still not allowed, according to Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Prospero de Vera.

CHED has been eyeing the reopening of in-person classes for all degree programs this year. But with only 27 percent of college students in the country vaccinated, their plan is not yet feasible. To add, they still have not completed the guidelines for the operation of limited face-to-face classes.

For now, only the courses of medicine, allied health sciences, engineering and technology, hospitality management, hotel and restaurant management, tourism management, marine engineering, and marine transportation programs are permitted to resume face-to-face classes.

11. Carlos Yulo becomes a 2-time world champion

Photo courtesy of Philip Fong/AFP

A day after losing his title in the floor exercise finals, Filipino gymnast Carlos Yulo quickly bounced back and put up a gallant stand.

The 21-year-old bagged the men’s vault gold medal at the 50th FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships at the Kitakyushu General Gymnasium, Japan on Sunday, Oct. 24. After executing two near-flawless vaults, Yulo had no trouble securing the gold, scoring an average of 14,916 points. He also won a silver medal in the parallel bars category at the same event.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Board will be rewarding Yulo with incentives ranging from P750,000 to P1.5 million for his double-medal performance. PSC honors the tremendous achievements of the 4-foot-11 dynamo, who is now the first Filipino gymnast to win more than one medal at the world championship from a single staging of the tournament.

Yulo continues to hoist the Philippine flag high, and further cements his legacy as a true champion.

12. PH records first B1.1.318 variant case

Photo courtesy of Michael Varcas/Philippine Star

The country detected its first case of the B1.1.318 variant that was described to be responsible for the infections in Mauritius, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The World Health Organization clarified that B1.1.318 is a “variant under monitoring,” as well as having similar spike proteins with its fellow variants, Delta and Beta.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergaire informed that the singular case was a 34-year-old man who arrived in the Philippines from the United Arab Emirates on March 5 and got his swab test on March 10. He fully recovered on March 21, and his last recorded address was in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. The Undersecretary also clarified that the newly-detected variant is still undergoing study for its effects upon transmission and the efficacy of vaccines.

As long as the virus exists, variants will always follow along. It is better to keep our masks up and hold health regulations tightly intact in our everyday behaviors, so we could slowly close the gate of more infections waiting to take their place.

If there is a month that could write its own pages of history, consider October a contributing writer. As the last three headings of the calendar escort 2021 to a close, this month offered heavy skies, a pride that jumps, and pieces of hope behind keyholes. And we can only wish that hope finally opens its doors in the months to come.

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The Premier Digital Media Organization of the University of Santo Tomas