Social Media Reporting on the #Megamall Robbery

My mom and I were just finishing up dinner that Saturday when I checked Twitter. I spotted a tweet from MMDA that said there was an ongoing situation at the mall.

Soon, my timeline was abuzz with retweets from supposed eyewitnesses about what was happening: that shots had been fired, people had stampeded, and shops had shut their roll-up doors for security. No one was allowed in or out of the mall.

Then I started seeing tweets about a hostage situation, but something felt off. It was like listening to a story becoming more elaborate the more it was told.

By that time we had tuned in to AM radio to see if they had gotten ahold of more concrete details. I was wary about trusting too much to Twitter because you never know if your source saw it with their own eyes or is relaying a story someone had in turn told to them.

Then DZMM tweeted that their reporter had interviewed someone who told him a woman told him the hold-up had happened at a jewelry store and the perpetrators were wearing cosplay costumes. Yes, you read that right: the reporter reported hearsay!

This hearsay started spreading as fact, and opinion turned ugly against cosplayers. There was really a cosplay event happening at the mall on the day, but I believed that had the perpetrators been in costume, they weren’t really participants at the event but had just taken advantage of it.

After an hour of us breathlessly awaiting more news, finally SM Megamall and the mayor of Mandaluyong released statements.

There was no hostage-taking.

Only two shots had been fired, not five and not repeatedly as tweets had reported.

The suspects were in plain clothes, not costumes. (Nakuryente ang DZMM dun.)

And the suspects had gotten away in the first two minutes during the initial panic and confusion. They’re still at large.

#Megamall trended, but the hashtag perpetuated a lot of the initial wrong reporting. It wasn’t just a Twitter problem, either: Philstar.com reported it too (and still hasn’t retracted the article). The next morning I found myself still reading reactions from people especially about what the suspects were wearing and whether there had been a hostage situation.

Yes, Twitter and Facebook provided a lot of real-time updates at a time when people were desperate for more information. It’s also during those times when it’s most important to discern what is factual and what is not. The nature of the internet and social media being what it is, wrong information sticks around longer (due to search engine caching of uncorrected articles and tweets). Because I’ve been an internet user for a long time, I’ve learned to turn a critical eye toward “news” I see spreading on social media. However, there are thousands of Filipinos who are new to this and don’t know how to fact-check for themselves.

I think it’s important for people to start educating themselves on how to use social media properly so they aren’t swept up and carried away by every trending topic.

Red Ocean, Blue Ocean

In 2009 when I took an improv acting workshop, our mentor Jourdan Sebastian told us about “red ocean, blue ocean”. This was adapted from a business strategy book called Blue Ocean Strategy, which posits that instead of attempting to compete within the existing market (a red ocean full of sharks in a feeding frenzy), a business should create new demand in uncontested market space (a blue ocean).

Improv Acting Workshop 2009

improv workshop activity


Instead of business, though, we applied it to ourselves as actors, performers, and artists. What could we offer that was new to the industry? What did we each have that nobody else did?

After the workshop period ended, we each went our ways. My batchmates went on to make (bigger) names for themselves:

  • Abby Asistio, musician and alopecia awareness advocate
  • Gee Canlas, speed-talking TV host and Amazing Race PH contestant
  • Miko Pepito, spoken word artist
  • JB de Leon, professional photographer
  • Teddy Corpuz, musician of Rocksteddy and co-host of It’s Showtime
  • Roxanne Barcelo, actress

To tell you the truth I felt out of my depth in that workshop. Everyone there had a “blue ocean”; for instance, Abby could sing and rap, and now that she’s open about her alopecia it to set her apart. Gee could talk a mile a minute, which attracted attention from TV networks that cast her as a host.

What was I good at? What did I have that nobody else had? Looking back now, I didn’t turn out the way I thought I would in 2009. But I think I’ve found my blue ocean, and it’s online. It’s not going to be without difficulty that I make my own mark; I’m not the first female running blogger, nor the most famous. But I do have my own unique skills that no one else has. I’m hoping that makes the difference for me this year. 😉

Tea Time

I used to say that I only had one cup of coffee a week. Then it grew to two. Then three. Before I knew it, I had a full-blown dependence on Starbucks lattes. It didn’t help that for the previous month I’ve been trying to rack up enough stickers to claim a planner.

So I went cold-turkey. And that’s where this belated Christmas basket from Lipton Philippines comes in.

Thanks Lipton for the Christmas basket!

Thanks for the Christmas basket!

I go through phases of what kinds of drinks I prefer. I had this whole orange juice phase, and I’ve just gotten past the coffee phase. The cycle’s coming back to tea, and as I write this entry I’m brewing up a cup of Lipton Yellow Label. Read more

Shopping with My GCash-AMEX Virtual Card

I use my credit card for online payments especially when I purchase apps for my iPod Touch. However, there are websites in the US, like Amazon.com, that won’t ship to the Philippines — or if they do, there’s a hefty shipping charge.

That’s why when Globe Telecom introduced the GCash-AMEX virtual card last October, I jumped on the chance to order some books and DVDs I’ve been dying to get for the longest time.

Activating my GCash-AMEX virtual card
using an iPad to activate my GCash-AMEX virtual card

Along with media and bloggers, I was invited to the launch and learned that Globe had struck up a partnership with American Express and My Shopping Box to make shopping from US stores easier. Read more

Superbook!

This month it seems the cartoons I watched in my childhood are coming back around. I’m impatiently waiting for the Jem and the Holograms DVD box set I ordered from Amazon. I just watched the live action adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin. And this Saturday, I’m attending the Superbook Reimagined Family Fun Day!

If you never watched Sunday morning cartoons on GMA7 back in the late 1980’s you might not remember what Superbook is. Let me refresh your memory.

Superbook

Superbook

Read more

Goodbye, Old Friends

This is a secret I rarely share with anyone, but I love stuffed toys. We’ve moved house twice in my life, and I’ve always brought my little friends along.

But there always comes a time one has to let go of them. There just isn’t a lot of room in our condo. I asked over Twitter where I could send these six stuffed toys for charity. I didn’t want to dump them in the trash, and I know there are children who don’t have any to call their own.

stuffed friends
I will miss you *tear*

It’s also been shown that integrating stuffed animals into therapy for young children can provide a sense of security. Remember last year after Typhoon Sendong? A little girl started a toy drive for the children in CDO and Iligan affected by the typhoon.While there are a number of places I can send my toys to, most people recalled that Jollibee launched the 18th “MaAga ang Pasko” charity drive. So that’s where my well-loved friends are going. May they make another child’s life as happy as they did mine.

A Morning at Mercato Centrale BGC

Back when Mercato Centrale first opened near Bonifacio High Street in 2010 for its Morning Mercato market, I would drop by on Sundays after a race for some food and drink. I was already familiar with the concept of weekend markets where fresh food and produce were offered, since my family and I frequented the one that used to be held at the Lung Center of the Philippines compound on Quezon Avenue. Still, the charm of each weekend market is the variety; they don’t all have the same concessionaires, so you could have a completely different food and shopping experience from one market to another.

fresh produce
organic produce fresh off the farm

Today, Morning Mercato re-opened in its original location at the corner of 30th Street and 9th Avenue in BGC. It’ll be there on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am to 2pm through November and December. (Midnight Mercato will still be held at the Mercato tent near Turf BGC.) Read more

Driving in the City

I drive a lot around this city of mine, which in reality is a cluster of 16 cities all huddled together near the mouth of Pasig River on the eastern coast of Luzon island. Metro Manila is my ‘hood, yo, and negotiating the maze of streets is almost second nature to me.

It is, however, a nightmare to get around if you don’t know exactly where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. I have a few friends who shy away from meeting up if they’ve never been to the venue or area, and I still get lost on occasion. No, wait, I don’t get lost. I just temporarily find myself in a different location from where I want to be. 😉

Today I attempted to get to the Manila Diamond Hotel where my mom is booked because she’s attending a medical society conference. I’m not familiar with establishments and roads in the Roxas Boulevard area, so I attempted to use Google Maps to find an acceptable route.

Turns out, I know the ins and outs Manila better than Google Maps. I was driving on Gil Puyat (Buendia) heading towards Roxas Boulevard, but Google Maps told me to take a U-turn and head back to EDSA, and only at the endpoint of EDSA would I be able to get onto Roxas. The Buendia route I was already on was shorter and more straightforward, so I ignored Google Maps. By doing so, I also avoided the usual horrendous traffic build-up near the EDSA-Taft intersection.

Traffic’s another thing you’ve got to master when getting around Metro Manila. I’m thankful there’s a handy smartphone app from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) which shows you at a glance how heavy traffic is on major roads, particularly C-5 and EDSA. But only the uninitiated would take these roads during rush hour (which is actually rush two-, three-, or four-hours, depending on whether there was an accident or if it rained).

The roads less traveled parallel to the national highways can cut hours off travel time. You may already have traveled those roads before, but would never have connected them together into an alternate route unless you take a chance on them. There was one time I picked my mom up from the airport in Pasay and was driving her northbound to her office in Greenhills. A huge traffic jam had built up on EDSA-Guadalupe, so I took the off-ramp towards Rockwell/Estrella Street. From there, we took a bridge over the Pasig River, wove through the streets of Mandaluyong, and emerged on Wilson Street in Greenhills just a kilometer away from our destination. It had only taken us 30 minutes to negotiate, and in a city where it takes an hour to get anywhere, that’s major.

I do wish there were a way to get around the city faster, cheaper, and environmentally-friendlier than driving a car. I hope I live to see the day an extensive rail line and efficient public transport can get me around town. Or someday maybe I could even bike to work safely?