The 20 most-read CNN Philippines Life stories of 2017

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These stories show that despite historic, political, and cultural differences, the Filipino story — its triumphs, failings, and even its mundanities — is a story worth telling. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — While a survey earlier this year shows that T.V. is still the Filipinos’ preferred medium to access information, the use of digital media is rapidly catching up, with internet access rising to 43 percent in only a span of two years. Filipinos are now easily consuming news and digital stories on the go — while riding the MRT, lining up for lunch, or waiting for an Uber.

The most-read stories in CNN Philippines Life presented some recurring themes for the year: inspiring Filipinos, the Duterte presidency, mental health issues, films and songs that represent the Filipino, and the arduous fight for rights in the country. We’ve seen a clamor for critical thinking, not just in politics, but in culture, especially in the way readers have engaged with stories and dialogues about things that needed to be talked about.

The most-read stories show a desire to learn about the Filipino identity and a need to reflect and question values, beliefs, and practices that the Philippines has been accustomed to. These stories show that despite historic, political, and cultural differences, the Filipino story — its triumphs, failings, and even its mundanities — is a story worth telling.

1. 25 best Filipino love songs of the last 25 years

This list best expressed the woes and triumphs of a generation, caught in the throes of romantic love. The list mirrored the Filipinos’ propensity for romance (or the absence of it) in our lives.

2. What ‘Last Night’ gets wrong about suicide?

A constructive review of the Star Cinema “dark rom-com,” the article got mixed feedback from readers — some agreed to the main point raised, which is that the movie was a dangerously trivial portrayal of suicide, and some opposed this view. The constant dialogue about the film’s rightness or wrongness highlighted an important issue about how Filipinos deal with a mental health issue that has long been taboo.

3. 6 Filipino scientists who are changing the world

From a doctorate student looking to end tuberculosis to a researcher surveying an African region, these Filipinos show that while their professions may be unpopular and not as easily supported in the Philippines, their passion to pursue the extension of human knowledge is one that cannot be discounted.

4. Rodrigo Duterte: A singular man

Arguably the most newsworthy world leader next to Donald Trump, President Rodrigo Duterte has displayed that, indeed, he is a character of his own. The profile, jumping off from his December 2016 interview with CNN Philippines senior anchor Pinky Webb, talks about his unapologetic resolve about the war on drugs, a topic that has always caused a vicious tug-of-war of opinions among Filipinos.

5. Why Andi Eigenmann is quitting the 'artista' life

In an exclusive interview, Andi Eigenmann shared a side of her not many have seen: an actress that is fierce, unashamed, and straightforward. After talks about her decision to ditch the ‘artista’ life and the many rumors about her love life, she cleared all the noise in this interview.

6. The 25 best Filipino rom-coms of the last 25 years

Much like the Best Love Songs of the Last 25 years list, this list presented how the Philippines is a nation enamored with its love stories. Considering the massive pool of love team fans in the country, it is in the Filipinos’ DNA to try to make sense of kilig — both in real life and in films.

7. This might be your last year to access birth control

Women’s rights advocates also fought for rights on reproductive health, and this story voiced opinions of civic society actors in the country who don’t seem to agree on giving women access to birth control, and the many issues surrounding reproductive health. The feature put the spotlight on a quiet problem that has been seeping through the lives of Filipino women.

8. A short history of sex in Philippine literature

In a country where, until now, conversations about sex are set in a background of Catholic conservatism, this piece took a deep dive into the history of Philippine literary smut and how sex is depicted in Filipino literature.

9. Life after Miss Universe, from former beauty queens

The Miss Universe pageant never fails to create an online frenzy. Just before the Philippines hosted Miss Universe 2016, this feature about two former beauty queens was a prelude to the beauty pageant fever that was about to start.

10. The women of Duterte’s Malacañang

President Duterte has been embroiled in controversies when it comes to how he treats and speaks of women. This piece looked into how these women carry on with their roles in the Palace, and how despite controversies, the Philippines ranks high in the gender equality scale of the World Economic Forum.

11. The best kept secrets of Makati Cinema Square

On the surface, Makati Cinema Square simply looks like an old, dilapidated mall. But the beauty of old things is that they can be seen in a new light. From bowling and billiards to guns and ammo, the 35-year-old mall is still bursting with life.

12. We need to talk about mental illness in the Philippines

The article showed that at least 2,558 cases of suicide arise from mental health issues, something that the country has swept under the rug for so long. The writer recalls how she dealt with her own mental health issues in the Philippines, and how change in legislation, such as the Mental Health Act, is only a piece in a huge puzzle.

13. Inspiring Filipinos who prove that life begins at 50

For the Filipinos featured, this particular stage of their lives meant liberation and a refreshed mindset, which is a hopeful reminder that ageing is not so bad after all. The list includes diverse Filipinos in different fields and industries — from music legends to education leaders.

14. How Liz Uy became an international fashion force

With over a million followers on Instagram and represented by The Society New York (an agency that also manages Kendall Jenner and Adriana Lima), Liz Uy represents an aspirational lifestyle that Filipinos may want to aspire to.

15. The reality of suicide in the Philippines

Released in time for the World Suicide Prevention Day, the feature focused on the need to tackle the most uncomfortable question relating to human behavior: Why do people commit suicide in the first place? Like other pieces on mental health issues, this again presented that there is a desire in the country to have a continuous conversation about mental health concerns.

16. How Shakespeare helped a young Jesuit meet the love of his life

This piece chronicles how William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18” became the unwitting theme to a love story of a school teacher and a young Jesuit in Zamboanga.

17. The book that says Bonifacio is an ‘invented hero’

A historian relays the cinematic qualities of history, while addressing Glenn Anthony May’s book “Inventing a hero: The Posthumous Re-creation of Andres Bonifacio” that presented a premise of Bonifacio being a sensationalized version of who he really was.

18. 5 takeaways from Playboy's 1987 interview with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos

The Marcoses as gods, and a series of questionable claims from the former first couple.

19. Is there a basis to declare martial law in Mindanao?

On May 23, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law over the whole of Mindanao, based on reports of clashes in Marawi City. A primer on what it meant for people affected by its declaration in Mindanao.

20. The anarchists making a difference in Philippine society

While anarchism may be a controversial philosophy, one that is also not as popular in the Philippines, there are existing Filipino anarchists who believe that humans are wired to pursue the common good, regardless of an authority figure.