A conversation with the viral content creator: Jiconyo

Published April 28, 2022, 11:07 AM

by Jessica Pag-iwayan

Curious about the viral conyo vendor? Here’s who really he is

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A post shared by Jico Umali (@jicooumalii)

The internet has been a vast playground of opportunities for individuals, especially for content creators. These days, one of those who have recently been giving us our daily dose of much-needed laughter is the viral conyo vendor Jiconyo. “Sheeeeesh, bruh?”

You might have seen his videos where he sells soya bean curd, or that one where he uses an electric fan keep the charcoal burning for his barbeques, or the one where he’s a friendly jeepney driver with credit cards instead of cash in between his fingers. With his growing popularity online, it is not surprising that many have become curious about who he really is. Fret not because we at Manila Bulletin Lifestyle felt the same way. 

We had an insightful conversation with our fav conyo vendor just to get know him a little bit better. 

Can you tell us your real name and your age?

My name’s Jaime Ricardo L. Umali or you may know me as Jico Umali or Jiconyo. I’m 24 years old.

Apart from being a content creator online, what do you do for a living?

I currently work as a senior video content strategist and talent at PGAG. My job requires me to conceptualize, write for content, shoot, direct, as well as act and edit video content. You can think of me and the rest of us as content creators within PGAG.

PGAG is one of the country’s fastest-growing digital content producers, catering to Filipino Millennials and Gen-Zers. We create funny memes and highly relatable, snackable videos contextualized to the local culture, following current trends, and designed to be thumb-stoppers for younger audiences.


Your hit videos online made us curious about you. Can you please share with us how you ended up doing these?

The Jiconyo series started back in September 2021 when my colleague and good friend Al Gentrix asked permission from me to use one of my photos in a conyo meme that went viral. Our CEO Karl Mak and CCO Adrian Ang taught us to see which viral memes could be turned into videos, which was why I was heavily inspired to turn the conyo meme into a skit. I remember how I was itching to script, shoot, and edit the video even on weekends. So it began with that. 

Ako talaga hindi ako conyo hahaha pero (I am not really conyo but) I took inspiration from some TikTokers [and] just adding my own twist and flavor to it, especially with the “sheeeeesh” and the “sheeeesh pose,” which my bestfriend Gilbert Javellana and I used to say and do. I like making people laugh. with the Jiconyo series and with other PGAG videos that is my main goal—making people laugh and making people happy. With the Jiconyo series, particularly, I love uplifting our fellow hardworking Filipinos, our friendly neighborhood vendors, jeepney drivers, and the like.

It started with the “conyo delivery guy” which I wrote, shot, and edited on my own due to the pandemic spike back in October 2021 that forced us in PGAG to create content from our own homes. That was the first episode. Then with the help of my sister, Ate Nica Umali, we were able to borrow a jeep for the “conyo jeepney driver” video, as well as rent a tusok-tusok cart for “conyo tusok-tusok” and our friendly neighborhood Kuya Jojo’s taho setup for “conyo taho vendor.” 

Who thought of this concept?

I’d like to think that the Jiconyo concept was more a product of a flow of ideas. In the Jiconyo “delivery guy” vidoe, using a mirrorless camera and a video light to take a photo of the customer wasn’t in the script but during the shoot I thought it would make the video even funnier. And since then I have been making sure to add little details to every shoot such as the credit cards inserted in between the fingers of the “conyo jeepney driver” or using red cups in the “tusok-tusok” video, etc. People around me also chip-in some ideas, such as my sister suggesting to use insulated tumblers in place of the sauces for “tusok-tusok.”

Apart from your hit videos, we know that you’re also into music. Can you tell us more about this other side of yours?

I have been really blessed to have parents, Itin and Eric Umali, who allowed me to find my passion growing up. They took me to different workshops and lessons such as singing, taekwondo, piano, basketball, theater, exposing me to recitals at a very young age. This was why I knew as a kid which talents I had and what I was passionate about. I learned to play the guitar on my 2nd year in high school at the Benedictine International School. I brought my guitar to school every day, which really helped hone my vocals, strumming on my guitar while singing almost every day. In college, I joined Mint Riffs, a glee club from my school Mint College where I learned to perform and where I also was able to see different perspectives in life by working with people of diverse backgrounds. I took up AB Film but I was able to continue my love for music because of Mint Riffs.

After I graduated, I wanted to continue with my passion for music. I performed in some gigs, joined a band, wrote some songs, and recorded covers that I posted on my personal accounts.  When I joined PGAG and after one of our skit series went viral (the Attack on Titan Parody), I was inspired by my senior, Ard Lim, who has his own Facebook Page. He served as a guide for me on how to be a good content creator. From there, I posted music covers, vlogs, and other content.

Do you have plans to pursue a bigger career in music?

I definitely want to pursue a bigger career in the music industry. I’ve been writing some songs that I hope to be able to soon share with you guys! Right now, I still have a lot to give and a lot of love to share. After the pandemic, I would love to meet some of our fans and perform for you guys!

Apart from creating videos and music, how do you usually spend your downtime? What other things could you share with us about yourself?

I just recently moved in with my girlfriend, China Maristela, so for now my downtime is spent settling down in our new place, and hopefully I’d love to do a condo tour vlog for y’all.

You’ve no doubt become more popular. How has that changed your life, if at all? How does that make you feel?

I am truly grateful for the recognition the Jiconyo series has given me. And it really makes me happy when people come up to me asking if I’m that conyo guy or if I’m soya bean curd or if I’m the “sheeeeesh” dude. [laughs]

So if ever y’all see me anywhere, ‘wag kayo mahiya lumapit!

Ever since the “taho vendor” skit went viral, people who pass by our house and recognize that it’s the place from the video, they would shout “soya bean curd!” My family says it happens almost every day! Kaya y’all are crazyyyy, sheeeeeesh.

One other time, I was driving along NLEX with my girlfriend and her mom, Tita Sasha. A car pulled up beside us and those inside asked me to put the windows down. When I lowered the window, I saw this smiling married couple and their kid who seemed about 15 years old, who all leaned forward and did the “sheeeeeesh” pose! Tawang-tawa kami dun! Cheers to that family!

Sobrang hilig ko talaga magpasaya, so it is never a hassle to take photos with people or to be approached or even to be asked to do a video shoutout.

What do you want to achieve with all the videos you create and share online?

My number one goal is to make people laugh, to make them happy. And working under PGAG, an organization with the very same goals, is a huge blessing. I want to continue making people happy… on whatever the platform. 

Anyways, that’s it from us, bruh. Sheeeeeesh!