Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Doja Cat’s Explanation Of Her Song “Balut” Is *Way* Off

If you know me, then you’d know that I love my Filipino roots, almost annoyingly so: I cry if I think about Olivia Rodrigo — and what she means for Pinoy representation — for too long. Additionally, whenever I see anything Filipino-related in pop culture, I’m inclined to point it out to every single person around me (I’m pretty sure that’s a Filipino thing in and of itself). So, when I saw that Doja Cat’s new single was called “Balut,” I was instantly intrigued: Is Doja Cat Filipino? And, if not, why did she write a song about Filipino street food?

To my eager Pinoys (who I know Googled this as soon as they saw the song name), I have some bad news: No, Doja Cat is not Filipino. The artist, hailing from Agoura Hills, California, is South African and Jewish-American, and has no Filipino roots — at least that we know of. Now, I’m all for seeing my culture represented in the media, especially if it’s being appreciated (not appropriated) by folks who aren’t Filipino. However, Doja Cat’s “Balut” has left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of Filipinos online.

On Sept. 17, Doja Cat addressed the name of the song on an Instagram Live saying, “People are like, ‘Well, why aren’t you talking about the food?’ ‘Why aren’t you talking about the title?’ Are we that one-dimensional?”

Doja also stated that the song was a metaphor for being “eaten alive,” writing on her Instagram story, “i named the song balut because it signifies a bird that’s being eaten alive. It’s a metaphor for twitter stans and the death of twitter toxicity. The beginning of ‘X’ and the end of ‘tweets.’”

Now, I’m a writer, so I love a good metaphor. And while I see where Doja Cat was going with this, she’s got balut all wrong.

If you’re unfamiliar with balut, allow me to give you the rundown. Balut is a popular street food in the Philippines — so popular that the dish is essentially a cultural delicacy. Contrary to Doja’s description of a “bird that’s being eaten alive,” balut is, in fact, not a living thing. Vegans, cover your eyes: Balut is actually made of a fertilized developing egg embryo, which is then boiled and eaten from the shell directly. So, while you can see the embryo of the chick (sometimes with a beak, feathers, the whole nine yards), the bird isn’t actually alive when you eat it.

The problem with this is that Filipino food isn’t a popular cuisine in the United States. Therefore, many people learn about the culture, and the food, through pop culture and social media. Think, the one episode of The Bear, where Sydney eats at the world’s first Michelin Star Filipino restaurant, Kasama — which sparked a viral phenomenon of people recreating the iconic (and delicious) longanisa sandwich.

With an artist as big as Doja referencing balut and putting forth the notion that it’s a dish where you literally eat a living thing, it makes Filipinos look like the “savages” we’ve been portrayed as in the media for years, and perpetuates the stereotype we’ve been trying to correct for a very, very long time.

I’m sure Doja Cat didn’t mean any sort of harm when she referenced the dish. In fact, Doja recounted her experience eating balut in the IG Live saying, “Balut was good. It reminded me of the liver. It was almost like you can tell that it’s a small [serving] that is high [in] fat. I can taste the vitamins in it. You just know that [it is] good for you immediately. I liked it. [But] I don’t think I had it properly. It was still warm.” As someone who hasn’t eaten balut yet, I am impressed that Doja tried it and gave it a good review — especially since many members of my family in the Philippines stay far away from the dish, despite its delicacy status.

However, Filipinos on social media, and myself, do want to set the record straight: No, we Filipinos do not eat birds alive!

I promise, y’all, Filipino food is actually the best. Ask my white boyfriend — he loves it.

So, consider this my letter to all of the artists out there: Filipinos want you to embrace and uplift our culture, just do it correctly. And, maybe, write a song called “Sinigang,” or something, instead.

julianna (she/her) is an associate editor at her campus where she oversees the wellness vertical and all things sex and relationships, wellness, mental health, astrology, and gen-z. during her undergraduate career at chapman university, julianna's work appeared in as if magazine and taylor magazine. additionally, her work as a screenwriter has been recognized and awarded at film festivals worldwide. when she's not writing burning hot takes and spilling way too much about her personal life online, you can find julianna anywhere books, beers, and bands are.