10 anniversaries Filipinos should remember in 2015
Pope Francis will be in Manila, Gilas Pilipinas has a new coach, and the race to Malacanang is about to heat up. Yes, there are many things to look forward to in 2015.
But it will also be a year for looking back. Here are 10 anniversaries to remember in the coming year:
- Hello Garci Scandal (10th anniversary)
A sitting president is caught on tape making it clear to the country’s election commissioner that she expects not just to win, but win big.
The “Hello Garci” scandal, which broke in 2005, marked the beginning of the end for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“So will I still lead by more than one M., overall?” a woman believed to be Arroyo is heard asking Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in what became the most infamous phone conversation in Philippine history. (It even got turned into a mobile phone ringtone.)
“More or less, it’s that advantage ma’am. … Pipilitin ho natin yan,” the elections official answers.
Arroyo later apologized though she didn’t really explain the calls in detail. The scandal destroyed what little credibility she had as president.
Still, while the “Hello Garci” fiasco certainly was an embarrassing gotcha moment involving a Philippine president, it pales in comparison with another scandal that also involved a president’s recorded voice.
- Ferdinand Marcos-Dovie Beams Sex Tape Scandal (45th Anniversary)
Dovie Beams was an American actress who starred in a biopic of President Ferdinand Marcos in the late 1960s. She eventually became his mistress. Unknown to Marcos, Beams apparently wanted to keep a record of their secret romance for posterity — or at least as insurance in case the Filipino chief executive turned against her. She hid a tape recorder underneath their bed and made recordings of their sexual encounters.
The Dovie Beams tapes, which came out in 1970, reportedly featured an intoxicated Marcos singing “Pamulinawen” and asking his mistress to perform oral sex on him.
It turned into a major scandal, needless to say, though the sordid affair didn’t derail Marcos’ plan to destroy Philippine democracy by setting up a dictatorship two years later.
- Pope John Paul II’s historic Philippine visit (20th anniversary)
Pope Francis is visiting the Philippines as the country also marks the 20th anniversary of one of the biggest gatherings for a Vatican leader. It happened in Manila in 1995 when Pope John Paul II led the celebration of World Youth Day. An estimated four million people attended the closing event, the biggest in the late pontiff’s reign.
- Philippine Basketball Association (40th anniversary)
Gilas Pilipinas’ fairly impressive run at the last FIBA World Cup showed the world just how serious Filipinos are at basketball. This year’s celebration of the PBA’s fortieth anniversary should underscore this even more.
- Manny Pacquiao’s first professional fight (20th anniversary)
Manny Pacquiao was 16 when he won his first professional fight, beating Edmund Enting Ignacio via decision in a four-round bout in 1995. He was then fighting as a light flyweight at 106 pounds. In YouTube videos of his early fights, Pacquiao is a skinny but aggressive teenager, already demonstrating the heart of a brilliant boxer who would go on to win titles in eight different divisions.
- Thrilla in Manila (40th anniversary)
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier met for the third and last time in Manila in October 1975. It was a landmark event for Filipinos of my generation. It was especially exciting for me: It took place at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao where I grew up. I sometimes still watch the fight, now remembered as one of the toughest for both fighters. In fact, Ali said of the fight, “It was like death. Closest thing to dying that I know of.”
- Escalante Massacre (30th Anniversary)
The coming year also marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most gruesome crimes of the Marcos dictatorship. In September 1985, Marcos’ security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters in Escalante, Negros Occidental, killing 20 people. Five months later, the dictator was kicked out of the country in the 1986 People Power uprising.
- La Tondena Strike (40th anniversary)
There were many other episodes of rebellion and defiance during the Marcos regime. The La Tondena Strike of 1975 is probably not one of the most widely known, but it was definitely one of the most significant.
The protest picket by around 500 workers was the first major labor strike since the declaration of martial law, an act of courage by a small group of Filipinos at a time of fear and silence.
And it worked.
The strike turned out to be a political turning point, sending a message to Filipinos that they don’t have to give in to fear. In fact, the La Tondena workers’ slogan, “Tama Na, Sobra, Welga Na,” would later be embraced by Cory Aquino and her supporters in the final showdown with the dictator.
- End of World War II (70th anniversary)
It will no doubt be a year to remember the end of the war that devastated the nation and the region many decades ago. Sadly, there are still unresolved issues from that conflict, including the ongoing quest for justice of comfort women abused by Japanese imperial forces and of Filipinos who fought with American forces fighting for equity rights as US military veterans.
10. End of the Philippine-American War (100th anniversary)
The Philippine-American War erupted in 1899 after U.S. forces stabbed Filipino revolutionaries in the back and turned the country into an American colony. U.S. President Theodore later declared the war over in July 1902. In fact, the Filipinos continued resisting American colonial rule for years after that declaration, turning to guerrilla warfare that lasted until around 1915.
There is one more anniversary I’d like to mention. The Philippine Daily Inquirer will mark its 30th year in 2015 after an incredible run.
Happy 30th Anniversary to the PDI family! And Happy New Year to all!
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