Last week I covered a couple of videos created by Michael Goodman; one covering twenty great things about the Philippines, and another about twenty not-so-great things (even though, ironically, there are some common items between the two videos). Well, the videos haven't only gone viral here, but also in the social media hungry Philippines. Most vilified of all was Jimmy Sieczka, the narrator of “20 Reasons I Dislike the Philippines” whose curse-filled tirade spread like wildfire. But is any hate toward him warranted?
This past week, Sieczka posted his apology video, seen below:
As I suspected, Sieczka doesn't really hate the Philippines. Someone who's chosen to live there for years certainly would have reconsidered their situation if they didn't like it that much. In the above video, an emotional Sieczka professes his appreciation for the people he's met and the country and area he's lived in. He states he only wanted to shine a light on some issues that were either being taken for granted or being ignored.
Surprisingly, his words may have struck a chord with city officials. This Monday, Cebu City councilor Sisinio Andales wanted to have Sieczka declared “persona non grata”, or as someone legally not welcome in the city. The next day, however, Mayor Michael Rama moved shifted several people around in City Hall. A former mayor says the moves are political, but Rama says the moves are in response to Sieczka's video. Rama swore to crack down on the vandalism, litter, and beggars he witnessed in the video.
My take has always been that Sieczka didn't really hold some kind of grudge toward the Philippines. If you watch his video and realize he's attempting very tongue-in-cheek humor, you can see he's not attacking the Philippines, but just making fun of some of the country's idiosyncrasies. I do believe everything in his apology video is true and that he is not doing it to deflect the backlash. Also, I don't entirely believe Mayor Rama's claim that this video is prompting him to make some of these changes – it just happens to be convenient (though I am no expert at Philippines politics by any means).
Sure, you can be offended by Sieczka's video. It's meant to evoke emotion from its viewers. And seeing all the responses that came from it – video comments, blog posts, government responses – I think it worked. All this city and national pride in response to one guy's harmless twenty minute video. I won't go as far to say that Sieczka made his point in the right way, but I will say the guy at least deserves a break.