The Power of Social Networking, Media and Heroism

The grainy photo posted on facebook that launched thousands of likes and catapulted a school girl to folkloric heroism.

We were taken for a ride by the torrent of information about the elementary school girl from Malinao who was virtually unknown and catapulted to instant fame and became a local heroine. Many thanks to the one who posted the still shot on Facebook and added details about the photo.

Us (the Cbanga360-Bicol Street Journal) lifted the information lock, stock and barrel. The national print and broadcast media joined the chorus and guess what. Many were mesmerized and electrified based on the Facebooker account. Maraming nakuryente!!!

People and Offices Who were electrified. Below were various reactions gathered based on the Facebook entry stimulation, not necessarily in chronological order:

1. Maritess Kallos said Pinoy Power Coalition of Volunteers (PPBCV) president Ofelia Samar-Sy, accompanied by department of education (DepEd) Bicol region director Orfelina Tuy and some other local school officials came to the school to meet Lelis.

2. The news feed promptly reached Malacañang and President Benigno Aquino III commended the act with Presidential spokesperson Abegail Valte saying “it was an indication of something greater that resides on a person”. A tribute would be arranged for the girl, Valte announced in a recent radio interview in Manila.

3. Sy brought the girl to Legazpi City for a shopping spree at a posh mall where all her new school uniforms and school supplies were bought. She was taken back home after the whole day shopping with a bulk of foodstuffs and other items including housewares to replace those that were lost to the calamity.

4. More words of adulation were posted on the web, published by national newspapers and aired on radio and televisions.

5. Boxing icon and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao (may) has sent assistance to the girl and her family.

6. Philanthropists Mariel Tolentino, Baby Teoseco-Crus, Emma Nieto and Sen. Franklin Drilon’s wife, Mila sent cash and relief items for the girl and her family.

Tolentino had also assured the girl and her family of a P6,000 monthly or P200 daily stipend as she insisted on her philanthropic intention after her adoption offer was turned down by Lelis who said she prefers to stay with her “kuya” and “lola”.

Sy, a medical doctor, said she is taking charge of Janelle’s 64-year-old grandmother’s health by providing free medical services and medications.

7. Anton Lim of Tsu Tzi Foundation Davao who had also commended Lelis for her remarkable act, Sy said, had also coordinated with the PPBCV on the assistance the group is extended to the girl and her family while its Tabaco City chapter Antonio Tan and wife Therese had set this weekend a schedule to take her to shopping at the family-owned Liberty Commercial Center (LCC).

8. Lelis was honored in a simple ceremony at the National Historical Institute office in Manila yesterday for (sic) “saving the Philippine flag in her school in Malinao, Albay at the height of typhoon ‘Juaning’ last July.

9. And many more and adding.

So, what was the phenomenon that prompted thousands of facebookers to like the entry about the local girl hero?

Mrs. P. (she wants her name withheld) one of our citizen-journalist based in Malinao, Albay, filed this story:

As the fiesta of our town was approaching, in celebration of the feast day of patron Sts. Anne and Joachim, Edcel Lelis was instructed by his high school principal to take charge of taking off (fetching) the flag from the school (and make available) on parade day.

Unfortunately, on the eve of July 25th, the unabated rain came pouring in brought by the effects of typhoon Juaning unsparing Malinao and surrounding towns of Albay and Camarines Sur.

The following day, July 26, 2011, the ill-fated feastday and town fiesta found our municipality submerged in knee-deep of floodwater. The typhoon lingered on the rainfall caused continuous heavy flooding making it hard and unpassable for motorists and pedestrians.

Edcel was supposed to get the flag from the high school where he study and bring it on the day of the parade. Fearing that the flag might get lost (editor: wind blown? ) and be made to pay for it eventually, then instructed his younger sister Janela to get the flag in his behalf. Janela is studying in a different school, the Malinao Central School.

Edcel was helping his grandmother salvage belongings in their flooded house. Obedient Janela, followed the line of thought of his brother that they don’t have money to pay for a lost flag waded into the flood. Without giving second thought about her personal safety.

After taking off the flag from the school she treaded her way back on a flooded knee-deep street with the unfurled Philippine flag constantly blown by the gust of wind. Then, one moment of that trek, a facebooker made a photo of her plight and the rest was the story that consumed the interest of many.

(Editor’s note: The photo that launched thousands of facebook likes.)

Insights. Everybody loves a hero. Any positive news, is good news, in this dire times of economic hardship. It could lift sagging spirits and become an inspiration. Even though there was journalistic exaggeration committed. Janel played hero to her brother and stood tall and bigger than him. Hence, we need more Pacquio bouts of winnings, Philippine Dragon Boat Team rowing trophies, and more.

Could these be the prevailing sentiment among Filipinos, seeking for palliative shots to shy away from the daily grind, a lot of news details on government and its men, including those in uniforms, who are consumed and embroiled on various controversies and acts that drain the financial resources of the nation?(

Read the story (sic) on this link: Heroism of Malinao school girl receives public adulation.


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