While there was an outpouring of grief and a whole book’s worth of reminisces by former Malacañang staff members in the days after the death of former Philippine President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the Mandaue City Public Information Office endured an embarrassing auto-translate gaffe on Facebook instead.
The original post, written in Cebuano, read: “Mandaue City nag half-mast agi ug pagbangutan sa kamatayon ni kanhi Presidente Noynoy Aquino.” (“Mandaue City [lowers the flag to] half-mast to mark the death of former President Noynoy Aquino.”)
Facebook’s auto-translate then gave this extremely unfortunate rendition: “Mandaue City is half-masturbating for the death of former President Noynoy Aquino.” (*cue shocked expression*)
(It doesn’t help that the still image from the accompanying video shows local government unit employees standing in front of a giant Pride banner, which has adorned the Mandaue City LGU building for Pride Month.)
Alerted by a commenter, the admin of the page changed the caption within an hour to avoid the mistranslation.
Since then, Facebook has issued an apology for the unfortunate gaffe.
Facebook’s apology, which was also posted by the Mandaue City Public Information Office account, was addressed to Mandaue City information officer Atty. Eddu Ibañez, who had apparently written to complain about the mistranslation.
The Mandaue City PIO account went on to explain in the post that “the lapse was due to an isolated error by Facebook’s auto-translation technology. [The Facebook Head of Public Policy] added that they have made efforts to prevent the incident from happening again and has sent their deepest regrets on the unfortunate incident which happened on the occasion of the mourning of the death of a former president.”
The Mandaue PIO also said that they have forgiven the lapse. “Cognizant of the fact that technology remains imperfect, we chose to move on from this circumstance.”
This article, Facebook apologizes for ‘handy’ translation gaffe in Mandaue City post about PNoy’s death, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.