"May that mean abundance and prosperity, peace, an end to violence, and better governance for the country."
From a teenage bully to a Filipina Miss Universe, the year 2018 was filled with interesting personalities, events, and occurrences, some happy, mostly sad.
The economy tanked because of the ill-considered TRAIN law. The price of basic commodities shot up and people found themselves with paychecks that remained the same but had less purchasing power.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte scored high on the misogyny chart, with “shoot them in the vagina,” “kailangan natin ng babae,” and his confession of having sexually molested a housemaid when he was a teenager joining the ranks of his previous hits “mauna dapat si mayor” and “congratulations sa mang-rape sa Miss Universe kahit alam nila ang kaparusahan.”
He also took potshots at the Catholic Church in the Philippines, from questioning religious tenets to encouraging violence against prelates.
Still in the news were the extra judicial killings of drug addicts and heightened police operations toward that end as part of Duterte’s drug war.
Cebu Mayor Tommy Osmeña set an example for the rest of the country when, upon request of a constituent, he turned the Cebu Public Library into a 24/7 operation, providing a safe and free space for people to study, write, and read.
The divorce bill was passed on the third reading in the House of Representatives, but there is no counterpart bill in the Senate and President Duterte is said to be against such a law.
In a dramatic coup staged on the day of the President’s State of the Nation Address, Pantaleon Alvarez was ousted from his position as Speaker of the House, giving way to former president-turned-congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Even more dramatic was the ouster of Lourdes Sereno as Supreme Court Chief Justice, paving the way for her arch-nemesis Teresita de Castro to gain the coveted post and hold it for a mere two months before her retirement.
The justice league redeemed itself when a Makati judge refused to cave into the administration’s bullying of Senator Antonio Trillanes by not issuing an arrest order and a hold-departure order. The Palace alleged that the amnesty granted to Trillanes, a former soldier and mutineer, was invalid because the application documents were lost.
This was also the year that Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol taught the country to eat “bukbok” rice and imported galunggong, leading to fears for the nation’s food security.
Strikes in several factories led to public scrutiny of labor practices, particularly contractualization, and the boycott of certain brands of condiments and fastfood.
The issue of bullying shook the discourse when videos circulated of a 14-year-old martial arts practitioner beating up fellow students. He was dismissed from his high school, after the public and government made clear that they were closely watching the outcome of the investigation into the case.
Many folks sighed in relief when controversial blogger Mocha Uson resigned her position as Communication Assistant Secretary to pursue a senatorial bid. With her name no longer making headlines, her candidacy looks as good as dead.
The men’s collegiate basketball finals between University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University practically ground activity in the metro to a halt. Alumni from both schools and sports fans in generals walked out of their offices on a workday to crowd into the game venue. Instant envy greeted him who said, “I have tickets for the game!”
Another high note for the country was when half-Aussie, half-Albayena Catriona Gray won the Miss Universe beauty pageant, the fourth such crown for the country. For her turn on the global stage, she wore magnificent gowns rife with symbols from Philippine literature and culture. She is now famous for her ‘slo-mo twirl’ pivot in a pink swimsuit and ‘lava walk’ across the stage in frocks slit thigh-high.
Also in the news was a hardheaded nightclub that, despite the public’s overwhelming negative opinion, persisted in pursuing a so-called record-breaking New Year’s Eve balloon drop that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources spokesman called a “solid waste disaster waiting to happen.” They canceled the event under pressure from the DENR. Still, the balloons have already been blown up and are floating in the nightclub’s dome.
Chinese astrology says 2019 is the Year of the Pig. May that mean abundance and prosperity, peace, an end to violence, and better governance for the country.
Dr. Ortuoste thanks her readers for their support through the years. FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO