LOOK: How this Kiwi-Korean family found a fanbase in the Philippines

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Father Sam and sons William and Bentley met their Filipino fans in the country for the first time. Photo courtesy of CDM ENTERTAINMENT

It’s always interesting to see which foreign celebrities Filipinos adopt as one of our own — from American singer David Pomeranz, whose ballads are the stuff of karaoke legend; to controversial content creator Nas Daily, who has called the Philippines “the most lovable country.” With Korean content becoming a significant part of our regular media consumption, it’s no surprise that Korean celebrities beyond the K-pop and K-drama spheres would also find a growing audience in the Philippines.

The Korean-New Zealander Hammington family is the latest celebrity brood to visit their Filipino fans in the Philippines. Father Sam and sons William and Bentley gained popularity when they starred in the Korean reality television series “The Return of Superman.” The show stars celebrity fathers who have to take charge of child-rearing for 48 hours. At the beginning of the show, the moms will say goodbye and sometimes leave a list of tasks to accomplish.

The Hammingtons have become such a fixture on the show since 2016 that eldest son William practically grew up on “Superman.” The show even witnessed the birth of Bentley, who is now four years old. It’s also on this show that many Filipino fans came to know the family, many of whom came to see the Hammingtons during their fan meeting at the New Frontier Theater, Cubao last July 17.

Based on the fan meeting audience that day, most of their fans are young adults who support the Hammingtons in the same way they would a K-pop idol: headbands with William and Bentley’s faces sticking out, big banners with text in Hangul, and official Hammington plushies that one fan said they purchased on Shopee. For lucky fans who had the chance to get up close and personal with the Hammingtons, they came in their best pajamas — a signature ‘fit for the two boys.

As far as their local fanbase is concerned, their affinity for the Hammingtons deepened as they saw the two boys also grow up on the show. Beauty content creator Retty Contreras, who was invited by a friend to watch the Hammingtons, says that she was curious to see how a fan meet with child stars would go.

“I'm used to idols and actors holding these, so I wanted to experience what it would be like,” Contreras said. “I also love the story of their parents — they had trouble conceiving but now they have two beautiful boys.”

The Hammingtons playing air hockey during the fanmeet. Photo courtesy of CDM ENTERTAINMENT

William and Bentley during the Manila fanmeet. Photo courtesy of CDM ENTERTAINMENT

William and Bentley are such seasoned on-camera talents that one forgets they really are just children. During the fan meeting, Bentley became easily bored during the Q&A portion and had way more fun playing air hockey on stage and jumping offstage to say hello to fans. When they were served lechon for a mukbang portion, he insisted on eating the banana leaves instead of the meat itself. When he lost in a game against his older brother and two lucky fans, he began to cry. But the audience caught up quickly and started chanting “괜찮아! (Gwenchanha)” or “It’s okay!” to cheer him up.

The crowd during The Hammingtons In Juanderland Fan Meeting at the New Frontier Theater in Quezon City. Photo courtesy of MARGA BUENAVENTURA

William had a bit more patience with the program. He gamely tried champorado, but decided it wasn’t to his taste. “Chocolate is a snack and rice is food. They don’t taste good together.” At least there’s some logic there.

The Hammington’s first fan meeting in the Philippines may have been unstructured as any program with children goes, but the older audience members seemed to act as older siblings and even aunts and uncles to the two boys. Everyone clearly took pride in seeing them grow up. When the host asked one audience member why she was a fan of the Hammingtons, she said, “You can tell that William and Bentley were raised well by their parents.”

William and Bentley in traditional Filipino garb. Photo courtesy of CDM ENTERTAINMENT