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Social Media Stars of 2021: Raul Contreras, Father TikTok, Home Buddies

All the TikTok, YouTube, Facebook stars that made your feed.
by Clara Rosales
Dec 31, 2021

Social media reigned during the second year of a pandemic that forced everyone to stay at home. Despite toxicity and unwanted weekend work, smartphone screens served as the Filipino’s window to the outside world.

From viral recipes and home improvement hacks to memes and controversial statements, these people shook the virtual world and set off thousands on an endless scroll for content, comments, and developments.

We covered people who topped trends to help keep you up to speed from the safety of your own home.

These are the social media personalities that made noise in 2021:

Father TikTok

Closed churches and limited religious services were not enough to stop Fr. Fiel Pareja or Father TikTok from preaching God’s word in a way that matched the times. What started as a way to answer prayer requests from victims of COVID-19 ended up becoming a bigger commitment to connect to devotees through their phone screens.

Continue reading below ↓

Donning his vestments, Father TikTok condensed lessons and gospels in relatable three-minute videos to reach Gen Z on their favorite video app.

Raul Contreras & Johnny Antillon

Nearly a decade after his death, Raul Contreras electrified a quarantined nation with his sharp views on racism and the world's ills as an international debater when he was just 15.

Johnny Antillon, another orator whose UN speech on finding hope after World War II captured his audience in the 1950s, was also immortalized in black-and-white video for the new generation to watch in 2021.

Almost 70 years later, their archived sentiments still resonate with Filipinos finding solutions to a world plagued with problems.

Margielyn Didal


@jrayssaleal Congrats on getting Silver in the first Olympic

? original sound - Jean-Victor

The Cebu-based skateboarder fell short of a podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics. Instead, her infectious smile and bubbly personality stole the world’s attention, proof that a good sport wins gold regardless of results.

Prior to her event, 22-year-old Didal danced to a viral Tiktok dance with Brazil's Rayssa Leal, who clinched the silver medal. Didal later placed 7th after failing a stunt. Still, her optimistic approach inspired positive energy during the pandemic-hit Olympics.

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Kween Yasmin

Gen Z’s favorite Kween Yasmin calls herself a simple person—she’s staying true to herself and it’s exactly what draws the younger crowd. Known for her 2018 cover of an Ex Battalion track, the Kween has only grown bigger with more song and dance covers to her name.

Authenticity has gotten her this far and she encouraged others seeking internet fame to just be themselves.

Ely Buendia

The former Eraserheads frontman lit social media on fire after saying the ‘90s band's members were never really friends and kept a professional relationship to keep performances going. Fans weren’t too pleased to hear it, but Buendia said he was just telling the truth.

Months later, Buendia ignited hope in Eraserheads fans after he said it was possible for the band to reunite if Vice President Leni Robredo runs for president in the 2022 elections.

Ninong Ry

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Keeping it real is the name of the game for Ninong Ry (real name Ryan Morales Reyes), who shows that splattering oil, estimated measurements, and a flurry of profanities are key to cooking good food.

With his signature lapel mic and freestyle cooking, the chef shows Filipinos can concoct delicious dishes at home without the restaurant equipment and formal training. There’s no one right way to cook, and as long as the food is good, then it’s a star—his 5 million followers agree.

Home Buddies

Even the smallest changes can transform any living space from blah to fab, just take it from the one-million strong group of Home Buddies started by Mayora Frances Lim Cabatuando. What started out as a personal journey of home improvement has now become the go-to guide for many looking to refine their spaces while in quarantine.

#TeamKahoy or #TeamPuti are the most popular teams and aesthetic in the group, but tips on electrical work, paint jobs, and real estate also answer the most puzzling inquiries from both new and seasoned homeowners.

Continue reading below ↓

Chef RV Manabat

Like Ninong Ry, Chef RV Manabat is all about helping Filipinos try their hand at cooking at home. Gatekeeping is an absolute no-no in his household and everyone gets the recipe, the process, and tips on how to serve a plate of food.

Regardless of level of difficulty, Manabat says if he can do it, so can his millions of followers.

Fun fact: Ninong Ry and Chef RV both went to De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde for training.

Ayn Bernos


Promise fulfilled. We have a long way to go. ????????

? original sound  / IG: @aynbernos - Ayn Bernos

Prior to representing San Juan in the Miss Universe Philippines pageant, Ayn Bernos was TikTok’s Ate, helping with English grammar and advocating for being morena and proud. Her eloquent advice on relationships also garnered likes and views.

Bernos said she entered with the purpose of challenging beauty standards to empower other Filipinas.

Joshua Garcia


but you know i stay HAHAH #fyp

? GInseng Strip 2002 - calf

It took actor Joshua Garcia just 10 seconds to go viral and clinch numbers content creators could only dream of. Covering half of his face to Yung Lean's "Ginseng Strip 2002" dance trend, Garcia got 1.6 million followers and four million likes in just three days.

Continue reading below ↓

His TikTok debut started a trend amongst celebrities and remains one of the most viewed videos for the dance.

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