ArchivesAugust 2010Dumaguete’s rumor mill refuses to die

Dumaguete’s rumor mill refuses to die

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DUMAGUETE CITY — With four universities and seven colleges for a population of less than 150,000, Dumaguete proudly banners the moniker of being a “University Town.” The learning people get from these educational institutions is among the country’s best.{{more}}

But not everything that goes around in this city feeds the brain. Sometimes, it’s just plain gossip, like this oft-repeated story that keeps going around the social and drinking circles even two weeks after it supposedly happened.

The story has been discussed once too often that many Dumagueteños can casually walk up to another and ask: “Tinuod ba ‘to (Is it true)?” No further words are necessary. They both just know exactly what they’re talking about.

The story is about two consenting adults carrying on an illicit affair, who were out on an early morning tryst at a local hotel. Suddenly, to their horror, they discovered that their bodies involuntarily held together tight. And, as the story goes, the couple had to be rushed to the Holy Child Hospital that morning of Friday, July 23, wrapped in a blanket.

Wildfire

No one knows how the rumor started, but news about the supposed incident over a local radio station converted the rumor into gospel truth.

In a restaurant here that day, customers were not immediately interested to order some food but to avail of the restaurant’s WiFi connection and Google up the term “vaginismus”. Another one volunteered to try Wikipedia for the term “penis-captivus”.

News then spread through text and by word of mouth, as the initial crowd of about 20 people outside the hospital got bigger by the minute. Suddenly, everyone had a story to tell: that the lady victim was a co-worker of a friend, or a man comes forward claiming to know the male victim because he lives in the same barangay as he. A bartender also fed the flame further by claiming that he was able to slip into the operating room pretending to be a relative and actually saw the couple still locked in an uncompromising position.

“This is Jerry Springer material happening right here,” said a balikbayan who seemed to be enjoying listening to the people in the next table. He was referring to a US tabloid TV talk show host who has a flair for uncensored topics.

Fueling the rumor further was the sight of about five reporters with TV and still cameras entering the Holy Child Hospital at around 11 a.m. of that day to visit a sick colleague.

“When we arrived, we noticed that people were congregated in groups outside the hospital and talking in whispers. We didn’t know what was happening,” said Maricar Aranas, reporter of Fil Products Service TV and secretary general of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) Dumaguete chapter.

As they were going to their colleague’s room, they noticed some people following them. “While we were inside our colleague’s room, some people even opened the door to look at our patient,” Aranas said, laughing.

Versions

There are several versions of the rumor, depending on who one talks with. The most common yarn that was broadcast over the radio was that the woman was a teacher in one of the Dumaguete schools whose husband is an overseas contract worker, while the man was a tricycle driver. The woman reportedly committed suicide by slashing her wrist to avoid further embarrassment, according to people who claimed to have direct communication with people inside the operating room.

The Dumaguete City Police Office made its own investigation as the rumor reached higher headquarters. “I was asked by my superiors for a report and so I submitted a report which said the whole thing was just a rumor,” said Chief Insp. Errol Garchitorena, the OIC of the Dumaguete police.

He said that while the ruckus was going on, he sent investigators to the hospital, the hotel and the school and there was no evidence to support the rumor. The police were starting to complain as well, as traffic stood at a standstill at the area fronting the hospital after tricycle drivers stopped and left their tricycles on the street to investigate the cause of the commotion. And this went on until the early evening.

Denial

Despite official denials, the rumors continued to circulate by text messaging or by word of mouth. This prompted the lay administrators of St. Paul University of Dumaguete, one of the schools rumored to be the employer of the woman, to file a complaint before the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas against the radio reporter who, they said, spread the story without confirming its veracity.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page last Monday, SPUD assured the public that all their teaching and non-teaching personnel are all accounted for. “The irresponsible news item is utterly false and without basis,” the statement said.

The school also threatened to file administrative, civil and criminal action against those responsible for the defamatory allegation, because “the news report has caused us humiliation and besmirched reputation, which to our mind deserves rectification. “

Roy August Bustillo, station manager of DYSR-FM, who is the KBP Dumaguete Chapter chairman, said they have given the reporter, Dions Manaban of DYGB-FM, until August 6 to submit his written reply to the complaint.

But despite the denials and damage control, the one person who probably wants to see an immediate end to this rumor is City Mayor Manuel Sagarbarria, who prides himself as the City’s salesman. “This ugly rumor should stop. Anyway, this has already been belied.” He said he fears that should this continue, Dumaguete might lose its moniker as a University Town and instead be known by an ugly nickname.

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