Six degrees of separation from Bretman Rock | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


Thousands of kilometers—8,785 according to Google—separate the Philippines and Hawaii.

But that’s no problem. Before meeting Bretman Rock on March 12, we were probably less than six introductions away, to borrow from Frigyes Karinthy’s concept—that everyone and everything is six steps away from any other person in the world, and all it takes are introductions from a chain of friends to bring two people together.

(READ: Bretman Rock: I was born with drawn-on eyebrows)

Working with math equations, snail mail, e-mail, and buttons and threads, some claimed this theory stood up to scrutiny. Others said the Web and social media have narrowed the number down to four.




An officemate tagged me in a video of Bretman Rock, amazed that the Hawaii-based social media star (whom I was clueless about) is, like me, an Ilocano from Sanchez Mira, Cagayan province.


My colleague said this kalugaran (townmate) of mine was scheduled to visit Manila soon. So I looked him up, watching his viral videos—from his green makeup how-tos and fierce rants to his hilarious day-to-day footage.


“Bretman Rock is a weird name,” I remembered saying. “Why is this boy wearing makeup? Why the SPG language? Does he come from a big, prominent clan?”


While I had just discovered him, many others already knew him well. A social media sensation, Bretman has 350,000 followers on Twitter, 700,000 likers on his Facebook page, 600,000 subscribers on YouTube, and 4.7 million followers on Instagram.


When my mother visited me recently, she said that she and Bretman’s mother knew each other.


It turned out Bretman’s mom once owned a stall at the vegetable section of the Sanchez Mira public market, where my mom was the market inspector.


That would probably explain the video of Bretman’s mom throwing a cabbage at him.  Through these cameo appearances, and how Bretman portrayed her, I realized Ilocano moms have a typical way of expressing anger.


Anyway, my mom’s revelation brought my distance of separation from Bretman down to three degrees.


It went down to two after Bretman’s arrival on Feb. 29, his second visit to the country since leaving at age 7.


More revelations


As more Filipinos became fascinated with the 17-year-old Bretman, some of my friends started talking about him on Facebook.


One said that Bretman is actually her uncle. She posted photos of them together at the hotel where Bretman was staying. “When he was a kid, he would throw fits if he didn’t get his way,” she posted.


Another friend—my high school teacher based in  Sanchez Mira—told me he used to look after Bretman. He said that Bretman, who happens to be his cousin, was a handsome kid who loved watching wrestling matches.


The young Bretman was also wont to wrapping a towel around his body like a woman.


Whenever Bretman would get ribbed about being gay, he would deny it, my teacher said. “Bretman would run after me, even throw things at me.”


But it’s not going to happen now.


The degrees of separation finally dropped to one when Bretman and I were formally introduced at a Benefit event in SM Megamall on a Saturday.


That’s when I realized how much of a fan I’ve become.


Ours is a small town, so there I was, talking to the latest—and possibly only—global celebrity from Sanchez Mira.


Unless, of course, another one would be just a few introductions away.