The year 2017 was, without a doubt, an eventful one for the country. The local Twitterverse, too, had no time to chill as issues, as well as its corresponding keywords and hashtags, trended one after another. However, there were clear standouts that left us raising our brows, scratching our heads, crying our eyes out, and flipping out in anger.
In no particular order, here are ten Twitter trends that shookt us this 2017:
“The old Marlou can’t come to the phone right now. Why? ‘Cause he’s dead,” or at least his name and face are. Much like Taylor Swift’s brave new sound, Marlou Arisala, now known as Xander Ford, shocked everyone with his new looks after undergoing a cosmetic surgery. His chiseled jaw, brand new nose, and lighter skin revealed in a Sunday magazine show had everyone talking. The hashtags #MarlouIsDead and #XanderFord went as high as the second spot on the worldwide trends list.
When asked why he decided to go under the knife, Ford said cyber-bullying motivated him. “People never really liked me for who I am, because I was never what they wanted me to be,” he said in his now famous post. While there were others who expressed support for his transformation, others still mocked him for it. His much-publicized move, however, opened up a discussion about online hate culture and the persistent stigma of cosmetic surgery.
2. #JusticeFor Kian
"Wala kang dapat ikatakot kung hindi ka kriminal."
Kian Loyd Delos Santos, tinakot, pinatay, HINDI KRIMINAL. #JusticeForKian
— Demontita Of Manila (@mrsunlawyer) August 18, 2017
Ever since the current administration waged its war against illegal drugs, the number of “deaths under investigation” has ballooned. One of its youngest victims included Kian Loyd Delos Santos, a 17-year-old who died at the hands of Caloocan police’s ‘one time, big time’ drug operation in Manila. A CCTV camera captured the moment he was dragged by armed plain-clothes police officers, the last time the teen was seen alive. His death amassed public condemnation and criticism of police and government authorities. This provoked the Twitter campaign #JusticeForKian. Witnesses have since testified that Kian was just closing down their family shop when he was taken to a dark corner, given a gun, told to fire it, and run. Kian was known as a good and obedient son in the community, and he had even dreamed of becoming a policeman someday.
3. Mocha Uson
The past year was undeniably a big one for blogger-entertainer Mocha Uson. It was so big that multiple hashtags supporting and defying her shot to the top of the local trends list. Early in March, the #MochaUsonIsOverParty trended following the suspension of Uson’s Twitter account, @MochaUsonBlog. She accused the “yellows” of reporting her account to the social media platform’s management.
Upon her Twitter return 12 hours later, more hashtag parties came. She called on her supporters to tweet with#DDSpartyparty and #AyawSaDilaw. Even the official MMDA Twitter account congratulated Mocha for her online reinstatement, to which she replied with, “Maram.” What seemed like an honest mistake (perhaps she was trying to thank MMDA), became a laughingstock among netizens who went crazy with puns and sarcasm.
Two months later, Uson was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the Assistant Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO). Netizens fumed with anger, citing that their taxes are paying for the monthly salary of P106,000 for someone who is “incompetent for the job” and who is a reported “fake news peddler”.
Public outrage reached fever pitch in August when Uson committed yet again another blunder, falsely citing an article by the Inquirer published a year ago while challenging Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Antonio Trillanes III, and Sen. Risa Hontiveros in a tweet to visit the wake of a slain cop. The three were among those who visited the 17-year-old drug victim Kian delos Santos’ wake. The hashtag #FireMocha called for the removal of Uson as PCOO Assistant Secretary. PCOO secretary Martin Andanar and the president himself, however, has so far expressed unwavering confidence in Uson’s public service.
Just like most of his speeches, everyone expected a lengthy and rant-filled second State of the Nation Address from President Rodrigo Duterte. On July 24, millions of Filipinos spent roughly two hours glued to the television, listening to how the war on drugs will continue to be unrelenting, how death penalty suits the Philippines, how the temporary restraining order on contraceptive implants should be lifted, among many other issues.
What surprised most Filipinos, however, is when he faced protesters outside the Batasan Pambansa right after he finished his speech. He asked them to be more understanding of the difficulty of his role heading the country. He tried explaining why Martial Law was implemented in Mindanao and that the peace negotiations in the region are still not over. He remains the only other Philippine leader apart from former president Fidel Ramos to attempt interaction with protesters.
I may not know you, Horacio, but I will pray for your soul and I hope you get the justice you deserve… rest in peace #JusticeForHoracio
— Chae lin (@chaeeelinnn) September 18, 2017
Horacio “Atio” Castillo first made headlines as a 5-year-old who, along with family members, survived a fire that gutted their home. Seventeen years later, he was back solo under national spotlight after he was killed in a suspected hazing ceremony of the Aegis Juris Fraternity. Soon after the news broke out, the public demanded justice for the 22-year-old freshman law student, prompting the campaign #JusticeForHoracio. Netizens expressed sorrow over Castillo’s death and anger towards members of AJF, who at the time, have deactivated their social media accounts or have already fled the country.
AJF member John Paul Solano later revealed details of the hazing activity. A televised hearing showed officials and members of AJF carefully answering (and evading) questions from senators in front of Atio’s grieving parents.
In an unbelievable turn of events, majority of the House of Representatives voted in favor of giving the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) with a measly P1,000 budget for 2018. Netizens were so appalled and eager to show the absurdity of the decision that they started comparing the budget to several items using the hashtag #CHRBudgetCheaper. CHR Chairman Chito Gascon, who was accused by presidential chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo for being “selective” in his condemnation of human rights violations, most likely in the administration’s drug war, later extended his gratitude for all the supporters following the decision. The whole ordeal, however, was seen as a reflection of how the government values the rights Filipino people — only a thousand pesos.
Young businessman Xian Gaza’s level of being extra initially charmed hearts all over social media after he paid for a billboard in Manila to ask actress Erich Gonzales out for coffee. The huge sign starts off with a play of words, “I can’t even espresso how much I like you a latte,” and is followed up by a plea, “Will you… drink coffee with me?” along with hashtags #CoffeeWithErich and #PleaseSayYesErich. These quickly shot to the top of the local Twitter trends list. However, when Gaza started posting even grander items to give Erich such as high-end beauty items, the Twitterverse started feeling the creeps. The unusual gestures put a lot of pressure on Erich who in case declines his invitation, might be painted as a cruel and ungrateful person. While Gaza met Erich once for a photo, that still qualifies him as a stranger, making these gestures all the more strange. As is the way of the Internet and persistent netizens, several people claimed that they had been scammed by Gaza. While the actress said she appreciated the gesture, she became uncomfortable after reading the businessman’s lengthy social media posts and decided not to meet him. With virtually zero brownie points, coffee, or even tea, with Erich never happened.
8. PNA Article Gaffes
The Philippine News Agency probably dreamed a dream in times gone by that they forgot to remove editors’ notes on story titles. Lei, and her fellow writers, must have felt as miserable as Fantine after their works and the instructed corrections were left unnoticed for months in the agency’s website. When multiple screenshots made its rounds online, the blunders quickly went viral. Netizens and their witty ways dubbed the latest gaffe as the local “Lei Miserables”. Just a month earlier, PNA also erroneously used a Dole Food Company logo for a Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) story on pay rules it has issued for the holidays. PCOO Undersecretary Joel Egco later asked the public to “bear with us” while reassuring that the “negligence, incompetence, or even sabotage” will be “dealt with accordingly.” It was a gaffe-filled 2017 for PNA (and, er, PCOO) but nevertheless, it was a harsh wake-up call and hopefully, a beneficial learning experience.
9. Isabelle Duterte
When a venue as grand as Malacanang palace is the backdrop for a pre-debut photo shoot, combined with designer gowns and a team of sought-after image stylists, it’s bound to look – in the words of Youtube star Patrick Starr – snatched. Isabelle Duterte, the granddaughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, looked no less than a Disney princess in her viral photos. Some netizens, however, quickly raised the red flag as some photos show the teenage Duterte posing in front of the Presidential seal, which via Executive Order 310, is illegal. Many also put an approximate price tag to the clothes and accessories worn in her photos, which turns out to be quite a hefty amount. The funny ones also came out to ask with sarcasm if they, too, can hold their own photoshoots inside the palace. Isabelle Duterte has since turned her Twitter account to private.
Following problematic tourism campaigns released by the Department of Tourism such as the plagiarism-plagued Sights ad and the cringe-y Anak ad, netizens were more than enthusiastic to rave about Camiguin Tourism Office’s “No Words” video. Not only did it showcase the sights, offerings and beauty of the “Island of Fire and Ice,” it also “finally did it right.”