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Young Star

The highlight reel of 2009

DEFINITELY MAYBE - Carl Francis M. Ramirez -

It’s an end of an era, folks. The decade that we still aren’t sure what to call (Oh-ohs? Aughts? 2000s?) has come to a close. 

In the waning moments of this decade, we saw a champion cement his place in history, and another one smear it. We bore witness to a Filipino icon passing, and the consequent outpouring of tears, gratitude and prayer that we haven’t seen in two decades. A presidential son stepped out of his mother’s shadow, promising change for the country — while another presidential son stepped out of his mother’s shadow to buy booze during the worst calamity in recent memory. We watched as Filipinos, young and old, rich and poor, banded together in the spirit of Bayanihan and did their part to help the victims of Ondoy and Pepeng. Two-oh-oh-nine was a year of revelations and validations, for better or for worse. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2009 highlight reel:

The Fall of Tiger. The wealthiest and arguably most respected and revered sportsman of the last decade has been turned into the butt of every barroom joke practically overnight. With allegations of infidelity that would make Hayden Kho blush (more on him later), the highest-valued athlete of the decade has now hit rock bottom. Tiger’s squeaky clean, family man image has gone down the toilet, taking endorsement deals like Gatorade, Accenture and AT&T down with it. Though it’s a little far-fetched to think this is the end of Tiger the golfer, it’s certainly fair to think that 2009 marks the end of Tiger Woods the icon. His golf career may very well continue and he may eventually break Jack Nicklaus’s record and become the greatest golfer that ever lived (if he isn’t already), but the endorser career will never be the same. The bright side for Tiger is that people seem to have short memories when it comes to superstar athletes. Just ask Kobe Bryant, who went from accused rapist a few years ago to now having the hottest selling jersey in the NBA.

Kobe gets his ring. Speaking of Kobe, June 2009 was when he finally got the big monkey off his back and won a title without Shaquille O’Neal. Many have doubted his ability to win a title as the alpha dog, myself included, but in ’09 he proved that it’s still too early for him to hand the torch over to Lebron James. Kobe played with purpose, stayed in control, rarely overextended himself (as he always did in the past), didn’t alienate teammates and got everyone involved in the game. Last year was the year of the Black Mamba.

Sex Scandals get way too much attention. I still find it funny that a leaked sex tape got enough attention to warrant the Senate of the Philippines to launch an investigation. It is by far the dumbest thing to happen in 2009. An actual Senate of an actual country thought a video tape of two people boinking was of enough national importance to have a televised hearing. We never have televised hearings about the school system or the national budget or even why there’s always so much goddamn traffic, yet once a quasi-celebrity gets caught with his pants down, we bring in the cameras and microphones and get down to business. It’s ludicrous. 

Cory Aquino passes. One of the pillars of Philippine democracy passed away this year. The nation said goodbye to a beloved leader, mother and national hero with a collective outburst of emotion that hasn’t been seen since the tragic death of her late husband Ninoy. This tragedy, though, reminded everyone of the idealism and hope she stood for, and now that sentiment is pouring over as we consider the next change in government. 

Presidential hopefuls make their case. The flood of grief for the late President Aquino transformed into a clamor for candidacy for her son, Sen. Noynoy Aquino. Running on a platform of honesty and transformative government, the young Aquino (and his army of celebs) vies for the presidency 24 years after his late mother was elected. Noynoy, though popular, is not without competition. Also in the race is Sen. Manny Villar (who looks like he wants the presidency more than anyone) and his billion-peso war chest (which of course was the product of Sipag at Tiyaga). We also have Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, who possesses eloquence, intelligence and a sensible, nuanced plan of action, so he just might swing people over to his side when all’s said and done (or until people remember that he’s GMA’s candidate). Running for the second time is Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who’s banking on his appeal with the masses (he certainly can’t bank on winning debates) to vault him into the presidency once again. Bro. Eddie Villanueva (presumably with the blessing of the Lord), Sen. Dick Gordon (with the blessing of the extremely optimistic), Sen. Jamby Madrigal (with the blessing of Judy Ann) and Councilor JC Delos Reyes (with the blessing of his wife) round out the pack.        

Typhoon Ondoy/Pepeng hit the Philippinea. The most devastating typhoons to hit our country in recent memory left hundreds dead, thousands fleeing their homes and millions in shock after Ondoy (and Pepeng) ravaged the country. One positive outcome of this tragedy, however, was a rekindling of the country’s charitable spirit. An unprecedented rally of volunteers filled relief centers around the country. This tragic event produced a call of duty that I haven’t seen in my lifetime before this point. In one of the few times this decade, our country was united in doing something genuinely good and pure. 

Avatar is released. This movie made a billion dollars. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Just the visual spectacle of James Cameron’s masterpiece is worth the price of admission. 

Manny Pacquiao cements his legacy. By defeating Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao captured his seventh title in his seventh weight division, a feat that has never been done in the history of professional boxing. Now considered one of this generation’s greats and the today’s best pound-for-pound boxer, Manny has etched his name in the Pantheon of Boxing. Forget the celebrity, the bad movies, the ego-trip of a music career and the (alleged) affairs with movie starlets. This is the year Manny Pacquiao the Champion became Manny Pacquiao the Legend.   

* * *

For questions, comments or corrections, please e-mail me at carlfrancisramirez@gmail.com.

BLACK MAMBA CORY AQUINO COUNTRY DELOS REYES DICK GORDON EDDIE VILLANUEVA FALL OF TIGER HAYDEN KHO
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