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‘Tiis ganda’: When filters capitalize over our imperfections

We’ve inescapably built our personas on the cutthroat internet, making the world witnesses to the countless phases and trends we undergo. With the pandemic strapping us at home, we’ve been harsher in scrutinizing ourselves behind the screens.



Screengrab from ‘Perfect Blue’ (1997)

The nausea of feeling naked without our filters on was the problem. Incomplete, vulnerable, and crisp from the eyes of the world.

Back when Instagram didn’t feel so dystopic and programmed, 11-year-old me simply joined the bandwagon of an unproblematic and wholesome feed of teenagers who were hopping onto the trend of mustache shirts, taking pictures of *supposedly* aesthetic Nutella jars, and posing with those infinity signs. 

I’m 19 now, and maybe my veteran experience on this app has turned me into the self-critical hog I am that probes into every inch of my body and face today. Simply existing even, putting emphasis on your quirkiness, beauty, and relatability was enough for your persona to be capitalized online. 

Admittedly, I am an active participant in this social realm that is parasitical on external validation and acceptance. There’s this instinctive feeling to show to the world what they need to know about me—what I am, what I’m not thanks to this dreamy yet nightmarish reality my phone has brought. People have made social media an extension of themselves: their virtues, principles, habits, among others. Those were advantageous, market-friendly to capture the internet’s expansive audience’s niche. 

One of my best-loved films is Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue. It mirrors the story of Mima Kirigoe, (Junko Iwao) who was a dejected, retired idol who falls into disillusionment with self-image and society.

We’ve inescapably built our personas on the cutthroat internet, making the world witnesses to the countless phases and trends we undergo.With the pandemic strapping us at home, we’ve been harsher in scrutinizing ourselves behind the screens.

Screengrab from ‘Perfect Blue’ (1997)

Instagram became my living testament for romanticizing some of my unexciting daily habits and ephemeral tasks into something fairylike: posting my outfits, selfies, my lunch for the day, recording my decorated notes, flatlay desk, and whatever else looked pleasant. 

But what I enjoyed the most were the app’s filters. It’s a feature for digital users to strike a pose and retouch themselves behind pre-edited edits and lenses. Just like a glowing buffet, you’re able to select a delectable array of choices made by different users catered to different people and interests. Some would improve your phone’s lighting and turn a dull scenery into a bright, saturated one. Scroll more to try on harmless frames, stickers, quizzes, and sparkles. So what makes it so innocuous?

A certain formula was stitched with societal expectations. It was all fun and games back when Snapchat filters gave us flower crowns and dog filters, until it intrusively lightened our skin into porcelain, defined our jaws into a more chiseled one, and plumped our lips. It made me realize that I had “imperfect” features which didn’t fit society’s standards—characteristics that unfortunately, I can’t quite get rid of. 

I wanted cherry blossoms on my cheeks, not a Bratz-like filter that made me completely unrecognizable! But what was stopping me from completely deleting it? 

Regardless, this virtual surgery was a convenient and enjoyable fix that got you glammed up in a second. But when we pull away from these layers, we’re abruptly distraught with our real selves. 

The toll on mental health and self-perception

Screenshots from Instagram Effect Gallery

The nausea of feeling naked without our filters on was the problem. Incomplete, vulnerable, and crisp from the eyes of the world.

Let’s unpack the spiteful truth. We’ve never really paid attention to our asymmetrical features in the first place. Not until how apps like Tiktok would jokingly pinpoint the way we walked, our smile lines (which is normal), and a whole lot more. Unaccustomed to seeing their unmirrored face, users thought this inverted Tiktok face trend made their confidence plummet. 

With over 60 million downloads, it’s irresistible to download Facetune—an app that tweaks and modifies your face and your body to your liking. “The fashion industry uses airbrush and digital enhancement to portray the ‘ideal’ female and male body. These images promote unrealistic standards that are impossible to achieve,” psychiatrist Anne Morris said.  

Feeling more comfortable with their “better” self, thanks to these filters, some opt to become a carbon copy of their virtual self. Snapchat dysmorphia is a concerning phenomenon that has driven people to consult aestheticians and surgeons to alter their appearance inspired by social media filters.  

Last year, Instagram claimed it would remove all beauty filters that promoted plastic surgery. Although many users supported this cosmetic surgery ban, the social media app has yet to thoroughly widen and apply its policies and investigate more harmful filters. 

It’s no lie that the sky-rocketing likes and shares we receive release dopamines. Studies have reinforced that these come as rewards for social appraisal and validation. But it’s alarming to see how an excess of this has resulted in depression, anxiety, and bullying among young women and adolescents in studies. 

To disassociate and neglect ourselves because we are not as perfect as others or our perfect self online is disturbing. 

Fetishization and colorism

“As a woman of color, I wish I could find a filter that doesn’t lighten my skin,” writer Morgan Jerkins shared

If you thought you could get past the concerning skin-whitening section in Philippine groceries, these virtual filters won’t simply let you through. 

The narrow nose, porcelain skin, and bright blue eyes were all features attributed to the ‘Instagram Face’ — adhering to Eurocentric and Caucasian beauty standards. To women of color, these exclusive filters have unwelcomed and whitewashed them, as its ideals only flatter light-toned people. 

“ It was as if the algorithmic tendency to flatten everything into a composite of greatest hits had resulted in a beauty ideal that favored white women capable of manufacturing a look of rootless exoticism,” Jia Tolentino critiques, slamming the biases of the Instagram industry in her piece, ‘The Age of the Instagram Face’. With this power of social media, it seems that everything can be transformed virtually with the flick of a wrist.

Blackface filters are also pervasive online, with several users mocking and appropriating minorities and POC. “We are in our skin for life, not for likes,” activist Vaani Kaur wrote on Instagram, addressing the “chocoskin” filter’s vulnerability to fetishization and exoticism. 

Losing identity in the pursuit of everyone’s uniqueness and beauty 

READ  Comics with a ‘K’, please

Before the glitz and glam of the Instagram milieu, there was a quiet space for Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg thought of mirroring the Facebook community as if it were real life in 2005. In short, the portal of human beings would thrive on this social media platform. 

The Facebook CEO’s predictions are not wrong. We’ve mostly made our presence known on the internet anyway, so might as well let our selfhood live under its surveillance. 

Ergo, we are left with little to none when our quirks and individualities are exploited by the patriarchy on one hand and capitalism on the other. 

We pit against each other as shallow beings when we’ve failed to identify the true suspects — the multi-million companies and digital stock markets that have defined what works and what is beautiful, leaving us miserable under the male approval’s thumb once we fail to match the spitting image of our filters. 

Their rags-to-riches autobiographies are meant to be inspirational. But what they don’t want to break to us is how we’re pawns lining up like everyone else waiting to serve them as we optimize our imperfections while they reap from our selfhood. 

Now don’t get me wrong. Social media influencers and celebrities that just fit the golden ratio or unapologetically enjoy these filters aren’t responsible for our discomfort and insecurities. Filtered or unfiltered, it neither makes us less human nor less us. 

Body positivity and acceptance are personal journeys with oneself that take time and space. It is ridiculous for an exploitative society to dictate where our happiness will arise by telling us to instinctually optimize our flaws.

None of us owe the world anything whether we’re ready to fall into these categories, embrace, or just feel okay with our bodies. It was enough to feel and be valid and normal, rather than ironically feeling disempowered from a mainstream and unhealthy form of body positivity and myths of individual success. Some users started their own movement here by debunking media stereotypes: 

Screenshots from Tiktok

Several users on Tiktok came together to join the supportive “Bodies that look like this also look like this,” trend in which users begin to normalize their flaws and breaking fake media stereotypes — sucking in their toned abs then revealing their natural body rolls when slouched down and zooming in their unfiltered blemishes. Local Instagram gurus also joined a campaign for Women’s Month last March by posting unfiltered selfies that showed their unchanging beauty, with or without filters and make-up. 

At the end of the day, all the angles and filters made the desirable illusion of a perfect face and body.

Where to? 

Screengrab from ‘Perfect Blue’ (1997)

So is it our calling to cancel and boycott filters, users, and social media? No. The next step is to hold social media companies liable in discerning plain fun and harm-inducing filters, while strengthening concrete policies that eradicate unethical and dangerous features their users have fallen victim to. 

But more importantly, it starts with us killing two birds with one stone. We should not equate our ideal online facade — the number of likes we receive — as the basis of our self-worth. 

If you’re like me, an active user on the gram who habitually compares her uninspired life to the ‘better’ lives of others, maybe it’s time to modify your algorithm by rethinking what you only want to see on your feed. Don’t stop yourself from using these entertaining filters, but beware of damaging features you might want to uninstall and the toxic influencers you might need to unfollow. 

Social media is meant to be an inclusive and shared avenue when we can’t be physically there for one another. Trends will always emerge so the FOMO will always linger, and it’s inevitable. 

Allot some headspace and give yourself a break from the crazy trails of social media once in a while. Eventually, you’ll find authentic and inner empowerment not in the translucent faces of these filters and lenses, but from yourself. 



Gay-for-play: How Films and Shows Reel In LGBTQ+ Viewers Through “Queerbaiting”

What just happened to that implied queer representation? Why did they put a gay subtext in their show if they will not put actual LGBTQ+ characters on it? The answer is, they’re queerbaiting you.



Screengrab from different movies and shows

Imagine this: You’re watching a movie or a show when you notice these two seemingly queer characters. They have this undeniable chemistry with a slight hint of homoerotic attraction. It hurts your tooth watching them be sweet and intimate together, yet never being officially declared as a couple. Suddenly, your hopes came crashing down when you found out that these two characters will never end up together because they’re straight.

What just happened to that implied queer representation? Why did they put a gay subtext in their show if they will not put actual LGBTQ+ characters on it? The answer is, they’re queerbaiting you.

“Queerbaiting” happens when authors, directors, or showrunners market their work to LGBTQ+ viewers through implications of same-sex attraction or relationship between two characters, which they never confirm and sometimes exploit to gain audiences. 

According to Joseph Brennan, editor of “Queerbaiting and Fandom: Teasing Fans through Homoerotic Possibilities,” queerbaiting is a form of “an allegiance to issues of queer visibility without actually delivering on such an allegiance in any tangible way.” 

A good example of this is shown in the show “Supernatural,” especially back in the heydays of Tumblr and the “Superwholock” trifecta in the early-to-mid 2010s.

Screengrab from “Supernatural” (2005)

This CW show about two brothers hunting monsters across the US à la “The X-Files” was accused of queerbaiting its fanbase through fan-favorite characters Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Castiel (Misha Collins).

Throughout the 15-year franchise, the relationship between the two is peppered with hints of queerness and attraction, with the actors hinting that they do pay “homage” to the “Destiel” ship. The vague relationship of the two culminated in its final season where Castiel confessed his love for Dean. After that, Castiel died, a clear example of the “bury-your-gays” trope (but that’s a topic of another discussion).

Another show accused of queerbaiting is CW’s Riverdale.

Screengrab from “Riverdale” (2017)

In one of the show’s trailers, Betty (Lili Reinhart) and Veronica (Camila Mendes) were seen kissing, seemingly implying a relationship between the two. When the show premiered, it turns out that they did it to get the attention of another character. Surprisingly, they repeated this tactic with Archie (KJ Apa) and Joaquin (Rob Raco).

The show is diverse enough with LGBTQ+ characters on its roster. However, using the straight characters, presenting them in queer situations and marketing it to the audience is plain queerbaiting. 

Other movies and shows accused of queerbaiting include “Beauty and the Beast (2017)”, “How to Get Away with Murder”, “Killing Eve”, “Sherlock”, “Teen Wolf”, “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”,  “Xena the Warrior Princess”, and many more.

Baiting an underrepresented community

Queerbaiting affects how the LGBTQ+ community and their relationships are portrayed in the media.

Although there is still no generally accepted estimate number of people who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, it is established that the said community is a minority. In the US alone, only 5.6 percent of adults identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ according to a Gallup study.

However, the LGBTQ+ is not only a minority in real life but also in movies and TV shows.

According to GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV report, out of 773 main characters on primetime TV series scheduled to appear on broadcast from 2020 to 2021,  only 70were or 9.1 percent of characters are LGBTQ+. The number of LGBTQ+ characters on cable also decreased from 118 to 81.

GLAAD’s Studio Responsibility Index report did show an increase of LGBTQ+ inclusive films from 18.2 percent in 2018 to 18.6 percent in 2019. Although, this falls two percent short of GLAAD’s proposed 20 percent of inclusive films in 2021. 

The organization also highlighted that mere portrayal of queer characters is not enough. The representation should be of high quality. This is where queerbaiting enters.

Queerbaiting deprives the LGBTQ+ community of proper representation. It exploits the lack of fictional queer role models and uses it to get attention and money while doing little to address the problems of the community they are marketing to. 

In short, queerbaiting is just a marketing tactic, and people, especially the LGBTQ+ community, should be wary of this ploy.

Reclaiming the narrative

While shows are fishing for views through false representation, there are still many shows which delve into the  LGBTQ+ experience properly. 

One of these shows is FX’s “Pose”, which follows the story of a New York ballroom community and its members in the ’80s and early ’90s. 

Screengrab from “Pose” (2018)

The show does not only explicitly show LGBTQ+ relationships, but also shows its delicate intricacies. It also weaves the story of the community experience and how the characters bond together to face the challenges of their time, which includes hate crimes, lack of family support and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US. In addition to that, the show also has diverse casting, with main characters like Blanca (Mj Rodriguez), Elektra (Dominique Jackson) and Angel (Indya Moore) played by trans individuals.

There are many movies and shows catering to the queer community without resulting in queerbaiting. With the entertainment industry becoming more inclusive in the stories they present, there are more stories to which the community can relate to.

While the specter of queerbaiting still remains, there are many stories where the LGBTQ+ can reclaim their narrative, free from opportunistic portrayals and false hopes. 


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10 underrated KPOP groups worth listening to

For an industry that capitalizes so much on musicality and presentation, K-pop transcends the stereotypical Western pop we all grew accustomed to. It is more than just a listening experience; K-pop is a breathing culture and lifestyle in a world of its own. And it is no crime to listen to a seemingly uncanny yet surprisingly addicting genre. Music, after all, is a universal language.



Photo grabbed from different music videos on Youtube

K-pop is an art we have hugely relied on not only for entertainment but also as a source of consolation that’s there for us regardless of what mood we’re in. This is possibly why a huge rise in fandoms has occurred during this quarantine. Even Miss Saigon Lea Salonga and TikTok’s favorite nanay Mama Lulu have been recruited to the ARMY. 

Idols always nail versatility; whether it’s a girl-crush, rock, cute, dramatic, retro concept, and the like. Unconventional and less formulaic concepts are also a hit now, something rookie girl group aespa and boy group NCT is notably known for. 

There’s a whole universe to discover with emerging concepts and talented rookies that are about to take the K-pop industry by storm. So if you want to diversify your K-pop palate and knowledge, or your music taste in general, we got you covered! 

Here are TomasinoWeb’s picks for underrated groups you might want to stan. 

Girl Groups


Photo courtesy of High Up Entertainment

STAYC are the talented girls behind ASAP, the tuneful, snappy song that’s been going around locals on Tiktok last May. In 2020, the six-member group was the first group to debut under High Up Entertainment, composed of Sumin, Sieun, Isa, Seeun, Yoon, and J. The group first debuted with EDM, pop song ‘SO BAD’. With a divine melody, memorable choreography, and an equal line distribution, it almost seems too good to be their debut song. 

Their hit single, ASAP, has received large traction and love, entering the “Billboard K-pop 100”. You’d hear the snappy and fun beat in several K-pop compilations and photocard decorating videos. 

If you’re into energetic concepts that explore young love, girlhood, and companionship, check their other amazing B-sides to jazz up your playlist!


Photo courtesy of PlayM Entertainment

Though most pop songs have hard-hitting beats, we just can’t get enough of bubbly and cute music. WEEEKLY tells us that you can sing your hearts out to teen-crush music regardless of how old you are! They debuted in January 2020 under PlayM Entertainment with their first mini-album, We are, and title track Tag me

 But WEEEKLY isn’t only about cuteness. Skateboarding, gaming, and confessing to your crush after classes? The seven members, Soeun, Zoa, Jaehee, Soojin, Jihan, Jiyoon, and Monday, are able to turn the unexciting aspect of school into something fun with their titular third title track, After School. Who can blame you if you get last song syndrome from this song’s extremely catchy, stompy beat? 

Each performance is refreshingly sung and choreographed with beaming enthusiasm that will surely get you on your feet.

3. Dreamcatcher

Photo courtesy of Happyface Entertainment

Straying away from mainstream concepts, Dreamcatcher gravitates towards the darker and dazzling anime-esque themes. They debuted in 2017 under Happyface Entertainment, consisting of five members: JiU, SuA, Siyeon, Yoohyeon, and Dami. With their debut album Nightmare, the group stands out by juxtaposing punk-rock with lyricism. 

Each song is interestingly tied with a storyline of running away from nightmares. To add, they are also known for their complex choreography by  incorporating imagery. You and I is a hypnotic, punk-rock song that evokes imageries of moons and crabs in their dance composition.  Running from darkness and crushing fears is another nightmare concept they have in PIRI, a nocturnal song that is often paired in anime edits because it perfectly fits as an anime opening! 

Dreamcatcher, being the literary book-like world of K-pop, will be your go-to escapism playlist with these melancholic and mythical songs.


Photo courtesy of BlockBerry Creative

Whether you want a mood booster or just something to sad twerk to, this next group might interest you. LOONA, stylized as LOOΠΔ, is a 12-member girl group composed of members Hyunjin, Haseul, ViVi, Heejin, Yves, Yeojin, Chuu, Kim Lip, Gowon, Olivia Hye, Jinsoul, and Choerry.

Each member of the group was first introduced with a single of their own before their official debut in 2018. LOONA has it. You might even recognize member Yeojin’s solo in this viral TikTok audio!

Venturing into EDM, synth-pop, contemporary jazz, deep house, and more, LOONA’s experimental music allows them to easily transition from a cute concept like Hi High to a more intense girl crush concept like So What. But besides their diverse sound, LOONA knows how to use numbers to their advantage. With 12 members on board, the group is able to showcase their choreographies as contemporary art. Butterfly is one of their most artistic performances, so much so that it deserves a spot in The Louvre. So, the next time you see a “STAN LOONA” comment, why not do it?

5.Oh My Girl 

Photo courtesy of Soompi

If you’re the type who spends hours on end browsing through TikTok, then you might have come across the da da da da earworm. Behind the viral summer track, Dolphin, is the seven-member girl group OH MY GIRL. Members Hyojung, Mimi, YooA, Seunghee, Jiho, Binnie and Arin have been together since their debut in 2015. 

Despite being marketed as a group with a cute concept, OH MY GIRL injects the right amount of hip-hop and R&B in their music. Their recent comeback with Dun Dun Dance lives up to the standards set by Dolphin and Nonstop. The island pop track is not only cute and refreshing but also includes traces of 1980s disco-pop and hip-hop. More than their visuals, the group also boasts powerful and dreamy vocals in many of their songs like 5th Season (SSWL), Step by Step, and Closer. In this gloomy weather, OH MY GIRL is the warm hug and vitamin boost you need. 

Boy Groups


Photo courtesy of Mnet

Models? No, they’re just SF9—a nine-member boy group that debuted in 2016. SF9, which stands for Sensational Feeling 9, is composed of talented members Youngbin, Inseong, Jaeyoon, Dawon, Ro Woon, Zuho, Yoo Taeyang, Hwiyoung, and Chani.

SF9 is more than just visuals. Member Zuho is credited as a producer in many of their songs such as Echo, Photography, and Go High. Their main dancer, Yoo Taeyang, takes part in the creation of their choreographies like with their recent performances in the survival show Kingdom: Legendary War. For K-Drama fans, you might recognize members Ro Woon in Extraordinary You and She Would Never Know, Chani in Sky Castle, and Dawon in Doom At Your Service

SF9’s growth is slow and steady, which is often overlooked by many K-pop fans. Some of their songs that you should listen to are Good guy, Now or never, Believer, Summer Breeze, and Easy Love. If these convinced you of their talent, then maybe consider supporting their July comeback and you might never know, maybe you’ll even join their fandom called “fantasy” as well. 

2. Astro

Photo courtesy of Fantagio

It may or may not come as a surprise to you, but a certain handsome actor in True Beauty is actually part of a very talented group: Astro. Hear us out, aside from Cha Eun Woo’s gorgeous visuals, one must also notice the immense talents of his fellow members and their accomplished, versatile discography. Astro debuted under Fantagio in 2016 with six members; MJ, Jinjin, Cha Eun-woo, Moon Bin, Rocky, and Yoon San-ha. 

From exploring refreshing concepts, emotional ballads, and sophisticated themes, Astro still doesn’t lose their signature touch in their music. Crazy Sexy Cool perfectly combines retro, suave themes, making it everyone’s era and wrecking our bias list. In All Night, Astro blends their charming visuals and top-notch vocals with a beautifully crafted choreography that we can only describe as ethereal. So, would you want to be their star?

3. The Boyz

Photo courtesy of Cre.Ker Entertainment

11 members, 11 charms. The BOYZ first kicked off in 2017, forming Sangyeon, Jacob, Younghoon, Hyunjae, Juyeon, Kevin, Chanhee, Changmin, Haknyeon, Sunwoo, and Eric. To segue, Juyeon was actually the viral “cute football guy” that trended all over social media because of his stunning boyfriend material look! 

Much like Astro, they can also pull off any concept. Duality and versatility keep their head in the game, whether it’d be a youthful school concept or a dynamic electro-funk impression. In the survival show, Road to Kingdom, the members shined outstandingly with impressive and creative performances—fighting for the crown and twirling in flames were all evocative of Catching Fire from the movie franchise, Hunger Games. In their spy-like concept in The Stealer, they fuse synchronization perfectly with electropop instrumentation. 

Right Here and D.D.D are also some of the many trademarks the boys have created. Its dynamism radiates with zest and a clean, cut chorus that utilizes good melodies fused with the right amount of synergy. If you’re down to seeing iconic films and concepts combined with music and dance, you will not regret stanning The BOYZ.


Photo courtesy of BELIFT LAB

Hailing from the survival program, I-LAND, is the seven-member group ENHYPEN. Composed of members Jungwon, Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo, and Ni-ki, the group is among the very few K-Pop groups without fixed positions except a leader. Despite being a fresh and new group, ENHYPEN has showcased their versatility with their unique concepts and storylines.

If you’re an anime fan, then you might enjoy Given-Taken whose music video is filled with not-so-subtle references from The Promised Neverland. ENHYPEN further elevates dark concepts by incorporating vampires, carnivals, and subtle horror imagery at the backdrop of a college house party in their pop and psychedelic rock-infused track Drunk-Dazed

But, if creepy dolls and blood make you queasy then their reggae-inspired Let Me In and contemporary R&B Fever might be right up your alley. For classic literature nerds, their lyrics and storyline might pique your interest as much of their songwriting and concepts draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s works like Sonnet 11 and Hamlet. To stan or not to stan, that is the question.

5. Day6

Photo courtesy of JYP Entertainment

If mainstream pop isn’t your cup of tea, then perhaps Korean band Day6 would fit your palette more. The group is fronted by member Sungjin on lead guitar, with Young K on bass, Jae on guitar, Wonpil on the keyboard, and Dowoon on drums. Formed in 2015, the five-member ensemble brought in a new wave of K-pop with their painfully relatable music. 

Day6 explores a wide array of genres from alternative rock with Congratulations, to full-on pop-rock with Shoot Me and Sweet Chaos, and to a more retro sound with Days Gone By

Instead of eye-catching choreography, the band prides themselves on their songwriting. Not only are their lyrics very poetic, but they also encapsulate emotions and lived experiences of both youth and adults. From I Smile that speaks about the growing pains of young love to Zombie that tackle the nuances of our daily lives, Day6 will leave you nostalgic with their youthful tones and cathartic with their empathetic lyrics.

Bonus: K.A.R.D

Photo courtesy of Musique

K.A.R.D brings the best of both worlds as a co-ed group, a rarity in the K-pop scene. Formed by DSP media in 2017, J. Seph, BM, Somin, and Jiwoo’s talents, variety, and amusing sibling-like relationships subvert the Korean industry’s stereotypes on mixed-gender groups.

From dancehall music, tropical dancing, to cathartic melodies, they truly are the best at playing aces. One of their best works is Trust Me, an impassioned song that tackles melancholy and distance. The harmonization of their voices fit so well together, it’s a trance to keep replaying it. But if you want to feel hyped, Oh Nana employs a jumpy, pop choreography with happy twerking! It is time to reciprocate the same appreciation towards co-ed groups in the industry so we can be blessed with more hidden gems. 

For an industry that capitalizes so much on musicality and presentation, K-pop transcends the stereotypical Western pop we all grew accustomed to. It is more than just a listening experience; K-pop is a breathing culture and lifestyle in a world of its own. And it is no crime to listen to a seemingly uncanny yet surprisingly addicting genre. Music, after all, is a universal language. 

Yet, like western pop, K-pop does not go without fault. There are many incidents that happen behind closed doors that are purposely shielded from the public eye. Indeed, K-pop is a refreshing genre that gives a rush of dopamine and brings comfort. But along with being avid listeners and supporters, we must also be mindful and discerning consumers. 


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8 Filipino Films as Quintessential Romantic Couple Tropes

Undeniably, classic rom-coms curated by our country’s creatives have shapeshifted the romantic genre not only just as microdoses of the romance we can all relate to, but as visual records of how the film has taken under its wing the context of the consensus of love in the society, in the country’s language, and its prevailing cultures.



(Artwork by Meghan Castillo/TomasinoWeb)

In a blanket of uncertainty, all we have in our company now is the glaring afternoon heat through the summer season, the promise of Taylor Swift’s re-recordings, and the unending desire to rewatch couple tropes, which romantic comedies (rom-coms) never fail to gladly capitalize on. We can never blame the immortal presence of these tropes in the landscape of rom-coms because they are salient elements to the whole genre — as salient as the chicken skin which Popoy had refused to give to Basha, leading to their well-deserved pedestal in the exes-to- lovers trope in Philippine romcoms. 

We rounded up some of the quintessential romantic couple tropes in films and their classic Filipino counterparts. In doing so, we hope to put into words how these films solidified our love for the familiarity of seeing how Homo sapiens fall in love with each other (or not) in numerous, tried-and-tested patterns. 


Best-Friends-to-Lovers: Labs Kita…Okey Ka Lang? (1998) 


One of the simplest yet poetically endearing trope dynamics to be created is the best friends-to-lovers trope. The plotline usually revolves around two people who have known each other more than the back of their hand, with one of them gradually seeing the other person in a different light. Suddenly, the air is filled with awkward tension, and we can’t help rooting while simultaneously getting frustrated for two people who have always been in love but are just belatedly realizing it. 

There is no other Filipino rom-com classic that has perfectly encapsulated this trope other than the Jerry Lopez Sineneng film Labs Kita… Okey Ka Lang?. Forefronted by the Marvin-Jolina tandem, the story of Bujoy (Jolina Magdangal) and Ned (Marvin Agustin) as best friends trying to navigate these newfound feelings will always resonate even after years of its release. 


Enemies-to-Lovers: Got 2 Believe (2002)


While this trope may rarely happen in real life, the enemies-to-lovers plot line has always been a perennial favorite not only in films but also as tags in fanfictions. Its ability to placate two people who harbor hate for each other, and then eventually draw an unexpected trajectory makes this couple trope interesting with each storyteller’s take. 

Olivia Lamasan’s Got 2 Believe continues to be among the beautifully rendered rom-coms of this trope as it showcases Rico Yan and Claudine Barretto’s characters — who have opposing views on love — trying and failing to resist the outcome of their compromise. Equally highlighted was their palpable chemistry not only as lovers but also as artisans of the we-banter-like-a-married-couple-but-we-just-don’t-know-it-yet plotline, which had served as the blueprint for most love stories of today’s generation. 


Second Chances at Love: My Amnesia Girl (2010) 


The weight of the history between two people — who had once been part of each other’s lives and decided to separately go their ways only to find themselves meeting each other again — makes the exes to lovers trope one of the plotlines interjected with an unapologetic amount of angst over memories bearing too much. 

That is not the case with the 2010 rom-com film My Amnesia Girl as ex-lovers Apollo (John Lloyd Cruz) and Irene (Toni Gonzaga) are given a clean slate with the far-fetched excuse of amnesia. Sans the awkward tiptoeing around a hurtful past, the story now gives the two exes a chance to make up for the hurt they have inflicted on each other while unknowingly creating more pitfalls that had them eventually causing more pain. Quirky and peppered with cheesy pickup lines, My Amnesia Girl will always be a go-to amusement for those who masquerade the pain of the past better than anybody else. 


Cold Personality Meets a Warm-hearted Person: A Very Special Love (2008)  


A timeless element that adds depth to rom-com films is the presence of change especially when integrated into a character who has gone too cold after only surviving the day-to-day motions of life; then comes the warm-hearted character, heralding the sunlight into the other person’s life. Naturally, the stone-cold person will try to resist giving in to their warmth. But by the end of the story, they’ll realize that they’ve never been more alive than when they are filled with the warm-hearted person’s energy. So, they apologize in front of Luneta with a complete band singing “Kailan” by Smokey Mountain. 

Such is the plot of one of the most successful trilogies of the Philippine cinema: Cathy Garcia-Molina’s A Very Special Love starred by the Sarah-John Lloyd tandem. It is a retelling of a fairytale-esque love story carved around the culture of familial ties that made it a staple gateway to other Filipino rom-coms anchoring on the same trope. 


Fake Relationships: Till There Was You (2002) 


There is always a grain of truth in the optimistic disposition of “fake it ‘til you make it”, and this also apparently applies to relationships forged by either a need to stave off unending questions of the marriage-hungry parents or to make an ex-partner jealous. 

In Till There Was You, however, the farce relationship between Joanna (Judy Ann Santos) and Albert (Piolo Pascual) was to convince Albert’s child that the family she thought she had was not falling apart. Later, they realize that it has never been hard to distinguish what was real and not. This led to them to create the ending they (and we) have always seen coming. The 2003 romantic comedy is highlighted by not just the thrill of fake relationships becoming real, but also by its subtle criticisms of societal issues — from unfair labor practices to custody battles — that grapple the ordinary Filipino family. 


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Soulmates: Hintayan ng Langit (2018) 


The idea of each person having someone who has been created to be their other half — whether platonically or romantically — has always contained an inexplicable excitement of its fulfillment because it is a grounding prophecy that we are not always meant to celebrate the journey of life alone. This may be the reason why the soulmate trope — in however way it was written — will always fascinate the most rational person in the room; the same goes for the whimsical ones for it is a type of story that we may always grasp, and yet its entirety can never be fully comprehended. 

This is the premise of Hintayan ng Langit, which is a story about two previous lovers meeting each other again. What is fascinating other than the idea of a failed romance being possibly rekindled in the afterlife is that the story takes its ample time through the course of grieving — not just for those who are left behind but also for the dead. With the masterstrokes of the film’s writer, Juan Miguel Severo, and director, Dan Villegas, Hintayan ng Langit serves as a reminder that even in the afterlife, soulmates will always find their journey being and ending with each other. 


Star-Crossed Lovers: Ulan (2019)  


Many things can only go so much past the command of the stars; neither of those things is fate because, as one rightfully suspects, the stars cradle the hands of fate. Once in a while, however, the stars failed to consider that certain people are too stubborn to an extent of displacing its design. One may contest that it’s not their fault — they’re just people who found love where it was not meant to exist in the first place. 

Such is the trope of the star-crossed lovers which may be different from the premise of romantic comedies since tragedies frequent the ending of these stories. Irene Villamor’s Ulan is no stranger to this trope. Its story, however, only bears a fraction of the tragedy of star-crossed lovers. More than anything, it traverses through the grit of loving oneself and others in a world that tries to show how harsh the stars may sometimes be. 


Unrequited Love: I’m Drunk, I Love You (2017)  


Is there a better comic relief than when the story shows a person secretly pining for another person only to find out they don’t feel the same way? The unrequited love trope is widely incorporated in stories transcending genres, and more often the reason is that it supplicates as a shared experience — it speaks a language that most people have known and understood for a long time. 

For Carson (Maja Salvador), it takes her exactly seven years to know she has been suffering under its language, and maybe seven more to shrug off the vocabulary that is Dio (Paulo Avelino). JP Habac’s I’m Drunk, I Love You, although peppered with a charming comedic appeal, veers away from the traditional Filipino rom-coms as it takes on a quiet portrayal of love and all its ugly compared to the usual gimmicky films we have been familiar with. It is the poster child of a film about unrequited love for it prides itself as an anthem to those who clown enough to yearn even without a sliver of assurance — a true epitome of this generation’s rom-com. 

Undeniably, classic rom-coms curated by our country’s creatives have shapeshifted the romantic genre not only just as microdoses of the romance we can all relate to, but as visual records of how the film has taken under its wing the context of the consensus of love in the society, in the country’s language, and its prevailing cultures. Filipino rom-coms are not just stories that desire to entertain but to reside as a manifestation of how their tropes — when taken with a sturdy consciousness — can provide a newly established purpose: an archive of the culture of love across generations. 


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