BGYO and BINI seizing the P-pop spotlight on MTV Asia
First of two parts
Even we couldn’t hide our excitement. After all, it’s the stuff that every Bloom or ACEs member’s dreams are made of: Meeting not just one, but two Pinoy idol groups—each as talented and accessible as the next—for this rare double feature for Inquirer Entertainment.
But meeting every single member of BGYO—namely Akira Morishita, JL Toreliza, Mikki Claver Jr., Nate Porcalla and leader Gelo Rivera—and BINI—composed of Aiah Arceta, Colet Vergara, Maloi Ricalde, Gwen Apuli, Stacey Sevilleja, Mikha Lim, Sheena Catacutan and leader Jhoanna Robles—quickly exceeded our expectations when we virtually crossed paths with the ABS-CBN-honed Asian idols recently. Needless to say, they lived up to this new P-pop convert’s expectations!
There’s good reason for the sibling groups’ catchy festive mood. They are celebrating enviable milestones this month.
Not only will BGYO and BINI topbill their buzzed-about joint concert “One Dream: The BINI and BGYO Journey” on Nov. 6 and 7 (on ktx.ph and iWantTFC), they’ve likewise been tapped to be MTV Asia’s Spotlight artists for October and November—a feat in itself because it’s the first time the influential music channel has had a double feature.
Beyond Philippine shores
It’s also a chance for the groups to expand their fanbase and introduce the discography of BGYO (“The Light,” “The Baddest,” “He’s Into Her,” “When I’m With You”) and BINI (“Born to Win,” “Da Coconut Nut,” “Golden Arrow”) beyond Philippine shores. Other prominent acts that were given the MTV Asia Spotlight included the well-loved P-pop group SB19 and the K-pop band NCT Dream.
“It feels great to be given this opportunity to work closely with MTV Asia as we try to get our music out there,” Akira said when asked how significant the MTV partnership was for them.
While acknowledging that they’ve just been launched this year after more than two years’ worth of tireless and rigorous training, Jhoanna also reiterated that MTV’s “endorsement” is a huge step in the right direction.
“We all know that MTV Asia is a big digital music platform,” Jhoanna explained. “And like what Kuya Akira said, we’re very honored and thrilled beyond words for the chance to share our music to more people—in Asia and beyond.”
For our part, we immensely enjoyed the mixed bag of disparate treats and colorful personality traits that inform BGYO and BINI’s appeal. It was fun to see the rapport evident between the groups as they rallied behind one another, helping articulate each member’s thoughts or filling unavoidable dead air with winking moments of playful froth and youthful vibe.
And while they move as precisely as their brisk and slick choreography, their members’ answers are refreshing as all get-out. More than that, they aren’t as frustratingly “manufactured” as the idol groups we’ve interviewed in the past. During the interview, we even heard one of them break into song—a brand-new composition, at that—in the middle of her answer!
For more of them from MTV Asia, follow these links for BGYO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkgLhG-vNRQ and BINI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qiUCTgOjDY
Fears and challenges
In our case, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. They’re honest enough to talk about their fears and the challenges they had to hurdle because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ABS-CBN shutdown.
They also said that they look up to certain music acts and would love to collaborate with other P-pop groups. How disarming can you get? Kudos, direk Lauren Dyogi and Star Magic!
Here’s our Q&A with BINI and BGYO, up close and unexpurgated:
For BGYO, your songs are a satisfying blend of radio-friendly melodies and relevant themes tackling social issues, youth empowerment and self-love, which make them appropriate for the times. And you write a lot of your songs. Why do you think is it important to sing not just about you or your own experiences, but also about what’s going on around you?
Gelo: Other than memorable melodies, it’s important to show the world that we’re aware of what’s happening around us … kung ano’ng nakikita at nangyayari sa paligid natin. Through our music, we want to inspire others, and one way to do that is to express other people’s perspective, know their side [on issues] and see how it feels to be in their shoes.
BINI, your songs and videos generate good vibes even as they hew closely to a certain K-pop sheen and template. How different is BINI from other girl groups?
Jhoanna: We’re inspired by other K-pop groups’ discipline and commitment to training—and that’s a good thing. That also encourages us to create our own music. For example, Colet was able to compose the song “Eight (8)” for the group, and I think that’s an edge we’d love to continue honing. We strive for excellence, all the time.
Aiah, your rapping skills are impressive. Do you look up to certain performers?
Aiah: Yeah, there’s been a couple of rappers that I really enjoy listening to. From a girl group, there’s Lisa and Jennie (the official rappers of Blackpink)—I really love how they do it. Rapping is something new to me, really … because I didn’t do a lot of rapping before Bini. But constantly watching those two inspired me to rap with confidence.
It took a while for BINI to take off because of the long training period, the ABS-CBN shutdown and the pandemic. Didn’t you feel impatient that it took a while for Star Magic to actually launch you? Don’t you think 2021 seems like a long time since your “Star Hunt” heyday?
Mikha: Actually, there were times when we felt impatient waiting for our debut because the launch was moved a lot of times. But we just looked at it as a sign that we weren’t ready yet, so we practiced even more. Now we’re more than ready for the world (laughs)!
Gwen: We wanted to reach success together, so we just trusted the process because there are important things that require a lot of patience. We didn’t give up on our dream.
BGYO’s success has been phenomenal, affirmed furthermore by Billboard’s Next Big Sound appellation. What do you think of your success when you look back at all your patience and sacrifices as a group?
Nate: It’s truly been worth the wait. But we did have some hard times when we started, because sometimes it felt like we were going nowhere … no progress. But once we started taking off, it really served as our motivation, like, “If I can do this, why wouldn’t I be able to do more?” So we pushed each other and patiently took every little step.
Mikki: Aside from trusting the process, it was important to trust everyone in our team.
JL: The first steps were really hard, but we got used to it. At nasanay rin po kami sa mga songs na inaral namin—and that’s where we found a sense of fulfillment. We enjoyed going through the process of discovery. We didn’t notice how hard the songs were because of that.
Don’t members of BINI find it difficult to get noticed since there are eight of you in it? And how do you show support for each other?
Maloi: As far as I’m concerned, it’s not all that difficult because each of us is unique in her own way—and the coaches see those differences, and how they shape the group and help us shine individually. I feel lucky to be in a team with very supportive members … For BINI, one person’s success is everybody’s success.
Stacey: Our fans see what sets us apart, individually and as a group. If you believe in yourself, there’s no reason for you not to shine—like the stars in the sky (laughs).
Colet: And we don’t think of it as a competition. We know we’re in this because of the things we can separately contribute to the group. Alam namin na may iba’t-iba kaming kakayahan at kayang gawin.
What about side projects, like solo collabs with other artists? I know it’s important for both BGYO and BINI to focus on your respective groups, for now. Are you allowed to pursue that?
JL: It’s too early to think of solo projects because we’re new. Marami pa kaming pagdadaanan, so it’s important to first focus on the group and see what else we can do together.
Gelo: Perhaps in three to five years’ time. But even if we’ll do some side projects, BGYO will still be our top priority … and the group will still be together—like the stars (laughs)! INQ
In tomorrow’s conclusion: BGYO and BINI’s struggles, triumphs and “One Voice”