5 ‘Cebuano’ Americans: Signs you’re Filipino in ‘Hey Joe Show’
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Five young American missionaries met in the Visayas and fell in love with the people and their culture.
They learned the Visayan dialect and became fluent, which pleasantly surprised many of the locals.
Now, Connor, Davis, Jake, Tylan and Sumner have become online sensations because of their videos that feature the Cebuano-speaking Americans in comedy skits.
The “Hey Joe Show” has so far posted 15 videos, some getting more than 800,000 views, since the first video was put up on Oct. 1, 2014.
The five Americans are coming back to the Philippines over the weekend for a series of shows in the cities of Dumaguete, Cebu and Tagbilaran in the Visayas, and Cagayan de Oro and Davao cities in Mindanao.
In an e-mail interview with the Inquirer, Jake said all five of them came from different parts of the United States with different backgrounds.
They, however, declined to give their last names and ages except that they were attending college at a school in Utah.
Jake said he, Davis, Tylan, Sumner and Connor met while serving their two-year mission in the Visayas, particularly in the provinces of Bohol, Cebu and Negros Oriental.
“We didn’t know each other before, but we quickly became very close friends,” Jake said.
There was one thing they all shared—their love for Filipino culture, way of life and the dialect.
Filipinos ‘full of love’
“As we served, we fell in love with the Filipino culture and the general way of life in the Philippines. Filipinos are always so happy and full of love,” Tylan said.
While teaching about Jesus Christ, the five also wanted to learn to speak Cebuano, which is spoken in Negros Oriental, Bohol and Cebu.
They learned basic Bisaya words in about three to five months and later, new words, expression and phrases.
Although they also got tips from the more experienced missionaries, they learned the dialect through practice—by speaking to the locals.
Talking to children
Connor said they would talk to the children on the streets out of fear that people their age might laugh at them.
“As we got more confident, we would talk to mga nanay and mga tatay who were always so kind,”he said. “Before long, the locals started to react to our skills in Bisaya. “Hala, kamao lagi ka magbinisaya! (Hey, you know how to speak in Cebuano!),” he added.
“We think it’s the most enjoyable language to speak and are very proud that we had the opportunity to learn it,” Connor said.
They then thought of making a video that “celebrated”the culture of Filipinos once they returned to the United States.
After their two-year missionary service ended, Connor, Davis, Jake, Tylan and Sumner did just that and named their group “Hey Joe Show.”
Tylan recalled children would usually say “Hey Joe”—when they were walking by.
“We loved it, and thought it was a great idea for the title of the show! Even Americans think it’s a clever name and easy to remember,” he said.
Tylan explained that the group wanted to create “clean and wholesome entertainment”and to continue speaking the dialect.
Their first video—“Amerikanong Bisaya”—was posted on YouTube on Oct. 1, 2014, where they introduced themselves in Cebuano while being funny.
Davis said it was intended to entertain their friends in the Philippines who could give feedback on how the five could improve.
But the four-minute and four-second video became viral. It had 825,252 hits on YouTube and was shared several times on other social media sites.
“Hundreds of messages started coming in asking how we knew Bisaya,” said Davis.
“None of us ever expected it to get this big, but we are so grateful that we can connect with Filipinos whom we have never even met and put a smile on their face,” he added.
The response to the 15 videos has been “amazing,” Sumner said.
All five are involved in making the video.
Jake does all the editing while everyone chips in new ideas and takes turns in filming. They usually talk and exchange text messages to put their ideas together.
They said it was always an effort not to laugh while filming, which is done during their free time.
“We always finish within a couple of hours, so most of our videos are first takes,” Sumner said.
Signs you’re Pinoy
He said that last week, Jake had an idea about making a video on “Signs You’re a Filipino.”
The video was posted last Friday and had already 16,626 views as of 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Davis said that since doing the “Hey Joe Show,” they have always wanted to return to the Philippines.
But since they are all college students, the cost of the trip is way beyond their budget, Davis said.
“We started raising funds so that we could return to the Philippines, and are grateful that doing so is allowing us to this coming week,” he said.
He added that they were grateful that many people had opened their hearts and their wallets so they could go back to the country they had learned to love.
Their stay in the Philippines is only two weeks long and will be spent in five cities in the Visayas and Mindanao.
They will be in Dumaguete on April 25, Cebu on May 1 and Tagbilaran on May 4. These are the cities where they lived while they were missionaries.
They will also be in Cagayan de Oro City on April 30 and Davao City on May 2 because they have a fan base there.
Jake promised that their shows would be fun, not just for them but for their fans.
“We want people coming up on stage and joining us as we sing, dance and have lots of fun,” he said.
Aside from meeting them, he added, their fans may just be featured in some of their videos.
The group intends to meet several people and continue doing their videos.
They plan to incorporate Filipino food into their videos as well.
“There is nothing quite like Filipino adobo, sinigang or, of course, lechon!” said Sumner, whose favorites include tortang talong (stuffed fried eggplant), bulad (dried fish) and monggo with baboy (mung beans with pork).
Davis loves ampalaya (bitter gourd) and gulay (vegetables) as well as mango float, according to Sumner.
“We are so excited to be back in the Philippines, it feels like home to us. We think the Filipinos are the happiest and friendliest people in the world, so we want to spend our time with them and see more of their beautiful country,” Connor said.
Since they are staying there for only two weeks, they will not be able to visit as many places that they would like.
“We hope that in the future, we will be able to return and visit the many other beautiful places the Philippines has to offer,” Sumner said.
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