Article by Andrea Ayala

Photograph by Sung Yun Bae

With the devastation of the latest super typhoon as well as revealed incidents of corruption dominating media in the Philippines this year, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly grave perspective of 2013. But where there were severe trials, there were intensified demonstrations of compassion and innovative transformations. Though the list of things to be grateful for is unending, we’ve reviewed four key aspects of 2013 that we are thankful for.

The Omnipotent Beast of the Internet

Coming close to the the wheel and electricity, the Internet has proved to be one of the greatest inventions in the past few centuries of human existence. This year the public stage of the Internet has helped reveal numerous incidents of corruption in the Philippine government, as we’ve heard how ISM alumni Natashya Guiterrez utilized social media to expose the wealth of Jeane Napoles and unravel the pork barrel scam. In conjunction with smartphone apps, the Internet entertained us hours on end by fueling Candy Crush Saga, Vine and Snapchat. Life has also become easier since ISM went digital by uploading the calendar, assignments and other necessary documents onto the school Google Drive. But most importantly, we must thank the Internet for being the vehicle of the most revolutionary event of the year– Bamboo Telegraph moving online, of course (sorry, couldn’t help ourselves). With less of a time lag and access to a greater audience and more diverse media, the Internet has to be on our list of what to be thankful for this year.

New Beginnings

2013 marked the first (of many more to come, we’re sure) Oscar award of everybody’s favorite actress, Jennifer Lawrence, during the Academy Awards in February. In March, a baby was cured of the HIV virus for the first time. When elected the 266th pope, Pope Francis was the first Jesuit Pope, the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first Pope of his stature. In April, the ISM boys IASAS track team won gold for the first time in our school’s history. In November, Iran agreed to limit their nuclear development for the first time. And 2013 was the first time Miley Cyrus was in the running for Time’s Person of the Year, but while it went to Pope Francis, it’s undeniable that she’s never received so much hate, and strangely enough, so much love. This year we’re thankful for all these demonstrations of celebration, innovation, accomplishment, peace, and in the heart of our hearts, we may even be thankful for Miley Cyrus.

The Media Focus on the Philippines

Lately, the Philippines has been garnering a lot of attention and a slightly more distinguished reputation from the world media. In the world of beauty pageants, Megan Young represented the Philippines as the winner of the Miss World 2013 in September, and Ariella Arida followed suit as the 3rd runner up of the Miss Universe contest in November. It seems as though anyone who’s had a recent album released has put the Philippines on their list of countries to visit, including Swedish House Mafia, the Script, Psy, Paramore, Maroon 5, Carly Rae Jepsen, Fall Out Boy, Rihanna, The Killers, One Republic, and Zedd among other prominent artists. Even in the Sundance Film Festival and the Best Foreign Language awards, the movie Metro Manila has been critically acclaimed, and has had a special subtitled screening with the lead actor in our very own ISM campus.

Aside from the entertainment sector, the Philippines has also gained a name in the news by posting a GDP growth of 7.6 percent in the first half of 2013, and a predicted further growth in the next coming years. After Typhoon Haiyan in November, the Philippines was also put on world headlines, with advertised relief efforts from famous celebrities like Ellen Degeneres, sites such as Facebook and organizations like the NBA. Even less positive attention has encouraged developments for relief; Anderson Cooper’s comments on the inefficiency of the government’s reconstruction methods has prompted further improvements in the relief protocol. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon advocated on his recent visit to the Philippines, reconstruction from the impact of Typhoon Haiyan is still far from being over. But we’d like to thank the international community for being so responsive to the devastation from the Typhoon and for sending their concern.

The Generosity of the ISM Community

While we’re on the topic, we’re also extremely grateful to have such generous and caring students, teachers, parents and alumni. According to the CAS director Mr. Woods, “[Through] the combined efforts of the ISM Community and friends from around the globe, we have been able to donate just under $80,000 directly to UNICEF.” From the Elementary School students sending encouraging letters to the shell-shocked kids in Tacloban, to the Middle School T-shirt sales, to the donations of various clubs in the High School, to anonymous parent donations, and even to ISM Alumni efforts, the entire ISM community has come together to take part in the relief and reconstruction after the super typhoon. It has been a privilege to be surrounded by such altruistic people and to know that in the case of disaster, the Bearcat spirit is transcendent. Especially in a school like International School Manila, we have a lot to be grateful for.

For more information about Haiyan relief efforts in ISM please refer here: https://bambootelegraph.com/haiyan/

In review, 2013 was a stepping stone, an opportunity for growth. We stretched the boundaries of technology, were forced to develop the systems we knew and redefine the world we live in. But maybe change isn’t all that bad, maybe it’s best to look from the bright side.

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