Arts & Entertainment

Safeguard Made a Mini-Movie Out of the Life of Norman King, First Aeta UP Grad

Finally, a soap commercial that takes pride in Filipino cultural heritage.
IMAGE Safeguard
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For too long, brands have sold soap to Filipinos by promising whiteness—usually American or Korean whiteness. Sometimes it's subtle, unnoticeable, and even fairly innocuous; but other times, it's right up in your face. There's even a local brand of soap called Seoul White Korea (established in the Philippines, using imported ingredients) that promises "Kinis Puti, Kinis Koreana." And for too long it's worked, likely because it resonates with Filipinos.

So this new Safeguard commercial is a real standout. Safeguard has decided to feature the story of Norman King, the first Aeta to graduate from the University of The Philippines. You may remember him as the graduate who marched and received his diploma last year dressed in his culture's traditional bahag. Because of that decision to proudly proclaim his heritage, King was able to share his story of surviving poverty and discrimination, which is now re-enacted by the ad:

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Wipe that single tear and appreciate this for what it is: a soap commercial that for once, takes pride in who we are instead of offering us a chance to be something else. It shows that King was once tormented by his classmates, and that he went through a bit of an identity crisis. But throughout, his mother reminds him of the importance of staying true to himself. The ad cuts deepest with the line: "Kailangan mo ba talagang magbago, para lang matanggap ng ibang tao?"

King elaborates on this story in several of his previous interviews, including this one:

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The ad and King himself inspire a profound sense of Filipino pride. It's also refreshing to see a soap brand genuinely embracing that pride by telling a true story, involving and uplifting a real person. If more brands could tell stories like this, we'd be one step closer to healthy and holistic consumerism.

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