MANILA — Singer-vlogger Donnalyn Bartolome defended her viral “kanto” birthday party against criticism, saying it is authentic to her real experience of growing up struggling financially.
Bartolome, who turned 28 on July 9, earlier drew controversy for a baby-themed birthday pictorial and immediately apologized for it. She, however, said she is standing by her “kanto” celebration, which went viral early this week after she chronicled the event in her vlog.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, she compiled past social media posts of hers dating back to 2013, which she presented as examples of the lifestyle she could afford. The old photos showed her commuting via jeepney and tricycle, opting for fast food due to money constraints, and eating street food like “kwek-kwek,” among others.
“That kanto birthday party is my history. These pictures are proof… I’ve always been so proud of everything I’ve been through 'cause hindi naman ako basta tumambay lang eh, nagtrabaho ako,” she wrote.
She also rebuffed allegations that she was mocking poverty by holding the party, where guests, like Bartolome, wore “kanto” attire and ate on paper plates and used plastic utensils.
“Asin ba at toyo pinakain ko sa guests ko para sabihin niyong poverty mockery? May mga milyonaryo na nagKakanto bday party because THIS IS THE FILIPINO CULTURE. Not a theme. Gusto niyo pabonggahan na party? Choice niyo yun. Walang masama sa simple o bongga basta afford mo,” she said.
According to Bartolome, the choice of channeling her “kanto” history for the party was to inspire her followers. “Ginamit ko 'tong birthday ko para magbigay lakas ng loob sa mga taong pinagdadaanan 'yung pinagdaanan ko. That there’s light at the end of the tunnel basta 'wag ka mag-Ggive up. That the key to success is to believe in yourself,” she wrote.
Bartolome emphasized that she was merely being true to herself, writing: “Bawal na ba maging ako? Nagpapakatotoo lang ako. Sino ka para pagsabihan ako na mali bumalik sa dati kong gawi? Sino ka para husgahan pagpapakilala ko sa mga new friends ko kung saan ako nanggaling?”
“I collected pics of me when I left home, payat na payat, kulang lagi pambayad ng bills at tuition fee kasi nga tumayo ako sa sarili kong paa. Mga bagay na di niyo alam kasi di niyo naman pinanood 'yung vlog eh. Nagsalita lang kayo nang wala kayong alam,” Bartolmoe said.