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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FB page criticizes Robredo for using the term ‘in a good place’

Several posts on Facebook called out Vice President Leni Robredo for her use of the term “in a good place” to describe a pleasant condition and said this showed she was dumb. A particular FB page said the term describes someone who is dead. 

The misleading post referred to Robredo’s video message to actress Kim Chiu on her birthday, which the latter uploaded on her official Instagram account last April 19. Robredo said:

“Kim, happy happy birthday. Magkasunod pala birthday natin (I didn’t know we have consecutive birthdays.) But I want to wish you a very happy birthday, I know you’re in a good place now.”

In her caption, Chiu expressed her delight over the clip and thanked the presidential candidate for making time to greet her despite her busy campaign schedule.

On April 22, Facebook (FB) page Bigboss Duterte posted a collage carrying an image of both Robredo and Chiu, with the text:

“Only a dumb person would say ‘you’re in a good place now’ to someone who is alive. But it is equally dumb for that someone to take it as a compliment.”

But several linguistic sources show that Robredo used the correct idiom in her birthday message to Chiu.

According to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries of the Oxford University Press, being in a “good, bad, dark, etc. place” is to feel “happy, sad, worried, etc. about something” or “to be in a good, bad, unhappy, etc. state.”

Cambridge Dictionary of the Cambridge University Press likewise says that the phrase “in a … place” is used to pertain to a person’s “feelings, situation, or mental condition.”

The netizens who called out Robredo for using the expression “in a good place” to address someone who is still alive confused it with the idiom “in a better place,” which is commonly used when talking to a grieving person after the loss of a loved one. Several academic sources back this up.

For instance, in an article titled “Helping a Grieving Friend,” the James Madison University warned against using “simplistic, overused statements” such as “They are in a better place now” when helping a mourning person calm down. 

The Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center at the University of Virginia also shared the same advice on how to not comfort the bereaved.

Bigboss Duterte’s misleading post already garnered over 55,000 reactions, 6,300 comments, and 5,500 shares from FB netizens. It came just a day after Robredo’s grand rally in Cebu, where Chiu took the stage and endorsed Robredo to her fellow Cebuanos.

A review of Bigboss Duterte’s posts shows it is supportive of Robredo’s political nemesis and fellow presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. The page was created in May 2016.

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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)