Last month, Filipino fans rallied against an e-commerce site for supposedly prioritizing celebrities and influencers at an idol event and making fans spend a lot on their website. It became such a spectacle that the Department of Trade and Industry had to open an investigation. A couple of days after that, fans started trending a hashtag to clean up Manila Bay for their favorite K-pop idol. It reached #1 in Philippine trends that day.
It was amidst all of this that I found a Tweet asking something akin to the question: Does the Filipino youth care more about their idols than their country? I can’t find the original Tweet anymore but it stopped me in my tracks and got me thinking. Do Filipinos really care more about their faves?
It’s hard to answer this question. Even if we examine the context in which this question was asked, we still probably wouldn’t have a definite answer. If we lay down the facts, we’ll be able to say that the fans were angry at the e-commerce site not necessarily because they love their idols and weren’t able to see them, but because they lost a lot of money to get inside that venue. The idols become irrelevant in the discussion when you frame the story like that.
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When I brought this topic up, some of my colleagues also pointed out that the people mostly affected by that incident with the e-commerce site were teenagers. The people that Tweet was targeted to was teenagers. But what, should we expect 14-year-olds to be well-versed with the political instability the country is facing today?
More importantly, can’t kids care about both their idols and their country?
Did you know that, according to various studies, Gen Z—the youth—is the most socially conscious generation? Backpacking from the Millennial generation, Gen Z’s politics are liberated and more accepting of non-traditional values. Because of educational reforms in the country, young people are getting more exposed to national and worldwide issues. They are more socially aware than people give them credit for.
The question that I found on Twitter was poised to elicit a yes, to make it look like Filipino youth would spend their money on their idols instead of… instead of what, exactly? When I was fourteen I used to buy those magazines with the Jonas Brothers on them. That’s what I chose to spend my money on. It didn’t mean that I didn’t care about my country, but there’s only so much you can do with the limited power you are given.
Overall, times are changing. Perhaps we need to stop putting people in boxes and accept that they are multifaceted individuals. The youth might scream loudly for their idols, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care for their country at the same time.