Radio broadcaster Erwin Tulfo has built his on-air persona as self-proclaimed champion of regular folk around spewing invective in the guise of unfiltered “tough talk.” But a recent bit of particularly ill-advised tough talk has those same regular folk — and victims of the Taal eruption, no less — decidedly up in arms.
Two Batangueño’s posts have gone viral for clapping back at comments Tulfo made disparaging what he characterized as some “damn bitch farmers” in the vicinity of Taal, with both posts being shared several thousand times since they were posted on Wednesday.
The trouble started on Tuesday when Tulfo went on a diatribe on his radio show Tutok Tulfo about the admittedly unfortunate horses, popular among tourists visiting the site, left behind on Taal Volcano Island as people fled the volcano’s eruption.
“My God! Have pity” on those animals, he said in English and Filipino. “The [animals] were left by their idiotic owners… It’s so hot there, so the [horses] will definitely die… because they were left by those damn bitch farmers.”
Tulfo’s (self-)righteous indignation, however, didn’t go over well with residents, who didn’t take to kindly to being characterized as animal neglecting “bitches” by someone who was sitting in a comfy chair 100 kilometers away while they watched their livelihoods be destroyed in a single afternoon.
One day after Tulfo made the comments, a Batangueño farmer appeared in a viral video bathing a rescued horse while castigating the radio host.
“Tulfo, this is what you were referring to when you said we abandoned our horses,” he said.
“Where does it say that you need to curse people [for leaving their animals behind]? What do you think about these horses? That they’re just like babies that you could easily carry? No, you can’t! They’re horses — they don’t weigh two kilos!”
“You claim to be highly educated,” he continued. “We’re not well-educated, but we didn’t lose our common sense when the volcano erupted. That’s the difference!”
— joo sang wook (@PAUlovesMOM) January 15, 2020
The same day, a Facebook post from a “Mamay Batanghenyo” — “batang henyo” being a Filipino term akin to “boy genius” (and also kind of a slant rhyme for Batangueño) — also took aim at Tulfo in even stronger terms.
“I just want to make things clear for you, Erwin Tulfo, you damn bitch!” the user said Filipino. “If you’re coming here in Batangas, you should not wear a face mask, but a bulletproof vest, because you might get hit by our extreme irritation. We Batangueños were abruptly forcibly evacuated. [So] we weren’t able to bring the horses you were talking about, you idiot.”
“Those horses… they were our livelihood,” they continued. “Of course, it hurt that we had to leave them behind, but it was more important for all of us to save human lives. The rescuers had a hard time rescuing humans alone, and you talk about the horses, you idiot.”
Many horse owners in Batangas made their living by renting their animals to tourists seeking to travel to the rim of the volcano’s crater.
“Batanghenyo” also challenged Tulfo to come down to the devastated towns himself, accusing the presenter of only having the guts to issue his offensive statements from his cushy office far from the calamity.
“Where were you when we were being evacuated? At your den? How about you bring a vehicle that can carry a horse and ferry it down the lake, while your mouth is submerged underwater,” he said.
Perhaps feeling the heat from netizens, who were quick to come to the support of the offended residents, Tulfo apologized on his radio show on Wednesday.
“I apologize if anyone was hurt by what I said. I’m sorry,” he said. “On my end what got me hot-headed was because I saw the video and the horse wasn’t moving, it was mired in mud, and I think some were even tied up. So I ask for forgiveness for anyone who was hurt.”
Meanwhile, ABS-CBN News reports that at least a dozen horses were rescued by their owners from Taal Volcano Island and were evacuated to Talisay, Batangas. The Philippine Animal Welfare Society said yesterday that it had been able to rescue some 30 horses, but that an estimated 3,000 were living on the island at the time of the eruption.
Animal Welfare group Guardians of Fur said volunteers were pouring in to help rescue animals, but needed more vehicles to do so. Animal rights groups and volunteers have also rescued dozens of other abandoned animals since Tuesday, including cats, dogs, and even a few chickens.
— ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) January 17, 2020
This morning, Brig. Gen. Marceliano Teofilo, commander of rescue mission Task Force Taal, told DZMM that they had seen about 100 animals, including horses and cattle, that were still alive and scattered around the island. Teofilo, however, added that while they have been evacuating an unspecified number of animals in the last few days, their primary concern is still the safety of the residents.