IF YOU check “Telma’s” social media platforms, you are definitely up for a laugh.
To the Bisaya community, his content serves as a happy pill. Remarkable lines, funny and witty skits, exaggerated facial expressions, relatable characters, and familiar everyday scenes on his videos injected with Telma’s kind of humor -- that’s what his followers get every time he uploads content.
We know him for his hilarious ways online but who really is behind this online persona “Telma”?
He is Jaime Onod, 25, a young professional working as an online teacher in Davao City. But due to the pandemic, he went home to Bislig, Surigao del Sur, where he was born and raised by his family.
“People know me as Telma online but when I’m not creating content, I’m busy working for my full-time job (online teacher),” the Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education major in English Cum Laude-graduate shared.
This rising online star is also a consistent student leader from his first to fourth year at the University of Southeastern Philippines-Bislig.
Journey to content creation
Jaime said he already had an interest in creating content when he was in high school. He was very active in joining competitions on movie making and acting.
This Redford White-Babalu-Bayani Agbayani fan shared his humor is anchored on simple daily life experiences of ordinary people injected with exaggeration as evident in his works.
But how and when did he start making videos? At the start of the pandemic when he got so bored.
“I started posting videos on Facebook. It was only later on that I jumped to TikTok as suggested by my friends. I never thought many people would appreciate my works,” Jaime said, as he was only doing it before out of fun and as his creative outlet.
When he observed his following continues to grow, he decided to keep on doing it. As of January 21, he already has 1,302,000 combined followers on TikTok (749,000), Facebook (523,000), and YouTube (30,000).
“Wala gyud ko nagdahum na mogana siya this big. Before, akong standard lang kay kung makareach ko og 100 ‘Haha’ reactions, Malipay nako ana. Di man gud nako gusto i-pressure kaayo akong sarili (I never thought I’ll make this huge following. Before, I’m already happy whenever I reached 100 ‘Haha’ reactions. I really do not want to put too much pressure on myself),” he said.
In pursuing this path, he said he is happy that his family supports his endeavors.
“My parents, my sister, and my close friends are very supportive of me. My mother, mama Lilit, even acts as gatekeeper of my contents. If you’re wondering if she’s aware of my videos on Telma’s mother, yes, she is very much aware. My mother is one of the people who motivate me to continue doing this,” he said.
The fun, struggles of creating content
Jaime mentioned he usually goes out to his neighborhood and other public places to get ideas. As a content creator, he said one needs to connect to the people to draw inspiration.
“Yes, your personal experiences help but you shouldn’t rely solely on it. Your content should be relatable if you want public engagement especially now when people need more entertainment,” he said.
He usually shoots the video first, then dubs it after. Jaime also shared that he usually doesn't prepare a full script, just a flow, as he is more effective at doing the content spontaneously.
“Nagstart gyud ko na kanang akong cellphone lang akong gamit. Just be resourceful. And yes, ako ra na halos tanan - shoot, edit, dub, etc. (I started using my personal phone. Just be resourceful. And yes, it’s a one-man team from shoot to edit, dub, etc),” he said.
On the frequency of uploading content, Jaime emphasized that he is more on after the quality of his works than the quantity.
“I always give myself time to think and rest. Let’s be kind to ourselves because if we are too stressed and exhausted, it will take a toll on you,” he said.
Like any other creatives, Jaime also struggles with burnout and time management, especially as he juggles both work and content creation. He said when he runs out of ideas and/or lacks time to shoot, he always offers the situation to God who is in control.
Jaime shared he puts a lot of energy into his content as his branding is known for facial expressions, volume and tone of voice, and punch lines. He said everything should be in the right timing for the humor to be effective.
He also had his fair share of critics and bashers canceling his ways of entertaining people.
“Some say I am somehow inciting their kids to disobey their parents or it puts mothers in a bad light. But that is not my intention and I’m glad my supporters outweigh the bashers. So, I focused more on the people who are happy about my work,” he said.
Focusing on the ‘why’
When naysayers pull him down, Jaime goes back to his purpose -- to entertain and spread happiness to people.
“When I started, it’s more of my happiness and a creative outlet for myself, but now, with the extent of my influence, I understand my bigger responsibility. It goes beyond my personal interest and gain. It is for the people,” Jaime underscored.
“What keeps me going are the messages of random people and strangers who I was able to touch and inspire through my content. I never really thought that my works have that kind of positive impact on them. I’m humbled,” he added.
The rising content creator also shared that he is now more particular to the theme, manners, and words he used as his audience also includes children.
‘Telma’, “Ay Okay” explained
Asked as to how he picked the name “Telma” for his online persona, Jaime was quick to share the back story.
“When I was a kid, we used to visit Lola's place. We have this neighbor named Ante Telma who is noisy and always nagging. So, she became the inspiration for my online persona,” he said.
For his remarkable “Ay Okay” line, which is now being mimicked by many as their expression, Jaime said it is really his usual response when he talks to his friends, minus the intonation.
“The way of delivering it (‘Ay Okay’) was just changed when I used it for a character in one of my early skits, then people noticed it, hence, the retain,” Jaime shared.
Pieces of advice
To stand out in an ocean of creators online, Jaime said being true to oneself and focusing on the “why” can make the difference.
“Just be you and be unique. When people see that kind of content, they should recognize and remember you. Also, I don’t want to steal one’s limelight because I’m a believer that what’s for you will be yours at the right time,” he said.
To aspiring content creators, Jaime would want them to be easy on themselves, be consistent, and trust God.
“Take your time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Everything takes time. The Lord has better plans for us. If sometimes our plans don’t go our way, it is because we still need to grow and maybe we are not ready yet that is why He didn’t allow it to happen,” he said.
He also encourages everyone to celebrate one another and to stop comparing one’s works to others as it will only lead to nothing good.
“Just better yourself, focus on you,” Jaime said.
Moving forward, Jaime hopes to do more content online and grow his audience to serve and make people happy. He is also set to launch his own merchandise soon for all his followers collectively called “Telmanians.”
Follow Jaime on social media:
DAVAO. Jaime Onod, alias Telma. (Photo from Jaime Onod’s Facebook)
January 21, 2022
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