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How games are helping us get by

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Getting addicted to gaming is among the many downs of being stuck at home in quarantine.

From the perspective of a college student, getting to play video games can either be a deadly sin or a mind-boggling experience. The reality of adulting and career-focused work does not usually fit into the realm of “playing games” that we used to do as children. However, that feeling has changed because of being quarantined at home.

I was stuck at home for about five months at the peak of the coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic in the country, which continues on to this day. I fondly remember when the government announced to halt classes until April, which then extended on until the end of the semester by July.

“Walang pasok na naman (No classes again),” so I thought. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. The city and the rest of the world were still on lockdown and all you could hear were just bad news about cases rising and falling into turmoil. It felt like I was about to lose my mind so it seemed convenient to open up the game console and finally finish one of those games I had left hanging long ago.

When I was a kid, I remember playing the Playstation 2 during the weekdays would spell trouble for me, as my parents would always take it away, telling me that I would get distracted from studying. There was that stigma that video games “rot the brain,” make you lazy and matigas ang ulo (hard-headed). At least I was allowed to play it only on the long weekends or holiday breaks, but even then my mom limited my game time to two hours.

Fast forward to 2020: video games have come a very long way. It’s not just on game consoles, PCs or those portable gaming tablets. You can literally get them on your smartphone, download from the App Store or Google Play Store and you’ll be on your way. For those Gen-Zers, before iPhone or Android came into existence, there were Nintendo, Xbox and Playstation which were the trend for kids in the 2000s.

My view towards games these days is it’s just like binging on Netflix for hours on end. The pandemic has become an opportunity for occasional gamers, such as me, to take advantage of the gaming lifestyle. That differs for those who don’t play video games or those who are truly hardcore, as in people who treat gaming as a career or their life.

To some it may seem childish, but one cannot see life with rose-colored glasses. COVID-19 proved that. It has changed the way people live and view life as we know it.

 

LAST June’s most talked about game, ‘The Last of Us Part 2.’
PHOTOGRAPHS BY LEOPOLDO MARIA YABES FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

According to the article titled “Problematic online gaming and the COVID-19 pandemic” in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions published in www.researchgate.net, “stay-at-home mandates and quarantines have increased consumption of digital entertainment, particularly online gaming and related activities.”

The authors found that Steam, the PC gaming distribution software founded by Valve, had over 20 million active users during the pandemic. Other video game streaming platforms such as YouTube Gaming and Twitch had a 10 percent increase in viewers. Even the World Health Organization recommended the gaming industry’s campaign to #PlayApartTogether during the crisis.

The article also showed evidence that video gaming “appears adaptive and may reduce loneliness” and can be used to reduce stress and “aversive emotions, such as alcohol and drug use.”

However, it also mentioned the negative impact of too much gaming. Excessive gaming can cause “unhealthy lifestyle patterns” such as sleep deprivation, mental problems in isolation and the “difficulty of readaptation” once the pandemic has been solved.

 

Being socially distant through gaming.

I was always told before that anything in excess can be bad for you, whether food, drinks and, yes, even gaming. One point that the article reminded its readers was gaming industries will use this opportunity to exploit these vulnerabilities and use it to promote their products. It’s a rapidly growing industry, and the surprise is, COVID-19 actually made video gaming even popular.

In short, keep playing Fortnite or Call of Duty with friends, but once in a while, spend some extra time with family, cook a recipe or maybe experiment with other skills during these tumultuous times. Just let me finish with this game first.

Source: King, D., Delfabbro, P., Billieux, J., & Potenza, M. (2020). “Problematic online gaming and the COVID-19 pandemic.” Retrieved from www.researchgate.net/publication/340647282_Problematic_online_gaming_and_the_COVID-19_pandemic.

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Phl students score bronzes at 32nd IOI

This year’s National Olympiad in Informatics-Philippines champion Dan Alden Baterisna of De La Salle University Senior High School and Dion Stephan Ong of the Ateneo de Manila Senior High School each won bronze medals in the competition that saw 343 students from 87 countries competing.

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Dan Alden Baterisna of De La Salle University Senior High School, Steven Chua of British School Manila, Dion Stephan Ong of the Ateneo de Manila Senior High School, and Steven Reyes of Saint Jude Catholic School participated at the 32nd International Olympiad in Informatics recently held online.

Two of the four-man pool of the Philippine team to the 32nd International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) took home bronze medals in the online competition held from 13 to 19 September.

This year’s National Olympiad in Informatics-Philippines (NOI.PH) champion Dan Alden Baterisna of De La Salle University Senior High School and Dion Stephan Ong of the Ateneo de Manila Senior High School each won bronze medals in the competition that saw 343 students from 87 countries competing.

Baterisna scored 314.93 while Ong netted 314.18 out of 600.

Aside from Baterisna and Ong, the team was composed of Steven Chua of British School Manila and Steven Reyes of Saint Jude Catholic School.

Now on its 32nd run, the IOI is the most prestigious informatics competition in the world. It was originally set in July in Singapore but had to be moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Science and Technology – Science Education Institute (DoST-SEI), which supports the country’s participation in the IOI, lauded NOI.PH for leading the charge in finding the best bets to represent each Filipino into the world stage.

“We congratulate our national team members as well as NOI.PH for building the most competitive lineup possible. We hope that our contingents can not only put up a great fight but also inspire others students to pursue informatics and analytics,” DoST-SEI Director Josette Biyo remarked.

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UP law team bags Jessup international champions title

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Winning UP Law Jessup team. / PHOTOgraph COURTESY OF UP COLLEGE OF LAW COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

The global pandemic did not in any way hinder the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law Jessup Team from winning the championship title, when it defeated the South African Team in the finals, in the recently held 2020 ‘After Jessup’ International Moot Court Competition.

The UP Law Jessup team was declared International Champions of the virtual tournament conducted via Zoom by the International Association of Law Schools (IALS).  Other national Jessup champion teams from different regions of the world that included the Asia Pacific region, also participated in the invitational event.

Team captain Leslie Diane Torres led members Abelardo Hernandez, Anton Miguel Sison, Therese Ravina and Bianca Isabella Ortiz and they were coached by UP Law Professor Rommel Casis who also served as moderator during the online competition.  He was assisted by Lee Edson Yarcia, Gemmo Fernandez and Marianne Vitug.

Prior to the ‘After Jessup’ competition, the same team was crowned National Champions in the Philippine Qualifying Rounds of the 2020 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition after advancing undefeated. This achievement marked UP’s first three-peat Jessup National Championship.

With the cancellation of the official Jessup International Rounds, which were scheduled on 12 to 18 April 2020 in Washington, D.C. the online competition was organized by the IALS in cooperation with the International Law Students Association to provide the best qualifying Jessup teams around the world an opportunity to compete internationally amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Thomasians place third in Spanish design competition

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Thomasian team places third at architecture competition in Spain. / PHOTOgraph courtesy of UST.EDU.PH

Five Architecture graduates of the University of Santo Tomas won third place at the Design for Living international competition by the Institute for Advanced Architecture for Catalonia (IAAC) in Spain.

Aramis Corullo, Paula Casia, Gellaine Burgos, Althea Poblete and Angelo Landicho submitted their entry titled “WALL-E Transforming Waste into a Floating City to Restore the Sunken Kingdom of Binuangan.” It reimagines “future human habitats” and presents a concept of how to prevent communities from being washed away by creating livable structures from discarded plastic.

The competition saw over 190 entries from 80 different countries. The jurors were composed of 33 reputable architects and designers. Each team member will receive a scholarship for a Master’s degree at IAAC as well as a cash prize.

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A day in the life of student leader amid the pandemic

At school, the IHTM Student Council initiated the ITHM SHOPPE or the Sellers Hub for Online Products, Promotions and Entrepreneurship. Mariz said that the project was put up to help promote and advertise her fellow students’ and faculty members’ online shops.

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FEU student leader Mariz Domingo.

Her days used to be full of planning and strategizing with her fellow students in one of their offices. As a student leader and athlete, Mariz Domingo is used to being on her toes, always making use of her time. But her time — like everybody else these days — is spent confined to the secure walls of her home.

“Before this pandemic started, I always had full schedules on weekdays and even during weekends,” said Mariz, an Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (IHTM) student at the Far Eastern University. Prior to the lockdown, she was busy with their department’s annual IHTM week planning events and project proposals.

“Most of my days now follows the cycle of wake up-eat-watch Netflix-take a bath-eat-binge watch-eat-sleep-repeat,” she confessed. She related that the once mundane task of doing the grocery and running errands excites her.

But old habits die hard for the active student leader. Like most achievers, she found ways to put her time and influence to good use.

preparing the meals she will be giving to those in need.

Mariz also took to their kitchen and tried her hand at cooking. “I felt like a chef after making a buffet for Mother’s Day and for birthdays,” she gushed.

And, of course, since the world is facing a health crisis, she made sure that she keeps a healthy and sound body through proper diet and exercise.

Apart from taking care of herself, she also took the initiative to extend a helping hand.

She was able to start a donation drive with the help of her university and its Student Development team when she was able to go back to her home province in Ilocos Norte. Her goal, she said, was to help her kababayan especially the indigent families and front-liners. The donation drive was cut short, but she has no regrets because it was “fulfilling to see appreciative people.”

Mariz said that she wanted to help the indigents and frontliners in her hometown in Ilocos.

At school, the IHTM Student Council initiated the ITHM SHOPPE or the Sellers Hub for Online Products, Promotions and Entrepreneurship. Mariz said that the project was put up to help promote and advertise her fellow students’ and faculty members’ online shops. With more exposure and platform to sell their wares, the initiative will help in earning extra income for them.

Everything might seem to be working well for now, but, Mariz wishes to underscore an issue which she had noticed affected her classmates.

“I noticed a rise in mental health issues among my classmates, especially those who were not able to go home immediately when the lockdown started in Manila. They were thinking about the current situation and at the same time worrying about how their families were doing,” she noted.

The student leader believes that constant communication is one of the effective ways to help anyone cope with mental health issues. “Whether it be your family, your friends, your loved ones — I am sure that even a simple ‘kumusta’ meant a lot. If you are nearby, you can visit (but remember to observe social distancing) and maybe give them some food you baked, which I did,” she advised.

She started a donation drive with the help of her university for her kababayan in Ilocos Norte. / PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF FEU/MARIZ DOMINGO

These days, she is preparing for the latter half of the second semester. She made sure to tick off all the necessary requirements for a conducive online or distance learning as prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education such as her trusty laptop and phone as well as a strong Internet connection. Mariz is aware that not all have access to reliable Internet connection but she still hopes that many students will continue to study and pursue their dreams.

As a final piece of advice, Mariz said, “Give value to everything in your life, from the work you do to the fleeting moments you have with friends and family, because you will never know when you will be able to do these things again.”

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Navigating ‘adulting’ in quarantine

There is a profound loneliness brought about by the pandemic, where the norm of social distancing is essential in saving lives. The palpable feeling of quiet isolation has affected even the most introverted homebodies.

Katarina Lopez

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The world was not meant to move and function only through synchronous everything, but since we’ve officially passed the six-month mark of the Luzon-wide quarantine with no end in sight — it’s all we can really do to keep up. As the government fumbles to find concrete solutions to the pandemic, many employees and students have been forced to grapple with the new work from home reality.

There is a profound loneliness brought about by the pandemic, where the norm of social distancing is essential to saving lives. The palpable feeling of quiet isolation has affected even the most introverted homebodies. The truth is, the work from home set-up is unkind to one’s mental health. Hours are spent working on a screen daily, while robotically waiting for the next online meeting.

Submit deliverables, edit and discuss. Rinse and repeat.

In practice, the work-life balance is nowhere to be found. This partly has to do with the merging of spaces once reserved specifically for unwinding. Now, one’s place of work is commonly also one’s bedroom and dining room. The latter is inevitable especially when meetings extend into what feels like infinity. These days, going overtime at work seems to be part and parcel of life in the age of COVID-19. It’s hard to mentally log-off now.

Distance learning is now being implemented in many schools. / PHOTOGRAPH courtesy of Kuow

Part of me wonders if this fixation on some vague idea of success is but a generational quirk. Are we a generation that measures self-worth in terms of productivity? Or have we grown jaded in the process of becoming part of the workaday world? It’s hard to tell the difference. After all, these are times when productivity is the most-prized commodity of all.

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the false belief that, “I’ll be happy when I get x, or once I’ve done y.” This repetitive narrative is as mendacious as it is never-ending. All we want is to get busy.

Better and more successful, regardless of the cost. The most frightening realization of all is this: chasing after the token picket fence future causes nothing but burnout.

We’re all yearning for a return to some semblance of normalcy, but most of this is wishful thinking. There’s no dictating how long life will go on this way, particularly in a country where rampant corruption precedes over the needs of the people. But here’s hoping for better days.

If you haven’t done it, please register to vote. Registration is again open to the public, provided that one takes the necessary precautions of wearing a face mask and a face shield. Voting is our ticket to a less bleak future.

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Murder of our peace of mind

Katarina Lopez

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The Philippines seems to be on a trajectory that bends morality towards injustice these days. On this week’s installment of “Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse,” President Duterte decided to pardon a murderer.

In 2014, Joseph Scott Pemberton, a US soldier, was convicted for the murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman. This gruesome hate-crime took place only six years ago, and yet, the criminal now walks free. Inmates who have been charged with far less heinous crimes have been kept in overcrowded jail cells longer than Pemberton. The injustice is palpable and sickening.

Does this pardon have something to do with the fact that Pemberton is a foreigner? And if so, since when has the lives of outsiders trumped the lives of our very own?

Pemberton was granted absolute pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte on 7 September. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS

The life of Jennifer Laude was deliberately cut short by Pemberton. He left her battered and lifeless, as if she didn’t matter in this world.

Freely expressing one’s gender should neither be a death sentence nor an excuse for murder.

The blatant hypocrisy of the President’s pardon understandably leaves one dumbfounded.

“Shoot them dead,” the President said about quarantine violators, many of which are civilians. But in some illogical twist of fate, he is striving to preserve the life of a guilty criminal. This administration is fighting to bring back the death penalty while making exceptions for the guilty.

No real sense of justice can be served so long as Pemberton is free. Justice does not sort itself out alone. Though our Constitution is meant to provide for the equal protection of all, these rights must actively be upheld by the men and women of the law. Without them, the safeguards set by the Constitution, the intricate system of checks and balances, are useless.

Joseph Scott Pemberton was found guilty of killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014.

Many have been left to wonder: how does Harry Roque sleep at night? Does his conscience not keep him up? It seems that his morals are by no means set in stone, they are flimsy and seem in favor of whoever is in-charge.

Six years ago, he fought for Jennifer Laude. Now, on which side of history does he stand? There is no middle ground here, only a clear delineation between justice and evil.

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Liquid hope

The Aeta community lacks water supply and has limited access to potable water. Residents need to walk for more than four hours round trip to get water. Around 500 residents of about 150 households are expected to benefit from the donation.

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LocalS cannot help but smile at the good news. / PHOTOgraphs COURTESY OF IYF

On 7 September, the Good News World Philippines held a deep well donation ceremony for Aetas living in Villa Maria in Porac, Pampanga.

The Aeta community lacks water supply and has limited access to potable water. Residents need to walk for more than four hours round trip to get water. Around 500 residents of about 150 households are expected to benefit from the donation.

Deep well donated for the Aetas in Villa Maria, Porac, Pampanga.

The well gets water through seven six-meter long pipes dug underground. It has a deeper depth of water and is cleaner than other places. Residents can now easily wash, clean and drink without using rainwater like they used to.

The International Youth Fellowship Philippines, a registered non-government organization (NGO) in the Philippines, supported the provision and installation of a jet pump well and a large water tank and made possible with the support of Good News World, an NGO for international development cooperation.

Village leaders and residents gathered at the donation ceremony and enjoyed the newly donated deep well and food shared.

Aeta community beneficiary of the donation.

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Do you remember the 21st of September 1972?

Katarina Lopez

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Ferdinand Marcos

This parallel universe of 2020 has brought with it an ostrich randomly running amuck and a heaping dose of historical revisionism. The latter is less comical, although it does admittedly feel like a twisted joke.

Just when you think that things can’t possibly get worse this year, the House of Representatives passes a bill declaring 11 September a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to honor the infamous dictator himself, Ferdinand Marcos. Why? I also have no idea. This bill, HB 7137, was approved by a landslide vote, with only nine legislators voting no and one abstaining. The other 197 legislators voted yes for this bill, effectively choosing to rewrite the narrative of our own history by making an honorable man out of a dictator. To date, the Senate has not passed its version of the bill. Here’s hoping that the legislators in the Senate have the decency to respect the memory of the many who were tortured, kidnapped and killed during this dark era of our country’s history.

In the remembrance of our past, there have been attempts to wrongfully sweep the entire period of Martial Law under the rug. This is not the first time this current administration has played a hand in rewriting the story of the Marcos family. There have been deliberate acts to reverse the dictator’s legacy. In 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte followed through with a campaign promise to allow the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Despite protests from various human rights groups against the burial, the dictator was laid to rest among many of this country’s real heroes. Supposedly, the justification for this burial was to allow the nation to heal and move on. Although, one has to ask, how can the Filipino people move on from a past that is not acknowledged, but rather, recast and rewritten?

This holiday, regardless of its proposed geographical restrictions, is a direct assault to the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for our democracy. It belittles the celebration of the People Power Revolution of 1986 altogether. Why should we honor a man who selfishly perverted the law for his political gain? A man who permanently silenced anyone and everyone who spoke against his regime, who flaunted his riches as the rest of the country suffered in extreme poverty. This same man caused a disgusting amount of human rights violations for years and years. Where exactly is the honor in all this? I can’t seem to comprehend how 197 legislators thought this was a good idea.

History is now being skewed in its interpretation of Ferdinand Marcos’ misdeeds. When the survivors of Marcos’ regime are gone, who will remember their experiences? How will future generations remember our past when memory and holidays tell a completely different story?

In many ways, memory is fickle and history, ever-changing. It is our job to remember the gruff and the bluster; to take the good with the bad. The memory of Martial Law cannot be diluted with false truths spread by those who are choosing to put the dictator on a pedestal. Marcos is not a hero, never was, never will be. We have to learn from the past and acknowledge the facts as they were, or else, sooner or later, we’re bound to repeat the same mistakes.

 

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PLM adjusts opening of classes to 5 October

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Classes have been moved to 5 October at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PLM.EDU.PH

The Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) will open Academic Year 2020-2021 on 5 October instead of the original 3 September opening date.

All undergraduate units and graduate schools will adjust their respective school activities and deadlines, except for the College of Law and College of Medicine which have started classes on 3 September.

The Board of Regents arrived at the decision to reschedule the opening of classes under blended learning during its 25 August meeting, which was upheld by members of the University Council. Both bodies agreed that the additional one-month window is needed to give way for more preparations for the rollout of virtual classrooms, as well as to retool faculty, staff and students on the new modes of learning.

To ensure that students with no reliable Internet connections can keep pace, a system for printing modules and distribution via the City of Manila’s barangay bureau is also being readied.

“We are ramping up our preparations for the opening of PLM’s virtual campus. Remote learning is new to the University but rest assured that we are doing our best to make the experience as smooth and engaging as possible for our dear students. We are also finalizing our blended learning protocols to ensure that no student will be left behind under our ‘new normal’ setup,” PLM president Emmanuel Leyco said.

The registration period for new and returning students is scheduled until today, 6 September, which is purely done online.

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