VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video of Virgin Mary statue floating down flooded street FAKE

Several Facebook (FB) pages are spreading a video of a statue of the Virgin Mary being swept away by flood water along a busy street. This is fake.

The video appeared as early as November 2018 and continues to circulate this week. All of the posts carried this caption: “Ayaw nyo mag simba (You don’t want to attend church) ah

It shows cars dodging a giant statue of the Virgin Mary floating down an unspecified street during a flooding incident. While the statue moves down the street, it continues to face the camera, which is already a red flag since it is physically highly improbable. 

This video was altered using a video published in October 2018 showing a flooded road in Sta Cruz, Spain, and not in the Philippines.

The video featured the same scene and showed a green porta potty or portable toilet being swept away by the flood.

While some netizens noted that the video was manipulated, some netizens still believed it to be real. “The delightful and amazing thing is that [the statue] did not fall over,” a netizen commented in Filipino.

The video reappeared a day after the yearly observance of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, following the onslaught of Typhoon Paeng.

FB pages Xlumpees (created on Aug. 2, 2018), ViraL Post ツ (April 18, 2017) and Philippines Best (June 29, 2011), collectively garnered over 61,000 reactions, 16,000 comments and 6.5 million views after posting the altered video.

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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.)