2013: Ten citizens’ stories that moved us

We revisit on Move.PH the 10 most moving stories of challenges, heroes, and community engagement

MANILA, Philippines – They either inspired us or left us speechless and sad. One thing is certain, though: the stories of people and communities all moved us in 2013.

Here are 10 of them – challenges that made us close ranks, conversations that engaged us, tests that brought out the heroes in us:

1. Typhoon Yolanda

Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), one of the most powerful typhoons in the world in recent history, battered the Philippines on November 8. In its aftermath, stories of death and destruction inundated us, while tales of survivors and good samaritans inspired many of us to lend a hand.

One story in particular, of a mother in Tacloban trying to contact her daughters via social media, touched us deeply. There are countless other stories like this. Some have yet to be told.

2. Crowdsourced disaster response

Aside from Yolanda, a series of natural disasters – including Typhoon Maring, Typhoon Vinta, and the Bohol earthquake – hit the Philippines. During these moments of crisis, MovePH turned to our citizen journalists and readers to help report critical alerts.

You responded generously and helped us map where the earthquake was felt, where cell sites were down, where relief centers are, and where people needed rescue.

All these initiatives are now a part of Project Agos – a one-stop platform for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction and management (CCA-DRRM) – which Rappler launched at the 2013 PH+Social Good Summit on September 21.

3. Mark Joseph Solis

Graduate student Mark Joseph Solis bagged the top prize in a reputable photo contest by submitting a photo he did not own. His act of plagiarism was first spotted online and quickly spread on social media, drawing the ire of the online community.

Netizens did more sleuthing and found out the incident was not the first time he committed plagiarism. Solis later apologized and returned his reward.

The public condemnation and shame of Solis prompted a question online: When do you draw the line between freedom of expression and cyber bullying?

4. Defending Jeane Napoles

GRAMMY'S SHOPPING. Janet Lim-Napoles' daughter posted this photo on her blog, saying this will make up her outfit for the Grammy awards. Photo from Jeane Napoles' blog

The multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam involving Janet Lim Napoles led netizens to probe her family’s lifestyle. Her youngest daughter, Jeane Napoles, who liked to blog about fashion, celebrities, and the high life, drew particular attention and condemnation from the online community.

Most people were angered or annoyed that a young woman could flaunt her lavish lifestyle on foreign shores, while her mother was mired in a corruption scandal and could not explain their wealth back home – and, yes, while many of her fellow Filipinos lived in extreme poverty.

Yet there were a few who thought the young lady should not be readily condemned. One contributor, Chad Osorio, felt the need to air his defense of Jeane Napoles. Osorio appealed to the online community to hold off judgment against Jeane Napoles and the Napoles family, leaving most people annoyed.

5. Lesbians 101

Move continued to cover lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues in 2013. Different pride marches and debates were held to tackle issues, such as same sex marriage and gender equality.

In this particular story, Palanca-winning Rappler columnist Shakira Sison lists 101 things people should know about lesbians. Readers described the article as an “eye-opener” and a “breather,” among other things.

In her meet-up with her followers in September, Sison encouraged LGBTs to have the courage to stand up for their belief: “I want you to be brave…I mean the kind of bravery you feel in your chests when you’re reading something that empowers you or makes you feel like you don’t have to stay where you are or wait to be rescued or for what is handed to you.”

6. Five valedictorians in the family

Dr. Ronnie Enriquez Baticulon comes from a family of geniuses. He and 4 of his siblings are valedictorians. Baticulon humbly pays tribute to the dedication of their parents that fueled their passion for learning. 

Baticulan’s story is a testament to will power in the direst of circumstances. As Baticulon’s parents struggled to make ends meet, he and his siblings were made to understand the true value of an education. This was a lesson they did not take for granted.

7. Returning home to Smokey Mountain

WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERNCE. Manuel and fellow Smokey Mountain advocate Cecilia Martinez-Miranda playfully pose with children from the community. Photo by Mik Bjorkenstam

Manuel Manarang, inspired readers with his amazing story of breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger. While a scavenger in Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila, he worked his way through school and supported his family. With education as priority, he made sure that his own children would never have to scavenge a day in their lives.

He was given the opportunity to live and work abroad but his heart remained in Smokey Mountain. He chose to return to the community and now works in the non-profit Young Focus, where he helps give others a chance to break the cycle.

Manuel’s story is part of the #HungerProject – a platform that sparks meaningful conversation and informed action on hunger in the Philippines and around the world.

8. My billion-peso vote

This year, we elected public officials who will govern the country in the next 3 to 6 years. Coming on the heels of rampant vote buying and election violence, Tanya Hamada of INCITEGov reminded the public about why our votes matter.

She said our votes are worth more than a billion pesos. In electing candidates to office, we are assigning them the power of the purse or the responsibility to decide where P2 trillion of our tax money goes every year.

INCITEGov is one of the members of the Open Budget Partnership, which has partnered with Rappler to create the #BudgetWatch site to educate the public and encourage vigilance over how our lawmakers allocate public funds.  

9. Rappler’s Do More Awards

The Do More Awards was a campaign launched by Rappler in partnership with Rexona to recognize individuals who went the extra mile in their respective fields to foster change in society and challenge the status quo.

The campaign was entirely crowdsourced – Rappler asked readers to nominate real people they knew who embodied the Do More philosophy as a challenger, artist, innovator, luminary, social entrepreneur, civic hero, digital trailblazer, and global Pinoy.

The public voted online for 3 finalists in each category. A special panel of judges chose one ultimate doer from finalists in each category. They were recognized during the Do More Awards night on November 28.

Voted as The Artist was peace muralist AG Sañowho paints dolphin murals to advocate against the mass slaughter of some 20,000 dolphins in Japan every year. He also advocates helping children in conflict-ridden Mindanao. He has traveled in the area conducting art workshops and creating murals with locals.

All these inspired readers and challenged them to apply the Do More philosophy in their own lives.

10. Citizen journalists keep watch over elections

MovePH was busy in 2013 as we visited more than 6 campuses nationwide for our Move Chat Series. We talked about how social media can be a powerful tool for social change.

During these campus tours, we met some young aspiring journalists who wanted to be part of Move’s growing roster of citizen journalists. We gathered and trained them to become Rappler Ambassadors.

In #PHvote 2013 – Rappler’s comprehensive election coverage – our ambassadors proved their worth, filing campaign and poll stories from all over the country. They brought us to the campaign rallies and polling precincts, capturing the mood during elections. They moved us with their dedication and professionalism.

We look forward to meeting more Move citizen journalists in 2014! – with reports from Zak Yuson, Voltaire Tupaz, Buena Bernal, David Lozada, Mica Romulo, Raisa Serafica, Karen Liao, and Gen Cruz/Rappler.com

Tell us about the stories that moved you the most in the comments section below or Tweet us @MovePH

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