Does the Philippines’ first virtual model represent the average Filipino?


“Is she Filipino enough?”

This is the question on the minds of Pinoy netizens as they scroll through the Instagram feed of Bernila, the country’s first virtual model.

Bernila is a digital Filipina model following in the footsteps of American virtual influencer Lil Miquela launched in 2016. This Filipino iteration, kickstarted in December 2022, has her own Instagram page where she posts photos from cities in the metro.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Bernila 🖤 (@bernila.gram)

Under BTHRE Management, the influencer’s features were made for Filipinos’ “most liked” facial features, according to a report by When In Manila.

Her “unique” look has some users praising her on social media but it also ruffled some feathers, mainly because she’s not as Filipino-looking as expected.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Bernila 🖤 (@bernila.gram)

“It’s really messed up to see this ’cause this isn’t what a lot of Filipino women look like. Yes, some are pale, but a lot of us are brown,” one netizen commented. “What’s the point in having a ‘Filipino influencer’ when she doesn’t even represent or look Filipino? Do better.”

“It’s one thing to not look realistic, it’s another to be a whole other race. Pinay representation where?” another wrote.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Bernila 🖤 (@bernila.gram)

 “She’s not morena,” one user said.

“Except she doesn’t look like a Filipina and may unrealistic beauty standards. Rename nalang to cute AI model na lang since wala siyang bahid ng pagka-Pinay,” a netizen wrote.

Other countries have their own virtual models, with their own IG handles, including Shudu, Liam Nikuro, and Koffi. Since taking off, these digital avatars have starred in campaigns for luxury brands like Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, and more.

Will virtual models in the metaverse take over today’s influencers?

Must Read