UNVARNISHED a different allure far greater than seeing fabricated identities


Deconstructing the Paragon: The Unvarnished Editor’s Note




plain; clear; straightforward; without vagueness or subterfuge; frank

Humanity, by its nature, has a penchant for hiding imperfections. Perchance it is because we strive for everything in our lives to bear no blemishes, in contrast to the cracks and lacks of our own selves. Perhaps it is creating an illusion of perfection in everything that we can escape the cruel reality of chaos and failure that comes with our imperfections.

That is where the use of varnish come along. We varnish, or place a certain gloss over our lives in order to become more pleasing to the eye and soul of others. Smudges and cracks on our own figures and anima are also subjected to multitudes of coats and layers of varnish to hide the vulnerabilities from the world.

However we do not stop to pause and ponder on the possibility of raw beauty of our flaws and imperfections. Quite possibly we are caught up in the buzzling of attempting to reach a false paragon state to become a natural state of breath-taking entropy.

But what if?

Here at Unvarnished, this group of remarkable people undertake the difficult task of peeling away the fallacies of the varnish to reveal the original, vulnerable state of the General Academics Strand of the Ateneo Senior High School. We showcase the true identity of the GA student, without any masks or concealers. Showing different perspectives to the strand, we pursue to make it known who we are, behind the achievements, events, and misconceptions that comes along being a GA student. By reading the different articles with the accompaniment of candid photographs, we hope that your view on beauty, true beauty, would alter.

We as a team will try to show you that showing our true selves has a different allure far greater than seeing fabricated identities.

My Regards,

Rachel Peralta



The GA strand being filled with many student athletes and honor students have achieved numerous accomplishments in different fields, all for the glory of the Ateneo. Coinciding with that, the strand also had its mandatory events such as a specialized week highlighting their strand and their field trip.


Dave Ildefonso (11-Chabanel) and SJ Belangel (11-Brebeuf) - Prodigies in the court, these young players have caught the attention of many prominent Basketball stars.

The GA strand boasts the highest amount of student athletes amongst all the tracks. As such, various GA students have been known for their prowess in their respective sports.

The Ateneo Blue Eaglets basketball team holds three prominent basketball players in their team, SJ Belangel (11-Brebeuf), RV Berjay (11- De Brito) and Dave Ildefonso (11-Chabanel), all hail from the GA strand, constantly winning the Ateneo important matches and receiving. Belangel and Ildefonso were also team members in the Batang Gilas Basketball team that represented the country in the 2015 Southeast Asia Basketball Association Under-16 tournament held in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. The two have also been garnered numerous awards, such as being part of the Mythical Five and the MVP for different Basketball tournaments.

Vinnie Vinculado (11- Chabanel) - A talented player who has captured the eyes of both national and international scouts.

The Ateneo UAAP football team also has GA members as part of their lineup, such as Jenlord Barcelona (11-Favre), Joaquin Nacino (11-De Brito) and Vinnie Vinculado (11- Chabanel). Vinculado was also part of the Pilipinas Dragons, a youth national team that was able to take part of the prestigious Mediterranean International Cup. The talented Football star was able to qualify for a position an Asian Football Confederation Champions League Squad, as a defender.

Suzzane Himor (11-Canissius) with the rest of her team - A swimmer with a lot of strength but a larger heart and spirit.

The Ateneo UAAP swim team also has many GA students of its own. The Swimming team boasts Sarah Alvina and Raffi Antig (11-De Brito), and Louise Saavedra and Bea Zamora (11-Chabanel), as well as record breaker Suzanne Himor (11-Canissius). The team was able to bring home medals in the recently concluded UAAP Season 79.

Harley Santos (11-Chabanel) - With his hard work, dedication, and effort, he is a model to all aspiring athletes.

Pulling aside from non-combat sports, the strand also has gold and silver medalist Harley Santos (11-Chabanel), ranked first in the Philippines for his weight division and 24th overall in the world youth Taekwondo. The youth was able to compete in several international competitions both in Korea and Canada last year as a representative for the nation.

With these youths showing their prowess in their various sports they truly bring great honor to the GA strand.


Nicole Masagca (11-Chabanel) - With a burning passion and strong determination, she is a rising star in the debating world and a force to be reckoned with.

The GA strand also has its premium on its students that show intellectual prowess. A classic example would be Nicole Masagca (11-Chabanel), who in her first year of joining the Ateneo Debate Team, has already won the school multiple debates. She is a constant achiever in many prestigious national and international tournaments, such as becoming a quarterfinalist in the Luzon Intervarsity 8 and Asians British Parliamentary Debate, a semifinalist in the IDeA Series and the Singapore International School’s Debate League, and a grand finalist in the Philippine Schools Debate Championship. She was also the overall best speaker during the IDeA LITE tournament.

Julia Ocoma (11-Favre) - A polymath on her own, her sharp mind and witty tongue makes her advance through many tournaments.

Another GA debater is Julia Ocoma (11-Favre) who has also won numerous honors in different debating events. Ocoma was able to become a quarterfinalist in IDeA 1, Luzon Intervarsity 8, and Asians British Parliamentary Debate and a champion in IDeA 2. She will also become a representative of the Philippines to Cambridge where she will take part in a infamous debating tournament, after her win in the Asians British Parliamentary Debate.


GA Week, which happened on December 7-8 2016, consisted of CarEx (Career Experience) talks from many accomplished working adults, giving the students insights on different careers, including the inner workings of a pilot who gave his insightful life story on how he decided to be a pilot up until his many experiences as a pilot. GA Week also had many activities that allowed the students of not only the GA strands but also the others strands to enjoy such as a relay race, a fun run, a quiz bee, and a stained glass competition.

Field Trip

Field Trip - A day of placing another's set of shoes, the student were able to take a look into differing perspectives far from the usual hussle and bussle of their lives.

The GA field trip happened on December 9 2016. The GA students went to Divine Mercy Shrine, an old church, and Salikneta Farm. In the old church, the students learned to become closer to God, while also listening to stories about the church, learning about its rich history and the people that used to reside in it, including the age and the method of construction of the different infrastructure within the premises of the church. The students were also greeted by marvelous architectural works that were made in the past. One of the most stunning attractions in the area was the endless supply of holy water, there was so much, you could even take it from a sink. Truly the students learned a thing or two about caring for past structures, and worshiping God.

In the Salikneta farm, the students had a taste of what it was like to be farmers. They were able to experience and take a glimpse of the daily routine of the agricultural business such as tending and harvesting vegetables and fruits, milking cows, and fishing on a nearby lake. The students also had the opportunity to see a diverse set of animals such as sheep, horses, monkeys, tamaraw, and sheep. Through this experience the GA students now have a better grasp of how farm life is.

Throughout the school year, the GA strand has proven its adeptness both in physical and intellectual competitions. It has also displayed being one with the other batches by following standard procedures and events such as having a field trip. We hope that in the remaining school days left in the school year GA will find and take more opportunities to show the other strands the true might of GA.



Names are a powerful construct in society, as they can hold several meanings coming from different contexts dependent on race, religion, beliefs, and other key factors. A name holds influence over the paths of almost all, as the names that people attach to themselves can either help or deter them in their respective paths.

However, in the Ateneo de Manila Senior High School, a negative archetype has been upon the General Academic strand. When inquired regarding their opinion of the aforementioned strand, an outsider would usually attach detrimental words such as “bobo” or “tamad”, or affix a prejudicial generalization like “walang direksyon sa buhay”, or something similar. If one were to boil down all the descriptions thrown at the strand into one label, it would have been undecided.

It is possible that the pessimistic stereotypes can be derived from the definition of the strand itself. The word “general”, according to the Dictionary.com, is defined as “not specific or definite”. Given this meaning, it is easily seen why the stereotype “undecided” is placed on the General Academic Strand. According to outsiders, GA members choose not to stick to a specific course, which is why numerous believe that these students have unfavorable characters such as lazy or dumb or have a habit of wasting time with frivolities. Along with these, there are other misconceptions, varying of negative intensity, that stemmed from the archetype of being undecided.

And these labels wound the affected student. It deals damage to both strand and student, to a point that it occasionally makes the strand members second-guess if they are good enough, more so in a prestigious school such as Ateneo. Quite possibly they may feel helpless, and some may resign to accepting the stereotypes.

Yet, with all these negative connotations about the General Academic strand, it should also be remembered that these do not encompass the entirety of the strand. Returning to the definition of general, it could also pertain to “of or relating to all persons or things belonging to a group or category”. Many fail to realize that the GA track is a melting pot of diverse individuals who are talented in various fields, such as debate, sports, the arts, etc., yet they all belong to one strand. These students form strong, intimate bonds with one another not entirely because of their similarities, but mostly because of their distinct differences. This showcases how this strand can be a hub of unity for students with various personalities, a niche of safety and security.

And to add more diversity, another meaning shall be added to the word general: “considering or dealing with overall characteristics, universal aspects, or important elements, especially without considering all details or specific aspects”. The students in this strand have the best opportunity for growth as they are able to learn at the pace that best suits them. They exceed the stereotypes placed upon them, so why should many solely focus on the negative aspects of the track, when there is so much more to its name? GA students have proven, with their various feats, to be tackled in the different articles, that there are more than “just GA students”. They are GA students who can offer more to the world than what it sees in them.

After tackling the different meanings to the strand, celebrate the uniqueness of the General Academic strand, the strand that can show what they have achieved. And express pride and support, be proud of the myriad of talents that reside in this strand, leaving all the labels that were placed upon their shoulders in the dust. General is not necessarily a weakness nor a vulnerability, but a gift and an advantage; before believing the different misnomers to this strand, it is important to go back to the basics, to go back to the unabridged definition.


Thinking of what strand to pick? Or just curious about the so-called “most flexible” academic track? Welcome to the General Academic strand, the home of a polymath type of curriculum as students can learn from the other academic tracks. The strand has various unique characteristics, however the most exciting and unique trait is where an aspiring student will be able to choose up to four diverse selectives from two different strands, during the senior year. With this line-up, one can find it difficult to juggle the different subjects from diverse disciplines.

Drowning in academics? Or anxious on how to excel in the strand? Do not fret, here are a few pointers on how to survive the General Academic strand.

1. Always use your time wisely.

With so many activities and work to accomplish, it is always best to have an organized schedule as this can be your guide to saving and using time wisely.

2. Take note of keywords during lectures.

As difficult and tiring note taking may be, it brings a lot of positivity for every student. Note is an important aspect in education, it will help you memorize and understand the lesson more as the notes the students have taken are already a summary of the lesson.

3. Always get enough sleep.

As most students say, “Sleep is for the weak”. In High School, most of the students don’t even know the definition of sleep is due to the high number of project deadlines, tests, papers all coming at once. Although, you won’t learn as much as you will if you don’t get at least 8 hours of sleep a day. Sleep gives us energy for the next day to come. Where will you get your energy if you don’t rest? Always take short naps before studying as this will really help.

4. Always consult your teachers for clarifications.

It is better to for a student to ask a stupid question and learn from it rather than be stupid his whole life. Never be shy to consult your teacher because at the end of the day, it will be you learning and being apply these in your tests and in the future.

How to Survive as a Student Athlete

The number of student athletes in the GA strand are no match to the number of student athletes there are in the other strands. Due to this fact, there have been cases where GA was called the “Strand of the Athletes” due to the unbelievable number there are in this strand. If you are a student athlete, follow the tips above and the following tips that are about to be mentioned to survive the GA strand as a student athlete.

To survive as a student athlete in this strand, you always have to.

1. Put your academics first at all costs.

As there are rules to be followed by the coaches that they won’t allow the player to play and train when that certain student athlete has a failing mark in a subject. For you to be able to balance your academics and sports, it is always best to

2. Do projects days before the deadline.

It will lessen your stress and won’t be pressured by both the deadlines due and the trainings need to be attended to.

3. Always stay healthy.

You wouldn’t want to get injured real quick and miss your classes and trainings. Eat healthy, get enough rest, train hard and always study hard as well.


As we bring this month's issue of Unvarnished to a close, allow us to look back at the team's journey to the creation of this issue, and the unveiling of the true faces behind the magic at play in the General Academic Strand.

A massive thank you to every individual who has strived to make this issue possible, and to you, who is someone who is no longer disillusioned or uneducated about the many curiosities of the General Academic Strand. We hope that you've enjoyed through what we've done to truly destroy the smoky mirror that hides the beauty of the strand.

Created By
Nicole masagca

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