If you're an avid social media user who loves viral comedy and speaks Cebuano, chances are you've heard of Rowell Ucat, aka Medyo Maldito.
Rowell, a 25-year-old restaurant manager based in Singapore, was born in Cagayan de Oro, raised in Bukidnon, and spent time working in Cebu. Although he has been living in the Lion City for over three years now, his Bisaya blood is so thick, he chooses to dish out his hugot-themed humor in the language—even as Singapore landmarks lurk in the background of his videos.
Rowell had already been posting hugot quotes and memes on Twitter as Medyo Maldito for a while, but he shot to even greater online fame when he started making videos last March, giving birth to three personas he plays himself: Inday Hugot, the perpetually heartbroken heroine; Dodong, the A-hole ex who wrote her off; and Undo, her gentle and hopeful suitor. The Inday Hugot videos proved to be a hit with fans: Rowell earned 200,000 likes on Facebook in just two months since he put them up.
Below is a video starring Inday Hugot and Dodong, with Tagalog subtitles so even non-Cebuano speakers can ~*feel the pain*~.
We talked to Rowell about hugot, the doors that have opened for him because of his comedy, and how it feels to be a social media star in his home country.
Where do you get your inspiration for portraying Inday Hugot?
In my videos, Inday Hugot became bitter and jaded because of the experiences she had with her ex. People who are being lied to, cheated on, or played inspired me to portray Inday Hugot. Through my videos, I am hoping that I can help them move on, or if not, make them realize that they need to move on and let go.
Why do you think does hugot sell so well in the Philippines?
I think Filipinos love hugot not because most of us are heartbroken, but because of the creativity we can apply to it: how we can give a word a different meaning and connect it to heartbreak, the way we can make fun of these painful memories through double meanings.
You co-wrote two songs in Cebuano with songwriter Jude Gitamondoc, “Sa Akong Heart” (“In My Heart”) and “Hahahahasula,” and was involved in the musical Gugmang Giatay (Damned Love). How does it feel to be able to dabble in music recording and musicals on the strength of your online popularity?
Everything feels surreal. I never thought that I could write a song and write a script for a musical. That's why I am forever thankful to Sir Jude Gitamondoc for believing in me. “Hahahahasula” has been number one on the radio station MOR Cebu 97.1 for more than two months, “Sa Akong Heart” was named the Best Regional Song of the Year at the MOR Philippine Music Awards 2015, and Gugmang Giatay: The Musical was a success.
What's it like having so many people following you on social media and expecting content from you? Do you feel pressure or are you still having fun with it?
It is really humbling that people you do not personally know appreciate what you do. I am still having fun making videos and I always give myself a challenge every time I make one: to make a better video compared to the ones that I have already uploaded.
How does it feel to come home to the Philippines and be surrounded by Filipinos who love your work?
I can say that the last two trips that I have taken to the Philippines were the most memorable. The feeling when people come up to me and ask if we can take a picture is just unbelievable. From the airport to the malls, people ask me where Inday Hugot is. There was one time when I went to a coffee shop, the barista did not ask for my name. She just smiled and wrote “Medyo Maldito” on my cup.