By Ed Diokno
The Philippines got a couple of high-tech acknowledgements on June 12, Philippine Independence Day. One deserves a “Thank You,” but the other – uh – an “Oops?”
For the first time, Facebook recognized the significance of the day by featuring an illustration of the Philippines’ flag above its news feed. Unfortunately, the banner was upside down with the red half on top. As all flag aficionados know, that’s a signal that the country is in trouble or at war.
The fact that this mistake occurred a week after the Philippines held its presidential elections led some to question the social network’s intentions. But Facebook was quick to apologize.
“This was unintentional, and we’re sorry,” Facebook told the Philippine Star. “We care deeply about the community in the Philippines and, in an attempt to connect people on Independence Day, we made a mistake.”
Facebook was inspired by Google’s Doodle that changes frequently to recognize a significant day or event. This year, on June 12, Google featured a jeepney, a popular mode of transportation in the Philippines, with celebrating passengers.
“You can see these types of buses all over Manila, which is the capital and the center of many of today’s festivities,” said Google.
“As Filipinos rally around their new President, Vice President and senators, we hope today’s Doodle inspires a sense of bayanihan — a sense of working together for a common cause. The brilliant colors of the Doodle and the hopeful faces reflect the bright future of this great nation and its people.”
It is not the first time Google has recognized Philippine Independence Day. The internet company has created June 12 doodles for a number of years.
The fact that Google and Facebook, iconic corporations in our new age of instant communication and connections, even bothered to acknowledge the date is significant unto itself. Perhaps it is a nod to the Filipinos, who have embraced the new technology so much that the Philippines has had a larger presence on social media beyond its borders.
Or – it could be an expression of appreciation for the thousands of employees who work in the Philippines call centers, which is helping transform Philippine society by helping solidify the presence of a real middle-class bridging the gap of the country’s 1 percent and the great masses of people who live in poverty.