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How Bieber’s Instagram Faux Pas Incurred The Wrath Of The Filipinos

By Natalie Bokenham January 5, 2013

After 3 flights and 24 hours of non-stop traveling, I’ve finally made it to the Philippines, to a beautiful deserted island in Palawan, which couldn’t be further removed from the hectic pace of New York life: what bliss…

But being a Millennial (just…) I naturally felt compelled to get plugged in immediately.

Having logged onto the Wi-Fi network to post my envy-inducing photos on Instagram, I found the site to be blocked. This seemed unusual given that the Philippines is known for its obsession with social networking.

So I did a quick search to see what was going on, and saw that Justin Bieber had the Philippine government up in arms and ready to banish him from the country forever for mocking national hero, Manny Pacquiao, on Instagram. I can’t verify that this had any connection with my inability to get onto Instagram, but the story caused me to ponder the nature of Filipinos (who are my countrymen on my mother’s side).

After doing a bit of research, and thinking back to my many Christmases spent with the Filipino relatives, I found that the Filipinos bag quite a number of “firsts.”

Here are 5:

  1. The Philippines has been named the “social networking capital of the world” with more photos uploaded, and more videos viewed than any other country.  Source: UM Wave 3 Study
  2. Filipinos are officially the most emotional people on earth. Source: Gallup 
  3. The Philippines is the only Catholic country in the whole of Asia. Fact
  4. The Philippines was the first nation to make being glued to your phone during dinner socially acceptable. Source: personal experience – many years of my (English) father looking on in wonder
  5. The Philippines holds the World Record for giving the most consecutive haircuts by a team – 388 men. Source: Guinness Book of World Records

I suppose it is this unique combination of extremely passionate traits that has led the Philippine government down the extraordinary path of threatening Justin Bieber with persona non grata – especially given how very popular Bieber is in the Philippines. In fact, according to Google search data from 2010, Bieber may in fact owe much of his rise to fame to the Philippines where he was more popular than in any other country (there’s a bonus “first.”)

Bieber, if I were you, I’d start groveling.