Disasters and scandals were the top Philippine stories in the first half of 2013. Detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles has now become a household name because of the pork barrel scam she allegedly masterminded and particularly due to claims that she stashed millions of pesos in cash from lawmakers' pork barrel in her own bathtub.


Couples Chito Miranda and Neri Naig and Wally Bayola and Yosh became synonymous with sex videos gone viral.


More disasters greeted the second half of the year – the Zamboanga crisis, the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Supertyphoon “Yolanda”.


The election of Pope Francis, the first Latin American head of the Catholic Church, Middle East unrest, China’s territorial disputes with its Asian neighbors, including the Philippines, and the deaths of Nelson Mandela and actor Paul Walker are just some the stories around the world that 2013 will be remembered for.


Yolanda: Filipino resiliency amid tragedy

By: Kristine Sabillo, Matikas Santos

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


On November 8, Supertyphoon Yolanda’s strong winds and deadly storm surges struck down a population already on its knees in poverty. The residents of Samar, Leyte and nearby provinces were shell shocked in grief as thousands lay dead on the streets.


Today, many of Eastern Visayas’ coastal areas lay barren, trees and structures reduced to rubble and debris. Residents recalled how large waves came and engulfed their houses, washing out whole communities. They remembered how strong winds ripped their roof apart and toppled trees. As the survivors struggled with the deaths of their loved ones, so did they struggle with the uncertainty of their future.


In Tacloban City, among the worst-hit by the supertyphoon, there was nothing left. People found themselves without a roof over their heads with neither food to eat nor clean water to drink. But worse than the physical destruction were the dreams and memories that were swept away by the storm surges spawned by Yolanda, only to be replaced by death and despair.


And yet despite the immense tragedy, many have expressed faith that the Filipinos will bounce back as they always have – from the 7.7 earthquake in 1990, the Pinatubo eruption in 1991 to Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009 and Tropical Storm “Sendong” in 2011.


CNN journalist Anderson Cooper in his coverage of Yolanda in Tacloban City, Leyte said it best when he paid tribute to the Filipinos for their “strength” and for “showing us how to live”.





Napoles and the pork barrel scam

By: Maila Ager, Tetch Torres-Tupas

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


Janet Lim-Napoles and the pork barrel scam were like bombs waiting to explode.


And when they did, the impact spread through the corridors of power with the executive and legislative branches taking the full brunt of the scandal.


An investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) led to the filing of plunder and other criminal cases before the Office of the Ombudsman against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and Ramon “Bong’ Revilla Jr.; incumbent and former congressmen; and  other  individuals involved  in the  alleged  anomalous disbursement of the lawmaker’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or “pork barrel”.


On November 7, many watched and listened to the much-anticipated appearance of Napoles, tagged as the alleged mastermind, in the Senate, which initiated its own investigation into controversy.


But Napoles stood her ground, leaving the Senate to decide whether to pursue the investigation or not.


But who really is Napoles? Does she have an influential backer? Why does she wield so much power? Is she really the mastermind behind the “pork” scam.


There can only be more questions.

Pacquiao, Smart Gilas regain pride for PH sports

By: Mark Giongco, Celest Flores

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


From the hardwood to the four corners of the ring, it was a year of comebacks in Philippine sports.


After nearly three decades of mediocrity on the stage of international basketball, the Philippine men's team -- Smart Gilas Pilipinas – showed that the Philippines still had it, finishing with a silver medal in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship last August before a hometown crowd.


It was a silver that glimmered like gold as the Philippines, longing for a trip back to the World stage where it hasn’t been on since 1986, booked a ticket to the 2014 World Cup of Basketball in Spain -- fittingly at the expense of long-time tormentor South Korea whom it defeated in the semifinals.


And like the Gilas Pilipinas squad, 2013 likewise served as a year of vindication for Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.


Coming off a winless 2012 campaign – losing to American Timothy Bradley in controversial fashion before absorbing a devastating defeat at the hands of Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth encounter – Pacquiao vowed a comeback, which came sooner than expected.



Hope through the cracks

By: Nestor Corrales,  Bong Lozada

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


Two months after the 7.2 earthquake jolted the Visayas, the region is still reeling from its effects.


Considered one of the deadliest in Philippine history, the earthquake in October killed hundreds, displaced thousands more, destroyed centuries-old churches and heritage sites and damaged homes, roads and bridges.


As a result, a state of calamity was declared in Bohol and Cebu, the most affected provinces, and what were once favourite tourist destinations in these areas became ghost towns.


Amid the rubble, however, the “Bayanihan spirit” for which Filipinos have been known for has emerged through the cracks and stories of victims helping fellow victims have been told repeatedly.



And while the earthquake may have hurt this part of the country, the Visayans remain hopeful that they can rebuild from the devastation towards better lives.

Internet heats up over showbiz sex scandals

By: Nestor Corrales,  Bong Lozada

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


Sex sells but sex scandals sell faster.


This past year saw three videos reach orgasmic proportions – Parokya ni Edgar vocalist Chito Miranda had two with starlet and girlfriend Neri Naig while comedian Wally Bayola had one, with partner and EB Babe dancer Yosh.


Miranda and Naig, a finalist in a television talent search, first burst into the scene in August when a video showing the couple engaging in steamy sex went viral. This was followed by a second video towards the end of the year just as Miranda announced that he was marrying Naig.


At about the same time the second Miranda-Naig video came out, one showing Bayola and Yosh was circulating the Internet, giving the singer and his ladylove a run for pageviews and click-throughs.


And while Miranda and Naig may just have a happy ending after all, it’s hard to say for Bayola and Yosh who have not been appearing in the daily noontime show “Eat Bulaga” where they are regulars since the scandal broke out. Bayola is married and has five children.

Quest for peace in Mindanao stalled yet again

By: Frances Mangosing, Julliane Love de Jesus

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


Two-hundred nineteen people were killed and 181 others were wounded in the three-week standoff in Zamboanga City. Also, over 10,000 homes were destroyed and 100,000 displaced by the firefight between government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front forces led by its founding chairman Nur Misuari.


Of the death toll, 19 were soldiers, five policemen, 138 rebels, and 57 civilians. Wounded were 167 soldiers and 14 policemen.


The standoff paralyzed the city, prompting the United Nations to declare a “humanitarian crisis”.


More importantly, the quest for that elusive peace in Mindanao has been stalled yet again.


It all started when Misuari-led MNLF forces stormed Plaza Pershing to raise their flag September 9.


They attempted to declare a "Bangsamoro Republik" after feeling left out in the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a breakaway group from the MNLF.


The ground attacks were led by Misuari’s top commander, Habier Malik, who to this day, cannot be found.


As Zamboanga gets back on its feet, it is hoped that the search for peace in Mindanao would be back on track and end fighting permanently.




It’s the usual suspects for Senate, village polls in 2013

By: Maila Ager

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


The 2013 elections for the Senate and barangay (village), as in the past, were held not without the usual suspects – mudslinging, cheating, killings, and on the other end of the pole, entertainment.


 A highlight of this year’s senatorial polls was the word war between Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and his longtime rival, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.  Zubiri’s entry into the opposition’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial ticket prompted Pimentel to join the administration’s coalition Team PNoy.


Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who was then seeking re-election under the administration ticket, also hogged the limelight during the campaign but on a more personal note as the parents of his girlfriend, 28-year-old actress Heart Evangelista, publicly announced their disapproval of the relationship.


But Heart or no Heart, Escudero and eight of his fellow candidates in Team PNoy won against UNA who had three of its own making it to the “Magic 12”.


First-time senatorial bet Grace Poe of Team PNoy and daughter of the late Fernando Poe Jr. pulled a surprise when she topped the senatorial race, dislodging consistent No. 1, Senator Loren Legarda.


The barangay (village) elections last October though assessed as “generally peaceful” had its share of media spotlight due to the usual reports of election-related violence.


A third election, the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth elections) that was to have been held alongside the village polls on October 28, was postponed to allow the legislative branch to reform the youth council.


Beauties with pride and purpose

By: Julliane Love de Jesus

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


Megan Young


Filipinas have been known to be among the most beautiful women in the world.


Proof is the Philippines’ winning tradition in beauty pageants.


To date, two Filipinas have won Miss Universe, two for Miss International and several more in other beauty contests.


This year has been no exception if not even special as for the first time, a Filipina bagged the Miss World title. Her name – Megan Young.


Mutya Johanna Datul


Aside from the big three – Miss Universe, Miss International and Miss World, other beauty pageants have emerged over the years, one of which is Miss Supranational.


This year, Mutya Johanna Datul did her country proud by claiming the title over 82 other contestants.




Ariella Arida


When Venus Raj, Shamcey Supsup, and Janin Tugonon placed fourth, third and first runner-up respectively in the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Miss Universe pageants, expectations were high for Ariella Arida to equal if not surpass her predecessors.


Although Arida did not win the crown, her fourth place finish provided some respite for her countrymen devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).



The world in 2013 according to a Pope, China, and the Mideast

By: Matikas Santos

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


The election of Pope Francis, the first pope to come from Latin America, the emerging dominance of China in political affairs, and the ongoing unrest in the Middle East were among the stories that hogged the world headlines.


China wasted no time in trying to assert its ownership over the West Philippine Sea and other perceived territories in Asia at the start of 2013, rattling its saber by sending warships to the disputed islands. The Philippines has raised the issue in the world court and has been assured protection by its No. 1 ally, the US.


In February, the world was taken by surprise at the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the subsequent election of the first Latin American Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio who chose the name Francis. The 266th Pope of the Catholic Church, Francis made waves for his decisions to not follow formal traditions such as choosing to live in the Vatican guesthouse instead of the official Papal residence and shunning extravagance. For his new approach in leading the church, Time Magazine chose Francis as 2013 Person of the Year.


The unrest in the Middle East has directly affected Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the region as countries there have been gripped by political instability.


Egypt was placed under crisis alert level 3 in August after the government declared a state of emergency due to escalating violence from supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. Yemen was also placed under crisis alert level 3 in December due to a suicide attack that killed 52 medical workers, seven of whom were Filipinos, in a hospital inside the Defense Ministry complex.


Saudi Arabia, which has the second highest number of OFWs, strictly implemented its Saudization policy in 2013 after an amnesty for undocumented workers and overstaying foreigners lapsed in November.


But the year was not that bleak as Rogelio “Dondon” Lanuza who sat on death row for 13 years for killing a Saudi national was brought back home in September with the help of the Saudi Arabian king.



We Remember...

By: Kristine Angeli Sabillo

Videos:  Ryan Leagogo, Cathy Miranda, Noy Morcoso, INQUIRER Photos; AFP, AP

Photos: INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer, AFP, AP


Nelson Mandela

His death, at the age of 95, marked an end to a chapter in the history of South Africa where apartheid or the rule of the white minority over blacks once reigned and which Mandela had fought against. Succumbing to an illness last December 5, the first black president of South Africa and former political prisoner was hailed by people around the world for his role in uniting his country.


Paul Walker

Less than a week before Mandela passed away, people were shocked at the tragic car accident that killed The Fast and the Furious actor. Filipinos grieved for the 40-year old Walker, especially after learning that he was vigorously raising funds and assistance for survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan).


Cory Monteith

The untimely death of Glee’s lead actor in July saddened the younger generation. Many regretted the promising actor’s death, at the age of 31, caused by a toxic “mix of heroin and alcohol,” especially after he had been proactively struggling against drug abuse.




Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher, 87, suffered a stroke on April 8. Reactions to the Iron Lady’s death was wide-ranging, from praises for her uncompromising political and economic leadership to celebrations of her demise by those most affected by her policies – mining communities, unionists and Leftist groups.



Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

The controversial anti-US president died on March 5 after battling cancer and suffering a heart attack. Socialists, especially in Latin America, revered the 58-year old populist leader.





Vo Nguyen Giap

The Red Napoleon of Vietnam died on October 4 at the remarkable age of 102. He was most known as the general who defeated France and the United States in various battles.


In the Philippines . . .


June Keithley-Castro

The voice of Radyo Bandido during the 1986 EDSA Revolution lost her battle against breast cancer on November 24. She was 66 years old. She was an actress and a television host but what made her a heroine were her broadcasts over the radio calling for People Power.






Fr. Joe Dizon

The rebel priest died of lung and kidney complications on November 4. He was 65. He fought against Martial Law and devoted his life to what he called the “Church of the Poor.” The progressive priest was praised even in death when he asked for a poor man’s burial






Former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa

Narvasa, 84, died in October 31. The Palace hailed him for playing a key role in the prosecution of the late Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.’s assassins as the general counsel of the Agrava Commission.


Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III

The sultan died of organ failure on October 20, just months after his assertion of the Philippine claim on Sabah, resulting in a standoff between his men and Malaysian forces. Before his death, Kiram ordered his followers to pursue their historic claim on the territory.





The victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” and other natural and man-made disasters in 2013.


Considered the strongest typhoon in history to hit land, Yolanda left in its wake almost 6,000 dead, thousands more injured and displaced and billions of pesos worth of damaged infrastructure and crops. Before this, thousands were affected by the three-week standoff between the military and the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City and in the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol.



Your thoughts on INQUIRER.net's Yearend Special 2013

As 2013 ends, there are stories that won’t be forgotten: Napoles may have brought out the worst in Philippine politics but the expose has made Filipinos more aware and now vigilant in guarding against corruption and ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice.


The crisis in Zamboanga, the earthquake in Bohol, and Yolanda may have brought death and destruction but from these disasters sprang world compassion and admiration for the resilient Filipinos.


He may have gone too soon but actor Paul Walker will always have a special place in the hearts of Yolanda victims.


And then there is Nelson Mandela whose life of struggle, sacrifice and strength will always be an inspiration to us and to the rest of the world.