Editorial: Bohol’s Virgin Island in social media’s realm

·2 min read

A woman’s repost of her friend’s images on Facebook, including that of the list of food items at Virgin Island in Panglao Island, Bohol that totaled P26,100, has gone viral. It did not make sense to the woman that her friend, part of a group of 13 local tourists, had to pay that much.

One of the food items ordered was cooked bananas, and the tourists paid P900 for them. The Facebook post did not say the number of bananas purchased, but granting each of the 13 tourists had eaten one, it would mean that one banana cost over P60. If that’s the case, it’s obvious overpricing, even if the vendor uses inflation as an excuse for coming up with such a price.

The repost on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022 eventually caught the attention of officials from local government units and government agencies, and they launched an investigation. Then came quick decisions: Panglao Municipal Tourism Council decided to no longer accept food vendors and other tourism activities starting Wednesday, Aug. 3; and Bohol Gov. Aris Aumentado also ordered a temporary suspension of trips to Virgin Island, the English name of the area known to locals as Balut Island.

Aumentado, in his own social media post, said: “We are grateful to Social Media because it has given us a solid reason for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to craft resolutions or ordinances that can provide protection and order to tourists that have been exploited for a long time by some businessmen in Panglao and other cities (sic).” As of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the repost had been shared over 17,000 times, and it had also drawn over 11,000 reactions and 8,000 comments.

Social media companies have been derided because of their failure to rein in fake news and online sexploitation that still continue to circulate, among other issues. Governments in Europe and North America have been making moves to regulate social media companies as they wield immeasurable influence on their users. The Philippines has a large number of Filipinos hooked on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok, but the country still has to pass major legislation that will regulate these sites.

The power of social media lies in its ability to effect change—either for good or for bad.

The Facebook post of the Virgin Island overpricing issue is a valid complaint, and it has attracted swift actions from public officials and government agencies. The end result is a good one.

Being concerned about wrongdoings in the community and speaking out about it on social media is one form of activism. Aside from going to the streets and raising fists, activists or any concerned citizen can effect social change by simply writing a message, or sharing photos or videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Titkok or on other social media platforms. One should not let fear be one’s god.

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