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POST-SCRIPT | My take on the flesh-eating bacteria brouhaha

Posted on: April 5, 2014

I didn’t have time to blog about this when this issue was raging on and on and on…(was knee-deep in work) but I was able to give my two cents’ worth on the subject via Facebook on February 27. Here it is:

Ang tinuturo kong subject ngayong sem ay News Reporting. Basic journalism. Ano ang tinuturo sa basic journalism? Always get the side of authority/government/regulator to confirm/deny your story, to give balance. Di tinatakbo ng isang responsableng editor ang istoryang wala nito. I am a science journalist by training and ano ang itinuro sa akin sa undergrad at ng nanay kong scientist? Always try to get and explain the science behind a phenomenon or simple event. RESEARCH. It was supposedly a two-part special report, ergo, somebody had enough time to contact DOH. No one did. Not even the editor. And there was even an attempt to connect it to a prophecy. And you say there was no intent to scare the public? This cant even be termed as kuryente eh. Kuryente is katangahan at nabibiktima din ako nito. Pero ito ibang level. Ok, class dismissed. I’m so pissed off to continue my lecture. Write a 2,000-word essay about this incident and email it to the newsroom concerned. Deadline saturday.

To complete this blog entry, I am posting here Alan Roblesblog/satire about the issue:

Art by Vincent Trinidad courtsey of http://www.hotmanila.ph

Flesh eating bacteria deny reports they’re invading the Philippines

By Alan Robles

Flesh-eating bacteria yesterday denied they were invading the Philippines, dismissing news reports of such an attack as “a stupid hoax.”

In an exclusive interview conducted via microscope, two of the organisms — one of which identified itself as Sid Bafarges-Bacterium and the other as “just Duane” — scoffed at the sensationalist reports.

“Why would we invade the Philippines…what was that province again? Why would we go there? Is there something immunologically delicious there?”, Bafarges-Bacterium asked.

Early this week, a report by a TV network claimed an outbreak in Pangasinan province of the dreaded necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection that destroys skin and muscle tissue. The story was based on a reporter’s interview of just two people with alleged “mysterious” skin ailments. To emphasize the medical seriousness of the report, the reporter wore a mask and what looked like a protective suit.

Social networks went wild over the story, as well as the anchor’s claim that the “outbreak” was connected to a prediction of doom made by a shady looking foreign prophet who resembled a bad cartoonist’s concept of a child molester. Internet commenters had a field day shrieking religious warnings and prayers until a few hours later, when government health officials clarified the two alleged “victims” were actually suffering psioriasis and leprosy, respectively, and there was no outbreak at all.

“Stupid no?”, “Bafarges-Bacterium said. “If bacteria could laugh I’d be bursting my cell walls right now.”

“Hey, maybe that reporter or anchor was suffering from the dreaded brain-eating amoeba”, Duane suggested.

“If that anchor got infected by an amoeba that would probably be the first fully functioning cell that got into his head,” Bafarges-Bacterium volunteered.

The two flesh-eating microorganisms said they were tried of being sensationalized on slow news days.

“Take this ‘flesh-eating bacteria’ crap,” Bafarges Bacterium said. “Strictly speaking there’s no single microorganism that causes necrotizing fasciitis, there are several kinds of us, and for your information, we DON’T really EAT flesh, we release toxins that destroy skin and subcutaneous tissue.”

He added: “Take it from this microorganism, the chances of an outbreak of necrotizing fasciitis in Pangasinan are about the same as finding a decent science journalist in this country.”

“You tell them Sid,” Duane said.

Bafarges-Bacterium ranted: “And what is this thing linking our outbreak to this dubious looking prophet? Why would we work with someone like that, although I admit he does look like a low life, but we have standards in the microbial community.”

He warned, “and don’t you confuse us with brain-eating organisms either, that’s an amoeba, you’ll find it inside most Marcos loyalists.”

The bacterium cautioned Filipinos about being too gullible.

“Besides why would we WANT to invade the Philippines? You already have a surplus of vicious corrosive bacterium. Have you checked your Senate lately?”


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life in business journalism

crazy. exciting. boring to some but hey, you get to understand the world better when you're a business journalist. you learn to be patient with tons of documents, make sense of numbers and charts. all geeky stuff. this is my story, behind the scenes.
April 2014
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