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The next best thing to being there



As I was reading The Washington Post headlines early Saturday morning, my gaze came across something that stopped it mid-page: ‘Philippines officials Photoshop themselves into typhoon cleanup photo.’ Now at 5 a.m. I admit, I’m not at my absolute best, but took it for granted that I’m still capable of literacy. 

Just in case, I read the headline again. Yep, even after multiple blinks and a half cup of coffee, it still read the same. The letters didn’t magically rearrange themselves into making sense.

Typhoon Nesat struck the Philippines Tuesday, killing 31 people and leaving 60,000 without homes. The estimated damage is $23 million. With a disaster of such proportions, you definitely would not find it odd to see a photo of officials assessing the destruction and trying to come to grips with a plan of action to help their country’s people. 

What you might find a bit disconcerting is to learn, in all probability, the image was digitally enhanced…to the point of literally ‘dragging’ the men into the picture.

According to the Post, a discerning blogger, civil engineer Pierre San Diego, discovered the official’s red-faced moment. San Diego said it was likely their images were dragged into the scene using Photoshop’s lasso tool. He reported that there was something about the image that just wasn’t right. After a closer scrutiny, it appeared the officials were floating in mid-air. 

I have been amazed by Photoshop before, but not to this extent. All I can say is that I knew the digital program was pretty good, but not this good. I looked at the apparent picture in question and I couldn’t see anything that ‘just wasn’t right,’ so kudos to San Diego. Of course, I’m a journalist, not a civil engineer either.

The Post went on to say that the department had taken down the photos and had issued an apology on their Facebook page. Nice of them, I suppose. But I’m not sure how the people of the Philippines feel about it; I know my first question to the officials after learning of their supposed subterfuge would have been something along the lines of: “Did you think about actually going out there and doing your jobs, instead of just pretending to?” 

I mean, what was happening that day that took precedence over trying to keep people safe from the potential risks from the sites they were purportedly surveying? Were they guarding a stash of generators so they wouldn’t have to miss Wednesday evening’s episode of America’s Next Top Model, or something? 

The chastising continued as people began a little Photoshopping of their own, even ‘dragging’ them into da Vinci’s Last Supper with the caption ‘had they only been there.’ 

Apropos of the crime, I guess. It validates the point that just when you think you can trust someone, they go and prove you wrong. 

I wonder how you say Judas in Tagalog?


Angela Rogalski is a senior print journalism major who lives in Abbeville. Follow her on Twitter @abbeangel.