Rewind: Newsmakers of 2015 from papal visit to pageant victories…

By , on January 10, 2016

It has been another unforgettable year of gains and losses for the Philippines – from the papal visit, birth of a phenomenal love team and biggest fight in the history of boxing to disasters, issues and controversies that plagued the country, its government and people.

Here’s a rundown on some of the most talked-about stories and events in the year that’s been.

10 “AlDub” and its nation

AlDub (from Eat Bulaga's Instagram)

Later in the year, the on-screen love team of actor Alden Richards and emerging star Maine “Yaya Dub” Mendoza took the hearts of a nation, as proven by their strong fan base. “AlDub,” which was formed in noontime show Eat Bulaga!’s hit “Kalyeserye” segment, not only took over television as proven by high ratings; the pair also took social media by storm as they continuously broke records and steadily became trending online.

9 Always ravaged, always enduring

The country braced storm after storm as it faced the wrath of Typhoons Amang, Egay, Hanna, Ineng, Lando and Nona – which caused over P8 billion in damages, displaced thousands of families, and claimed the lives of about a hundred – all these while the El Niño phenomenon occurred.

But proving once again the country’s resilience, the government was commended for its quick response and assistance to areas and people affected by the series of storms while the public did its part and cooperated with the authorities as rehabilitation got underway.

8 “Laglag-bala” scam, “Lumad” killings, “Carmageddon” traffic, other headliners…


The Ninoy Aquino International Airport may have tried to rebuild a positive image from being tagged as the worst airport in the world, but the recent laglagbala (bullet-dropping) or tanimbala (bullet-planting) extortion scheme only made its image worse.

On the other hand, the death of “lumad” leaders in the southern island of the country supposedly executed by the military and paramilitary remained unresolved.

“Carmageddon” also entered our vocabulary as thousands of commuters and motorists continued to experience traffic gridlock in the metro, caused by increasing number of private vehicles in major thoroughfares and the occasional downpours.

Milk tea deaths, nuisance candidates, and the ongoing territorial disputes made news as well.

7 Filipina beauty, talent wows

The previous year could pass on as a parade of Filipina beauties as each national delegate in international pageants secured top finishes and two even took home the much-coveted crowns. The Philippines won two titles with Miss World Angelia Gabrena Ong in a back-to-back win and Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach in an unexpected turnabout. The country also placed among the Top 10 with Miss World-Philippines Hillarie Danielle Parungao and Miss International-Philippines Janicel Lubina.

Meanwhile, Filipina all-girl group 4th Impact also espoused Pinay pride as they competed in international singing competition X-Factor UK. The sisters Almira, Irene, Mylene and Celina Cercado drew the limelight on them as they finished the contest in fifth place.

6 On your mark, get set, go! The race begins

Administration bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Davao Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte – frontrunners of the 2016 presidential race – made headlines after each candidate faced allegations, disqualifications, and other issues months prior the elections.

Roxas’ capability to efficiently run the country was questioned, while Binay’s alleged corruption remained under investigation. Poe’s qualifications seemingly cut her short for the presidency, while Santiago’s health remained a concern. And Duterte – whose candidacy has yet to be finalized – has been slammed for cursing the pope and for supposedly killing criminals.

Voting wisely is indeed difficult to do. Making it harder, candidates themselves got involved in word-wars against each other.

5 Global key player

The Philippines served as the host in the 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. It was the second time for the country to host the year-long summit, with the first in 1996. Although the event brought ire to some individuals and advocate groups due to the high expenses it entailed and heavy traffic it caused, the government noted that the hosting also brought about economic gains.

Aside from the APEC summit, the country also participated in the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting held in Malaysia and in the 21st Conference of Parties in France. The Philippines promoted inclusive growth for nations and advanced action against climate change in these meetings.

4 Alleged corruption and abduction in church

Iglesia ni Cristo

The influential Iglesia Ni Cristo church had a tough year as their highest administrative council had a falling out with several of their ministers and members after the latter testified over purported corruption in the religious sect. Amid the dispute, at least ten ministers were supposedly abducted and detained at the church’s complex to cover up the controversy. These were denied by the church’s senior members. Cases have been filed and hearings have been done but still no resolution was met.

3 The “Fight of the Century” – or not

Making it to the list is the year’s megabout – Filipino boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao versus still unbeaten American boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. Unfortunately, the much-awaited boxing match did not live to its hype and resulted to controversies. Mayweather emerged the victor after the 12-round bout, but was accused of undergoing unauthorized intravenous injection. The defeated Pacquiao, on the other hand, later on revealed nursing a shoulder injury during the fight. These news left unsatisfied fans wanting ticket refunds from the highest-grossing fight in the history of boxing. Will a rematch take place?

2 Mamasapano clash: An unfortunate, bloody encounter

Last year, several Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) police commandos went on a covert mission to capture terrorist and bomb-maker Zulkifi Bin Hir alias “Marwan” in Mamasapano, Maguindanao province. The clash led to a gunfight between the troopers and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and other private armed groups – resulting to the death of 44 PNP-SAF commandos, Marwan and several rebels and civilians.

Filipinos mourned and were angered upon hearing the incident, the loss of the police officers – the Fallen 44. President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III declared a “National Day of Mourning.”

Upon investigation, the government was slammed for lack of coordination and high-ranking officials were relieved. Settlements were made but families of the elite commandos continued their call for justice as only few rebels have been indicted to date.

1 Papal visit: Mercy and compassion

pope francis luneta

Earlier in 2015, Pope Francis visited the Philippines and spoke of mercy and compassion. Going beyond Manila, the Pope also held masses in Tacloban and Palo in Leyte as he sought to comfort the victims of Typhoon Yolanda and the survivors of the earlier Bohol earthquake. His five-day visit also included a final mass which became the largest papal gathering in history, with about six million attendees. Pope Francis, fondly called “Lolo Kiko” by the Filipinos, has been the third pontiff to set foot in the country, following Popes John Paul II in 1995 and Paul VI in 1970.

Meanwhile, controversies also hounded the event as the government allegedly brought street children to detention centers and poor families to temporary shelters. Authorities, however, clarified that they have not intended to make the cities presentable with the clearing of streets but only wanted to protect the pope, attendees and homeless from possible crimes.

*Photos from Wikipedia, ShutterStock, and social media