“Miss World” Birthers

2013 Miss World Megan Young of the Philippines (center), with First Runner-up Marine Lorphelin of France (left) and Second Runner-up Naa Okailey Shooter of Ghana (Source: Efe/Epa/Made Nagi)

The headline read: "U.S. Protests Miss World Results." The “news story” was about a purported formal protest by the United States in which it claimed that Miss Philippines Megan Young, who competed against representatives from 127 countries to win the coveted beauty pageant title, should be declared as a U.S. entry as well.

The basis of the claim? Young was born in the United States to an American father and Filipina mother.

The claim angered Filipino netizens who wasted no time in criticizing, even condemning the reported U.S. protest. Comments ranged from passionate to angry, with some even using profanities aimed at Americans.

Others debated citizenship laws, pointing out the difference between jus soli (citizenship by birthplace) and jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood).

One commenter said "Miss World was created in the UK by the British. American Laws mean nothing to us. Sorry. You are what you represent, and that’s all there is to it."

The reaction to The Adobo Chronicles faux news says something about the Filipinos’ romance with beauty pageants.

Within 36 hours, the Internet news story went viral, recording 360,000 views. The International Business Times (IBT) published a similar piece on its web site, based for the most part on the original story that appeared in The Adobo Chronicles.

There was one big problem, the original story by The Adobo Chronicles, and its entire site, is a spoof! Readers and the IBT failed to notice the site's masthead, which said "Your Source of Up-to-date Unbelievable News." A simple click on the "About" section would have easily confirmed the parody nature of the site.

The reaction to The Adobo Chronicles faux news says something about the Filipinos' romance with beauty pageants and their pride in their kababayan who brings honor to the country—be it a beauty contest crown, boxing title, or fame in international show business.

But it also suggests the power and the sad state of today's news and social media where due diligence around fact checking on the part of both the sources and consumers of news are often taken for granted. People believe what they want to believe, whether their news comes from legitimate sources or from faux sites.

The International Business Times (left) cited the spoof website Adobo Chronicles as its source for the article "Miss World Megan Young: Did USA Protest Results? Claims of Young as US-Born Beauty Queen All Over the Internet" (Sources: International Business Times and Adobo Chronicles)

In the race to be "first," many legitimate news outlets have committed serious blunders, passing on inaccurate information to their news consumers. Social media, on the other hand, have seen their share of hoaxes, not the least of which is the repeated "demise" of action star Jackie Chan.

Is it then any wonder that a spoof can generate incredible following, passion and debate? Like "instant" and "real-time" news, netizens are quick to react to anything that teases their fancy or challenges their belief.

Quite a few commenters on The Adobo Chronicles Web site were quick to point out to others the parody nature of the story, but that didn't stop many more from weighing in with their very strong opinions.

As one of the commenters so eloquently posted: The comments and reaction to the faux story constitute "a parody of Filipino pride."

Rene Astudillo

Rene Astudillo

Rene Astudillo is the author of a newly-published book, "The Adobo Chronicles," a parody collection of world news events of 2013, as well as a cookbook and memoir, "My Bay Kitchen: Memories Of My Homeland, Travels, And More..." He has written for many publications in the Philippines, Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay Area, and was formerly the executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association.