Millions of guys are watching this Pinoy architect for the construction tips and Tito jokes 2
Llyan Oliver Austria reacts to videos of celebrity homes and dispenses lessons on architecture while at it. Screengrab from Austria's YouTube channel.
Culture

Millions of guys are watching this Pinoy architect for the construction tips and Tito jokes

Meet Llyan Oliver Austria, the Pinoy Architect whose house-building wisdom and  mildly amusing humor have attracted a following in the millions. By JEROME GOMEZ  
JEROME GOMEZ | Aug 27 2020

Who knew there’s an audience for moisture sealants for floor tiles and the right hollow block for your dream home? Well, the world has turned upside down and anything now is possible—including the phenomenon that is Pinoy architects and engineers as YouTube stars. 

And you can expect more of their kind to take to the video-hosting platform to share their knowledge on home construction—thanks to the success of one Llyan Oliver Austria whose channel already logs in 1.24 million subscribers last we checked, and whose most-watched video, uploaded only a month ago, has already garnered 5.7 million views. And to think the guy seemed to have only started seriously vlogging three months into quarantine. 

When you think about it, there’s nothing new about the guy’s strategy to increase following—he makes reaction videos on some of the most viewed homes on YouTube: Slater Young’s modern tropical paradise in Cebu, sexy star Ivana Alawi’s house in Bahrain, and the much publicized Team Kramer house on a hill in Antipolo. He even made an entire virtual walk-thru of his own proposed home design for Pinoy Mobile Legends player Akosi Dogie who has 4.6 million YouTube subscribers. 

Millions of guys are watching this Pinoy architect for the construction tips and Tito jokes 3
Llyan, who introduces himself as a registered and licensed architect, seems to run a one-man operation for his vlogs.

But there’s also something about Llyan, who introduces himself in his videos as a registered and licensed architect based in the Philippines. He’s likable and friendly. An Everyman who looks like he’s always ready to lend a helping hand, or a steel tape measure. Llyan is as relatable as the baseball cap he wears, and the way he addresses the celebs he features as “ma’am” and “sir.” We don’t know much about him (we still haven’t gotten a reply on our Facebook PM!) except that he likes to make Tito jokes—sometimes about his mother, mostly using puns that didn’t work in 1987 but have strangely acquired a mildly amusing quality overtime. 

Guys will geek on anything—cars, watches, font types, steaks, toy trains, and apparently, construction trivia. Why walk up ramps are better than just installing a ladder in home pools, for example (they’re safer especially for pets who might accidentally fall on the water and can’t climb the ordinary pool ladder.) The importance of a downdraft vent in the kitchen (it gets rid of unpleasant looking exhaust fans or a dangling cooking range hood). And why it’s necessary that one buys kiln dried wood if one prefers to have wooden floors in a room (to keep the wood from deforming when it happens upon moisture). 

It’s these bits of information interspersed between cheap jokes and ogling other people’s private spaces that make Pinoy Architect a new favorite among a few guys on my Facebook feed. “Benta ang corny jokes mixed with facts,” says one photographer. “Nothing is a hard sell.” 

“In fairness, ang galing ng explanations niya, ha,” says a comment on a post that links to one of Llyan’s vids. 

“Quality content and not puro pa-cute lang,” said one lady viewer. 

Before he discovered the more lucrative genre of reaction videos, Llyan’s efforts consisted of vlogs on his daily life, gadget reviews, educational videos for students—or anyone really—who want to learn more about architecture, like how-to videos for making 3D sketches. 

Millions of guys are watching this Pinoy architect for the construction tips and Tito jokes 4
Brain-blown: Llyan likes to point out the surprising architecture ideas in the different celeb homes he reacts to. 

With the success of his vlogs, Llyan has inspired others along his line of work to create their own reaction vids. There’s this guy named Maru Rico, an Overseas Filipino Worker based in California. Maru is a civil engineer who recently did a reaction piece on YouTube star Lloyd Cadena’s Internet-famous “Toblerone” stairs, which Llyan also tackled in an episode of Pinoy Architect. In his video, Maru calls Llyan his “idol.” 

“The construction part of the reviews is really helpful to students like me,” says  Angela Badiola, an architecture student from the University of the Philippines, when asked for a reaction on the, uhm, reaction videos. “Because studying about it in theory is different from seeing the actual thing.” With no opportunity to do site visits in this pandemic, I imagine videos like Llyan’s offer a virtual site visit—complete with a joke-spouting guide. 

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Edward Ventura, also an architect, commends the videos for not falling into the trap of just unnecessarily criticizing the people behind the structures he reacts to—which might also be one of the vlogs' come-ons. “For me the vlog or video has bad intentions if they criticize an architect's masterpiece. They should remember our credo, and besides every architect has their own perspective, view and interpretation.” 

For his followers, Llyan is clearly not just another annoying influencer taking space online, a douchebag with nothing useful to share except his feigned obnoxiousness. His vlogs provide a way of consuming #blessed content like local “celeb” house tours without the usual heavy serving of cheesiness. Instead, one gets solid bits of information that may or may not apply to the house you’re building in your head—the UVA-blocking virtue of a skylight window film, the advantages of being in a “corner through” lot, the smartness of an artificial turf grass in an arid place like Bahrain. Plus, there’s also the side dish of Tito jokes that take you back to your 80s tanghalians at home while not laughing at Randy Santiago’s jokes on “Lunch Date.” 

 

With additional text and reporting from Andre Dinglasan Jr.