Not everyone expected the Filipino word fotobam to be this year’s Filipino Word of the Year, as revealed by the University of the Philippines' Conference of the Filipinas Institute of Translation. A Filipinized version of the word photobomb, fotobam is best defined as anything unwanted intruding a photograph or a scenery.
The runners up to this year’s Filipino word of the year? Hugot and milenyal, two Filipino words often used on social media which many netizens think are more deserving of the title than fotobam, especially when you consider the fact that not a lot of Filipinos use the word fotobam:
While a lot of netizens are scratching their heads over this year’s pick, the committee selected the word for its cultural context; specifically the photobombing controversy in Luneta Park involving Torre de Manila. “It goes beyond pagiging sikat kung hindi nagkaroon siya ng significance sa kultura natin at sa ating kasaysayan," history professor Xiao Chua explained in an interview with ANC. In fact, we have been using the word for a while; there was even a documentary about the word itself.
So how do we make use of fotobam (or its English equivalent) in everyday life? Let us count the ways:
1. To describe an imperfect behind-the-scenes selfie.
2. To add beauty to a subject that's already considered beautiful.
3. To describe one who is third-wheeling in a photo.
4. To describe the "feelings" of monuments being surrounded by buildings.
5. As a title, in the case of Presidential Management Staff head Bong Go.
6. As a tourist “activity”.
7. As an award (in this case, for the fish blocking the diver’s face).
8. As a way to describe a Pokemon in a photo.
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Illustration by Jana Jimenez