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Young Blood

Instant stars online

12:27 AM November 08, 2012

MOST YOUNG people nowadays have either a Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube account. Some actually have all three. Having an account on these social networking sites is the easiest way to express who you really are. The Internet makes it easy for us to get noticed, to stand out in the crowd, through a stunning photo, an intriguing tweet, or a funny video.

The cybercrime law is one of the hottest topics at present, but let us rest on that issue for now and look at the brighter side of the Internet. As part of our Alternative Classroom Learning Experience at the University of the Philippines in  Diliman, I got a chance to listen to a talk featuring two of the most watched Filipino YouTube celebrities. The speakers were Ashley Rivera, more commonly known as Petra Mahalimuyak, and Marco Ho, who is known as Bogart the Explorer to his fans. These two YouTube sensations discussed how they started making their hilarious videos, the inspirations behind their concepts, and how they gained millions of followers across the globe.

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Who would have thought that Petra Mahalimuyak, who now has 13 million views (and counting) on her YouTube channel, was once a bullied student? Yes, she experienced being bullied by some sixth-grade students when she was in the fifth grade. Petra also confessed that being an actress was really one of her dreams but that in spite of her pretty face and bubbly personality, she had experienced failures and rejections as well. Things started to change (or so she thought) when she and her family moved to Las Vegas when she was in her late teens. But even in Las Vegas, she did not gain many friends. And one day, out of pure boredom, she decided to make a video of herself.

Believe it or not, Petra’s intention in making the video was simply to entertain herself and to somehow connect with her  relatives in the Philippines. Little did she know that her simple video would gain a lot of “likes” and “shares.” She received positive feedback from her relatives, and even from people she didn’t know.

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Petra realized that a lot of people actually liked her videos and wanted her to do more. That’s when she started making videos of all kinds. Her funny English accent is one of the things that make her videos unique. She actually speaks English very well, but she prefers using her funny accent because without it, she wouldn’t be the Petra Mahalimuyak that we know and love.

When asked about her concept and inspirations, Petra said her videos were actually made from simple observations of actual things happening around her. Her themes are commonplace, nothing out of the ordinary; the concepts are nothing new or outrageous. Her videos stand out because they are presented in a humorous way—in a form of light sarcasm, as in some that are meant to break stereotypes. The videos are meant to show the funny side of things that we don’t usually notice or pay too much attention to. Petra’s example shows that sometimes, you don’t need a unique concept for your videos. Simply choose an ordinary theme, add sarcasm and exaggeration, and pull it off with tons of confidence, like how Petra does it.

Bogart the Explorer, on the other hand, has been exposed to the world of the media, not because he is a director or an actor but because he was once a “PA” (production assistant). Bogart has also worked as a call center agent, and that’s where he learned his great English accent. But even before his call-center stint, he really had this unique talent with various accents. It actually made him the “clown” whenever he was with his friends.

Asked to explain his concept, Bogart said his secret lay in being a very good observer. He loves to walk, to take the bus, to observe people. Like Petra, he said making an interesting video did not require being outrageous or extraordinary. One can dwell on everyday things, or materials and experiences that many people can relate to.

And true enough, Bogart’s videos, which he described as “pure trips,” have gone viral and become well-known to various sectors of society.

Petra Mahalimuyak and Bogart the Explorer gave us some important pointers on how to gain followers on YouTube:

First, you should make your video brief. The attention span of people nowadays is very short, which is why a long video will only bore them to death.

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Second, make sure that the audio and visual quality of your video is good, so people wouldn’t feel like they’re wasting their time. If you can, use a high-definition video camera.

Third, be responsible and mindful of what you are posting online. Make sure that you are not posting things offensive to other persons or groups.

And, of course, enjoy what you are doing. As Bogart said, “Whatever you guys want to do, just do it.”

Petra pointed out that negative criticism would be inevitable once you started making your videos. She advised us to learn to ignore criticisms, and to not be too conscious of what other people would say. If you’re too conscious, you will not be able to showcase your real self, she said, adding that you should actually learn how to cope with “haters.” As she said, “It’s not my problem anymore. It’s their problem.”

The bottom line? Be yourself and be a star in your own right.

Samuel John B. Antenor, 19, is a third-year speech communication student at UP.

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