To celebrate the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s 35th anniversary, here are 35 things that made us smile (laugh, even) and warmed our hearts in what has been a very challenging year. May they make you smile and warm your hearts, too.
And here’s another reason to smile—there are so many positive stories from this year that we actually had a hard time cutting the list down to 35.
Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz’s Instagram Live moment. It was the Popoy and Basha sequel we needed. It turned out to be Antoinette Jadaone’s Unconfined Cinema project, but there’s a part of us that still wants to believe some parts of that conversation were real. And we have Alonzo’s permission. She said to us recently, “Believe what you want to believe.”
Jeremy Cohen and Tori Cignarella’s quarantine meet-cute. Craving social interaction, Cohen, a New York-based photographer, flew his drone from his balcony to Cignarella’s rooftop to give her his number. Since then, the two have been on multiple creative (and socially distant) dates. The story continues—they even spent Thanksgiving together.
Cobibe, the balut who became someone’s accidental pet. Alex Lapa told Twitter about how her aunt bought balut from her suki and because she didn’t cook it right away, the egg hatched. “Long story short, she accidentally has a new pet,” Lapa wrote.
Mari and Harold, the couple who celebrated their wedding anniversary in Animal Crossing. When the pandemic prevented the couple from celebrating in the traditional way, they decided to do it in-game instead. Mari invited Harold to her island and the two had a lovely date, which Harold later shared in a YouTube video set to the Beach Boys song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.”
#FrontlineFeedersPH and so many others making sure the front-liners had fuel by keeping them well-fed.
Swimsuit designer Domz Ramos made face masks that he handed out to hospitals and to nuns. Mich Dulce and other designers forming the Manila Protective Gear Sewing Club to make personal protective equipment for front-liners.
#KawaPilipinas working through the pandemic and the calamities to feed the hungry. Plus the donors celebrating their birthdays by donating to #KawaPilipinas so they can feed more people.
Vico Sotto’s reaction to someone’s thirst trap Zoom background. An online forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines with Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto was interrupted when someone’s Zoom background flashed on screen showing a really fit naked guy sitting behind a glass desk, a strategically placed clipboard covering his privates. The image made Sotto pause mid-sentence. You could see the confusion on his face. He stuttered. But he was flustered for only a second and, stifling a chuckle, he continued talking. People couldn’t stop laughing at the clip, which went viral. The next day, Sotto tweeted about another Zoom meeting he had: “P.S. Thankfully, this Zoom conference, walang participant na nag-background ng naka-BOLD.”
Actors Angel Locsin, Bela Padilla, Bea Alonzo, Maine Mendoza and the many others who used their fame for good. They shared their blessings, raised funds, distributed pandemic necessities, food and relief to those who needed them. Current and former student athletes like Jia Morado, Ara Galang, Nicole Tiamzon, Brent Paraiso, Renzo Subido and Kara Acevedo donating their jerseys for online auctions to raise funds for front-liners and communities in need.
Daughter surprises mom by following instructions from her dad’s email, which she received 10 months after his death. He had written: “Alyssa, follow my instructions in this e-mail completely and carefully. I am sending this to you in the off chance that I’m not in my right mind or worse, gone. I hope not.” In the email, he told Aly Mendoza how to throw a celebration for her parents’ 25th anniversary. “The email also contained a letter that he wrote for my mom which had all the words she needed to hear from him to be okay. He literally thought of everything to make his great love feel all his love,” Mendoza posted. This story made us smile, but it made us cry, too.
Those who opened their doors to health workers and to the homeless. Condo owners, Airbnb unit owners and schools like St. Paul University Manila, the University of Santo Tomas, La Salle Greenhills, De La Salle University and the College of St. Benilde, Nazarene Catholic School, FEU Alabang, Malate Catholic High School, Espiritu Santo Parochial Schools, Holy Trinity Academy and Paco Catholic School.
Various fandoms using their numbers and their power for good. Like K-pop fan groups who launched initiatives inspired by their idols.
People who used their tech know-how to pitch in. Martin Gomez and his former students from Xavier who created Dashboard Philippines, and Don Bosco Technical College alumni and students developing low-cost ventilators are just two of the many examples.
Facebook introducing the “care” button. It’s been our way of giving people the hugs we couldn’t. Coffee shops like Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf giving free coffee to health workers. Chris Evans’ response to his leaked nude photo. The actor accidentally shared a nude pic on Instagram and naturally, Twitter exploded. Plenty of fans—and even some members of “The Avengers”—assembled to protect Evans, but the actor showed that he didn’t need protecting. He tweeted, “Now that I have your attention… VOTE Nov 3rd!!!” Great move, Captain America.
How San Miguel Corp. produced alcohol round-the-clock in the early days of pandemic when there was a shortage. The company donated at least 30,000 liters to hospitals, local government units, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Health and other institutions.
Sixteen-year-old Marcus Chu printing plastic face shield bands using his 3D printer. His family donated the face shields to four hospitals in Manila.
Graduates of La Salle and Ateneo set aside their rivalry to raise P10.5 million for communities in need through Bayanihan Musikahan.
Companies and bosses taking care of their employees. Like Kent Taylor, the CEO of Texas Roadhouse, who gave up his salary and bonus to pay his workers during the pandemic, or how marketing firm Organic Intelligence has a mandatory monthly mental health day for its employees.
The volunteers of #RockEdCarpool who provided rides for health workers. JAC Liner provided free shuttle services for health workers as well while Adamson University let their buses be used to take health workers to and from hospitals.
McDonald’s turned their party rooms into classrooms that teachers can use for distance learning classes. Ateneo’s Rizal Library also lent Wi-Fi devices with load to undergraduate and graduate students who needed access for online learning.
Actor John Krasinski launching “Some Good News.” The YouTube show he produced from his home meant to bring people a dose of much-needed good news during the pandemic.
Life Cycles PH. Its donors and volunteers lent bikes to doctors, nurses and other essential workers so they can get to work despite the lockdown. Some people also lent their cars.
Musicians using their talent to help those in need despite being affected by the pandemic themselves. Ryan Cayabyab’s free concert series featuring different artists and Ben&Ben’s multiple efforts are just a couple of examples.
British School Manila’s Winston magazine. It collaborated with other school publications—International School Manila’s Bamboo Telegraph, Xavier School’s Stallion and Beacon Academy’s BA Publications—to produce “Alab ng Puso,” a book of artwork, stories, interviews and poetry about the pandemic.
The companies and people who realized how important it is to focus not just on everyone’s physical health but also their mental health during the pandemic. UP Diliman Psychological Services offers free telepsychotherapy services for health workers, HopeLab@DLSU launched #GPULSECOVID19, Globe Telecom’s series of #StartANew- Day webinars with Inquirer and their support to various helplines.
The banana vendor who told journalist Alma-Anonas Carpio that he refused to raise his prices to help those who are hungry. “Kahit dito lang aambag ako,” he said. “Masakit ang mataas na presyo sa panahon na ganito.”
Roel Cruz, a restaurant owner who couldn’t afford public transportation when he was going to school, gives students free rides to Bulacan State University.
People who shared their knowledge for free to keep people busy during the pandemic. Like Robert Alejandro, who taught drawing classes, and Chloe Flower, who gave piano lessons online.
Gubat QC. A restaurant in Quezon City uses tricycles for food delivery to give tricycle drivers a chance to earn money during the lockdown.
There’s nothing purer than Mary Grace Escober, the 9-year-old girl from Bacolod City, who celebrated getting two subscribers on YouTube. Her post went viral and she now has over 200,000 subscribers on the platform.
Velcher Castillo, the teacher who responded with compassion when his student submitted schoolwork with the note: “Sir, wala po akong pambili ng Crayola sorry po.” Castillo gave the student a box of crayons with the message, “Don’t be sorry, nak. I understand you. Keep up the good work!”
People thanking frontliners in different ways—by applauding for them through the windows of their homes, honking their horns, sending messages and more.
Dogdog, the stray dog, now a viral star, that snuck into Vista Mall Taguig to chill, is now part of the mall’s security team. INQ