2016 hasn’t been an easy year by any means. From the refugee crisis at its peak to major political elections, the loss of cultural icons and more, the year was fraught with tension and marked with tragedy. Yet, it’s important to look back at the gems that weree collected along the way, because there are always things to be thankful for, no matter how big or small.
From environmental breakthroughs to cultural high points to unsung everyday heroes, 2016 had a lot of good to offer too. Here are just 16 of them:
1. Giant Pandas Are No Longer Endangered
The Chinese government undertook huge conservation efforts to protect and grow forests that are home to these adorable furry creatures. They’re now listed as “vulnerable” according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Other endangered animals who are growing in numbers include manatees, green sea turtles, tigers and humpback whales.
2. Singapore Athletes Won Big At Major Sporting Events
The nation erupted with cheers when local boy Joseph Schooling beat world champion Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympic Games men’s 100m butterfly, taking home Singapore’s first gold medal. He also set an Olympic record time of 50.39 seconds! That wasn’t all – athletes Yip Pin Xiu(pictured, left) and Theresa Goh (pictured, right) won gold and bronze medals respectively at the Rio Paralympics.
Photos: The Straits Times, Instagram
3. Leo Won An Oscar
Leonardo DiCaprio finally received an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in The Revenant, and the Internet rejoiced. We never stopped believing, Leo.
4. Volunteers And Nurses Made Superhero Costumes For NICU Babies
35 sick babies in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, US, were given handmade costumes for Halloween made lovingly by staff and volunteers. It helped give the families some joy and provided encouragement to the little ones’ parents.
5. Netflix Launched In Singapore
The Internet TV- and movie-streaming service made its Singapore debut at last, after launching in the US in 2007. Couch potatoes islandwide celebrated by binge-watching their favourite shows (no judgement here).
6. India Planted 50 MILLION Trees In A Day
The country broke a world record when 800,000 volunteers from Uttar Pradesh replanted millions of saplings from 80 tree species along the roads, railways and on public land.
7. Harry Potter Is Back
The world’s most beloved wizarding universe just got a whole lot bigger, with the premiere of the first Fantastic Beast film in November. Plus, J.K. Rowling just confirmed that she’s writing two more novels, although no word on whether they’re Potter-related just yet.
8. Solar Power Is Set To Be The Cheapest Energy Source
Billionaire businessman Elon Musk recently unveiled plans to make solar roofing cheaper than usual roofing, with Tesla solar roof tiles. This means it’ll be better for the environment and your wallet! Bring on solar energy, 2017.
9. Pokemon Go Brought People Together
Who can forget the augmented reality game that got Singaporeans all over the country up on their feet and going to the “gyms”? From alerting one another that there was a rare Pokemon down the street to making friends while on Pokehunts, there’s no denying that this game helped unite people.
Foodies were delighted to learn that two of our country’s hawker stalls won one Michelin star each – Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle at Crawford Lane and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle in Chinatown. 17 others were awarded the “Bib Gourmand” by the Singapore Michelin Guide. All in all, a great year for local cuisine!
Local crooner Nathan Hartono made us swell with pride when he represented Singapore in one of China’s biggest singing competitions, achieving first-runner up which is no mean feat. Plus, he is a total sweetheart!
13. A Singaporean Man Donated His Liver To A Stranger In Need
In an amazing story of selflessness, Mr Lim Kok Seng, a 54-year-old security concierge gave away part of his own liver to a 16-year-old girl he did not know who was suffering from a debilitating disease. How many of us would be willing to do something like that for a complete stranger? The transplant was carried out in March this year, and Mr Lim is the first liver donor in Singapore to have done something like this.
Photo: The Straits Times
14. Two Colourblind Brothers See Colour For The First Time
Viewers were moved to tears when a video emerged showing two teenage brothers putting on special sunglasses that let them “see” colours. The two have been colourblind from birth, and it was especially amazing to see how far technology has come to even be able to correct something like colourblindness.
Watch the pivotal moment below:
15. Local 12-Year-Old Receives Public Spiritedness Award For Helping A Pregnant Car Accident Victim
Ashvin Gunasegaran was given the SCDF award for rushing to the aid of car accident victims in Yishun earlier this year, instead of standing around taking photos like others were (for shame!).
Photo: The Straits Times
16. A Plane Was Flown Around The World On Zero Fossil Fuel
History was made when Swiss pilot and pioneer Bertrand Piccard flew his Solar Impulse 2 around the world sans fuel. The solar-powered plane flew 42,000 km in over a year, and is a promising leap forward for the environment.
May 2017 be filled with even more wonderful things!