Newly-minted author Bretman Rock reveals never-before-told stories of growing up in the Philippines and becoming a social media superstar in “You’re That Bitch”
When Bretman “Da Baddest” Rock started creating content—and flourished at that—the term “influencer” wasn’t even coined. With his bushy brows, full beat and beautifully glazed moreno skin, he was a vision. Years later, the Cagayan-born and raised Filipino YouTube sensation now holds the title of, well, basically anything you can think of—from reality TV star to coconut water connoisseur.
At the age of 24, he’s done everything that he now just “wants to fulfill my childhood dreams…and decide to be a firefighter.” He jests about this during an intimate gathering with the press at XO46 Heritage Bistro, S Maison during his trip to Manila. And, of course, he’ll be “coming down the pole with a smoky eye, putting on my yellow suit, but you know I’ll crop it.”
To add to his long list of titles, Bretman is the newly-minted author of You’re That Bitch: And Other Cute Lessons About Being Unapologetically Yourself. This collection of personal essays centers around the “queer first-generation Asian immigrant, who just happens to be Da Baddest content creator of all time.” In the book, he narrates vivid memories of growing up in the Philippines and becoming a social media superstar. He even recounts never-before-told stories about his dating life, like how he lost his virginity in Disneyland AKA “the Happiest (and Horniest) Place on Earth.” (Ladies, gents and everyone in between, please skip to chapter 10.)
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On the book’s introduction, he writes, “One of my biggest accomplishments and blessings in life was not fucking anyone from my high school—I didn’t date anyone the entire four years. Do not shed tears of pity for me (even if you’re a cute crier)! While my classmates were busy getting STDs, I was busy becoming Bretman Rock.”
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On the importance of representation
Representation matters to the moreno influencer. After migrating to Hawaii from the Philippines, he realized that the shade range for base products was so limited when he was starting in beauty. “Especially in Hawaii, everybody’s tan. So, we were all fighting for that one shade…All the tan shades were gone, and all the lighter shades were still there,” he shares.
It was hard to see himself in the very tight-knit beauty community—that is, until he met Patrick Starrr, “not the starfish but the makeup artist,” who he considers his “auntie.” He reveals, “He honestly adopted me and became my auntie in the industry. I sound like a broken record but representation truly does matter. Without him, I don’t know how I would have navigated the beauty industry as a moreno boy.”
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Bretman recalls getting on a heated video call with top publishing companies that wanted to publish his book. At the end of it, Harper Collins won the bidding war because of one reason: an Asian woman was on the other end. “When they say representation matters, it really does, because I genuinely went with Harper Collins because an Asian woman was on that Zoom call. She was the only Asian person that was bidding for [my] book, and she was the only person who promised me that my book would be published in the Philippines. I think she just got it, too,” he details.
Setting boundaries on social media
Growing up under the public eye with millions of viewers across all channels, Bretman has learned to keep some things private. Though we get to see his day to day—from getting fresh eggs from his chicken coop to working out with his trainer—he chooses to keep mum about his dating life (though he does disclose some information on the book).
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Bretman has also made the choice to stop posting about female members of his family, specifically his mother and niece. Though they have appeared on his content for years, he chooses to protect them and keep them away from the public eye. He reveals, “Besides my love life…I love to protect the women in my life—like my mom and Cleo. They were definitely a part of my content especially [at] the beginning of my career. Now, more than ever, I think I’m gatekeeping [them]—for lack of a better word—because I don’t want the world to have access to them, especially Cleo.”
He further adds, “I think she deserves the right to choose if she wants to be Cleo Amore Amiotonu. She’s only six, and she was taking pictures with people ever since she was three. I think kids should be playing around, not taking pictures with people. That’s why you don’t necessarily see my little niece anymore. I know y’all miss her.”
Though, as a public figure, he gets negative comments regularly, he acknowledges that he doesn’t have the headspace for all of it, especially when it’s about his mom. He doesn’t even need to justify it. “It was very heartbreaking, to say the least, reading comments about my mom. We’ve done so many recipe videos with her, and there were stupid comments about her not being able to speak English well. I don’t think any kid should be reading comments like that about their mother, and so because of that, I’m just, like, ‘Fuck y’all. Y’all are not gonna have access to my family now. Just enjoy me,’” he notes.
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Being unapologetically yourself
Bretman Rock Sacayanan Laforga is so unapologetically himself—this is exactly why he’s flourished—yet always remembers his roots and stays grounded (maybe not in reality because, as he would keep repeating to us: Girl, I’m delusional). As soon as his Grandma Lilang put the faintest amount of red blush on his cheeks one Sunday morning at the age of four, he had been given his “superpowers.” He is truly that bitch, periodt.
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Photos Bretman Rock on Instagram
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver