All Hail, the Baklang Kanal!: Subversive Frivolity in Two Filipino Influencers

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In November 2020, in a now-deleted tweet, twelve queer Filipino influencers on Twitter were branded as “baklang kanal,” for their noted expressions of dissent against the Rodrigo Duterte regime. Soon after, an online debate ensued: among these twelve influencers, who are the most rightful to be considered as baklang kanal ? While the term as commonly used now in Twitter is understood to refer to “gay individuals who are unapologetically outspoken about their views” (Vilog, 2020a), this paper intuits baklang kanal as a means to symbolically negotiate with the audience, toward construction of a seeming authenticity that is crucial for the establishment, maintenance, and expansion of their influencer status—what can be nominated as subversive frivolity, or the “generative power…arising from (populist) discursive framing as marginal, inconsequential, and unproductive” (Abidin, 2016, p. 2). We explore such harnessing of baklang kanal as generative power through a case study of two social media influencers, namely Pipay (@pipaykipayy) and Sassa Gurl (@Itssassagurl), exemplary not only for their large followings, but as well as their inclusion in the inaugural Bardy’s, a parodic people’s choice award facilitated over Twitter, for the Cannes’al (i.e., “kanal”) category.