Behind the computer screen: YouTube FanFest Manila 2016

Outstretched hands and high-pitched screams of Filipino YouTube fans dominated the YouTube FanFest (YTFF) Manila 2016 at the World Trade Center, Metro Manila, Pasay City on May 27. Showcasing foreign and local YouTube stars from all over the world, YTFF Manila 2016 surely left a mark on the digital generation of the Filipino youth.  



Creators, along with principal sponsor representatives, pose for a selfie during Youtube FanFest press conference at the City of Dreams, Manila.

From cyberspace to reality

YouTube is popular in the country, but only a few are familiar with YTFF, an up-and-coming gathering of YouTubers around the world, showcasing their brand of entertainment onstage rather than their typical online antics. To the delight of YouTube fans around the nation, the show was brought to our shores again after twitter user @reeseaudrey_’s hashtag #BringYouTubersToMNL and the undying devotion of Filipino fans caught the attention of the YouTube FanFest organizers; hence, the second YTFF in Manila was born.

Going from a mere entertainment outlet into a global internet supergiant, YouTube has become a household name with its capability to engage users and connect creative thinkers. This year, thanks to YTFF, fans were lucky enough to meet some famous YouTubers whose channels probably most of us are probably subscribed to: singer-songwriter AJ Rafael, rapper Abra, Fil-Am comedian Alex Wassabi, entertainer Bogart the Explorer, vlogger Connor Franta, “Super Selfie King” Gabriel “Gab” Valenciano, author-comedian Lloyd Cadena, “Pilipino Boy” Mikey Bustos, acoustic singer Tanner Patrick, acapella group The Filharmonic, singer-songwriter Tiffany Alvord, singer-producer Tyler Ward, and beauty expert Wendy “Wengie” Huang.

Before the big event, the YTFF Press Conference was held in the City of Dreams, Pasay City, where the panel of YouTubers shared their experiences in the country. Asia Pacific Regional Director of YouTube Ajay Vidyasagar shared, “Every time I come to Manila, I am actually told ‘You haven’t seen any place in the world, which loves YouTube as much as the Philippines’ and I must say that I agree to that.”

On a local note, De La Salle University – College of Saint Benilde alumni, Gab Valenciano encourages Filipino audience to watch local YouTubers, “I think it’s just a change of mindset na hindi, Pinoy lang yan,’ but the Filipinos are the most talented people in the world. So we just have to change that view and perspective na there’s so much value to being a Filipino and being a Filipino artist.”



Filipino-American Youtube singer sensation AJ Rafael performs his biggest hits, Emma Watson and We Could Happen during Youtube Fanfest Manila 2016 at the World Trade Center.

The countdown

If you’re used to seeing a YouTuber behind a computer screen, it’s definitely different to witness them live, approaching fans and performing just a few meters away onstage. YTTF was a blend of dancing, singing, interviews, games, and a lot more that isn’t usually found in typical concerts. Providing the show with a headstart, Super Selfie King Gab kicked off the stage after performing a Super Selfie groove with dummy dolls attached to him followed by a melodic lullaby from AJ Rafael as he sang his original iconic song, We Could Happen.

Singing the traditional children song, Tanner Patrick sent chills to everyone’s backbones when he sang his own rendition of Merry Go Round and his original single Satellites. Featuring another local YouTuber, comedian Mikey Bustos showed of his singing skills while presenting his pet pig named “Sanggol” through a song. Tiffany Alvord also sang her originally written song about when he said “I love you” for the first time.

Halfway through the event, the all-Filipino acapella group Filharmonic gave a perfect melody to the audience while fans roared to the stunning sound of their combined voices. For laughs, Fil-Am Alex Wassabi’s comical round of truth or dare ended up with him trying to eat balut without hands and eating—and inevitably spitting out—durian,  much to his dismay. Local legend Abra rapped his famous single Diwata to the clamor of the crowd.

Indeed, the atmosphere was pumping with excitement that performers almost seemed to be inaudible under the united shouts and screams of Filipino YouTube fans.



Filipino-American acapella group The Filharmonic wows the crowd with their rhythmic voices during Youtube Fanfest Manila 2016.

Comedy meets culture

YTFF took entertainment to the next level with its comical performances and engaging segments that truly kept the YouTube spirit of always putting the audience first—which this time meant the Filipino crowd.

Most subscribed YouTuber among them and  American vlogger, Connor Franta, showed a video onscreen where he ate traditional halo-halo with Pilipino Boy and was even quizzed about quick facts about the Philippines in which he was guided by the helpful shouts of the crowd.

The country’s most subscribed Filipino YouTuber Lloyd Café Cadena lit up the show as he interviewed Tanner Patrick, Tiffany Alvord, and Wendy “Wengie” Huang about being a YouTuber. Laughter levels were at an all-time high after they sang along to the traditional children’s song Tatlong Bibe, actions and all.

Elevating the crowd’s amusement further, Davaoeño Bogart the Explorer gathered all the YouTubers to perform a hybrid game of charades and Pinoy Henyo. It was a comical battle between the YouTubers’ teams as our favorite subscription channels came out from backstage to execute some wacky acts related to their respective words, especially since the consequence meant eating balut—a fearful penalty to the mostly foreign cast.


YTTF 2016 was a mesmerizing event and opportunity for the digital generation of computer-innovative youth in the country. With the event, YouTube cemented itself not just as a means of online entertainment but a legitimate link for creative souls around the world, each with a common passion to revolutionize entertainment as we know it. • With a report from Fernan Patrick Flores