Hoaxes come in many ways, but a recent hoax about the Philippines came via the Internet. The hoax is a supposed Time Magazine report that branded our homeland as “the most STUPID country to elect an OJT (on-the-job training) as senator.”
I was seething with anger when I first read the “report”, which was emailed to me from Qatar by my nephew Julian Basamot, Jr. Imagine Time, a well respected international magazine, calling our nation a “most stupid country.” I believe any self-respecting Filipino would have also reacted the way I did.
When I told my son Percy about it, he said the report could be a hoax. This prompted me to verify. It was supposedly the cover story of latest Time issue. The Philippine flag was even made the front-cover background.
I found out later that the cover of the current Time issue was totally different from the one emailed to me. And there was no article about the Philippines in the current issue. It’s clear that the report was the handiwork of pranksters or black propagandists who wanted to make the Philippines a laughing stock.
In my investigation, I also found out that the Philippine Daily Inquirer had fallen victim of a similar hoax: A picture of President Noynoy Aquino with his mouth agape was the supposed cover photo of Time Magazine. The Inquirer wrote a news report about it and even printed the ugly picture. Inquirer editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc had to issue a public apology after the editors found out that they were taken for a ride.
In the recent prank that I almost swallowed hook, line and sinker, the supposed article slammed the 11 million Filipinos who voted Nancy Binay, who was the OJT referred to in the Time article, for senator. The same fake article stated that the Time editors tagged the Philippines the “most stupid country” after an evaluation of derogatory reports on our country and other countries.
Finding that the supposed Time article was a fake, I felt relieved.
At the same time, though, I was concerned about the impression it caused on people who had read the bogus article. If they did not know it was false, they might have taken it as an accurate Time report. And they might have perceived the Philippines as it was portrayed — “the most stupid country.”
I was also bothered by the use of the Philippine flag as a backdrop of the fake front-cover. To me, this is totally malicious, an act which is worst than burning our national banner.
The Philippine government should not ignore this matter. It is an attack on the flag, and the proper government agency should conduct an investigation to unmask the people behind it and put them behind bars.
I suspect that the pranksters are also Filipinos, who perversely enjoy maligning their own country. It is also possible that these people are black propagandists whose purpose is to denigrate not only Senator-elect Nancy Binay but also her father, Vice President Jejomar Binay. They might have done the prank to advance their political agenda.
The government should also find ways to protect people from Internet hoaxes and scams.
It is now clear that the Internet, which is described as “Information Superhighway,” is being used by criminals and other unscrupulous individuals to hoodwink the unsuspecting public.
For a start, the government may set up an office whose function is to monitor suspicious messages, write-ups, promos, etc. being posted in the Internet. This would enable the government to warn the public on scams and other deceptive, fraudulent information being relayed through the Internet.
Internet users should also be wary of people sending to them messages about cheap products, well-paying jobs, profitable business proposals, etc. Often, these people offer money, prizes, free education, even free sex, etc.
The users should take these messages with a grain of salt. If it is too good to be true, chances are it is not true.