One Filipino American woman has thoughts she’d like to share regarding a particular celebrity’s seemingly sudden interest in their heritage.
G (@beyoncepadthighz) posted a video on TikTok last week in which she criticizes Vanessa Hudgens’s recent trip to the Philippines after being named the country’s Global Tourism Ambassador.
“I have a hot take on the Vanessa Hudgens tourism ambassador situation and how people are popping off about it,” she begins. “‘Cause I can hear the Titas in the Philippines saying, ‘What’s the problem? What’s wrong with her? Why is everybody coming for her with all this negativity? She’s embracing her culture now, let her do it.’ I’m gagged.”
The “Tick, Tick… Boom!” actress, who got engaged to MLB player Cole Tucker in late 2022, was named the country’s Global Tourism Ambassador on March 30. The ambassadorship is bestowed by the government to “recognize outstanding individuals who can help promote the Philippines as one of the best tourism destinations in the world.”
“She’s been rich and famous for a minute. How long has it been since ‘High School Musical’ came out?”
G briefly makes mention of Hudgens being photographed with the current president of the Philippines while wearing the country’s national dress, before calling attention to the fact that this is the “High School Musical” star’s first trip there.
“I’m not even gonna get into the fact that she took a photo with Bongbong Marcos…wearing a filipiniana,” she says. “It’s just the fact that this is her first trip to the Philippines. She’s been rich and famous for a minute. How long has it been since ‘High School Musical’ came out? People forgot that she was half Filipino.”
G suggests that it’s possible Hudgens is showing more interest in being Filipino because it’s popular right now.
“And it just so happens now that there’s more people, celebrities of Filipino ancestry coming out with their pride in their Filipino culture, a.k.a. H.E.R., Saweetie, Darren Criss,” she says. “Then Miss Gabriella Montez decides that now is the time to go to the Philippines.”
“Forever distanced herself=gets criticized. Trying=still gets criticized. No winning here lol”
Around the same time G posted her video, Hudgens, who was in the Philippines to film a travel documentary, shared a clip on her Instagram Story in which she attempts to pronounce Palawan, an island in the Philippines.
The video, which seems to have been playful in nature, has disappointed some Filipino TikTok users. Others, however, have jumped to her defense.
“Side eye,” one person wrote. “It’s not even hard to say. It’s literally how it’s spelled.”
“She learned how to say it once she got there?? Not before???” another asked.
“As a half Filipino I can relate,” someone replied. “Ik some of my culture can’t speak Tagalog at all, I’m glad she’s getting to experience the culture tho.”
“Forever distanced herself=gets criticized. Trying=still gets criticized. No winning here lol,” a commenter wrote.
In a follow-up video, G clarifies her stance after some commenters accused her of gatekeeping the culture.
“Listen, I’m not here to gatekeep Filipino culture,” she says. “If Vanessa wants to claim it now, Filipino culture is just as much hers as it is mine. And as somebody who has mixed race friends and, you know, exes and ex partners who are mixed race, I understand to a certain degree how much alienation you can feel from all ethnicities that you represent.”
“How good of a tourism ambassador can you be if you don’t know this country?”
The Filipino American content creator, however, is doubling down on her belief that Hudgens’s sudden claiming of her heritage is driven by self-interest.
“What I will talk s*** about is the timing,” she asserts. “How convenient that she gets to go to the Philippines for the first time in her 30+ years of life and over a decade of experience in Hollywood…like, this is the first time she’s going. That’s what I said in my video…How good of a tourism ambassador can you be if you don’t know this country?”
The Salinas, Calif.-born actress, who’s also come under fire after claiming she’ll be the first Filipino to win an Oscar, has been actively posting her trip to the Philippines on social media. While noting that Hudgens doesn’t require permission to embrace her heritage, G has reignited the ongoing discussion about gatekeeping within a culture and the effect it may have on the overall community’s well-being.
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