by JOHN PATRICK MAGNO RANARA and THERIZ LIZEL R. SILVANO
It may not surprise many if 2020 turned out to be the year where the world will crumble into extinction, just like what outrageous Hollywood disaster films have all warned us about. The 12 months have been a wild rollercoaster of political turmoil and disastrous forces of nature, but still with some good and inspiring moments few and far between.
These are just some of the key events and trends that have happened during the year that will soon be written down in history books.
Scientists discovered COVID-19 vaccines
The availability of COVID-19 vaccines is perhaps the greatest news this 2020. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sinovac, Valneva, and other vaccine developers formulated a cure for the deadly virus. Some nations have even started administering the vaccines.
It is with hope that the governments of poor nations will also prioritize acquiring these vaccines, to boost herd immunity.
Women in action
“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
This is an empowering quote from Margaret Thatcher, a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Indeed, women discussing politics, economics, and climate change still surprises many, despite how history is shaped with women’s contributions, milestones, and famous firsts. This includes Rosa Parks’ civil rights and equal pay movement, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s gender rights advocacy, and Margaret Sanger’s first birth control clinic in 1916.
But this year, familiar women are still in action despite the threatening COVID-19 disease. Some of them are Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, becoming the first woman and first woman of color to be elected vice president of the United States, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on speaking out on violence against women in politics, economic inequalities, and LGBTQIA+ rights.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also continues to fight for a greener and healthier world by protesting in Sweden and even online despite the pandemic.
In November, the United States elections became the world’s interest and concern. American citizens and even Hollywood celebrities encouraged everyone to vote for their next president, as it is highly crucial for the next four years of their lives, particularly when their state has been experiencing mass discrimination, violence, and more under the administration of incumbent US President Donald Trump.
Joe Biden vanquished this dreadful battle of Americans when he won the 2020 elections. Human rights advocates, LGBT+ members, environmental groups, along with some celebrities rejoiced after Biden won, as he has promoted human rights and equality during his campaign trail.
It seems as though the year has continuously gone downhill ever since the highly infectious virus began to spread in the wet markets of Wuhan, China. Akin to the big, bad villain seen in numerous fictional narratives, the pandemic is the spark that ignited a series of stress and disorder all over the world.
Many nations are still struggling against the virus’ deadly, microscopic touch, and the Philippines is no exception. The country recorded its first local transmission in March, and the virus has since trapped the country in a smothering grip with almost half a million cases and more than 8,000 deaths.
Eruption of Taal
For over 43 years, the Taal Volcano remained a peaceful attraction for tourists in the crisp, cool province of Batangas. However, it startled Filipinos and left them suffering in its wake when it erupted right at the start of 2020.
While others were worrying about sticking to their New Year’s resolutions, the residents of Batangas and their neighboring areas were more concerned with keeping themselves safe from the volcano’s ashes which have forebodingly blackened the skies.
Onslaught of typhoons
It seems that nature is constantly plotting its revenge for the damages humankind caused, as it released another attack through a series of typhoons that severely devastated many parts of Luzon. Rolly and Ulysses are particularly the most destructive, flooding the streets of various communities in brown murkiness.
These typhoons, however, showcased the caring and charitable side of Filipinos. Many have gone to social media to donate money through online payment systems while others have gone out of their way to go to the affected areas to provide food and medical support.
Four years ago, no one would have ever thought that one of the biggest media corporations in the Philippines would be denied its franchise, but under the Duterte administration, the unthinkable was made possible.
For months, the battle for the company’s franchise renewal waged on, with many celebrities, influencers, and groups calling out the government on social media for its attack against media freedom. Despite several government offices clearing ABS-CBN of any breach of laws, Congress ultimately denied the media company another 25 years in broadcast operations.
How incredibly coincidental that the dishonest operations happening within the health insurance corporation was unearthed right in the middle of a pandemic. Whether this is good or bad timing is up for personal deliberation.
However, it is not amiss to say that this controversy has added another chapter of turmoil in the year filled with social commotion.
It all began with a former anti-fraud legal officer stepping down and becoming a whistleblower after witnessing all the dirty workings in the corporation. The alleged corruption affected several PhilHealth’s board members, including the health secretary himself, Francisco Duque III.
The 2019 South Korean thriller film “Parasite” left goosebumps on our skin even after the credits rolled because of its stellar storytelling and highly relevant social commentary on class conflict, social inequality, and wealth disparity. It received numerous accolades, but the one question on film enthusiasts’ minds was whether the film can also snag Best Picture in the 92nd Academy Awards held in February.
As the category for Best Picture finally came, many had their doubts, as the award show had built a reputation of awarding only English language films. However, social media brimmed with praise as the word ‘Parasite’ came out of the announcer’s mouth, and Bong Joon-Ho, the film’s director, walked proudly towards the stage, having made history as the mastermind behind the first non-English film to win the night’s highest honor.
Netflix’s new releases
“Enola Holmes,” “The Queen’s Gambit,” “’Start-Up,” “Emily in Paris,” “It’s Okay To Not Be Okay,” and other phenomenal Netflix movies and television series entertained film and movie enthusiasts.
Most of the scenes, characters, and dialogues from these releases have since become a trend among Filipinos, as they have also made memes and group pages.
“Among Us” craze
Perhaps one of the many things to have come up this year without any social, political, or natural turmoil is the rise of “Among Us.” Anyone with a phone and some spare time has played this highly addictive online game where they get to live the life of a hardworking crewmate or a devious impostor.
Most new players would assume that the game was created only this year. However, it was actually developed back in 2018. “Among Us” has helped in comforting many Filipinos who have had their mental health deteriorated due to the isolation and stress brought about by strict quarantine measures.
The year would seem incomplete without the release of albums and records from the brightest K-pop artists. This includes BTS, Blackpink, TWICE, ITZY, IU, Mamamoo, and other top South Korean artists and groups.
The songs “How You Like That,” “Dynamite,” “I Can’t Stop Me,” and “Not Shy,” along with other songs topped the K-pop charts this year, and became a salve to any aches and insanities that 2020 brought.
The Rise of BL
For the longest time, LGBT+ representation in Philippine television and film was as scarce as flowering plants in the desert. However, everything changed when 2gether: The Series, a television series hailing from Thailand, became a trending show in the Philippines.
Because of its success, it helped the Boys’ Love (BL) genre, which has long been gathering dust on the shelves of this conservative country, finally take a place in mainstream media. This has ushered in several Filipino BL series such as “Gameboys,” “Hello Stranger,” and “Gaya sa Pelikula” – all of which have garnered high views from fans of the genre.
Disney’s Filipino-themed Christmas ad
The sentimental ad from Disney UK and Disney Ireland has featured traditional Filipino holiday traditions. At first glance of the ad, we can already notice the colorful parols, the familiar noises in the market, and the words ‘papa’ and ‘Lola.’
The pandemic may have covered the world with gloom but this did not halt Disney’s artistry and power to bring joy and nostalgia to its audiences. The ad is also a reminder to us of what truly matters this Christmas–love, and family.
Taylor Swift’s surprise albums
Swift was considered the most productive artist after she released two albums this year. She left people wonderstruck with her lyrical masterpieces, especially when she released her eighth and ninth studio albums, “folklore” and “evermore.”
People have known her as the ‘America’s sweetheart’ but after a series of unfortunate events that have tarnished her reputation, Swift came back stronger than a nineties trend when she released multiple albums, a documentary, and studio sessions this year. As American broadcaster Barbara Walters said, she truly is the ‘music industry.’
These are just some of the bad and good news that occurred this year but certainly, there are more undiscovered stories in every corner of the globe.
Despite how unlucky (to say the least) this year has been, the events that have transpired play an important part in helping us take time for personal reflection and to learn new things that we have not yet discovered within ourselves.
They also made us ask the question: how bad can 2021 be? F