The story about a student who claimed to have secured international scholarships amounting to some P106 million became a viral piece recently when national media outlets ran it without independent verification. Skepticism about the veracity of the story, however, arose in a frenzy of social media commentary on the matter, prompting several media outfits, including ABS-CBN online, to take down their stories.

A certain Julian Martir, reportedly the son of a tricycle driver, claimed that he had been offered scholarships totaling $1.9 million from 30 prestigious international colleges and universities across the United States and the United Kingdom. This caught the attention of news outfits that reported the story.

However, the narrative took a dramatic turn on May 19 when Filipinos witnessed Julian’s interview with TV5. During the interview, Julian struggled to answer questions about why he chose the course of study he had claimed. His hesitation and fumbling during the interview only added to the skepticism surrounding his scholarship claims.

Doubts about the authenticity of the scholarships and questions about their legitimacy escalated when the principal of Negros Occidental High School (NOHS) refused to confirm Julian’s claims in another interview with DZRH.

According to Principal Donna Bella Atosaga, the school has not received any communication that can verify Julian’s alleged scholarships. While Julian did not secure the position of valedictorian, the principal of NOHS confirmed that he did receive academic honors.

Despite the mounting doubts, Julian consistently maintains his story and now claims to be a victim of cyberbullying. He insists that the documents he presented as evidence, including PDF copies of acceptance letters from the colleges he applied to, are genuine and not fake.

Among the schools where Julian claimed to have received acceptance letters were Ohio Wesleyan University, Clarkson University, Hofstra University, Marquette University, Alfred University, Xavier University, Duquesne University, DePaul University, Regis University, Simmons University, Woodbury University, The University of Texas at Arlington, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Webster University, Ball State University, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, University of Connecticut, The George Washington University, Fordham University, Kent State University, Michigan Technological University, The University of Arizona, The University of New Hampshire, Drexel University, Johnson and Wales University, University of Massachusetts Boston, Stony Brook University, the University of Colorado Boulder, Clemson University, Richmond, and The American International University in London. tried to reach out to the universities but failed to receive confirmation due to their privacy policies. However, they received confirmation from Alfred University in New York that Julian indeed qualified for the upcoming academic year.

The controversy has ignited a storm of discussions on social media platforms, with netizens sharing their opinions and raising questions about the veracity of Julian’s scholarship claims. Many are demanding further investigation and verification to determine the truth behind this highly unusual and disputed situation.

Questions about the reliability and accuracy of fact-checking performed by media outlets were also put in the spotlight as public trust in media organizations is crucial for a well-informed society.

Critics argue that media organizations should have taken more precautions before amplifying Julian’s claims without independently verifying them.

As to whether or not Julian’s story is true, it remains to be seen how media outlets will address these concerns and regain public confidence in their reporting accuracy.