The case of Father Ferdinand Santos and those viral pictures on social media

August 31, 2021 - 4:35 PM
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Father Ferdinand Santos
A file photo of Father Ferdinand Santos uploaded by the Archdiocese of Miami on their website in 2019 (left) and a picture of Santos shared on his supposed Facebook account on Aug. 5, 2021 (right).

Is it really edited?

Not all were convinced when Father Ranhilio Aquino shared a picture of a young priest online which a Facebook user claimed was “edited” to make it appear as if the latter was supposedly younger than he looks.

Aquino on Sunday said he was “in awe” of Father Ferdinand Santos, a Filipino priest who was assigned as rector in the St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Florida, the United States in 2017.

“We met while he was [a] student at the Catholic University of Louvain and I was a post-doctoral research fellow there. He and I were in the classes of Prof. Jan van der Veken on Process Metaphysics,” he wrote on his Facebook account.

“Aside from holding a Ph.D. in philosophy, he is a licensed fitness instructor! Amazing. But even more amazing is that he gave up the prestigious position of Rector of St. John Vianney Seminary in Florida that has both philosophy and faculty theologies to return to the Philippines to work in depressed parishes,” he added.

Other pictures of Santos emerged online following Aquino’s post. Some were from the former’s supposed Facebook account, as linked by the latter.

In addition, a Twitter account exists under Santos’ name which contains recent pictures.

The social media accounts, created in August 2021, cannot be verified if they are indeed owned by the priest.

Facebook user Carlos Babiano claimed that the viral pictures in the platform describing Santos as a “handsome-looking young priest” and a “celebrity-looking priest” are “edited.”

“His younger brother, Jeremiah, told me that those pictures circulating over social media were edited to make Fr. Ferdie’s face look young. Now, they are trying to track the source of those edited images,” he wrote on a Facebook post.

Babiano also shared a picture that was from a 2019 article on the website of the Archdiocese of Miami featuring a profile of Santos.

“This is Fr. Ferdie’s authentic appearance,” he said.

A look at the Facebook page of St. John Vianney College Seminary reveals some photos uploaded this year which could be Santos based on appearance alone.

One picture includes Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, former Manila archbishop and current prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

However, the photos do not have captions that officially identify the individuals and Santos’ supposed Facebook account is not tagged.

Santos, based on his profile from the Archdiocese of Miami, was ordained in Manila in 1998 by then-Cardinal Jaime Sin.

Prior to moving to the United States, he taught philosophy at De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University and the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Bulacan.

Santos also served as dean of students, human and pastoral formation director and spiritual director at San Carlos Major Seminary in Manila, and as vocation director for the Archdiocese of Manila.

By 2003, he was granted permission to travel to Providence College in Rhode Island where he taught philosophy until 2007.

It was at that year when Santos arrived at the St. John Vianney Seminary, at the request of a former classmate who initially asked him to fill in for another professor who was sick at that time.