VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Celebs, netizens mistakenly share photos of 2019 Cagayan flood in ‘Ulysses’ posts

(UPDATED) While the northern Luzon province really did experience devastating floods due to the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, some social media users, including celebrities and a local radio station, shared old photos that do not show the recent massive flooding in Cagayan.


On Nov. 13 and 14, singer Moira Dela Torre, pop folk band Ben&Ben;, actress Angel Locsin, and local radio station 9.27 Happy FM Cotabato separately posted on Facebook (FB) calls for help for Typhoon Ulysses victims in Cagayan. All were accompanied by photos supposedly showing the flooding in the province.

On its official page, Ben&Ben; posted an aerial photo showing brown water covering the expanse of a field. Its caption read:

[The] whole province is experiencing [its] highest flood record in decades. Let’s amplify calls for rescue and immediate response. Pls (Please) use this post as a sounding board. [L]et’s help region 2.”

Source: Ben&Ben; official Facebook page, “#CagayanNeedsHelp #IsabelaNeedsHelp…”, Nov. 14, 2020

Locsin, Dela Torre, 92.7 Happy FM Cotabato, and a concerned FB user shared the same aerial photo but juxtaposed with another image supposedly showing Cagayan’s green fields, giving a “before-and-after” effect. The posts were captioned with similar hashtags appealing for help on behalf of the province and neighboring Isabela.


The aerial photo shared by Ben&Ben;, Locsin, Dela Torre, 92.7 Happy FM Cotabato, and a netizen, which purportedly showed Cagayan submerged in floodwaters, was actually taken in 2019.

Note: Click on the photos to get redirected to their earliest retrievable version online

A reverse image search revealed that the picture showing Cagayan almost completely covered in water was from a Dec. 6, 2019 FB post of the Cagayan Provincial Information Office (CPIO). It was credited to Allacapan Municipal Mayor Harry Florida who did an aerial survey of the massive flooding along Iguig, Amulung and Acala municipalities. The same photo was posted by Florida on his personal FB account earlier that day.

Meanwhile, the original copy of the photo that supposedly showed the “pre-flood” aerial view of the province could not be traced via an online search.

The posts of Ben&Ben;, Dela Torre, Locsin, 92.7 Happy FM Cotabato, and a netizen all came after calls to rescue residents in Cagayan and Isabela went trending on social media, particularly on FB and Twitter. They also surfaced following massive rescue efforts for flooded communities in Marikina City and several towns in Rizal after Marikina River and Wawa Dam overflowed amid the onslaught of Ulysses.

Combined, the posts have garnered approximately 468,607 shares, with over 642,704 likes and reactions, and 18,037 comments as of Nov. 23. Ben&Ben;’s post alone, which was further amplified by collegiate basketball player Kobe Paras and the official FB page of Sony Music Philippines, could have reached 28.63 million users, based on data from social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle.

In December 2019, many towns in Cagayan experienced massive flooding after the Cagayan River and some nearby tributaries overflowed due to monsoon rains and Typhoon Tisoy.

This November, the province experienced its “worst flooding since 1975,” which Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba attributed to runoff rainwater from nearby provinces collecting in their area, as well as the release of excess water from Magat Dam that contributed to the swelling of Cagayan River.

Based on the Nov. 25 situation report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), at least 18 out of Cagayan’s 28 municipalities experienced flooding in varying levels.

The agency also recorded 73 fatalities, with 82 injured and 19 missing in the affected regions, and estimated damages in agriculture to cost over P4.368 billion and infrastructure at P8.735 billion.

UPDATE: The official media team of Angel Locsin, though its Instagram account @teamangelph, reached out to VERA Files Fact Check on Nov. 26 and said it was not the actress who published the post bearing the December 2019 Cagayan photo.

“We are the team handling Angel’s facebook page:) We just want to clarify that it is not Angel who posted the photo but one of the admins. but thank you for this:) we will be more careful next time,” they wrote.



Archived FB posts


Cagayan Provincial Information Office, PANOORIN: Actual video ng aerial survey ng grupo ni Allacapan Mayor Harry Florida sa malawakang pagbaha sa Cagayan., Dec. 6, 2019

Allacapan Mayor Harry Florida Facebook account, (aerial photo), Dec. 6, 2019

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Situation Report No. 3 (Typhoon Ulysses), Nov. 13, 2020

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Situation Report No. 15 (Typhoon Ulysses), Nov. 25, 2020

Flooding in Cagayan in December 2019

Recent flooding in Cagayan


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)