Inspiring stories of 2013

Mong Palatino

Last part of four series
First part | 13 natural and man-made disasters of 2013
Second part | ‘We Should Legalize Everything’ and Other Shocking Sound Bites of 2013
Third part | ‘Wrecking Ball’ and other objects that made news in 2013

Despite the calamities that brought unprecedented devastation in the country, there were several inspiring stories in 2013 that gave much needed joy and hope to many Filipinos. They were moral boosters at a time when tragedies seem to overwhelm our islands. Hopefully, the future will not simply remember 2013 as a terribly bad year because of the natural and man-made disasters that hit country. We must make sure that the next generation will also not forget our volunteer heroes and the multitudes which comprised the historic gathering at Luneta.

1. Megan Young’s victory as Miss World was special to Filipinos because it made the Philippines the third country in the world after Brazil and Venezuela to win all four major beauty pageants: Miss Universe, Miss International, Miss Earth and Miss World. Last year’s Miss Supranational and Miss International also came from the Philippines. Interestingly, an online travel magazine listed Quezon City in Metro Manila as one of the cities with the world’s handsome men. (Note: the author is a resident of Quezon City). Kidding aside, 2013 was the year when Filipinos dominated global beauty contests and surveys on good looking people.

2. Pacquiao made the global headlines again after winning the WBO international welterweight title when he beat Mexican-American Brandon Rios in Macau. It was a convincing comeback fight for Pacquiao whose last victory was more than two years ago. Through this win, Pacquiao effectively dismissed all talks of retirement. His celebration was cut short when tax authorities garnished some of his bank accounts because of a tax evasion issue. Nevertheless, his boxing victory uplifted the spirits of many especially those living in disaster-hit provinces in the Visayas.

3. My Husband’s Lover became equally controversial and popular because it dared to portray gay characters in a different and respectful way. Who would have thought that it’s possible to seriously and intelligently discuss LGBT issues in a mainstream teleserye on prime time TV?

4. The global Yolanda (Haiyan) relief effort was truly inspiring. Media groups provided extensive coverage of the disaster, UN agencies facilitated the entry of emergency supplies, and global aid organizations were immediately on the field assisting typhoon survivors. Foreign governments also deployed humanitarian teams which helped in the transporting of relief goods and other supplies. But there were other acts of kindness which also warmed the hearts of Filipinos such as the two girls who sold lemonade drinks in California for the benefit of Yolanda victims, the six-year old Japanese pre-schooler who donated his piggybank savings to the relief drive, and Hollywood and sports celebrities who spearheaded various charity activities.

5. The country was battered by deadly disasters in 2013 but fortunately there was no shortage of Bayanihan spirit among Filipinos. This was most evident in the aftermath of Yolanda when Filipinos from all walks of life contributed and volunteered in the relief and rehabilitation efforts. Perhaps the most poignant gesture was the arrival of typhoon Pablo victims in Leyte to extend solidarity to Yolanda refugees. Pablo was the world’s deadliest disaster of 2012 which hit the southern Mindanao region.

6. Pope Francis had many insightful things to say about the sad state of affairs in the world. He admonished the blind worship of the market, the avarice of the financial elite, and the narrow thinking of many church leaders. He vowed to build a church of the poor and seemed to be leading by example as he continued to reject several privileges which are traditionally accorded to the leader of the Catholic world. His advice on what to do with the corrupt (‘Tie corrupt to a rock and throw them into the sea’) should be applied in the Philippines, the largest Catholic-dominated nation in Asia.

7. Yeb Sano, the Philippine government’s lead negotiator at the Warsaw climate talks, became the voice of many poor nations which have been demanding the ratification of more effective global pollution controls. Aside from delivering a well-applauded speech at the UN conference, he initiated a fasting protest to highlight the harsh impact of climate change on small island nations. He narrated the ordeal of thousands of Filipinos in the Yolanda-hit provinces to advance and gather support for his demand for climate justice.

8. The August 26 anti-corruption ‘Million People March’ turned out to be the biggest rally during the administration of BS Aquino. But more importantly, it rendered visible the seething disgust felt by the masses against corrupt politicians and the pork barrel system. It was an idea which was first proposed in the social media but quickly became a powerful political movement. It proved that Filipinos are still ready to uphold the legacy of People Power to bring fundamental change in society. (

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator. Email:

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