2021 Key moments for Filipinos in the UK and the Philippines

By Lydia Clarke

As we entered 2021, we all hoped for a better year than 2020 when Covid-19 brought the world to a standstill. We were optimistic that with the rollout of coronavirus vaccine early in the year, life would be back to normal. However, there remained many challenges for everyone.

Despite the situation, Filipinos in the UK continued with their efforts to support community members. Overall, 2021 has been a good year for Filipinos working in the health care sector as more Filipino nurses were recognised for their work by national award giving bodies.

Here’s are recap of some key events that happened in 2021 in the Philippines and in the UK.

January

Most of us in the UK started off this year in a tier four lockdown. Staying indoors and only leaving the house for exercise or essential food shopping.

The AstraZeneca vaccine began to rollout in the UK in January 2021 as more people were getting vaccinated.

Travel restrictions in the Philippines became tighter, many countries were banned from entry as they reached over half a million COVID-19 cases.

Restaurants and other non-essential shops were closed for several months in 2021. Credit: first Philippine eagle bred in captivity, passed away at 28 years old due to infections.

The global death toll for coronavirus surpassed two million.

February

The Philippines received their first batch of vaccines in February 2021, CoronaVac. And they started the rollout of the vaccine for key workers and the vulnerable.

In Metro Manila, The Supreme Court dismissed the electoral protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo claiming poll fraud.

March

As Metro Manila marked the first year of a full lockdown, the first delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the Philippines to distribute across the country.

The Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) officially became the first ever digital-only bank in the country, after receiving a digital banking license form the Monetary Board.

Oprah Winfrey interviewed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan on their reasons for leaving the Royal family.

In the UK, schools in England start to re-open for face-to-face teaching.  

April

Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, dies aged 99.

The Philippines reached a whopping one million covid cases in April 2021.

The Philippine National Identity Card (PhiSys) becomes available for online registration.

Credit: Philippine Statistics Authority Facebook page

Non-essential shops and pubs re-opened in the UK as covid restrictions were eased.

In the US, Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd which sparked protests across America and the rest of the world.

May

Ariel Lanada, a Filipino nurse, became the joint winner of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Nurse of the Year award at the National BAME Health and Care Awards. In addition, the Filipino Nurses Association UK won the Community Initiative of the Year award for its outstanding work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: FNA UK Facebook page

The Philippines received its first Pfizer doses.

The rule of six was enforced in any indoor venue in the UK.  

June

The 123rd Independence Day of the Philippines was celebrated virtually by the Philippine Embassy in London due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The 15th President of the Philippines (2010-2016) and former senator, Benigno Aquino III, dies of renal failure at 61.

Former Philippine president Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III Credit: Noynoy Aquino’s Facebook page

British Health Minister, Matt Hancock resigns after he breaks restriction rules.

July

Queen Elizabeth II praises Filipino nurses in a message to the Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, on the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK and the Philippines.

Hidilyn Diaz was filled with emotion during the awarding ceremony. Credit: Hidilyn Diaz’s Facebook page.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz wins the first ever Olympic gold medal for the Philippines at the Tokyo Olympics.

Global death toll from COVID-19 surpassed four million.

August

Metro manila returned to strict lockdown. They introduced the ‘vax as one’ scheme so local governments that met their vaccination targets could then accommodate non-residents to help accelerate the vaccine rollout.

The first Marvel film with an Asian superhero, Shang-chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was premiered.

September

The Philippines reached 2 million covid cases with the spread of the Delta varian.


Pfizer announced they have made a safe COVID vaccine for 5–11-year-olds with a dose a third of the strength.

Credit: (COP26) was held, and it was agreed for countries to pledge further cuts to carbon dioxide emissions, to prevent a climate catastrophe.

All the adult population became eligible for vaccination in the Philippines.

Credit: is retiring from politics and will not stand in elections next year.

Journalist and founder of the online news website Rappler, Maria Ressa, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for safeguarding freedom of expression. She is the first Filipino to be a Nobel laureate.

The coronavirus global death toll reaches over five million.

November

The Philippines extended the entry ban for additional countries as well as the initial seven African countries banned, in response to the Omicron variant.

Cases in the Philippines were at its lowest since December 2020.

The UK identifies its first cases of the coronavirus Omicron variant. The variant was first discovered in South Africa.

December

Super Typhoon Rai (local name Odette) slammed the southern Philippines, leaving least 400 people dead and 500,000 in evacuation centres.

Metro Manila is thought to be at minimal COVID risk.

The mandatory use of face masks in shops and indoor spaces has been reintroduced in the UK because of a spike in Covid cases brought about by the more transmissible Omicron variant.

Photo Credit: Tottenham Hotspur Facebook page

NHS covid pass became mandatory to enter venues such as nightclubs.  

About the author

Lydia is in her final year studying Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University. She is currently on placement with Tinig UK. A former member of the national swimming team, she likes to keep up with her fitness. Her other interests include fashion and baking. Lydia’s main goal in the next step of her life is to travel and learn about new cultures.