A fitness instructor in Myanmar gained global fame after she unwittingly captured the unfolding coup d'etat in the background of her fitness video.
Call it surreal. Call it a slice of cinéma vérité. Or a Black Mirror episode. Or a running commentary on social events. Or a metaphor for our times. But for Khing Hnin Wai, it was just an ordinary dance video.
In the footage she posted on her Facebook account, she could be seen bouncing and punching through her routine along with an upbeat music while at her background, a convoy of military vehicles could be seen piling in toward a checkpoint as a siren could be faintly heard.
A woman did her regular aerobics class out in open without realizing that a coup was taking place in #Myanmar. A Military convoy reaching the parliament can be seen behind the woman as she performs aerobics. Incredible! pic.twitter.com/gRnQkMshDe— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) February 1, 2021
At the end of her video, she shifts sideways and flings her right hand overhead and her left hand down, seemingly drawing attention to the background — a surreal but fitting denouement to the chaos unfolding behind her.
Journalist Joshua Collins noted on Twitter that “2021 is off to a great optic start.”
A woman gave her live aerobics class in Myanmar without knowing about the ongoing coupe. Behind her, military vehicles arrive to seize the Parliament building— Joshua Collins (@InvisiblesMuros) February 1, 2021
2021 off to a great optic start https://t.co/KHmG3Z4Y3k
Twitter user Logan Hall quipped “dance like nobody’s launching a military coup right behind you.”
dance like nobody’s launching a military coup right behind you https://t.co/WBqvNj1Lk3— Logan Hall (@loganclarkhall) February 1, 2021
Journalist Aye Min Thant, who is from Myanmar, also shared the video.
“In case you want to take a break from the sad part of the coup, here is a fitness enthusiast who was literally jazzersizing as the coup was happening,” she said.
In case you want to take a break from the sad part of the coup, here is a fitness enthusiast who was literally jazzersizing as the coup was happening. https://t.co/frHuzeZNMK— Aye Min Thant (@the_ayeminthant) February 2, 2021
Some have even edited the video and put in a more dramatic scoring, such as this one which put it in slow-mo to the tune of Enya’s Only Time.
The was quite “extraordinary,” as the Guardian described it, that some even doubted its authenticity, saying that it was probably filmed with a green screen. Such skepticism, however, was quickly extinguished.
Khing Hnin Wai, who identifies herself as a PE teacher on Facebook, wrote on Facebook that the exercise was just part of her normal routine and she didn’t mean anything by it.
“I did not expect this to happen,” she wrote.
The same could be said of the coup that unfolded in Myanmar on Sunday, though some may say that the writing has been on the wall.
The country’s military seized power and detained the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The military, which has ruled the country for decades, refused to honor the results of the November elections, citing allegations of fraud.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy swept the polls and was on the way to a fresh five-year term when the military, who had been used to being in power, seized the government.
As of 2020 data from the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are about 1,273 Filipinos in Myanmar. A number of local businesses also have investments in Myanmar, such as Ayala Corp, who made a $237.5 million investment in the country in 2019. Bench also has a number of retail outlets, while Universal Robina Corp. has a multimillion dollar food factory.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said they are already coordinating with the embassy in Myanmar to ensure the safety of Filipinos there.
“Kung gusto pong umuwi ng ilang mga Pilipino, gagawan po natin ng paraan para sila ay makauwi, kung gusto po nilang temporary shelter diyan sa ating embassy, maghahanap po tayo ng mga paraan,” said Roque in a Feb. 1 press briefing.
The Philippine embassy in Myanmar also issued a statement urging “all Filipinos in Myanmar to remain calm and to stay home.”
The office also encouraged Filipinos to make sure they are registered with the embassy, and if not, to contact them to do so.
Roque, however, said that the situation in Myanmar is an “internal matter.”
“We expect that at the soonest possible, we hope it would return to normal, although what happened in Myanmar is an internal matter and we would not interfere in it,” he said.
DFA Sec. Teddy Boy Locsin, Jr. on Twitter also commented on the situation.
“Before reacting, let's watch and see for ourselves. Don't depend on Western narratives,” said Locsin in a tweet.
Before reacting, let's watch and see for ourselves. Don't depend on Western narratives. https://t.co/HTy7dgIjVQ— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) February 1, 2021
Roque’s statement on non-interference was also the same message given by Cambodia and Thailand.
Other countries in the region, however, were more direct with their concern.
Singapore, for example, expressed “grave concern.”
“We hope that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible,” said the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Malaysian Foreign Ministry urged Myanmar to uphold the rule of law and peace. Indonesia, meanwhile, urged Myanmar “to exercise self-restraint and put forth dialogue in finding solutions.”
US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, threatened to reimpose sanctions.
“The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized, release the activists and officials they have detained,” Biden said in a statement.