If you’re feeling down in the dumps and in need of good vibes, try checking out the latest sensation in the online world: Ryniel Pineda’s dance videos on TikTok. The 33-year-old dance fanatic has been providing entertainment to TikTok users since April. So far, he has uploaded over 700 videos and garnered over 581,000 followers and 4.7 million likes.
It’s not hard to see why he’s attracting a lot of attention. There’s no way watching him dance to Industry’s “State of the Nation” or Errol Brown’s “This Time It’s Forever” won’t get you out of the blues. Stressing over a looming deadline? Just watch him shake his booty to BlackPink and Selena Gomez’s “Ice Cream,” or flex some retro dance moves to the tune of BTS’ “Dynamite.”
Ryniel, or simply Nel, makes all his videos at work, which is a dialysis center in Butuan City. Most of his videos are shot inside the clinic, or at the entrance gate, in a free parking space, or in the area where he is stationed. Which is why he is always just in his blue and white uniform.
Ryniel says he was encouraged to try Tiktok because there’s a nurse in the hospital who’s into the short-form video app. “Sinubukan ko lang at nag-enjoy naman ako,” he tells ANCX in a phone interview. He admits the 12-hour duty (5am to 5pm) can be tiring, and TikTok gives him a fun and relaxing diversion. “Ginagawa ko ang pagti-TikTok sa oras ng breaktime ko or after ng duty. Bawal siya sa oras ng trabaho,” he clarifies. “Nare-relax ako sa pagsasayaw. Nawawala ang problema at pagod ko, at madami ding natutuwa sa ginagawa ko.”
Ryniel likes the fact that anyone can showcase their talent in Tiktok—no matter what age, gender, and stature in life. He even gets to flex his comedy chops by doing Tiktok dubs.
No stranger to dancing
Nel started dancing in Grade 5. He was part of dance groups who performed and joined contests in Cebu where he grew up. “Madami din po kaming napanalunan sa Cebu. Naging champion, naging sikat din po kami dati,” he tells me. He sent me a photo where he and his group mates performed a Jabbawockeez number.
But then life happens. Their group disbanded when their manager fell ill. Nel eventually moved to Butuan where he is now based with his wife and eight-year-old son.
Nel used to choreograph for cheerdancers back in Cebu. But in TikTok, he simply copies the dances uploaded by other creators, like his idols Vhong Navarro and Jhong Hilario.
“Wala na din akong oras mag-create ng sarili kong choreography dahil talagang pagod na sa trabaho. Kaya kung may magustuhan akong dance, titingnan ko ng sandali, then sasayawin ko na agad. Wala din naman akong time mag-practice.” Despite this, however, “Sa awa ng Diyos, nagta-top one ang mga videos ko,” he says, his voice thick with pride.
Now that he has a following on TikTok, he’s become aware of the pressure of having an audience and maintaining it. Nel makes it a point to upload 3 to 7 videos a day. He says he better keep up with the demands of his fans. “Kasi kapag di ka nakapag-upload ng isang araw, sa susunod di ka na ulit mapapansin.”
Unlike the time he was dancing a lot, the nature of his current job has caused him to put on some weight. That’s why he thought this is where dancing can help. “Nung nasa IP dance group ako, talagang payat ako. Nung pumasok ako sa pagiging guard, doon ako tumaba. Kaya ko din naisip na sumayaw-sayaw, kasi para mabawasan ang katabaan ko.”
His extra weight adds to the total awesomeness of his moves, though, especially when he does a Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion twerk, like it’s the most natural thing for a security guard to do.
Life hasn’t been easy for Nel. His parents separated when he was four, so he grew up under the care of his grandmother. He was only five when he last saw his father—who passed away in 2014. Growing up, he did all sorts of jobs: janitor, dishwasher, cook, member of a production staff. “Tinutulungan ko din ang lola ko sa karinderya niya. Yun ang bumuhay sa amin,” he shares. He would perform in events and choreograph dances just to earn extra cash.
He was able to take up a hotel and restaurant management course but only for two semesters. For the past three years, though, he’s been a security guard. “[Ang paggagwardya] ang pinakamadaling pasukan. Mahirap ang buhay,” he tells me.
But despite the hardships, Nel maintains a positive disposition, his wife Juvilyn tells me. “Masayahin sya, masarap kasama. Mawawala ang problema mo lalo na kung makikita mo sa pagsasayaw nya. Napakadami nyang energy. Go lang sa buhay, positive lang. Mapagmahal din siyang ama at asawa.”
I asked Nel what his dream in life is, and in his answer I can almost picture that happiness Juvilyn just described to me. “Talagang pinapangarap kong sumikat sa pagsasayaw, kahit dati pa. Gusto kong magamit ang talent ko at mai-share ito sa iba. Pangarap ko ding maka-showdown ang mga idols kong sina Jhong at Vhong,” he says.
Six months ago, Rynel was only a security guard in a dialysis center in Butuan—now he’s an instant celebrity with half a million followers. Who’s to say his dreams aren’t possible?