Filipinos love being validated by foreigners. Even when a natural disaster is occurring, reporters and news anchors here find ways to glorify the perils of trekking and swimming in the lake of an active volcano.
Take for example Flying Kell, a vlogger, who documented his trip with his girlfriend while the crater lake of Tall was already boiling. This was a week prior to the eruption of Taal during which he seemed oblivious to the fact that sulfur might come out of the water as the Alert Level was already raised there since last year.
Anything to generate views and monetize content, right?
This culture and trend are nothing new. Even before social media, Pinoys like it when Hollywood features a trait or an actor that has the slightest lineage here in the Philippines. It’s probably a product of hundreds of years of colonization by countries like Spain, the United States of America and Japan, but this attitude of adoring foreigners without taking them to task has also become digitized.
I tried to find a word that can describe the colonial mentality of Filipino netizens, but I only came across the perfect term after a friend of mine shared a tweet from a Filipino content creator M.A. Buendia. He used the phrase “Pinoy-baiting” as a proper term for foreigners who want to increase YouTube engagement by making content that are attractive to Filipinos. I sat down with Mr. Buendia for an interview to understand what he meant by #PinoyBaiting.
“It has become a trend because it is almost mandatory to involve the Philippines because they know that the Philippines is a big market when it comes to content consumption. Most people have been noticing it. For example, they purchase Jollibee Chicken Joy, eat it on camera, and then they will tell their reaction and it’s obvious that they are not from here in the country,” he said.
Buendia explained that singers and artists in the Philippines are easy content too for foreigners, reviewing or imitating their singing without actually appreciating the song or its meaning.
“They are just milking the vulnerability of Filipinos when it comes to stroking our egos. If you’re from abroad and trying to boost your numbers or you’re just starting on YouTube, you start with putting content related to the Philippines because it is one of the biggest markets in the world,” he added.
Perhaps this was one of the reasons why Flying Kell risked danger for content and posted it on the week that people started suffering because he knew that his views would be higher. No one called him out except for a few. Department of Tourism officials were probably afraid that they might frighten other foreigners to create content here. I hope they also encourage responsible content creation as well.