‘Momo challenge’ effigy burned by cops, students amid suicide scares

Rambo Talabong

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‘Momo challenge’ effigy burned by cops, students amid suicide scares
'Hindi siya totoo at hindi dapat katakutan ng mga bata. Kaya sinunog yan sa harapan nila,' says Caraga top cop Gilbert Cruz

MANILA, Philippines – What scared netizens to scroll faster in their timelines has been turned into an effigy and burned on Monday, March 4.

The image of the viral “Momo challenge” was torched by cops and students during the flag raising ceremony of the Libertad Elementry School in Butuan City.

After the image lit up in flames, cops, students, and even their teachers jumped for joy until what was known as Momo was nothing more than ashes.

Ang intensiyon namin ay mawala ang takot ng mga bata sa Momo, yung fear nila na invisible ito, na masyado nilang katakutan (Our intention is to extinguish the fear of the children to Momo, their fear that it is invisible, that they feared too much),” Caraga police director Chief Superintendent Gilbert Cruz said in a statement.

He added: “Hindi siya totoo at hindi dapat katakutan ng mga bata. Kaya sinunog yan sa harapan nila at mismong ang mga estudyante ang sumunog, para ipakita na sila ang nasa upperhand na mawala ang takot nila. (It is not true, and it shouldn’t be feared by children, so it was burned in front of them, and the students themselves burned it, to show that they have the upperhand.)”

Is it real? The challenge is composed of two primary things: the visual representation of “Momo” and the urban legend representing the challenge.

The visual representation of Momo comes from cropped images of a sculpture made in 2016 by artist Keisuka Aiso. The complete picture features the creepy face taken to be Momo sporting a bird-like body and legs, much like what one would associate with a mythological harpy.

The Momo challenge itself takes pictures of the sculpture and associates it with an urban legend that says a given Whatsapp number will attempt to send users with disturbing photographs and urge self-harm if contacted.

In a press briefing in Camp Crame on Monday, police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde doubted that the challenge has led to suicide of youngsters in the Philippines as they have not received even a single report on the challenge.

Wala pa kasi kaming nakukuhang complaint, as of this time wala pang lumalapit sa amin, even sa Anti-Cybercrime Group (No one has come forward to file a complaint, not even to our Anti-Cybercrime Group),” Albayalde said. – with a report from Sofia Tomacruz/Rapplercom


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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.