I finally had to ask via a Tweet this morning: "WTF is this PABEBE? Overload and under-informed" and I got a chorus of replies.
Two suggested that I am better left in the dark --- for the sake of my sanity.
One said I should not even try to find out what it was all about. But I couldn't help it: everybody is talking about this pabebe-pabebe (that sounds like Dyesebel's mahiwagang kabibe but which I am certain it is not). In television, everybody makes references, mounts satires and even downright masticates this whole pabebe phenomenon. And here I was in the dark so I had to find out despite warnings from both friends, strangers and sincerely concerned netizens.
Well, somebody finally gave a Tweeter-length explanation: Yun pong mga teens na pa-cute/pa-baby magsalita sa mga ina-upload nilang videos. (Those teens who act cute/ speak in baby talk in their uploaded videos.) Thanks so much for that, Koj Torre. I did not include the last part of your message because it echoed what twenty five others said in a matter of three minutes of social media time.
I more or less got the drift. Teen-agers doing goo-goo talk (hopefully not with eyes closing and opening like those spooky dolls that go to sleep when you lay them down) and try to act desperate/terminally/uncontrollably cute to the verge of miming the mentally challenged. In short, nagpapakyut.
I thought nothing wrong with that. It is a time-held tradition.
I know relatively intelligent men and women in their mid-twenties to early thirties suddenly indulging in baby talk just to sound vulnerable, approximate the cuteness of Anne Geddes dolls. However, when badly executed or performed by the wrong people pagpapakyut would elicit a different kind of reaction from people in the audience. Gusto mong tadyakan sa pagmumukha. (Translation: You want to give them a sample flying kick right on the face.) That is, of course, assuming that these are adults trying to retrieve their memories of innocence and vulnerability mouthing, "Daddy, Daddy ... love mo talaga 'ko?" ending the question by puckering their lips.
Siguro if you are in love, it would not look disgusting. But you must really, really be in love to find that pleasant. Either that, or you are desperate.
Sigh. OK. Kanya-kanyang trip. Walang basagan. I was never comfortable with being witness to public displays of affection especially when it borders on the ridiculous.
There is a survival practice to all this: when not in the amused zone, simply ignore. Look away and don't even give a comment. Pero ang sarap pa ring tadyakan sa mukha.
This follows the same principle that another trend (also derived from the internet of a Filipina transgender in London ) is now being imitated by very visible and impressive local celebrities. This involves the use of a selfie stick and working it in the style that would impress both Ms. Jay and Tyra Banks, sashaying until the pelvic bone is threatened by disconnection or spinal misalignment. It is ramp modeling in the streets --- but under the influence of steroids or enough caffeine to match the effects of meth.
It is called Mowdel-Mowdel-One-two-three Pak. It was even featured in a special segment in the news showing an ace comedian and a singer/actress sashaying in public with their selfie sticks duplicating the entire act. Hold up your selfie-stick then sashay-sashay-sashay --- then Pak! If you do not warrant attention doing that, then you realize you are in even deeper s--t than Brandy who sang on the subway --- and nobody noticed.
O sige. One more time. Kanya-kanyang trip.
The things we do out of boredom --- or if only to amuse people who follow us in the net. After all, ka-boring rin naman if everyday you post those inspirational quotes about reaching the unreachable star or that you treat each day like it is the last day of your life sort of dogma. All those quotable quotes are good --- but like Instagram photos of the food you are eating, your pet dog snuggled beside you --- or even how you look like wearing skimpy swimming trunks (so that the entire world can salivate at the body you worked on for months at the gym), things like that can be so --- you know --- predictable and boring.
And those are two no-nos when it comes to internet presence.
Despite warnings, I finally went straight to YouTube to find out who are these Pabebe Girls. And I watched.
There was nothing really extraordinary about the girls --- even when one of them teaches us how to eat --- uh, mamon.
Actually their looks are not astounding but very familiar --- or regular, just like the children who I used to see lining up O'Farrell Street in Pasay, one of those side streets off Park Avenue. Yes, there is a Park Avenue in Pasay City. My point is that ... well, these girls ain't no threats to the careers of Liza Soberano or Julia Barretto or Janella Salvador, right?
They are just regular girls.
They just like talking to the cameras with utmost seriousness that you begin to doubt if these are actually broadcasts from some faraway planet as a result of earthlings now having a close-up photo of Pluto.
These girls talk to the camera with such dead pan conviction that they could have been reading a teleprompter from the script of The Night of the Living Dead. I guess they are trying to be cute ... but at the end of the videos, they are actually ... uh, disturbing.
Somebody said that she got sorta kinda spooked out.
I mean these videos are more disturbing the Comic Con trailer for The Suicide Squad, really. And to say that these girls stuck to my mind more than Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn really says a lot. Also include Ang Babaeng Multo who really has a promising career if anyone should decide to do a bio pic of Lilia Cuntapay.
I wish there could have been more: I wish the Pabebe did not give an instructional on eating mamon. I would have wanted to direct her eating puto seco, pulvoron, tira-tira or better yet ---atis. That would have had greater visual impact and dramatic challenge than a --- oh, well --- mamon. I would have also suggested even a two-hour acting workshop to add more angst to the pastry instructional. After all, that is the heart and soul of being young, sweet and ... pusong mamon.
After all that hoopla, yon pala ang Pabebe. OK. And then what?
But honestly though, I really liked the Elevator Girl and Amalayer better. At least that had a story arc. At least, for me ... their existence meant something. Even in the virtual world where everyday little girls can have the spotlight aimed at them for their fifteen seconds of infamy.