The Flame recaps 21 highlights of the second pandemic year:
1. Delta and Omicron variants spook Filipinos
The Delta and Omicron variants were among the new COVID-19 variants that spread more quickly than other strains. The first Omicron variant cases in the Philippines were detected from two incoming travelers, a returning overseas Filipino from Japan and a Nigerian national. The World Health Organization classified Omicron as a variant of concern after discovering that it has several mutations that could affect the transmissibility of the virus and the severity of the disease.
2. Candidates file COC for 2022 polls
Filipinos started to feel the heated election season when aspirants for national and local elective posts for next year’s polls filed their certificates of candidacy from Oct.1-8. The Commission on Elections released the final list of candidates this week.
3. Government launches COVID vaccination program
The government started its vaccination program last March to achieve its goal of achieving herd immunity against COVID-19. Medical front liners, senior citizens, and people with comorbidities were prioritized in the inoculation drive. As of Dec. 30, 48.6 million persons or 63.06% of the target population have been fully vaccinated.
4. Candidates join and back out of 2022 race
A number of candidates for the 2022 polls withdrew their COCs while others joined the electoral race through substitution. Among those who withdrew was President Rodrigo Duterte, who backed out of the race for senator supposedly to spend time with his family after his term. His daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, withdrew her reelection bid to run for vice president.
5. SB19 leads Billboard Hot Trending Songs on Dec. 7
Filipino boy band SB19’s track ‘Bazinga’ ranked first in Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs chart last Dec. 7. The song, which is widely seen to be a blending of hip-hop and reggaeton, eventually broke BTS’ six-week rule on the chart.
6. Oldest living Filipino dies
Francisca Susano, the Philippines’ oldest living person, died last November 22. She was 124. The supercentenarian from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental was born on September 11, 1897. Guinness World Records is still validating her qualifications as a candidate for the world’s oldest living person.
7. Goodbye, face shields?
The use of face shields was made voluntary in areas under the Alert Levels 1 to 3. However, commercial establishments and employers may require it as additional protection against the Omicron variant, according to Malacañang.
8. Maria Ressa’s wins Nobel Peace Prize
Rappler chief executive officer and journalist Maria Ressa, bagged the 2021 Nobel Prize last Oct. 8, the first Filipino to win the award. She shared the award with Russian journalist Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta. Ressa and Muratov were cited “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
9. Pinoys go crazy over ‘Squid Game’
South Korean survival thriller ‘Squid Game’ directed by Hwang Dong-Hyuk, became the most watched series in 94 countries on Netflix within a week after its release last Sept. 17.
Aside from the compilation of memorable memes generated from the series, red tracksuits, dalgona brittle candy recipes, red light, green light dolls, featured games, and even the eerie theme music of pink soldiers also gained international attention.
10. Taylor Swift releases two re-recorded albums
When Taylor Swift left her former music label Big Machine Records, her albums Fearless (Taylor’s Version) and Red (Taylor’s Version) were released to pursue full ownership of her masters from 2006 to 2017. Her first re-recorded album, Fearless (Taylor’s Version), was released last April 9, while Red (Taylor’s Version), her second re-recorded album, was released last November 12.
11. MOA globe stunt draws flak
SM Mall of Asia (MOA) released a statement last Nov. 14 stating that authorities were investigating the supposed stealing of its 50-foot globe. The MOA management later on announced that it was a publicity stunt for Netflix’s new film release, ‘Red Notice.’ Social media users and some journalists lambasted MOA and news website Rappler for spreading a marketing gimmick disguised as news at a time when the internet is beset with disinformation.
12. Critics question Marcos’ Oxford diploma
Some social media users inquired about presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s special diploma in social studies, prompting the University of Oxford to clarify that the son of the late dictator is not a full graduate.
The Oxford Philippines Society, a group of Filipino students and alumni of the United Kingdom-based university, also clarified that a special diploma is “not a course of higher education leading to an undergraduate or first degree or even a master’s degree.”
13. Typhoon Odette ravages six regions
Typhoon Odette, known internationally as Rai, battered several islands in Visayas and Mindanao including Surigao City, Siargao Island, Misamis Oriental, Palawan province, and Cebu City.
The typhoon damaged more than P9 billion worth of agricultural and fishery products, according to official data. President Rodrigo Duterte placed the regions of MIMAROPA, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas , Northern Mindanao, and Caraga under a state of calamity to hasten the giving of relief and the rehabilitation of affected areas.
14. John Arcilla wins big in 78th VIFF
Seasoned actor John Arcilla bagged the Coppa Volpi (Volpi Cup) for Best Actor last Sept. 11 in the 78th Venice International Film Festival for the film On the Job: The Missing 8. Arcilla has appeared in several films including the critically acclaimed “Heneral Luna” released in 2015.
15. Nas Daily tattoo course stirs controversy
Vlogger Nuseir Yassin, also known as Nas Daily, drew flak for promoting an online course on tattoo-making featuring 104-year old Kalinga traditional tattoo artist Whang-od without her consent.
Under the contract, Nas Daily will have exclusive ownership of the content to be produced by the online session. Whang-od was reportedly made to sign the contract without being aware of its contents.
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples noted that under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997, indigenous peoples should have full ownership and control of their cultural and intellectual rights. Nas Daily apologized to Whang-Od and the Butbut tribe last October.
16. Community pantries flourish
The bayanihan spirit was manifested with the setting up of community pantries that provided free food and other essential goods to the poor in various parts of the country.
The first community pantry established last April in Maginhawa, Quezon City inspired other groups to look for ways to lend a helping hand during the pandemic.
17. Ex-president Noynoy Aquino dies at 61
Former Philippine president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III died last June 24 at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City due to renal failure resulting from diabetes. When he assumed office in 2010, Aquino vowed to take the straight path or “daang matuwid,” address corruption in government, and listen to the sentiments of the ordinary Filipino, whom he called his “boss.”
18. Hidilyn Diaz makes history in Tokyo Olympics
The Philippines’ bagged its first ever Olympic Gold after weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the women’s 55-kg weightlifting category during the Tokyo Olympics. Diaz had to train in a makeshift backyard gym in Malaysia as gyms were closed because of pandemic restrictions.
19. Pilot in-person classes start
The pilot implementation of limited face-to-face classes started in more than 170 schools last December. However, the in-person classes in Metro Manila were suspended last week after the capital region was placed under Alert Level 3 because of the rapid rise in COVID-19 infections.
20. Phramally deals probed
The Senate started its investigation on the government’s supposedly overpriced pandemic supply deals with Pharmally, a move that President Rodrigo Duterte described as politically-motivated. Officials maintained that no state funds were lost to anomalous transactions. Senators are also looking into claims that Pharmally had unsupported purchases, a possible basis for tax evasion.
21. #Tumindig calls on Pinoys to stand up for their beliefs
Kevin Eric Raymundo, the cartoonist behind the Twitter account Tarantadong Kalbo, designed “fist people,” digital drawings of fist bump hand gestures symbolizing individuals who stand up for their beliefs, regardless of the dictates of the status quo. Several internet users have since designed their own fist bump hand gestures to express their convictions and to promote their advocacies. F – S. L. Argonza