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Online sensations take centerstage anew in second YouTube FanFest

Gab Valenciano. (Photo by Yummie Dingding/InterAksyon)

Even as they made their names through viral videos that captured the imaginations of netizens worldwide, some of the most popular YouTube sensations in the world believe there’s still no substitute for a personal rendezvous with their fans.

For American Connor Franta, who openly came out in a viral 2014 video called “Coming Out” that generated over 10 million views and recently won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite YouTube Star, meeting his Filipino fans for the first time during the recent “YouTube FanFest” event at the World Trade Center in Pasay City is a big deal.

“The viewers and fans in the Philippines have always been supportive of me. I’m particularly excited to finally have the opportunity to meet them in person,” the 23-year-old Wisconsin native enthused during the event.

Franta is just one of the headliners of the second staging of the much-anticipated event that also included other YouTube stars like Tiffany Alvord, Tyler Ward, Tanner Patrick, Chinese-Australian Wengie and Filipino-Americans AJ Rafael, Alex Wassabi, and The Filharmonic.

Alex Wassabi, who now boasts of over a million YouTube subscribers thanks in large part to his “Wassabi Wednesday” comedy videos, is likewise elated to meet his Pinoy fans.

I’ve always felt a strong connection to my Filipino fans. They got me to where I am today so it’s a dream come true to finally meet them,” he said.

Like last year’s “YouTube FanFest,” this year’s foreign visitors were complemented by homegrown online sensations that included rapper Abra, comedians Bogart the Explorer, Lloyd Cafe Cadena and Mikey Bustos and dancer Gab Valenciano.

Initially known as the son of Gary Valenciano, the artist dubbed as Mr. Pure Energy, the now U.S.-based Gab has come into his own in recent years and many doors have opened for him as a result of his viral Super Selfie video series.

He has since danced in a music video to promote the film, “Pitch Perfect 2,” has directed a music video of “American Idol” sensation Jessica Sanchez and has co-choreographed Beyonce’s “7/11” video for which he was nominated for an MTV Music Video award for.

Filipino-Canadian singer and comedian Mikey Bustos is another YouTube sensation who was thrilled to be part of “YouTube FanFest.”

“This is a great way for YouTubers and Filipino fans to come together and celebrate in a unique way, kinda like how green mango and bagoong come together to celebrate in the mouth,” he deadpanned.

Certified YouTube stars pose for a photo during the recent YouTube Fan Fest at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. (Photo by Dems Angeles/InterAksyon)

In addition to the performances of their favorite YouTube stars, fans were also treated to the “YouTube Creator Fair” which featured theme booths that allowed fans to experience creating their own video content.

Founded in 2005, YouTube pioneered the concept of video-sharing and is now considered by many fans as an alternative to television thanks in large part to its easy-to-access streaming videos shared by millions of its subscribers. YouTube is a subsidiary of Google.

(With a report by Yummie Dingding)