Current Events

Talk of the Town: Dotard Vs. Rocket Man, Underground Word Battles, a Hazing Death

Is the world on the brink of a nuclear war?

Word War: Donald Trump vs. Kim Jong Un

Bellicose, hawkish, vitriolic: these are some adjectives you wouldn't want to use to describe a world leader’s words during peacetime. But Donald Trump’s and Kim Jong Un’s exchange of words are just that: bellicose, hawkish, and vitriolic. 

Last week at the United Nations General Assembly and in his first speech to the U.N., Donald Trump minced no words for the ruler of North Korea. He called Kim Jong Un a “Rocket Man” and said that the United States will “totally destroy North Korea” if Kim continues to provoke.

"Rocket Man is on a suicide mission," says Trump. "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea."

Strategists and international relations experts agree with each other that Trump just handed Kim Jong Un unlimited propaganda material which they expect will be played nonstop on North Korea’s airwaves. Professor Stephan Haggard, a Korea expert at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy, says Trump’s words were exactly what Kim Jong Un wants to hear. “This is just a boon to North Korea,” says Haggard. “Because you have a regime that has built its entire existence around the idea that the United States is out to destroy them, and the U.S. President is saying just that.”

While Jong Un is not a very popular character, Trump is also quite unpopular, and the rest of the world does not like both leaders very much. When Kim Jong Un replied by calling Trump a dotard, it became the hottest topic of the week and was quickly picked up by many users on social media.


A Declaration of War

The danger in these exchanges is that one leader may easily misinterpret what the other is saying. This week, North Korea accused the U.S. of declaring war on them, due to Trump’s bellicose and vitriolic tweets the past week about destroying North Korea.

"Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make all self-defensive countermeasures, including the right to shoot down the United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet inside the aerospace border of our country," North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said.

Japan Prepares for Nuclear Event

The developments were enough to unsettle Japan, which is bracing itself for the possible launch of a nuclear missile over its territory if Kim pursues his plan to detonate a bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

“We cannot deny the possibility it may fly over our country,” said Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s defense minister on the possibility that North Korea might fly a missile again over Japan’s territory. North Korea has previously fired missiles over Japan, the latest was only last September 14. 

Unlike previous nuclear tests conducted by North Korea, an atmospheric nuclear test fired with a missile exponentially increases the risks to aircraft, shipping, and populations. “We are talking about putting a live nuclear warhead on a missile that has been tested only a handful of times. It is truly terrifying if something goes wrong,” said Vipin Narang, a nuclear strategy expert at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Respeto: Another Masterpiece that Deserves Our Attention

Don’t be fooled by false impressions. Respeto is a masterpiece of an indie film with an obscure plot. Respeto, Treb Monteras II’s debut film which won the award for Best Feature Film at the Cinemalaya festival, tells the story of Hendrix, an orphaned youth who dreams of becoming a great fliptop artist. He falls into a downward spiral of circumstances until he meets Doc, an owner of a used bookshop. 

Currently, the film is commanding a steady stream of support from the public, which is actively campaigning for the budget-constrained independent film. Personalities such as Iza Calzado and Tim Yap have been urging their followers to watch it. Kit Zobel pushed for an extended run in Ayala Malls.

The phenomenon harks back to 2015, when Heneral Luna, already a multi-awarded film, was struggling to remain in cinemas. It was an independent film with limited budget for advertising, and its genre belonged to the least popular kind: a historical biopic. That was until a kind of grassroots rebellion began, with supporters who vigorously campaigned for the film to be watched and retained in cinemas, convincing cinema owners to keep showing the movie for another 2 weeks. Heneral Luna became the top-grossing indie film of all time, amassing P257 million at the ticket booths.

Respeto is treading similar waters: it is a debut independent film with a limited budget and an unconventional genre: a subculture of a subculture – fliptop. It is the Filipino term for impromptu rap, which has commanded legions of followers despite being an underground culture. Fliptop battles are events where artists outwit each other in verse and fliptop poetry. It is against this backdrop set in the urban jungle of Pandacan that Respeto seeks to sell itself to the wide public, along with six awards from the Cinemalaya Film Festival: Best Film, NETPAC Jury, Audience Choice, Best Sound Design, Best Editing, and Best Cinematography. Already, Respeto is gaining more momentum at the box office thanks to word of mouth marketing by people who have seen it. 


Atio Castillo: The Latest Developments

Last week, the Philippines woke up to horrific news that another young man had died violently, allegedly at the hands of would-be lawyers from the Aegis Juris fraternity. Horacio “Atio” Castillo was a first year law school student at the University of Santo Tomas. He had attended the welcoming rites of the organization on Saturday, September 16, promising his mother that he would be back the next day. He never went home. On Monday, September 18, his parents located him at a morgue, where an autopsy concluded that Atio died of a heart attack due to injuries from hazing.  

This week, the Senate conducted a hearing on the death of Atio, where primary suspect John Paul Solano, who had initially misled police by giving false statements, divulged very detailed testimony about what really happened. He named six frat members who were allegedly directly involved in the hazing. The Castillo family is open to the possibility of making Solano a state witness, urging Solano to disclose all information.

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