Fil-Am, 13 lifeguards fired for 'Gangnam' video

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Sep 20 2012 04:14 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2012 12:14 AM

CALIFORNIA - Fourteen El Monte swimming pool employees who were fired over a YouTube video are getting support from the community.

The city of El Monte fired 13 lifeguards and their manager for posting a YouTube video using city property.

“It was just something hilarious and honestly, spur of the moment. We had no intentions, oh we're going to make a video. It was just something that happened. We were laughing at the video and we decided let's try to do our own spoof,” said Michael Roa, one of the fired lifeguards.

Roa, a Filipino Mexican American lifeguard, appeared and edited the video spoof of the dance hit "Gangnam Style."

The 14 employees were fired by the City of El Monte for violating work rules by using city property for the video.

The video, which features the lifeguards dancing to "Gangnam Style," had 3,000 views in its first few days. But after the controversial termination, the video went viral getting over a million views.

Support for the fired lifeguards is also growing. A Facebook page in support of the lifeguards dubbed The El Monte 14, also received over 14,000 likes.

A petition asking for the group's reinstatement has collected over 12,000 signatures. Many supporters believe the El Monte 14 was fired unjustly without a review process. 

With the attention the case has received, Roa said he now regrets that this video, which he edited, has drawn so much attention.

“Had I known my actions would threaten other people's jobs, I never would have made the video. I'm one of the employees that's been given awards over the course of seven years here and I was fired without any warning or other form of reprimanding,” he said.

With the El Monte 14 fighting for their jobs, viewing areas were set up for the community members who came to the council meeting to show support for the controversial YouTube stars.

However, some community members also spoke in favor of the city officials who fired the life guards, saying that they should have followed the rules.

The city council sat throughout the meeting which lasted hours listening to the public's comments saying that the city will open an independent investigation to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, celebrities such as Korean musician Psy and Ryan Seacrest have shown support for the group.