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The Best Complex PH Stories of 2023

From exceptional personalities to hilarious moments, these are the most-talked-about stories on Complex PH from the year 2023
Complex PH
James Francisco

Complex arrived in the Philippines to make our culture pop, amplifying the names, happenings, and milestones that summed up why it’s great to be Filipino. Complex PH couldn’t have debuted in a better year that saw athletes break ground on the world stage, Original Pilipino Music enter its golden age, and Filipinos being downright hilarious (whether intentional or not). There are some stories you liked (or disliked) more than others, and this list is about them. 

Through it all, you were there. Your likes, comments, views, and shares helped turn Complex PH into a pop culture juggernaut in its first year. More importantly, they helped push our culture into the global spotlight. Here’s to more of covering the good, the bad, and the wonderful.

Bianca Bustamante – F1 Academy Win, McLaren’s First Female Driver

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Bianca Bustamante was Complex PH’s most talked about personality for 2023—for good reason. The budding athlete was the first Filipina to win a Formula 1 Academy race, capturing the hearts of millions when she became teary-eyed at the podium with the “Lupang Hinirang” playing in the background. She would later one-up the moment after becoming the first female driver to don the papaya colors for McClaren. All of this at 18 years old. Now only if she can conquer EDSA.

The Philippine Women’s Football Team’s Insane World Cup Run

Instagram: @complexphilippines

The PH Football Women’s Team were overachievers in every sense of the word. Not only did they qualify for the World Cup, they went out and got their first goal on the world stage courtesy of Sarina Bolden in a 1-0 win over New Zealand, a mind-blowing feat. In our interview, the charismatic Bolden gladly claimed her status as a role model for football’s growth in the Philippines. It’s about time Filipinos showed the sport some love.

Manny Pacquiao’s Alleged Son

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Sports wouldn't be complete without controversy. Emman Bacosa’s boxing debut became the subject of headlines after rumors floated that he is Manny Pacquiao’s son. While neither camp has confirmed the rumor, Emman greatly resembles the boxing legend on and off the ring. It was enough to keep people curious, becoming one of our most viewed stories of 2023.

juan karlos’ “Ere”

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Juan karlos took a high-profile breakup and turned it into an anthem for hopeless romantics everywhere. “Ere,” from the album “Sad Songs and Bullshit Part 1,” broke local streaming records upon release and became the first Filipino song to chart on Spotify’s Global 100. Add in this solid duet with Danish band Lukas Graham, and JK proves good things can come from new beginnings.

Ylona Garcia on Her US Career

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Ylona Garcia took a helluva leap when she decided to take her talents to the US in pursuit of the sweet sounds of Hollywood. A few years later, Ylo returns to the Philippines to reconnect with fans who’ve wondered what she’s been up to. In her talk with Complex PH, Ylona talked about her viral McDonald’s stint, prioritizing adobo over a famous rapper, and releasing music more authentic to herself.

Denise Julia Breaks Down Her Single, “B.A.D.”

Instagram: @complexphilippines

2023 saw Denise Julia enter a different stratosphere with the release of her EP ‘Sweet Nothings (Chapter 1).'  In her breakdown of the lead single “B.A.D,” she tackles the need for Morena representation in the Philippines, which traditionally has a soft spot for more Eurocentric features. It’s the latest in Denise’s evolution from a viral artist to an influential star.

Scottish Vlogger Criticizes Filipinos in Cafes

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Scottish vlogger Dale Philip caused an uproar when he criticized the Filipino culture of lounging in cafes. It was a divisive topic that saw one side echo the inconvenience and another defend the practice due to the lack of available public spaces. Philip would go on to limit the comments on his social media accounts from the backlash, proving the call-out’s messy consequences.

Songs to Make Love To

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Filipinos are naturally hopeless romantics, so this doesn’t surprise us one bit. Our playlist featuring “Songs to Make Love To” was our most viewed article of the year, implying many of you are constantly looking to up your game. We can’t blame you, to be honest; with hits from Jess Connelly, Al James, and more, keep this list ready for your next escapade.

Sneakerheads Wearing Fake Sneakers

Instagram: @complexphilippines

We caused quite a stir in our debut when we explored the growing number of Gen-Zs and Millennials who have openly accepted wearing reps. Through interviews and studies, the piece explored the correlation between patronizing counterfeit and the culture of thrift shopping, which has risen in popularity. It’s a highly debated topic, one that questions the hype and practicality of sneaker culture, with no love lost on either side.

Airport Personnel Swallowing Stolen Money

Instagram: @complexphilippines

This story became one of our most-viewed solely for the “HUHs” and “WTFs” it continues to induce. A screening officer at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) was caught on camera ingesting $300 worth of stolen bills that belonged to a Chinese national. The officer was relieved of her duties, and denied the allegations, saying she was eating chocolate instead. Weirdest foodie ever.

Manila Hosts The 2023 FIBA World Cup

Instagram: @complexphilippines

One of the biggest basketball nations hosted arguably the most beloved tournament as the FIBA World Cup returned to Manila following a 45-year hiatus. Witnessing Germany's triumph over the world, Gilas Pilipinas delivered an admirable outing with its 1-4 record, squeezing into the Olympic Qualifying Tournament come July 2024. In their sole win, the Nationals overpowered China by 21 points in front of the home crowd—procuring a historic performance that showcases the country’s love and growth in the sport.

Francis M’s Alleged Daughter

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Talk about (even more) controversy. 14 years after the passing of Francis Magalona, Abegail Rait, together with daughter Gaile Francesca, appeared on an episode of Pinoy Pawn Stars claiming to be Magalona’s former lover. She looked to auction a signed jersey by the Master Rapper, and presented a photo and love letter addressed to Abegail as proof of the relationship. The piece would later be pawned for ₱500,000, while Gaile Francesca covered her alleged father’s “Bagsakan,” which also featured Parokya ni Edgar frontman Chito Miranda and Gloc-9.

Cam Bynum’s Reunion With His Wife

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Traditionally, “bayanihan” refers to Filipinos’ unconditional love and sense of community. Fil-Am footballer Camryn Bynum proved this concept is still alive and kicking when he appealed on national TV for help to bring his wife, Lalaine, to the US. The couple had been married for two years but couldn’t reunite due to problems with Lalaine’s visa. Three weeks later, the two finally reunited in Minnesota as Lalaine watched the Vikings route the visiting San Francisco 49ers from the sidelines.

Kai Sotto Makes His NBA Summer League Debut and the First Filipino Brand Ambassador for PUMA

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Arguably Philippine basketball’s poster child for the past decade, Kai Sotto emerged as the first full-blooded Filipino to play for the NBA Summer League, delivering six points, four rebounds, one assist, and three blocks in 14 minutes. The 21-year-old, who also became PUMA’s first Filipino ambassador, would eventually end up in Japan’s B. League. Whether fair or not, Sotto’s NBA dreams coincide with the country’s massive expectations to see a homegrown athlete play in the biggest league in the world.

The Complex Council

Instagram: @complexphilippines

We’re all about making culture pop in the Philippines, so what better way to do that than by recruiting the leading names in youth culture today? The Complex Council features 32 individuals who break ground in music, lifestyle, and sports, sharing their thoughts and insights for their budding fields. From Nadine Lustre to Al James, the Council is as prestigious as they come.

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