'The Charcoal Confessions': Nancy Binay writes book on cyberbullying

A self-confessed victim, reelectionist Senator Nancy Binay is set to publish this year her own book giving tips on how to handle social media bullying.

The book's working title, 45 Handy Tips Towards Healing: The Nancy Binay Charcoal Confessions, makes use of Binay's age and her dark color, which has been the subject of memes. Binay is turning 45 on May 12.

The bashing of the senator started when her father, former vice president Jejomar Binay, and her family got embroiled in corruption controversies. 

Binay said she gets hurt sometimes but she does not act on it. More often than not, the senator said she appreciates the efforts of those behind memes about her.

"It's a mindset. For example.... I really appreciate the effort, sino ba ako para 'pag-aksayahan 'nyo ng even a minute of your time (who am I for you to spend even a minute of your time on)," Binay said in a television interview on Tuesday, April 17.

"I'm just Nancy Binay, I am not worth it pero the effort para maghanap ka ng (but the effort you put to find a) picture, video... you're taking your time for me," she added.

"'Di ko nga dinadamdam (I don't take it personally) but it doesn't mean I don't get hurt. I get hurt lalo na 'pag medyo below the belt na ata itong attack sa akin (especially if the attacks are already below the belt). But what can I do? It's beyond my control. [What I can control] is how I will react, how will I take it," she added.

So what made her decide to write a book?

First, she said she was inspired by fellow senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who earlier had a meltdown on Twitter after critics called him "balimbing"  (political butterfly) and "trapo" (traditional politician).

Second, she said her encounter with a man at an airport affected her.

Binay recalled that a passenger came up to her to ask for a photo, and said that he would show it to his daughter, who looks like the senator.

The passenger told Binay his daughter is being bashed because of her facial similarities with the senator.

Moved by this, Binay said she feels she has to do something.

"May lumapit sa akin. Sabi niya, 'Ma'am, puwede ba ako magpa-picture sa 'yo?' Tapos noong nag-picture kami, sabi niya, 'Ipapakita ko ito sa anak ko kasi 'yung anak ko sinasabihan siya na kamukha ka raw niya.' Then he showed me the pictures, may similarities, may hawig," Binay said.

(Somebody approached me and asked: "Maam, can I have a picture with you?" After, he said: "I will show this to my daughter because they say my daughter looks like you." Then he showed me the pictures, we have similarities.)

"[Sabi niya], 'Alam mo, 'yung anak ko nababash nga.' [Sabi ko], 'Ha, nababash siya dahil kamukha niya ako?' 'Oo.' So parang I felt pressured, I felt responsible na there's this person na dahil kamukha niya ako, she gets bashed."

(He said, "You know, my daughter is being bashed." I said, "She's being bashed because we look alike?" "Yes." So I felt pressured. I felt responsible because there's this person who is being bashed because she looks like me.)

"I told the dad, 'Can you please tell your daughter 'wag na lang niya pansinin? 'Pag nakita niya, parang wala lang.' I felt siguro I have that power to influence kasi nga access to media. Baka it's high time for me to do something, itong problema natin sa social media bashing."

(I told the dad, "Can you please tell your daughter not to mind them? When she sees bullies, she should just ignore them." I felt I have that power to influence because of access to media. Maybe it's high time for me to do something about this problem of social media bashing.)

So far, Binay said she has already given 3 tips online on how to deal with bashing:

The senator's office said the book's content is already done, but they have yet to finalize publishing and other creative details.

Binay said she is giving herself until December to finish the book. If this is followed, this means the release of her book would just be in time for her 2019 senatorial campaign. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.