Just when the world thought 2020 was crazy, its sequel proved to be just as filled with shocking twists that are worthy of a Netflix series and insider information from the country's new favorite gossipmonger, Marites.
If 2020 was the Black Mirror Year with all the unbelievable things that happened in rapid succession, 2021 was the Squid Game Year with life and death at stake in the policies made and events that happened.
As the world prepares to usher in the third year of COVID-19 with uncertainty, let's look back first at the 21 biggest news of 2021 which made us think that the Squid Game was real.
1. A flight attendant's death got the Philippines buzzing on New Year.
Filipinos welcomed 2021 with the shocking news of a flight attendant's death. Christine Dacera was found dead in the bathtub of her Makati City hotel room on New Year's Day, reigniting debates on women, rape and drinking.
2. COVID-19 vaccines arrive and the race to get a jab is on.
Just before February ended, the Philippines received its first shipment of 600,000 COVID-19 vaccines courtesy of China's Sinovac.
With the slow arrival of vaccines in the country and the prevailing virus threat, Filipinos took it upon themselves to find ways to get inoculated in a literal race to stay alive.
3. Delta is here, bringing back 2020 lockdowns.
The hyper-contagious variant strained hospital capacities across the country and prompted the revival of strict lockdowns to slow its spread.
4. The U.S. Capitol siege, and unrest in Myanmar, and Afghanistan captivate the world.
Outside of the Philippines, unrest plagued several nations such as the United States, Myanmar, and Afghanistan.
In the first week of January, supporters of then outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the heart of America's democracy to protest his loss to Joe Biden. Barely a month later, Myanmar's military detained the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
And in what was probably the biggest news in the world this year, the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in a frenzy that was broadcast worldwide.
5. A new quarantine term is born: 'tiny bubbles.'
From ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, to MGCQ, a new quarantine term became the source of amusement and subject of ridicule online as Filipinos stayed under lockdown for the second year: tiny bubbles.
In August, then PNP-chief Guillermo Eleazar introduced the term to restrict the movement of people in individual cities instead of one collective bubble.
6. The bayanihan spirit lives with the community pantry trend.
In true bayanihan spirit, Filipinos took it upon themselves to extend aid or ayuda to those in need through community pantries as lockdowns prevented many from working.
From a small kiosk in Quezon City, the community pantry trend spread throughout the country--highlighting the unique Filipino trait of diskarte.
7. China dumps poop in the West Philippine Sea.
On the fifth anniversary of the West Philippine Sea arbitral award, China had a “birthday gift” to the Philippines.
Simularity, a satellite imagery firm, revealed Chinese vessels have been dumping tons of raw human waste in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zones within the South China Sea.
8. Filipinos got fired up online over adobo, a fried towel, and tinola.
If there's anything that could unite Filipinos, it's the love for food. And in 2021, there was no shortage of food issues that got Filipinos fired up online.
9. PNoy dies.
In June, the nation paused to mourn the death of former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.
Aquino, who rose to power on the legacy of his democracy icon parents, died at age 61 on June 24, 2021.
10. Hidilyn Diaz lifts the Philippines to Olympic gold.
Diaz led the Philippine team that brought home four medals to uplift the spirits of a country dragged down by the pandemic.
11. Taal and Pinatubo volcanoes rumble.
12. Election season starts with a whole lot of plot twists.
The usual political circus of the Philippine election season was made complicated this year with the pandemic and a series of plot twists in the camp of President Rodrigo Duterte.
From surprising presidential aspirant Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa to a botched Senate run for President Duterte, the list of who's running or not has been changed so many times ahead of the official campaign season.
All eyes are on the late dictator's son and namesake Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as he attempts to reclaim Malacañang with the help of Duterte's daughter Sara, who is eyeing the vice presidency.
13. Movies are back and kids can finally go out.
After two years, cinemas reopened again in 2021 to the delight of mask-wearing movie fans.
With social distancing protocols and a no-eating-inside policy, movie houses welcomed excited Filipinos back to the theater.
Further returning to normalcy, the government finally allowed children to go out as long as they are accompanied by vaccinated parents or guardians.
14. Lawmakers go after overpriced COVID-19 gear suppliers.
The Senate went after executives of the government's supplier of COVID-19 gear, Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., for bagging billions of pesos in contracts to supply the government with face shields and other supplies despite having minimum capital.
As of the latest development, two executives of the firm were put in jail for refusal to cooperate with the ongoing inquiry.
15. The Marites persona is born as gossip thrives online.
16. A publicity stunt gone wrong divides the internet.
Thousands of Filipinos online were kept awake in November by reports that the giant globe at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City was stolen until it became clear that it was a publicity stunt and the memes followed.
17. Filipinos develop a toxic relationship with face shields.
In what could be one of the most toxic relationships of 2021, Filipinos struggled with a love-hate affair with face shields that the government just cannot seem to let go of.
In September, the government limited the use of face shields to crowded places indoors before further limiting its use to hospitals and health facilities in November.
18. Goodbye quarantines, hello COVID-19 alert levels.
In November, the Philippines said goodbye to community quarantines in favor of an alert-based system that attempts to avoid large-scale lockdowns.
From ECQ and GCQ, the Philippines started using Alert Levels 1 to 5 in defining COVID-19 restrictions.
19. The Philippines crowns its first LGBTQIA+ Miss Universe.
The Philippines crowned its first openly bisexual Miss Universe, Beatrice Luigi Gomez, in a rainbow moment for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Gomez finished in the top 5 at Miss Universe 2021, which was won by Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu.
20. Omicron is the Christmas Grinch.
New COVID-19 variant Omicron has made its way to the Philippines just before Christmas, posing a threat to hopes of ending the pandemic in 2022.
So far, the Philippines has reported at least four cases of the new variant that was first detected in South Africa.
21. Typhoon Odette dims the Christmas spirit.
Days before Christmas, Typhoon Odette destroyed houses, displaced thousands, and ruined harvests.
Several organizations have launched relief drives to help victims of the monster storm, the worst storm to hit the Philippines this year.