Top 7 stories that rocked the Philippines in 2018

    There’s no denying that the year 2018 was action packed for the Philippines. Trending stories from entertainment, politics, sports and showbiz captivated our attention, captured our emotions and affected the nation.

    With 2019 just around the corner, digital data analytics company Research and Tech Lab (RTL) checked out the top seven trending stories that rocked the Philippines in 2018. Out of the hundreds of stories publicly shared, discussed, praised and bashed online, 83% are lifestyle stories that appealed to the emotions and interest of Filipino netizens, while the remaining 17% focused on politics.

    RTL gathered and analyzed a total of 25,575,684 reactions, comments and shares across all digital and social media platforms from January to November of 2018 and came up with a list of the top seven stories in 2018 that gathered the most traction so far:

    1)    #KwentongJollibee2018 Series

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    [Caption: Kwentong Jollibee Valentines Series 2018: Signs]

    Who could forget the viral pre‐Valentine social media campaign of Jollibee?

    Simultaneously released days before February 14, the #KwentongJollibee2018 three-part series charmed the internet by imparting valuable lessons through beautifully told stories.

    “Signs” is the story of a lady who wants to know if her crush is The One and asks for signs while at Jollibee. “Homecoming” shows how two people fell in love and eventually became a couple with the help of sweet messages written on sticky notes. “Status” gives us an insight as to how people can find love in unexpected places.

    “Signs” is directed by Theodore Boborol, “Homecoming” is directed by Joel Ruiz, and “Status” is directed by Ianco de la Cruz.

    2) Angel A. and Tony Labrusca’s ‘Glorious’ kissing scene

    Angel Aquino and Tony Labrusca had netizens buzzing with the trailer of their film, Glorious. With the sizzling kissing scene between Aquino and Labrusca, who wouldn’t be?

    The video got 8.3 million views 24 hours after it was first released last November 4. The overwhelming interest in the trailer was also shown through the countless memes born from it.

    This is an indicator that more Filipinos are becoming interested in a May-December love affair. Could it be that 50 is truly the new 20? We’ll let you decide.

    3) Halik TV Series

    Infidelity, adultery and cheating was one of the common themes of Philippine television drama series.

    But “Halik” has become the most talked‐about series in social media as it takes drama to a whole new level with its daring scenes, weekly revelations, confrontations and intertwining relationships of Lino (Jericho Rosales), Jacky (Yen Santos), Ace (Sam Milby), Jade (Yam Concepcion) and other minor characters.

    4) MMDA “5-minute girl” Viral Motorist

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    In a video posted August 16 on the page Gadget Addict, a woman sparked the ire of netizens as she was caught on‐cam refusing to surrender her driver’s license to MMDA enforcers and bumping her car against another enforcer’s motorcycle.

    The “5-minute girl,” who was later identified as Christine Villamora Estepa, was apprehended for parking illegally. She was loudly and visibly irate with the official who told her that she violated the 5-minute grace period. She was also accused of taking her car out despite coding rules.

    As of this writing, the original video has already amassed more than 217k reactions, 144k comments and 288k shares and has also been reposted by various pages in Facebook.

    5) Sili memes

    Filipinos are known to make the best out of the worst situations. Apparently, even the rising prices of bird’s eye chilis, locally known as “siling labuyo,” cannot escape our silliness.

    Siling labuyo has become the symbol of rising prices amid reports that its market price skyrocketed to as much as P1000 per kilo.

    Because of frustration, the over 1000-peso price of siling labuyo has become a subject of mockery and humor among netizens. People shared how any food with chili on it is way too expensive; some even equate having a chili farm to being a millionaire and proposed bartering their chilis for gadgets like MacBooks and iPhones.

    6) SONA 2018

    President Rodrigo “Roa” Duterte has always been a man of character, so to speak, highlighted by his colorful words and speaking mannerism.

    Netizens were rather surprised that President Duterte did not veer away from his script during his 48-minute-long State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday (July 23) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, contrary to earlier expectations that the President might opt for an extemporaneous speech.

    Duterte received praises from the netizens and political followers as he discussed pressing issues which included the war on drugs, initiative to lower the price of rice, implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, the government’s battle against corruption and end-of-contract scheme or endo and federalism.

    But Duterte wasn’t the only figure on the spotlight that day. Stealing his thunder was the contention between Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez and Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo, which led to the former’s ousting and the latter’s appointment as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

    7)  The ban on OFWs in Kuwait

    Issues regarding overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will always be a matter of national concern to the Philippines with around 2.3 million OFWs around the world as of 2017.

    So it’s no surprise that the President’s ban on Filipino workers leaving for the Gulf nation on April 30 drew massive attention in the Philippines.

    Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them being domestic workers.

    According to news reports, the spat between the Philippines and Kuwait began in February when the government prohibited workers from heading to Kuwait because domestic helper Joanna Demafelis’s corpse was discovered in a freezer in her employer’s home. The president lashed out at Kuwait, saying that Arab employers routinely raped Filipina workers, forced them to work 21 hours a day and fed them scraps.

    The ban was only lifted by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on May 15 following the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by representatives from the Philippines and Kuwait on May 11 that would provide additional protection for OFWs in the Gulf state.

    But as of August 10, a news report showed that POEA only approved 1,049 overseas employment certificates to Filipino household service workers (HSWs) close to a month after the lifting of the ban.

    The number of approvals in July is significantly lower compared to the average monthly deployment of 5,000 Filipino HSWs to Kuwait from 2016 to 2017.

    The most viral stories of this year truly mirror Filipino culture. It shows how Filipinos are fond of love stories and happy endings while controversies and humor never fail to catch interest. Stories about family and society always emerge as the foremost topic where Filipinos relate to.

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