Fighting misinformation among Filipino communities in Neili, Taoyuan

In the continuation of the partnership between the Taiwan Fact-Check Center and the Vera Files, the IFCN-certified Philippine fact-checker, a team of Filipino workers and students went to Filipino communities in Neili (內壢), Taoyuan to introduce Vera Files’ bilingual fact-checking tip-line, VERA.

There are an estimated 159,000 Filipinos living in Taiwan as of 2022, with most of them employed in productive industries. Filipinos are also known to be the leading foreign population working in Taiwan’s technology industry.

Zhongli (中壢) and Neili districts in Taoyuan are known to be some of the technology hubs in Taiwan with a significant number of Filipino workers.

Through the help of a volunteer, Angelita Rebecca Uybungco Felix, an Overseas Filipino Worker from ASE Technology Holding Co., Ltd. (ASEH), the team was able to visit a Filipino fellowship in Neili, Taoyuan. The fellowship is composed of around 25 members who study and read the gospel together every Wednesday. However, due to COVID-19, some members opt to join the fellowship online.

Members of the fellowship in Neili posed with Isaiah Christian Antonio, the spearhead of the project in Taiwan. (Photo: Angelita Rebecca Felix)

The fellowship was formed in 2017. It is composed of some members of Logos Global Mission church in Zhongli, Taoyuan. Felix joined the fellowship in 2019. She was invited by her friends and churchmates who are working in the same company as she. Most of the members in the fellowship come from the same company and field.

Members of the group were enthusiastic about the chatbot. However, most of them have the same problems as other Filipino groups the team visited; a majority of the members do not use Viber, therefore, they have to download the application and register first before they were able to use the tip-line.

Antonio distributing the flyers and explaining to the members of the fellowship how to use the tip-line in Viber. (Photo by Angelita Rebecca Felix)

Approximately 15 Filipinos were able to download and subscribe to Vera Files’ tip-line. The team was able to discuss and teach them the features of the chatbot. Some of them shared their skepticism about the project and its purpose, highlighting the possible bias of the organization in terms of politics.

The project head assured the members that the organization and tipline’s main objective is to stop misinformation. He also explained that it is important for them to determine facts versus opinions, misinformation, and disinformation—now more than ever—due to the increasing COVID-19 cases in Taiwan and the upcoming national elections in the Philippines.

The project head also attended the online services of the fellowship after the dormitories of the OFWs (Overswas Filipino workers) in Neili were hit by COVID-19. Felix, in an interview, stressed the concerns they have right now, “marami na ang nag-positive sa amin kasi mabilis magkahawaan dahil marami kami sa room. Hindi rin ganoon kaayos ‘yung pag-asikaso ng coordinator para hindi magkahawaan” [there are already many positive cases in our dormitories because each room has many people and so the transmission is really fast. The dormitory policies and coordination are also not that great].

Photo taking at the end of the fellowship’s service on Google Meet. (Photo: Isaiah Christian Felix Antonio)

The team also was able to set a couple of dinners with other OFWs in Neili district before the peak of the pandemic in Taiwan. With fewer people and with more time, the project head was able to explain more about the project’s objective. Through the help of these Filipinos, the project head was able to connect with other groups of Filipinos working in other parts of Taiwan such as Hsinchu, Kaohsiung, and Taipei.

Antonio with the workers from ASE Technology Holding Co., Ltd. (ASEH) posing for a picture (right). The OFWs showing that they successfully installed and used the tip-line (left). (Photo: Angelita Rebecca Felix)

Editor’s note: There are more than 159,000 Filipino immigrants and migrant workers in Taiwan. To address the misinformation threat the Philippine diaspora communities are facing as diaspora, Taiwan FactCheck Center partners with Vera Files, the IFCN-certified Philippine fact-checker who launched their bilingual fact-checking tipline, VERA last November, to introduce VERA to Filipino communities in Taiwan.

This article is first published at Taiwan FactCheck Center.