‘Donnalyn di ka ba pwedeng mag-birthday ng normal?’
it is a question that is currently circulating the Internet.
Fresh from her infant-themed birthday shoot that received flak online last month, which was then deleted and apologized for, Donnalyn’s b-day celebration makes noise again, this time as she celebrated it ‘Kanto’ style. #KantoBirthdayniDonnalyn immediately trended as soon as the vlog was released on her Youtube channel.
Different takes spread across social media, with varying opinions, mostly debating whether they found her newest birthday stint insensitive.
On one hand, critics saw this to be a modern example of poverty porn. They also highlighted the double standards between content creators such as Donnalyn, who receive praise for their “simplicity,” whereas regular people are usually considered ‘jologs.’
Meanwhile, supporters say that the theme merely reflects Donnalyn’s humbler beginnings.
Was the birthday theme really THAT insensitive?
Birthdays spent at home with the company of loved ones are the norm for many Filipinos. Surely, we’ve all attended these kinds of parties: at a friend’s garage, with monoblocks and tables filled to the brim with pulutan and gin bilogs.
We’ve had karaoke machines, our closest friends in their most casual attire, and us being our most raucous selves.
So how did critics come up with the conclusion that her celebration was ‘insensitive’ when this is a commonality amongst Filipinos?
We think it begins with how she titled her vlog, ‘MY KANTO BIRTHDAY PARTY.’ It over glorifies and panders to something that is a reality for many Filipinos.
The first possible offender was the “tutong” cake, which is very on the nose. It is romanticization to the point of absurdity. Another was the choice of attire, where some of the attendees even poked holes or cut their clothes. Again, this is not something normal Filipinos do, especially on someone’s birthday.
But it’s her birthday, let her celebrate how she wants.
At the end of the day, everyone, including Donnalyn, should be able to celebrate their birthday the way they want to. And it’s not like the “kanto” theme was without inspiration.
Donnalyn started off her video with a flashback to her humbler birthday celebrations with the few people who mattered. It was a reminder of the days when she had little to no money, which is a sweet sentiment.
However, another reality is that she is now in a different place in her life, with massive clout, followership, and income at her beck and call. With a few subtle changes, the execution could have been different and more sensitive to her current reality and the social climate we have now.
The good thing is that Donnalyn listens.
After her infant-themed photoshoot received scrutiny, Donna quickly addressed the issue, taking down the photos and issuing a sincere apology. Following the incident, she even used her platform to shed light on child protection against abuse.
Like before, Donnalyn probably didn’t intend to cause offense with her kanto-themed bday party. But if there’s anyone we would trust to gracefully listen to feedback and respond, it is Donnalyn.