McDonald’s Fil-Am poster pranksters–what are they up to now?
LOS ANGELES — After pulling off a poster prank on a McDonald’s outlet in Texas, Fil-Ams Jevh Maravilla and Christian Toledo landed a well-paid spot in a McDonald’s commercial. What are they up to now?
The co-workers at a Filipino TV network in Texas drew the attention of McDonald’s, Ellen Degeneres, and various organizations, after they smuggled a poster with their own faces and surreptitiously posted it on a wall in their local McDonald’s. No one noticed the prank for some time, until they blogged about it themselves.
Christian Toledo is an immigrant from the Philippines: “When I emigrated to the US, Jevh and I met at a local Filipino TV Network where I worked as a director and he as an editor,” he said.
“As for me, I was born and raised in the U.S.,” Maravilla said, “and I am currently studying media production at the University of Houston,”.
“The director job wasn’t paying the bills so I also had to work retail and do photography on the side as well,” Toledo added.
“You know how every Filipino parent dreams that their child would grow up to be a doctor or a lawyer? Well, one of my sisters is a doctor and the other is a lawyer, but for a while, my parents are kind of more proud of me. Take that sisters! Ha, ha, ha!” exclaimed Toledo.
The two are juggling the responsibilities as student and worker, but now that they have more prominence, add to that the responsibility as Asian American ‘’poster boys.’’
Appreciation and prizes
Clearly the momentary stardom and the rewards from McDonald’s were not something they had expected, but they’ve taken advantage of them for the sake of Asian American representation in the marketing of American products and services.
“The best thing was sparking a conversation about diversity,” Toledo stressed. “Even I have experienced not getting the job I applied for even if I knew I was qualified — sometimes even over-qualified — just because I’m not a U.S .graduate.’’
For Maravilla, ‘’the whole experience and the memories, in general, is the best prize of them all.’’
‘’I would be lying if I didn’t say that the money was not part of the ‘top 3 best rewards’,” said Toledo. The duo received at $50,000 for participating in a McDonald’s marketing campaign, as a direct result of their prank.
“It gave me enough slack to not give up and try harder when I was so ready to give up,’’ Toledo said.
Toledo was able to take a break in the Philippines from the struggles of being an immigrant.
‘’I don’t think I would have had enough of my own money to go home and attend my sister’s wedding if the McDonald’s and Ellen thing didn’t happen,’’ he humbly said.
The attention given by McDonalds and others has motivated both of the young men to go after what interests them.
“I have more courage now to start a photo and video business, get better equipment and maybe relocate where the jobs are,’’ Toledo disclosed.
‘’I would still want to push for that equality as I work on my career,’’ said Maravilla on the importance of diversity in the professions.
‘’A lot of young Fil-Ams are eager to learn about Philippine culture and that just so happens to be what my BA (bachelor’s degree) was about, so I’m happy to contribute in whatever way I can,’’ Toledo said.
‘’In my personal life, this has benefited me in so many ways. One is being able to work with friends who love to make videos with me,” Maravilla beamed.
Maravilla wants to keep the momentum going . ‘’I learned a lot talking and connecting with people, not just on a professional level, but also on a personal level. Christian and I can public-speak to others who want to get inspired by our work.’’
“The best way to push for diversity is through representation. Hang out with people who inspire you and help you improve. We already have enough people (sometimes fellow Filipinos) pulling us down. Think outside the box they put you in,” reflects Toledo.
“Other Asian American youth can push by going out and supporting films, TV, shows, arts that feature Asians. The more people are interested, the more of a movement it will make,” said Maravilla.
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