The 10 Biggest Stories That Rocked Social Media in the Philippines in 2012 : A TechPinas Exclusive!

From Miss Universe to Amalayer, 2012 proved to be a year filled with big stories that sent Filipinos abuzz on Twitter, Facebook, and even on Youtube!

Here's an exclusive TechPinas 'look back' on the 10 biggest events and topics that shocked the Philippines' social media scene to its very core last year!

1. Anti-Cybercrime Law - Officially signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on September 12, 2012, the bill aims to define and expand the list of criminal acts that can be perpetrated using the internet, helping protect netizens and making it easier to penalize cyber-criminals. While most sections of the law - including that for child pornography, cybersex, and spamming, among others - saw no opposition, some parts like those for cyber libel and a few involving online privacy were met with strong criticism in various social networking sites.

Some Pinoys on Twitter and Facebook called for the law to the amended while some simply wanted the entire thing to be altogether junked. This banner was made by the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (PIFA), which called for all social media users to take part in online protests against the Anti-Cybercrime Law by changing their profile pictures and cover photos to similar protest images.

Senator TG Guingona, one of our law makers who voted against the bill, talks about how Cyber Libel can herald the beginning of a "digital dark age" in the Philippines.

2. The Death of Whitney Houston - The Philippines is home to some of the best singers in the world -- even Ellen Degeneres once mentioned that on Twitter. And it follows that a lot of Pinoys idolize Miss Whitney Houston, who - with her legendary voice (described by music experts and critics as the 'greatest of all time') and numerous hits including I Will Always Love You, The Greatest Love of All, I Have Nothing, All At Once, Saving All My Love For You, and Didn't We Almost Have It All, among many others that have already become anthems in singing contests in the Philippines - quite simply set the standard for pop female vocal performance. Her mysterious and untimely death on the eve of the 2012 Grammy Awards shocked and deeply saddened a lot of Pinoy singers who took to Twitter to post messages on how Whitney inspired them to do what they do.

Regine Velasquez, known as Asia's Songbird, tweeted "I'm deeply saddened by her passing. She influenced me, especially when I was just starting. I'm a fan and will always be one. Rest in peace, Ms Houston." International Pinoy singing sensation, Charice, on the other hand, wrote "One of my heroes, Whitney Houston. I will always love you … RIP."

Whitney Houston performing a medley of I Loves You Porgy, And I Am Telling You, and I Have Nothing at the American Music Awards 1994 -- one of her most memorable live performances showing the breadth and reach of her singing talent during her prime.

Amazingly, Whitney Houston's death marked the first time in social media history - yup, not even during Michael Jackson's death - when all Twitter Trending Topics referred to one person or topic; A perfect 10! It was the case in the Philippines and it likewise happened in a few other territories.

3. Claudine Barreto vs. Mon Tulfo - The biggest showbiz news of 2012 - suprisingly - is not one that's related to a celebrity pregnancy, break-up, or anything like that. Based on social media impact, the Claudine Barreto and Raymart Santiago vs. Mon Tulfo "Thrilla in NAIA" brawl takes the top plum.

It all started with a lost baggage and somehow ended with the Tulfo brothers being slapped with a 3-months suspension of their show in TV5. But the most interesting detail in this whole brouhaha - in my opinion - is the gadget that found itself in the middle of the crossfire, Mon Tulfo's Nokia N900, which he used to take photos of Claudine Barreto throwing a fit at the Cebu Pacific counter.

Social media played an integral part in the development of this story; First, because of the cellphone video of the brawl uploaded by a 'concerned citizen' on Youtube. And second, because of all the buzz that the clip generated on Twitter and Facebook, helping ignite meaningful conversations about the true cause of the squabble or how it could have been avoided.

As soon as the Youtube video became viral, the brawl likewise became one of the hottest topics on Twitter -- so much so that Mon Tulfo, who claimed to be the aggrieved party in the fiasco, immediately achieved worldwide trending status.

4. #AMALAYER - I bet Paula Salvosa never imagined - even in her wildest dreams - that a simple decision to ride the LRT would make her one of the most talked about Filipinos in social media sites this year.

We may never know exactly what truly happened prior to the "tarayan" caught on video. But if there's one thing for sure, Salvosa's "Amalayer?!" has already become a cultural phenomenon.

Kapamilya flagship star, Vice Ganda, has poked fun at "Amalayer" numerous times on his shows in ABS-CBN.

Pinoy Youtube sensation, JemDaHunk, has the most viewed "Amalayer" parody on Youtube with 1,046,246 hits as of writing.

While Paul Temperante's parody isn't quite as successful as JemDaHunk's in terms of views, in my opinion, he did the best 'lip sync' job of the bunch. Kudos to the guy, really.

5. RH Bill - The Reproductive Health Bill, which aims to guarantee universal access to methods on contraception, sexual education, fertility control, and maternal care, saw itself in and out of the trending topics list on Twitter both in the Philippines and Worldwide numerous times throughout 2012 -- thanks to groups and movers-and-shakers in the social media site who religiously lobbied for it to be signed into law.

Groups and individuals who were against the RH Bill likewise used the internet and social networking sites to convince people to join their cause. This is a sample banner from one group that circulated Facebook during the summer of 2012.

On December 21, 2012, despite continuous and staunch opposition from religious groups and individuals including Senator Tito Sotto, President Benigno Aquino III signed RH Bill into law as Republic Act No. 10354 or "Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012". One of the champions of the #RHBill, Senator Pia Cayetano, posted this message on Twitter as soon as she learned that the bill has been passed.

6. The Defeat of Manny Pacquiao - The biggest shocker of the year - at least in the sports scene - would have to be The People's Champ's unexpected technical knock-out defeat in his December 8 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez.

Totally contrary to boxing experts' predictions that PacMan would knock-out his opponent early in the match, Manny Pacquiao hit the canvas in the 6th round when his face took the full impact of Marquez's perfectly timed and vicious straight right hand!

Pacquiao's defeat quickly became the hottest topic on Twitter where Pinoy Tweeps debated among themselves if the Pinoy boxing idol should already retire or if he should immediately start training for his next bout to redeem himself.

Meanwhile, in General Santos City, PacMom - Aling Dionisia Pacquiao - made no secret of her thoughts on why a series of defeats appear to beset her son all of a sudden. "Nahalik sya sa lupa, ibig sabihin, wag mo iwanan Manny ito *raises rosary*," she told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda on December 9, 2012.

7. Janine Tugonon's 1st Runner Up Finish in Miss Universe - Whatever sadness was brought to the nation by Manny Pacquiao's crashing defeat, it was ever so quickly doused by Janine Tugonon's stellar performance in Miss Universe 2012! Filling all corners of the Las Vegas stage on December 19, 2012 with her stunning Filipina beauty, grace, and wit, our lovely representative to this year's pageant finished 1st-Runner-Up -- but not without any controversy.

Following the announcement of the winner (Miss USA), a lot of Pinoys on Twitter couldn't help but tweet the word "Luto!" ("Rigged!") and understandably so. During the Final Question round, Janine gave a very impassioned and intelligent answer which gave everyone the impression that she deserves to bring home the crown versus Miss USA, who - according to some Pinoy Tweeps - couldn't walk gracefully in a gown and gave a mediocre answer.

When asked if she believes that speaking English should be a prerequisite to being Miss Universe, Janine answered with utter conviction, "For me, being Miss Universe is not about being able to speak a specific language, it's about being able to influence and inspire other people. So whatever language you have, as long as your heart is to serve and you have a strong mind to — to show to people, then you can be Miss Universe."

A day after she returned to the Philippines, Janine Tugonon sat down with Karen Davila for ANC Headstart and answered her fans' questions on Facebook and Twitter. The Miss Universe 1st Runner-Up also showed all viewers how she does her signature Cobra Walk.

8. Habagat, Bagyong Pablo, and Heroism - The Philippines is no stranger to strong typhoons, monsoon rains, and other natural calamities. But our nation is also home to heroes who are ever ready to extend a helping hand and share what they have to those who are in need.

We have heroes who are ever ready to risk their own lives to save others.

And we have heroes online who use their skills and influence to remind others to make necessary preparations for calamities, to create online hubs for disaster relief, and to simply give hope by sharing inspiring words.

9. Chief Justice Impeachment Trial - On May 29, 2012, after 29 trial days, 'the Senate, sitting as an impeachment court, having tried Chief Justice Renato Corona, upon three articles of impeachment charged against him by the House of Representatives, by a guilty vote of 20 senators, has found him guilty of the charge under Article II.'

#CJOnTrial hashtag almost became a daily fixture on Twitter's local and international trending topics list for the entire four-month duration of the trial.

But personalities who are involved in or who presided over the impeachment case, including Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago (with her memorable quotes and deep knowledge of the constitution), likewise appeared on the list from time to time.

One of the highlights of the trial was when Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre covered his ears while Senator Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago was scolding the prosecution dropping five of eight impeachment articles. This, of course, irked the Iron Lady of Asia who eventually cited Aguirre in contempt.

10. Globe vs. Smart iPhone 5 Launch - The formal release of Apple's flagship smartphone in the country became the biggest tech event of the year with Twitter seeing itself yet again as the main digital battleground for Globe Telecom and Smart Communications' all-out iPhone 5 hashtag battles!

As I've shared earlier in TechPinas, during the few hours leading to the official announcement of the two companies' iPhone 5 bundles, Smart Communications led in terms of positioning in the Twitter Trending Topics list - holding both the #1 and #2 positions - while its rival Globe Telecom led when it came to the number of trending related hashtags with a total of four or easily twice Smart's output. However, for the entirety of December 14, 2012 - the first official day of iPhone 5 in our country, Globe Telecom's #GlobeiPhone5TwisterPrize hashtag couldn't be dethroned from the top position and held that spot for almost 24 hours.

Based on Globe Telecom's Radian6 data, #GlobeiPhone5 was the leading iPhone 5 hashtag during the smartphone's launch in the Philippines with more than 270,000 mentions from December 13 12AM to December 14 9PM.

2012 was indeed an incredible year and I'm sure that 2013 will be more amazing. TP Friends, thanks for supporting TechPinas for the whole of 2012 and I hope that you'd still be here with us - rooting for our community - for the entire new year. May God bless us all this 2013!

So guys, which of these top 10 stories appealed to you the most or became most memorable one for you last year? Kindly share your stories in our comments section. I'm looking forward to reading them.