Overwhelmed students deserve wellness breaks in this pandemic—and 7 ways to cope!

As I am writing this, our university’s wellness break is nearly done. Echoing the clamors of students who were stuck at home for their online classes, and imitating those institutions who went on and gave the precious time of rest for their students, my university offered one week of rest for studying: no classes for both synchronous and asynchronous sessions, no assignments or projects, no advance readings or anything.

Unfortunately, this week was just like the other weeks I had since I started school this year due to other commitments. But I do admit that it was an eye-opener: I was able to explore more things around me and was made aware of some places that are quite new here in our city. However, I admit that taking a rest from all the study materials allowed me to enjoy mundane activities, especially catching up on my Netflix list and cozying up next to my wife.

I can attest to the stress and worry that online students have been flooding social media platforms about their classes on the internet. Yes, there is less hassle and less interaction with others (one thing that I enjoyed), but it is hard asking questions when things are not clear. Additionally, the recent typhoons that ravaged the Philippines, paired with the harrowing images of destructed houses and helpless people, may have added to the anxiety that has been brewing since classes started in September/October.

I, for one, have previously relayed my frustration and anxiety because of this pandemic. Having this wellness break is something that I really value.

Besides my university, other schools have also followed and set some form of a break, calling it from reading breaks to class breaks, emphasizing students’ need to free up their minds for some rest. Most of those in Luzon were given in response to the damaging effects of the area’s typhoons.

Some groups are actually asking to prioritize the students’ conditions in this pandemic and instead call for halting all classes as soon as solutions to the growing problems in the country loom. Some netizens support this call, yet others consider this as insensitive and unideal. Whatever your opinion on this matter, we should all know to point out some facts.

Online Classes are Necessary to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Nobody wanted COVID-19 to happen, especially for the people here in the Philippines. While the government is repeating its interest in prioritizing waiting for the vaccine to arrive before calling the pandemic a solved issue, avoiding crowds, wearing face masks, and washing hands remain the easiest protection that people need to avoid disease.

Zhou et al. (2020) have seen how online classes in China have helped prevent the pandemic. As much as we would like to see students interact with each other, online classes are the only ideal solution today.


Teaching Online is a Challenge for Those Who are Not Used to It

Even though this post presents the plight of the students first, it is undeniable that teachers are another set of people greatly affected by the shift in the mode of instruction. Teachers can be interactive in their approach, and having online classes could remove the connection they want to have with their students.

While interaction may occur in synchronous classes, asynchronous ones, or those recorded before the classes’ schedule, are even worse. They can be watched at other times and eventually be forgotten by the student.

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Gong Xi Fa Cai!: Iloilo City Chinese New Year Festival 2011

This event is very close to my heart. It may not surpass the greatness of Dinagyang or the unity in Paraw Regatta, but my heart belongs to it.

I was educated in a Chinese high school and took up my secondary education at Iloilo Sun Yat Sen High School. I was pretty attached to the Chinese culture. But more than this, the Iloilo City Chinese New Year Festival is very dear in my heart because of two things: I was a performer in its festivities for four years, and I met my special person through this event.

Enough of myself and back to what I’m supposed to present! Here is a are previews of a performances in the festival by the Lion and Dragon Dancers of my alma mater:



Just so you know, if you find their performance the best in Iloilo, it’s the fact that they are the only school that has sent people to China just to train in these Chinese arts and I’m pretty proud of them.

This lunar year is said to be the Year of the Metal Rabbit. I’m not really into Chinese or any kind of zodiac but hey, these symbolisms are embedded in our lives. The Chinese schools of our city and several associations, organizations, and foundations joined together with the Iloilo City Government to welcome the Year of the Rabbit.

This is the very first “Chinese New Year Festival” in the Philippines, the very first Chinese new year cultural presentation in the Visayas, and the inspiration of several Chinese new year celebrations in the country including Bacolod City’s Bacolaodiat. It is dubbed as the best celebration of the Chinese new year outside Ongpin (Manila’s Chinatown).

This festival was originally a cultural presentation of Chinese culture and arts of the city’s Chinese community but it was hailed and was given a festival status by the then-City Mayor, Cong. Jerry P. Treñas. This led to the sequence of festivals in Iloilo City as follows: Arevalo Fireworks Festival=>Kasadyahan Festival=>Dinagyang Festival=>Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria Fiesta=>Chinese New Year Festival=>Paraw Regatta Festival. This sequence, with the Candelaria Fiesta and Chinese New Year as interchangeable events, are held from January to February.

Participants are as follows: Iloilo Sun Yat Sen High School (怡朗中山中学), Iloilo Central Commercial High School (怡朗华商中学), Ateneo de Iloilo – Santa Maria Catholic School (雅典耀学校), Iloilo Scholastic Academy (怡朗新华学院), and Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus (圣心学校).

Held every immediate Friday of the first Lunar year’s week, the Iloilo Chinese New Year Festival is a concrete manifestation of the close relationship of the Ilonggo and Chinese cultures properly presented by the city’s Filipino-Chinese communities and of the Ilonggo race. Kung Hei Fat Choi and Waswas Iloilo!

Hail to the Queen of Philippine Festivals: Iloilo Dinagyang!

As an Ilonggo, nothing could be more exciting than to be roaming the city streets during the Dinagyang Festival. Even though I’m not a Roman Catholic and this festival is very religious in terms of its sources and causes, I love this festival as a cultural and traditional event. Nobody’s asking anybody to be a Roman Catholic during Dinagyang! Ilonggos just want to honor the Aeta race and the loud drums and percussion instruments followed by the “dinagyang” or merry-making. Here’s the Wikipedia article on Dinagyang:

The Dinagyang is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo CityPhilippines held on the fourth Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog In Cebu and the Ati-Atihan in Aklan. It is held both to honor the Santo Niño and to celebrate the arrival on Panay of Malay settlers and the subsequent selling of the island to them by the Atis.

Dinagyang began after Rev. Fr. Ambrosio Galindez of a local Roman Catholic parish introduced the devotion to Santo Niño in November 1967. In 1968, a replica of the original image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was brought to Iloilo by Fr. Sulpicio Enderez as a gift to the Parish of San Jose. The faithful, led by members of Confradia del Santo Niño de Cebu, Iloilo Chapter, worked to give the image a fitting reception starting at the Iloilo Airport and parading down the streets of Iloilo.

In the beginning, the observance of the feast was confined to the parish. The Confradia patterned the celebration on the Ati-atihan of Ibajay, Aklan, where natives dance in the streets, their bodies covered with soot and ashes, to simulate the Atis dancing to celebrate the sale of Panay. It was these tribal groups who were the prototype of the present festival.

In 1977, the Marcos government ordered the various regions of the Philippines to come up with festivals or celebrations that could boost tourism and development. The City of Iloilo readily identified the Iloilo Ati-atihan as its project. At the same time the local parish could no longer handle the growing challenges of the festival.

The Dinagyang is divided into three Major events: Ati-Ati Street Dancing, Kasadyahan Street Dancing and Miss Dinagyang.

Today, the main part of the festival consists of a number of “tribes”, called “tribus”, who are supposed to be Ati tribe members dancing in celebration. There are a number of requirements, including that the performers must paint their skin brown and that only indigenous materials can be used for the costumes. All dances are performed to drum music. Many tribes are organized by the local high schools. Some tribes receive a subsidiary from the organizers and recruit private sponsors, with the best tribes receiving the most. The current Ati population of Iloilo is not involved with any of the tribes nor are they involved in the festival in any other way.

Dinagyang was voted as the best Tourism Event for 2006, 2007 and 2008 by the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines. It is the first festival in the world to get the support of the United Nations for the promotion of the Millennium Development Goals, and cited by the Asian Development Bank as Best Practice on government, private sector & NGO cooperations.

After 41 years, the ATOP formally declared Iloilo Dinagyang as the “Queen of Philippine Festivals”! Hurray to Iloilo!

But after many years, the simple celebration of the Dinagyang evolved rapidly. From its humble beginnings as a simple Ati-ati dance for the Child Jesus, it then became a cultural contest that eventually led it to become the grandest festival bonanza you surely would not want to miss!

This firework display is just one of the many events during Dinagyang.

I’m a die-hard traveler but did not roam the city as wildly as possible. I got an asthma attack two days before the festival proper. But I still had to see the beauty of the “queen”.

The Saturday of the festival brings us Kasadyahan Festival. This is a major image of what Dinagyang truly is: a festival of festivals!

Afternoon of this festival is a unique presentation of sponsors and donors of the Dinagyang Foundation. A Sponsor’s Mardi Gras is held allowing companies and people to advertise, have fun, and entertain people.

This Chinese school even gave us a glance of the next festival in the city immediately after Dinagyang, the “Chinese New Year Festival”.

The next day of festivities is the highlight of the Festival. The Ati-ati Tribe competition is the superb thing that makes Dinagyang the best! Here is a youtube clip of this year’s champion, Tribu Pan-ay:


This year is the largest crowd in Iloilo that I have ever seen!

Over all, this year’s Dinagyang Festival was truly great.

Despite my argument against this motto, I am convinced, Iloilo Dinagyang truly is, “Iloilo’s finest, nation’s best!”

Does Iloilo City really have a Festival of Lights?

Well, I’m being apolitical as hard as I can but I can’t understand why we need to give a special name for lighting up the City this Christmas. Really.

I mean, who does not know that every Christmas we have something? Even our Muslim brothers in the City know that and understand the majority of Christians in the City that we need to put up lights.

This festival thing, it adds up money but lessens the essence of Christmas. This is a real phenomenon.

This is just my observation.

How nice is it that we still have Simbang Gabi despite the modernization of our minds. But how can you appreciate the light if your the festival only last until 10: pm daily?

Anyways, great job J.S. Layson for the beautiful Molo Plaza. 😉

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