What's the Difference Between Celebrating Filipino Culture and Pinoybaiting?

A sociologist weighs in.
by Erwin Colcol for reportr.world   |  Aug 13, 2021
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Shutterstock
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Vlogger Nas Daily paused his academy in the Philippines after his dealings with revered tattoo artist Whang-Od riled netizens and stirred conversations on how foreign content creators like him feature Filipinos.

Was it clickbaiting? Nas Daily (Nuseir Yassin in real life) said no. The Palestinian-Israeli said he only meant to show the "bright side of the Philippines" and that he would continue to do it once he sorts out what happened with Whang-Od with the National Commission on Culture and the Arts.

YouTube is flooded with non-Filipino content creators who rack up tens of thousands of views documenting their lives in the country, from cookie-cutter trips to Boracay and Binondo to house-hunting.

“You make content para ma-view ng mga Pilipino,” University of the Philippines sociology professor Samuel Cabbuag told reportr. “And usually ang gumagawa noon ay mga non-Filipino para i-view sila ng Filipinos.”

It's Pinoybaiting, a term coined last year to refer to such content, which Filipinos binged on at the onset of the coronavirus lockdowns.

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How Pinoybaiting works

Filipino vlogger and podcaster M.A. Buendia was among the first to use the term Pinoybaiting to refer to the “marketing strategy” of content creators to attract Filipino audiences into engaging with their content.

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“Foreign YouTubers exaggerate reaction videos to our singers [and to] TV shows and films involving the Philippines in their plotline,” he said in a tweet in January 2020.

“It’s meant for those who blatantly just sit down, force themselves to be amazed by everything Filipino related just to rack up stats,” he said in another comment on YouTube.

It’s no wonder that some foreign content creators are fond of creating videos about the Philippines, the world's social media capital.

Filipinos spend an average of four hours and 15 minutes each day on various social media platforms, more than any other nation in the world, a report by We Are Social and Hootsuite released earlier this year showed

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Why do Filipinos fall for the bait?

For Buendia, it’s because “our thirst for global validation is real.”

“We love international attention and approval. It’s a sad national issue and too bad others are exploiting it,” he added.

For Cabbuag, the sociologist, the so-called need of Filipinos for global validation boils down to the country’s colonial history. According to him, Filipinos have been neglected for many decades that some have yearned for a sort of recognition from other cultures.

“It's more of nare-recognize tayo, na meron pala tayong something na recognizable. Gusto natin magkaroon ng mas pantay na pagtingin sa mga kultura,” he said.

“It's more of equality in terms of sa pagtingin na tayo ay isang grupo o isang bansa na may sariling language, na may sariling kultura, na may sariling set of values. I think doon nanggagaling yung sinasabi nilang need to be validated,” he added.

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Vloggers have a 'moral and ethical obligation'

Although some netizens appreciate that the Filipino culture is being recognized, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Pinoybaiting is acceptable, Cabbuag said. "It really leaves a bad taste" when creators become so obsessed with making Filipino content, he admitted.

"Lalo na sa iba na parang 'Ano ba yan, lahat na lang ng content niya about sa atin.' 'Bakit ang obssessed niyo,' may mga ganung critique," he said.

But netizens shouldn’t generalize, either. Cabbuag said there are also foreign content creators who genuinely love the Filipino culture and want to highlight it in their videos.

“Bakit mo naman pipigilan kung yun talaga yung naging passion project niya?” he said.

In his defense, Nas Daily claimed that he was not baiting Filipinos into watching his videos.

"There is no clickbaiting here. There is no 'put Philippines' in the title crap. This is us, on the ground doing the work to show you the bright side of the Philippines," he said in a six-minute Facebook video on Monday.

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As the line between celebrating and commodifying Filipino culture is sometimes blurred, vloggers have the “ethical and moral obligation” to carefully conceptualize their content to ensure that no person or culture is being trampled on, Cabbuag said.

“Kailangan talaga nila isipin kung sino yung intended audience nila, sino yung nakikinabang aside sa kanila kasi alam natin na makikinabang sila. How do you make content na you're not really baiting some people, but you are celebrating their culture,” he added.

Filipinos should also be more active in consuming content as well, Cabbuag said. In a space like the internet where engaging posts and videos are everywhere, it always pays to be critical, he added.

“At first glance, it may be a celebration of the culture, but it may not be the case all the time,” the sociologist said.

“If you really think that that specific content is baiting and it's already exploitative, then it's really good to call them out. Engage, kailangan talaga maging critical tayong viewers.”

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READ MORE

Louise Mabulo Wants Nas Daily to Be Declared Persona Non Grata

Anthropologist Weighs In on What Went Wrong with Nas Daily and Whang-Od

Nas Daily Loses Over 250,000 Followers

Nas Academy Takes Whang-Od Course Down Amid Backlash, Here's What We Know

Nas Daily Issues Statement on Viral Wil Dasovich Podcast Episode

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