Digital Divas: Camie Juan Interview

Artwork by Justin Kovacs

Digital Divas is a column written for the internet, by Yung Klout Gang's Lina Abascal, a girl who loves the internet. It's about young women who (similarly to Lina) have created online personas that have attracted thousands of fans and followers. These are spokeswomen for the emoji-speaking Tumblr-dwelling generation, where thousands of miles of distance can be spanned with a few clicks. Musicians, designers, writers, photographers and more make up a community of global tastemakers and cultural commentators representing the famous motto “girl power” on the world wide web.

Sharing a slice of the Philippines with the online world, lifestyle blogger Camie Juan initially grew her audience back in Tumblr's prime. Taking that fan base and expanding it, she's traveled to Germany on an international blog exchange, taught the internet how to dye their hair pastel, and exposed her life and relationships to her predominately young female audience.

Embracing her love/hate relationship with her hometown of Manila, this Pinay cutie has embraced elements of Western culture as learned online and fused them with more traditional Filipino ways. From being "catfished," to getting fashion companies to sponsor giveaways and contests on her blog, she has seen both the light and dark sides to living life online.

You recently participated in the Big Blog Exchange, can you tell us about that and how you got involved? What do you think made them choose you?
The Big Blog Exchange is a worldwide project by Hosteling International. Their mission is to change the world through the power of blogs by opening the minds of people, and pushing the importance of global understanding among people from different walks of life. Sixteen bloggers were chosen from all over the world to exchange countries for 10 whole days. We were set out on our own to explore a foreign land and write about our experiences.

I just randomly stumbled upon this competition while voting for a friend of mine, and got interested in joining (although internet competitions aren't really my thing) and discovered that this was a competition whose mission I deeply believed in! I believe they chose me because they saw my passion and love for blogging. I have always been a fan of history, especially World War II and Germany, which is where they actually sent me!

I originally came to know you back in Tumblr's heyday (2009-ish.) What have you been doing? How have you shifted your focus online while keeping your fan base?
Since 2009, I've been busy finishing my college degree in fashion design and merchandising. That was four whole years of stress: running around on fabric runs, making new garments every week, blood, sweat, and tears. I finally graduated last seventh of July! If anything, I drew more focus on my blog during my college years because it was a way of de-stressing and just doing something for myself instead of burning myself out with fashion. Don't get me wrong, I love fashion, but it isn't my whole life. It's nice to have something else on the side, something to do out of pure passion and enjoyment.

Tell us about your blog, Wild-Spirit. What kind of content do you focus on and who is your audience?
Wild-Spirit is basically my personal blog where I basically just write about anything and everything about my life. It's my humble abode in the online world where I get to share my life and what I know. A lot of the time, I get messages telling me that I am an inspiration, which is honestly the most rewarding thing, to be able to help someone or serve as an inspiration by merely being myself.

I believe my audience ranges from teenage to 20-something girls/women. Mostly girls just like me, which is why I think I have a bit of a following, because my blog is relatable.

You recently graduated university. What are you planning on doing? How do you think your online presence will help you in the job market?
Currently I've been looking into starting an online retail business. I love anything vintage, old, or second-hand! To me, they have so much history and potential, which is where thrift clothing comes in! I don't think a lot of people know how much work a single piece of clothing goes through, and so it's kind of sad to see a lot of good clothing waste away in thrift stores. I plan to buy thrift store clothing, handpicking them myself, and maybe do a little DIY on them, and resell them online at affordable prices.

I think my online presence is a huge advantage in the job market considering that everything is basically online now. Companies are getting on with present time and they know that to flourish you need to have an online presence. I believe I could easily land a job with bloggers/social media because I know my way around them like the back of my hand.

You're from Manila, what is it like there? What are the trends? Are young people as online focused? Do people there see you as an "internet person" or do you blend in with your peers?
I have always had a love/hate relationship with Manila. And I've gotten smack from some anonymous people online for telling the truth about my city. Manila is kind of a messy place, the amount of congestion this city has with overpopulation, traffic, and pollution is suffocating. But what do you expect? It's the main city for everything, and people from other parts of the country flock here for better opportunities. That being said, Manila is my home and I have grown to love this place despite its ugliness. I love how Metro Manila is big enough to harbor 16 cities but at the same time we live in such a small world where it seems like everyone knows everyone.

The trends change from time to time, we're pretty much influenced by Western culture, so we’ve probably got the majority of what is mainstream in the Western world, you name it, in our closets and in our iPods.

Young people here are definitely online-focused, much like anywhere else in the world I suppose. I know 10 year old kids who constantly post on Instagram/Twitter. It's kind of creepy but that's what you get from the digital generation, isn't it? But yeah, basically everyone I know is connected online somehow. It's inevitable.

I think it's a bit of both, I blend in with my peers but they also know me as an "internet person". It varies from person to person depending on if they're friends or just acquaintances. I find that people who don't know me that well tend to refer to me as the "blogger", compared to those who know me more and see me as simply Camie.

Do you identify strongly with Filipino culture? Do you feel like you've adopted other cultures through exposure online?
Filipino culture is quite blurry at this day and age. Honestly, we are very easily influenced by other cultures, so staying true to our own is quite rare from my point of view, at least. We still keep our Filipino morals and values in tact though, which I believe is the one thing in our culture that will never ever fade away.

I think online exposure has definitely played a part in adopting other cultures, not just with myself, but to all Filipinos out there. The internet keeps everyone around the world connected. Being online for 3-5 hours a day, you're bound to pick up a thing or two from people you interact with from half across the globe. Something as simple as a new slang word you learned in conversing is already adopting a culture different from your own.

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