‘Marites’: From being just a street gossiper to an online sensation

Published November 11, 2021, 11:08 AM

by John Legaspi

This mockumentary takes a deeper look at the Marites

When there is a hot “tea” online, she’s the one to call. If there’s a need for the latest update in the neighborhood, she’s on top of the list. During the pandemic, a time when many businesses shifted to online operation, another piece of Filipino culture also took the digital leap and even got itself a name—Marites.

The Marites (Artwork by Ariana Maralit)

Currently a local internet sensation, Marites has successfully brought its habit to the online world thanks to social media. Coined as the local version of the US’s “Karen” (“a pejorative slang term for a white woman perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal”), the Marites first sprang to popularity in 2020 when some people expressed their concern about Manila Mayor Isko Moreno lifting the liquor ban. This moved netizens to rally behind the phrase “Manahimik ka, Marites, which trended online. There is no confirmed origin, however, of where the use of the name started.

Now whenever there are scandals revealed on the internet, it is hard to just grab the popcorn and not to call Marites. But unlike Karen, Marites has a humorous sense and that’s all thanks to how Filipinos use it online, with different people showing their versions of what Marites is, like TikTok user Justine Luzares. Among them is Samuel Lafuente from Davao. In his four-minute mockumentary, the psychology student takes a deeper look at the unique Filipino “species.” He hilariously describes her as someone who has eyes sharper than any binoculars with a mouth made for data-sharing at ultra-speed.

“Filipinos are socially inclined, we are connected with our peers,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “Chismoso tayo [by] nature. Pero meron talagang certain population, or what I would say sa video na ‘species,’ na na-practice na nila yung art of chismis. That’s the Marites (By nature, we like to gossip. But there is a certain population, or what I would call in the video as ‘species,’ that are well-versed in the art of gossiping. That’s the Marites).”

Growing up with a theater director for a father, it becomes natural for Sam to become a confident performer. But when it comes to filmmaking, it is a passion he just recently discovered. To spend his pandemic-time creativity, Samuel and his peers shot the mockumentary in August, which is now earning many likes and laughs online, especially due to its on-point depiction of Marites. That comes as no surprise as he was able to observe the “species” in its natural habitat. But what makes it even more comical is his pick of documentary style, similar to that of English broadcaster and natural historian, Sir David Attenborough.

“As a kid, when I went to my hometown in Davao Oriental, my Dad would scold me pag nanonood ako ng mga Cartoon Network or Disney Channel kasi violent daw yung mga cartoons. So he would make me watch Animal Planet, mga educational channels. Ang nag-stay talaga sa memory ko is yung narration ni Sir David Attenborough (As a kid, when I would go to my hometown in Davao Oriental, my Dad would scold me whenever I would watch Cartoon Network or Disney Channel because he thinks cartoons are violent. So he would make me watch Animal Planet and other educational channels. What stayed in my memory is the narration of Sir David Attenborough),” Sam says.

As for what he feels about people’s reaction to his work, he was amazed by how people perceived his film, with one commenter saying, “it is really funny but, kidding aside, humans are no different than animals.”

Watch Samuel’s “The Marites” here: