In one week, this coming Sunday, we celebrate the Independence Day of the Philippines. By celebrate, of course, it’s time once again for #RP612Fic. Those of you who have participated before know the drill, but I’ve updated the primer a little this year, so both old hands and mystified newbies may want to read on.
What is #RP612fic?It’s Filipino creators coming together on Twitter to celebrate Philippine Independence Day vial alternative history, creating tweet-length stories, or attaching images or .GIFs (or any media really) and sending them out into the wild with the #RP612fic hashtag. (I used to explain what a hashtag is here, but it’s 2016 guys.)
How do I join with art? Just send the pics out on social media with the hashtag #RP612Fic. Here are some examples from Studio Salimbal.
When did it begin? In 2009, and we’ve been doing it annually ever since.
Who started it? That’d be me, Paolo Chikiamco, of Rocket Kapre and Studio Salimbal.
So you control it? Uhm. No. You can’t control how a hashtag is used on Twitter. And especially not when it has hundreds of thousands of Tweets. Did you know that for a while we were the #1 Twitter Trend in the entire world (not just the Philippines) in 2014?
So what’s your role? Aside from founding the event, and archiving the (early) content, I basically remind people when it’s almost that time of the year, and occasionally explain to people that, no, Rizal didn’t actually come back from the dead to become part of a meme.
What do memes have to do with alternate history? One of the most popular ways of re-imagining historical figures/events is by mixing them up with contemporary pop culture, and memes are a part of contemporary pop culture.
Isn’t that disrespectful to our national heroes? I hardly think they mind. In fact, I’d assume most would be happy to have a society where this kind of silly remembrances are allowed. Many of our national heroes were revolutionaries, which means they didn’t place much stock in sacred cows — I don’t think they should be turned into those themselves.
Will this bother some people? Sure, but no one is required to participate, and there are ways to mute a hashtag on Twitter (Google is your friend).
At the end of the day, #RP612Fic is a way some of us choose to celebrate June 12, in a manner that actually has some relation to history (rather than, I don’t know, having a shoe sale). Personally, I love the tweets/stories/images that are closer to what most people would recognize as alternate history — I love, for example, learning about heroes and events that I otherwise wouldn’t have, because people used them in an #RP612Fic story — but the hashtag has a life of its own, and as long as people are having good natured fun with it, I’m happy.
That being said, there are a few best practices that should be emphasized.
Best practices? Glad you asked! As I said, there is no way for me to control what people use the hashtag for, or how they use it. I can’t police the damn thing, but as its founder what I can tell you what kinds of acts aren’t part of the spirit of #RP612Fic — most of these are bad form anyway, and should be common sense, but here we go:
* Credit Creators / Don’t Plagiarize: There are easy ways to share a tweet or image in a way that acknowledges the original creator. Don’t rip off other people because you want to be popular for the fifteen minutes it takes for the Internet to realize what you did. Like I said, it’s easy to find the original creators, which means it’s very easy to prove that you’re a plagiarist, which is a label that kind of sticks. Pro Tip: If you want to be popular, don’t make yourself a pariah.
* Don’t Harass: You want to do slash fic for #RP612Fic — go for it! Don’t put your ultra-religious next door neighbor in it because his dog shit on your door mat (again). Of course if your next door neighbor is a public figure and you’re making a point about his stance on LGBT rights, then that’s likely the kind of satire a public figure has to deal with, but not Juan from next door… even if he has a literally shitty dog.
* All in Good Fun: This is an election year, and that can bring out the worst in people. Sometimes this is righteous anger and justified, and #RP612Fic could be just the escape valve you need… but at the end of the day, I created #RP612Fic to be a celebration, so do it because you find it fun — not just for you, but for Filipinos who may have very different beliefs from yours. If you’re going to participate, you need to be willing to see those ideas / fics / people on your timeline — and if you don’t want that, then opt out. God knows there are many other ways that you can celebrate independence — taking care of your own well-being is more important than participating in #RP612Fic, no matter how cool it is.
So when does #RP612Fic begin this year? People use the hashtag year round nowadays, but the bulk of the tweets traditionally come from 6PM on June 11, to 6AM of June 13.
Can I interview you about #RP612Fic for — Not this year! But feel free to use anything you find in this primer.