Yahoo PH Year in Review: The top viral stories of 2012

Kim Arveen Patria
Kim Arveen Patria
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Proof perhaps that social media continues to grow in the Philippines both in terms of reach and impact is how increasingly issues of the day, from the most mundane to the most critical, is taken up in conversations through the web.

In 2012, social networks lit up with topics which ranged from violent brawls to satires hitting the President's supposed complacency.

Here are the top topics (in no particular order) that made waves online in 2012, as seen in the Search spikes and most-read stories in Yahoo! Philippines :

Lost and found: a daughter, a first love

Proving that social media can be a powerful and useful tool, individuals this year again sought the help of the Internet to find lost loved ones.

In January, the family of Noemi Lagman posted a "missing person" poster on Facebook, asking netizens to report the whereabouts of the 21-year-old girl.

Lagman had gone missing after leaving their family's Paranaque home on Jan. 7 with P33,000 as tuition money at the Asia-Pacific College in Makati.

After hundreds of likes and comments and more than 8,000 shares, the family updated Pinoys online that Lagman had been found, although refusing to disclose all the details.

Re-read the story here: Social media helps reunite a family

A month later, a man also turned to social media for help in a search that may not be a matter of life and death but which was nonetheless important: finding his first love.

Adrian Benipayo, 26, posted a photo of Gladys on Facebook and asked anyone who knew her to tell his first love that he would be waiting for her at the ABS-CBN ELJ entrance three days before Valentine's.

His story was shared more than 3,000 times, and he said friends have told him that Gladys knew about his quest.

Although Gladys did not show up on the day of he had set for their meeting, Benipayo said he found the "closure" he was looking for.

Re-read story: A man's search for his First Love

Of presidency and "Noynoying"

The Internet has also increasingly been a venue for criticism against the government, including the country's top official.

Militants in March coined the term "Noynoying" to describe President Noynoy Aquino's alleged tendency to take problems sitting down.

"Noynoying" was featured in street protests, especially those led by youth groups, wherein they pretended to sit idly.

Responding to accusations of laziness, the Palace released photos of the "President at work" later.

Re-read story: Noynoying is new form of protest

Search for the most epal

The habit of "self-praise" in government which has politicians' names and faces sprawled on signages in almost every corner of the country was also among the highly discussed issues online this year.

Although Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed the "Anti-Epal Bill" aimed at curbing the practice late 2011, netizens who are unable to wait for the legislation used social media to shame politicians tagged as "epal."

So loud was the noise it created that one group led by online activist Carlos Celdran in September launched an "anti-epal" tour wherein tourists or interested Pinoy can see sites where politicking signs are rampant.

Re-read story: The anti-epal advocacy

The Tito Sotto dilemma 

Criticisms against Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto, who has been repeatedly accused of plagiarism in his privilege speeches, probably had the widest reach online this year.

Hours after a group floated the possibility that Sotto copied from a U.S.-based blogger for parts of his speech against the controversial Reproductive Health Bill, netizens have begun using the hashtag #Sinotto.

Famous quotes from speeches, movies and even songs were posted on Twitter and Facebook, with netizens attributing them to either Sotto or the "Sotto-fied" of the person being quoted, such as "Jose Rizotto."

Re-read story: Did Sotto copy a blogger's article?

The memes took a different twist when Sotto was next accused of translating parts of the late U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy's speech in another anti-RH bill speech.

Netizens this time translated famous quotes, still using the hashtag #Sinotto.

Re-read story: Sotto copied again?

The senator was accused of copying a third time from another U.S.-based blogger.

Ethics complaints have meanwhile been filed before the Senate by bloggers and academics as well as the Kennedy family.

Sotto, for his part, cried foul over what he referred to as "cyber-bullying," and even hinted at mechanisms to control comments posted online.

Online tirades, however, were not limited to politicians as ordinary citizens caught on cam during moments of rage have also made waves online this year.

Learning to keep our cool: Lesson from Robert Carabuena 

Road rage became a hot topic in August when a video of a motorist manhandling a traffic enforcer made rounds online.

Robert Blair Carabuena had to endure "online" rage for days on end for his attacks against Metro Manila Development Authority traffic constable Saturnino Fabros.

Fabros, who said Carabuena made a wrong turn near Tandang Sora in Quezon City, gained public support for keeping his cool despite being hit.

Although Carabuena publicly apologized at the MMDA office days later, the incident earned him a suspension from his executive position at a major tobacco manufacturer and cost him his license for driving and bearing firearms.

Re-read story: Netizens slam Carabuena

The LRT brouhaha: #Amalayer

Another viral video also involved violence, albeit only verbal, between a female passenger at the Light Rail Transit and a lady guard.

The video showed the passenger, later identified as Paula Jamie Salvosa, berating the security guard for allegedly treating her inappropriately as she entered the train station.

Tweeps used the hashtag "#Amalayer" to comment on the video. The coined term was apparently derived from Salvosa's way of asking the lady guard if she was a liar: "I'm a liar?"

Salvosa also later complained about cyber-bullying.

The incident meanwhile prodded the LRT administration to ask passengers to be more patient with security procedures.

This, as it reminded security guards to refrain from making possibly offensive side comments, gestures or facial expressions.

The airport brawl: Santiago vs. Tulfo

One video which spread like wildfire this year however meanwhile involved not only violence but also famous personalities.

Celebrity couple Claudine Barreto and Raymart Santiago in May got into a brawl with columnist Ramon Tulfo at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The encounter began when Barreto allegedly took issue against Tulfo taking a video of her while she was complaining to Cebu Pacific Airlines staff about their luggage.

Claudine allegedly approached Tulfo, who police reports said refused to respond but instead kicked the actress, sparking a fist fight soon joined in by Santiago and a male companion.

Both parties filed charges of physical abuse before the pasay City police and Prosecutor's Office.

But online conversations were not limited to rants against the government or against fellow Pinoys netizens deem as ill-behaving.

Some feel-good stories added color to the Internet and even made headlines.

"Random Girl" and her road to stardom

Inspiring Pinoys, for instance, is the story of the "random girl" who became a YouTube sensation in August for a video which showed her belting out songs at a mall.

Zendee Rose Tenerefe, 21, was eventually invited as a guest to U.S. television talk show Ellen in October, where she wowed host Ellen DeGeneres and television audience globally with her vocal talent.

"Random girl" has also recorded her first album with Warner Records in September.

Tenefere is seen to follow the footsteps of Filipino singers Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda, who both appeared on Ellen after becoming YouTube hits.

Related story: Zendee wows Ellen

The hero dog 'Kabang'

The story of a dog who lost his muzzle as it saved young girls from a motorcycle accident, for instance, touched the hearts of many Filipinos.

Gaining online fame both locally and abroad, a campaign was eventually launched to raise funds for the dog named "Kabang" to get a new muzzle via a surgery in the U.S.

More than $20,000 have been collected in the campaign, allowing Kabang to fly to the U.S. for surgery with a Pinoy veterinarian.

The dog is now recovering from ovarian cancer and some other complications which should be addressed before a reconstruction procedure for a new muzzle.

Related story: Kabang's global fame

Hello, Simsimi

And as if conversations with fellow netizens weren't enough, Pinoys in March got hooked on a chatbot which sarcastically answers questions.

Filipinos turned to "Simsimi" for comic relief or to vent out their troubles.

The artificial intelligence online chat robot developed in Korea was also designed to learn new responses to statements used by users.

Pinoys seemed to have let go of Simsimi sooner than expected, however, with many noting that they have gotten tired of Simsimi's humor.

Unlike Simsimi, however, Filipino's penchant for social discussions won't easily die.

That, coupled with a growing number of mobile Internet users especially as the Philippines is said to be the fastest-growing smartphone market in the region, is set to prop social media.

And so as Pinoys keep talking--or tweeting, posting and commenting--topics will also keep on trending.