'Pa Shout-out Po': Understanding this Online Obsession

Have you ever wondered why Filipinos are so obsessed with "shout-outs" on live streams?

In the age of social media, Filipinos have taken the concept of "shout-outs" to a whole new level. It's not uncommon to see individuals, often referred to as "shout-out hosts," giving shout-outs to people on social media livestreams. But what is the reason behind this peculiar fascination with getting shout-outs? In this article, we will delve into the cultural roots, the evolution of shout-outs, and the possible future of this phenomenon.

The Origins

The term "shout-out" is now a household word in the Philippines, thanks to the explosion of social media and live streaming platforms. A shout-out typically involves someone, often the host or broadcaster, giving a public acknowledgment to an individual by mentioning their name or a short message during a live stream or broadcast. This practice has become increasingly popular on platforms like Facebook and YouTube and even extends to bootleg NBA game broadcasts. Before we explore the cultural roots of this fascination, let's first define the term and look at its etymology.


The term "shout-out" or "shoutout" is a blend of "shout" and "out." It essentially means calling out or acknowledging someone in a public manner. The origin of this term is firmly rooted in the rise of social media and online content creation.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is a public expression of greeting, praise, or acknowledgement directed toward a person or group often as part of a performance, recording, or broadcast. It can be used both as a noun and a verb.

Interestingly, it can be traced back as early as 1862 in the southern United States where African-American congregations sang gospel songs, which they referred to as shouts. These churches were themselves known as shouters. There are nine synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for shout-out: vociferate, call, yell, holler, hollo, shout, cry, scream, and squall. However, only shout-out became the catch-all phrase for someone who wanted their names to be heard by everyone.

In the modern age, it was African-American performers in the hip-hop and R&B genres during the late 1980s and 1990s popularized the phrase. In 1983, DJ Ralph McDaniels had a show on WLIW in NYC called "Video Music Box". It was the original hip-hop music video program and he would use the term as a sort of catchphrase for people to say hello over the airwaves to their friends and family. He called it a "shout-out."

It is said to have been used even earlier than that of Video Music Box. There was another pioneering hip-hop radio DJ named Red Alert who hosted his own show on 98.7 Kiss FM. During his show, he would take calls and instruct the caller to "Shout 'em out," which means greetings and salutations to a person or location, e.g. your significant other, family, your neighborhood, etc. It was later picked up by McDaniels later on.

Cultural Roots

To understand why Filipinos are so obsessed with getting shout-outs, we must delve into the cultural roots of this phenomenon. Filipinos have a strong sense of community and connection, and shout-outs provide a way for individuals to feel recognized and connected to a broader audience. Even before the Internet, Filipinos had a penchant for being acknowledged publicly.

Bayanihan Spirit: The "bayanihan" spirit is a fundamental aspect of Filipino culture. It refers to the communal unity and cooperation within communities to achieve a common goal. Filipinos have a long history of helping one another and coming together, especially in times of need. Shout-outs reflect this spirit by acknowledging and celebrating individuals within the community, fostering a sense of togetherness and shared identity.

Strong Sense of Family: Family holds a central place in Filipino culture. It's not just limited to immediate family but extends to extended family and even close friends. Shout-outs are a way to connect with and recognize family members, friends, and loved ones, whether they are near or far. This strong familial connection is deeply rooted in Filipino culture and values.

Oral Tradition: Filipino culture has a rich history of oral tradition, storytelling, and oral literature. Shout-outs can be seen as an extension of this tradition. In the past, stories, knowledge, and information were passed down through generations via spoken word. Shout-outs serve as a contemporary means of verbal communication and acknowledgment.

Hospitality and Warmth: Filipinos are known for their warmth and hospitality. They often go out of their way to make guests feel welcome and appreciated. Shout-outs are a digital form of this hospitality, where individuals make others feel valued and recognized. It's a way to express gratitude and show appreciation, reflecting the cultural norms of the Philippines.

Influence of Radio Broadcasting: Shout-outs have historical roots in the realm of radio broadcasting. Before the internet and social media, radio was a primary source of entertainment and information in the Philippines. Late-night radio shows and music programs would often include shout-outs where people could request songs and have their names mentioned on the air. This practice created a sense of community and shared experiences among listeners.

Religious and Festive Traditions: Many Filipino festivals and religious events involve public acknowledgments and celebrations. Whether it's a religious fiesta, a town festival, or a family celebration, shout-outs are commonly used to express gratitude and recognition. The religious and festive traditions of the Philippines have had a significant influence on the practice of shout-outs.

Sense of Belonging: Filipinos have a deep desire for belonging and being part of a larger community. Shout-outs fulfill this need by providing a sense of inclusion and connectedness. In a diverse and culturally rich country like the Philippines, shout-outs create a shared space for people from different backgrounds to come together.

The Golden Age of Radio

Before the Internet, Filipinos had other avenues for getting their names mentioned in public spaces. They often made song requests on radio stations, which would be accompanied by a shout-out to the person making the request. This practice was particularly popular during late-night radio shows and helped create a sense of camaraderie among listeners.

Additionally, talk radio programs that offered relationship advice, life coaching, and public discussions allowed individuals to call in and have their voices heard on the airwaves. Getting their names mentioned on these programs not only validated their existence but also served as a means of showing off to friends and family that they had made it to the radio waves.

Just as the term became quite common in the United States, Filipinos were introduced to the phenomenon later on as we got exposed to more American pop culture on the radio with the next generation of radio DJs picking up the catchphrase and using it to great effect. Unlike television, listeners have direct communication with the DJ via telephone so that they can request specific songs, send out greetings, and even talk live on the airwaves.

The DJs played a crucial role in establishing a personal connection with their listeners. They would mention the names of those who sent in song requests and shout-outs, creating a sense of intimacy and community. This connection made listeners feel valued and acknowledged. In an age before social media, shout-outs on the radio became a form of social engagement. Listeners would eagerly wait for their shout-outs to be read on the airwaves, and it was a source of excitement and enjoyment. It allowed people to communicate with a wide audience without the need for face-to-face interactions.

The shout-out culture on the radio also had cultural significance. It aligned with the Filipino tradition of expressing gratitude and acknowledgment publicly, which is deeply ingrained in Filipino customs and values. Shout-outs served as a way to publicly recognize the importance of friends, family, and loved ones. The practice of shout-outs contributed to community building within the listening audience. It created a sense of belonging and camaraderie, as people could share their experiences and connect with others who were going through similar situations.

The Rise of Social Media

The advent of social media and live streaming has transformed the "shout-out culture." Today, many Filipinos eagerly tune in to live streams and pay shout-out hosts to get their names mentioned in front of a live audience. This has become a form of digital social validation and a way to connect with a wider community.

Even more intriguingly, some streamers have found innovative ways to monetize this practice. Bootleg NBA game broadcasters on Facebook, for instance, have leveraged shout-outs to generate income. Viewers who send virtual gifts or tips often receive a shout-out in return, creating a symbiotic relationship between content creators and their audience.

Some of these live streams promote online gambling sites

Since not everyone has access to live NBA games on TV and mobile, many have chosen to watch it on bootleg sites and live streams on Facebook. It's interesting to see why some people would choose the latter even if it's covered with unnecessary text overlays like the "donation counter" and the name of the top donor. Well, the thing is...the live stream is not hidden under a paywall like that of the NBA app and other local streaming sites. Oddly, some people offer bigger donations to bootleg sites and even legit businesses advertise it there. The truth is, that big NBA games involving the most popular teams drive in a lot of people so more "paid shout-outs" are going to happen.

The live stream experience can be divisive - some people like it while others hate it. If you want to watch the game properly without all the distractions then it's not for you. Others love the social component of watching it since you can taunt and talk smack to other teams' fans. On the other hand, you get to hear your name or message broadcast live for all viewers to see.

It also coincided with the rise of social media influencers and content creators wherein they use "shout-outs" to gratify their followers and make as much money as possible effortlessly. Moreover, many of them have even abused the use of "shout-outs" as a currency to get as many free goods and services as possible.

Foreign YouTubers and Internet celebrities have also capitalized on the "shout-out" culture as a way to bait Filipinos to watch their streams, follow their social media accounts, and stay loyal. Filipino baiting is a way to get more engagement.

The Future

As technology continues to advance, the "shout-out" culture in the Philippines is likely to evolve further. With the rise of virtual reality, augmented reality, and other immersive technologies, the way Filipinos seek and experience shout-outs may change. These changes will likely be driven by the desire for even more personalized and engaging interactions on digital platforms.

The obsession with getting shout-outs among Filipinos is a fascinating cultural phenomenon deeply rooted in a strong sense of community and connection. From radio shout-outs to the digital age of social media, the desire to be recognized and acknowledged in public spaces remains a constant. As technology continues to evolve, the way shout-outs are sought and delivered will undoubtedly change, but the core human desire for connection and recognition will remain a driving force behind this unique Filipino practice.

Shout-out to the Filipinos for their unwavering sense of community and their creative ways of connecting in the digital world.

"Giving a shoutout to shout (and homie)," by Warren Clemens. The Globe and Mail.
Shout-out Definition. Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Shout-out. Wiktionary.
"The origin of ‘shout-out’," by Faye Valencia. NewsBytes.PH.



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Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger: 'Pa Shout-out Po': Understanding this Online Obsession
'Pa Shout-out Po': Understanding this Online Obsession
Have you ever wondered why Filipinos are so obsessed with "shout-outs" on live streams?
Istoryadista | History Blog | Cebu Blogger
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