The 9-magnitude quake--the largest ever to hit Japan--struck the northeast region of mainland Honshu on 11 March had the world glued to the boob tube since the devastation began unfolding itself. The confirmed death toll is above 7,600, surpassing the 1995 Great Hanshin Quake (death toll: ~6,400) with thousands reported to be missing after a series tsunami waves began to happen 1.5 hours after the giant quake.
The events became complicated when the Fukushima nuclear power plant exploded prompting the government to evacuate thousands of residents in the nearby area 30-kilometers away from the crippled plant. Plant workers battled round the clock to contain the accident by spraying seawater and boric acid. The authorities were challenged to shelter the residents in various places under snowy conditions.
The Philippine media has sent to Tokyo their correspondents to cover the event focusing the plight of the Filipinos in the country.
However, the reports by leading Manila networks disappointed a score of Filipino residents from different areas in the severely-damaged country. They said that the reports seemed to be more shocking than they really were that resulted in their relatives in the Philippines to worry about them.
Here are the messages of my Filipino friends in Japan that I lifted from my Facebook wall with their permission:
From a teacher in Tokyo: To all Filipinos in Japan. Huwag maging praning. [Don't be anxious.] Stop watching ABS and GMA. Watch NHK in English instead dahil ito walang dagdag bawas. Masyadong madrama ang mga foreign news organizations esp sa Pinas. Masakit man sabihin pero totoo. Parang telenobela sa TV. [Watch the NHK in English instead because they do not add nor delete information. The foreign news especially that of the Philippines sensationalize the news. The half-truth about their reporting hurts but it's true. They are like telenovelas.] Please ABS and GMA stop from sensationalizing what is happening in Japan. Lalo ninyo lang tinatakot mga relatives namin sa Pinas. [All the more that you scare our families in the Philippines.]
From a Japanese government scholar in Sapporo: Puro reminders ang postings dito. Hourly nag uupdate ang tepco. May mga reliable sites makikita sa Hokudai ISC webpage andun lahat. Yung sa british embassy reliable din.yung iba wala talaga. [All postings here are reminders. TEPCO sends hourly updates. They have reliable sites in the Hokudai ISC webpage and all information is there. The British Embassy website is reliable too. The others are not reliable.]
From a Manila-based former Japanese government scholar: Eh, namili nga ng betadine yung mga kapatid ko dahil dun sa mga text messages tungkol sa radiation fallout. At malapit na rin akong mag panic buying...hehe. Dahil Pilipinas naman ang sunod. OMG, wag naman po! [My kins already bought Betadine because of the scare of radiation fallout. And I'm almost in panic to buy (Betadine) because the Philippines could be the next one to be hit. OMG, I pray it won't be.] But on my side, I will be giving a disaster preparedness seminar to high school student next week. And I will surely tell them to watch out for announcements from experts not from news anchors.
From a Nagoya-based former Japanese government scholar: and as if the whole of japan is in chaos and was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami! how about the osaka, nagoya, kyoto, fukuoka or sapporo? i never heard from the philippine news na safe, normal, aqnd ok lang ang life sa southern japan! they made it appear na buong japan ang affected! [I never heard from the Philippines news that the life in southern Japan is safe, normal and living life normally. they made it appear that the whole of Japan were affected!]
From a Sapporo-based columnist and mother of three: hay..ti-nry kong manood ng TV patrol na si Korina ang host at hindi ko natapos..even the way she delivered the news e parang nananakot..[I tried watching TV Patrol a while ago that was hosted by Korina, and I did not finish it..Even the way she delivered the news made it appear too scary..] they are over-sensationalizing things to get more audience views..and commenting on the nuclear thingy as if they know..this is such a sensitive topic kaya kung hindi sigurado e wag ng mag-comment at baka makaloko pa na iba. [This is such a sensitive topic that is why if they are not sure (of the facts), they better not comment to avoid frightening other people.
From a Tokyo-based Bloomberg employee: sa mga kababayan ko na nasa Pilipinas, wag po kayong matakot na magkakaroon ng radiation fallout jan. Ang binigyan lang po ng warning ay yung within 30 km radius of the Nuclear reactor's location na wag lumabas ng bahay. Kami pong nasa Tokyo which is 240 km away ay wala pong kahit anung warning. Napakalayo po ng Pilipinas nasa mahigit 3,300km po ang layo from Japan. [To my fellowmen in the Philippines, don't be scared of the radiation fallout there. Those who live within the 30-kilometer radius from the nuclear reactor's location were advised to stay home. We in Tokyo who are 240 kilometers away from the affected site was not warned. The Philippines is over 3,300 kilometers away from Japan.]
I posted in Facebook this message last night: I advise the Philippine media that the Japan quake on 11 March has been upgraded from 8.8 to 9.0 magnitude since 13 March. Please refrain from saying anything less than 9.
I was outraged when a radio reporter seems not to be updated on the events he was reporting.
On 13 March, I reacted over local news anchors' insensitive remarks over the Japan calamity. The story is found here.
From then on, I seldom relied on the local media as far as the Japan disaster is concerned. I switched on to more credible sources in Japan and leading international media and academic blogs as well as watching the news on NHK TV.
This story is a plea to the Philippine media to re-evaluate how they report the news. They should get their facts straight before commenting.