WATCH | Penshoppe goes all out with #IAmDifferent anti-bullying campaign

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At the I Am Different anti-bullying campaign launch of Penshoppe: From left, host Cesca Litton; Victoria Herrera, creative consultant, and co-founder of She Talks Asia; Cheyenne de la Fuente, child behavior and psychology expert; Anne Labayoga, Teach For the Philippines member; and Jeff Bascon, Penshoppe brand manager. Photo by Romsanne Ortiguero, InterAksyon.

Philippine retail brand Penshoppe recently launched its #IAmDifferent campaign with the vision to start a movement to address one of the major concerns of the youth today—bullying.

Launched as a noble advocacy, the brand’s campaign drew some flak and criticism after the company allegedly tapped controversial blogger Franco Mabanta as endorser. Mabanta was criticized by netizens for being a “bully” in his social media posts. It has since been clarified that Mabanta is not actually an endorser of either the brand or the anti-bullying campaign.

(Read: Netizens call for #BoycottPenshoppe after controversial blogger is seen at event)

The campaign features big international celebrities as ambassadors including Bella Hadid, Lucky Blue Smith, Kaia Gerber, and Sandara Park among others.

The Philippines’ young stars and influencers such as Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte, Sofia Andres, Tanner Mata, Maria Fabana, Emilio Perez, Alab Pilipinas head coach Jimmy Alapag, She Talks Asia co-founder Vicky Herrera, entrepreneur Patti Grandidge, and signer-songwriter Keiko Necesario were also tapped to be part of the brand’s campaign.

Jeff Bascon, Penshoppe brand director told reporters in a press launch of the campaign last October 23, “We thought of of coming up with an advocacy wherein we can use Penshoppe as a brand—to use its voice in a positive way. We’re using Penshoppe in encouraging everyone to make a stand: that it’s okay to be different and that different is good.”

In a press handout, the brand reported that one out of two Filipino students have experienced or have witnessed bullying in their schools. Cheyenne de la Fuente, a child behavior and psychology expert who currently teaches in San Beda College, and a resource person during the campaign launch also noted that a 2016 study indicated that cases of bullying increased about 71 percent.

De la Fuente said, “It’s one that’s very quiet; you don’t see it, and it has no face. The sad thing is, those that are being bullied don’t speak up. Hopefully with this campaign and the awareness that they’re putting forward, people will recognize that it is a problem, and that bullied people will actually stand up and say enough is enough.”

According to de la Fuente, bullying can take part in many forms including cyber bullying which has become rampant; social bullying, where someone excludes people from events; physical bullying or hitting other people; and verbal abuse.

The expert further noted that victims of bullying are usually in their school age especially in high school—causing feelings of isolation, and in extreme cases, suicide.

Bascon said, “We did a research, and we realized that it is when you are perceived to be different, that’s when people start bullying you.”

With this disturbing findings, the brand manager said that they feel that the issue is relevant to the youth now especially that it happens in not just in school but has recently become prevalent in social media as well.

Bascon added, “I think it is a very important cause that people need to put attention to. We felt that this is the right vehicle for us, the right platform because when we did our research, we realized that there is no foundation that is purely focused on anti-bullying here in the Philippines. We’re now creating a noise– bringing attention to anti bullying, empowering each individual, and making everyone embrace their individuality.”

Statement tees and caps

Besides enjoining celebrities to lend their voice for the #IAmDifferent campaign, Penshoppe introduced their newest collection of tees and cap bearing statements like “I Am Different” and “Different is good.”

In line with the campaign, each t-shirt has a specific serial number unique to each shirt that costs Php449 each.

Proceeds from the collection will be for the development of an anti-bullying education program module that will be used in public schools. Penshoppe partnered with Teach For The Philippines for this initiative.

To make the campaign sustainable, Bascon noted that Penshoppe is also coming up with a website to provide a platform where people can reach out.

What do do when bullied
Since bullying has no face, it is vital for parents and adults to detect the subtle changes in the behavior of a child.

“Normally you would see that a child becomes withdrawn. When they are normally outspoken then suddenly this child becomes quiet, probably there’s something going on there.

Are you experiencing bullying? Here’s what you can do according to de la Fuente:

1. Speak up. It doesn’t matter which adult or which person you will talk to but say something about it to someone else.

2. Acknowledge that you’re different, and it’s fine.

3. When being bullied, walk way. Don’t retaliate because if you retaliate, it will aggravate the situation, and you will empower the other person, you will empower the bully so just don’t acknowledge it. Walk away. Be the bigger person.

4. Celebrate your uniqueness; celebrate your being different because you are special.

5. As parents, early on, tell your child that it’s okay to be different; it’s okay to be special. Recognize that your talents are good, and you’re an individual with something that is innately good.