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Talk of the Town: Mount Mayon's Eruption, Mocha's UST Award, James Deakin Vs. Kris Aquino

How much do you really know about the past week's biggest news stories?
IMAGE INSTAGRAM @deakinitis/ JOSHUA MOLINA/ AwOiSoAk KaOsIoWa/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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Three astonishing events unfolded this week, supplying people with fresh topics for small talk and friendly chatter. For this week’s Talk of the Town, we help you separate fact from fiction when talking about Mocha Uson’s controversial award, James Deakin’s photo with Bongbong Marcos, and Mayon’s volcanic eruption.

Fact or Fiction: Ash Clouds from Mayon Resembled Artist’s Work

The Legend of the Mayon Volcano Panganoron & Magayon #ArtImitatesLife #LifeImitatesArt Long ago in a place called...

Posted by Neil Edward D. Diaz on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Last week, when Mayon Volcano exhibited signs of eruption, it spewed a volume of volcanic ash which was captured by photojournalist Jun Santiago. The published photo quickly went viral on social media because of the ash plume’s resemblance to two people, presumably Daragang Magayon and Panganoron, in a romantic embrace. It was juxtaposed with an artist’s rendition of the Mayon Volcano, which also depicted the two characters in exactly the same embrace at the same position on the volcano’s left side. Many people wondered whether the photo of the volcanic ash was real or edited.

Answer: Fiction

Although the photo by Santiago is authentic and unedited, the artwork it was juxtaposed to was edited. The original artwork was made by Kerby Rosanes. In an interview, Rosanes said that someone took his art without permission and edited it in such a way it resembles the cloud formation in the photograph. “I got no issue with it whatsoever but would be great if the publisher had asked my consent first," said Rosanes.


Mayon Volcano in Albay, arguably the world’s most beautiful volcano, is also the Philippines’ most active. Its name comes from the Bikolano word magayon, which literally translates to maganda or beautiful. This week, the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology or PHIVOLCS raised the alert level for Mayon to Alert Level 4, which means there is an imminent threat of hazardous eruption. It exhibits intense unrest, with sustained release of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. A danger zone with an eight-kilometer radius has also been established around the volcano. Alert Level 5 involves hazardous eruption with pyroclastic flow, tall eruption columns, and extensive ashfall.

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Fact or Fiction: UST Awarded Mocha Uson for Her Government Service

Over the past days, social media has been abuzz as netizens expressed concern over Mocha Uson receiving an award from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for her government service. Various memes have surfaced since the news broke of Uson’s award.

Answer: Fiction

It was the UST Alumni Association, Inc. (USTAAI) and not the university, that offered Uson the Thomasian Alumni Award for government service. In fact, the university clarified in a statement that it did not give Uson any award, but that the USTAAI did, which is a separate entity from the university and operates independently. The UST Central Student Council criticized the move with a strongly worded statement on the issue. The University’s historic school paper, The Varsitarian, called for the resignation of the officers of USTAAI.

Meanwhile, USTAAI president Henry Tenedero claimed he had no hand in selecting the awardees, whose names had been submitted by the different college committees, and and said that the only criterion for the award is to be a Thomasian alumnus in government.

“We looked at the perspective na Mocha is a UST graduate,” Tenedero said in an interview.  “We didn’t delve much into how she is as a person.”

Tenedero called for an emergency meeting with other officers and committee members of the USTAAI after the awarding received negative reaction from people. Some groups called for the award to be revoked, while others called for the resignation of its officers. However, Mocha Uson through her staff returned the award to the USTAII this afternoon. “Unknown to all and before the USTAII released a statement, I already told the President of the UST Alumni Association, Henry Tenedero, that I intend to return the award,” said Uson in a statement on Facebook. USTAII does not intend to rescind the award, according to Uson.

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Tenedero has quit as president of the UST Alumni Association on Tuesday night.

Mocha Uson earned her bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology at UST before entering medical school at the same university. She stopped after two years of studying medicine and pursued her career in entertainment. She is currently Assistant Secretary at the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

 

Fact or Fiction: James Deakin Posted a Selfie with Bongbong Marcos

James Deakin has been considered a socially aware public figure of the ills of society. He gained popularity for his insightful suggestions and solutions to Manila’s traffic. This week, a photo of a beaming James Deakin seated inside a car beside Bongbong Marcos, son the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, elicited thousands of reactions.

Answer: Fiction

It was Filipino-American mixed martial artist Brandon Vera who posted the photo on his Instagram account, as he had been in the back seat. Nonetheless, people took the photo as Deakin’s endorsement of Marcos, and Deakin was heavily criticized for the photo.

In his defense, Deakin said that a picture is not tantamount to an endorsement. “Just to be clear, a photo of me posted by someone else on their Instagram account is NOT an endorsement,” he said. “I’ve never endorsed any politician and I do not plan on starting now. I’m sorry if the perceived association offended anyone. That was not my intention.”

He then posted a link to a video of him and Kris Aquino’s in an interview as an example of how mere association is not tantamount to a political endorsement.

However, the move backfired as Kris Aquino herself castigated Deakin for allegedly using her as a shield. Her lengthy remarks were posted in her Facebook note entitled “Blog #3: WO-MAN UP”.

“NAGTRABAHO TAYO. BINAYARAN TAYO. (We worked. We got paid.) You were informative & very good for on cam conversation… Now I understand the need to “explain” yourself but really? You’ll use 5’3” me as a ‘shield’,” posted Kris on her Facebook note, referring to how a major petroleum company in the country paid for their advertorial interview.

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Kris has since accepted the apology texted to her by Deakin, which read:

“I was also working when I did the BBM conversation. But it was taken as an endorsement. I really wanted to clear that up. So brought up our video as an example because I can’t be endorsing both of you. But again I see in hindsight how I shouldn’t have gone there and for that, I am truly sorry. You’ve been nothing but gracious to me. And you don’t deserve to be dragged into this mess. I do hope you can accept my apology.”

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