Is it coming from a genuine place or an easy way to earn a buck?
Amid all the good and bad news the past few weeks, one issue surrounding our culture should be talked about. Vlogger Nas Daily was recently under fire for putting up an online course about hand-poked tattoos from Apo Whang-Od herself. Depending on whose side you’re on, it’s high time we discuss the bigger issue that comes with it: Pinoy baiting.
Filipinos are nationalistic and passionate people, after all. We take our Pinoy Pride very seriously, whether it’s a beauty pageant, our favorite fandoms or even just seeing a Filipino take center stage internationally. That is a fact. But there are instances when this Pinoy Pride becomes a little too much and turns into an opening for foreigners to—for the lack of a better term—take advantage of.
What’s Pinoy baiting?
Pinoybaiting is a marketing strategy used by creators to attract Filipino audience & fans. Foreign youtubers exagge reaction videos to our singers; series, tv shows and films involving the Philippines in their plotline. It’s effective coz our thirst for global validation is real.
— M.A. Buendía (@MABuendiaHD) January 5, 2020
A lot of people reverted to M.A. Buendia’s definition of the term. According to him, “Filipino baiting” or “Pinoy baiting” was coined to describe a “marketing strategy used by creators to attract Filipino audience and fans.” These foreign creators capitalize on our excessive Pinoy Pride to rake in an audience, numbers and money. It’s often done through exaggerated reactions to almost every aspect of Filipino culture.
It’s easy to spot Pinoy baiting content when you take a look at the thumbnail and the title. Cue: Philippine flags, extremely shocked expressions, titles in all caps screaming about either the best or most insane thing from the Philippines. The focus of these videos is often on recycled topics: reactions to our shows, to our talents and to our cuisine. It’s content we’ve seen already but admittedly, we still click on. (If it’s out of curiosity, entertainment or irony, that’s up to you.)
What makes it wrong?
Some foreign content creators do this kind of content out of good intentions, a general lack of awareness and demand from Filipino audiences themselves. And they genuinely start out being in total awe of what we’ve got to offer. They’re curious about what’s goes on in our culture and have genuine reactions to what they see. However, it becomes wrong when this fascination turns into using our love for country to generate clicks.
It would be easy to spot the creators who commit Pinoy baiting. They dedicate their entire channel to reacting to all things Filipino and their content fuels stereotypes with little to no nuance at all. We see it in those who refuse to acknowledge criticism from Filipinos or speak over us like foreign saviors. It’s wrong when they actively seek out a Filipino audience because they know that once it gains our attention, their numbers will skyrocket.
There’s a gray area, though.
Brave are the Filipinos who call these content creators out. They’re the ones who want people with platforms to produce videos that are better informed and nuanced, through methods that showcase their intent better. They are the ones who spot the warning signs and nip them in the bud. Why? So that fewer people would fall victim to clickbait thumbnails. But a rule of thumb in calling out Pinoy baiters: let’s reserve the hostility for those who repeatedly use Pinoy baiting and refuse to drop it. There are content creators who actively strive to do better in showing their love for our country and culture.
Instead of criticizing Filipinos that enjoy these videos, we also need to acknowledge a fact. The reason why other Filipinos take the bait is due to our need for foreign validation. It’s the ominous, hidden mother of Pinoy Pride: colonial mentality. When we were colonized by foreigners, we were taught that they’re far more superior than we were for centuries. Unlearning colonial mentality should be a conscious practice because it’s been deeply ingrained in our culture and education system. We shouldn’t crucify the people that are still in the process of doing so.
The discussion about Pinoy baiting is still long-winding. There are content creators who are willing to turn over a new leaf while there are those that refuse to listen. Let’s continue doing our part by carefully choosing the creators we give our clicks to and by educating the ones that want to be informed. If a certain creator doesn’t address and acknowledge the criticism, just mute, block and go your way after saying your piece.
But let’s not just stop at calling out Pinoy baiters, because there are also issues that need our attention, too. Let’s use our energy for taking a social stance, registering to vote and supporting our Filipino athletes and photographers.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver