ScenePH’s Picks for 2020
2020 has certainly been a year for the books. We’ve witnessed both our individual and collective lives turned on their heads. We’ve been shaken and we’ve been rattled, but even then, we were given an opportunity to discover, or rediscover, a few things that helped make this seemingly endless year just a little more bearable.
Looking back on the last 12 months, we discovered that, like many of you, we also searched for our own small ways to cope with everything that 2020 has decided to throw at us – from tuning in to theater streams online, to starting a bookstagram or podcast or gaming stream, or even picking up an old hobby that had been set aside amidst the everyday rush – and we’ve collated some of our favorites from the year into this wrap up.
We hope that 2021 will bring us all better luck, but we enter the new year with just enough caution and hope for what may come.
Without further ado, ScenePH’s top picks for 2020.
BIANCA’S PICK: Caredivas
Caredivas is one of my most favorite PETA productions of all time, and holds a lot of sentimental value. I’m so happy that they were able to stream it via KTX last year!
ANSIS’ PICKS: SPIT and Third World Improv’s online shows
Our premiere improv group and its educational arm have been regularly putting up free online shows this lockdown, giving improvisers and fans of the art form an outlet to connect and express during these times of social distancing. They’ve truly played a huge part in maintaining my mental health while on quarantine.
Film and TV
LARA’S PICK: Little Women (2019)
Who doesn’t love the Gretta Gerwig x Saoirse Ronan x Timothee Chalamet trifecta? That aside, I’ve never seen myself represented in a movie more than I did with Saoirse Ronan’s Jo. And though I already knew what was going to happen, I still found myself rooting and weeping for the March girls. Also: my God, the performances.
BIANCA’S PICKS: Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast 1 and 2
I’m a fan of the Refund Sisters’ “Don’t Touch Me”! It led me to start watching Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast. I love watching it after work; it is so calming! I’m trying very hard not to binge it because I don’t want it to be over yet huhu.
ANSIS’ PICKS: Gameboys and Gaya sa Pelikula
One of the only good things to come out of this pandemic is the rise of Pinoy boys’ love (BL) shows. My favorites, Gameboys and Gaya sa Pelikula, gave us excellent storytelling, relatable characters, lots of kilig, and some of the best queer representation on local TV. [Related Reading – Gameboys The Series: Saved by the BL by Ansis Sy]
TEJ’S PICK: Dawson’s Creek
This was my generation’s teen drama. Rewatching the series reminds me of a simpler time, a period in life when the weight of the world was practically just school and home. Its sappy, teenage-angst-riddled writing is a perfect distraction from the crapshoot 2020 has been.
Stars’ Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant. I found myself cooking a lot more during the lockdown, so it was only natural that I’d be drawn to cooking shows. The South Korean reality cooking show/contest by KBS World, Stars’ Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant, was a gem to find. Think home recipes done by real people — and yes, all shot during this pandemic. A comforting and delicious slice-of-life!
Drive to Survive. This Netflix series played a huge part in helping me understand Formula 1 better, which is the actual 2020 favorite, more than the series. And as soon as the 2020 season opened, our weekend nights were reserved watching the latest practice round, qualifier, and grand prix. While I’m by no means an expert, there was something thrilling and “normalizing” about being able to watch a sports season again. I’m already looking forward to the 2021 season!
NIKKI’S PICK: Summertime
During the first month of the lockdown, I enrolled in online Italian lessons both to keep me occupied and to continue what I had started in 2019. To practice further, I normally try to find as much material in the language as I can. Summertime was perfect because, as the title suggests, it’s a show about summer vacation, something that nobody would be spending at the beach this year because of the pandemic. It provided some comfort even if I was just sunbathing on a pretend beach in front of the TV.
Taylor Swift’s Folklore and Evermore. I wish I could not be basic and have another answer to this, but I am and I don’t.
Miley & Noah Cyrus. No surprise here, either. I love their music, voices and I love how beautifully they sound together, and apart. Spotify link: I Got So High that I Saw Jesus
BIANCA’S PICK: Album: Seventeen’s mini album, Heng:garæ
Seventeen has released two albums and two Japanese comebacks this year, but “Heng:garæ” is my favorite! In my opinion, the best song in the album is “Kidult.” [Related Reading – That’s So Daebak: Riding the Quarantine Hallyu Wave by Bianca Butalid]
ANSIS’ PICK: Ben&Ben’s Di Ka Sayang
Ben&Ben’s latest single has been the perfect anthem to uplift my spirits in a year when I’ve felt lost, unsure, and unproductive. The line “Tanggap kita” is so powerful. I listen to this song whenever I need reassurance that whatever I’m feeling is valid. I am enough. We’re enough.
TEJ’S PICK: Nothing has Changed by The Polar Boys
When I left Manila near the end of 2019, I was ready to make art in a new place. This was the first song on my travel playlist. Every time I stepped out, this was playing. It got me motivated. But 2020 happened. I’m back in the Philippines now, and it’s both a reminder of what could’ve been and what I’m fortunate enough to still have. The real question is if it will still motivate me.
KITKAT’S PICK: Harry Styles
I found myself playing Harry Styles’ new album, Fine Line, a lot during the quarantine. Current favorites are Golden and Watermelon Sugar thanks in part to the beach/travel/roadtrip/running outside feels that seem like a distant memory after nearly a year in lockdown.
NIKKI’S PICK: Spanish pop music
This playlist I made is an ode to all the coffee shops I used to hang out at when I was living outside the country. It always brings back a lot of good memories, of a time when we didn’t worry about getting ourselves or our loved ones sick just by hanging out at a bar.
Arts and Culture
Book: Educated by Tara Westover. Full disclosure: I haven’t finished the book yet. It’s the type that I need to put down and take breaks from, but it’s so well-written and hauntingly self-aware, I tend to forget that this is a memoir and someone actually lived this life.
Social Media: New Generation of Influencers. This year has given rise to Gen Z influencers who are not afraid to use their platforms to speak up on important issues. Some of my favorites are Sassa Gurl, Pipay, and Gab Campos. They’re all creative, funny, witty, and woke. The kids are definitely all right.
Webcomics. I found myself needing the light and comical entertainment that I can only find through various webcomics across the internet. A bonus, however, for the webcomics that contain interesting plots and characters like that of Snafu-Comics and Lore Olympus.
Artist: Ten Hundred. It’s interesting how most street art is surrealist. When I stumbled upon Ten Hundred’s work, it immediately appealed to me. I can’t really explain why. Maybe it’s his use of vibrant colors, or the surrealist nature. I can’t say. But he’s one of my favorite contemporary street artists this year.
Book: Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. I think it was a common trend for many people to pick up hobbies that they had forgotten about or were unable to continue because of their everyday lives. Reading was that hobby for me, and I remember looking through my bookshelves to see which ones I hadn’t read or finished yet. I started reading the Kane Chronicles in 2011, but was never able to finish it. Well, I finally finished the whole series a few months ago, and it led to me opening a bookstagram account to keep that hobby going.
BOOK: Demons of the New Year, edited by Karl R. de Mesa and Joseph Frederic F. Nacino. It’s been a while since I read something for an article that I genuinely enjoyed, but this anthology of Philippine horror stories really reignited my love for the horror genre.
Video Game: The Last of Us Part II. Probably the most polarizing game of 2020 – but a necessary game (one that would be hard to play again) and a beautiful, yet unforgiving narrative. On a more personal note: The Last of Us Part II is the first game I ever streamed on Twitch, so it’ll always have a special place in my heart.
Video Game: Marvel’s Spider-Man (2018). I don’t know what took me so long to play this game, but it’s probably the best superhero video game I’ve ever played, and the best Spider-man movie there ever was. This game is a love-letter to Spider-man fans, one that I’m glad to have experienced.
Video Game: (Runner Up:) Detroit: Become Human. Despite the game’s clunky controls, this visual-novel’s narrative and socio-political commentary alone drives it up on the list of the top 3 video games I’ve played this year.
ANSIS AND KITKAT’S PICK
Video Game: Jackbox Party Packs
ANSIS: I think video games are the most fun when you make it a social activity, but it’s been difficult to be social during these disconnected times. I’ve recently just discovered Jackbox Party Packs. They contain multiple video party games which are perfect for e-numan sessions with friends.
KITKAT: I enjoyed playing this so much because it involves gathering your friends online (a winner during a quarantine) and leveraging inside jokes and your own stock knowledge to battle it out in a series of mini games.
Tabletop RPG: Dungeons & Dragons. One of the best things I’ve ever tried during the quarantine. It was the “outdoor” adventures we couldn’t have. I made new friends and learned new ways to slay mimics. It gave me a reason to engage in further interactions with other people despite not being able to leave my house. [Related Reading – Me, Myself and Artimea by Lara L. Antonio]
Board Games: The Fury of Dracula and Takenoko. My brother has a huge collection of board games, and we’ve been planning to go through them for years, but it wasn’t until the quarantine that my family finally found the time to sit down together and play some of them. It wasn’t the games exactly, but the experience of playing them with my family that made them 2020 favorites.
There you have it! What are some of your favorites this 2020? Did you make any new discoveries? Or did you unearth an old gaming console, a stack of books, a brush and canvas, albums that you had saved for when you had more time to dedicate to them? Share your top picks with us! We love to hear them.