25 Dubious Achievements of 2009

Some "achievements" were more doubtful than others. We picked 25 of the most dubious ones of 2009.

2009 was not the Philippines' most lighthearted year: we were hit by two of the most damaging typhoons in recent memory, bid farewell to former President Corazon Aquino, saw 99 politicians filing certificates of candidacy for President for next year's elections, and numerous, seemingly never-ending scandals made us cringe.

This year also saw a Filipino become CNN's hero of the year and citizens helping each other amidst tragedy, one of whom became TIME's Top 10 Heroes of 2009.

But some "achievements" seem like they don't deserve to be called achievements at all. SPOT.ph picks the top 25:


1. Carlo J. Caparas is the National Artist for Visual Arts and Film.

The list of this year's recipients of the National Artist Awards raised questions about irregularities in the selection process, causing much furor and controversy among surprised citizens as well as renowned artists themselves. Among the appointed awardees, one of the most criticized was director Carlo J. Caparas, who was awarded the National Artist for Visual Arts and Film. His retort to the backlash? "I can draw!"

In response to protests, the Supreme Court blocked the conferment of the award to Caparas, National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, fashion designer Pitoy Moreno, and architect Bobby Mañosa, who were appointed directly by President Arroyo.


2. Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. champions women's rights, leads Senate inquiry on Hayden Kho's sex videos

Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. was a frontliner in the Senate inquiry on the sex video scandal involving Hayden Kho Jr. and various women. In a press statement dated October 22, 2009, he said: "Finding of probable cause against [Hayden Kho] is a step forward in our cause to protect women from abusive partners."

Revilla, however, remained silent when news broke of Deputy Security Adviser Chavit Singson allegedly beating up live-in girlfriend Che Tiongson.


3. The DSWD opens Pasay City warehouse to private citizens so they could help pack and move donated goods for typhoon victims

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) opened their Pasay City warehouse to volunteers who were willing to help pack and move the donated goods received from other countries. The move came after blogger Ella alleged that the DSWD was hoarding millions of pesos worth of donations to "Ondoy" and "Pepeng" typhoon victims.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV


4. Chavit Singson escapes battery charges for allegedly beating up common-law wife

Battery charges were filed by Rachel "Che" Tiongson against her partner, Deputy National Security Adviser Luis "Chavit" Singson, after he beat her–at times even using a whip for his pet tiger–upon allegedly discovering that she had cheated on him. But Malacañang said Singson would not be penalized with preventive suspension because the alleged "beating" reported by Tiongson is a domestic issue. The charges were later withdrawn and the couple reportedly agreed to an amicable settlement.

5. Catholic schools call for right to dismiss unwed mothers or employees

In September 2009, Catholic institutions sought exemption from the Magna Carta for Women, a law that protects unwed students or employees from disciplinary action. CEAP's national president, Monsignor Gerardo Santos, said: "It is important that we respect the religious affiliation of these institutions, the schools, or company the persons [concerned] belong to."

6. Kris Aquino shares the spotlight with her mother during former President Aquino's funeral

In her eulogy at former President Corazon Aquino's funeral, Kris Aquino turned the spotlight on herself with a teary-eyed speech, sharing that she was her father's favorite daughter: "For all my life, I would constantly hear mom tell everybody that I was the female Ninoy. I was truly my dad's daughter. Maybe that's why I always felt that I was mom's favorite."


7. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lives a jetsetter lifestyle during her term

As of September 10, 2009, Arroyo had traveled to 40 countries 111 times in 312 days. She spent P1.6 billion in excess of the allotted budget for trips abroad from 2003 to 2007, with the deficit taken from the national contingency fund. Saying that the foreign trips were necessary for "national security as well as the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)," she said: "I challenge my critics to see what happens if we withdraw our global engagement. Do we want less economic growth, less national security and less protection for OFWs?"


8. Presidential son Mikey Arroyo says he amassed his wealth from generous wedding and campaign donors

Pampanga Representative and Presidential son Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo's income rose from P5 million in 2002, to P76 million in 2005, to P99 million in 2008. Charged with graft by militant government workers at the Office of the Ombudsman on September 10, Ferdinand Gaite of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) says that "it is unacceptable that his assets more than tripled." Arroyo told TV anchor Solita Monsod on GMA-7's Unang Hirit that his wealth came from generous wedding and campaign donors.

9. Ampatuan Sr. to run for office despite family's entanglement with the Maguindanao massacre

Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Sr., the father and namesake of the prime suspect in the Maguindanao massacre, will run for the position of vice-governor of Maguindanao in the 2010 elections. Earlier expelled from the Lakas-Kampi party because of the Maguindanao massacre which killed at least 57 people, the elder Ampatuan will run as an independent candidate.


10. Richard Gutierrez saves Cristine Reyes from the wrath of Ondoy.

Almost like a scene from a movie, zooming through flood waters in a speedboat, the heartthrob actor searched high and low to save the starlet stranded on her rooftop after water rose to the second floor of her house in Provident Village, Marikina at the height of Typhoon Ondoy. Controversy surrounded the heroic move, with speculations that it was just a gimmick to promote Patient X, the movie the two were starring in, and Facebook posts from supposed Markina residents alleging that Gutierrez refused to help other stranded people along the way. Gutierrez's mother and manager Annabelle Rama was quick to defend her son, denying it was a gimmick or that he brought TV cameras with him to chronicle the rescue.


11. Presidential candidate Manny Villar gives away relief goods packed inside orange plastic bags bearing his name and bottled water featuring his face and name.

Villar's daughter Camille told PEP.ph that they used "whatever resources that were on hand" and denied that the Villar stickers on styrofoam containers came from them.


12. Hayden Kho Jr. goes pro-women.

About four months after the plastic surgeon's multiple sex videos surfaced, he became a women's rights advocate–a far cry from being a "pervert of the highest kind," as Sen. Bong Revilla put it.

13. Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez's Wedding of the Year spectacle.

Their much-awaited wedding rivaled the drama of teleseryes: Korina's ex and Mar's running mate as their wedding ninong, a mysterious moving white tent covering Korinaen route to the church until the Big Reveal, and society's who's who as guests, plus a TMI (Too Much Info)-filled transparent-via-Twitter honeymoon to boot. Romance and pizzazz…and lots of free publicity.


14. Presidential candidate Gibo Teodoro learns social media and reaches out to netizens.

In Lakas-Kampi-CMD's national convention, Teodoro tweeted away–even while he was delivering his speech. Since he clearly had no means to tweet while onstage, performance artist Carlos Celdran wondered how he did it: "Galing? Talino? Hiwaga? Wha?" Teodoro's staff, who admitted to tweeting his speech, got it right at the ANC Harapan debate; they immediately posted that they were the ones tweeting his answers.

15. Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao makes a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

We're pretty sure he was there to promote his fight with Miguel Cotto, but with him singing "Sometimes When We Touch," didn't it seem like he ended up promoting his…singing career?




16. Jinkee Pacquiao moves on from her husband Manny Pacquiao's alleged affair with leading lady Krista Ranillo.

We wonder what role the five-carat diamond ring, which Manny said meant Jinkee is the only woman for him, played in the moving on process. Then again, maybe the entire alleged affair was just a publicity circus for Manny and Krista's movie Wapakman.

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

17. Malacañang special advisor Jesus Dureza persuades Andal Ampatuan Jr., the suspected mastermind of the Maguindanao massacre, to turn himself in.

The good: It was done in spite of Pres. Arroyo's friendship with the Ampatuans. The bad: The fact that a negotiation was even necessary since Ampatuan could have been simply arrested as a suspect after all.


18. COMELEC blocks the party list bid of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Transgender) group, Ang Ladlad.

Citing the Holy Bible and the Koran in their eight-page decision, the Comelec denied the application of Ang Ladlad to run in the 2010 elections due to their "immorality." Ang Ladlad and their supporters have slammed the Comelec for violating the separation of the Church and the State as stated in the Constitution and filed an appeal, which was similarly denied on December 18.


19. Manny Pacquiao wins the Gusi Peace Prize. And the Gusi Peace Prize.

According to Gusi, the ex-ambassador who hands out Peace Prizes, no one who is less than 35 years of age can win the award. If this was so, then why was it awarded to the 32-year-old boxing champ? We guess it's really pointless to ask at this point since the award was stripped due to Pacquiao's infamous no-show. Previous winners of the Gusi Prize include National Artist In Question Carlo J. Caparas, who, according to Gusi, won because "Imagine a Grade 5 who were able to direct a movie, who were able to involve themselves into the charity in the country. That is great enough to be a Gusi Peace Prize for art."

20. Benjamin Dy wins Comelec recount versus Isabela Governor Grace Padaca.

Isabela Governor Grace Padaca was plucked out of her gubernatorial seat due to a Comelec recount of votes resulting from the fraud protests filed by her political rival, Benjamin Dy. Padaca, who won by a margin of 17,007 votes in 2007, will appeal the decision, which proclaimed Dy the winner by 1,051 votes.




21. Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon gets ninth ray approved in Congress.

Early this year, the Senator pushed for the addition of the ninth ray of the sun in our Philippine flag stating that our Muslim countrymen need to be recognized as citizens who fought against the colonizers long before the revolt. He hopes that this will foster ties between Muslims with the rest of the country.


22. The Obama-Arroyo meeting "brings pride for the entire nation," proclaims Malacañang, but it's "a mistake," says the Washington Times.

Malacañang proudly claimed that Pres. Arroyo was invited by US Pres. Obama to the Oval Office for a meeting–a meeting that, sources have claimed, was the fruit of "intense lobbying" by the Palace since Obama became President. The 45-minute meeting was called "a mistake" in an editorial published by the Washington Times, which also said that the meeting would be used to validate Arroyo's deteriorating presidency.

23. The Philippines is named most dangerous place for journalists in the world

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) named the Philippines the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, second only to Iraq, following the November 23 massacre in Maguindanao which resulted in a death toll of at least 52 people, journalists included. According to IFJ General Secretary Aidan White, "This is an event which shocks journalists around the world to the core."


24. Marc Jacobs publicist Tim Garcia goes under house arrest in style.
Dressed in "head-to-toe designer" including Alexander McQueen jeans and YSL boots, Tim Garcia, the son of former general Carlos Garcia, opened up about his dilemmas to Peter Davis of The Daily Beast. While the elder Garcia is in custody at the PNP Detention Center for a P303-million plunder case, his son, who is an American citizen, is under house arrest in a Park Avenue apartment and described his 95-day stay in jail (before posting $1 million bail) as "life altering," adding, "I was in an orange jumpsuit and then after a month, they change it to khaki. I will never wear a jumpsuit in my life. The thought of that jumpsuit just makes me cringe."



25. The Bureau of Customs imposes book taxes.

Based on a new interpretation by a certain Customs examiner named Rene Agulan, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) began to impose taxes on imported books deemed "not educational."Dubbed as "The Great Book Blockade of 2009" by Robin Henley, Nonfiction Writing Program Director of the University of Iowa, the imposition of taxes was halted after Pres. Arroyo reversed the BOC ruling one month later.


Read the 25 Non-Dubious Achievements of 2009.


Images courtesy of Noel Orsal (Carlo J. Caparas, Senator Bong Revilla, Chavit Singson, Che Tiongson, Richard Gutierrez, Camille Villar, Hayden Kho, Gilbert Teodoro, Jinky Pacquiao, Manny Pacquiao), ellaganda.com, ops.gov.ph (President Arroyo) Exequiel Supera for ops.gov.ph (Obama meeting), GMAnews.tv (screengrab of Mikey Arroyo and Cristine Reyes), redcross.org.ph, The Daily Beast (Tim Garcia), Jeff Cape (Ang Ladlad rally).

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