Originally published on The Philippine Star. Click for the full article with photos.
The night I met Katinka Simonse was the same night I was dealing with a lot of hate tweets from Charice Pempengco’s fans. Early that week I had tweeted that her stylist ‘should be shot or at least kept away from any other public person’, after I had watched an episode of X Factor Philippines which featured her in crimped hair 80s style and a black hooded bomber vest over a white t-shirt. Following classic Filipino fan twitter behavior, I was bombarded with defensive messages from her fans, the top 4 tweets being:
1. “Charice was paid to sing, not to dress up like a slut in hats and corsets”
2. “What right do you have to pick on Charice, you are just a fashion designer, not a fashion critic”
3. “Filipinos are outdated and stuck in the 3rd world. You don’t know anything about international fashion. Charice is a trendsetter”
and finally a number of tweets that were similar to this last one:
4. “Well at least Charice is not obese. Whats your BMI? #piggypiggyoinkoink”
At our dinner that evening, I was ranting about my ‘haters’ to our group that included Cecile Zamora and Carlos Celdran, both no strangers to twitter hate. Thing with me is, twitter hate amuses me to no end. I don’t get affected by anything that is said about me or at me, but I must admit that before I lost weight, the tweets that would really get to me were those that called me fat or attacked me for being overweight. I was so pleased when Katinka said shared that same feeling, that once they attack you for your weight, it really gets offensive.
Now if anyone at that dinner was an expert at dealing with hate it would be my new friend Katinka, a Dutch artist also known as Tinkebell . Seriously, the petty insults thrown my way don't even qualify next to the hate she gets, so bad and so plenty that she even turned her hate mail into a book. She has a reputation that precedes her, even in the Philippines as evidenced by my friend Ramon who saw my photos with her on facebook, and quickly sent me a message.
“Why are you hanging out with Katinka Simonse?”
“Why not? She’s nice, she likes pink like me.”
“Uhm, because she’s a world famous animal abuser??????”
I guess its hard not to jump to that conclusion if the first thing you read online is that Tinkebell killed her pet cat and skinned it and turned it into a bag. Or when you hear about her putting 100 hamsters in those hamster balls and leaving them in a gallery. The Change.org petition to give her a harsh sentence for animal abuse (it now has nearly 75,000 signatures) obviously does not mention that her cat was sick and that she chose to kill her cat herself instead of getting it euthanized at the vet because her cat was scared of the vet. It doesn’t mention how Katinka does not wear anything leather, or that she is pesco-vegetarian. Instead it says that she shreds day old chicks and has remote controlled guinea pigs. Don’t know about you, but quite frankly it sounds too ludicrous to be true, so I never bothered to ask her about it. Maybe I should have.
I personally didn’t judge, having fallen in love with a piece of hers called Cupcake – a lifesize My Little Pony (yes, the 80s toys) on roller skates made out of a real taxidermy horse, made as part of a series called the Baby Bunny Project that aimed to show how far consumer attitudes to pets can go. As far as I’m concerned, it is honestly the cutest thing in the world and I dream to have it in the middle of my house. Then again I am also someone who did a DIY taxidermy class in London out of curiosity and stuffed and sewed up a lamb. Anyway, she was cute and nice and so she became my friend.
Katinka was here in Manila for 3 weeks working on her ‘Save the Girls’ project, which was part of her ‘Save The World’ series where she travels the world and saves the world according to Dutch views. In Gambia she saved a stray dog and brought him to a Dutch dog asylum. In Peru she brightened up a village with pink paint. She saved turtles in Shanghai and IKEA-fied a home in Guinea-Bissau. Here she wanted to save 2 young Filipina prostitutes by prostituting herself by making a nude calendar of herself and giving the proceeds of her calendar to the girls. Smitten by her pony and her pinkness, I volunteered to help her and recruited Ryan and Garovs of Everywhere We Shoot to help as well. It was fun, from our trip to Burgos playing billiards with a very cute lady boy, to the actual shoot and Katinka rolling around my bed and posing in her sexy pink outfits.
On her last night here, I asked Katinka if she did everything she needed to do here, and she said proudly, “Yes. Everything.” I think she got more than the average Filipino tourist. She lived in Santa Cruz, shopped at 168, waded through the floods and even managed to do an artist talk at Carlos Celdran’s Living Room, which I heard was packed and quite animated – people grilled her and those who disagreed with her art walked out.
Walking out. If only people in the twitterverse would just do that instead of choosing to be internet trolls. (I believe that the online equivalent would just be to simply click the Unfollow button.) By the way, before I get bombarded again, for the record, I don’t hate Charice. I just hate what she wears.