FAYE REVISITED: It has been raining emails since I came out Tuesday with the story of Faye, the 11-year-old girl who journeyed to Australia with her mom and won first place in a Science Quiz, topping a field of 57 contestants from all over the world.
I picked up her story from a print ad and made the usual checks, because I found some aspects of the story rather unusual. If a reporter submitted the same story to me as editor, I would have grilled the writer before using it.
(Those who want to review that POSTSCRIPT may check our Tuesday issue, or visit www.manilamail.com and click the Faye link on the homepage.)
While some readers vouched for the existence of Faye and the veracity of her story, two of them adding that they have seen the girl, there were others who were skeptical.
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ELUSIVE PASTOR: We made several calls to the Bread of Life Ministries, which took responsibility for the Faye writeup. We asked for Rev. Bong Saquing, associate pastor, who we presumed wrote the article because his name appeared under it, but he was reportedly too busy.
I said all I needed was five minutes, but he would still not take my call or return it. I asked the secretary to ask for me the question: “Is everything in that article true and factual and nothing was exaggerated?”
Coming back, the secretary told me Rev. Bong's answer was Yes. I said I wanted to hear that directly from him. But he would not take the call.
Meantime, some TV crews went to the Ministries last Tuesday to tape Faye and/or Bong. (Please pardon my calling the reverend “Bong” to save space.)
I asked for Faye's full name and her school, but those I talked with at the Ministries said they were not authorized to give such information.
Jessica Soho was scheduled to air her interview with Faye last night. Some of you may have seen it. Also last night, a major newspaper was also set to interview Bong after their evening service. I would have joined the interview, but that would be too late for my deadline.
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FAYE IS REAL: I checked again the Bread of Life website last night before preparing this column and discovered that Bong's name (as author) has been removed from under it. I wondered who did that and why.
In one of my countless calls to them, the Ministries secretary told me that Bong said Faye is not a fictitious name. He reportedly said that somebody took the editorial liberty to add “(not her real name for very sensitive reasons)” to her name in the print ad.
At this point, I do not know what Jessica asked Faye (or Bong if he was also there), but had I been able to talk to either Faye or Bong I would ask about the unusual things I have noticed.
First question is about Faye's identity. If the author wanted recognition for the girl, as he seemed to, he should have identified her in the writeup. To respond appropriately, we need a face and a name.
Second question is: Does Faye agree fully with what was said in the Bread of Life article on her?
What is her school? And how come the school never bothered to talk about its prized student?
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QUESTIONS: More questions I would ask Faye and/or Bong:
What could be the reason why the “Intercontinental Science Quiz Net” and the “Mathematics for the Young Asians” contest where Faye won honors were not publicized by the sponsors? My search for them in the Internet had proved futile.
Who were the senators and other officials who were asked by Faye's mom to help but refused? We have to know who they were so we could do something about it.
Why is there a repeated and consistent attempt to put down Jasmine Trias (just her, by name), the American Idol finalist who was lionized all over town and received by President Arroyo?
When Faye and her mom reached the contest site in Australia after hiking two kilometers in their native dress, they were surprised to learn they still had to decorate a country booth. If they had virtually nothing with them then, how come their booth won a prize?
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POLITICAL POINTS: It is important that we were able to establish that Faye is a real person. The TV appearances alone would have settled the point of her identity.
But the unusual details of the story are another matter. The question lingers in my mind: Is the account of her ordeal true, factual and not exaggerated, not embroidered?
I also want to know directly from Faye if she is aware of an apparent attempt to use her (1) to put down Jasmine Trias, and (2) score political points against the government.
By its title alone, the political angle to the writeup is obvious. It says: “Misplaced Priorities Can Mislead the Nation.” The text portrays the administration as uncaring and having skewed priorities.
The failure of Malacanang to invite Faye upon her return from Australia was highlighted. But in fairness, since the contest sponsors, her school and the others involved in the contest did not publicize the science quiz, it might be too much to expect Malacanang to know about Faye's achievement and to spread the welcome mat.
The tragedy is that POOR FAYE MAY NOT EVEN BE AWARE of the political points being made in her name -- or of the attempt to put down Jasmine Trias because of the attention the singer got when she came over.
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FEEDBACK: Here are samples of readers' feedback (edited to fit) we received:
Loline Reed of onetel.net: I first read about Faye in Patricia Evangelista's article ‘Crazed' two weeks ago. I was one of those responsible for publicizing Patricia's win together with Ed Maranan, Krip Yuson et al. in the Philippines. I was very involved with her participation in the contest. However, Patricia's article sounded very bitter regarding Jasmine Trias. Why?
I felt sorry and disturbed to read Patricia's article as it was very bitterly comparing Fayes's welcome with Jasmine Trias's welcome. Did she hear the story from someone else, and can you please find out where she got the story? Perhaps you and other people like myself will then be able to strengthen our belief in Faye or disbelief in the story re Faye.
If this story is true, then Faye and her mother need help. Otherwise, this story should be ‘nipped in the bud' before the story gets bigger, to the detriment of our reputation overseas as caring people.
It is too bad that Miss Trias's appearance in Malacanang with President Arroyo has brought out a lot of “sour grapes.”
Salvador C. Lara, Iloilo City: My son in New York forwarded an email to me about Faye. The story is being spread by Art Bell allegedly a Filipino, a radio talk show host on two radio programs in Nevada and his show is being rebroadcast in 400 other stations all over USA. It is alleged that Art had lived in Okinawa and had visited the Philippines. The email is very long I wish I could forward it to you.
Jun Meneses of voxscribe.com: This story is true, as Faye herself told the whole congregation of her experience in Australia two Sundays ago. But please let me just point out that she did not come out with her story to get recognition or fame, but rather to show the greatness of God and to give glory to His name.
Eyriche Cortez: I can't believe that you questioned the Faye story without even trying to verify it extensively. You made a big deal that the story is not found in the website of Bread of Life Ministries. Yes, at the time the story came out in the paid ad of Bread of Life, it was not yet uploaded in the website. However, if you would care to check now, you can see the article in www.crossroad77.com.
Actually, it would only take a phone call to check this out. Did you call Bread of Life Ministries? I doubt it. I happen to know some people there. I asked them if Faye is a real person. They said yes. Faye even shared her story in their Wednesday prayer meeting. Ask and you shall receive, di ba ?
Gino510: I believe and agree with the points you raised. On the other hand, whether the article be true or a product of someone's genius, we Pinoys have to re-assess our values and priorities. When I first read the article few days ago, I felt somehow guilty, and agreed with the message that the anonymous author tried to convey.
Let it not be the issue about the veracity of Faye's existence. The message of the article is clear, the examination of our culture and manner of thinking which are very important if we aspire for nation-building and be at par not only with our neighboring countries, but the rest of the world as well.
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