Philippine Pop Culture

Abigail Sabido
August 2, 2019

Popular culture reveals the characteristics of modern society. Filipino pop culture is superficial in most cases, casting only the people’s inclinations that spring from their fun-loving nature. Anyone can see most (if not all) of these elements on social media. This comes as no surprise as Filipino are the world’s top social media users, according to creative agencies We Are Social and Hootsuite. While there are a lot of things going on in the country, here are a few trends that dominate Philippine pop culture.

Hugot is Life

Hugot is basically the deep lingering emotions brought about by a person’s circumstance and experiences, usually from heartbreaks and adulting. The term evolved into the practice of coming up with the saddest lines out of the mundane that evokes a particular experience.

Memes, or humorous online content like images and videos, spurred the trend with which added context and illustration to achieve the intended effect. Tagalog (major language in the capital) is often used but also comes with a mix of English or other dialects.

Bundok: Minsan lugar. Madalas…

Translation: A mountain: Sometimes a place. Usually…  (a beer belly)

COMMITMENT ang costume ko sa Halloween. Dun ka takot, di ba?

Translation: I’ll dress up as COMMITMENT on Halloween. Everyone’s afraid of that, right?

Pagsisid: Minsan parang pag-ibig. Kung kailan lumalalim, saka lumalamig.

Translation: Diving is like love. The deeper you get, the colder it gets.

Think of puns and cringe-cheesy pick-up lines; many consider them as precursors. Famous lines from popular Filipino movies also helped lay the foundation of this widespread practice. As to how the hugot began, it’s unclear (like some relationships). But one thing is for sure, it’s here to stay (unlike some relationships).

Milk Tea is the New Coffee

Businesses utilize social media to attract more customers by enticing them with aesthetic pictures of their place or location, menus, drinks, services, or products. Followers are then converted into customers. Customers then post their experiences with the food or products. Chances are their followers become the next set of customers.

The milk tea fad, for instance, became widespread thanks to social media. Plenty of shops have been operating but it’s only recently that they gained so much popularity. Revamping their brands and the hype brought by social media posts account for their new-found popularity. Milk tea entrepreneurs also come up with the catchiest names to stand out. In Iloilo City (where our VMAs are based) alone, shops like MLKT, OMT (Oh My Tea), and Humanitea established their social media presence thanks to their wit.

Daily Dose of Teleserye

Teleseryes or primetime TV series are often criticized for their seemingly endless storylines. Take Ang Probinsyano for instance (titled Brothers on Netflix). First premiered in 2015, Brothers has aired 970 episodes throughout their weekday night timeslot. Add to that is the invincible main character whose specialty is to cheat death after countless near-death experiences. Ironically, the same people continue watching it. Perhaps anticipating to take part in its historic ending.

Just recently, memes of an afternoon drama scene joined the ranks of the most iconic in Philippine TV history. While all glammed up in a red dress, chic bag, heels, and matching red luggage, the antagonist-turned-show favorite of the top-rated series walks along an impoverished neighborhood alley looking for a place to stay. While the where is yet to be revealed in the next season, Filipinos have taken her around the world.

Popular culture comes and goes along with the shifting beliefs and activities. They’re technically inessential but they give color to the ordinary and add flavor to the humdrum bustle of life.


Abigail is a senior writer in Xilium. Before joining the company, she worked as a content creator for online startups and has written about current events, health, lifestyle, and entertainment for US-based online news portals and lifestyle blog sites.