From personal screens to one main stage. For the third consecutive year, video-sharing website YouTube gathered online discoveries, stars and creators from the Philippines and around the world to perform in a variety show of song dance, and comedy at the YouTube FanFest (YTFF).
Drawing an estimated crowd of close to 6,000 attendees, the festival took place on May 12 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
To look back at the event’s inception, it was two years ago when one Twitter user created the hashtag #BringYouTubersToMNL, which caught on, trended, and became the No. 1 topic on the World Wide Web. With the demand so big and so unstoppable on social media, YTFF happily relented and came to the Philippines in 2015. And with the festival’s success, the site has become not just an entertainment destination for Filipinos but a platform to join communities and exchange ideas, making the nation one of the most active users of YouTube in the world.
“It was amazing how fans in Manila made that hashtag No. 1 globally in Twitter back then. We responded and a few weeks later brought fan fest to Manila. This is now our third fan fest and every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Dave Powell, director of YouTube Online Partner Development, Asia Pacific said at a press conference before the festival proper.
“Last year we had 3,500 fans in the fest, this year, it’s even bigger. In fact, when we announced the event this year, tickets sold out instantly just in 12 minutes.”
Indeed, even before the gates of World Trade Center opened at 7 p.m., hundreds of fans were already lined up to meet and greet their favorite YouTube creators. One of the most popular online celebrities Lilly Singh, better known as ||Superwoman||, thrilled the crowd having earned her worldwide fame through comedic and inspirational videos. She has amassed over 11 million subscribers on YouTube, and just last year, she was ranked third by Forbes in the list of world’s highest paid YouTube stars.
“I think I started YouTube in 2010 because I was sad. People go to YouTube to first and foremost to express their point of view. They have something to say, have the passion to share and that, and that’s what’s fun in making videos. It’s not because you want to be famous or you want to earn lots of money,” Singh shared at the same press conference.
Asked what strikes her the most with having so many fans, she replied, “What really amazes me is that even without me, my fans become best friends with each other. They Face Time each other even though they live far away. I was in Dubai and a fan from Armenia flew over, but she didn’t pay anything. It was another fan who paid for the expenses for her to go there and then another fan paid for her hotel. And that’s really incredible! They care for and support each other. It’s really about the power of building a community.”
Meanwhile, Filipina creator Janina Vela—who has over 230,000 subscribers for her makeup tutorials, DIYs (do-it-yourself), outfits and vlogs (video blogs) about her daily adventures—agreed that it is passion that makes on a star on YouTube.
“I have a connection with my fans because of my passion for what I do. They always tell me that I inspire them but I always say they inspire me more because they tell me stories how they get through their anxiety or depression by watching my videos. They’re just very open with me and I think that’s what’s really amazing because we grow together and work with each other all with the help of YouTube,” Vela said.
The one-night event drew deafening screams from thousands of fans in a show hosted by Canadian-born Filipino singer-songwriter and comedian Mikey Bustos. Fans grooved along with dancers and creators Jayden Rodrigues, Matt Stefanina, and Ranz Kyle with his sister Niana Guererro.
Violinist Jun Sung Ahn or JuNCurryAhn performed a violin cover of the official sound track of the Korean drama “Goblin,” which is “Beautiful Life”.
Hailing from Iloilo, the third-placer of “France Got Talent” in 2016 Alienette Coldfire also wowed the crowd her singing prowess.
Singer-songwriter Megan Nicole, ABS-CBN singer-actress Kristel Fulgar and Vela also sang for their fans, while radio host and comedian Lloyd Café Cadena showed off his comedic dance routines.
Vloggers Wil Dasovich, sister Haley and Daniel Marsh brought on more fun with a unique guessing game, while Lauren Riihimaki, or LaurDIY, with boyfriend and Filipino-American creator Alex Wassabi also challenged themselves with a game of pictogram.
Finally, Singh closed the event singing three of her rap songs.
The now annual YouTube FanFest has enabled the site to reach a 65-percent growth on YouTube usage in the Philippines since 2015 and counting. With such overwhelming numbers, YouTube promised to create more events and seminars for the Filipino market to acknowledge the fans for their outrageous support.