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La Bella Vita: HOPE

Czarina Imperial

The global phenomenon called “fake news” or more appropriately, misinformation, has become the new plague. In the age of social media, misinformation spreads too fast that the world viral to describe its spread is indeed infectious and contagious. Since the Philippines is the social networking capital of the world, with 47.33 million social media users spending 5 to 6 hours on social media platforms every day. Such heavy reliance of these platforms has changed the way Filipinos consume and comprehend information. It is alarming how misinformation could damage the minds and hearts of those who fall easily for the wrong and most often than not, malicious, deceptive, and misleading information, thus, there is an escalation of hate speech, inciting violence, and a real crisis in everything we have always held dear such as values and principles. Aside from giant Google, who has seen the threat to society and plans to develop a fact-checking community cross the globe that will fight the battle on misinformation, close to home are groups who have been fighting “fake news.” One of them is Rappler, the online news agency, and another is Vera Files, a fact-checker even before the proliferation of this new world bane. Both are partners of Facebook in debunking “fake news,” and we hope they are making strides in the war against misinformation. But the fight is far from over, the sheer volume of fake information proliferating in the social media networks would need all the warriors to literally save the future of society. The important thing is, there are efforts being done now. There is hope. One glimmer came to town recently in the form of Fact Check Philippines movement. Fact Check Philippines Coalition is a coalition of independent groups with one common goal--- to aid in combating fake news and misinformation. It is comprised of youth groups, academic institutions, media outfits, and prominent communication specialists that strive to represent majority of the current online population. The coalition has three short-term objectives: Develop a matrix/system by which to determine what media outfits, news items, and claims are “verifiable” and what are “fake”; creation of a legitimate platform (a fact checking site) on which Filipino netizens can report and verify the candor and rectitude of news items and sites, and; source and organize a community of fact-checkers to verify, assess, and monitor claims made by leading political figures and institutions in the country. Thus, a citizen fact checking community. The long-term objectives are: To establish a culture of intellectual discourse and mindful research amongst Filipino youth, help educational institutions, news outlets and agencies, and the general public distinguish between “real” and “fake” news, and provide them with comprehensive online resources by which to do so, and; serve as a resource and media aide, to promote better journalism and information reporting standards for national and regional media outlets. The group was here recently to organize Fact Check Philippines-Naga and to conduct a conference-workshop to participants of mostly students, the most active age group in socmed. The theme of the media and information literacy event last June 13 which was held at the JMR Museum Theater was “Waging War Against Misinformation.” Biboy Davila, a convenor, Jover Laurio, aka Pinoy Ako Blog, and Hyacinth Tiffany Jungco, project head of Fact Check Ph were the resource speakers of the whole day event. A book launching/book signing activity was done after the afternoon workshop for Jover Laurio’s book Resibo. The book is a collection of her blog entries devoted to debunking “fake news” used as propaganda in the current political climate in the country. Local partner and organizer for the Fact Check Ph-Naga is Ning Belmonte, BAN Tyranny, and Batutilan. They are grateful for the donors and the sponsors for the meals and accommodations of the resource speakers, namely, The Avenue Plaza Hotel, The Carmen Hotel, Bob Marlin Restaurant and Grill, Krypton Grill and Restaurant, Que Pasa, Bigg’s Diner, Chili Pepper, and Patty’s Bakeshop. The Cultural Scene Culture is alive and well in the metro. A night of opera songs was showcased recently in a hotel here and another is coming soon with Naga’s son and most sought-after baritone opera singer in Berlin Jonathan Saenz as main attraction. The concert will be on July 21 at the USI auditorium. Please watch out for more details as it is always a wonderful treat to watch Jonathan sing. Feria de Cultura, A Celebration of our Spanish Heritage, is happening on July 1, 4 pm at the USI Auditorium. The show will feature Philippine and Spanish Dances by CBSUA-SAMBIT AA, Vincentian Performing Arts Company, and songs by Amy Froyalde and Raymond Roldan. The show is presented by the Caceres Heritage Movement Inc. Tickets are at P200 and are available at the 3/F, GIP Bldg, P. Burgos Cor. J. Hernandez Ave. Birthdays Congratulations for a successful 70th Naga City Charter Anniversary celebration, mainly to tMayor John Bongat and the city officials and the CEPPIO with the main manAllen Reondanga and his dynamic team. Bicol Mail also celebrated its birthday on June 19. Happy birthday my beloved newspaper and congrats to the team headed by publisher Nilo Aureus, EIC Joe Perez, the writers, columnists, and staff. Thank you to our dear readers!

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