Bretman Rock writes of colorism and how the PHL doesn’t see it as a race problem

‘I love being high.’

By Tricia J. Capistrano

“If you’re a bottom, you’re gonna have to learn to douche correctly,” writes Filipino American influencer Bretman Rock in his recently released book, “You’re That Bitch and Other Cute Lessons About Being Unapologetically Yourself.’

For  middle-aged Filipino Americans like me who are turned off by graphic sex and cursing, I ask you to give this kababayan’s collection of essays a chance.

The first few chapters are a pleasant surprise—getting ready for church every Sunday, the chaos of having Lolos, Lolas, Titas, and cousins, playing with the chickens and dogs, running around playing balay balay (Ilocano for house-house)–didn’t you do that too? Manananggal, Tiktik, and Tiyanaks–Bretman mentions them as well.

We then get to know baby Bretman, who from the beginning was gender non-conforming. He writes that his family and his hometown of Sanchez-Mira, Cagayan, accepted him as he was. “It became an everyday thing: me driving my toy truck to the marketplace with my squad of sequined Barbies riding shotgun. We’d park at my auntie’s stall and I was just that kid with an electric car and Barbies.”

The influencer, comedian, athlete, and TV host then writes about his parents’ separation, how he ended up in Hawaii, and how he surprisingly became world famous in his teens. 

As for the writing, viewers of Bretman’s YouTube videos and MTV series will find the tone and the multiple interruptions reflect Bretman’s personality. Adorably, the essays are peppered with Tagalog and Ilocano words.

On page 185 of the hardcover version, Bretman writes an ode to weed. An excerpt:

So while other people do shots, I rip bong hits

I love being high

I am much happier when I smoke weed…

I grow weed

Weed is not bad

Because Bretman wrote the book for an international audience, I didn’t expect him to speak out about the extrajudicial killing of suspected drug users in the Philippines. Perhaps the drug’s prominence in the book is a masked protest? Bretman is an example that you can smoke weed and contribute to society.

Bretman also writes about his brown skin and the Philippines’ love for skin whitening products. While hosting the Ms. Universe pageant in the Philippines, Bretman noticed that he was the only one on stage who was brown.

When he was chosen as Nylon magazine’s cover, in interviews, he said it was an opportunity to be a model for moreno children. Having grown up with mestiza cousins, I am sensitive to our native country’s colorism as well.

Family, acceptance, colorism, drug use— could these really be the issues of a shallow social media influencer? In “You’re That Bitch,” Bretman goes pretty deep.

Tricia J. Capistrano’s essays have appeared in The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star and Newsweek. She is the author of “Dingding, Ningning, Singsing and Other Fun Tagalog Words.”  Her essays were chosen as the Best Personal Essay by the Philippine American Press Club in 2017 and 2018.

Support independent bookstores! “You’re That Bitch” is available on’s Bookshop page.

(C) The FilAm 2023

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