Published: December 30, 2020 | Updated: December 31, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Lifestyle
Ah, 2020. What a roller-coaster ride it has been—a year chock-full of surprises, uncertainties, and challenges. With all the things that happened in 2020, people are already looking forward to what lies ahead next year.
But before moving on to 2021, it’s still worth looking back on the year that was. Moneymax lists the 20 events of 2020—both in the Philippines and around the world—that made the biggest impact on the lives of Filipinos.
Table of Contents
2020 began with the devastating news about the eruption of Taal Volcano on January 12, its first major one in 43 years, which led to ashfall over Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and surrounding areas.
The blast affected more than 700,000 people and caused an estimated PHP 4.3 billion worth of damage to agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, and service sectors. Because of these, the Calabarzon region was placed under a state of calamity on February 21.
The world grieved when NBA legend Kobe Bryant died, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, in a helicopter crash in California on January 26. The tragic death of the retired Los Angeles Lakers player shocked millions of fans worldwide.
Tributes to the beloved Black Mamba poured in. Among the most striking ones is a huge mural of Kobe and Gianna made by Filipino visual artists on a basketball court at Taguig Tenement.
No doubt about it, the coronavirus pandemic has been one of the most significant events of 2020.
Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 80 million and has killed over 1 million people, based on data from Johns Hopkins University. In the Philippines, the number of confirmed cases has reached almost half a million with over 9,000 death toll (as of this writing), according to the Department of Health (DOH).
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern on January 30. Locally, President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of public health emergency on March 9 and a state of calamity a week later due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.
On March 17, Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine that required everyone to stay at home and most businesses to shut down. Since then, wearing face masks and social distancing have become a way of life. As of December 2020, Metro Manila remains under a more relaxed general community quarantine—considered one of the world’s longest-running lockdowns.
In response to the widespread economic and social impact of the pandemic, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act was signed into law on March 25, providing special powers to the President to address the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. A second pandemic relief measure, the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, was enacted on September 11.
Related article: If I Get COVID-19, How Much Do I Need to Pay?
As the pandemic put a halt to economic activities worldwide, both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund forecasted that global economies would shrink by 4.4% to 5.2% in 2020. The World Bank even noted that it would be the deepest recession since World War II.
The Philippine economy was not spared, of course. Officially diving into recession, the country’s gross domestic product dropped by 16.5% during the second quarter of 2020—the biggest slump in almost 30 years. The industries that suffered the most were manufacturing, construction, and transportation and storage, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The recession had a domino effect, particularly on stock markets across the world. The Philippine stock market was no exception. On March 19, the Philippine Stock Exchange index plunged into 4,623.42 points, its worst decline in eight years. It has since recovered and is now at a 7,000+ level.
With COVID-19 quarantine restrictions shutting down thousands of businesses came another problem: loss of jobs.
The unemployment rate in the Philippines peaked at 17.7% in April, with all regions posting a double-digit rate, according to the PSA. The number has eased to 8.7% six months later with the gradual reopening of businesses, but this means 3.8 million Filipinos are still jobless.
North Korea may be miles away from the Philippines, but that didn’t stop the Filipinos’ curiosity about the country’s Supreme Leader.
Local Google searches for Kim Jong-un spiked around April when rumors about his death surfaced. The North Korean leader was the top-searched male personality and the sixth most searched query for the news category in the Philippines for 2020.
Speculations about Kim Jong-un’s health died down after photos of him attending a ribbon-cutting event were released in May.
Meralco customers got the shock of their lives upon receiving a high electricity bill for May. Numerous complaints got posted online, prompting Meralco to explain how it calculated electricity bills during the lockdown period. According to Meralco, there was an increased consumption in households, as quarantine protocols forced everyone to stay at home. The increased use of aircon and fans during the summer also contributed to higher electricity bills.
After the bill shock incident, the Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Meralco to pay a PHP 19 million fine for failure to clearly inform customers that their bills were just estimated during the lockdown when Meralco could not perform meter readings.
Meralco gave consumers the option to pay their Meralco bills in four monthly installments. The country’s largest power distributor also offered customers an extended grace period (until January 31, 2021) to settle their unpaid bills before their electricity gets disconnected.
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Filipinos are no stranger to natural disasters, with an average of 20 typhoons hitting the country every year. But what made the 2020 tragedies in the Philippines a lot different and more difficult than the past was that they coincided with the COVID-19 crisis. Social distancing is hard to implement when residents are packed in evacuation centers with limited capacities.
At least four typhoons had the biggest impact on lives and properties in the Philippines in 2020. (Note: Data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) disaster reports)
Among the events of 2020, the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden caught the interest of Filipinos the most.
In fact, “US election 2020” topped Google’s Year in Search 2020 Philippines. Interestingly, Filipinos searched for this term online more frequently than “coronavirus,” which took the third spot on the list.
Biden defeated re-electionist Trump on November 7, making him the 46th president of the United States. Another big news is that the US elected its first Black woman vice president, Kamala Harris.
2020 may seem to be the worst year ever. But we can’t disregard the good things that have happened. Positive events of 2020 deserve their own list, so here are the top 10 reasons to be thankful for in 2020.
The Salary Standardization Law of 2019, signed on January 8, granted yearly salary increases for 1.4 million government employees starting 2020 until 2023.
Amid the pandemic, nurses in public hospitals and government agencies finally got their well-deserved and long-overdue raise after their salary grades were upgraded one to two levels higher.
On February 17, President Duterte signed an executive order (Improving Access to Healthcare Through the Regulation of Prices in the Retail of Drugs and Medicines) that set a limit on the prices of 87 medicines for diabetes, major cancers, hypertension, heart disease, and other leading diseases.
The directive would reduce medicine prices by as much as 58%. This is beneficial for Filipinos because medicine prices in the Philippines are expensive, even notoriously higher than in developing countries.
The best hope for ending the pandemic is the development of vaccines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to Mayo Clinic. That hope isn’t too far-fetched now that a vaccine has already been developed in less than the year since the coronavirus broke out.
The world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccine was given on December 8 at a hospital in the UK. The historic day was also a proud moment for Filipinos, as the nurse that administered the shot, May Parsons, is a Filipina.
COVID-19 has adverse effects on public health and economies worldwide. On the flip side, it has some positive effects on the environment.
Most countries implemented strict lockdowns that restricted movements and slowed down social and economic activities. These resulted in improved air quality, reduced water pollution, and reduced human pressure on wildlife, among other benefits.
One of the most notable environmental effects of the pandemic was the 7% decline in global greenhouse gas emissions, the biggest drop ever recorded.
While the Philippines remains in recession, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas BSP cut key interest rates five times in 2020 to an all-time low of 2%. Through this move, the government hopes to speed up the country’s economic recovery.
For Filipino consumers, lower interest rates mean lower borrowing costs. For instance, the BSP set a credit card interest rate cap that required banks to lower their interest rates to 2% from the typical 3.5% starting November 3.
The Korean wave hit the Philippines long before the pandemic, starting with Korean dramas Autumn in My Heart and Winter Sonata in the early 2000s. During the lockdown, though, the Filipinos’ love for Korean TV series, movies, and pop music grew deeper. People stuck at home found a new source of K-entertainment through streaming apps like Netflix and Viu.
Korean dramas were mostly responsible for this, thanks to their engaging storytelling and unpredictable plots. Data from Google Trends show that in the Philippines, seven out of 10 most searched TV shows were K-dramas: Crash Landing on You, It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, Start-Up, Itaewon Class, The World of the Married, Backstreet Rookie, and The King: Eternal Monarch.
Korean stars instantly became household names. Hyun Bin, Kim Soo-yun, Seo Ye-ji, and Kim Go-eun were among the Filipinos’ top-searched personalities on Google in 2020.
During and despite the pandemic, Filipino athletes continue to make the Philippines proud by acing their respective international competitions.
Among the most notable wins in sports include Hidilyn Diaz’s three gold medals in the 2020 Weightlifting World Cup, Sander Severino winning first place in the first-ever International Physically Disabled Chess Association Online World Championship, and James De Los Santos’ gold medals in several e-karate competitions.
South Korea’s Parasite—a social satire about two families from different classes in Seoul—made history in the 92nd Academy Awards on February 9. The widely acclaimed film bagged the most Oscars awards, including Best Director, Original Screenplay, and International Feature Film. Topping it all off is its Best Picture win, the first time a non-English-language movie earned the prestigious award.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel won the PBA championship title in 2020 not just once but twice. The team snagged the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup on January 17 and the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup on December 9, sealing its 13th championship. For Pinoy basketball fans—particularly Barangay Ginebra fans—this is absolutely one of the good things that happened in 2020.
Filipinos found different ways to cope with the boredom and loneliness of self-isolation during the quarantine. Some people learned new hobbies, while others started earning money from home through online selling.
It’s the Dalgona Coffee trend that went abuzz on social media in 2020. “Dalgona Coffee” was the most-searched keyword in the Philippines for the how-to category. Moreover, many Filipinos searched online for information on how to make leche flan and pancakes.
2020 was also the year when social media-savvy Filipinos went crazy entertaining themselves through the video-sharing platform TikTok.
2020 is almost over! If you managed to survive this incredibly tough year, congratulations for making it through. Take the time to reflect on the events of 2020 in your life and learn its lessons, so you’ll come out stronger, wiser, and better in 2021.
Venus is the Head of Content at Moneymax, with 15+ years of experience in digital marketing, corporate communications, PR, and journalism. She invests in stocks, mutual funds, VUL, and Pag-IBIG MP2. Outside of work, she’s crazy about cats and Korean dramas. Follow Venus on LinkedIn.