Issue of December 31, 2017
Mt. Province

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FB post on ‘dead’ woman at Mt. Kalugong sows panic
by Ofelia C. Empian

Netizens were alarmed for a moment by a social media post showing  a picture of a woman allegedly seen dead by a citizen in Mt. Kalugong in La Trinidad, Benguet. But the subject woman turned out to be alive when verified by the police.

A Facebook post by one Melvin Calderon in the page Baguio Sumbungan Forum showed the picture of the woman lying prostate among the rocks of Mt. Kalugong with the caption: “Around 10:30 a.m. 12/24/17 Mt. Kalugong isang walang buhay ng babae ang nakita namin while taking pictures.”

The management of Mt. Kalugong was then informed of the incident where they immediately contacted the Office of the Mayor, which contacted C/Insp. Benson Macli-ing, head of the La Trinidad police.

Macli-ing and his team then proceeded to the site to verify the information only to be greeted by the smiling woman.

“She was only lying on the rocks to relax (which some visitors do) when someone posted in a Sumbungan Forum that she was found lifeless – a classic case of posting first before verifying,” Municipal Tourism Officer Valred Olsim of La Trinidad said on his post in the La Trinidad Tourism page to clarify the issue.

Olsim, in his post, showed the picture of Macli-ing together with Mt. Kalugong owner Susan Pablo and the unnamed woman smiling and very much alive. The woman was said to be only meditating on a yoga pose when Calderon spotted her.

“While we have the freedom to post, sometimes we have to be aware of the repercussions of amplifying sensitive cases. In the unfortunate Yangbew case last year, it affected the whole mountain activities of Benguet. It struck the image of the whole province which was further portrayed as a dangerous place,” Olsim added.

The tourism officer was referring to the unfortunate incident of a woman stabbed to death when she and her friend, who survived the ordeal, went hiking in the area April of 2016 and held up by robbers.

“If it is not too much to ask, we have to protect our place and solve our concerns within the grasp of our community. We should not only be reactive, but also be proactive. Just a personal suggestion,” he added.

Later on Melvin Calderon owned up to his mistake and apologized to the community by replying to the post of Olsim.

“There was never an intention on my part to spread unverified news nor to circulate fake information. I misapprehended the facts and with that I deeply apologize. I am sorry for causing the public to panic. I never wanted to harm anybody. In the spirit of Christmas, I humbly ask for everyone’s indulgence, understanding and forgiveness,” Calderon said. 

“To those who were hurt by my post, please accept my humble and sincere apologies. This will serve as a lesson for me. I promise to be more careful and circumspect in what I post in the social media,” he added.

Olsim, in an interview, reminded the public to always verify information before posting and it is important not to assume but facts must come from authorities first before posting online.

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