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Joel Mondina: From promdi to Pinoy online sensation

by | Feature

Many vloggers, or video bloggers, use this as a channel to reach out to their audience and tell stories that the viewers will find relatable and funny.

They’re mostly known among overseas Filipinos whose good night sleep wouldn’t be complete without watching their hilarious, often naughty, videos on social media.

One of the most-watched vloggers today is Joel Villanueva Mondina, better known as Pambansang Kolokoy to his 1.3 million followers on Facebook, who makes his followers laugh out loud! But what people don’t know is that before his name skyrocketed to fame, he was a simple ‘promdi’ before he moved to the United States.

Mondina shared tales of his humble beginnings with The Filipino Times.

Proud child of OFWs

The online vlogger was born in La Union but he spent most of his childhood days in Baguio City.

“Actually, ipinanganak ako sa La Union. Doon ako tumira hanggang nag-Kinder ako. After Kinder, lumipat kami ng Baguio. So, from Grade 1 hanggang 3rd year high school, don na kami nag-stay sa Baguio hanggang sa lumipat kami dito sa US. Doon na din ako sa Baguio natuto mag-tagalog kasi dati, Ilocano talaga ‘yung salita ko,” he told TFT in an exclusive interview.

Mondina, a proud child of OFW parents, shared that his father moved to the United States when he was still young. His mother eventually followed his father abroad, so he and his younger brother grew up in the care of their grandmother.

“‘Yung buhay namin dyan sa Pilipinas, okay lang naman kasi nauna na yung parents namin dito sa Amerika. Two years old pa lang ako nung naunang pumunta yung tatay ko, tapos nasa tiyan pa ng nanay ko ‘yung bunso kong kapatid. After 14 years, sumunod na din ‘yung nanay ko.

“Nung nasa Amerika silang dalawa, ‘yung lola namin yung naging guardian namin. Hanggang 3rd year high school ako sa Pilipinas pero hindi ko na natapos kasi dito na namin sa Amerika ipinagpatuloy ‘yung pag-aaral namin. That was 1994,” he recalled.

Mondina said that the distance between him and his parents did not affect the early stages of his life.

“Hindi ko naman masasabi na mahirap kasi hindi naman nagkulang ‘yung lola namin sa amin, at saka ‘yung parents ko, hindi rin sila nagkulang sa amin. Natural lang naman ‘yan na ‘yung parents mo nasa malayo nagtatrabaho, so siyempre lahat ng gusto mo binibigay nila sa ‘yo. So parang masarap na masakit. Masarap kasi nabibigay nila ‘yung gusto mo pero masakit kasi malayo sila,” he said.

Starting a new life in the US

Credit: Joel Villanueva Mondina Facebook

The online celebrity narrated that his family moved to the United States when he was only around 15 years old. He said that the Filipino community in the States helped him to adapt quickly to his new life abroad.

“Ang unang-una kong ginawa nung nag-high school ako dito, naghanap agad ako ng mga Pilipino. Naghanap ako ng mga Pilipinong estudyante don sa school namin tapos nakipagkilala ako, nakipagkaibigan ako,” he added.

Mondina also said that he adapted the “typical” student life in the United States, where in high school students would work part-time jobs.

“Nagtrabaho ako hanggang sa makatapos ako ng high school. Tapos, nag-take ako ng two years sa college. Pagkatapos noon, nagtrabaho na ako ng full-time. Tuloy-tuloy na ‘yon,” he narrated.

Credit: Joel Villanueva Mondina Facebook

He also disclosed that even though his life in the US was not easy, he had no regrets or complains since he and his family were able to live a happy life. Mondina said that he met his wife, Marites, in the US as well.

“Ilocano Tatang” before “Pambansang Kolokoy”

More than 10 years after he migrated to the US, he started a Facebook fan page with his son, Chris Jian, called Father/Son Duo. He said that it all randomly started with an app on iTunes that he and his son decided to use to create videos.

Credit: Joel Villanueva Mondina Facebook

He recalled how difficult it was to gain viewers and likers at first, but Mondina and his son decided to continue this as video making became their bonding time. He also followed trends, such as making Dubsmash videos, just to make his work reach a wider audience.

Mondina found his big break when his Ilocano Tatang videos went viral in November 2015.

“Doon naman ako nakilala, bilang Ilacanong Tatang o Ilocanong Ama. Gumagawa ako ng mga skits na makaka-relate ang mga parents at mga anak nila.”

Credit: Joel Villanueva Mondina Facebook

More on his life in part II of this article!

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

FOLLOW US

SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTER

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