Autobiography. My teacher‘s right. Writing about ourselves really is more challenging to do than writing about other things. I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to see ourselves for who we really are or we just can’t admit that we’re this way or that. So in respect to you readers, I will try my best to let you know who I am as honestly as I can.

Okay, here goes. My name is Monica Villarica and I am currently in college taking up a bachelor of arts degree in Communication Arts. I like to look at life in a generally positive way and surround myself with people who share the same sentiments. I love the arts, especially dancing. I’ve always been passionate about dance but having to recently quit from a dance company for my own good, that passion has took a step back to make way for other things. Dancing however will always be a part of me and I plan to go back into it soon. I really value my friends and can’t imagine how college would turn out if I didn’t have them. I am also greatly concerned about the environment but then I haven’t really had the initiative to join any organizations or movements that aim to save it. Maybe in the future.

Speaking about the future, I can’t wait to graduate from college not because I know what I want to do with my life after but because I have no idea how that area of my life will turn out. It may be quite odd that I think that way but I just can’t wait to see all the possible experiences and careers I can get into. This feeling is most probably because of the way my parents brought me up. All throughout my childhood and teenage years, they have always made me feel that I can do whatever I want just as long as I’m happy doing it. I consider my family a very big blessing and I’ve only started to really appreciate them in the recent years. Why? I’m not very sure. It might be because I haven’t been living with them for the past three years since I decided to go away for college. Their absence has made me appreciate how much they affect me and how the values they’ve taught me really help in being independent.

Despite my Roman Catholic upbringing, I have to be honest and say that I don’t exactly agree with the teachings of the Church. However, I just can’t deny that there’s something bigger and greater than our species because of experiences in my life that have been hidden surprises. The one that’s very memorable was the time my sister learned she was pregnant right after she graduated college. Me and my sister, Miki, then weren’t really the best of friends. Among my two siblings, I always considered my brother, Carlo, the closest one to me because I just felt that Miki and I never got along. There never seemed to be a day that would pass by wherein we wouldn’t fight and I wouldn’t end up being the first to cry. This all changed though when she told me about her pregnancy and that I was the first one she told. That day, something different happened because I felt like we really bonded and became very close. At that same time, we found out that we were moving to a bigger house which was my grandparents’ to keep my grandfather company while my grandmother went away. It all just seemed to fit into place one by one because our house then was too small to accommodate a household of around 9 people. Moving into a bigger place made sure that our niece would have a comfortable place to stay in. So instead of seeing my sister’s pregnancy as something scary and wrong, everything worked out fine and I felt our family started to have a stronger bond.

So to sum things up, I love my family and friends and can’t wait to experience more of my life. 🙂

My first ever competition with LSDC Jazz and we won 2nd runner up 🙂

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Category: Unpublished
Type: Essay

Print media, the vessel that covers everything distributed publicly on paper is something we encounter each and everyday. There’s no way of escaping it because it’s embedded in the way we live life. It’s the newspaper our fathers read every morning, the books and journals students read in class, it’s the posters we see on walls advertising, and it’s the photographs on billboards along the highways. Up to this day, we gain so much knowledge through this type of media that it already has a sense of naturalness to us. When I say naturalness, I mean to express how print media has become something we don’t think twice about anymore. It’s very deep in our social construction that it has not become odd to read books, magazines, and newspapers.

Despite its commonality in life, many see the growing of the Internet Age as the wiping out of the old print media. I believe however that what many foresee will not actually be our future. Print media will never cease to exist but there will clearly be a decline in its usage as online journalism takes over media that requires urgency like the news. Print media like that will no doubt flourish in the Internet especially since communication becomes less complicated. People want free information at just a few clicks away. Because of that availability in the net, a number of newspaper readers may have already declined as more and more people opt for easy access to information about events and happenings around their area and around the world. The way print media communicates these kinds of information may lessen its audience and lose them to the other media forms that easily disseminate. For books on the other hand, I don’t see electronic books gaining much popularity in the future because it’s too stressful to spend hours and hours of time reading stories from a computer screen that strain your eyes from the light. Nothing will ever beat sitting and relaxing on a comfortable couch with a really good paper-paged-book that won’t strain your eyes after 3 minutes of reading.

Ever since electronic media like the radio, television, and now the internet began to start adding to our ways of accessing information, people have felt print media’s death looming around corner. Print media however has learned to withstand the competition for the past eighty years and is still standing strong to this day. I believe that these different kinds of media don’t actually compete for people’s attentions because everyone’s engagement in these mediums depend on their current activities. If someone’s driving a car, they usually turn on the radio to keep them entertained. If someone’s at home and has nothing else to do, that person watches TV for the news or other programs. If a person just wants to relax and keep away from anything electronic, there are always magazines and books to go through. Basically, the mixture of all these kinds of media has become the way we gather knowledge about the world. What we use depends on how we feel and what we’re doing at the moment. So in fifty years, I’m positive we’ll still see books and magazines around. It will just be amidst new kinds of media.

Category: Unpublished
Type: Commentary
Beat: Health

During the Valentine’s weekend, the Department of Health (DoH) distributed condoms to adult customers at a popular flower market to promote safe sex in Manila. This was to combat the increasing number of people infected with HIV/AIDS and to remind the rest about responsible sexual behavior. Many church leaders condemned this because they consider it “vulgar” and “immoral”. For the church, the use of contraceptives is forbidden and that the only way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS is by following its teachings and by respecting the sanctity of the human body through abstinence. For Bishop Ramon Arguelles from the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, he thinks Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, who was behind the condom distribution, should be kicked out of office and replaced. Cabral is unmoved by the criticisms of the Church and stands firmly on her decision to keep distributing condoms as she believes that this will remarkably decrease the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Bishop Ramon Arguelles claims that someone like Cabral should not be heading a vital government agency because her condom stint can endanger people’s morals. The Church considers the use of contraception as a form of murder which is why they are strongly against it and believe that the morals of the people will be distorted.

If the Church is claiming that we should follow their teachings about abstinence, then they aren’t doing a very good job with the rise of teenage pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)-infected individuals here in the Philippines to show as proof. According to the World Bank, Philippines is part of the top ten countries that have increasing numbers of teenage pregnancies with a total of 3.6 million in 2009. Also, the DoH 2008 report on HIV/AIDS have recorded a total of 528 cases for that year. From 2007 to 2009, there was a 52% increase in the total number of pregnanicies. Clearly not a lot of people take on the teachings of the Church that is abstinence. Based on the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Project of the University of the Philippines Population Institute, the average age for the first sexual intercourse for both men and women is 18 years old.

Condoms aren’t deemed 100% effective. This is another reason why the Church sees using them as pointless. According to the late Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo who was the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS is not efficiently effective and that it may just give out a false sense of security.

The claim about condoms being ineffective in blocking the transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus because of their big pores is unfounded according to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Condom failure is mostly because of factors in how we use and store it and the kind of condom being used. There are different kinds of materials that are manufactured into condoms like latex and non-latex materials like sheepskin. Contrary to the claim, the Center for Young Women’s Health say that latex condoms have pores tiny enough to block the virus from passing through while sheepskin condoms can only prevent pregnancy and not STDs because of its large pores. STD transmission is also depending on what kind of STD it is. If it’s just a virus that can be transferred through fluids, condoms can help us there. However, if the virus causes genital warts or herpes, if the condom doesn’t cover it, the virus can be passed on.

Everyone, especially the Church, should just leave Secretary Cabral alone and let her continue doing what she thinks is best for the Filipino people. This is where the argument of Separation of State and Church comes in. What this really means is that politicians or government officials aren’t allowed to pass laws or do acts that benefit a certain kind of religion. The Catholic Church is criticizing Secretary Cabral for her actions because it goes against THEIR morals and teachings. Secretary Cabral should not be blamed because she’s just doing what is due of her. She has either two choices: She can start following the Catholic Church and try telling teenagers and single adults that they should abstain from natural urges or she can take action and roll with the current instead of against it. I think that Secretary Cabral is doing the best she can to cope with the large number of sexually active people. The Church should be saying “Thank you” for trying to keep the Filipino people safe and healthy.

She's standing her ground on her condom distribution program V.S. Building

Category: Unpublished
Type: Blurb
Beat: Lifestyle

Imagine juicy, tender bacon and soft, savory mushrooms with a freshly cooked sunny side up egg with the yellow yolk still warm and runny, slathered with creamy melted cheese paired with mushy moist rice. Sounds really good, doesn’t it? This delectable meal is actually the famous Bacsilog with mushrooms meal found in Ate Rica’s Bacsilogan in Agno right beside De La Salle University – Manila’s main campus. This meal is a sloppy goodness fit for any time of the day. To La Sallians, it is widely popular for its Filipino-inspired mixture of ingredients and most especially for its 60 peso-price tag. Mushroom-haters can also request for the regular Bacsilog meal which holds the mushrooms for a cheaper price tag of P55.00. For non-La Sallians, this ultimate meal is accessible by going through the back exit of EGI Taft Towers along Taft Avenue, and then turning right where you will see an open canteen with smokers at the front and center of the area. Within this canteen are different food stalls with one of them being Ate Rica’s Bacsilogan. The Bacsilog meal would be best paired up with Iced Milo which can also be found in the same food stall for P15.00. Try it and experience one of the goodness of De La Salle University – Manila.

Category: Unpublished
Type: Service Feature
Beat: Career

It’s your first day of teaching and you’re a nervous wreck. You worry about what your students will think of you. In your head you go, “Will they like me or will they just laugh at me?”, “Will they listen to me or will I just be talking to myself for the next one hour and thirty minutes??” The last situation would be what teachers dread the most. Nobody wants to be seen talking to him/herself in front of a huge crowd. To avoid that, here are a few tips on how to keep your students glued to you during class.

Flaunt those assets! I don’t mean to say you should start wearing those mini skirts that show your very long legs or that tight sando that displays your rippling biceps. Everyone can always look good even without having to show too much skin. Always wear appropriate and fashionable clothing to class and make sure you look clean and groomed so that your students will find you easy to look at.

Use that sexuality! Especially if you’re a teacher teaching a class that is dominantly populated with the opposite sex, charm your students so that they’ll find it hard to take their eyes off you. Just remember, there’s a fine line between flirting and being charming. Make sure you know which area you’re in at all times.

Teaching while entertaining. A sure fire way of getting your students hook on your every word is to be entertaining. Think of creative ways on how you can incorporate games, jokes, and interesting life experiences to your lectures. Once you’ve got it all figured out, students will come out of your class smiling because of the great deal of fun they had while learning with you.

This is a two-way road, Honey. The class can’t just be all about you. Encourage your students to ask questions everytime they feel confused. Let them know that there are no stupid questions and that you’ll entertain each and every one as long as the time permits. Also, let the class be more of a conversation than a lecture. Give them the chance to also share their experiences and interesting stories relating to the lesson. Let your students learn from you and let yourself learn from the students.

Now you’re ready for your first day of teaching. It will all come easily to you as long as you love and enjoy what you’re doing. Good luck and have fun!

By Marika Callangan and Monica Villarica

Category: Unpublished
Type: News Feature
Beat: Health

In the modern world we live in, cancer chooses no particular person. Anyone is prone to cancer. Today, breast cancer is the number one cancer among women now. Yet in a country wherein access isn’t available to everyone, prevention to certain cancers that can be curable are as unattainable as well.

Remi Niola, who comes from the Degenerative Thesis Office, NCDCC, briefs us on the recent outbreak on statistics regarding breast cancer, “There are many causes to breast cancer, na hindi lang na-iinherit, hindi lang ang edad, may mga ibang factors din kelangan isipin katulad nang iyong lifestyle, ang timbang mo (ang paggiging obese), ang pag-iinom ng alcohol at paninigarilyo, at ang pag gamit nang contraceptive pill, at iba pa. Kelangan isipin ang mga ganung bagay.” Because of lack of information on early detection and prevention, cancer still ranks 5th among the top 10 leading causes of death in the Philippines, with breast and lung cancer accounting for 30% of all cancer cases, according to records from the Department of Health.

Cancer does not develop overnight. The tale of Emily Lopez depicts the terrifying permanence of a life taking disease. Emily is cancer patient, age 31, a loan processor from Philippine National Bank, Tokyo Branch. She is the typical modern woman who engages in different vices such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol. She had been abusing her body without her paying much attention to it. It all began with a little lump, wherein the Japanese doctors told her there was nothing for her to worry about. Not really knowing much about the symptoms or effects of breast cancer, she continued on with her life until things started to take a major downhill. Seeking new medical attention in the Philippines, she was then diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Emily underwent an excruciating operation and chemotherapy. It would be safe to say that she did survive this frightful ordeal – at least, until she got pregnant 3 months later. Being pregnant entailed her to completely stop her chemotherapy because of the harmful effects it could do onto the fetus and her stopping chemotherapy gave the cancer cells a chance to come back. Because of her returned sickness, the doctors were forced to do operation on her, resulting to the baby being born on the 6th month, 3 months early from its due date. The baby was born safe, its life support coming only from the incubator. Meanwhile for Emily, the chemotherapy caused a complication, resulting to her developing leukemia, a cancer of the blood. She underwent chemotherapy for that as well, but instead of getting better, she developed an infection in the brain, meningitis, which is the inflammation of the membranes of the brain, the spinal cord and the fluid it is bathed in, the cerebrospinal fluid. The aftermath of this monstrous inflammation was an operation in the brain. The brain being completely damaged, all her organs collapsed and all that awaited for her was death. Her body merely hung onto several life support machines. Most of her family members and friends held on to the hope that she would still pull through. Others believed that it was only a body that was there before them, her soul completely far away from them. Finally, Emily’s life blew out at long last, saving her family the painful decision of committing euthanasia.

While we may know many stories wherein women are survivors of cancer, those who did not must not be forsaken either. They are there to serve as lessons for us, that we must not take our lives for granted for serious consequences lay ahead, whether or not they may be breast cancer or some other illness. Living in a fast-paced world, we tend to abuse our bodies. Cancer develops under too much stress and vices. Too much of everything is never good. Perhaps, if Emily lived her lifestyle a little differently, or if she had been more knowledgeable about the cancer, perhaps things would have taken a different path.

While there are many medical solutions to detecting breast cancer such as breast cancer self examinations and screening, knowledge is still the ultimate power. If people knew more about the cancer in full detail, preventive measures can be taken towards themselves.

These facts imply an important message to women everywhere: not one is exempted from this cancer. To take little things for granted is unwise to do. That is how we can prevent ourselves from going through the same thing Emily did. We must take care of ourselves in order to save ourselves.