Filipinos on Clubhouse: From HOHOL to Gabi ng OPM

Published March 27, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Tonyo Cruz


Tonyo Cruz
Tonyo Cruz

The 10,000 kilometers between France and the Philippines won’t matter tonight as Paris-based Filipino singing sensation Aliènette performs live from the French capital tonight for her people and fans worldwide in an online concert dubbed “Gabi ng OPM.” But it won’t be on Facebook Video or on YouTube though as many might expect. The concert would be happening in the fast-rising app called Clubhouse.

“Gabi ng OPM” is organized by the Sari Sari club, one of many Filipino groups on Clubhouse. It hosts the highly HOHOL Hangout Hangout Lang (every 10 p.m.) and Super Late Nite! (1 a.m.) rooms on the app. 

Clubhouse is an audio-only app that enables users to set up rooms, organize clubs, and hold discussions about any imaginable or interesting topic. Media reports say that Clubhouse has 10 million users from around the world. It is a huge number considering that Clubhouse remains an invite-only app, and is still only available to iPhone users.

On Clubhouse, saying “PTR!” means “pull to refresh” to see freshly-uploaded photos or the arrangement of speakers, and toggling the un/mute button means applauding the speaker. One could choose to merely listen in the audience. Hands are raised to join the gabfest. Moderators keep conversations orderly. Newbies’ profile photos have a torotot-like emoji. It is okay to “leave quietly” from a room and to go to another.

It was in late February when HOHOL came to be, with a trio of newfound friends inviting fellow Filipino users nightly to laidback, often funny, sometimes passionate discussions. Topics have ranged from our earliest childhood memories to reactions to the Meghan-Harry interview with Oprah to vaccines and of course politics.  

In the early days, the 10 p.m. HOHOL would spill over to the wee-hours of the morning, thanks to friendly banter, personal stories, and the global nature of the users joining the room. Among them: Nicko, a PhD student in Japan; Jon, a headhunter in Thailand; Macky, a photographer in France; Sid, a Filipino who works in Myanmar; Tessa, a physical therapist based in Tacoma, Washington; Abel, a US Air Force officer currently assigned in Las Vegas; and the super friendly and funny couple Ed and Tennessee, both flight attendants based in the Bay Area. We’ve also met many new friends from across the country: Teacher Kat from QC; Joko from Makati; Danny from BGC; Pearl from Bulacan; Jack from Rizal; Rey from Lingayen; Dave, Seph, and Emmanuel from Cebu; Ryan from Iloilo; Harri from Angeles; and many more.

I can’t be prouder of Sari Sari club’s moderators holding fort every day on HOHOL, Super Late Nite! and other rooms: architect Kevin, masters student Nadja from the UK, food tech-turned-social media maven Jennibeth a.k.a. Betang, graduating UP Math major Luis, engineer Emman, writers Andreiana and Izzy,  UI/UX expert Nicole, political communications whiz Ix, Kapamilya champion Richard, and veteran magazine editor Karlo. Rounding up the mods are the three original HOHOL mods: knowledge manager MJ, DJ/type designer/UI champ Jelvin, and myself.

There are many other Filipino clubs and rooms, aside from Sari Sari. Blazing the trail for Americans of Filipino descent and Filipinos in America are the clubs Bahay Kubo and the Tambay Lang.

Our good friend Ed, the flight attendant based in San Francisco, recently formed Barangay Jologs. Ed’s room changes names every day, summoning memories of humorous Filipino signs, events or sayings.

Other Philippines-centric clubs include The Filipino Collective, Club Filipino, Barangay Hall, Badingfluence, Politika Atbp., Coffee Home Brewers, Let’s Talk Social, UP Naming Mahal, Sinigang Valley, Writers’ Room, and Public Interest Law Club.

The range of interests reflected by the club names show the varied tastes and interests of Filipino users.

It was in HOHOL that many of us in Sari Sari first heard Aliènette sing live. We have since followed her, and religiously attended her song practice rooms and concerts on Clubhouse. Aliènette once told us at HOHOL that she had long wanted to perform an all-Filipino repertoire to a Filipino audience and to friends in other countries. We didn’t hesitate to tell her that HOHOL would gladly and proudly host such a concert.

And so tonight, after a couple of days of voluntary efforts, the regular 10 p.m. HOHOL turns into a concert on an app called Clubhouse: “Gabi ng OPM,” a night of Filipino music with Aliènette.