HomeFilipino AmericanJo Koy celebrates his Filipino heritage in Netflix special

Jo Koy celebrates his Filipino heritage in Netflix special

Andrew Lopez (left) and Joey Guila join Jo Koy in the Philippines for the Netflix special “Jo Koy: In His Elements.”

Views from the Edge

Taped in Manila, Jo Koy’s newest Netflix comedy special is an ode to the Philippines and Filipinos. It is where he spent part of his childhood, learned to speak, ride the jeepneys, a uniquely Filipino mode of public transportation, and to speak Tagalog.

“This was something I’ve been wanting to do since the beginning of my career. I’ve always wanted to do a special show in the Philippines where it was variety driven… Everything was Filipino. The venue was Filipino, the audience was Filipino,” he told CNN.

“In between each segment, we get to showcase something about the Philippines — whether it be riding a jeepney or eating some food. Just highlighting our culture and our people just enough so people will get to see what the Philippines is all about,” he said.

Premiering on the streaming network Thursday, June 12, the Philippines’ Independence Day, was no accident.

Koy celebrates his heritage by telling jokes about life as a Filipino American while highlighting the culture of Manila. Koy uses this opportunity to shine a light on other Filipino American performers by welcoming to the stage famed breakdancer Ronnie, Grammy-winning producer !llmind, singer/songwriter Inigo Pascual, and comedians Andrew Lopez, Joey Guila and Andrew Orolfo.

“One thing that was beautiful about going back to the Philippines is them understanding where their parents came from. When you live in America, we’re spoiled. Sometimes it takes just going back and really seeing where your parents came from and what they gave up so you can have a better opportunity,” the comedian said.

Koy took his Filipino American guests to tenements in Taguig, where residents live in cramped quarters. He said the living conditions opened their eyes to how much they can do for their countrymen.

“There was a point where we would yell ‘Cut!’ and we’re all just like, damn we got to do more, we got to raise money, we got to help,” Koy told CNN.

When he returned to the US with his family, it reinforced his appreciation for his roots. “I always found myself, especially back then during that time (growing up in the late 1970s and early ’80s), every time I said that I was Filipino, no one knew what it was, you know? I always felt like I was an ambassador. … I felt like I’ve been doing that my whole life. I feel like I’m still doing that to this day. I’ve got a huge platform now. I got a lot of fans that aren’t Filipino and maybe at the end they all go, “Hey, let’s go visit the Philippines. It looks like a fun place.”

Koy added, “It opens up your eyes and you really appreciate everything. That’s what I hope we can show with this special, show everybody that if you can help, help. If there’s an opportunity to uplift, then uplift. Use your platform wisely. I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to talk to millions of people so I wanna be able to use that platform.” Jo Koy: In his Element airs on Netflix beginning June 12.

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