You first gained Internet fame for your Petra Mahalimuyak videos on YouTube. Can you tell us how that all began?
Bata pa lang ako, super bibo na ako. I liked entertaining my titas and titos. Kanta? Sayaw? Go! My dad is super kulit and so is my mom. I was the class clown in high school. I’m like a parrot. Pag may konting sablay yung isang tao, gagayahin ko. One time, I was joking with my classmates using the Petra accent, going like, “Oh my gahd! What’s going on ober hurr?” and they kept on laughing.
And where did the name Petra Mahalimuyak come from?
It was actually one of my classmates who called me Petra, Aling Petra. Hindi ko pinansin. But then I moved to Las Vegas when I was 18. Wala akong magawa while I was there. I was bored to death. You need to be at least 21 to have fun. I couldn’t go to the casinos or clubs. I was always at home or working at this cellphone store.
Did the boredom lead to the videos?
Just to entertain myself and other people I decided, “Mag video kaya ako?” Trip lang. Baliw lang talaga. My sister is a fan of makeup guru Michelle Phan, who had YouTube tutorials that went like, “So now apply the shadows, blah, blah, blah,” and ginago ko lang with my own makeup video using an accent. I uploaded it on YouTube and boom! Wow! Ang daming nag-share at kumalat.
What was your reaction to all the hype?
It was unexpected. Before I uploaded the video, my mom made me create a YouTube account. Before we moved to Vegas, I was already making videos where I would copy Loonie [local FlipTop rapper]. I also did Janina San Miguel and Venus Raj! Mga major, major! Ha ha! My mom had an idea that since I had idle time in the States, I should make an account and post videos.
Thanks, mom! So this entire thing was well planned?
When I logged on to YouTube, everyone had their own channel, their own target audience, and they didn’t upload any videos that didn’t have a theme. I told myself that I needed to come up with a character, and one day I thought I should be this Filipina girl na Tagalog na Tagalog magsalita. So I remembered Petra and mixed it with “Mahalimuyak” because uso yung mga matalino, masipag, ma-ganito, ma-ganyan. Ang baho niya pakinggan di ba? Pero it means mabango.
Did people know that you were just playing a character?
True enough, people really thought that Petra Mahalimuyak was my name.
What advice can you give aspiring Internet stars on the elements needed for a successful YouTube video?
For me, you need guts. If you’re very shy or very bland, no one is going to want to watch you. Why would the public want someone boring? It needs to be entertaining or even controversial. Also, it needs to be something you don’t see every day. There are thousands upon thousands of YouTubers out there. In my case, nothing was planned. It wasn’t like, “I’m going to upload a video and sisikat ako.” No. It wasn’t like that. I was just doing my own thing and being myself. Kung weirdo ka, go for it! Maganda yun kasi iba ka.
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