Earthquakes and exorcists: Our most-read stories of 2017

2017 has been a remarkable year for news in and around the Philippines. There have been storms and earthquakes, no-holds-barred political brawling and more than a little bloodshed, of one sort or another. But what stories have most caught our readers’ eyes over 2017? Some may surprise you, so here are our top ten most-read articles of the year:

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10. Angeles City bar girl arrested for prostitution after entrapment operation

A bar girl working in Angeles City’s Fields Avenue red-light zone was arrested “on suspicion” of prostitution. A 32-year-old ‘guest relations officer’ at one of the street’s numerous girlie bars was nabbed after an elaborate entrapment operation with the help of a Korean man. Quite why this one particular girl, at one particular bar was targeted remains a mystery.

Read the full story here

9. The Juramentados: Moro suicide attackers who forced US Army to adopt bigger guns

With this year’s apparent increase in Islamist terror in the south of the country, we looked back on the phenomenon of the ‘juramentados’. These were Moro suicide fighters who resisted Spanish and American rule by stabbing and slashing at soldiers in the certain expectation of their own death. The practice came to an end in the early years of the last century after the US Army adopted higher calibre guns and denied the dead fighters Islamic burials.

Read more here

8. Notorious ‘big-leg beggar’ thrown off flight due to Thai travel ban

We recently reported that German conman Benjamin Holst had finally found true love in Gambia. (Or was it just a passport scam?) However, the most popular story about the so-called “big-leg beggar” was a report on him being refused entry onto a Thai Airways flight in September.

Full the full report here

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Notorious German conman Benjamin Holst plus his trade in Thailand

7. CCTV footage contradicts police claim they shot Kian, 17, in self defence

Even after months of alleged extra judicial killings as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, the shooting of teenager Kian Delos Santos shocked the country, and the world. Back in August we reported on CCTV footage that contradicted police claims that they killed him self defence.

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Read more here

6. American to be deported for begging and causing trouble in Ermita, Manila

Overstaying American Victor Didenko was deported last month after begging and causing trouble on the streets of Ermita, Manila. The 47-year-old was described as a “burden on society” before being kicked out of the country.

Full story here

5. Hollywood cameraman hanged himself after child abuse arrest in Cebu

A Hollywood cameraman, who worked on Keeping Up with the Kardashians and The Apprentice USA, hanged himself in his cell after being arrested on suspicion of child abuse in Cebu. Jesse Phinney, aged 42, was taken into custody after a raid on his apartment in Talisay City. After filing this report, we were contacted by a friend of the 42-year-old who raised some serious questions about the police’s version of events.

Read the original report here, and the follow-up detailing questions about his death here

4. Legal letter reveals murdered New Zealander’s bitter feud with council

After Simon Rawlinson was gunned down in Naval, Biliran, we were contacted by one of his friends who forwarded a legal letter written by the New Zealander. This detailed a number of disputes the 63-year-old had become embroiled in with local community leaders. Despite this providing some clear lines of enquiry for police, no arrests have yet been made for the cold-blooded murder.

Read the full letter here

3. He smoked pot and hated the Chinese: 13 amazing facts about Dr Jose Rizal

To be honest, this list could have run to 130, but we stuck to just 13. Either way, he was a truly remarkable man who continues to be revered in 2017 – 121 years since he was executed by firing squad.

Read the full list here

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2. Manila: Prepare for The Big One says top Philippine earthquake expert

After a few fairly strong quakes earlier this year, the Philippines experienced what can only be described as an earthquake panic in the first few months of 2017. Social media was filled with dubious warnings of “the Big One 2017” being just round the corner. So, when we reported on a fairly mundane warning from Phivolcs, it went somewhat viral.

Read more here

1. Exorcist warns ‘Illuminati satanists’ are giving Filipinos ‘cursed rosaries’

Our biggest story of the year was one that none of us expected to cause much more than a ripple. The tale involved a warning from the chief exorcist of the Philippines that “Illuminati satanists” were distributing cursed rosaries to unsuspecting Catholics. Whether the many thousands of readers were fearful or skeptical is impossible to say. Or perhaps dark forces were at work?

Read more here

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