The #scholarshipprank began trending on TikTok last year, but it was only recently when Filipinos began to join. It was about pretending to apply for a scholarship and gaining sympathy by telling lies regarding the person being pranked, which most often ended with “hilarious” outcomes as the victim tried to respond.
Although not apparent in the videos from when this prank trended last year, the current entries by Filipinos had a noticeable pattern of appearing needy and therefore “deserving”. They first express how they are in extreme poverty, then tell how their guardians did desperate things just to sustain them, and finally reveal that they are deaf.
@echo_evangelista raulo ka talaga ate pati si lola dinamay mo😭 pasensya na sa quality #scholarshipprank ♬ original sound – Jeribol
As more and more users are hopping on this trend and an even bigger audience is finding it funny, this insensitive and regressive prank could hurt and probably even prevent progress for people whose lives it pokes fun of.
It mocks underprivileged students’ lived experiences
In the Philippines, some students have to rely on scholarships to attain formal education. In fact, a recent fundraising event was held in the United States to provide scholarships for Filipino college students “living in extreme poverty”.
The stated event revealed two things: First, there is indeed an ongoing demand for educational support among Filipino students belonging to lower-class families. Second, scholarships of this kind would most probably require prospective candidates to first prove their situation before being chosen.
Now, imagine having to go through this process just to gain access to tertiary education and then see people, who most probably did not need to experience it, making fun of your hardships.
It is counterproductive to the aim of proving that PWDs are capable
Most Filipino entries for this trend included the lie telling that the person they were pranking was deaf. It’s insensitive as it ridicules deaf people’s usual way of uttering sounds. But even worse than that, it was also counterproductive to advancing the idea that persons with disabilities (PWDs) can also be proficient students and members of the workforce.
For instance, PWD lawyer Arsenio Caballero Jr believes that what they need is the right to aid and not charity because they are “capable members of society and not just persons to be pitied.” Moreover, there was an initiative from the members of the PWD community to encourage their members to become “productive citizens rather than suffer in silence and depend on others”.
These people exert great efforts to motivate their members and break the stigma surrounding them. Using their disabilities as a springboard to induce fleeting laughs (or worse, pity) through this trash trend is like a slap to their faces.
May this be a reminder that while the nature of pranks is to make people laugh, achieving it should never be at the cost of bringing other people down–especially the marginalized ones. The reality had already been too harsh to them; making fun of their lived experiences would only make it worse.
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