“Hey, @karposmm! How ’bout you bring YouTubers (ehem, NigaHiga, ehem) to Manila? #NigaHigainManila”
That was the tweet we sent to Karpos Multimedia Inc. about 280 days ago using another Twitter handle. The account, made specifically for anything and everything dedicated to YouTube star Ryan Higa, signified that we’ve already reached a higher level of fangirling.
The hashtag #NigaHigainManila, however, did not trend.
But our constant nagging on Twitter somehow paid off.
Fast-forward to 2015 and here we are rejoicing as the heavens—or rather, Karpos—heard our plea. Higa is finally coming to Manila for Click Play: The Social Media Festival on Nov. 22.
“It’s awesome to read the fans’ comments that they’re excited for our visit!” Higa said in a recent e-mail interview with Inquirer Super. “I don’t have any expectations. It’s my first visit to the Philippines so I’m just excited to see the fans and the country, and experience the culture.”
‘How To Be’ series
Higa, popularly known as “nigahiga” on YouTube, is a Japanese-American who initially uploaded videos to entertain his family and friends in Hawaii. Nigahiga is a combination of niga, which means “rant” in Japanese, and Higa, his surname.
Later on, viewers started commenting that they liked his videos. The most popular was the “How To Be” series in which Higa and his best friend Sean Fujiyoshi dispense tips on how to be a nerd, a ninja, a gangster, an emo, and so on. But the videos were taken down in 2008 and 2009 due to copyright violations.
Nevertheless, Higa continued to upload videos, this time with music he composed; in 2012 he created the Ryan Higa Production Company.
He also has a second channel, HigaTV, featuring behind-the-scenes footage.
What’s interesting about Higa is that he channels his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) through his videos. He has a video series called “Off the Pill” in which he rants about being off his medication, and “Skitzo,” where he plays four different stereotypical characters named Regina, R-Dizzle, Hanate and Ryan.
“My favorite character is Regina,” he said. “She’s actually based on one of my favorite cousins.”
Other Higa videos include movie parodies, advertisement spoofs and just plain witty but mind-blowing puns.
“I’m always thinking of ideas,” he said, “keeping up with trends.”
Higa currently has more than 15 million subscribers and over 2 billion views on YouTube.
He placed second in Variety magazine’s #Famechangers Digital Star ranking, with an annual estimated ad earnings of $642,000 at the age of only 25.
In preparation for his Manila gig, Higa is actually learning to speak Filipino.
“Being born in Hawaii, it was common to hear mabuhay and salamat. I’m sure I’ll learn more words before our visit,” he said.
Hoping we’ll also be hearing “Mahal ko kayo, Manila!” from you, too, Ryan? Soon, maybe?
Another YouTube act in the Click Play lineup is American singer-songwriter David Choi. Known mostly for his romantic songs, Choi, ironically, isn’t sure if he’s in love.
“I’m not sure what love is,” he quipped.
But Choi admitted he gets songwriting ideas everywhere. “Sometimes I’ll stop what I’m doing if I feel it coming and just start writing,” he said. “Other times, I just set time to write and really work on the craft… Sometimes inspiration comes, sometimes it doesn’t. Once in a while, I’ll start singing in my car and if I have an idea, I’ll record it on my phone.”
After a three-year hiatus, he finally released his fourth and latest album, “Stories of You’s and Me.”
To push himself to finish it, he grew his beard. In July 2014, he posted on his Facebook page: “I have decided not to shave until the release of my next album. It will be messy, it will be gross and it will be itchy. I hope this will force me to complete this album before the year ends.”
Although it elicited cheers and jeers from fans, Choi successfully released the album in February.
“I went through hardships in the years between the third album (“Forever and Ever”) and the latest,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that this album is the brightest, or the happiest, but it was definitely an album I had to make for myself.”
Prior to the new album’s release, Choi did a short film, “David (The Series),” which was uploaded on YouTube.
“It was an idea I had years ago but never really went about making it,” he explained. “I wanted people to see what life was like as a musician, and some of it was based on real life, but of course some were made up.”
Choi, who will be visiting the country for the second time, mentioned that he had an awesome experience the first time.
“The greatest thing about the Philippines is the warm nature of the people,” he said. “The culture makes me happy and I feel like everyone is just a big happy family.”
“Click Play: The Social Media Festival,” will be held Nov. 22 at the SMX Convention Center. Regular tickets are still available at www.smtickets.com and outlets nationwide. It is presented by Sun Cellular, Cebu Pacific Air and Bellevue Resort.