There’s a lot going on in Poblaposting, a Filipino meme account on Instagram.
There are the cutting jabs at the habits of Manila’s privileged, and references to both recent and almost forgotten cornerstones of the city’s dining, nightlife, and travel scenes. There’s a sense of surprise at seeing memes tailored to the niche lifestyles of urban Filipinos, and bittersweet nostalgia for pre-pandemic days, when your personality was dictated by the bar you frequented on Saturday nights (although no one ever admitted that).
“Poblaposting started as an outlet for our casual observations on the urban experience in the Philippines. Prior to making the page, we would see people react to memes and videos from international accounts, pages that we felt don’t fully represent the Philippine city life and its unique nuances,” the people behind the anonymous Poblaposting account told VICE. They prefer to remain anonymous, they said, because it’s “not necessary to find out how a hotdog is made.”
“We feel that finding out who’s behind the page takes attention away from the content. We just want our audience to enjoy the hotdog,” they said.
“From its conception, until now, we try to make material for and about Poblaposting’s friends and poking fun at their, or our, privilege.”
Poblaposting takes its name from Poblacion, a popular creative and nightlife hub in Manila. According to the page’s creators, it was simply the first place they thought of while coming up with their earliest memes.
Since its first post in late December—a meme comparing where the general public got their news from (Reuters and CNN), versus where upper crust people in Manila got their news from (gossip in restaurants Barcino and Dean & Deluca)—the account has gotten over 9,400 followers.
Their posts are satirical and self-aware, poking fun at all-too-easy-to-make-fun-of stereotypes. For example, one meme is a “trying to be productive while on vacation” starter pack, with a picture of a white sand beach, the album art of the song Jubel by French duo Klingande (a familiar tropical house track that’s fallen out of tune), and a photo of the book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson, with text that reads “used as a paperweight” below it.
According to Poblaposting, the posts with the most likes on their account include one that pokes fun at ironic reminders to practice social distancing from people on golf courses and yachts, and one about influencers at an annual art event looking more like they’re there for the ‘gram than for the art.
Many appreciate the oddly specific jabs, but not everyone’s laughing. On Twitter, for example, the account has been criticized for forwarding snobbish and elitist humor. Many think the account itself perpetuates the brand of exclusivity it tries to lampoon.
Poblaposting’s posts have an “If you know, you know” quality about them. Most people, for example, don’t shop for furniture at the carefully curated and constantly coveted Midcentury Manila, nor do they enjoy (and post about) the arroz caldo at Philippine Airlines’ VIP Mabuhay Lounge. Comments on the posts come from a mix of people just there for the laughs but also the owners of some of the establishments the account caricatures.
Those behind Poblaposting acknowledge the limited view of Manila they’re presenting.
“Our content is based on our niche experience, so we understand that not everyone may relate to [it]. We’re not trying to alienate ourselves from everyone else, we’re just here to present this part of the city life in a self-deprecating, humorous way,” the page creators said.
“When Poblaposting makes fun of something, it’s up to the audience to discern how it applies to them—Have I noticed this? Have I experienced this? Do I do this, too?”
They’re not going for objective representation. They post memes, after all. It’s supposed to be stark, but subjective.
“We don’t see ourselves as a mirror that accurately reflects the truth. Rather, we act as a carnival mirror which exaggerates it. We started this page as an outlet for our quirky observations, and we intend to keep it that way,” said the page’s creators.
“At the end of the day, we’re just a silly page that makes silly memes, so please don’t take us seriously. After making a number of content, it seems that Manila city culture is alive and thriving despite our current situation. We’re glad our page has given people a sense of community and a place to relive our experiences. We just hope we’ll all able to laugh at all of this in the future.”
Follow Romano Santos on Instagram.