Pope Francis Visits the Philippines
Since the Philippines is one of only two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia, a papal visit is always significant. And while Jorge Mario Bergoglio isn't the first pope to visit the archipelago (that honor belongs to Pope Paul VI), he came at a time when Filipinos — particularly the residents of typhoon-torn Tacloban — needed reassurance about God's grace. Having arrived in early 2015, the pope also delivered much-needed gems of wisdom to tide the people over for the rest of the year.
Manny Pacquiao Fights Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas; Mayweather Wins
Hyped as the "Fight of the Century," the Pacquaio-Mayweather proved to be rather underwhelming (to put it charitably). Shortly after Mayweather bags the crown, Pacquiao cried foul over the fact that the former kept hitting his injured shoulder. However, since the world-renowned Filipino boxer raised the injury only after the fight, this caused quite the controversy.
"Love Wins" in the US
Prior to June 2015, same-sex marriage was banned in 14 states. Now, not only is that no longer the case, but said marriage has also been legalized in the rest of the country. Needless to say, members of the QUILTBAG community all over the world rejoiced, and #LoveWins became one of the top trending hashtags of 2015.
The #AlDub Phenomenon Takes the Philippines By Storm
Noontime variety shows aren't exactly new in the Philippines, but "AlDub" (a portmanteau of Alden Richards and Yaya Dub a.k.a. Maine Mendoza) definitely elevated it to a whole new level. With their spontaneous dialogue, electrifying chemistry and the antics of their fellow cast members, AlDub became one of the biggest social media phenomena of 2015 — if not all time.
"Heneral Luna" becomes the highest-grossing Filipino historical film of all time
In a country where foreign films are typically favored over local ones (hence the need for a yearly festival where no foreign films are allowed), "Heneral Luna" is an anomaly. Debuting in the third quarter of the year, "Heneral Luna" tells of the eponymous brilliant, fiery general, who played a significant role in the 19th century Philippine-American War. As of this writing, the film has garnered Php253 million at the box office — making it the highest-grossing Filipino film of its genre of all time.
"Laglag Bala" Scam Plagues Philippine Airports
As if NAIA's status as contender for "world's worst airport" wasn't enough, the "laglag bala" scam had to come to light a few weeks before APEC leaders were to visit the country. Here, the unscrupulous would drop bullets into the bags of unsuspecting passengers, causing said passengers to panic and fork out money in exchange for not stressing out about drawn-out legal procedures. As of early November, 30 victims were reported — including foreigners, OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) and the elderly.
Paris Gets Attacked; 129 People Killed, 352 Injured
On Friday the 13th of November 2015, tragedy fell on Paris. After terrorists launched a three-team coordinated attack all over the city, they managed to kill 129 people, and injure 352 more. Being one of the biggest terrorist attacks on the Western world since 9/11, and counting several people of different nationalities among the dead/injured, the world looked on the incident with much grief.
Philippines One of 195 Countries to Sign the Climate Accord in Paris
On a brighter note, the City of Lights also hosted a historic global event around a month after the attacks. Here, no less than 195 countries committed to keeping the global temperature rise to "below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels." They hope to push it even further down to 1.5 degrees, as of this writing.
Philippine GDP Expected to Go Above 5.6 Percent
As of December 28, the Philippine GDP growth logged an average of 5.6 percent. However, budget secretary Florencio B. Abad expected that to go up even further. If the Philippines manages to grow by at least 6.9 percent this quarter, then the country would log a 6 percent growth — one of the highest in Asia.
Palawan Named "Best Island in the World"
Finally, as this is a Philippine travel blog, it's only fitting to wrap up the list with a travel-related news item. Out of 30 islands/archipelagos chosen by the Conde Nast Traveler, Palawan made the No. 1 spot with a rating of 85.937. With its "hidden paradise" feel, its mysterious and majestic subterranean river, and the overall cleanliness of the island, is it any wonder why Palawan garnered this honor two years in a row?
So there you have it, for our top news items for 2015. We hope you not only look back to these events, but also reflect on their implications both for yourself, and the society around you. Again, happy new year, and see you in 2016!