Best of 2018: 10 in-depth features by Coconuts Manila

Image composite: Coconuts Manila.
Image composite: Coconuts Manila.

2018 was a great year for Coconuts original content — right, COCO+ subscribers?

Here at Coconuts Manila, we published 10 features that let readers sink their teeth into stories about national issues and idiosyncrasies in Filipino culture.

We reported about colorism in the media, the infamous Boracay beach shutdown, the dating struggle caused by Manila’s traffic, and the Jollibee phenomenon, among other things.

Here they are below, ready to be binge-read.

The Color of Money: In Philippine TV and film, white still equals green

Like most of Asia, the Philippines has a complicated relationship with skin color and this problem is most evident in the media.

Philippine movie and TV screens are filled with light-skinned actors (many mixed-race) but are severely lacking in darker-skinned people who are more representative of the Filipinos population.

In this feature, Coconuts Manila talks about how long this has been going on and why it’s still happening.

Illustration: Karen Grace Quinzon

Read more here

In search of halal food in Manila

The Philippines is known for being a predominantly Christian country in Asia.

While this is true, there is also a sizable Muslim community that has long struggled with direct and indirect forms of discrimination.

In Manila, for example, there is still a lack of Halal food options despite the fact that there are now more than 100,000 Muslims living in the capital.

For this feature, we spent a day with two young Muslim Filipinos who talked about the struggle of being in a community where they don’t feel completely welcome.

Nurrol Izzah Mala and Mohammed Gandamra in Iza's Chicken Corner, a popular halal restaurant in Quiapo, Mania. (Photo by Therese Reyes)
Photo: Therese Reyes

Read more here

Boracay by the numbers: 6 months, 30,000 jobs, 1 very uncertain future

Boracay is arguably the most popular destination in the Philippines but the party island was put to a halt earlier this year when the government infamously shut it down for six months in an attempt to rehabilitate its surroundings.

Before the closure, several Boracay residents shared with Coconuts Manila how the shutdown would change their lives and affect their sources of income.

Boracay vendors. (Photo by Paul Benzi Sebastian Florendo)
Photo: Paul Benzi Sebastian Florendo

Read more here

Mind the gap: In the Philippines, language isn’t about words, it’s about class

In the Philippines, language has become an unspoken indicator of one’s class.

Here, parents from the middle and upper classes mostly only speak to their children in English, all while the quality of English in public schools declines.

We talked about this class gap with public and private school teachers and parents and asked them why they think this is happening.

Illustration: Karen Grace Quinzon.
Illustration: Karen Grace Quinzon.

Read more here

Building Buzz: How nostalgia, Pinoy pride, and sweet spaghetti made Jollibee an industry giant

It was a big year for Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee, with successful expansions to Europe and North America.

The home of the fried Chickenjoy has become a household name in the Philippines and abroad and it seems like the buzz around it won’t be dying anytime soon.

But why, even amidst labor issues, is it so freaking popular?

It turns out a formula of nostalgia mixed with Pinoy pride and social media savvy is part of the reason.

Photo by Therese Reyes
Photo: Therese Reyes

Read more here

A Bitter Pill: As abortion laws tumble in other Catholic countries, Filipinas still rely on black market meds

Abortion remains illegal in the Philippines but that has not stopped women from turning to dangerous procedures to terminate their pregnancies.

While legalizing abortion is still close to impossible, a small group of people has been moving to decriminalize it, inspired by developments in other Catholic countries like Ireland and Chile.

This feature discusses their uphill battle.

Photo: Romo Gacad, AFP Photo.
Photo: Romo Gacad, AFP Photo.

Read more here

It’s a Small World: Living sustainably in the Philippines’ sachet economy

The Philippines has a big problem with small plastics.

While some people have decided to live sustainably, a majority of the population still depends on products packaged in single-use plastics that are cheap but dangerous for the environment.

For this feature, Coconuts Manila spoke with Filipinos from all sides of the issue — from environmentalists to regular citizens — and tried to figure out the root of the problem.

Photo: Therese Reyes
Photo: Therese Reyes

Read more here.

Stuck in traffic: How Manila’s roads are making love elusive for Filipinos

Nowadays, dating can be tiring. And it can be even more exhausting in Manila, where the traffic has made it impossible to easily meet up with someone.

This story rounds-up dating horror stories from young Filipinos who, at least partly, blame the city’s congested roads for their love life woes.

Illustration by Karen Grace Quinzon
Illustration: Karen Grace Quinzon

Read more here.

For Beauty and Country: Gay Filipino men in the world of pageants

2018 was a big year for Filipino beauty pageant fans because the country’s bet Catriona Gray managed to bag the Miss Universe crown.

Ahead of this win and the national jubilation that followed it, Coconuts Manila published a story about one group that has greatly influenced the local pageant community — gay men.

Rodgil Flores teaching beauty queen Kimi Mugford at his camp. Photo: Rachel Malaguit
Photo: Rachel Malaguit

Read more here.

Eat, Pray, Shop: How mall culture moved to the center of Philippine life

Ending Coconuts Manila‘s run of original features this year was this story about Filipinos’ obsession with malls.

While malls are shutting down in other parts of the world, they continue to be relevant (and loved) in the Philippines where they’ve become community centers and one-stop shops for anything anyone might need.

Shoppers during a sale in Trinoma mall. (Photo: Jacques Manuntag)
Photo: Jacques Manuntag

Read more here.

What’s your favorite Coconuts Manila feature from 2018? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @CoconutsManila.

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