‘Discriminatory, insensitive’: Why Pinoys are calling out ‘scholarship prank’ trend

August 15, 2022 - 11:51 AM
File photo shows a PWD in crutches. For many PWDs, mobility is the main problem holding them back. (The STAR / Edd Gumban)

Over the past week, several content users rode the “scholarship prank” trend on social media.

These videos show students applying for a scholarship by telling lies about their parents or grandparents to gain sympathy and secure a grant. 

Some reasons for scholarship application includes the backstory of their parents supposedly being handicapped, blind or deaf/mute. Others lied about their parents’ past work, citing them as sex workers or garbage collectors, among others.

How social media reacted

Many found the trend funny, but others perceived it as “insensitive” and “discriminatory.” They said that some videos made fun of persons with disability (PWD), underprivileged students, and workers. 

“Making fun of our folk’s state of poverty, persons with disabilities, and prostitutes, will never be okay,” a Facebook user said

“Whether it’s intentionally or not, or even purely for entertainment, that move is totally beyond the pale, and nowt can ever justify it,” the online user added. 

“Hindi ako natutuwa dun sa ‘scholarship prank’ na trending sa TikTok. Kahit kailan ay hindi tamang gawing katatawanan ang kapansanan at trabaho ng isang tao,” a Twitter user said.

An online user also expressed frustration over the viral videos mocking sex workers and garbage collectors. 

A Twitter user sees the trend as “blatant ableism, sexism, and classism.”

“As someone who finished studies through various financial assistance grants and scholarships, you don’t make fun out of our struggles.” an online user said.

PWD, advocates react

A deaf TikTok content creator also expressed his call to stop the scholarship prank through sign language.

“Sharing this kind of video hurt my feeling as a member of the PWD community,” he said. 

“I felt sad and angry because, for me, videos about bully and copying PWD in how we act is not appropriate at all,” he said. 

“It’s time to listen to our feelings,” he added. 

@bjamepatrick29 No to scholarship prank! I don’t want my Deaf and PWD community and family to experience anymore hurt. So everyone is advised. We must all work to raise awareness. Thank you 😔 #stopscholarshipprank #tiktokphilippines🇵🇭 #fyp #foryoupage #deaf #hearing #people ♬ original sound – JP – IG: jbb0_829

The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) also decried the videos on social media for “mocking persons with disability in utter disregard for their dignity as human beings.” 

“Deriving pleasure and entertainment out of a person’s disability is not only extremely vile, ethically and morally wrong, but downright evil,” the NCDA said in a statement on Tuesday, August 9. 

The government agency noted that posting videos ridiculing and vilifying PWDs violates the provisions of the Republic Act No. 9442, an act amending the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, And For Other Purposes.”

Violators of the law may be fined P50,000 to P100,000 and/or face imprisonment of six months to two years. 

Meanwhile, subsequent violators may be ordered to pay P100,000 to P200,000 as a fine and/or imprisoned for two to six years. 

According to NCDA, PWDs comprise one of the largest and most disadvantaged sectors. 

A 2016 report by the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that 12% of Filipinos age 15 and older experienced severe disability.