Blue Sunday Ordinance in Cebu and secularization of Sundays

In 1933, Cebu City passed a Blue Sunday Ordinance that mandated businesses and factories to close on Sundays. Only libraries, photography shops, barbershops, bakeries, restaurants, public markets, and those selling “articulos de primera necesidad” were allowed to open.

Employers were required to pay those who work on Sundays extra wages.

It’s noteworthy that “pansitan” is its own category and not included in “restawran” and “karinderiya.” Pansit was life then, apparently.

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What we lost

There are many online fora and seminars nowadays – from technology, to business, to history and culture. But unless you attend or listen to the replays of each one of them, you won’t know about the very rich information being shared in these discussions.

Apart from the major business events, the very interesting or informative online conferences organized by such groups like Hambin, Museo Sugbo, RAFI, Cebu universities, and even brands like Palm Grass are not written about as extensively as they used to be.

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Circles of trust on social media

Not everything shared on Facebook is true. At times, what is shared is wrong. This is either because there was a mistake in the gathering or presentation or facts or there is a deliberate intent to mislead.

The approaches to these two errors are different: Mistakes in reporting we correct; disinformation we fight.

Disinformation is spread on social media for partisan, personal, and even commercial reasons. There are many steps you can take to protect yourself from disinformation but the first thing to do should be to gauge your level of trust on the one sharing it.

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Sunog and disinformation

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia asked reporters about “sunog” in a recent press conference. This was in relation to a story based on a social media post that was eventually deleted. The reporters told her the common term now is “kuryente.”

When I was active on the field, it was “sunog.” You get burned by a story or a news source. There is implicit trust between you as a reporter and a news source. When you are fed wrong information, that trust is burned. Nasunog. You get burned by the experience. Nasunog. Mag kisi kisi ka, nakuryente.

I can’t recall getting sunog by a news source. An editor, yes (gidaoban pa, but that’s for another blog post), but news source, no. Senior journalists in the newsroom would tell me whether a source was trustworthy or not. As I gained experience, I managed to tell by intuition and confirm by verification.

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Religion beat

The global kerfuffle over a statement by Pope Francis on civil union for gay couples shows the need for a religion beat reporter to offer important context on history, church precepts and processes, and a local point of view.

As it is, we’re likely to get just he said/he said reporting about something potentially epoch-marking in a male-controlled institution.

With local media eviscerated by revenues plunging off the cliff, it’s rare to see specialized beat reporting nowadays. At least I’m not reading it on the news reports that are churned out.

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Bad words

Ronnie was crying at the back of our classroom. We were in Grade 4 at the Mt. Matutum Christian School in Polomolok, South Cotabato and Ronnie’s crying was disturbing our class.

He was standing with arms held parallel to the ground and knees bent in a position called “sitting on the air.” It was the main punishment in our school for major offenses such as saying “bad words.” Although if you said really bad words, like “fuck,” you’d be made to eat peppers.

I cannot remember now what Ronnie was reported to have said. Hope would know. But somebody snitched on poor Ronnie, Fenis was his surname, and he was now standing – sitting on the air – at the back of the room, bawling while struggling to keep position.

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Facebook persona

Her voice was earnest, almost pleading. “Kung mamatay mo, madala na ninyo inyo sakyanan? Ang inyong balay? Ang kwarta?” (When you die, will you be able to take your car, house, or money with you?)

“Unya ang basil?” I thought to myself. (What about the basil?)

I was waiting at the border controls in Barangay Cabancalan in Mandaue City for a plant seller doing the rounds in Cebu City. I bought 4 basil seedlings and we were to exchange it, like soldiers swapping hostages, at the border of Cebu City and Mandaue City.

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“Ayaw sultii si Fionah ha? Ayaw tagai si Jasmin,” I used to tell sources when working on a story I was sure would be an exclusive when I covered Cebu City Hall for The Freeman with Zeny Jainar.

This was in 1996, about the time The Freeman first connected to the Web.

Fionah Bojos, now a lawyer, and Jasmin Ginete, now a communications executive, handled the beat for the then Sun.Star Daily.

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Live and unfiltered

Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama still uses the same personal phone number that I called to contact him some years back. He unwittingly confirmed it to me and gave it to thousands of other people on Facebook Live.

Rama attended the meeting Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia called for mayors of the different towns and component cities of the province.

Cebu City is an independent city and Rama volunteered to attend the meeting to improve coordination among Cebu City, Capitol, and the other component cities and towns in the massive effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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“Fake news” and Labella’s overreaction, abdication

Authorities arrested artist Maria Victoria Beltran yesterday over allegations of spreading “fake news” when she posted on Facebook that there were 9,000 new COVID-19 cases in Zapatera, making Cebu City “the epicenter in the whole Solar System.”

The post is clearly satirical with its galactic reference. But the point of contention and the crux of the case against her is the claim of 9,000 new COVID-19 cases in the city.

What can be inferred from the turn of events and chain of posts is that she based it on news reports quoting health officials as saying the entire sitio was deemed “infected.”

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