MANILA, Philippines – If you still think that P-pop is just a trying-hard wannabe of its foreign counterparts, then you’re not paying attention. These local groups have redefined the Pinoy pop scene in recent years, even taking the genre to greater heights and uncharted territory.
For avid supporters of these P-pop groups, it’s unfair that these talented acts are considered cheap imitations by people who don’t even give the genre a chance.
“We always say, support local or love local, but some people love local selectively,” M, a 31-year-old fan of P-pop group BINI, told Rappler.
Majority of these P-pop fans are, in fact, fans of international music too, especially K-pop and J-pop, and they actually learned to appreciate P-pop more because it was able to showcase Filipino culture through a popular genre.
“I was a K-pop fan before, so I am not new to fangirling anymore. Oftentimes, I envy the South Korean fans because they don’t really have to go out of their way and budget to see their idols perform,” Lulu, a fan of P-pop group Press Hit Play, said. “I had the thirst for our own idol groups having the same timbre, execution, and stage presence. I crave for groups that have the K-pop vibe.”
While she has seen P-pop groups that were patterned after K-pop groups, Lulu admitted that she hoped locals would showcase local culture and have their own flavor and sound. “I was skeptical at first, but then I came to love their sound and the other ways they can help to show off our rich culture and talent to the world.”
Filipinos and their world-class talent
“We’re not denying that there’s similarities with K-pop and J-pop, specifically in terms of the artist’s performances. There’s flashy outfits, intense choreographies, and powerful songs,” Shai, a fan of P-pop group SB19 said. “Even the P-pop groups, and the staff behind them, all sing their praises for the success of K-pop across the world.”
What K-pop has done is an admirable feat, brought upon by a culmination of years of hard work and generations of talent. And for P-pop fans, such success is not a shot in the dark for Pinoy pop. “Filipinos are known for their world-class talents. Sure, we’ve been famed for our biritera singers, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t and won’t wow the world with what these Pinoy pop groups can offer, too,” Shai added.
M also pointed out that Pinoy pop has always been present; it just evolved throughout the years. “When I was younger, I was fond of dancing to Sexbomb Girls songs, bought their albums, and watched their shows. They started P-pop together with other groups, as early as the 2000s. But now, P-pop is more known here in our country as ‘P-pop idols.’”
At this point, you’d have to be living under a rock if you still hadn’t heard of any P-pop songs. With the likes of SB19, MNL48, BGYO, BINI, ALAMAT, and more acts, the genre encompasses a pretty wide range.
“I met SB19 September of 2019. They introduced me to P-pop. I was really happy to see that a Filipino group could show me the same dedication and talent that we see in K-pop,” Jadi, a 17-year-old fan of P-pop groups SB19, KAIA, and G22, said. “I saw new P-pop groups come in and I became really passionate about being a fan of Filipino talents who motivate and promote Filipino culture.”
“It warms my heart to see Filipinos supporting Filipino artists in ways they never did before. And as a P-pop fan living overseas, the P-pop community brings me closer to home,” she added.
Honey, a 21-year-old fan of P-pop group 1st.One shared that the steady growth of P-pop is “overwhelming on a good note…. It’s fun to see fans gathering and cheering for each P-pop group they like.”
Cher, a 44-year-old fan of P-pop group Press Hit Play, recalled that before, her friends were previously not familiar with any P-pop group. “But right now, I’ll even hear them humming/singing a certain P-pop song. Before, most YouTube reactors of P-pop groups were Filipino vloggers. But as time goes by, uploaded P-pop songs on YouTube are flooded by foreigner reactors.”
Clar, a 16-year-old fan of P-pop group Press Hit Play, also pointed out that the genre now had such a huge and steady following, it even warranted an event of its own, citing the recently concluded 2022 PPOP CON convention. “It feels surreal to see how the P-pop community thrives from its roots…. It goes to show that there is certainly a group of people willing to support this genre and the artists within its scope.”
The life of a P-pop fan
Being deeply patterned after the machinery of K-pop, it’s no surprise then that even Pinoy pop fans pick up some practices from their foreign counterparts. Most fanbases prepare a series of activities – such as streaming projects, social media boostings, charity events, donation drives, to name a few – to show their support for the groups they stan.
And for these Filipino P-pop fans, that’s where the stark difference lies: knowing that they’re doing it for their fellow Filipinos.
“Supporting Filipino artists makes me even prouder of being a Filipino,” Jadi said. Shai echoed the sentiment: “I take pride in supporting such talented Filipinos. I feel proud in seeing their hard work pay off and in knowing that they’re reaching their dreams. And in the process, they’re also thrusting the Filipino artistry into the international spotlight.”
Compared to being fans of foreign artists, these P-pop fans share that they’ve found more satisfaction in showing support to a fellow Filipino. “I can relate to them more. They don’t feel like these unattainable celebrities because I resonate with the stories they tell. I see myself in them,” Shai added.
For Clar, sharing the same language plays a big role in this relatability. “Banters, sarcastic remarks, and jokes made by the idols are easier to understand because we share the same humor/pop culture in the country.”
Aside from relatability, accessibility is also another advantage to supporting a local artist. For these P-pop fans, they have had several opportunities to watch their artists live. “The most satisfying part of it is being able to sing and chant with the crowd in your own language,” Lulu added.
Cher said it’s fulfilling to celebrate her group’s milestones: “Seeing them fulfilling their dreams as an artist, hearing their songs on radio stations, watching them perform on national TV, knowing that your idols appreciate all your efforts in supporting their group.”
Knowing that they’re part of their group’s success, these fans are driven to be more respectful and protective of their artists. “Maybe it’s because we actually don’t put them on a pedestal that we know where our boundaries lie. Some of us are lucky enough to have personal and online interactions with our idols but it doesn’t make us feel entitled that we actually have a say in their decisions,” Shai said.
She elaborated that while minor conflicts are unavoidable in each fandom, the P-pop community in general is geared towards one goal: “As fans, we all want these groups to get the recognition that they deserve.” – Rappler.com