For content creators from Visayas and Mindanao, Bisaya humor has played a huge part in their success in the growing digital industry.
Content creators from the islands of Visayas and Mindanao joined the Creator and Influencer Council of the Philippines’ (CICP) 11th virtual General Membership Meeting (GMM) entitled “Bisaya Mi, Bai! The Rise of the VisMin Influence” on Tuesday, August 31.
“Tagalog sounds like flirting with you and Bisaya sounds like somebody’s going to slap you. I feel like that translates into our humor as Bisaya creators. It’s very in your face. It’s very quick and snappy.”
This was how David Cua, a member of Cebuano boyband 13C and co-founder of Bai TV, described the differences between Bisaya and Tagalog.
Cua said he tried to show Bisaya content to his Tagalog-speaking friends and they loved it because it was something that they’re not used to seeing.
“I think coming from this island where the culture is so different from Manila and from Luzon, that really gives us an edge because there’s a novelty to it if you will,” Cua said.
CICP founding secretary Bea Evardone said it even reached the point when Tagalog audiences who couldn’t understand Bisaya asked them to put Tagalog subtitles on their content, which shows the extent of their appeal outside the Bisaya-speaking regions.
“They’re laughing but they don’t know what we’re saying. I don’t know if it’s just how we say it or if it was because of the whole vibe of it. I really haven’t figured it out. But they wanted to learn and a lot of my Tagalog friends have started adding Bisaya words, so they sound conio now,” Cua said.
Phillip Hernandez, popularly known as Davao Conyo online, recalled that his first video skits were in Bisaya but he later used Tagalog to be inclusive.
“For me, I wouldn’t be able to build the skits if I did not come from a Bisaya perspective. I think even if I deliver my jokes in Tagalog, it all boils down to me being Bisaya. Like how I think,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez described Bisaya humor as punchier, braver, and extreme.
“When it’s raunchy, it’s really raunchy. When it’s problematic, it’s really problematic. But I’d rather have that anytime of the day because it’s easier to pull to a 10 rather than a (humorous) perspective of five and I have to push it to 10,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said being a native Bisayas is his edge – by infusing his skits with his Bisaya background, he was able to become more relatable to a broader audience.
Evardone said: “In a nutshell, our humor and the way we actually communicate is extreme. The humor, the punchlines, the way we move, and everything (is indeed different.)”
Brands and Bisaya humor
Evardone said that when they introduced content creators from Visayas and Mindanao, brands and agencies from Luzon were shocked at the level and type of humor coming from these artists.
“What they’re used to are the Instagram influencers – super lifestyle and modest,” Evardone said, adding that they were asked if the type of content from VisMin would work for brand promotions.
In agencies that Evardone has worked with, influencer marketing meant the likes of David Guison and Vern and Verniece Enciso who have lifestyle-related content.
“Audiences really respond to the creators that they know and can relate to. It’s not just funny but different points-of-view from all over the Philippines and that’s what makes it very vibrant,” said Cebu Pacific Air marketing director Michelle de Guzman.
Meanwhile, Greenbulb Communications PR director Ayel Agbanlog said they didn’t struggle to understand Bisaya humor but on verifying the translations they made.
“Sometimes we don’t know how to fact-check or to check if the message was right. It’s in Bisaya, so we weren’t sure if the translations were right. But definitely, the other aspects were acceptable,” Agbanlog said.
De Guzman said the regional influencers communicate from a local context and point of view whether it’s a sense of humor, historical, or cultural references.
“Even the level of creativity there’s something that’s brought to the table. It’s not just the language localization for me. Brands can really benefit when audiences respond to these localized content. It improves the customers’ likelihood of booking a flight,” De Guzman said. – Rappler.com
Art Lubiano is a Visayas-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.