- Global Voices - https://globalvoices.org -

“Obama” gets a tummy ache while visiting Manila

Categories: East Asia, North America, Indonesia, Philippines, U.S.A., Arts & Culture, Economics & Business, Humor, Ideas, Technology

Watch this short video first:

This was a Philippine TV ad [1] which appeared last month. It featured the lookalikes of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and United States President Barack Obama. For those who don't understand the Filipino language, Random Detoxification [2] provides an English translation of the ad:

Obama: Thank you for a lovely dinner.

GMA: Oh, we're not done yet. Try our kare-kare. It's ox. [Kare-kare is a Filipino soup that combines oxtail and vegetables.]

Obama: Okay, sure.

GMA: Guinataang mais! It's corn. But we use our coconut. [Guinataang Mais is a sweetish Filipino delicacy made of corn kernels cooked in coconut milk. When GMA says “we use our coconut”, she refers to the mind.]

Obama: Oh, alright.

[Obama looks pained, and utters a grunt.]

GMA: Oh my gosh, that's impatso na. Dispepsya yan no. Ang dami mo kasing kinakain no. Ang Motilium, bilis! [Oh my gosh, that is indigestion already. That's dispepsia! You ate so much, that's why! Get Motilium, hurry!]

[Obama is served the medicine, and he takes it.]

GMA: The impatso will disappear in thirty minutes, no?

[Obama buttons up his tuxedo.]

GMA: Kapeng baracks? [She's referring to the Kape Barako she's serving. Kape Barako is a kind of coffee grown in the Philippines.]

[The two smile and shake hands for the cameras.]

Aside from obvious reasons, the ad is funny for Filipinos because President Arroyo has been “snubbed” [3] by Obama on two occasions. She was trying to call Obama to congratulate him on his electoral victory last November but Obama didn’t return her call.

In this ad, “Obama” didn’t just return the call; he accepted a dinner invitation [4] in Malacanang Palace, the Philippines’ presidential house.

What are the reactions of Filipino bloggers? Menard [5] writes:

“I always thought that Barack Obama is distancing himself with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but I guess I was wrong. The video report tells us that President-Elect Barack Obama sneaked into Malacañang, Manila over the weekend to have coffee with Madam Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.”

Cathy [6] was first incensed with the print ad:

“When I first saw the print ad for this campaign I was sort of incensed. How could they do that to President-elect Obama?! BUT…after seeing it in the full context of this TV ad, I was rolling stitches! Congratulations to the ad agency who thought of this really funny and effective campaign :)”

needle in a heisstack also likes the commercial [7]:

“Every time I see President Obama now I can't help but remember the silly and extremely hilarious TV commercial that premiered on local TV last December.

“I seldom like local commercials because most of them are crap, but this one is pure genius and is just so damned funny that it made me laugh nonstop. The first time I saw it, I went, “WTF???” and burst out laughing at the same time. My sister also sent me a YouTube link to it on that same day, and I wasted no time spreading the link to others.”

The star of the ad is Ilham Anas, an Indonesian magazine photographer, who has been dubbed as the “Asian Obama.” The 34-year old photographer is now a celebrity because of his “similarity” with Obama.

While filming the commercial, Anas made some sidetrips in Manila. He visited call center offices (Business Process Outsourcing industry) to the surprise and delight of young office workers. Chuvaness posts pictures [8]:




The call center visit was symbolic because the Philippine BPO industry is afraid [9] that the real Obama might “take some of the outsource jobs back to America.”

Anas is gaining popularity in Indonesia. Multibrand writes [10]:

“I felt very happy that we have Ilham Anas who has been able to make people, in Indonesia & abroad, laugh to see that his face is similar to Obama. I hope that the ‘real’ Obama would also be able to bring happiness to people around the world, especially in Indonesia.”