October 30, 2021 (6:15 PM)

8 min read


Photo courtesy of Sam Lafuente

I still remember the time when I was a struggling Atenean. 

A few months ago, I received my first email saying that I was officially enrolled in Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU). Anxiety rushed through my body because I was a product of an online class, and college was a new experience. I didn’t know what to do. Indeed, I was a struggling freshman in college, an AFYOP baby without knowing AdDU’s culture. I was worried that I couldn’t blend in well. Good thing there was the internet.

I scrolled through the depths of Facebook, memorized the different clusters in the University, and sang the Blue Knight Song like it was a part of my playlist.

And then suddenly, a video of a young man wearing Ateneo’s uniform caught my attention. He waits patiently outside AdDU’s gate. The longer I watch the video, the funnier it gets every minute.

Paused. I giggled. The giggle turned into a laugh. I paused again, thinking how my college life would turn out if only COVID-19 didn’t happen. From there, I just secretly thanked Sam for giving the good vibes. 

If you’re an Atenean, you likely know about Sam Lafuente’s content on Facebook. Chances are, he’s your classmate, a fellow batchmate, or even a friend. 

Samuel Ian Lafuente, also known as Sam Lafuente, has recently risen in popularity as one of AdDU’s content creators. The 3rd year AB – Psychology student didn’t plan to pursue content creation in the first place. For him, it was a spur of the moment decision to film himself bashing his old remote and climbing rooftops just to change his TV’s channel. Little did Sam know, bullying his TV remote would cause a domino effect. 

Content creating or being a social media influencer, as they say, is one of the most frequent hobbies we see on the internet. It is so popular among people in the media that anyone can create content as long as it appeals to the masses. You’re funny? Do TikTok memes. You’re pretty? Time to earn a living from being ambassadors or ambassadresses for a local product online.

It is a dynamic and creative hobby; from paid advertisements to a simple informative video, it could become one of the most lucrative part-time jobs out there. Amidst the pandemic, influencers thrived, and this was an opportunity to utilize the platforms and do what they’re best at—creating content. 

Creating ripples online

Sam was always the “bibo” kid in the family. As a kid, he used to bug his aunts and uncles with corny jokes and even participated in intermission numbers during family gatherings. 

“I am also that kid that would immediately sing or dance when his uncles and aunts ask him to. Heck, I’d even volunteer without being asked,” he fondly recalled.

Sam started creating content a year ago, when online classes were stagnant, and the pandemic was just beginning to hit the country. Everything went into the digital world in a snap. There was little to no physical contact with people at all. The one-week suspension of classes turned into two years of nothing but thinking when the pandemic will end and endless scrolling of memes on Facebook.

But Sam thinks differently. He used this opportunity to film himself and made the best out of it. 

“I created content out of boredom. Syempre online class law-ay jud kaayo,” he expressed.

Sam’s online persona revolved around the everyday life of Bisaya masses in society. His content mostly features different shenanigans of a Bisaya: a student finding her lost cell phone or even something as simple as dancing to Tiktok while doing household chores. It could be a typical Bisaya mom, or in this case, a typical Atenean. 

“What I miss about face to face classes are the events, the meeting new people in different subjects, the pooping in the 6th floor CR, the sleeping in MigPro library, the hesitation to drink on water fountains when the water squirts too low, and many more” he shared.

Sam films anywhere, may it be on the streets of his neighborhood, in his room, or even the University’s gates. 

“As someone who portrays that person, a lot of people can relate to that. They can relate to a persona na pine-present ko. They can say na, ‘uy ako man diay ni oh.’”

With his rising popularity in the local scene, Sam thanked his family for their support. 

“They were very proud and happy about it. They’d share my accomplishments to my uncles and aunts and they would feel the same way. It warms my heart to see them share my contents on facebook and put captions like “this is my pamangkin or anak”, and the family friends would then reply “manang-mana sa papa.”

Sam is multifaceted. Other than creating funny content on Facebook, he even went as far as making music. One of Sam’s gigs was creating and playing the theme song for the 73rd Ateneo Fiesta, entitled “Indayog.” Wherever Sam goes, he’s creating ripples that are greatly appreciated among netizens and people who experienced the AdDU culture.

Cancel culture

On August 4, 2021, very shocking news enthralled the country. Grace Palicas, national artist Apo Whang-od’s grandniece, declared that Nas Academy’s website was a “scam”, which was used to promote a traditional tattooing school by the world-renowned traditional tattoo artist. This wasn’t the first time that the personality was involved in scandals as other victims of Nas resurfaced in the media and shared how Nas was exploiting them.

This issue caused a stir in Sam’s heart. The once bubbly and joyful influencer expressed his sentiments through his Twitter account.

“We couldn’t deny that his contents were nice before, but what he did was very wrong; he did not just offend the tribe, he also offended the whole country,” he said.

In an article made by Aja Romano (2020), cancel culture follows a certain pattern. “A public figure, such as a celebrity, does or says something unpleasant. A public backlash ensues, which is frequently driven by politically progressive social media.

Then there are calls to ‘cancel’ the individual, essentially ending their career or robbing them of their cultural clout, whether through dissent of their work or disciplinary action by an employer.”

Sam recollects his countermeasure to prevent cancel culture. To avoid these kinds of situations, he highlighted the importance of knowing the audience, the main target of his videos. 

Despite the fear of getting backlashes, Sam expresses his exhilaration after his video, the Marites mockumentary, a parody of a wildlife documentary about “chismosas” reached Luzon. 

“I would also come across the scientific term ‘Chismosis Maritinensis’ on TikTok trends which actually gives me goosebumps on how one phrase can linger in people’s memories.”

Sam thinks he can make a difference by reaching a wide range of audience. Particularly breaking the stigmas on Mindanaon culture. 

“Stigmas like Mindanao is a battlefield, that Mindanaoan’s are normal people, Muslim, Christian, or atheist.”

He wants his platform to provide an avenue by fighting stigmas about Mindanao culture through correctly portraying what being a Mindanao is.

What’s next for Sam?

Despite being a content creator in the local scene, Sam has bigger aspirations as a rising content creator. 

“I’ve always wanted to improve and step up my entertainment game. So I have been thinking of doing theater for a while now but more into Mindanaoan/Davaoeno culture. I am still testing out the waters but I can see that I have a future in the entertainment industry,” he said.

Currently, he is also a part of a local band, The Bantams, together with Lenard Villanueva, they create songs on different realities of life like heartbreaks, happiness, relationships and many more.

The digital word continues to reign over as each day passes by. Regardless of how the pandemic affected us, there are still people out there making us laugh, may it be on Facebook or a simple meme on Tiktok. People who started in the local scene, like Sam Lafuente, needed us the most.

As Sam continues creating content that battles stigmas about Mindanaoan culture, our task as netizens is to be critical about our media consumption as we enjoy every content creators like Sam offer.

End the silence of the gagged!

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