Fact check: Atom Araullo named after August Twenty One Movement?

October 26, 2022 - 1:51 PM
Atom Araullo_GMA
Atom Araullo in this photo from his Facebook page on June 18, 2022. (Facebook/officialatomaraullo)

CLAIM: The name of broadcast journalist Atom Araullo was derived from the “August Twenty-One Movement” supposedly organized by “terrorists” Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army – National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

A Facebook user on October 21 reshared a video from SMNI network — run by controversial preacher Apollo Quiboloy wanted in the United States — with the caption:

“ATOM name [given] by [his] mother which [is] derived from ‘AUGUST TWENTY ONE MOVEMENT’ organized by [NINOY] AQUINO, conniving the terrorists [CPP-NPA-NDF] to TOPPLED (sic) PFEMARCOS (sic) ADMINISTRATION.”

The network also claimed on its post that Atom is a child of an “active CPP Central Committee leader — Ka Eric.”

The journalist’s father is Miguel Araullo.

Atom Fake News
(Screengrab by Interaksyon from Facebook)

RATING: Claims of Atom’s name being inspired by the August 21 movement are false.


Atom on Tuesday said that his nickname is derived from the combination of his grandfathers’ names from the paternal and maternal sides — Alfonso and Tomas.

“Ang Atom po ay kumbinasyon ng Alfonso at Tomas, na pangalan ng dalawa kong Lolong astig,” he shared on Facebook.

The journalist’s real name is also Alfonso Tomas Pagaduan Araullo.

“Utang na loob, itigil niyo na yung teoryang ipinangalan ako sa August Twenty One Movement o ATOM,” he said.

Atom added that he was born in 1982, a year before former opposition senator Ninoy Aquino was assassinated.

“Nakakatawa na ang dami-daming naniniwala diyan, at ginagamit na pruweba ng umano’y secret political agenda ko (gasp). Never thought I’d need to explain this, but here we are. #Disinformation is real,” he continued.

Atom also shared the story behind his name last year in an episode of “The Howie Severino Podcast.”

“I was born in 1982 so it has nothing to do with the August 21 movement. I was born before Senator Ninoy was assassinated,” he said before.

“My whole name is Alfonso Tomas. ‘Yun ang origins noon. Alfonso is the name of my lolo on the father side and then Tomas is the name of my other lolo sa mother side. And naisip ko na ipangalan ako sa aking mga lolo at ‘yung combination noon is ‘Atom.’ Ganoon lang siya ka-simple,” the journalist added.

Meanwhile, the August Twenty-One Movement, abbreviated as ATOM, is an anti-Marcos group formerly led by Agapito “Butz” Aquino, the brother of Ninoy.

It was on Aug. 21, 1983 when the opposition senator was assassinated after returning to the country following a self-imposed exile.

Ninoy was shot at close range moments after deplaning from the then-Manila International Airport.

The ATOM group organized mass mobilizations during his funeral parade throughout the country and during the People Power Revolution.

Journalist Nini Cabaero wrote that the ATOM group started as an opposition group and then became a nationwide protest which brought together young and old professionals, church workers, the urban poor and students to protest against the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Why it matters 

The false claims about Atom’s name are the second instance of disinformation that the journalist has encountered on social media.

Last week, he called out a Twitter user who falsely claimed his mother, Carol Pagaduan Araullo, is a member of NPA.

Carol is the chairperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN, a multisectoral formation advocating for national and social liberation against imperialism.

She is also an activist who fought against the dictatorship of Marcos Sr.

“I don’t usually call out private individuals here, but behavior like this should not be normalized,” Atom said in response to the false claims about his mother.

RELATED: ‘Should not be normalized’: Atom Araullo calls out disinformation vs mom

This story is part of the Philippine Fact-check Incubator, an Internews initiative to build the fact-checking capacity of news organizations in the Philippines and encourage participation in global fact-checking efforts.

Interaksyon is part of #FactsFirstPH, a multi-sectoral initiative promoting truth in public space and demanding accountability for falsehoods. For those interested to join the initiative, email [email protected]

Interaksyon is also a founding partner of Tsek.ph, a collaborative fact-checking project for the 2022 Philippine elections. It is an initiative of academe, civil society groups and media to counter disinformation and provide the public with verified information.