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Pinoy Abroad

YouTube sensation Mikey Bustos and how to be 'Pilipino'

January 17, 2012 6:20pm
In a recent visit to the GMA Network Center in Quezon City, Filipino YouTube star Mikey Bustos sat down with GMA News Online editor in chief Howie Severino and his son Alon, who is a big fan of the Filipino-Canadian singer-comedian.

What was meant to be a vacation for Bustos has become a whirlwind of media appearances.
 
Bustos, who first stepped into the limelight as a finalist in Canadian Idol, surged to YouTube fame with his video tutorials on how to be “Pilipino."
 
Comedy aside, this Filipino-Canadian harbors an interest in animals —ants in particular.
 
A zoology student before he hit the “Idol” stage, Bustos has entomologists for friends. He is also one of the brains behind AntsCanada, a two-year-old organization and store that provides “easy access to proper ant-keeping products” and ant farms to schools and enthusiasts alike around the world.
 
Here are excerpts from an interaction between Bustos and GMA News Online.


 
On his advice to “aspiring artistas
 
Never give up. Always, always stick to what you dream about. Part of the secret is really just sticking to your dream and not wavering.
 
Never give up hope and always pray and always continue to improve your craft.
 
 
On the importance of YouTube, especially to those who wish to break into show business
 
These days, it’s very important because now, it’s the age of YouTube. Actually, now it’s an advantage because back then, when we didn’t have YouTube, it was a lot harder to gain that kind of free exposure.
 
So just upload your stuff on YouTube, get seen, do your thing. Eventually, people will discover you. You just have to be patient.
 
 
On his “Pilipino accent”
 
I think my accent is highly Ybanag and Ilocano because my accent sounds more like my mom’s than my dad’s. And my mom is from Tuguegarao, so I got a little bit of Ybanag and Ilocano in the accent.
 
 
On growing up Filipino in Canada
 
I grew up mostly with Italians [and] Caucasian Canadians. They really just embraced me and took me in as their own. I never felt any racism or anything.
 
Being the only Filipino kid in my school… I felt like there was pressure for me to be like everybody else, but as I grew up, I realized that being unique is the best.
 
Pero now, in Toronto, there’s so many Pinoys! Like sometimes I’m on the bus and there’s around 85, 90 percent Pinoys. I feel like I’m in Manila.
 
 
On being a Filipino-Canadian visiting the Philippines
 
It’s great, actually. I love being with Filipinos and another thing too is there really isn’t a Filipino look per se. It’s like Filipinos are a non-homogenous people. There are different colors, different sizes, their faces are different.
 
We’re so diverse looking and it’s great. I actually feel like I’m at a huge Filipino party because that’s the only place where you see a bunch of Filipinos in Canada—at a party.
 
It’s awesome. I love it. I love Manila. I feel like I fit in so well. I feel at home here. I don’t want to go back. Yet.
 
 
On his plans during his visit
 
Right now, projects are coming my way, appearances. I would like to give a shot at starting a career here, so we’ll see. It depends.
 
So far, the support and love from Filipinos has been amazing on YouTube—online—so we’ll see if I can take it to the Philippine market. That would be my dream.
 
 
On ‘Happy Slip’ (Filipino YouTube star Christine Gambito)
 
She’s my friend. She’s a pioneer! She’s ahead of almost every YouTube-r. She was one of the six who pioneered viral YouTube-ing. Can you believe that? Six in general, in the world.
 
I’ve never met her personally, but because we have mutual fans, they essentially introduced us through Twitter and we started tweeting each other. Then, we just had a two-hour-long video Skype conversation on just about everything.
 
She really shed some light on YouTube and [going viral] and all of that. She really is awesome and we’ve resolved to collaborate. We’re going to do a video together, so that’s great.
 
[Our Skype conversation] was just one-on-one, [it] was fantastic. And I was freaking out, I was like, “Oh my God, I’m talking to Happy Slip! This is great!”
 
 
On ‘Prison Dancer’, the interactive ‘YouTube feature film’
 
I’m part of this thing called “Prison Dancer,” the interactive web musical. And it’s getting a lot of hype right now. It’s basically a musical feature film that they’re releasing on YouTube this March, so be sure to look out for it.
 
It’s based on the prison inmates of Cebu. You know the dancers in Cebu that did this Michael Jackson “Thriller” thing?
 
Howie Severino: You guys are the first ones to think of this? It just seems tailor-made for something like that.
 
It’s not actually my thing (idea). I was just hired as an actor for this production. I am friends with the ones who wrote it and directed it.

I was actually part of the musical. It started off as a musical in Toronto, so then they decided to take it to YouTube. They re-wrote the script to make it fit YouTube.
 
Howie Severino: And you sing and dance in this?
 
And I sing and dance in this.
 
Well, you see, people are kind of expecting the “Thriller” choreography. All the music in this is original so we can’t do the Michael Jackson thing. They’ve chosen not to.
 
But there’s choreography. Light choreography. But a lot of music, a lot of cool story lines, and it’s really fun.
 
It’s kind of ironic because in this, I play a serious role. In fact, that’s why I don’t have a Filipino accent in this. Everyone else has the Tagalog accent…
 
Howie Severino: What’s your accent?
 
It’s just the normal, the Toronto accent. Because they were afraid that people wouldn’t take my character seriously (uses his “Pilipino accent”) if I spoke like this!

- VVP/HS, GMA News

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