Last night, while everyone was waiting for the government’s weekly report on the enhanced community quarantine, Pinoy Twitter blew up when a series of tweets by transwoman Jzan revealed how she was catfished by fashion multimedia artist Sam Morales. And most of us were probably like:
who the fuck is sam morales?
— von (@vonizac) March 31, 2020
The original Twitter thread is so long it had to be broken up into three parts. Reading it was heartbreaking and enraging all at the same time. For those who simply want the gist of it, this is what happened.
Jzan revealed that Sam Morales has been catfishing and manipulating her for eight months using an online persona Bill Iver (a fake one) and later on Bilko Argona (an actual person). Just a few weeks ago, Jzan discovered that all the messages, calls, photos, and everything else were actually Sam’s doing, after which Sam pleaded with Jzan because she was scared that her career may be destroyed. (More on that career destruction below.)
Is the thread for real?
This is one of the first questions some people have raised since the thread spread like wildfire. It’s a fair question, sure, but after several more victims spoke up about how they had the same experience with Sam, it seems the truth is becoming terrifyingly clearer than ever. As of writing, at least 8 victims of Sam’s have come to light, with accounts shared by the victims personally or through friends.
Sam has been doing this for years
And she sees no age or gender for her targets. One victim spoke up about being catfished way back in 2008 to 2009 (more than a decade ago!) using another guy’s persona. One of Sam’s high school classmates shared that one of her very first victims may have been her gay teacher.
The first victim of Sam Morales was her gay high school teacher, I think.
This should bring her victim count to at least 5.
— DeeDee Holliday #MassTestingNowPH (@deedeeholliday_) March 30, 2020
It’s not just the members of the LGBTQ+ community. Sam has manipulated and catfished a straight female using Bilko’s persona.
SAM MORALES AND BILKO VICTIMIZED A STRAIGHT FEMALE FRIEND
— Seru Singma (@serusingma) March 30, 2020
No excuse for abuse
sam morales,, here you goo,,, pic.twitter.com/PDEMPeB0dT
— sha (@sha_unnie) March 31, 2020
In the original Twitter thread, Jzan said that Sam told her she was a victim of bullying by gay people when she was young. And that’s why she harbored hatred for the gay community.
We are not invalidating her experiences. But that doesn’t give her license to act like a monster. In fact, that victimizing experience should have given her more reason to treat other people with respect. The fact that she knows what it’s like to be on the other end of abuse should’ve made her empathize better. But what does she do? Sam Morales has chosen to be a perpetrator of abuse, and so nobody will be giving her a free pass for her bad behavior.
Sam is not the only one accountable
Sam Morales had several accomplices. According to Jzan’s thread, there were at least two others involved in this awful scheme: a girl and another guy friend. Victims have spoken up about Sam’s use of different guys, not just Bilko. As of writing, there are at least two different names and/or guys that have been used for Sam’s catfishing scheme.
Netizens (LGBT and girls mostly) are dragging Sam Morales for what she did. I get that. But let’s not spare Bilko Argana just because he’s attractive. Toxic is toxic.
— M.A. Buendía 💎 (@MABuendiaHD) March 31, 2020
And of course, there’s Bilko Argona. “Biktima lang din ako” is what he told Jzan when he revealed the truth. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Sam might be blackmailing him with something. His job maybe? He did mention he didn’t want to lose his job. But then why did he initiate sex with Jzan? No one forced him. In fact, he said, “Nalibugan lang din ako.” WTF? This just means he was just horny and he took advantage of the situation they were in. He might be a victim of Sam’s manipulative schemes, but Bilko disrespected and violated Jzan by pretending to be someone he wasn’t, and that’s definitely something he should be held accountable for. Just as the other people involved in Sam’s scheme must be held accountable.
This is most definitely NOT fiction
Readers of the victims’ threads (not just Jzan’s) have been saying so many things ranging from expressions of empathy and solidarity to “*grabs popcorn*” and “this should be a movie.” Okay, the original sentiment might have been “this is so unreal it could’ve been a movie.” But you know what? This isn’t simply ‘tea’ or ‘drama’ or what could be your next Netflix binge.
these trans struggles aren’t for your entertainment
— assi (@unisonchan) March 30, 2020
No. This is reality. This is someone’s struggle. This is what a real human being has gone through. This is a person’s time, effort, feelings invested in what turned out to be a scheme designed just to manipulate them. This is someone’s life ruined. Several lives, in fact. To those who have been saying this story should be a movie, ask yourself this: Do I want my struggles, my trauma, my life to simply be someone’s entertainment?
people really be saying that this catfishing incident should be a netflix movie? yall brain dead? u might wanna give us some peace and equal rights first before exploiting stories of trans experience for your goddamn fucking entertainment? yeah?
— moi (@gabriellamoi_) March 30, 2020
We won’t stay quiet
Gusto ko lang malaman ni Sam Morales na sisiguraduhin ng community na mawawalan kayo ng trabaho ng tropa mong gago. Nagkamali kayo. BIG. MISTAKE.
— Paulo Castro (@pawawawofficial) March 30, 2020
The LGBTQ+ community and its allies rose up together to call for #JusticeForJzan and the other victims. This has since led to Sam Morales deactivating all her social media accounts and essentially erasing her public presence online (she might still be lurking elsewhere, who knows).
View this post on Instagram
Got a lot of messages from people saying “dba under sayo si Sam Morales?” I think that what Sam Morales did is sick and disgusting, manipulating people for pleasure is evil. Sana minahal mo na lang ang trabaho mo and use it to inspire other young artists who look up to you, use it for good so it will love you back in return. Isn’t it ironic that the career that you chose and feed you is dominated by the LGBTQ community? — Now, let me tell you how this statement is wrong in so many ways(formerly went under the name of New Monarq Management, which belongs in the same group with New Monarq Creativx, the management of Sam Morales). -how New Monarq has thrown Sam Morales under the bus, by making it appear that the creatives management part of the business has never existed and it is managing models ONLY internationally. -New Monarq did not condemn Sam’s actions, what they did is nothing but a selfish act of saving their name(as if may masesave pa), because of a scandal. -The truth is NMC played a big part in the success of Sam Morales as one of their artists. Sam has brought money to the agency, something that ONLY Anton Patdu and Boggy Diaz enjoyed, kasi kaming ibang owners was NEVER given our dividends for more than 2 years that the business operated, as in ZERO. -Ganito kaselfish at GANID!! ang owner ng companyang ito. Change name ulit mga sis??!! #sammorales @newmonarqmanila
Some people even reached out to the people behind New Monarq, the management agency of Sam Morales. They have released a statement, which on the surface seemed like a good thing. That is, until you realize that they’re essentially washing their hands off the issue. According to one of the New Monarq investors (who didn’t receive their dividends, but that’s another story), Sam Morales brought a lot of money into their company, and yet they immediately threw her under the bus just to save their brand. But did they really?
Hello po sa mga kaibigan natin sa fashion industry. Hindi niyo deserve ang isang Sam Morales. You are all working hard tapos babahiran lang ng kadumihan ng isang babaeng ito. DON’T HIRE SAM MORALES!!! LET HER SUFFER!!!! JZAN DESERVE BETTER!!! LET’S PROTECT OUR TRANS FAMILY!!! https://t.co/n6rm1IOkLj
— mimiyuuuh (@mimiyuuuh) March 30, 2020
Despite this, everyone else is in agreement. Several celebrities and personalities have spoken up. Likewise, netizens continue to appeal to the fashion industry not to hire Sam Morales.
END SAM MORALES NOW pic.twitter.com/btuqDEc7nf
— Ejay Dimayacyac (@juankulot) March 30, 2020
And this widespread appeal is, in fact, working. The head of communications and press of H&M Philippines, one of the brands Sam Morales has worked for, have assured the public that they have zero tolerance on any form of discrimination, harassment, or other improper conduct and will take the necessary actions.
parties that we work with. Rest assured that we have started looking into this and we will take the necessary actions.
Stay safe and healthy.
— Dan Mejia (@dancmejia) March 31, 2020
But this is not the end
No. This is only the beginning, as it had been when a transwoman made headlines after simply wanting to use the women’s CR and was subsequently harassed and detained months ago. Right now, our friends in the LGBTQ+ community remain vulnerable in a country still quite backwards in thinking. But this issue just made the need for the SOGIE Equality bill all the more evident.
I hope this Sam Morales issue raises a larger discussion about how much this country needs the SOGIE Bill. Ending her career can only do so much. What’s to stop other people from doing this again? The LGBT community here has been victimized for too long.
— Jerald (@jeraldfaelnar) March 30, 2020
We can cancel Sam Morales online as much as we like, but there are still people with the same thinking as she does, the same discriminatory, abusive, manipulative thoughts and intentions against our LGBTQ+ friends. This issue is rooted in our society as a whole, and it is bigger than any of us.
What we can do right now is to call for action from those in power to stop dillydallying and push for the nationwide anti-discrimination bill, while we also continue to educate those in our circles so that may understand the importance of equality better.
Because if we don’t, another Sam Morales will just be waiting in the shadows.
What do you think of this Sam Morales issue?