Malilong: Don’t be suckered; listen only to Pagasa

Frank Malilong

IT RAINED intermittently yesterday, but otherwise there was nothing to complain about the weather. But it is going to turn worse today, if it hasn’t yet, if Pagasa’s forecast is accurate, which is usually the case.

Metro Cebu is among the areas placed under Signal No. 1 because of typhoon Tisoy. Pagasa Mactan said Tisoy is nowhere near the strength of Yolanda, contrary to some alarmist social media reports which have prompted the agency’s Mactan chief, engineer Al Quiblat, to urge the people not to listen to the fake news and instead trust only in the weather agency’s periodic updates on the weather disturbance.

The practice, which is common in the social media, of exaggerating potential risks has become almost a disease. I still have in my Inbox messages about a supposed plan of the Abu Sayyaf to bomb shopping malls in Cebu City during the Holy Week the other year. The senders were friends, who, while well-intentioned, forwarded the messages without at least making a limp attempt at verifying the report’s source/s.

And then not too long ago, we also received messages on Facebook Messenger about the coming of the “big one” that was predicted to level even the sturdiest buildings and cost thousands of lives. Because they came in the aftermath of a series of earthquakes in Mindanao made the reports believable. In fact, the prediction was as outlandish as Quiboloy’s claim that he stopped the quakes.

It is pointless to ask these malevolent souls to stop spreading doomsday scenarios because they are evidently hopelessly malevolent, deriving immense perverse pleasure in making other lives miserable. You can’t also trust the police to arrest them because the internet is such a huge space, tracing them is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Only we can help ourselves. Let’s not forward messages without fact-checking. And tell the friend who forwarded it to you that you do not appreciate receiving unverified messages. We should not allow ourselves to be suckered.

Back to Tisoy, Pagasa said that while it does not carry as much rains as Yolanda, it can still bring in heavy rainfall because it is slow-moving. Quiblat said flooding is a possibility and the wind itself, measuring between 30 to 60 kilometers per hour (under Signal No. 1) still poses a danger to the safety of the residents in the affected areas. Listen to your officials and heed their advice, he urged them.

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The Southeast Asian Games are on and with Filipino athletes superbly performing in almost all the disciplines, the unpleasantness brought about by the embarrassing reports of visiting athletes getting a rude, even if unintended, welcome is almost forgotten.

Still, that experience should prod us to continue looking for ways to avoid it the next time we host sporting events of similar magnitude. For example, maybe we could try asking participating nations to take care of the accommodations and transportation of their players while in the Philippines.

Let them choose their hotels, agree on what food to serve and make arrangements for meeting their athletes at the airport and bringing them to their destination. They can even bring in their chefs and their buses and bus drivers.

These arrangements are not difficult to make since these nations have embassies in the Philippines. We can also help if needed, but there should be no doubt that they should be the ones primarily responsible for making their athletes comfortable and battle-ready.

The other option is to establish a mini-Olympic Village where all the athletes will be billeted. But where will we get the money to finance its construction? Iyahay na lang gyud ta ani.