(A review of the year’s hottest, most scandalous newsmakers that went viral)
The Philippines ranks 11th in Freedom House’s 60-country Freedom on the Net 2013 list, being one of only 17 countries whose Internet usage is categorized as “free.” That means that Filipino Internet users are among the most free in the world, enjoying very few limitations and plenty of opportunity to express themselves.
Online Pinoys took advantage of these liberties and discussed, searched and shared controversial and headline-grabbing topics, and created memes in honor of buzzy personalities and events.
When in doubt, search
Paul Walker, whose untimely death shocked the world and had a special connection to the Philippines due to being caused by a car crash on the day that the actor was supposed to spend doing charity work for super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors, topped four lists on Google Philippines’ 2013 Zeitgeist. “Paul Walker” was the search engine’s top overall search term, top newsmaker and most-searched person. “Paul Walker death” was the year’s most-searched news item. (The “Fast and Furious” star was the second global trending query. Only anti-apartheid revolutionary and political legend Nelson Mandela, who also died this year, had higher trending numbers.)
In digital technology, the most-searched innovations were “Samsung Galaxy S4” (smartphones, also the number two top overall search), “iPad mini 2” (tablets), “Camera 360” (apps) and “Chrono Tales” (PC games).
In the world of entertainment, the top-trending topics were “The Voice Philippines” (TV shows), “Pacific Rim” (movies), “Harlem Shake” (music), “Titanium” (lyrics), “Choi Minho” (Korean personalities) and “EXO” (Korean groups).
Sex scandals featured prominently in public consciousness as well, being the subject of local web searches. “Neri Naig” was number seven on top overall searches, number two on people, and first on local celebrities while “EB Babe Yosh” was ninth, third and second on the same lists. “Wally Bayola” and “Chito Miranda” likewise placed on the people and local celebrities tallies.
Search terms relating to beauty pageants were popular this year, including “Miss Universe 2013,” “Ariella Arida” and “Megan Young.”
Meanwhile, over at Yahoo Philippines, Young landed the top spot on top celebrity searches and Arida rounded out the top 10. Miranda and Bayola were at numbers three and five respectively. Anne Curtis, whose nightclub incident sparked a lot of discussions towards the end of the year, was eighth on the Yahoo list. Continued on C2
When quotes make the story
Aside from being the talk of the town, Curtis was also the butt of a lot of Internet jokes, being quoted in memes and juxtaposed with other controversial public figures like alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim Napoles and tax iron lady Kim Henares. Her now infamous line, “I can buy you, your friends and this club,” presumably delivered in the uber-bitch “No Other Woman” tone, has officially entered the annals of quotable-quote-heavy Philippine pop culture.
Living in a telenovela country, Filipinos love statements that they can quote and use in everyday life, often in a humorous manner. This year, we have plenty to choose from. Here are the best and worst of them:
“Mukhang hindi nya alam ang sinasabi nya (It seems he doesn’t know what he’s talking about).” - Korina Sanchez, on Anderson Cooper’s CNN report on the situation in Tacloban following the onslaught of Yolanda.
“Ms. Sanchez is welcome to go there...her husband is the interior minister; I’m sure she could arrange a flight.” - Cooper, in response to Sanchez’s public humiliation of herself.
“Basta ‘wag lang manghihingi sa amin ang mga tao (As long as people don’t ask anything from us).” - Cavite representative Lani Mercado, on scrapping pork barrel.
“I invoke my right.” - Napoles, invoking her right against self-incrimination at the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the pork barrel scam to evade questions about her supposed involvement in the scandal.
“Panira ka ng araw (You’re ruining my day).” - Arnold Clavio, to Napoles lawyer Alfredo Villamor in a televised meltdown when he couldn’t get a scoop.
“Psychopathic hypersexualized serial womanizer.” - Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, pertaining to Senator Juan Ponce Enrile in a privilege speech against her “arch-nemesis.”
“We’ve already talked about Lea.” - Anne Hathaway, when grilled and forced by entertainment editor and columnist Ricky Lo to compare her “Les Miserables” performance with Lea Salonga’s in (perhaps) the most gruesome and secondhand-embarrassment-inducing celebrity interview ever.
“You don’t do that to me.” - Willie Revillame, demonstrating pompous arrogance and asserting his superiority over everyone else on his now-canceled TV show.
When love and hate collide
Filipinos have a love-hate relationship with celebrities and trending personalities—sometimes, we love them; other times, we love to hate them. For doing or saying something we don’t agree with, for being offensive only to offer a non-apology later on, or for simply being entitled and flaunting their entitlement (some of whom have already been mentioned above).
Like Jeanne Napoles, daughter of arguably the most hated woman in the country right now. The young Napoles used to blog about her lavish lifestyle, which would’ve been fine if her mother wasn’t named as the alleged mastermind of the biggest corruption scandal in recent history. Online Filipinos were pissed and condemned her for the blatant display of ill-gotten wealth.
Vice Ganda also drew the ire of social media communities for cracking a joke about rape in a televised “comedy concert.” The popular comedian and box office magnet had a lot of backtracking to do for targeting respected journalist Jessica Soho in a tasteless bit, which didn’t go unnoticed by the media and people on the Internet.
Further proof that the Internet’s radar is far-reaching, graduate student Mark Joseph Solis was exposed for committing fraud by submitting a photo he did not own to several photography contests. His plagiarism was uncovered when he won one of the competitions, which was a prestigious and high-profile one. He apologized and returned the prize after being caught.
But who really didn’t apologize? Christine Bersola, whose “bigoted” and “insensitive” opinions on homosexuality that she expressed in a column got universally negative responses on social media. She tweeted an apology but blamed her own “limited knowledge” on “politically correct language of the LGBT community” and the dubious “clinical psychologist” who served as her resource person. “Do NOT shoot the messenger,” her non-apology said.
And oh, there’s the Barretto thing. But no one cares.