Celeb couple ‘Jamich’ in hot water over ‘ipon para sa iPhone 6’ plug

Yikes! Celebrity couple Jamvhille ‘Jam’ Sebastian and Paolinne Michelle ‘Mich’ Liggayu a.k.a. “Jamich” are in hot water with some of their fans over an update they posted on their hugely popular Facebook page

Excited na ako mga pareee!! iPhone 6 plus! Tagal ko na hinhintay na maglabas ang Apple ng malaking screen ng iPhone. Ayaw ko kasi mag Samsung. Loyal iPhone user!! Sa wakas! Malapit lapit na! Astig din ung Apple Watch, parang cool kapag naka ganun ka pero di naman necessity. Sept. 19 lalabas sa US, dito sa Pinas, ewan lang. iPon para sa iPhone! Ikaw? Ano masasabi mo sa new iPhone? – Jam

Jam Sebastian and Michelle Liggayu a.k.a. 'Jamich' taking one of their many selfies
Jam Sebastian and Michelle Liggayu a.k.a. ‘Jamich’ taking one of their many selfies
Translated: “I’m all excited folks! The iPhone 6 Plus is out! I’ve been waiting for so long for Apple to come out with an iPhone with a large screen. That’s because I didn’t want to go Samsung. I’m a loyal iPhone user!! At last! It’s coming! The Apple Watch is cool too but really not a necessity. The iPhone 6 comes out in the United States on September 19 though I don’t know yet when in the Philippines. Start saving for the iPhone! How about you, what can you say about the new iPhone?”

The couple are an internet sensation thanks to all the mushy videos they post on YouTube that Filipino teenagers are going ga-ga about. Their Facebook page has more than 2.6 million ‘Likes’ so they are bon a fide social media superstars. Unforuntately the guy, Jam Sebastian, was diagnosed with lung cancer early this year. Other than an admitted addiction to gambling, Sebastian says he does not smoke and has no other vices. But cancer treatment does not come cheap. According to Sebastian, he will be requiring at least 20,000 pesos per day over 4 months to complete the treament.

I heard over the grapevine that the couple had some time ago appealed to their followers for financial support (presumably in the form of donations) to help fund the treatment, although, short of trawling through their Facebook and Twitter timelines, so far I haven’t found solid evidence of this. Just the same, the post about the iPhone 6 had disillusioned some of their fans, some of whom are disappointed that the couple would encourage their impressionable followers to save their hard-earned money to buy such a luxurious device considering their own personal circumstances. Sebastian’s older brother Yexel Sebastian had reportedly assured him that he would go as far as selling his prized toy collection to contribute to the treatment. This was after Jam said “I don’t know where I would get that kind of money.”

Sebastian’s mother, Maricar Fernando Sebastian, had confirmed in a comment she posted somewhere on the Jamich Facebook page that Globe Telecoms is a sponsor of the Jamich social media “brand”. This, therefore, explains that “ipon para sa iPhone” post which, presumably, was meant to create media buzz for the much-anticipated entry of the gadget in the Philippine market. I guess that is the trouble with laying out your life before the public like an open book, hitting it big, and then making money off that social capital. Somewhere down the line, a conflict in principles between what your sponsors espouse and the principles you preach will emerge.

Popular social media 'activist' Noemi Dado regularly pitches Samsung products in between her social awareness tweets.
Popular social media ‘activist’ Noemi Dado regularly pitches Samsung products in between her social awareness tweets.
Selling their audience to corporate sponsors is a common practice among social media practitioners who have large numbers of followers. One of social media’s top political “activists” Noemi Dado a.k.a. “MomBlogger” is an active promoter of good governance, voter education, and various poverty alleviation initiatives. Yet she seems to also be in the payroll of high-end smartphone manufacturer Samsung which also happens to be Apple’s biggest competitor. She occassionally gets into tweeting frenzies around Samsung products.

In the cases of both Noemi Dado and Jam Sebastian, the principle at stake is the issue around why poverty and neediness is a widespread problem in the Philippines which we all know is quite the brand-conscious society. On one hand, you have people who are engaged in the worthwhile pursuit of getting Filipinos to save more money and not blow an obscene amount of their supposedly “disposable” income on frivolous stuff. And, on the other hand, you have people who use their social media clout to create an unhealthy appetite for money-sucking luxury brands.

I’m not really out to issue a wake up call to this fascinating social phenomenon that pulls Filipinos in two diametrically-opposed directions. I’m just saying.