With a loyal social media following of almost 100 thousand on Instagram, a pop culture phenomenon incited and a refreshing point-of-view to boot, the boys of Blogger Jowas show us why we don’t always have to take things seriously online. For Miggy Cruz and Joni Koro, humor goes a long, long way.
Back in the day (wow, we’re already waxing nostalgic about a time gone by, are we that old?), love was manifested in the typical and caloric but well appreciated chocolates, a steady collection of stuffed animals that would easily make an allergy-inducing zoo, hour-long landline phone calls that was quite literally an exercise of pummelling through, and for the unapologetically, unequivocally and uncompromisingly romantic, it would mean mile-long professions of devotion and forever signed and sealed on actual paper. These days, however, l’amour is diluted to sliding into the DMs, consecutive double-taps, and instant messaging across different platforms.
Now, this isn’t to say that romance is long gone and dead. That would just be acrimonious of us to say. But what we’re trying to paint here is a stark picture visualizing a difference in the way love is shown and reciprocated at best. It is very much thriving and lub-dub throbbing; it’s just that the generation of today has found new ways to express it online and IRL. And no, that isn’t the MTV show of our youth.
While an arguable chunk of today’s Romeos would rather keep it short and truncated, as is understandable, they more than make up for it in what is today’s act of social (and civic) duty—the Instagram post. And make no mistake; we aren’t talking about the thing that goes up on their feeds. We are talking about the perfectly composed, precisely directed and patiently taken photo that the boyfriend (or husband) would take of their girlfriend (or wife).
Gentlemen, the days of waiting endlessly while the lady decides which pair of jeans fit them best or what style of pumps they absolutely must have at the shop have taken a new form in powering through several clicks of the camera—all for the ‘Gram, yo.
This is the Instagram Boyfriend, a pop culture phenomenon that has sprung from disgruntled, reluctant and downright confused partners shuffling along just to take that money shot. While the rest of the Urban Dictionary-loving audience would find humor in the “forced” act, there are a handful of knights in shining armor who scan the expanse atop their white horse wielding the camera for their damsel in digital distress. These rare breeds are those who wouldn’t wince at the span of time they have to wait to eat after the flat-lay has been taken or until the engaging OOTD has been captured. Okay, well, sometimes.
ON LOCAL SHORES
“We were already the Instagram Boyfriends for real,” says Miggy Cruz, beau to Laureen Uy and a major proponent of the very popular social media account, @bloggerjowas. “Because no one else will take their photos and no one else has the patience. But the thing is, for them, it’s a job. For us, when we’re shooting them, it makes it a more fun atmosphere, because we’re just messing around. Like, they still get the shot that they want and we get a story to tell.”
For example, while on a press trip in Malaysia, Camille Co wanted to have a shot of hers taken with the Dyson Pure Cool Air Purifier that was blowing out big-ass bubbles, Joni Koro wasn’t too far off behind already armed and ready to shoot, all while holding her bag. It would have been a typical boyfriend takes girlfriend’s photo for Instagram but the natural habitat quickly turned into an anecdote when Joni slid and almost fell off as he inched near Camille. “I almost died,” laughs Joni. “But it had to go up on @bloggerjowas for sure, good thing it was caught on video.” You don’t make moments like those up, clearly. A combination of humor and a keen understanding of what content will drive engagement to their audience, they’ve got a hit on their hands.
As accidental as this all may be, BloggerJowas is a refreshing Instagram pastime that has morphed into a pop culture phenomenon, especially amongst like-minded boyfriends. (Or well, jowas.) Portraying the other side of the lives of their #BloggerBesties partners, the boys behind the account all hinge on humor to propel their narrative forward. It is by no means a slam to the concept of influence, but rather, it is a different slice to the complex and multi-faceted buzzword—one that humanizes and empathizes.
More than anything, it is the raw, real and ROFL riot type of social media influence that is a welcome respite from the heavily curated, filtered and buffed out images that pepper our timelines on the daily. The BloggerJowas not only gives us a different kind of content to consume, but they get the shot for their partners as well. Now, that’s a win-win.
Going the extra mile for the perfect shot is more than just another puzzle piece that will go well with the curated and aesthetically pleasing feed of their partner. It is a bold act of love that fully manifests how far they are willing and able to go just to put a smile on the faces of their significant other, influencer or otherwise. For Miggy Cruz and Joni Koro, it is all about being beside the loves of their lives, making memories, capturing moments and most of all, having fun together. And that is more than what any double-tap can do.
Funny posts, zingy one-liners and hilarious hashtags aside, the men behind Blogger Jowas have something to say. Read on our exclusive sit-down with Miggy Cruz and Joni Koro for more insight on all things influence:
MEGA MAN: When did Blogger Jowas happen? What is the story behind it?
Joni: The official launch was in Palawan, but it came up for the first time was in Tagaytay for Christmas and the girls were shooting… we were in the frame for a test shot holding their bags. We ended up posting that with #bloggerjowas.
Miggy: That’s where it started actually. We were visiting them in Tagaytay and they just made us hold their bags. So, we said, ‘We’re going to pose with your bags since we’re taking your photos anyway.’ Our own feeds are full of just funny things. That’s just who we are basically.
MEGA MAN: What can you say that now it has taken a life of its own, with people seeing themselves in what you do?
Miggy: It’s a very relatable thing, because social media nowadays is so big. On Instagram, everyone is tryingto have a nice photo all the time. Everything is always on Instagram already. What it takes for us is patience. Patience, patience, patience and more patience.
Joni: Yeah, the shooting part. But then again, the @bloggerjowas account is pretty easy going. It’s been fun. We didn’t think it would become what it is today; we just wanted to show a different side to them.
Miggy: We were just trying to make fun of them. Parang, ah, perfect kayo ah. Eto talaga ang nangyarari behind the scenes.
MEGA MAN: From where you’re coming from in your respective industries, how has this interface with influencers and social media educated the way you operate and deal with your own work?
Joni: From where I’m coming from, I had very little to know about social media. We’re a small nation, so it’s not so much out there as it is here. I didn’t know them in the beginning. I really didn’t follow much, so there wasn’t so much a perception then. But it’s a different world now for me, how much I know about it. It’s been a fast learning experience for me.
Miggy: I work in digital marketing, so I’m aware of what’s happening but not to the extent of what I’ve seen since I’ve been dating Laureen. It’s been an eye-opening experience, because a lot of people think it’s an easy job. But there is a lot of work to the thing they do. Yun nga, anyone can try to be fashionable or trendy, but when the style fits the personality then that’s when something amazing happens. And I think that they do that on a daily basis.
MEGA MAN: What for you is the biggest misconception people have about influencers?
Joni: The biggest misconception is that it’s easy, it doesn’t take much time or they just do cool stuff and post a photo here and there. But there is a lot of thought that goes into it: what to wear, where to shoot, the effort of going out to shoot, doing videos, and even personally editing the photos is very time consuming. It’s a 24/7 job. There’s no weekend where you stop your work on Friday night and get back to it on Monday morning.
Miggy: A lot of people think that it’s a very superficial industry to be in. But to be honest, it is more of a responsibility, because people look up to Laureen, Camille and the other #bloggerbesties. Even if it’s fashion, if it makes you feel confident about yourself, or even if the @bloggerjowas post makes you happy…no influencer is in it just to look good in photos. Most influencers do what they do because they actually love what they do and they love the feeling they give to other people that look at their feed. But at the same time, each influencer has the responsibility to make sure that everything that they post is nothing over the top that it’s no longer real. I think a lot of influencers understand that now. If people can feel better about what they see on Laureen or Camille’s feed is already a win for them. What they make people feel is what is more important, not what they’re wearing or where they are. On the surface, it’s fashion. But there’s a lot more to what they do.
MEGA MAN: You guys are in a sense, sort of accidental influencers. How does it feel that now, you are also being thrust into the spotlight?
Miggy: It’s weird. For us, it’s not our main thing. We’re not going to quit our day job to become full-time Instagram personalities. It’s not for us, but on the side, the friendships we were able to form since we started @bloggerjowas, is much more important. It’s so relatable, and we try to reply to all the messages. It’s like a community of Instagram boyfriends who just likes to take nice photos.
Joni: I think what’s funny is how Blogger Jowa became a term.
MEGA MAN: Much of the charm of the bloggers and influencers lie in the authenticity they lend the reader. For you, how vital is humor to the content you do?
Joni: As it’s not our main job, it’s a funny side line. That’s why people follow us because they see what’s happening at the background. So, we definitely have to keep the funny angle on our posts.
Miggy: On their feed you see the curated and edited output; it’s like a nice movie. When you see their feed, it’s like watching a Steven Spielberg movie, but when you go to our feed, it’s like an Adam Sandler movie. Sometimes you want the serious stuff, and then the other times, you want raw emotions. Honestly, I feel like it humanizes them. Their life is not curated all the time. For us, what we show is what else happens to them. So, it goes hand in hand.
MEGA MAN: What is the most important lesson that you learned from this sort of social media experience?
Miggy: At the end of the day, it’s a lot of work and I have so much respect for the bloggers, influencers, fashion people and wanderers out there. To come up with content that is captivating to their audience is something that sets them apart from the rest. You can’t just say I want to be blogger. You have to be good at it, and to be good at it, you have to work hard at it. And for us, our role as their boyfriends is to just support them all the way.
Joni: It has to come from the passion to be successful in it. You can’t just go into just wanting it and figuring out what to blog about. It won’t last long. It takes a lot of effort and time and if you’re not passionate, it will fade out.
Miggy: For me, moving along this industry is a very tricky road to be in. I take as much as I can. I know I’m not exposed to it as often, I mean, when we all hang out, where all just normal people but when we have joint projects, we see the whole production that goes into it. Now that I deal with other influencers, I have so much respect for their craft. They’re not just a blogger or just an influencer. I want to throw that misconception right away, because I know how much it takes to be able to communicate what they want to.
Joni: The biggest lesson is realizing how much power they have, how much you can communicate through social media. I’ve always been doing more industrial stuff, so I haven’t been that involved with social media. Now, it is just so unbelievable how much traction you can get from it, if you know how to use it to your advantage—especially in the Philippines.
MEGA MAN: Finally, being that blogger husbands, boyfriends or jowas have already become quite the thing, what words of advice of wisdom can you impart to guys like you?
Miggy: There’s no harm in wanting nice photo, there’s no harm in asking for a nice photo of you to be taken. If it makes you confident, I’m all for it—that goes for everyone. I don’t want people to think na, ‘Ay, nagpapaka-blogger siya o.’ If it makes you feel good about yourself, then why don’t you do it? If you feel good wearing something fashionable, why not wear it? Being with Laureen taught me that, finding things that make you feel confident and good in.
Joni: Amen. But on a serious note, there is a difference between influencing and inspiring. They’re not exclusive to each other, and that makes whatever you intend to do more meaningful.