The folks at the DPWH probably thought that this morning’s release of their official statement on their Photoshopping escapade would be the end of their long drawn out online humiliation. But alas, that was not meant to be.
The Wall Street Journal’s online edition took notice and in a blog post by James Hookway, headlined the story as “Fake Photos of Philippine Officials After Typhoon Spark Furor”
Just as we had earlier pointed out ourselves, the WSJ piece noted the striking similarity between the DPWH situation and an incident in China earlier this year:
The backlash against the public works department’s Facebook posting recalled a similar incident in China in June, when three local government officials from Sichuan provinces were photographed while supposedly inspecting local roads. The three seemed to float above the road surface, prompting Internet users to ridicule the authorities and post their own images of the trio visiting, among other places, the moon, Mars and the White House.
Chinese authorities eventually acknowledged the images had been manipulated.
Philippine officials acted much faster to quash the growing controversy and removed the offending image. Information officers at the public works department said it was released by mistake and was supposed to be part of a montage for an internal publication. Information chief Beth Pilorin also posted an apology on the department’s Facebook page, saying the photo “was not clear yet before the staff posted it.”
The strangest aspect of the incident might be that top public works officials actually were there and there was no need to release the faked photo. The department quickly issued a new picture – this time real – of the undersecretary, Mr. Momo, and the regional director, Mr. Tagudando, picking their way through debris facing Manila Bay.
But Romeo Momo’s troubles aren’t over yet. The image of the three DPWH officials seems to have taken a life of its own, as scores of Netizens took to Photoshop and other image-editing software to drop Mr. Momo and his two luckless companions in a variety of settings.
The meme finally found a home to call its own with the establishment of a Facebook page called DPHWhere (for “We’re looking for the DPWH”) that provides readers with easy to use tools for creating their own images and a community for sharing their digital masterpieces.
The starting point for creating your own DPWH graphic is an image provided by the page of the three DPWH officials with the background already masked out. Using Photoshop’s selection tools (primarily the lasso and magic wand) you can easily select the three guys and drop them into a scene.
Some people have been extra creative and have managed to drop the DPWH dudes into Angry Birds, Da Vinci’s Last Supper, The Beatles’ Abbey Road, a movie poster for Inception, and various movie scenes such as Fight Club, Dune, X-Men First Class, and The Hangover.
Here’s a sampling. Consider it an “editor’s choice” selection. The complete image archives (constantly being updated) can be accessed here.
Update: “The Great DPWH Photoshop Meme” made it to the Washington Post today (well the blog section of their online edition at least).