Year in Review 2021: Top 10 newsmakers in the Philippines

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Yahoo Philippines looks back on the events and personalities that made the headlines and kept Filipinos talking in 2021.

10. Philippine Air Force C-130 crash

Philippine soldiers stand near wreckage of a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport aircraft, which crashed July 4 and killed 50 people after it overshot the runway, in Jolo town, Sulu province, near southern island of Mindanao on July 5, 2021. (Photo by Nickee BUTLANGAN / AFP) / The erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by Handout has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: {near southern island of Mindanao}. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require. (Photo by NICKEE BUTLANGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Philippine soldiers stand near the wreckage of a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport aircraft, which crashed July 4 and killed 50 people after it overshot the runway, in Jolo town, Sulu province, near southern island of Mindanao on July 5, 2021. (Photo by Nickee BUTLANGAN / AFP)

A C-130 Hercules plane crashed in Patikul, Sulu last July, killing at least 53 people, 50 of whom were military personnel. It took nearly two months for the military to identify all 50 military personnel who perished in the crash.

"The said C-130 was not overloaded. It was well within the operational limits and capacity when it left Laguindingan Airport with 96 passengers compared to its maximum capacity of 120 passengers; this is contrary to the circulating rumor that the aircraft was overloaded," Philippine Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said in a statement few days after the accident.

9. Typhoon Maring

Severe tropical storm Maring (Kompasu) caused floods in parts of Cagayan Valley, the Ilocos Region, and the Cordillera Administrative Region last October, leaving over PHP220 million ($4.3 million) worth of damage to infrastructure. (Photo: Cagayan Provincial Information Office)
Severe tropical storm Maring (Kompasu) caused floods in parts of Cagayan Valley, the Ilocos Region, and the Cordillera Administrative Region last October, leaving over PHP220 million ($4.3 million) worth of damage to infrastructure. (Photo: Cagayan Provincial Information Office)

Severe tropical storm Maring (Kompasu) caused floods in parts of Cagayan Valley, the Ilocos Region, and the Cordillera Administrative Region last October, leaving over P220 million ($4.3 million) worth of damage to infrastructure, according to the Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC). A woman in Barangay Nagrebcan, Badoc, Ilocos Norte was also reported to have drowned in a strong river current during the flooding.

8. Maria Ressa

Nobel Peace Prize winners Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov pose for a photo during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony at the Oslo City Hall in Oslo, Norway, December 10, 2021. Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB/via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.
Nobel Peace Prize winners Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov pose for a photo during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony at the Oslo City Hall in Oslo, Norway, December 10, 2021. Stian Lysberg Solum/NTB/via REUTERS

Maria Ressa won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize – the first time that the Philippines won the said Prize in Nobel's 126-year history. Ressa constantly caught the ire of the Duterte administration because of her news agency Rappler's coverage of the anti-drug war and was convicted of libel and sentenced to jail last year.

“It’s the first time in more than 80 years that journalists have been awarded the Nobel peace prize, and the journalists [that won the prize] from the Philippines and Russia are from two of the countries where it’s incredibly dangerous and difficult to be an independent journalist,” said Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director at the Committee to Protect Journalists, in an interview with Al Jazeera.

7. Sara Duterte-Carpio

Presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and vice presidential aspirant Sara Duterte talks on their political rally in Rizal Province, Philippines on December 11, 2021. Bong Bong Marcos, the only son of the late dictator, runs for president on 2022 Philippine election. After losing to vice presidential race against Vice President Leni Robredo on 2016 election, Marcos Jr. tries to run on the highest position in the Philippines with his vice presidential aspirant, Sara Duterte-Carpio. A mayor of Davao City and a daughter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (Photo by Ryan Eduard Benaid/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and vice-presidential aspirant Sara Duterte talks at their political rally in Rizal Province, Philippines on December 11, 2021. (Photo by Ryan Eduard Benaid/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Daughter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and incumbent Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio first made noise as her supporters insisted that she join the presidential race. However, she filed her certificate for candidacy for the mayoral post of Davao City for another term, but eventually withdrew and filed candidacy for the vice presidential race under Lakas-CMD party.

"Since launching my candidacy for the vice presidency, I have been calling for the supporters of the Duterte administration to unite behind our goal to continue what my father has started. I thank you all for hearing my wishes," she said in a recent statement in Filipino.

6. Benigno Aquino III

Military honor guards stand beside the portrait of former President Benigno Aquino III during his wake at the Ateneo Church of Gesu in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. (Photo by: Basilio Sepe/Majority World/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Military honor guards stand beside the portrait of former President Benigno Aquino III during his wake at the Ateneo Church of Gesu in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines. (Photo by: Basilio Sepe/Majority World/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Former Philippine President Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III died at the age of 61 because of a renal disease secondary to diabetes. Aquino, known as the scion of the country's most prominent pro-democracy political family, became president of the country in 2009 after the death of his mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino.

5. Rodrigo Duterte

Representatives of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte file his certificate of candidacy for senator after withdrawing his certificate of candidacy for vice president, in the 2022 national election, at the Commission on Elections, in Manila, Philippines, November 15, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Representatives of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte file his certificate of candidacy for senator after withdrawing his certificate of candidacy for vice president, in the 2022 national election, at the Commission on Elections, in Manila, Philippines, November 15, 2021. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte spurred speculations on his next political move, until, ultimately, he filed his candidacy for a Senate seat in next year's elections. This is contrary to his earlier remarks that he would retire from politics already after his term ends next year.

“Duterte’s run for the Senate is yet another attempt of the tyrant to evade accountability from the International Criminal Court and other accountability mechanisms,” said Cristina Palabay of Karapatan, a left-wing alliance of human rights groups. “It is as sinister, opportunist, and underhanded as the attempts of his daughter and allies to run in the 2022 elections.”

However, he personally filed his statement of withdrawal with the Commission on Elections on December 14.

4. Hidilyn Diaz

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Women's 55kg - Group A - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 26, 2021. Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines in action. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Women's 55kg - Group A - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 26, 2021. Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines in action. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Hidilyn Diaz became the Philippines's first Olympic gold medalist after winning the women's 55-kilogram weightlifting category in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics held on July 26. Diaz secured the win on her last lift in the clean-and-jerk to win with a total of 224 kilograms. The silver medalist, Liao Quiyun of China, lifted 223.

"I still cannot believe that my name is now in the Olympic record. I am really thankful. God is good. Good is good," she said in Filipino shortly after winning the gold.

3. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Former Senator Ferdinand
Former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, poses for the media after filing his candidacy to join the 2022 presidential race, at Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent on October 06, 2021 in Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines. (Photo: Rouelle Umali - Pool/Getty Images)

The former dictator's son Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. joined the presidential race for the 2022 Philippine national elections, more than three decades after a popular uprising put his father's violent regime down and restored democracy to the country.

“I don’t have any fight with [Vice President] Leni [Robredo]. I am running for president, I am not fighting against anyone," he said shortly after filing his Certificate of Candidacy at the Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent last October. "I would not file my COC if I was not ready to campaign, if I was not ready to answer all your questions. I am ready to answer your questions and I am ready to campaign.”

2. Taal Volcano

BATANGAS, PHILIPPINES - JULY 05: Smoke rise from Taal volcano in Batangas, Philippines on July 05, 2021. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs), Taal volcano can erupt anytime soon wherein more than 3,000 residents evacuated after the volcano started spewing steam, filling the air with toxic gas and prompting health warnings. (Photo by Dante Dennis Diosina Jr./Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
BATANGAS, PHILIPPINES - JULY 05: Smoke rises from the Taal Volcano in Batangas, Philippines on July 05, 2021. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs), Taal Volcano can erupt anytime soon wherein more than 3,000 residents evacuated after the volcano started spewing steam, filling the air with toxic gas and prompting health warnings. (Photo by Dante Dennis Diosina Jr./Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Taal Volcano was placed on Alert Level 3 on July 1 after a reported phreatomagmatic eruption. A few days later, a series of weak phreatomagmatic bursts and sulfur dioxide emissions also occurred. While the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology eventually downgraded the status to Alert Level 2, PHIVOLCS emphasized that there remained a threat of an eruption.

There were increased anxieties this year, given that the Taal Volcano erupted early last year, 43 years after its previous eruption in 1977.

1. Manny Pacquiao

Aug 21, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada; Manny Pacquiao fights Yordenis Ugas in a world welterweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 21, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada; Manny Pacquiao fights Yordenis Ugas in a world welterweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

More than 17,000 people at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and millions of television viewers worldwide watched the underdog Yordenis Ugas win over the great Manny Pacquiao in a 12-round unanimous decision for the WBA Welterweight World title last August. Pacquiao said that he is retiring from boxing already.

A month later, Pacquiao, who is also a Philippine senator, filed his candidacy for the country’s top government post for the 2022 national elections. "I am a fighter and I will always be a fighter inside and outside the ring," Pacquiao said in a live-streamed speech during the national assembly of the faction he leads in the PDP-Laban Party. "I am accepting your nomination as candidate for president of the Republic of the Philippines."

Juju Z. Baluyot is a Manila-based writer who has written in-depth special reports, news features, and opinion-editorial pieces for a wide range of publications in the Philippines. He covers societies, cultures, and gender.

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