Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell

It caught our attention from the videos we’ve seen on YouTube of foreigners promoting the Philippine culture at the busy streets of Manila. Along the way of enjoying the very entertaining videos, it felt like these guys are half Filipinos. And we are right. Today, we will be interviewing Filipino-Canadian Michael McDonnell.

Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell | Cebu Finest
Michael Lorete McDonnell [Photo credit: Island Media Asia]

Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell

Disclaimer: This post was originally published on this website last October 26, 2013. The response of our interviewee might not be relevant and current. However, we are hoping that you still enjoy our featured interview with Boholano-Canadian model and YouTuber, Michael McDonnell.

We might have been familiar with the fashion and ramp model, Daniel Marsh. We are also familiar with him being half Filipino half Irish. And most definitely, his mom is from Cebu. So, Daniel is Cebuano.

Luckily, we have the opportunity to interview one of the guys from Island Media Asia (that’s what they call their group of foreigners who are all half Filipinos) to share the stories that encouraged them to do these amazing things on YouTube, and on social media in general.

Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell | Cebu Finest
[Photo credit: Island Media Asia]

Introduce yourself and where you came from. Current job/career and things that made you busy these days.

Michael McDonnell. I’m half Filipino and half Canadian. I was born in Vancouver, Canada, but grew up in Bohol. I stayed in Bohol for 7 years and then went back to Canada. My first language was Cebuano, or more specifically Boholano, but it’s the same thing really. I moved back to the Philippines in 2009 and stayed there for a year, back and forth until it became more permanent this time around. Currently, I’m living in Makati working as a full-time model, for the ramp, print, and commercials.

What’s the story behind creating Island Media Asia, your video documentary on promoting our country, and who/what encouraged you to do so?

Well I’ve always been an avid editor when it comes to videos, and when I met the rest of the members of IMA while modeling, that’s when everything really came together. We wanted to showcase the Philippines and what we love about it, and naturally just experiencing the culture was the premise of all our videos. So when we put together what we loved which was videos and the Philippines, mixed with us guys who shared the same passion, then the outcome became Island Media Asia (IMA).

About creating the videos

What was your first video all about and why did you come up with such a concept?

Our first video ever was selling buko juice in the streets of Makati. We wanted to do something that reflected what we saw every day and buko juice was a perfect idea. We spent several hours selling it because we really wanted to know how it’s like, we wanted to get a genuine experience from it, something we can take with us, as well as convey to others.

Tell us your experience about what you felt after creating the video and what made you decide to continue doing it?

We really liked what we were doing, we found it to be exciting and a lot of fun, so a follow-up video was definitely in-store already. But what really keeps us going and going is really all the positive comments, it’s our fans who motivate us to keep doing what we enjoy. We do it for fans, we really do appreciate all their support.

Do you have challenges or limitations in creating your first ever video?

Of course there were challenges in making our first video, the hardest barrier to overcome was confidence. It may seem like it’s easy but the first thing out of anything is always the hardest. At that time we had no formula to follow, we were making it as we were going along, so a lot of it was unknown territory. But the good thing is, we got strength from each other and that’s what made it a success. When the second episode came around, we already had the formula to follow, so we basically just followed in our own footsteps.

Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell | Cebu Finest
[Photo credit: Island Media Asia]

Your video on selling buko juice on the street is a hit on YouTube? What can you say about it and what did you feel about the reactions of the people seeing you selling buko juice?

Buko juice was one of our harder episodes, at that point we were still refining how we act in front of the camera. Of course, we want it to be as genuine as possible but once the camera starts rolling, it’s slightly harder to stay normal. Eventually, after being so engrossed in the activity we just forgot it was there, and just became natural. Each episode we do really helps to refine our personality to others, it’s all about conveying how you feel that people will start to know and understand you.

What video documentary did you make that challenged you the most? The video documentary that you think is the funniest?

One of our most challenging videos is definitely the pedicab episodes. Pedicab means a tricycle that you peddle on foot, slightly confusing at first for me because in Bohol Pedicabs is just another word for Tricycle. It was difficult because I had to peddle it all the way to the destination, and not just that, but also against traffic, counterflow is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Grabe!

One of the funniest I think was showering in Public with a Poso. A lot of people were smiling and laughing as they pass us. Some even took pictures, but the good thing is there were a lot of smiles. Perhaps those things need shower curtains, hahaha.

About the members

All of you (majority of the members) are half Filipinos. What impact did this give you on creating the videos while you interact with people on the streets?

It just happened that all of us are half Filipinos, and while it’s no coincidence it doesn’t mean we only wanted halfies. Naturally, people who have something in common have a connection, and even more, so that we were all modeling and had moved to the Philippines.

Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell | Cebu Finest
[Photo credit: Island Media Asia]

Did you experience unusual reactions from people when they learned that you do modeling when you’re not shooting your video documentaries?

No, people weren’t really surprised, they always say, “you should be an artista”, hahaha. Getting there pero mahirap talaga. Or lisod mag artista, dili man diay sayun, dili lang basta-basta.

What do you usually do when you’re off-cam? Like real brothers, do you guys have fights, too?

We definitely get into disagreements but just verbally and doesn’t result in anything serious. We try our best to stay close like brothers and be a family. All our family members are abroad, and we’re all here alone, so we really just have each other to turn to.

About future projects

Are you planning to create a video here in Cebu?

We would love to do a video in Cebu, it’s one of our goals. We’d like to shoot something in Colon, or Opon in Lapu-Lapu. We have a few ideas, so the next time we’re in Cebu, we’ll be sure to make some time for it.

Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell | Cebu Finest
[Photo credit: Island Media Asia]

What places would you like to go when you travel here in Cebu in the future?

I always enjoy going to Kawasan Falls, it’s one of my favorite places to go. But I’d also love to go to Bantayan or Malapascua Island. I just love beaches, especially remote ones with not a lot of people.

When you hear “Cebu”, what thing comes first to mind?

SINULOG!!! One of my favorite festivals, I try not to miss it every year, and am usually sad when I don’t get to go. It’s always on my things to do each year. I love the people and the atmosphere.

Sinulog is one of Cebu’s amazing festivals. Did anyone from the group experience it aside from Daniel and Charlie who came from Cebu and you from Bohol? When are the other members visiting Cebu to experience the festivities?

Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell | Cebu Finest
[Photo credit: Island Media Asia]

Only me, Charlie, and Daniel have had a chance to enjoy Sinulog. The rest of the gang are expected to partake of it next year. We’re excited and can’t wait!

What will be your upcoming projects for Island Media Asia?

When we first started, we were making videos every month, but now we are producing videos every week when our schedule allows. We’re always up to something new each week, and you can be sure it will have something to do with Filipino culture.

We upload all our videos to our YouTube, you can find it at, you can catch all our silly antics there.

Message for the readers/fans

Hey guys! Subscribe to our videos on YouTube if you want to stay updated with us. We’re all half Pinoys but 100% proud. Sa mga Bisaya out there, subscribe ha! Naa mi sa karong Sinulog, pangita-a lang mi. Sigi, kita kits! Amping amping lang.

Getting to know Island Media Asia (Part 1): Michael McDonnell | Cebu Finest
[Photo credit: Island Media Asia]

There you go, guys!

We hope you enjoy our interview with Michael.

ALSO READ: Lapu-Lapu City, the Historic Resort City

Check our website for another interview of the guys from Island Media Asia as they make more videos on YouTube and might visit your town for amazing adventures.

For more details about this feature, join the Official Island Media Asia Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter (@IslandMediaAsia).

Subscribe to the Island Media Asia YouTube Page. Also, like Michael McDonnell Facebook Page.

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