Mindy's Musings: The Eight Greats of 2008

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Filipinos have witnessed a lot of triumphs and mishaps in 2008. To commemorate the country’s tumultuous and historic year, WikiPilipinas presents Pinoys’ Eight Greats of 2008. This highlights the Philippines’ greatest newsmakers from different fields that have made an impact not only on Philippine society but also on the nations beyond its borders.

Here are 2008's great Philippine...

1. Talent...

With her stellar performances, the singing sensation Charice Pempengco made every Filipino proud as she received overwhelming praise across nations. Pempengco’s instant fame on Youtube led to her appearance on popular TV shows and concerts both in Europe and the United States throughout the year. At only fifteen, she has performed with some of the world’s most famous artists including Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, David Foster, Josh Groban, and Brian McKnight. As Oprah Winfrey famously puts it, Pempengco has proven to be one of the ‘World’s Smartest Kids.’

2. Invention...

Mechanical Anti-terrorist Concept (MAC) was officially launched this year as the newest member of the Makati City police force, with the rank of Police Inspector. P.I. MAC is the Philippines' first automated bomb disposal robot developed by the Philippine National Police and the robotics team from Mapua Institute of Technology. This two-foot tall, three-foot wide robot was designed using the same principles of the United States police for their roving explosive disposal devices. It won a gold medal in the First World Cup of Computer-Implemented Inventions in Shanghai, China.

3. Boxer...

People's champ Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao earned wins from some of the most infamous ring matches in the history of boxing. He is now known as the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer after Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s retirement. The boxing icon served as flag bearer of the RP team during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After knocking off Oscar dela Hoya in the ‘Dream Match’ in December, Pacquiao received a master sergeant medal in the military reserve force from President Arroyo for giving honor to the country.

4. Controversy...

The Fertilizer Fund Scam made this year’s biggest headlines alongside other political controversies under the Senate investigation. Tracing the whereabouts of P728 million farm funds centered on the accused Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn ‘Joc-Joc’ Bolante who allegedly diverted the funds to President Arroyo’s campaign in 2004. Despite Bolante’s repeated denials, the Senate probe did not miss involvement of the President, congressmen and other local officials in the scam.

5. Reunion concert...

On the 30th of August 2008, avid fans of the famous '90s OPM band Eraserheads (also known as E-heads) trooped to Fort Bonifacio Open Field to witness a one-night reunion concert of the band. The news about the concert first broke out as an enormous rumor until the E-heads members confirmed the date of the concert. Fans panicked when the original sponsor pulled out a week before the year’s most awaited event. Two days later, the band announced that the concert would push through with three new sponsors. E-heads finally went onstage where thousands of people sang and reunited with them in one historic moment. Unfortunately, the concert was cut short after first fifteen-song set due to vocalist Ely Buendia’s failing heart.

6. Natural wonders

The Philippines boasts of three esteemed natural wonders that consistently top the worldwide search for the new 7 Wonders of Nature. The live online ranking lists Palawan’s Tubbataha Reef, Bohol’s Chocolate Hills, and Puerto Princesa’s Underground River among the top ten nominated natural sites in the world. With the positive turnout of votes, the Department of Tourism has recognized the support given by Filipinos which will hopefully lead to an increased awareness of the country’s own natural wonders.

7. Tragedy

Filipinos mourned over the MV Princess of the Stars June 21 maritime tragedy which left only fifty-seven survivors out of more than seven hundred passengers. The ship was on its way to Cebu City when its engines allegedly shut down near Sibuyan Island. The retrieval operation of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) went on for two weeks with a sudden delay caused by several tons of toxic chemical fertilizer cargo found inside the ship. The rescue operation ended November 10 with only 199 bodies recovered according to PCG. In a report dated August 25, 2008, the Philippine Marine Board of Inquiry held Sulpicio Lines and its captain liable for the tragedy.

8. Shopping mall

This year, Henry Sy earned not only the title of the Philippines’ richest man but also the recognition of owning the third largest shopping mall in the world. The launch of the world-record mall, SM City North Edsa, was highlighted by its gross floor area of 425,000 square meters (105 acres) along with its 90,000 square meter (22 acre) annex. Aside from this, company owner SM Prime Holdings, Inc. now also holds the world’s fourth, seventh, and eleventh biggest malls which have become part of Filipinos’ urban culture throughout the years.

A year to remember

The year of the Rat proved interesting in more ways than one. All eyes turned to the Philippines as its citizens broke records and made new ones, and as Filipinos proved themselves capable not only of admirable acts but extraordinarily embarrassing mistakes as well.

The year 2008 left economists reaching for their aspirin bottles, sports fans waving their banners and political watchers shaking their heads in disbelief.

Vibal Foundation paid tribute to 2008 by presenting a multi-perspective look at what made the past 12 months truly one for the history books. Not only did WikiPilipinas have its annual Newsmakers and WikiPinoy of the Year, but there were also 10 lists featuring the choicest 2008 Philippine tidbits. In addition, WikiPilipinas sister site Philippine Online Chronicles featured a per-channel review of the past year's happenings.

Topics of interest covered by the newsmakers included sports, science and technology, government and politics, people and society, culture and arts, media and entertainment, business and economy, travel and tourism, and history.

The Top 10 lists, on the other hand, featured the pick of 2008's news headlines, famous and infamous Filipinos, scandalous blogs, Filipino books, attention-grabbing crimes, magazine covers, Filipino songs, and scams and hoaxes. Also included will be 10 little-known facts about the Philippines.

--- Read more of Mindy's Musings this year. You can e-mail your comments, suggestions, and inquiries to mindy@wikipilipinas.org. Also, you can visit Mindy’s Blog at WikiPilipinas <www.wikipilipinas.org>.

See Mindy's column archive