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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Tuslob Buwa® and HTML entities

“How do I add ® to my post?” an acquaintance posted on Facebook as everyone piled up on Azul for trademarking Tuslob Buwa by posting their own versions of trademarking Cebu products and delicacies.

It’s so much easier now. You can just copy and paste special characters, including the registered, trademarked, and copyrighted signs, and even emojis. Most phones also have an option for an additional keyboard that will allow you to enter emojis, clipart, and GIFs.

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Eau de toilet

It’s a tester stock, the Lazada seller explained. I’ve heard that explanation before-from the owner of a perfume shop in Parkmall that also sells “tester” stocks.

It’s the real deal – in this case, a genuine CK One, the seller said. Perfume makers release a special batch for promotions and to serve as testers, the seller explained.

The Parkmall shop ran out of it. It was selling at abut P1,800. The actual price of the bottle is P2,500, on sale in Rustans.

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Interactive history

Every day, thousands of tourists visiting the Magellan’s Cross are told that the cross you see there “Encases the Original Cross Planted By Ferdinand Magellan On This Very Site.”

That’s not true. But that’s what tourists are told by guides and that’s what they read on the sign.

We just installed our interactive tourism markers at the site as part of our Digital Tourism initiative geared toward the 2021 commemoration of the introduction of Christianity into the country.

The markers are installed at the cross and at the nearby Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño. If you have an iPhone or an Android device that supports it, all you need to do is open your camera, point it at the marker and make sure the viewfinder covers the entire code. You will then get a prompt to open the information about the Magellan’s Cross.

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