Donnalyn Bartolome’s birthday party is being considered as ‘poverty porn’

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Donnalyn Bartolome's birthday party is being considered as ‘poverty porn’

Internet celebrity Donnalyn Bartolome received criticism over the weekend for her birthday celebration, which she documented in a video blog post on August 11 and centered on the concept of kanto, which is Japanese for street.

Even though Donnalyn celebrated her birthday on July 9, she didn’t share the vlog until just recently, and it became a trending topic on YouTube almost immediately after it was uploaded.

The birthday party contained monoblocs for chairs, typical Filipino party games like pabitin and limbo rock, and things from street food, giving the impression that the party was taking place in the streets. As for the birthday girl’s cake, they utilized a cooked mound of rice that had been turned upside down, but it was almost scorched.

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The theme of her celebration quickly drew mixed reactions on social media. Some internet users claimed that Donnalyn’s kanto-themed birthday party shows “poverty porn,” claiming that she aestheticized the unfortunate reality of life for many Filipinos. Others defended the choice of theme, saying that it is appropriate for a birthday party. One Twitter user voiced their dissatisfaction with the vlogger’s lack of relevance by expressing their belief that Filipinos do not have the financial means to purchase birthday cakes.

In another piece of writing, sociologist Ash Presto stated, “Using kanto aesthetic merely as an aesthetic without shedding light and calling for action over the financial insecurity, job precarity, and overall sickness that comes with it not only maintains the unequal status quo, but aestheticizing it also contributes to this inequality.”

In a post that she made on Facebook on Sunday, August 14, Donnalyn posted more images from the celebration. The event was attended by a number of Donnalyn’s celebrity friends, including Mika Salamanca, Ella Cruz, Mikee Quintos, Zeinab Harake, and Andre Paras, amongst others.

She went on to explain that the Kanto concept was “not simply a concept,” stating that it was “her life when [she] left home overseas where [her] life was comfortable.” 

“So on my birthday a month ago, on July 9, I relived the periods when I was just starting out, just like nung time na walang-wala pa ako, Pero nandyan ‘yung mga taong mahal ako kahit butas-butas ang shorts at murang sapatos at tsinelas lang [ang] kaya kong bilihin,” she wrote.

Donnalyn received criticism for her baby-themed birthday photograph in which she depicted herself as a “sexy” infant. This criticism came before her party that was based on the land of Kanto. Donnalyn removed the photographs and issued an apology in a subsequent post after receiving backlash from internet users who accused her of “feeding the desires of pedophiles.”

Donnalyn is well-known for both her pop songs, such as “Kakaibabe” and “O.M.O.,” as well as her videos that have gone viral and in which she participates in various dares.

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