#IbaNaman — A Catalog of Alternate TALAB Class Names

Humor, it has been said time and again, is so deeply ingrained in Filipino culture that not rarely does it take on an escapist function in a bleak situation. It is particularly enjoyable when assayed by college students, whose jokes are often infused with intellect of a level not seen yet on adolescents, and not much anymore on people past their twenties. In 2012, for example, the University of the Philippines decided to incorporate an essay portion in its entrance examination for college applicants, spawning the culturally-savvy #RejectedUPCATEssayQuestions.

This year sees a similar trend, albeit more briefly, as students from Ateneo de Manila University took to social media last Wednesday to reimagine the school’s upcoming event called Talakayang Alay sa Bayan (TALAB), or Discussions for the Nation.

While older Ateneo alumni waxed nostalgic about the school’s societal timeliness, students and other graduates mashed current events with cultural memes to produce alternate classes that, for all their humor, are mostly in the spirit of the event.

#RejectedTALABClassNames
  • Pare, pulis ako: A discourse on the PNP 
  • Get rich, quick!: or how my father cheated an entire country, a talk by Bong Bong Marcos 
  • Works at The Krusty Krab: The Fight Against Contractualization 
  • Rape Is Wrong: How To Keep Bananas In Their Pajamas 
  • DTF: Deconstructing The Fuckboy 

  • “Edi sa puso mo :)” A Symposium on Work Environment in the Philippines 
  • Beat Energy Gap: The Role of Sustainable Energy in Ensuring the Continued Development of a Nation 
  • Beat the Energy Gap: A Talk By James Reid on the Opportunities for the Semiconductor Industry in the Philippines 
  • Don’t Delete That Tweet: How To Handle Tweeting a Major Erratum in an Important Announcement 
  • “Bigyan ng Jacket ‘Yan!”: A Talk on Allocation of Resources by Willie Revillame 
  • Bigyan ng Jacket: Global Warming and Cold Days in February 
  • LF: Gays and Tagging Your Friends: A Sensitivity Workshop on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression 

  • Human Experimentation and On-Campus Conspiracy Theories: a study tour of PIPAC 
  • VILLAGE ‘TO: An introduction to infrastructure and urban planning 
  • Traffic as a State of Mind: Forum on Traffic and Congestion by Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade 
  • My Political Color is Brown: Skin Care Regimen by Mocha Uson 
  • Ni Hao: Breaking the Great Wall by Kim Chiu, Xian Lim and the Cast of Mano Po 7 sponsored by Kowloon House 
  • Deal or No Deal? Investment and Financial Literacy with Kris Aquino sponsored by Sun Life Financial 
  • Kiss It Better: Mastering The Perfect Momol by Chokoleit 
  • Ingat: Basic First Aid and Wellness by John Lloyd Cruz 
  • Maalaala Mo Kaya? Improving Your Memory with Charo Santos-Concio sponsored by Memo Plus Gold 

  • Dream, Believe, Survive: The Secret to Idealism by Yasmien Kurdi and Rainier Castillo 
  • I’m Drunk I Love You: Drunk Text Prevention by Maja Salvador and Paulo Avelino 
  • Homaygahd May Pamili: A Course on Family Planning 
  • How Far I’ll Go: How to get to BEL from CTC in 10 minutes 
  • Not A Journalist: Blogging and Expanding Your Social Media Influence by Margaux “Mocha” Uson 
  • Stranger Flings: How to Make Paasa by Lahat Ng Lalaki Na Nanggago Sa Akin 
  • Nasa Iyo Na Ang Lahat: Improving Your Personal Image and Branding by Daniel Padilla 

  • From Amoy Pawis to Amor Powers: A Deconstruction of the Self-Made Filipina 
  • Work, Work, Work, Work, Work: A Career Talk and Job Fair by Rihanna sponsored by Jobstreet Philippines 
  • Sa Luzon, Sa Visayas, At Sa Mindanao: The Consequences of Regionalism by Willie Revillame 
  • Special Topics in Philippine History: A Trip to Intramuros by Dora the Explorer and Drew Arellano 
  • How Far I’ll Go: Basic Navigation and Orienteering by Moana in cooperation with Waze and Google Maps 
  • Philippine Advertising: Breaking the Consumers’ Hearts and Gaining Revenue The Next Day by McCann World Group sponsored by Jollibee 
  • How To Get Away With Murder: An Analysis and Discussion of Project Tokhang by Rodrigo Duterte 

  • Hataw Na! Contemporary Streetdance with Gary Valenciano and G Force sponsored by Star Magic 
  • How To Get Away With Plagiarism: A Seminar by Tito Sotto 
  • Pills, No Reservations, and Dasal Lang Talaga: A Lecture on Health Care, Politics, and Theology with Alma Moreno
  • “Mahal Kita, Pero Bibigwasan Kita”: Relationship Counseling and Anger Management Workshop by Baron Geisler
  • Charotisms: The Philosophy of Ethyl Booba 
  • Walang Alarm, Walang Anything, Tumayo Talaga Ako: A Workshop on Instinctive Motherhood by Kris Aquino

  • Salamat Apo: How To Be A Marcos Apologist by Lea Salonga sponsored by the Government of Ilocos Norte 
  • My Pamily, My Family: The Importance of Filial Piety in Philippine Society by Janina San Miguel 
  • Thoroughbred High Horses: Basic Equestrianism by [NAME REDACTED] sponsored by Ateneo Trade 
  • The Mutative Nature of Communicative Spaces: The Case of Top Gear Philippines’ Facebook Page
  • Galawang Hokage: A Self-Defense Workshop Against Sexual Harassment 
  • MGA DILAWAN KAYO: A Lecture on Art History by Mocha Uson 
  • Reporting About The Banana Tree Of Evil: Fake Notes and Fake News 

  • #RapBeh: Trends on Revenge Sex Videos and the Psychology of Blackmail 
  • Seks or Chokoleyts: A Crash Course on the Commodification of Romance by Boy Abunda 
  • Help Beat Energy Gap: A Motivational Forum by James Reid 
  • “Bileyj ‘to!”: The Economics of Space of Subdivisions and Gated Communities with Jhepoy Dizon 
  • The DILF Culture in Philippine Context by Ian Veneracion, Doug Kramer and Richard Yap 
  • Charot: Avoiding Hostility in Social Media Discourse by Ethel Booba
  • Bongbong Marcos and The Art of Moving On 

(More ideas here.)

In what may be an over-reading of the matter, however: by choosing to view the sociopolitical matters they do from a humorous lens, Ateneans fall into the trap of consenting to the same issues and institutions they are looking to subvert. One might even say that however funny the class names, they indicate the economic and cultural limitations of the minds that conceived them, especially regarding what is construed as alay sa bayan (for the nation). Then again, since the current situation of the country is already ridiculous, going along with the humor might be the only way to make better sense of things and keep from going insane from civilian powerlessness.

All kidding aside, the real TALAB 2017 has yet to take place as of this writing, some of the alternate class names still do make sense — and not all Ateneans are sheltered or financially complacent. With any luck, when the event does take place on February 21, the discourse on this scale might just be the push that students (and some speakers) need to be more invested in the future of our topsy-turvy nation.

 

Not “no study, no movie about it” — Martial Law on Film

Anti-Marcos Burial Protest

On midday of November 18, 2016, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was stealthily buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, despite an order from the Supreme Court that was still subject to appeal. It was a slap in the faces of all the victims — both dead and alive — of his 20-year authoritarian regime.

To add insult to injury, current President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte defended the burial by insisting that, “Whether or not [Marcos] performed worse or better, there’s no study, no movie about [martial law], just the challenges and allegations of the other side.”

Duterte was wrong. Even today, Filipino and foreign filmmakers alike continue to express the atrocities of martial law through their craft; all would agree that that event in Philippine history had not been one happy picnic the way apologists make it out to be. Ferdinand Marcos, its mastermind, most definitely is not a hero by any definition.

The following movies are taken from a list compiled by one student organization in response to the President’s uninformed opinion.

This Letterboxd list also contains these movies.

The Social Media Element in A Duterte-Trump Comparison

2016 has been a most horrible year so far, to say the least. It saw the downfall, if not death, of a handful of well-known and decent persons; it also saw the rise of some relatively unsavory characters into power. With the election of Donald Trump in the USA and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, for instance, political analysts have even gone so far as to suggest the imminent rise of fascism worldwide.

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The Internet has played a crucial role in 2016 unfolding this way — i.e. for the worse — a phenomenon which The New Yorker staff writer Adrian Chen loosely describes within the context of Duterte’s and Trump’s political successes, in the following thread. While the two are more different than alike, one thing both men do share is their exploitation of social media outlets in political campaigns and later electoral victories.

According to Chen, social media these days work to the advantage of what he calls the “unhinged populist” (or populist demagogue). Duterte’s and Trump’s reported sentiments are erratic at worst and confusing at best; however, when coated with an additional layer of journalism which exists to sell stories, they become viciously divisive, with the more ludicrous statements acceptable only to the most diehard of supports.

Then there is the dynamic nature of social media feeds to consider, the technicalities of which already fall outside the scope of Chen’s thread. Outlets like Facebook have only served to reinforce the divisions of recent months — owing to algorithms that can create bubbles for people with similar political views and even deliberately inject fake news articles into users’ feeds. In this way, perceptions are further distorted instead of broadened by the Internet, a plot twist that not even Black Mirror could have seen coming.

 

The Social Function of Humor & the Perils of “Just Joking”

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In a recent rally in the United States, Republican candidate Donald Trump made his usual tirade against Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton, but with an extra kick that left his supporters cheering and everyone else angry or disgusted:

Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, and if she gets to pick — if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.

For those unfamiliar with the basics of American law, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution pertains to the right of the people to keep and bear arms. By suggesting that the upholders of this right deal with Clinton, Trump may have been implying nothing short of armed insurrection or downright assassination. In the backlash of his comment, he of course has resorted to his one-size-fits-all caveat: that he was”just joking,” and that people should just cut him some slack already.

To repeatedly use that alibi, however, and to use it in the way Trump consistently has, has its own perils, as Dallas appellate lawyer Jason P. Steed explains in the following Twitter rehash of his Ph.D. dissertation. (This is not a joke; the dissertation actually exists.)

Questions of this gist have been posed to Steed: If social function is all there is to humor, is anything ever genuinely funny? From both a psychological and sociological point of view, very few things are. For one, it may be worth noting that humor, like any group-oriented characteristic, is often relative from place to place; and what are known as inside jokes need not be between two individuals but can appeal to all members of a single culture.

For its part, the United States Secret Service — the agency assigned primarily to the protection of the American president and vice president — made the following ominous comment after Trump’s ‘joke.’

Was the Secret Service kidding? Unless we are part of their in-group, which we can safely assume is a tiny group at that, we may never know.