Days before the opening of the 2019 South East Asian Games in the Philippines, #SEAGamesfail2019 trended on local Twitter. The hashtag was used by users sharing supposed nightmare stories about the country’s hosting. From design complaints to logistical slips, it seemed like the games were shaping up to be a disaster.
The accusations came like an avalanche. Blunder after blunder, with photos to support the claims. It really seemed like a well-coordinated demolition job on the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC). But what unraveled these last few days was that most of the accusations were magnified or completely false.
Netizens were shocked and angered that practically all the bad news they’d been fed the days and weeks prior were proven to be erroneous or blown out of proportion.
A warm welcome
For obvious reasons, the report drove thousands furious. People called out the printed sign, not having been to our airports themselves. In fact, well-designed materials have been placed, including placements present long before the SEA Games. These included murals, artifacts, and other installations that welcome visitors with trivia about our rich culture and heritage.
Early setbacks upon arrival
Another #SEAGamesfail2019 news item that stood out was our apparent mishandling of athlete arrivals. The football squads of Timor Leste, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Thailand ran into problems during their first few hours in the country. However, it was revealed that some of these problems were a result of early arrivals. This of course complicated both pickup times and hotel bookings. PHISGOC has since apologized for any shortcomings on their part. These proved to be isolated incidents in a day where over 70 contingents arrived in the country.
Those pushing #SEAGamesfail2019 on the other hand, exaggerated images of the Cambodian squad sleeping on the floor. They were made to look they were forced there, when in fact they denied a room with chairs, so they can rest better as they waited for their rooms to be prepared.
“We asked them if they needed more chairs but they declined, preferring the floors so they could lie down to rest. Lunch was also served to them accordingly,” Century Park Hotel said in a statement.
Inquirer: Is Biñan in Quezon City?
The onslaught of erroneous journalism continued. In a November 24 report, Inquirer.net reported that the Thailand football team was unhappy with the condition of the Biñan Football Stadium. In their report, they used a photo of the U.P. Diliman football field, which drew the ire of no less than the Binan City Information Office.
Inquirer.net has since apologized for their mistake.
Ricky Velasco’s flag tablecloth
ABS-CBN ran into their own brick wall as their former DZMM reporter Ricky Velasco wrongly attributed photos he found on social media to another supposed #SEAGamesfail2019. In fact, the original poster Albert Papina even cleared the air, and was angered about how his photos were misused.
A statement has since been issued by ABS-CBN News distancing themselves from Velasco.
GMA reporting flush with falsehood
GMA News was not to be outdone by their rivals. In a report by Senior Correspondent Dano Tingcungco, he tried to insinuate that there was a male urinal in a female restroom at Biñan Football Stadium. He was right, but it is meant for little boys brought by their mothers to urinate.
GMA News has since deleted the tweet.
The reference to a “conjugal cubicle” was based on a similarly erroneous report of a cubicle with two toilets, which was proven to be an old photo prior to the restroom’s renovation.
It was never kikiam
In what was arguably one of the most discussed supposed gaffes of #SEAGamesfail2019, athletes were reportedly served kikiam by the WhiteWoods Hotel. This claim was broadcasted famously by Let Dimzon, coach of the Philippine Women’s National Football Team.
In a Philippine Star report that explains the misunderstanding, it’s revealed that Dimzon only saw a picture of the supposed kikiam meal, and was not even present at the hotel.
“According to the hotel, Dimzon has “repeatedly” apologized to the staff and management for her comment but the statement had already gone viral before she could make corrections,” the report writes.
Athletes were apparently bringing in food from outside.
South China Morning Pork
Another incident of fake news occurred with the South China Morning Post, as they claimed Singapore’s Muslim athletes were served pork. This was refuted by The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), insisting that this was untrue.
Ready for the games
Despite multiple reports of fake news, the games are good to go. Organizers are prepared, athletes are geared up for their respective sports, and fans are excited.
The Philippine Information Agency has put together a photo album showing the venues are more than ready. Unsurprisingly, the New Clark City Sports Complex is proving to be world-class. It’s equipped with a PGH Poly Clinic as well as a Halal Kitchen to accommodate athletes’ dietary requirements.
Opening rites for the 2019 SEA Games will be held on Saturday, November 30, at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. The event will be headlined by some of the Philippines’ top musical acts including Lani Misalucha, Christian Bautista, and KZ Tandingan. Production will be under award-winning artists Floy Quintos, Ryan Cayabyab, and live content creators FiveCurrents, among others.
PH Sepak Takraw team is in a proper hotel
Another victim of #SEAGamesfail2019 fake news was the Philippine Sepak Takraw team. A post in a certain “Subic Bay – Olongapo Resident’s Page” on Facebook wrongfully claimed that they were given shabby accommodations in an elementary school, as if they were refugees. This was strongly rejected by Philippine Amateur Sepak Takraw Association (PASTA) President Karen Tanchanco-Caballero. She confirmed that her athletes were comfortably billeted in a proper hotel.
ASICS sports kit worth 6k
On the morning of November 24, a certain Bantay Nakaw Coalition page on Facebook spread fake news that athletes were being provided a very simple dri-fit Asics shirt. Worse was that it carried the price tag of P6,000.00 – a truly ridiculous amount. But in fact, this was not even part of the actual uniform for athletes. Fencing coach Amatov Tuyay Canlas, among others, posted the actual full kit athletes were receiving. The kit includes a barong Tagalog designed by Francis Libiran.
The official SEA Games 2019 app
A malicious post on Facebook was published by a certain Earl Calingacion on November 23, suggesting a very rudimentary app to be the official SEA Games app. The post was complete with mocking hashtags #FilipinoPride and #ThanksTatayD. Calingacion’s post has over 4,500 shares as of writing.