Nathaniel R. Melican
PH Protect Project


Various social media pages and accounts repurposed the “nasaan ang pangulo” trend amid the heavy rain and floods that hit the Davao region earlier this week.

This was especially prominent on Facebook, where a CrowdTangle analysis showed that there were about 100 posts containing the keywords “nasaan ang pangulo” that received over 21,000 interactions from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3, when heavy rains lashed parts of Mindanao, causing massive flooding.

One of the posts that gained the highest number of interactions was from a page called RASTV, which has over 64,000 likes and 124,000 followers.

“Daghan gipang bahaan halos entire Mindanao, pero wa gyud muy nadungog sa amoa nga “nasaan ang pangulo?” Si Noah among gipangita kay basin mabilin me sa arka! (Almost the entire of Mindanao was flooded but we never heard anyone who asked, “where is the president?” We were looking for Noah because the ark might leave him behind!), the Feb. 2 post, which received over 1,300 reactions, 596 shares, and 105 comments, read. 



At least two other pages—Mugstoria with 1.7 million likes and 1.8 million followers and Kinibay with 525,000 likes and 562,000 followers—repeated this exact narrative. Mugstoria’s post received over 5,000 reactions, 1,300 shares, and 257 comments as of Feb. 4.



The posts implied a sense of self-resiliency amid the disaster, based on the joke about looking for Noah so he would not be left behind. In this case, Noah seemed to refer to the biblical character in the Old Testament who was commanded by God to build an ark to house him and his family, as well as a pair of all animals on earth, to spare them from a great flood that God unleashed upon the earth to purge it of sinners.

This narrative of resiliency was taken further by posts that spread in some Mindanao-based Facebook groups.

“Maayo pa taga Mindanao bisan gi baha wala jud nag ingon ug “Nasaan na ang Pangulo?” Pero ang uban wala ko nag ingon taga Luzon ha pero kabalo namu. Hahaha” (At least, even if Mindanao was flooded, no one said “where is the president?” People from other areas, I didn’t say they were from Luzon huh, but we know. Hahaha), read a post from a Facebook profile that declared that they lived in Tagum City in Davao del Norte.

This profile posted this message in at least 14 public Facebook groups with a combined membership of nearly 400,000. When PressOne.PH looked further, all the messages in those groups were posted by the profile between 8:59 and 9:01 pm on Feb. 3. We also found out that while the user had some personal posts, their profile picture was a stock photo. The profile’s posts in the various groups received a few reactions, shares, and comments, but it is not possible to determine how many people were able to see the post.

 The narrative in this case was different from the common usage of the trend “nasaan ang pangulo?” to hold the president and government officials accountable in times of disaster. Instead, the seeming joking posts implied that Mindanao was self-reliant and did not need help from the president in times of disaster.

 Pro-Duterte influencers also contributed to the narrative of Mindanao’s self-reliance. In her personal page, Sass Rogando Sassot posted on Feb. 4: “Those in Manila have to be more persuasive to Mindanaoans regarding why being dependent on Manila is still good for them.” Ado Paglinawan said in a post



On Feb. 4: “NASSAN (sic) NA ANG PANGULO? Isang linggo na ang matinding delubio sa Mindanao, dedma pa rin? It (sic) ang razon (sic) kung bakit gusto na ng Southern Philippines magform ng durian republic.” (Where is the president? It’s been a week since a deluge hit Mindanao, but he doesn’t seem to care? This is the reason why Souther Philippines wants to form a durian republic.)



Heavy rains lashed parts of Mindanao on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 as the northeast monsoon enhanced the trough of a low-pressure area that swept through Mindanao.

 As of Feb. 4, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that 16 people were killed, 11 were injured, and three were missing, all in the Davao Region. A total of 204,840 families were displaced by the rains that hit Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, SOCCSKARGEN, CARAGA and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. PressOnePH



This report was made possible by an Internews project to build the capacity of news organizations in understanding disinformation and influence operations in the Philippines.