Recalling 2013

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Friday, January 3, 2014


HOW time flies – it’s 2014 now, and we can all start our year right – with our annual New Year date-writing confusion. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that one time of the year when you can’t remember what year it is and you type in “2013” in all your documents instead of “2014”. Don’t worry this happens to everyone. And just as it’s easy to forget what year we’re in, it’s also easy to forget all the interesting things that happened to us during the last year.

Here’s a recap:

January 17: The USS Guardian runs aground at Tubbataha Reef and damages 2,345 square meters of protected coral. The understandably upset Philippine government fines the United States P60 million, and the Americans apologized for their navigation error. Fortunately, there was no oil spill.

February 10: Lolong, the largest crocodile in captivity, dies. He was measured to be 6.17 meters long and weighed 1,075 kgs. For comparison, the new Honda Civic is 4.5 meters long and weighs 1,275 kgs Yes, this crocodile could be compared to a car.

February 28: Pope Benedict XVI resigns

March 13: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina takes his place as pope, naming himself Francis I.

April 15: The Boston Bombing. Two Chechen Muslim brothers set off a bomb at the Boston Marathon, killing three, injuring 264. America panics.

April 20: Going back to Tubbataha Reef, the Chinese hit it this time, with a boat full of Chinese poachers. Their cargo was 10,000 kgs of frozen pangolin meat. Since the pangolin is a rare and endangered animal, and the crew of 12 entered the country illegally, they were detained by the Philippine Coast Guard. Wanting to save themselves, the Chinese fishermen attempted to bribe Coast Guard officials. They are now being charged with attempted bribery as well.

May 9: The Philippine Coast Guard opened fire on an unarmed Taiwanese fishing vessel in waters that were shared by both countries. The Coast Guard says that the Taiwanese boat was trying to ram them. The Taiwanese say that’d be impossible, since their vessel was so much slower than a Coastguard PT boat. Homicide charges have been recommended against the offending Coast Guard crew, and violence broke out against Filipinos walking the streets of Taipei.

July 26: A bomb explodes in Limketkai Center, Cagayan De Oro City. Eight die, 48 are injured. No one claims responsibility, and no one is arrested. The Philippines does not panic. (See April 15)

August 5: A car bomb explodes in Cotabato City, killing eight and injuring 40. The Philippine people shrug it off and life goes on.

August 12: MNLF leader NurMisuari declares the independence of the Bangsamoro Republic. No nation recognizes it.

September 9: The Siege of Zamboanga City; rogue MNLF elements straight up invade Zamboanga and clash with elements of the Philippine armed forces. The MNLF separatists are decisively routed and the Bangsamoro Republic ceases to exist.

October 15: The Bohol earthquake. 144 people were killed and the landscape of Bohol changed forever.

November 7: Janet Lim Napoles faces the Senate and fails to convince anyone of her innocence.

November 8: Typhoon Haiyan, the world’s strongest typhoon, makes landfall and wipes whole cities off the map. The international community takes notice and aid starts pouring in from all around the world.

November 20: The pork barrel fund is abolished, Philippine politicians’ wallets shrink.

November 29: Emilio Aguinaldo’s order of presidency is called into question. The Manila City government passes a resolution urging the president to consider Andres Bonifacio as the first Philippine president.

December 14: The Chinese land on the moon with a lunar rover, surprisingly very few people care.

December 20: Assassins on motorcycles kill Mayor Ukol Talumpa of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur and his wife, together with two others, including an 18-month-old baby.

Looking back… 2013 didn’t seem like an awfully good year for the Philippines. Hopefully it’ll be better this year! After all, we’ve survived Yolanda (Haiyan) – the world’s strongest typhoon ever. What could possibly be worse than that?

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 04, 2014.

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