Mery Vivero Shatters Hatred for Bisaya and Women in Gaming

Cebuana esports player Mery Christine Vivero was born on Christmas Day in 2003. Her personality matches the holiday: She is always cheerful, generous, and exceedingly humble. In true Filipino fashion, her parents named her after “Merry Christmas.” 

“Birthday ko po, December 25, kaya po Mery Christine ang name ko,” Vivero told ALL-STAR while suppressing laughter. 

Mery Christine Vivero is Smart Omega Empress’ roamer and team captain. She started playing for Empress in 2022 and has represented the country in the 32nd SEA Games for MLBB Women’s.  

Vivero’s esports journey began in high school when she discovered Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, a game commonly played by the boys at school. 

“Noong high school po ako, ang mga friends ko ay mga lalaki. Every lunch break, naglalaro po sila. Naimpluwensiyahan po ako,” said Vivero. “Nag-download po ako ng Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.”

Vivero never dreamed she would surpass her boy classmates in the game. 

As Vivero progressed in skill and rank, she joined numerous mixed tournaments, in which boys and girls were in one team. She fell in love with esports. But it meant pausing her pursuit of another dream.  

The only daughter among three children, Vivero dreamed of becoming a nurse—an ambition supported by her parents. That’s why when she decided to pursue a career in esports, her parents took it very hard. 

“Noong una, syempre mahirap kasi ako lang po ang babae sa family namin, nag-iisa po akong babaeng anak,” said Vivero, who is the middle child among three siblings. Her parents were very protective of her, and refused to allow her to stay in a boot camp. 

“Mahirap po kasi nasa Cebu pa lang po ako, naka boot camp na po kami. At first, hindi po sang-ayon si Mama kasi may biyahe pa, tapos sa bahay pa natutulog. Pero noong tumagal, nakitaan naman po ni Mama na masaya po ako sa ginagawa ko kaya sinuportahan niya ako,” said Vivero. 


Mery Vivero on the Toxic Culture Against Women in Gaming 

Esports was a very steep climb for Vivero. It is an industry dominated by boys. Sometimes, even the game’s community is hostile to women.

In the early days of esports and MLBB, it was common for regular players to bash other players simply because they are women. Among the worst comments in the game were along the lines of “para kang babae maglaro!” (“You play like a girl”) or “Babae ka? Kaya pala bobo.” (“You’re a girl that’s why you suck.”)  These are real in-game comments this editor has encountered in the game. 

For Vivero, these were some of the things that planted seeds of doubt in her. 

“Noong nasa Cebu po ako, nagdadalawang isip po ako dati kung ipupursue ko ang paglalaro, tapos may doubt po ako sa sarili ko pati sa mga taong nakapaligid po sa akin. Pero ngayon po, thankful po ako kasi may tiwala na po ako sa sarili ko na kaya ko po talaga maglaro saka may potential po ako,” said Vivero. 

Now, she admits things have improved. 

“Mas toxic po dati kasi minamaliit po kaming mga babae. Pero ngayon po, nabigyan po ng opportunity at exposure ang mga babaeng manlalaro. Yung iba, may bash pa rin po, pero marami na po ang humahanga sa mga babaeng manlalaro.”

But instead of feeling resentment toward the male population in MLBB, she uplifts them. She admits that without the male players in her team, they would not improve. The male players have significantly more exposure in training, tournaments, and scrims with other nations than the female players. 

“Mahirap po noong una kasi bihira lang po namin nakakalaro ang mga male players dahil nahihiya po kami, babae po kami, baka hindi po kami makasabay,” Vivero recalls. 

“Pero noong nagtagal po, ang mga male players po ang nagtuturo sa amin in game and outside the game. Tinuturuan po nila kami sa tama at mali. Malaking tulong po na mayroon kaming male players dahil natuturuan po nila kami.” 

Vivero is very humble despite her skill. 

In a series of casual ranked games played with Smart Omega’s Louis, she played various fighter-tank heroes, visibly carrying her male teammates in the games, including Louis, who is also Cebuano. Vivero won many of the matches they played as her team’s fighter and tank—a highly unusual role for women, who are usually relegated to playing support heroes that help their teammates get kills or save them from getting killed. 

Bisaya, Bobo?

A day before our meeting with Vivero, this editor played a casual Classic game in MLBB. I played so badly, I was accused of being Bisaya. 

“Mery, Bisaya daw ako sabi ng mga randoms kasi bobo at hindi daw ako magaling maglaro,” we told Vivero. 

But Vivero had the last laugh. 

“Hindi ko po gets bakit ginagawa nilang trash talk ang word na Bisaya o Bisakol,” said Vivero. 

“Para sa amin, may advantage po ang Cebuana. Kapag mayroon po kaming LAN tournament at nagkakarinigan po kami, lugi po yung kalaban kasi hindi nila kami naiintindihan mag-Bisaya pero naiintindihan namin sila.”

She laughs it off. Every time she encounters bashers, she just ignores them. 

When the Philippines sent a women’s delegation for MLBB to the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in 2023, it sent Bisaya women to represent the country. Most of Vivero’s teammates come from a Cebu-based esports team, LVD Huntress. Smart Omega Empress acquired its entire roster in 2022. 

They won silver after tussling with Indonesia in the grand finals. It was the highest placement Filipino women esports players have reached in an international tournament. Nevertheless, that win further cemented women’s place in gaming and esports. 

As of this writing, Vivero and her teammates in Smart Omega Empress are preparing to defend their crown at the MLBB Women’s Invitational or MWI.  

Life after Esports

Vivero knows that esports is not forever. Even in the male professional scene, players have a career lifespan of only three to five years, if you’re lucky.

If she ever retires, she plans to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a nurse. 

“Sinabihan ko naman po si Mama na after ko po sa esports, babalik po ako sa pag-aaral ko. Support po ang parents ko. Pangarap ko po talaga noong bata pa po ako ang maging nurse,” said Vivero. 

It’s a firm grasp on reality that keeps Vivero grounded: no one grows old playing esports. 

“Siguro balak ko rin po mag abroad. Yung sa side ng Papa ko, nasa abroad na po at may mga doctor sa kanila,” said Vivero. 

“Pangarap ko po matulungan ko po ang mga kapatid ko, parents ko, hindi lang po sa financial,” said Vivero. 

For Vivero, the biggest “game” in her life is not MLBB but uplifting everyone around her. It’s not about making money but becoming a real-life support hero for her family.

“Ipaparamdam ko po sa kanila na kahit malayo po ako, nandoon pa rin ako nagsusupport sa kanila.”

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