Basel Manadil, the vlogger and entrepreneur known as The Hungry Syrian Wanderer, posted an hour-long vlog earlier this week which exposed the alleged betrayal committed by his former friend, the Korean businessman Sam Hyun Chang, who goes by the nickname Abeoji.
Manadil helped Chang by giving him money and gifts, an act which the Syrian documented in a November 2020 video. Chang became famous after he was spotted by the media selling cheap noodles by a road. The long-time Philippine resident was forced to become a street vendor because he allegedly lost millions of pesos due to gambling.
The Syrian businessman said he wanted to help Chang because the Korean was like a “father figure” to him.
“So at first, I felt pity for him because he’s a Korean vendor selling in the streets, doesn’t have any money, doesn’t have income, lost PHP300 million (US$6.2 million),” Manadil said.
“I got affected. And I felt pity for him. Just like all of you guys. So what I tried to do is to help him out. So he started being close with me, I invited him to my birthday, I invited him to my house, I invited him to my condo, I invited him to eat with me, I invited him to many Korean buffets, I brought him to many Korean restaurants, I brought him to Filipino restaurants,” he added.
Manadil added that Chang was even invited to his diner in Las Piñas, YOLO, where the latter used to eat for free.
“I informed my staff that if Abeoji comes to YOLO Retro Diner, he can eat, he can drink for free, and all of my staff can be a witness to that. I was always supporting him, helping him out, on and off camera, people. So I was doing really, really a lot for him,” Basel said.
By vlogging about Chang, Manadil said that he “made people love him for who he is.” However, conflict arose when a blogger named Raymond Sevilla, allegedly a fan of Manadil, gave PHP7500 (US$156) to Chang as the Korean’s reward for appearing in the former’s videos.
In the video uploaded by Sevilla, Chang is seen counting the money, and saying that a certain vlogger did not bother to give him even “PHP100” for appearing on his videos.
Manadil assumed that he was the vlogger Chang was referring to.
“When I watched that video, I just held my head like that and I said ‘Why? Why, Abeoji?’ Like why are you doing that to me? You know that I helped you a lot. And when I say a lot, way off camera than on camera. And the funny thing here is I’m just not talking. I have evidence, but I don’t upload everything. I don’t show everything to people,” the Syrian said.
“So I got hurt, I got affected. And let me explain to you … first of all, I don’t have any problem with the Filipino YouTuber. To be honest with you, I invited him to YOLO Retro Diner and we had a meeting. I explained to him [that] Abeoji did this to me … many things. I showed him evidence [such as] videos, e-mails,” he said.
Sevilla asked Manadil if he could expose Chang for his alleged betrayal, but the Syrian discouraged him. However, Manadil alleged that Sevilla continued to film with Chang, prompting the Syrian to cut ties with the Filipino vlogger.
Manadil also alleged that another vlogger, named Bobby, is trying to discredit him by showing the state of Chang’s house on the latter’s YouTube channel. In a video uploaded early this month, Bobby attacks Manadil for allegedly not bothering to help the Korean vendor, an accusation that the Syrian rejected.
“I cleaned his house many times. I brought my staff to clean his house many times. We [did] a makeover of his house many times. We bought him wallpaper, we bought him a refrigerator, appliance, dining table, chair … everything. I cleaned his house,” he said.
Manadil accused Bobby and Chang of “mess[ing] up” the Korean’s house on purpose to elicit sympathy from the public.
“That’s one of the red flags that I had on him. He keeps on messing up his room, throwing stuff on the floor, all over the place…So I always visit him at his house. And that’s the time I noticed every time we fixed his house, his room, it gets messy the next day,” he said.
“What I realized is he’s doing it on purpose to bring YouTubers or people who are filming to show his room and the status of his room and the show to the people that my room is messy. Now, for Bobby, the guy with him … who’s saying ‘Why is the situation of Mr. Chang like that?'”
Manadil said Bobby should have helped fix Chang’s home because the latter was already there.
“Why don’t you help him yourself? Why don’t you clean his room? What are you waiting for me to do that? I’m doing my best to help him, financially…. But you? What are you doing? You’re only discrediting me, talking bad about me,” Manadil said.
The Syrian also accused Chang and Bobby of trying to extort money from him. He said that he never forced Chang to appear on his videos and that the Korean did so “willingly.”
“[Y]ou said it’s helping you to get famous and you say people love you for who I made you look like. I didn’t show your negative or bad behavior. I only showed the positive side in you and it helped you even in your selling noodles in the street. People stop to buy because you are Abeoji,” he said to Chang.
“I didn’t make any statement that I’ll be giving you daily salary from YouTube, but I was doing that off-camera. I was helping you with your noodles, buying stocks, delivering your signages, dropping you to pick up your money from the people who are selling your noodles. All these things I was doing them off-camera,” he said.
“He started with one store, and then when we became together, he has four or five stores in different locations. So I helped him a lot…So where do you think that money comes from?”
Manadil has become one of the biggest names in Philippine blogging because his videos often show him helping people. His channel has almost 4 million subscribers.
This article, The Hungry Syrian Wanderer exposes alleged betrayal of Korean vendor Abeoji, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.