Is online bashing an offshoot of a deeply ingrained Filipino culture?

Filipino celebrities have long been the easy target of the so-called “bashing” by haters whose purpose in life is to post negative comments, criticisms, and campaigns against public personalities online. Whether it’s on every aspect of their physical appearance, ways of dress, and even grammar—nothing escapes the eagle-eyed netizens who scrutinize every little detail.

Rude comments

As they say, once words or photos are posted online, it stays there forever, and there are several proofs of this unpleasant behavior captured for all the world to see. Actress Iza Calzado became a hot topic when she posted a photo wearing a bikini, to which an Instagram user rudely pointed out her ‘saggy skin.’ The netizen made crass remarks that Calzado looks as if she’s given birth to many kids: “May mga chubby naman na firm yung katawan at di masagwang tingnan lalo pag naka-bikini. Ganda ng mukha pero lawlaw na lawlaw ang katawan to think dipa nagkakaanak.”

Angel Locsin’s apparent weight gain also became the subject of several online basher’s interest with comments on Twitter like, “What happened to Angel? She looks so fat and losyang?” and “She still looks fat even when she wears black.” One user even went as far as questioning her inclusion in the TV series she stars in, saying the character should be sexy. They seemed to have ignored the fact that Locsin, who revealed prior that she’s suffering from a disc bulge, hasn’t been able to do certain things like running, jumping, and twisting while working out.

And it’s not just fat shaming. Veteran singer Zsa Zsa Padilla was also shamed for her age, with a poster saying, “Kita na edad mo. Pati po sa kamay kulubot na.”

People would justify that celebs being in the public eye makes them vulnerable to online critiques, especially on physical appearance, since they’re expected to hold certain ideal standards: have a thin frame, white, clear skin, and a beautiful face. Is this just the case for celebrities or is there something more to this ‘bashing’ that is deeply rooted in Filipino culture?

‘Bawal pikon’

The word “pikon” is something that is very Filipino, and it’s hard to find the right translation for it. “Bawal  ang pikon” means “don’t get offended,” and this has been taught to us since we were young. Jokes should be taken lightly or laughed at. If you get offended, then you’re the rude one. For many Pinoys, it’s easy to chalk rude statements as “Joke lang!” and it makes them think that saying insensitive words are okay. If the person feels bad about it then it’s their fault. It has become so easy for Filipinos to blurt hurtful words like “You got fat” or “You look haggard!” as a greeting and some feel that they’re saying it out of concern.

Giving compliments

Let’s face it. Filipinos don’t know how to give compliments. This is a toxic Filipino culture that perhaps stems from “crab mentality.” Instead of noticing something good about a person, they nitpick on flaws, which is probably a reflection of their own insecurities. On the other hand, some Filipinos also don’t know how to receive compliments. Instead of saying a simple “Thank you” when somebody gives praise, they brush it off with a self-demeaning statement just so others won’t think of them as being conceited. For instance, when someone tells another person, “You look great in that outfit!” The other, not wanting to seem mayabang, would probably say, “Oh, I just got this on sale.”

There’s another Filipino trait that is related to this: finding it hard to say “Thank you” and “Sorry.” Is it really difficult to say these words when situations call for it? All this stems from that one thing that every Filipino knows and embodies—the Filipino pride. This “pride” has become so distorted that we no longer know what it truly means.

Hypocrisy

Angel Locsin gave a sharp reply against her bashers, hitting them where it hurts the most: the truth. “Are you perfect?” That’s the real problem that these bashers have—they don’t look in the mirror first. But on the other hand, having good qualities shouldn’t exempt a person from attacking others online.

Another reason for their behavior is that they are shielded by online anonymity. So-called “keyboard warriors” feel they can type everything they want because their target won’t be able to retaliate. With some Filipinos, however, why do they still behave this way whether online or face-to-face? The answer is simple: this is being judgmental, and this has to stop.

Celebrities should be commended for spreading positivity instead of engaging and fighting with bashers. Padilla commented that aging is a natural process, and that “There’s no shame in being 53.” Calzado replied with, “I accept what I have and celebrate the things I have been blessed with, including a healthy body, no matter the size or shape or skin texture.”

But we shouldn’t expect celebs to always stay positive. Words can hurt a person. Negativity should stop where it came from and it’s not the target’s job to correct it. To borrow Locsin’s words, “This is my body, this is me. But you, are you okay with yourself?”

About Dianne Pineda 394 Articles
Magazine and online writer based in South Korea. Nerdy news writer by day, Korean pop culture writer by night.

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