#NEWS | Batch 2020 celebrates Humanities Festival 2019

by Michael Donila

Photo of the Humanities Week Banner. Picture taken from the album LA Schools x Pisay.

Last November 12 to 15, Philippine Science High School-Main Campus participated in the Humanities Festival, also known as the Humanities Week (HumWeek) with the theme “Stronger at 55”.

This year, Batch 2020 participated in multiple events over the four day period, mostly consisting of talks and the Invictus Debate Series.

Day One

On the first day, two talks were held. One, sponsored by the Biology unit, talked about Food Security. The other, sponsored by the Chemistry unit, talked about Air Quality.

The Food Security talk started with two documentaries: “Pagkatapos ng Tigkiriwi”, and “Gintong Butil”. “Pagkatapos ng Tigkiriwi” is a documentary about three areas in Negros Occidental and their fight for their land and their food. “Gintong Butil” delves into the lives of rice farmers and the struggles they face, especially their low earnings and massive debts.

After that, four speakers took the stage: Ms. Nadja de Vera, Mr. Alan Labong, Mr. Kurt Dean Teraza, and Ms. Zenaida Soriano. Ms. Nadja de Vera is an activist and member of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), while Ms. Zenaida Soriano is part of the Amihan Women organization. Mr. Alan Labong is a farmer hailing from Samar, and Mr. Kurt Teraza is from a local organization supporting farmers like him. They talked about various agricultural issues, like the long-term effects of uncontrolled flow of foreign rice, indiscriminate farmer killings, the rice tariffication law, and the bad condition of farmers and their families.

Meanwhile, the Air Quality talk focused on the worsening air conditions in the Philippines and what students could do to help. Two speakers were invited to discuss this issue: Mr. Levi Guillermo Geganzo and Dr. Rheo Lamorena-Lim. Both are key members of Project ROAM of the UP Diliman Institute of Chemistry.

Mr. Geganzo discussing Air Quality with the students. Picture taken from the album LA Schools x Pisay.

Project ROAM is a research project that aims to improve air quality in the Philippines. To that end, they are currently developing an aerosol monitor to detect air pollution. Besides that, their digital campaign, #LoveAir, aims to inform the public through information drives, education campaigns and even an online web series.

Day Two

Day two had the students attend the Balik Danas talk and the first part of the Pisay Debate Olympiad.

The Balik Danas talk had last year’s Pisay graduates talk about their experience with their Social Science 6 project: a community immersion. Seven speakers in four groups shared their insights, knowledge and tips about this project, including essential do’s and don’ts.

Mikee Castro and Ericka Aala focused on children’s holistic development in the House of Refuge. Kaye Recto held a fundraiser with the Animal Kingdom Foundation to spread awareness about animal welfare issues, like the dog meat trade. Apolline Estrella and Jeries Yadao taught Aeta children basic literary, arithmetic, and scientific skills in Nabuclod Elementary School. Lastly, Kinn Villaluna and Alexi Tan went to Fort Aguinaldo Elementary School and taught STEM topics and experiments to the children there.

In the afternoon, Round 1 of the preliminaries for the Pisay Debate Olympiad started at the Seminar Room. The theme for that round was Media; thus, the motion was, “This house believes Google & Facebook should follow Twitter’s lead on ban on political ads.” Sixteen teams, each team representing an SYP block, debated over the various merits and demerits the issue posed. The matchups were as follows:

Matchups for round 1 of the preliminaries for the Pisay Debate Olympiad.

Day Three

The second round of the Debate Olympiad commenced in the morning. The theme was Feminism. As such, that day’s motion was, “This House, as a feminist organization, would not put men in positions of leadership.” The matchups were as follows:

Matchups for round 2 of the preliminaries for the Pisay Debate Olympiad.

Of those teams, C Men, Hannah’s Angel’s, D Boiz and The Good, The Better, Debate moved on to the semis, with etl0g and fogi at the reserve.

In the afternoon, two workshops were held: the Daloy dance workshop and the Balamesa Board Games workshop.

The Daloy workshop was a dance workshop facilitated by Ms. Ea Torrado of the Daloy Dance Company. According to the official site, Daloy Movement is a dynamic dance practice that catalyzes intuitive, uninhibited, and free-form movement by tapping into the wisdom of the body through the four elements — Air, Water, Earth and Fire. It aims to develop the values of autonomy, authenticity, and agency in its practitioners. Every element had a certain exercise attached to it: Air focused on controlled breathing, Water attempted to break controlling habits through a mirror exercise, Fire allowed the participants to release all their energy in uncontrolled dance, and Earth encouraged participants to feel nature’s embrace.

The Balamesa workshop, on the other hand, was a session dedicated to board games. Headed by Cyd Santos and Franz Santiago, the workshop taught new games to the participants, then allowed them to play the new games they learned. Examples include Splendor, Betrayal On The House On The Hill, and Coup, alongside classics such as Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, and Jenga.

A Grade 12 participant playing “Jumbling Tower.” Picture taken by Cyd Santos.

Day Four

The Finals Series of the Debate Olympiad commenced in the morning. The final round’s theme was Economics. For the semifinals, the motion was, “This house, as a developing country, would remove restrictions on foreign ownership of companies.” The C Men, as the Government, won against The Good, The Better, Debate in the opposition, while Hannah’s Angels as the Government emerged victorious against D Boiz. For the Debate Finals, the motion was, “This house regrets Leni’s acceptance of her appointment as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs or ICAD.” The C Men, as the opposition, came out as the winners.

The C Men: From left to right, Kiro Domingo, Paolo Avena, and Harvey Book. Picture taken by Vinz Pascua.

In the afternoon, the closing and awarding ceremony began. Here, the students and sections who won this week’s events, as well as a few other humanities-related competitions, were recognized and given awards for their achievement.

For the Art Installation, a Filipino project that had the students create art pieces based on their interpretation of the theme, 3rd place went to Block H, 2nd place went to Block B, and 1st place went to Block A. For the Essay Writing, Lyra Tamayo of Block C won 3rd place, Mary Nicole Datlangin won 2nd place, and Danielle Jorge Malantic won 1st place.

One of the Art Installations, located on the 4th floor landing. Photo taken by Chris Jason Porciuncula.

Finally, for the Debate Olympiad, the C Men, composed of Harvey Book, Paolo Avena, and Kiro Domingo won the tourney, with Paolo Avena being the Finals Best Speaker, and Kaira Gonzales as overall best speaker.

The top ten speakers, from first to last, in no particular order: Kaira Gonzales, Luigi Torres, Harvy Book, Cid Hernandez, Zoe Medilla, Kiro Domingo, Paolo Avena, Aira Decena & Carlos Montemayor (tied for 8th), and Wil Ang & Matthew De Ocampo (tied for 10th). Photo from Invictus’ official twitter.

Conclusion

Overall, Batch 2020 seems to be mixed on the Humanities Festival. As stated by Danielle Malantic of 12-G, “This year’s HumFest was an insightful look into the past of Pisay, and how we have grown and developed through our humanistic endeavors joined together with our scientific mindset. From the spectacular performances and individual displays of prowess in the humanities, it is clear that Pisay students are as creative as they are knowledgeable.”

However, Danielle said that he felt that the upper years could have been given other, more engaging activities for added enjoyment. Drew Ybud, also of 12-G, echoed this statement, and was quoted as saying, “Feels as though SYP students weren’t given much priority in planning for activities.” He jokingly brushed it aside by saying he “wasn’t complaining,’’ as it “just means more free time to kill in the lib.”

Regardless, it is clear there was at least some small measure of enjoyment and learning found by the batch in their last Humanities Festival, shown through the various events over the four days of the celebration. Preparation for reality, in the form of talks centering around real-life issues. Competitions strengthening both skill and camaraderie, pushing every participant to do better. The debate series, an avenue for open discourse, and through discussion and argument, learning and bettering of self. Workshops allowing participants to learn and experience something new. And scattered throughout the days, moments of peace and quiet — the breaks Pisay students hold so close to their hearts, valued both for their rarity and the chance they provide to relax, unwind, and most of all, sleep.

Not a bad way for the batch to savor their last Humanities Week.

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