Classist remark? Reactions to local YouTuber’s quip on Manila Bay, Boracay white sand comparison

September 29, 2020 - 12:46 PM
Locals take pictures from a footbridge overlooking the construction of the Manila Bay beach, where artificial sand or crushed dolomite were dumped as part of the government's efforts to rehabilitate and beautify the polluted coastline, in Manila, Philippines, September 10, 2020. Picture taken September 10, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

A local YouTuber’s video clip that discussed the ongoing Manila Bay white sand project controversy drew mixed reactions on local Twitter as some users perceived one of his remarks against those who support the artificial beach “classist.”

Dora Dorado, an online personality known for his witty takes on social issues, shared a video teaser on his social accounts last Sunday, September 27 for his new video that premiered on YouTube.

It was part of his “Sunday Palengke” series that tackled the most talked about topics on social media every week.

In the clip, Dorado threw a scathing comment against a TikTok user who praised and likened the artificial beach along Roxas Boulevard to Boracay’s famous white sand beach.

“If you think Manila bay looks like Boracay, well, clearly you haven’t been to Boracay,” he said.

The tweet earned more than 12,400 likes and the video itself has more than 766,000 views, as of writing.

Dorado was referring to the temporary opening of Manila Bay’s white sand beach from September 19 and 20 despite several issues surrounding the project and the still raging novel coronavirus pandemic.

From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the site drew in a large gathering of people who failed to observe basic health protocols including the mandated physical distancing rule to prevent transmissions of the deadly virus which causes COVID-19.

It later prompted a meme challenge through the hashtag #ManilaBayChallenge and #Dolomitechallenge where a photo of onlookers with cameras at a footbridge was juxtaposed with their own beach photos or those from celebrities.

In Dorado’s video, he reacted to YouTubers and TikTok users who appeared to promote the new destination, citing similarities to the white sands of Boracay.

Subtle discrimination?

While recognizing Dorado’s good intentions for his content, some Filipinos perceived his remark as “classist” or discriminatory toward the poor.

“This sounded too elitist. So what if I haven’t been to Boracay and my only basis was the Bora I’ve seen on pictures? This is the reality for many of those who went to Manila bay. Be careful because we either get people on our side or further the divide,” said human rights activist @christiangultz.

“Everyone hyping them up because they ‘spilled the tea’ makes me sad because it’s these subtle classist remarks that further our divide from the people we should be working with,” wrote another user @stephjaurigue.

Other users, meanwhile, noted that the Filipinos who couldn’t afford to travel to places such as Boracay are whom the Duterte administration sought to convince to support the expensive venture.

Malacañang earlier said that Manila Bay’s beautification worth a hefty P349 million was meant to boost the public’s mental health after citizens endured tough lockdowns in the past months.

“Hindi ba kayo nalulungkot na this admin provides the poor with the illusion of change kaya nahuhulog sila sa cycle ng kahirapan while supporting Duterte?” said user @omidong.

“But one of the main reasons that people flocked the Manila Bay was because they don’t have the means to visit actual white beaches especially Boracay,” wrote user @juncoc0.

‘Just a joke’

In his defense, Dorado’s fellow content creators argued that the video clip was a mere humorous take on the situation.

“Dora’s made countless elevated, informative posts (which is why she went viral in the first place) so it’s not fair to discredit all of that just because of one joke?”  YouTuber KillaKush said.

“Classist and elitist agad? Bawal na ngayon maging funny shady bading? Bubunutin niyo agad soneone clearly fighting the same battle as you the first chance you get noh? OA KAYO,” LGBT advocate Paulo Castro said.

Dorado said he is hopeful the public “will take the time to watch the full rundown and not take this 20 second snippet out of context.”

Singer-songwriter, also a social media personality, Kakie Pangilinan, tagged Dorado and made a suggestion on how the remark can be improved.

“I think it could’ve been better composed, but there’s a lot of hard work that goes into making content that’s lighthearted while still heavy on current events and socio-political commentary,” she said.

To this, Dorado replied: “Thank you Miss Kakie. I will rly try to improve the content each and every time.”

Because his content drew flak, Dorado signed off Monday to process the public’s comments and understand how he can improve his content.

“For everyone expecting an apology- I’m trying to process the input and it’s difficult to filter out personal attacks and constructive criticisms. I don’t wanna apologize for something I don’t completely understand yet. I’ll process and see what I can do better next time,” Dorado wrote with a smiley emoji.

“[Nevertheless,] I’m so willing to be educated, lalo na on the whole classist / elitist issue that came up. [To be honest], [I really] don’t know what they mean comprehensively. Anyway, I’m signing off tonight for my own sake,” he added.