A Conversation with Viral Content Creator: Jiconyo – Manila Bulletin

Curiosities about the viral Conyo seller? This is who he really is

The internet has been a vast playground of opportunity for individuals, especially content creators. These days, one that has recently given us our much-needed daily dose of laughter is the viral Conyo seller Jiconyo. “Sheeeesh, bruh?”

You may have seen his videos where he sells soybean curd, or the one where he uses an electric fan to burn the charcoal for his barbecues, or the one where he is a friendly jeepney driver with credit cards instead of money between his fingers. With his growing popularity online, it’s no surprise that many have become curious as to who he really is. Don’t worry because at Manila Bulletin Lifestyle we felt the same way.

We had an insightful chat with our fav Conyo seller just to know him a little better.

Can you tell us your real name and age?

My name is Jaime Ricardo L. Umali or you may know me as Jico Umali or Jiconyo. I’m 24 years old.

Apart from being an online content creator, what do you do for a living?

I currently work as a senior video content and talent strategist at PGAG. My job requires me to conceptualize, write for content, film, direct, as well as play and edit video content. You can think of me and the rest of us as content creators within PGAG.

PGAG is one of the fastest growing digital content producers in the country, catering to Filipino Millennials and Gen-Zers. We create fun memes and highly relatable snack videos contextualized to local culture, following current trends and designed to be thumb-stoppers for younger audiences.

Your online hit videos have made us curious about you. Can you please share with us how you ended up doing this?

The Jiconyo series started in September 2021 when my colleague and good friend Al Gentrix asked my permission to use one of my photos in a Conyo meme that went viral. Our CEO Karl Mak and CCO Adrian Ang taught us to see which viral memes could be turned into videos, which is why I was heavily inspired to turn the Conyo even in a sketch. I remember how excited I was to script, shoot and edit the video even on weekends. So it started with that.

Ako talaga hindi ako conyo hahaha pero (I’m not really Conyo but) I was inspired by some TikTokers [and] I just add my own twist and flavor to it, especially with the “sheeeesh” and the “sheeeesh pose”, which my best friend Gilbert Javellana and I used to say and do. I like to make people laugh. with the Jiconyo series and with other PGAG videos, that’s my main goal: to make people laugh and make people happy. With the Jiconyo series, in particular, I like to uplift our hard-working Filipino colleagues, friendly neighborhood vendors, jeepney drivers, and more.

It started with the “Conyo deliveryman” which I wrote, shot and edited myself due to the pandemic peak of October 2021 which forced us at PGAG to create content from home. This was the first episode. Then with the help of my sister, Ate Nica Umali, we were able to borrow a jeep for the “Conyo jeepney driver”, as well as the rental of a tusok-tusok basket for “conyo tusok tusok” and our friendly neighborhood Kuya Jojo’s taho set up to “conyo taho seller.”

Who thought of this concept?

I like to think that the Jiconyo concept was more the product of a flow of ideas. In the Jiconyo “delivery man” video, using a mirrorless camera and a video light to take a picture of the customer was not in the script, but during filming I thought it would make the video even more fun. And since then, I make sure to add small details to each shot, like the credit cards inserted between the fingers of the “Conyo jeepney driver” or using red cups in the “tusok-tusok” video, etc. People around me have ideas too, like my sister suggesting using insulated cups instead of sauces for “tusok-tusok.”

Besides your hit videos, we know you also love music. Can you tell us more about this other side of you?

I was really lucky to have parents, Itin and Eric Umali, who allowed me to find my passion growing up. They took me to different workshops and classes such as singing, taekwondo, piano, basketball, acting, exposing me to recitals from an early age. That’s why, as a child, I knew what talents I had and what I was passionate about. I learned to play the guitar during my 2nd year of high school at the Benedictine International School. I brought my guitar to school every day, which really helped me refine my voice, strumming my guitar while singing almost every day. In college, I joined Mint Riffs, a glee club at my school Mint College where I learned to play and also got to see different perspectives on life working with people from diverse backgrounds. I started AB Film but was able to continue my love for music thanks to Mint Riffs.

After graduating, I wanted to pursue my passion for music. I went to a few gigs, joined a band, wrote songs and recorded covers that I posted on my personal accounts. When I joined PGAG and after one of our sketch series went viral (Attack on Titan parody), I was inspired by my oldest, Ard Lim, who has his own Facebook page. It served as my guide on how to be a good content creator. From there, I released music covers, vlogs, and other content.

Do you plan to pursue a bigger career in music?

I really want to pursue a bigger career in the music industry. I have written songs that I hope to be able to share with you soon! Right now I still have a lot to give and a lot of love to share. After the pandemic, I’d like to meet some of our fans and play for you guys!

Apart from creating videos and music, how do you usually spend your free time? What other things could you share with us about yourself?

I just moved in with my girlfriend, China Maristela, so for now I’m spending my free time settling into our new apartment, and hopefully I’d like to do a condo tour vlog for all of you.

You have undoubtedly become more popular. How has this changed your life, if at all? How does that make you feel?

I’m really grateful for the recognition the Jiconyo series has given me. And it really makes me happy when people ask me if I’m that Conyo dude or if I’m soybean curd or if I’m the “sheeeesh” dude. [laughs]

So if you ever see me anywhere, ‘wag kayo mahiya lumapit!

Since “taho seller” has gone viral, people who pass by our house and recognize that this is the place of the video, they shout “soy curd! My family says it happens almost every day! kayak y’all are crazy, sheeeeeesh.

Another time I was driving along NLEX with my girlfriend and her mother, Tita Sasha. A car pulled up next to us and those inside asked me to roll down the windows. When I rolled down the window, I saw this smiling married couple and their child who looked about 15 years old, who all leaned forward and did the “sheeeeeesh” pose! Tawang-tawa kami dun! Kudos to this family!

Sobrang hilig ko talaga magpasayaso it’s never a problem taking photos with people or being approached or even asked to do a video shoutout.

What do you want to achieve with all the videos you create and share online?

My number one goal is to make people laugh, to make them happy. And working under PGAG, an organization with the same goals, is a huge blessing. I want to keep making people happy…on any platform.

Anyway, that’s it for us, bruh. Sheeeeeesh!

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