Balangay Live, a new VTuber group from the Philippines, went all-out to announce their launch this month. We've seen the announcement across websites such as tech website Newsbytes.PH and trade magazine Adobo.
Prior to this, they've already made a mark with their pre-debut booth appearance at ConQuest Festival 2022 last July. A simple Discord-and-mic setup led to a huge advantage for them, as the only one in the Crafters' Quarters area who did such activity.
Fast forward to November where the group debuted Generation 0: Liwayway—composed of Mino Minokawa, Bibi Bakunawa and Saysay. We've asked the culturally-focused group what's their purpose in the VTuber community.
Filipino Culture-Centric VTuber Group
Balangay Live is not the first to adopt a local-first concept, but before its formation, each member is already on the path of creating content related to Philippine studies and culture.
NewsDrop: Right off the bat, you label yourselves as a Filipino culture-centric VTuber group. Why did you choose to go that route for the group's theme?
Balangay Live: Prior to forming Balangay Live, our members, as individual VTubers already had Filipino culture in their themes and were already doing content related to it. It was something that we bonded over when we first met and collaborated.
We then realized that we worked well together, so it was just a matter of making things official and efficient. We had the same vision from the start: To promote Filipino culture, mythology, history and folklore.
How do you aspire to share the diverse traditional Filipino culture towards the masses via the VTubing medium?
Aside from basing our character lores and designs on Filipino myths and creatures, we already do content that promotes FIlipino culture.
We have members who do folklore reading streams, discuss history, and teach other Filipino languages. Some of us make it a point to hold special streams during holidays and events that are important to our culture.
We also love playing games that are made by Filipinos, especially if they’re based on Filipino history, mythology or daily life.
On a character lore level, our basis comes from different parts of the Philippines.
In Gen 0: Liwayway alone, we have lores that represent the largest group of islands. Saysay’s lore is based on Luzon’s Mangkukulam, Bibi’s is based on the Visayan mythos’ bakunawa, while Mino’s minokawa is from the folklore of Mindanao’s lumads.
On a personal level, one of the wonderful things about VTubing is that people can collaborate no matter where they are physically. Our members come from different provinces and speak different Filipino languages, which gives us the advantage of having a wider view of the beauty and richness of Filipino culture.
Balangay Live's Purpose in Regaining the Filipino Viewer's Interest in its Culture
There must be a reason for being that Balangay Live has—What gap does Balangay Live fill in at the wider Philippine VTuber scene?
There are a lot of entertaining and talented VTubers from the Philippines, along with numerous companies and groups debuting their talents. However, the viewership is not as robust as in Japan or Indonesia.
There are also people who do not know that the Philippines has its own VTubing scene as well. We aim to gain the interest of not only those who don’t know about Filipino VTubers, but also those who might not have heard about VTubers before.
We hope to make VTubers approachable and accessible to Filipinos, even those who are not into anime. We also wish to bring variety to the existing Filipino tubing space by being entertaining and educational at the same time.
Do you think Balangay Live will be able to revive the long-lost interest of Filipinos in learning their own culture? If so, in what ways do you think the group can do that?
When we had a booth at a convention, some of the people who approached us were those who didn't know about VTubers but were interested in Filipino myths and history. So, the interest is already there from that crowd.
We find that a lot of Filipinos are interested in their own culture and take pride in it. However, the extent of their awareness of the richness of our culture is sadly limited.
On the other hand, there are those who approach us because we’re VTubers, who previously didn’t have much of an interest in Filipino culture. For them, we wish to open the door for them to be able to explore what our culture and history has in store.
But we can not do it alone. There are so many factors at play on why Filipinos have forgotten about, or have lost interest in their own culture. There are bigger institutions like the government, the public school system, and mainstream media who could do this job better.
What we could do, as a tiny fish in the Philippine sea, is to bring Filipino myths, legends and folklore back to the minds of our viewers.
Beyond streaming, we are also open to engaging and participating in activities that will help us spread our mission: To spread the knowledge and appreciation of Philippine art, history, and folklore.
Liwayway's Next Move and Hopes for the Future
What is your message to both local and international fans who are eager for the Balangay Live debut?
“Thank you for the interest and support you have shown us. We will continue to work harder to bring you content that is unique, fun and educational. Catch us in our streams and see what Balangay is really all about. Until then, see you in the future.”—Bibi Bakanuwa
“Bababoowie. The future is a massive space which we all exist in and at the same time don’t. Wait, ‘wag mong isulat yan [don't write that]. Thanks guys, me too na lang,”—Mino Minokawa
“Thanks a million for your kind support and enthusiasm on Balangay Live! Please look forward to our streams, and we hope to see more of you. Shukran. Mabuhay! 💙”—SaysayVT
Special thanks to Mayamaya Magindara of Balangay Live for the assistance in this NewsDrop Spotlight feature. For more information on Balangay Live, visit https://balangaylive.carrd.co/.