Written by Bam Alegre
The year 2015 was a bittersweet year for SubSelfie.com for farewells and welcomes, all in the context of the news events that are happening around us. We wrote 53 articles during this year starting with Apple’s goodbye letter for the newscast News to Go where she worked as a news writer and producer. Also in January, GMA News reporter Lia Manalac del Castillo shared her hardships during her almost 10-month pregnancy. She was able to deliver a healthy baby girl.
Slowly but surely, our team started to expand our horizons beyond the newsroom. Sophia shared her colorful travel in South Korea while Lian discussed the idea that We Are the Yayas of the World — months before the Philippines would be captivated by a certain Yaya Dub. This was Lian’s tribute to her mother who worked as a maid in the United Kingdom.
But the news that really matter in the lives of Filipinos will always remain here in our own soil. The death of the SAF 44 and other civilians in Maguindanao gripped the entire nation in shock and confusion. I covered this story for my news work and I wrote a profile of the fallen officers of Oplan Exodus. It turns out that they were all young and grew up in the 90s. This article became one of our most read entries in the blog with a readership of over 30,000 views. GMA News documentarist and pillar Howie Severino even wrote two guest articles about this bloody encounter. One was about how the PNP can honor the SAF 44 as a chance for their redemption. The other was about his I-Witness experience in Mamasapano and the beauty of its hidden music.
The month of February gave its sweet sensitivities to all of us and we started it with Toni’s Filipino translation of the romantic poem If You Forget Me by Pablo Neruda. My friend and UP BroadGuild orgmate Antoinette Jadaone provided us with a short, sweet and funny guest blog entitled Hinagpis ng Isang Babaeng Iniwan na Nga, Ipinagpalit Pa sa Pangit. It’s a sneak peek of the genius that made Jadaone successful as the director of That Thing Called Tadhana, the TV series On the Wings of Love and many more Star Cinema masterpieces that you may have loved.
In line with the month of love, we posted with a heavy heart the farewell letter and announcement of GMA News reporter Claire Delfin that she is bidding goodbye to her 15-year romance with news. As an apt follow-up, Dawnavie wrote The Art of Moving On. But we ended on a high note with a hilarious guest blog post — an up-close-and-personal red carpet perspective of the 2015 Oscars from director Ron Genato.
We opened March with an update about the victims of the Zamboanga siege who are still living in evacuation centers, two years after the incident. Another guest blogger, George Gamayo of Panahon TV, made a contrast about how quickly Sendai, Japan recovered after the 2011 tsunami. And then Sophia capped off the month with two more articles about her travels — this time in her hometown of Batanes. One was about the tales of her Ivatan grandmother and the other was a survival guide of places to visit when in the northernmost province of the Philippines.
The month of April continued our wanderlust as our team visited more places through our articles. Apple discussed India in the context of the controversial gang rape case there and how there seems to be a culture where the rape victim is blamed. Then we received a guest article that came all the way from the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Environmentalist Eric Bangad wrote about his adventures aboard a ship that was on its way to the Arctic Region. They were chasing an oil driller as a sign of protest.
But where else is the best place to gauge the impact of climate change but here in the Philippines? Lian writes about Bantayan Island in Cebu, one of the places where super typhoon Yolanda made its landfall. After a few days, another catastrophe filled the headlines of the world — a powerful earthquake shook Nepal and left many people dead. A Nepalese journalist, Bhuwan KC, was able to write us a guest blog post a few days after the tragedy.
Things got busy for us during the month of May. But we returned to action for June, starting with Edma’s take on the last minute miracle that was Mary Jane Veloso’s reprieve from death penalty. Lian then followed it up with her thoughts on why she’s quitting the dating app Tinder.
For Father’s Day, Apple wrote a short but sweet tribute for his dad. Toni also shared his birthday thoughts about material wealth in the article Sa Aking mga Kababata. We ended the month on a winning note after half of the co-authors of the site won their pending case.
We started July with Dawnavie’s piece on her reasons why she sued a certain company. Then Lian started another set of articles to negate those who believe that there is no such thing as forever. Her #MayForever series started with the love story of two travel bloggers. She then capped it off with two scientists who fell in love to build a nation.
It was in the month of August when SubSelfie.com started a series of articles about Mindanao under the umbrella of #TanawMindanao. Guest blogger Joan Cordero followed up our Zamboanga siege piece with an article about Muslim orphans. Sophia then wrote about the lumads of Davao del Sur who are students without a school. Another guest author Joshua Dalupang wrote about the tourist attractions of Zamboanga City, proving that there is more to this place than just war.
For our Buwan ng Wika special, Toni wrote the thought provoking piece Ispokening Dollar: Weird Affectation sa Wikang Ingles. Sophia, who was on a roll, finished another article about the status of the rebuilding efforts after super typhoon Yolanda — if there was any.
Guest author Paola Ceriola shared her experiences about volunteering for our marine resources, even though she was afraid of water. And to end the month of August, I wrote a simple reminder about the difference between decency and cyberbullying, in light of the aftermath of the INC street protests in EDSA.
In September, Lian wrote about the plight of the murdered lumads in Surigao del Sur. She compiled all available information about the sketchy details of the incident and it trended in social media. Spearheaded by the hashtag #StopLumadKillings, SubSelfie.com helped raise awareness about our marginalized indigenous groups in Mindanao. Lian followed up on the issue by launching our first ever video blog — SubStory.
We also welcomed in September a new author — JM Nualla of CNN Philippines (and formerly of GMA News). He also took the mantle as the head of our social media wing. For his first offering, JM wrote about what happened to the Umbrella Revolution of Hong Kong and its street protests that dominated the headlines of Asia.
For October, Lian wrote a fitting tribute for Visayas and Mindanao. Sophia was in Ankara, Turkey and during her first day there, a terrorist bombing happened. Just in time too for Halloween, Apple made an article about her travel to Siquijor with Solenn Heusaff.
It was also my birthday in October and I published a feature about two intelligent street vendors I met during one of my news coverage.
We spent the last months of 2015 preparing for the historic climate change talks in Paris. But first we had a wave of guest bloggers. JM Lago of Habitat for Humanity shared his experience with the development sector when they helped provide homes for the victims of typhoon Yolanda. Science journalist Shai Panela wrote about her full time commitment as a freelancer and how it has both perks and downsides. News reporter Mav Gonzales retold her first time travel to New York City with the People’s Champ, Manny Pacquiao.
During the visit of important world leaders in the Philippines, I also wrote a piece about the similarities of the APEC Summit and the popular AlDub Kalyeserye of Eat Bulaga. In December, we also welcomed a new author on SubSelfie.com — Ephraim Aguilar of GMA News — who wrote about the implications of the homicide verdict of Joseph Scott Pemberton on LGBT rights.
We transitioned to the Paris talks by discussing first the tragic terror attacks in France. Guest blogger Abigail Dy was in that country when it happened. Lian then wrote a primer about what to expect in Paris and how it will affect the suffering of ordinary Filipinos. Sophia then shared the unseen war of the Lumads against climate change. I profiled two Filipinos who attended the Paris Climate Change talks — Dingdong Dantes and A.G. Sano — while a resurgent Justin Joyas summed up the results of the Paris Agreement and its implications to the people of the world.
And so we bid farewell to 2015 with smiles on our faces. Thank you for your continued readership. We value your patronage and thus we will start 2016 with a new look and a stronger drive to write more meaningful articles for all of you. Cheers and happy new year!