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'Poverty porn': Donnalyn Bartolome's 'kanto-themed' birthday party draws mixed reactions from netizens

By AYIE LICSI Published Aug 15, 2022 2:50 pm Updated Sep 30, 2022 2:06 pm

Donnalyn Bartolome drew flak anew after she threw a "kanto"-themed birthday party, which netizens perceived to be romanticizing poverty.

The influencer celebrated her birthday on July 9 and released a vlog of the party on Aug. 11. The video has raked in 3.7 million views, as of writing.

"My Kanto Birthday Party is not just a concept, this was my life when I left home abroad where my life was comfortable," she wrote on Facebook as she shared photos from the party. "So I relived the times when I was just starting out on my [birthday] last month, July 9, just like nung time na walang-wala pa ako."

Photos from the party show that it was thrown on a street, with her guests sitting around a table with paper plates, street food dishes, and a karaoke machine.

Mixed reactions

Netizens, however, had mixed reactions to the party theme. Some people were happy that Bartolome didn't forget her roots and were even amused with the concept. 

"I love your brain and your heart! Nakakamiss ang mga kanto na birthdayan, kaya sobrang salamat at [na-experience] namin ulit dahil sayo!" vlogger Baninay Bautista commented on YouTube.

"Magandang makita na ang mga influencer na sikat ay mga normal na tao pa din. Hindi lang sila puro pa-glam," wrote another user.

One Facebook user said Bartolome's celebration was a "breath of fresh air seeing all these famous people doing the most normal Filipino way of celebrating occasions."

Meanwhile, others considered the theme problematic for "romanticizing poverty."

"What’s with Donnalyn Bartolome and her obsession with glamorizing poverty???? I mean if you want to connect with your fans that ain’t the route sis," one user said on Twitter.

Another user criticized Bartolome for turning the reality of poverty into an "aesthetic."

One netizen brought up how the poverty rate in the Philippines rose 18.1% in 2021 with 19.99 million Filipinos living below the poverty line.

Some netizens also compared the reactions to the influencer's party to a couple who went viral and was turned into a meme for their "simple" monthsary celebration.

In July, Bartolome was slammed for posing as a toddler for her titillating birthday shoot. She issued an apology for this and removed the photos from her social media pages.

The influencer issued a response to the criticism she received over the theme, maintaining that being poor was part of her history.

"May mga milyonaryo na nagkakanto bday party because this is the Filipino culture, not a theme," she wrote on Aug. 18, sharing photos from her youth. "Bawal na ba imaging ako? Nagpapakatotoo lang ako? Sino ka para pagsabihan ako na mali bumalik sa dati kong gawi?"