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Just two months after their sold-out two-night show at the Mall of Asia Arena in October, boy group SEVENTEEN returned to the Philippines on Saturday, December 17 – making history as the first solo K-pop act to headline a show at the world’s largest indoor arena.
“We’re so happy to be back, honestly. It’s only been about two months but we got here in an even bigger venue and we’re really thankful for that,” member Joshua said at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, which holds a seating capacity of 55,000.
The Bulacan stop might have shared a nearly-identical setlist to their Manila shows, but we dare say that the energy from both the members and the encore attendees had doubled, with member Jeonghan even saying: “Today, I think it was twice as fun.”
The unit performances – especially those of “Wave” and hip-hop unit “Back It Up” – were made even more captivating with the addition of back-up dancers Team AURA and Team SAME, who weren’t present in the group’s Manila concerts. A mammoth crowd of Filipino CARATs also sang along to vocal unit’s “Imperfect Love,” and when the crowd belted out the lyrics to Joshua and Vernon’s “2 Minus 1,” it gave us goosebumps.
The already-thunderous clamor turned deafening when the first notes for “Cheers” started playing. Fans were surprised when members S.coups, Woozi, and Hoshi (collectively known as the SVT Leaders), ended the unit section with a performance of their 2022 single.
For CARATs, “Cheers” holds a special meaning, thanks to the lyrics “We build a building from our basement unit” – a testament to how the group has grown from their humble beginnings.
Member Seungkwan paid homage to how Filipino fans have become a part of that growth. In one of his ments, Seungkwan recalled that there were roughly only a thousand participants at SEVENTEEN’s first fan meeting in the Philippines – the Shining Diamonds tour in 2016.
“I remember the last time when we had our first concert here in the Philippines.… I think it was less than a thousand fans. But right now, you guys are like more than 40,000 people here.… You guys came just to see us,” he said.
Achieving that milestone, though, required collective effort from the fans. Many worried that the large venue wouldn’t be filled, considering the venue’s poor accessibility, and how the additional show was just barely two months from their last visit in the country.
But if there’s one thing we know about fandoms, it’s that their passion drives them to greater heights. Weeks and days leading to the Bulacan stop, several fan groups mounted activities – from transportation assistance, to food drives, to ticket giveaways – to ensure that Filipino CARATs would have the best experience.
All of that came to fruition when the SEVENTEEN members kept on commending the crowd’s energy: “You should be the one receiving energy from us, but we’re getting so much energy from you guys,” Joshua said.
That exchange was made even more palpable during the group’s ments, with the members accommodating the fans’ requests for impromptu performances of tracks not part of their setlists – “BOOM BOOM,” “Don Quixote,” “Adore U,” “Don’t Wanna Cry,” “Say Yes,” and “Change Up.”
The members even acknowledged that maknae (youngest member) Dino garnered the loudest cheers – a tradition among Filipino CARATs during every SEVENTEEN show in the Philippines – with Hoshi even calling Dino the “Philippine superstar” twice. During their Manila concerts, Hoshi and S.coups were visibly surprised when the crowd rapped to Dino’s part in “Snapshoot,” and for their Bulacan show, they anticipated the even larger crowd to do the same. “I think all of the [Filipino] CARATs who came here today are like a big gift for me,” Dino said.
Hoshi, who would use the same ending spiel in almost all of the Be The Sun stops, couldn’t help but giggle when the Filipino crowd recited it along with him. Joshua said that Filipino crowd gave him a moment to remember when they surprised him with a birthday song. Mingyu even noticed when the attendees started chanting “Walang uuwi (Nobody’s going home),” when they announced that they were nearing the end of the show.
The never-ending “Aju Nice” was made more memorable too, with more Filipino fans being given the spotlight to sing its trademark adlibs and dance to a freestyle choreo.
“Every time we come to the Philippines, we’re just astonished by your energy. It is really crazy,” Vernon said.
The surprises didn’t stop there, with the Filipino CARATs finally pulling off a successful fan project during the Bulacan show. The members were slated to perform their track “Our Dawn Is Hotter Than The Day,” but attendees sang “Campfire” instead while holding a banner that said, “Thank you for making this moment our happiest memory.”
“This is like a serenade for us? It’s been a while since we received this thing,” DK said after thanking the fans. Wonwoo added that they really “had fun with all the CARATs.”
The group’s Bulacan show was the 29th stop on their Be The Sun world tour, which spans nearly six months. “Even though it’s coming to an end, we are still happy right now. I was really shocked with all your energy. We will be coming back soon,” Mingyu said. Woozi added, “Mahal ko kayo. Babalik kami. Kita tayo ulit (We love you. We’re coming back. We’ll see each other again).
Leader S.coups, who was visibly holding back tears, expressed his gratitude to the massive number of supporters: “I am so happy to be able to do this together.” And while they were making history that night, he once again promised Filipino CARATs that a reunion was in sight. “Next year, again, I think it would be much better if we meet up again at a bigger venue. And we will come back with a better show…much better than Be The Sun,” he said.
How soon is this reunion? We don’t know, but no matter what, Filipino CARATs will be waiting, ready to make another milestone happen. To borrow the words of S.coups in one of his Twitter posts, SEVENTEEN is on their way “towards a bigger dream.” – Rappler.com