My buddy Moonie, who has guest-posted here a few times, finally relaunched Pinoylife.com recently, the wildly popular site he maintained as a hobby for years. However, when I say wildly popular, I must concede I know nothing about the site’s stats, I just assume it was popular because of the large number of comments the crazy guestbook would get. But he shut it down, then relaunched it as Flavor Online, then shut that down….then, nothing for years. However, all the Pinoylifers kept in touch, and via Facebook, Moonie spread the word that it was back online.
Oh, but as it turns out, there’s another site that Leezel (also a Pinoylifer, an AAJA board member and now my coworker) brought to my attention — Bakit Why. The title, if you aren’t Filipino, refers to the Filipino habit of saying the Tagalog word, then repeating it in English. Bakit means why, so you often hear Taglish speakers saying, “ohhh, bakit why?” Meh.
The two sites have aroused my curiousity — well, not Pinoylife so much, since I know what its about. So follow me as I explore Bakit Why and what its all about. Full disclosure: I commented regularly on Pinoylife, wrote a few things for Flavor and decorated and attended Moonie’s wedding. But I think I can be objective.
Bakit Why has got one major advantage — design. Sorry Moonie. I’m a big design person and it doesn’t even need to be elaborate. Dude, Trinity will hook you up! (As soon as we get Adobe Premiere.) The design is clean and colorful, but not jarring, and the header image sort of fits — a house on stilts, very characteristic of the Philippines’ image. The use of original video is nice and there is a variety of content from some 40 contributors, it seems. The site appears to have launched in April 2008, and I am not entirely sure who are the people behind the site — there are no bios. The site’s content overall feels like a Metroblogging LA, but for Filipinos all over, if that makes sense.
But therein kind of lies the problem. Filipinos on the East Coast aren’t going to necessarily going to understand Filipinos on the West Coast, as Bay Area Filipinos sometimes don’t get SoCal Filipinos. From a pretty fast perusal, I also don’t get the identity the site is trying to adopt — is it Filipino? is it American? Is it Filipino American? Those things are not necessarily the same, and sometimes at odds with each other, which is where I suppose I get the discombobulation when I scan the content.
I also really don’t get the use of Pil-Am. Pil-Am? When did we discard the H? I’ve always preferred the use of Filipino, with the F, since I happen to be American born and raised and it feels more natural. I understand people use Pilipino. But Pil-Am? Really? It feels — I hate to say it — fobby to me. It feels like an over enunciation I might use when making fun of Fil-Am PAC groups with my friends. “Hoy! Let’s join da Pil-Am Pack, OKay? It ees a good one, ha!” OMG.
Pinoylife, on the other hand, has no design whatsoever. I’m not even a fan of the theme Moonie chose. Sorry, dude. I also dislike the fact that there is no byline — you know, to denote who wrote the post. I realize Moonie is writing all of them, but still. People still search for you by name, use it!
Moonie’s choice of content is ….eclectic, to say the least. Top post is a sketch comedy preview/release, then one of his famous diatribes on how Pinays over 30 can meet Mr. Right, then posts follow about Filipino boxers, comedians, Lea Salonga, and some commentary on Filipino fans (which was awesome and made me shake my head in amazement that I am also Filipino yet manage not to do those things). There is the scathing criticism of a new, supposedly Filipino magazine. In short, its all stuff Moonie is interested in.
Verdict? Neither site really wins. Both are kind of all over the place, but at least Bakit Why is pretty to look at. But saying the name of the site really annoys me so I can’t see myself telling folks about it.