Over the past few years, the Philippines has slowly gained the notice of people around the world.
This is mainly due to Philippine tourist spots like Boracay, El Nido in Palawan, Cebu, Taal and Mayon volcanoes, and the Banaue rice terraces up north being featured in travel vlogs on YouTube.
Foreign food shows have also featured the Philippines and its cuisine, like Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern eating slugs in a Rizal restaurant and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain praising Jollibee Chickenjoy and Jolly Spaghetti, as well as the lechon in Cebu he tasted as the “best pig ever!”
Lately, reaction videos have become very popular, and as more and more tourists visit the Philippines, more and more reaction vlogs come out praising the beauty of our country.
The Filipinos’ reaction to these vlogs is pretty phenomenal: hundreds of “likes” in a couple of hours, to even thousands in a couple of days.
Of the numerous vloggers on YouTube who have created vlogs about the Philippines, and of the many vloggers who have reacted to these videos, almost all of them have mostly Filipino subscribers.
It seems that putting “Philippines”, “Filipino”, or any variation thereof guarantees the vlogger instant “likes”, if not subscribers.
Exaggerated reactions, like “Oh my God, visiting the Philippines (or just watching the video) changed me!” or “I wasn’t expecting that” or “I’ve never seen anything more beautiful” also contribute to the vloggers’ subscriber base.
It’s gotten so out of hand and overboard that a foreign vlogger called Finding Tom has already called out both the vloggers themselves and the people who’ve started following them just because they reacted to the Philippines in a positive way (but with obviously exaggerated reactions).
He’s even coined a word for this – “Pinoybaiting”.
At first it was okay, and I have to admit to clicking “like” in a few videos.
Later on, I realized that these vloggers were just catering to the Filipinos’ need for recognition and were just fishing for as many “likes” as they could get.
It’s now become embarrassing to see fellow Filipinos fall over themselves to subscribe to these foreigners and praise them for “promoting the Philippines to the rest of the world!”
Is this “acceptance” of the vloggers perhaps due to an unacknowledged inferiority complex many Filipinos have?
Are we Filipinos so starved for acceptance and recognition that we automatically praise these vloggers?
The way it appears to me, many Filipinos see these foreign vloggers as praiseworthy because they say good things about our country and its people.
While some vloggers appear to be sincere in their comments about the Philippines, others obviously just rely on the Filipinos’ need for validation to gain “likes” and subscribers, which they can use to monetize their vlogs.
Are the Filipinos just the means to an end?
Yes, we do have a beautiful country, and yes, I am very proud of it. But when Filipinos start going nuts over some foreign dude vlogging about how big Mall of Asia is, and reacting in an exaggerated manner, it begins to grate on me.
I start questioning the sincerity of these foreign vloggers. Do they truly love the Philippines or are they just pandering to us?
Or maybe the more important question is “Are we Filipinos so stupid that we’d let these foreigners treat us this way?”
As much as we love the Philippines, and want our country to be recognized and considered a major tourist destination, let’s not do it at the expense of our dignity.
Words by Jigs Arquiza. Jigs is a journalist-turned-mechanic who lives on the island of Cebu, Philippines. He’s been cooking since he was 12 years old, but refuses to go professional because he doesn’t want to get into arguments about how authentic his food is. Follow him on Instagram at @eatssogood