By Alex P. Vidal
“When fake news is repeated, it becomes difficult for the public to discern what’s real.”—Jimmy Gomez
UNTIL now, or nearly two weeks after several news websites in the Philippines carried a story that a Filipino health worker in New York City supposedly “punched” a fellow female subway rider “as a retaliation” after wiping her saliva on the Filipino, no accurate account or confirmation from credible sources to support the story’s authenticity has surfaced.
No follow-up. No independent testimony. No police report. No news from New York TV networks. No nothing—except dispatches from Philippine-based news websites.
Thus, it buttressed suspicion the story was a hoax or mainly created for purposes of entertainment, but was grabbed by the media and reported as “news.”
We have a term in the Philippines for reporters who write stories taken from false or non-existing sources: “nakuryente” or simply “kuryente.”
For a news to be credible, the reporter must first verify the sources and see to it the basic elements are there: what, when, where, who, why, how.
It’s not news if the source is only from one person—even if he or she is someone “with authority”—but someone who can’t substantiate or provide the facts.
His or her “authority”(in whatever capacity) does not make them the end-all and be-all of a credible or authentic news—unless he or she is the President who issues a statement to the public.
In this case, the reporter quoted a consul general as the source of her story.
The consul general, however, reported the “incident” only in a Tweet and did not name the Filipino and the “Asian hater” but provided only a photo of a train in the elevated rail station.
The reporter, Joyce Ann L. Rocamora, writing for the Philippine News Agency (PNA), reported on June 4, 2022: “A Filipino health worker who was at the receiving end of yet another alleged Asian hate in a New York subway, returned the disrespect with a punch, the Philippine Consulate General in New York said Saturday.”
“In a tweet, Consul General Elmer Cato reported that a woman spat and applied the saliva on the Filipino while riding the N Broadway Express in the New York City Subway in Manhattan City on June 4. The offended Filipino health worker then punched her.”
Rocamora reported further: “Without providing further details, the envoy accompanied the text with the hashtag #StopAsianHate.
‘A woman picked on the wrong Asian on the N train this morning. She spat on her hand and wiped her saliva on a young Filipino hospital worker seated next to her. She then saw a few stars. Our kababayan (compatriot) comes from a family of boxing legends in the Philippines. #StopAsianHate,’ Cato said.”
The rest of the story said: “Most netizens said while they do not condone violence, they praised the Filipino for standing up to the bully. In the past, several Filipino nationals experienced unprovoked assault and anti-Asian hate crimes in New York, which started more frequently at the onset of the pandemic.
“In March 2022, a 67-year-old Filipino woman was seriously injured after she was brutally assaulted inside her apartment building in Yonkers, the second time an elderly Filipino was followed and assaulted while almost home.
“According to the latest report of Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate, Filipinos are third among the top anti-Asian hate victims in the United States.
“Out of the 10,905 hate incidents recorded by AAPI from March 2020 to December 2021, 8.9 percent or at least 917 are Filipinos.
A majority of the incident took place on public streets and spaces and private residences, ranging from harassment, shunning, job discrimination, denial of service, being coughed at or spat upon, and physical assault.”
In order to “escape” from the heat wave, which affected more than 20 states seeing dangerously hot temperatures this week and impacting nearly 100 million Americans, I entertained the idea of watching Hamlet at the Park Avenue Armory in Upper East Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon.
But we were told yesterday (June 15) morning the production had been cancelled after one of the major cast “wasn’t feeling well.”
Was it because of the effects of heat wave?
The heat index would be over 100 degrees from the Plains to the Southeast with little relief at night until this week, according to the National Weather Service.
An excessive heat warning has been issued from southern inland California to Arizona. Temperatures in this region could reportedly reach 110 degrees over the next few days.
The American Heart Association has warned that temperatures over 100 degrees can be dangerous; high temperatures cause dehydration and increase stress on the heart.
The association recommends that individuals stay hydrated, avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages and avoid the outdoors during the peak sun hours of about 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)