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OPINION: A look into Pinoy baiting and its gray areas

OPINION: A look into Pinoy baiting and its gray areas

  • Sadly, there *are* content creators that milk our “Pinoy pride” for views

“Pinoy baiting”: Recent events in the influencer community made this internet term popular again on social media. However, it isn’t a new phrase or a new “practice” that managed to irk the Filipino community. 

As the term suggests, Pinoy baiting involves content to lure Filipinos by talking about our country, people, and culture. It’s a “strategy” that some online content creators use to gain instant traction, one that’s meant to generate followings, money, and not much more—at least not for Filipinos or our culture. And it has been happening under our noses all this time. 

Why Filipinos?

Photo by Jay-Pee Peña on Unsplash

The better question to ask is, why not? For the past six years, the Philippines has ranked number one on research firms Hootsuite and We Are Social’s worldwide list of countries whose citizens spend the most time on the internet and social media. In its Digital 2021 report, the firms noted that we spend a daily average of 10 hours and 56 minutes on the internet and four hours and 15 minutes on social media. Last year, Google also reported an over 50 percent year-on-year increase in Filipinos’ YouTube watch time. 

If you were a content creator, you’d want to appeal to that kind of audience—a target market that is accessible because of its active online presence. And the rule of thumb for social media marketing? Make interesting and relatable content. 

For us Filipinos, that often includes aspects of our culture—food, places, traditions, and sometimes even people. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see content creators try and catch our attention with “I tried to eat balut” and “reacting to something Filipino” posts online. This type of content isn’t inherently bad… at least, most of the time.

What’s the fine line between Pinoy baiting and appreciating a culture? 

Photo by Szabó Viktor from Pexels

There are a lot of nuances to this one. Generally, the term “Pinoy baiting” applies to sensationalized Filipino-centered content from foreigners. These content creators take advantage of our excitement over international praise and validation; they appeal to and capitalize on our sense of Pinoy pride

Now, the problem isn’t with saying “so-and-so in the Philippines is beautiful.” Creators, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating a culture that isn’t your own. What is toxic is when presenting and talking about a culture merely becomes a way to milk engagements, followers, likes, and views online. The problem is when Filipinos get treated as cash cows and a way to generate instant views. 

We’d like to see people enjoy aspects of our culture because they are genuinely interested in it, not just because it sells

At the end of the day, what is and isn’t Pinoy baiting all boils down to intention. Is the content made to exploit Filipino audiences? Is the content obviously just fishing for our attention and praise? There are creators who genuinely appreciate Filipinos and the Philippines. But if the ones you see don’t even bother to learn our culture despite talking over and over again about it, then you might want to think twice about clicking on their content.

Execution also matters. Does the content present our culture in a respectful, responsible, and accurate way? Does it really talk about the Philippines, or does it center around them? Did they do proper research before talking about our culture? 

Let’s be discerning enough to know when someone mentions our country merely for clout. It’s high time that we stop letting them take advantage of our enthusiasm, and realize that foreign recognition doesn’t make our culture more or less valid. 

And by the way, foreigners need to pay taxes when they earn from content made here.  As the Bureau of Internal Revenue cracks down on tax-evading influencers, it said that “for resident aliens, any income derived from Philippine-based contents shall generally be taxable.”

Read more:

It’s 2020, can we start acknowledging the communities behind our local weaves?

Brands should protect the IP groups they work with, not exploit them

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