Mong Palatino

Blogging about the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific since 2004


@mongster is a Manila-based activist, former Philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of Asia-Pacific affairs.

The lola in the Bayantel DSL ad is a very lonely person. Instead of being surrounded by her grandchildren, the lola is alone at her home. Like other lola, the Bayantel lola is craving attention from her family. But unlike most lola, the Bayantel lola is tech-savvy. She stages her dramatic appeal for affection by talking in front of a computer. She shows her love for her apo by helping them with their computer problems. She establishes her authority as the family matriarch by being an omnipresent online Big Lola: She googles the dating partners of her apo; she uploads videos on YouTube; she is active on Facebook (she even threatens to delete one of her apo in her list of friends).

Maybe the lola was an adventurer during her younger years. Now she surfs the globe in front of a computer screen. She uses the internet to desperately stay in contact with her loved ones. She seems to prefer the virtual world as her retirement paradise over a quiet vacation home inhabited by relatives or other senior citizens. When registering on social networks, does she reveal her real age? Does she link up with anonymous teenagers?

Maybe everyone will end up alone in this world. But our Bayantel lola should not be alone since she still has family. The lola should not be admired for being a modern lola; she should be pitied for believing that her unique virtual relationship with her family makes her a very fulfilled, and perhaps, happy person.

Maybe the Bayantel lola was a hardworking person who saved enough money for her retirement.
Now she uses these precious pension funds to buy her favorite products on the internet. Maybe it is the lola’s proud assertion of financial independence from her children. Maybe she is already tired, or maybe she is injured which prevents her to do her shopping in the real market. But isn’t it sad for a pensioner to lose his/her savings because he/she is addicted to online shopping? Isn’t it doubly disheartening to learn that a person who spent most of his/her adult life paying taxes, mortgage, and other bills continues to waste more money on non-essential goods through the seductive and mysterious appeal of online shopping?   

Maybe the Bayantel lola was emotionally repressed. Maybe her husband was abusive and dominant. Maybe she was denied the chance to explore and celebrate life during her youth. Marriage and domesticity robbed her of her vivacity, her idealism, her love. Now that she is retired, she can be young again. She can start a new life. She can love again. It is unfortunate that the modern world can only offer a cold virtual reality as a fun alternative for the re-born lola. She should be golfing instead of googling. She should be kicking in the air instead of clicking on the desk. She should be outside the house enjoying life instead of living inside the house pretending to enjoy virtual life.
Woe to senior citizens! Economists blame their growing population for the rising budget deficit of local and federal governments. Senior citizens who depend on pension and health care insurance are treated as a burden to society. Bureaucrats and capitalists want them to work forever. They are told to learn new skills in order to be useful to society. Mutinaltionals are designing and developing new consumer products and services in order to grab the pension money of senior citizens. Popularizing the image of an active, wired, and networked senior citizen, like our Bayantel lola, suits the profit motive of capitalists. 

The Bayantel DSL ad portrays a different kind of lola. We are used to watching ads which feature grandparents being hugged and kissed by their anak and apo (Remember the dancing lolo in the Alpine Milk ad: “I remember yesterday, the world was so young”). The Bayantel ad reflects the interesting impact of new media in the world today, even in a society as backwards as ours. The ad is funny because the internet lifestyle of the hyper and cyber lola is familiar. Aren’t we like the Bayantel lola who uploads videos everyday, sends superpokes to friends, and buys products online? We use YM, videochat, and chikkatext to communicate with family and friends. We google the names of new acquaintances and even our enemies.

Through the ad, young and middle-aged Filipinos are given a glimpse of the kind of life they will have in the future. The ad is also a gloomy reminder that the future has already arrived. We are all like the Bayantel lola now: inevitably connected to the cyberworld but ultimately alone in the real world. 
Related articles:

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12 Responses to “a very lonely grandmother”

  1. i like this post!


  2. […] This post was Twitted by caffeinesparks […]

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  3. Nice take on the ad. I kinda feel sorry for the “lola”. Imagine if this “lola” is not tech savvy. 🙁 And that dancing lolo ad , it was Bear Brand 🙂


  4. salamat sa mga komento at pagbanggit sa twitter.

    oo nga pala, bear brand yun. mas gusto ko kasi alpine.


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  7. great post! natutuwa ako at nagawa mong makita ang isang bagay in a different perspective. dahil sa post mo na ito, hindi na ako natutuwa kapag nakikita ko ang mga commercial ni Lola Techie. Nalulungkot na ako sa kasasapitan ko balang araw.


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  9. superdrupermegapuper54321…

    Very usefull info. Thanks!…


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