15 Pop Culture Moments From 2023 That Deserve Its Own College Class

What a year.

These will be the stories we’ll be sharing with our grandkids in 2080.

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As 2023 comes to a close, most of us take the last few moments of the year to look back and reflect on the past twelve months, the highs, lows, in-betweens, successes, regrets, and more. And in this process of reflection, it becomes clear that 2023 was nowhere near boring when it came to pop culture. While every year has its moments that will be remembered in history, 2023 was something else, with the way pop culture did not relent. 

Dare we say, 2023 was one of the most exciting years for pop culture in a while. When 2023’s chapter is written in the history books, you can expect to see these following moments there. Scroll down for the newsmakers, trendsetters, and pop culture moments from the past year that lowkey should be taught in schools. 


To some, Voltes V: Legacy failing to live up to the hype would be no surprise, even expected. After all, the local entertainment industry has a spotty record when it comes to big-budget sci-fi productions. But when the show finally premiered in May this year, it succeeded on multiple fronts, most notably in production design and special effects. This official adaptation of the beloved anime mainly stuck the landing with how it managed to not fall under the weight of its ambitions. 

More than just being a good TV show, GMA’s biggest series ever showed that, with the right amount of time and resources, Filipino productions can hit the level of international TV shows. It was a gambit that paid off, and we hope Philippine media will continue to swing big like Legacy


KATHNIEL breakup


COVID wasn’t the only virus going around in 2023, so too was the breakup bug. Both locally and internationally, netizens were rocked with announcements of famous couples breaking up left and right. But no breakup was more impactful than Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla. 

After 11 years together as a couple and 12 as a love team, KathNiel announced at the end of November that they broke up, ending weeks of speculation about their relationship. You probably remember where you were when the news broke. It was an announcement that had half the nation crying as one of the country’s biggest love teams in history was no more. It’s the end of an era, but on the bright side, it also means the start of a new, exciting chapter, especially for Kathryn.  


From COVID changing how people live their lives to the denial of franchise renewal for ABS-CBN, Philippine media has been through it these past few years. But 2023 was special in how the network wars between the major players were mostly forgotten in favor of collaboration. Highlights from the year include the ABS-CBN x GMA series Unbreak My Heart, It’s Showtime airing on GMA, Kapamilya stars appearing on ABS-CBN shows and Kapamilya stars doing the same on GMA, and Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes making their movie reunion project with Star Cinema. 

Regardless if it’s done out of the betterment of the industry or necessity, it’s nice seeing the two play nice. What was once deemed impossible by many, mainly ABS and GMA getting along, was seemingly achieved this year. 


As the longest-running noontime show in Philippine history, Eat Bulaga is an afternoon staple that was led for decades by its trio of main hosts, Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon. However, back in late May, the trio, known collectively as TVJ, left the show due to disputes with Eat Bulaga’s producers, TAPE Inc. The exodus was swift as the rest of the hosts, along with most of the staff, left the show, eventually moving to the newly-formed E.A.T, a noontime variety show on TV5. As for Eat Bulaga, the show is still kicking, but underwent a major facelift with a new set of hosts.


When talking about sports in the Philippines, the conversation usually goes to basketball and volleyball, with the rest getting slim pickings. It’s honestly a shame given how many talented athletes we have in other sports. Case in point, the national women’s football team, collectively known as The Filipinas, made history at the Women’s World Cup. When they played at the Cup, they were already history-makers with how they became the first team from the Philippines to join the championship. They solidified themselves in the history book once more after they won a match against co-host country New Zealand. They may not have won the whole thing, but these barrier-breaking queens are still champions. 


In a year that saw quite a few Filipino songs break records, none did so quite like juan karlos’ ERE. The track, which was from his album Sad Songs and Bullshit Part 1, was a nearly five-minute epic breakup anthem that spoke to so many. It spoke so much that it became the first Filipino song in history to surpass a million streams on Spotify in a single day. Among other achievements, it also became the first OPM song to impact the top global Spotify songs chart, no easy feat. The viral megahit will probably continue to be on people’s playlists in 2024 and beyond. 


K-pop girl group FIFTY FIFTY wasn’t what you’d call a popular act at the start of 2023. While their 2022 debut received rave reviews, it didn’t launch the girls into mainstream success. That is until they dropped the viral smash that is Cupid in February 2023. In particular, the English version of the track catapulted the group to global success thanks to its uber-catchy production and wholesome lyrics. They even got featured on the Barbie movie soundtrack. 

But their momentum came to a halt after legal battles and other behind-the-scenes drama between the members and their company came to light. Now, just one of the original four members remains as the other three are locked in legal cases. What happened to FIFTY FIFTY is a sad reminder of how unforgiving the industry can be. 


Many trends came and went this 2023. But one managed to have a special kind of pull on the public zeitgeist, and that was lato-lato. It’s not a new toy, and it’s also available in other countries, but Pinoys had a cultural obsession with lato-lato this 2023 that delighted many and baffled an equal amount. Whether you were one of those who whacked those two balls together or hated the sound it made, lato-lato was everywhere. It even made it on the Top 10 most searched news items in the Philippines on Google. While the hype has died down as of late, the lato-lato craze was real. 


Social media tends to turn certain news items into pop culture fodder if the right pieces fall into place. That’s exactly what happened with the Titanic submarine, one of the most searched news items of the year, according to Google. For a quick refresher, Titan, a submarine operated by American company OceanGate, imploded on its way to view the wreckage of the Titanic. All five passengers inside the submersible died, including OceanGate’s CEO. 

As you can imagine, news of a submarine on its way to the Titanic as if it was a tourist attraction imploding in the middle of the ocean spread like wildfire as the media attention became intense. It captured people’s attention as posts, videos, and especially memes flooded social media given how the story easily lent itself to eat the rich come to life.    




Rihanna started 2023 in the best way possible. After years away from the music scene to focus on her business empire, RiRi made an epic return to the spotlight as she was announced to be the Halftime performer at Super Bowl LVII. Expectations were sky-high for the billionaire since it was her first performance in years. Rihanna being Rihanna, she began her performance not by announcing new music or a world tour, but by revealing that she was pregnant with her second child. What followed next was an understated but cool 15-minute Halftime performance that had everyone talking. Will Rihanna ever release that new album? Only time will tell, but you can’t deny she had everyone shook at the start of 2023. 


It’s part of the film industry to have two movies that play to two different crowds premiere on the same weekend. But there was nothing quite like Barbie and Oppenheimer premiering on the same day, also known as the phenomenon that was Barbenheimer. One is a bright pink film that explored existentialism, the other was a character study of a man who invented the atomic bomb and later regretted it. 

Both couldn’t be further apart from each other. But it’s this overt contrast that attracted people as many turned a meme into a lowkey cultural movement. Both movies were already greatly anticipated, so their similar release date just added to the pop culture madness it produced as many opted for the Barbienheimer double feature. Cinema has never seen something quite like this, nor will it probably in the years to come. 




Given that Taylor Swift and Beyonce are superstars in their own right, their highly-anticipated 2023 world tours were expected to do big business. But few expected that these tours would practically take over the world. As Taylor and Beyonce crisscrossed the globe (at least part of it), The Eras Tour and the Renaissance World Tour became cultural forces that broke touring records. These tours and their concert films spoke to just how iconic both artists are with the way they drove conversations, had people flying from all over the world to see them live, and had many more glued to their phones seeing the new surprise songs or the latest attempt at the mute challenge.  



my girl dinner x

♬ original sound – karma carr

It has been said that 2023 is the year of the girl, and for good reason. 2023 saw women push back once more at unfair expectations set on them by society as they unapologetically embraced their womanhood. As seen in, among other things, how the Barbie movie broke box office records and spoke to what it means to be a woman in this day and age, the year was all about letting women be women. And that also manifested in popular Girl trends on TikTok. From Girl Dinner, Girl Math, and more, people were all about putting their womanly intuition front and center. 


Say what you want about the show’s production, or lack thereof, but you can’t deny how historic it was to have the 2023 Asia Artist Awards in the Philippines this year. It was the first time a major Korean awards show was held in the country as some of K-pop’s biggest stars and local powerhouses converged at the Philippine Arena for over six hours of Asian excellence. Clearly, the awards show had many moments that got people talking, from Melai’s scene-stealing speech to SB19’s crowning achievement to how far GENTO has come. 


There was a time when comic book movies, especially from Marvel and DC, ran the box office. But 2023 saw both lose significant steam. Marvel, once seen as the king of the box office, failed to replicate that magic this year as nearly every MCU release disappointed critically and commercially. Its new streaming shows on Disney also failed to have any meaningful impact on viewers. 

As for DC, the DCEU went out with a whimper as their final slate of films became box office bombs. Of course, that doesn’t mean both are down for the count as the former is currently retooling most of their upcoming releases and the latter has the new DCU in the works. Yet, 2023 was a stark reminder that audiences aren’t going to flock to the cinema just because it’s a Marvel or DC production. Quality is still king. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Apo Whang-Od’s Vogue Philippines cover, Zoe Gabriel and her Charles & Keith saga, Pura Luka Vega’s fight for freedom, the rise of Taylor Sheesh, the Michelle Dee-issance

Continue Reading: 12 Wild Pop Culture Moments From 2022 That Should Be Taught In Schools