Pinoy pop

2023 PPOPCON Manila: What went down at the P-pop fandom wonderland 

Jacob Maquiling

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2023 PPOPCON Manila: What went down at the P-pop fandom wonderland 

Photo from Araneta City's Twitter

This huge P-pop event was one for the books!

MANILA, Philippines – For the second consecutive year, the Pinoy Pop Convention (PPOPCON) Manila brought together passionate P-pop enthusiasts for an event filled with entertainment and camaraderie.

Initially scheduled for March but postponed due to “logical concerns,” PPOPCON 2023 pushed through as a three-day event from July 14 to 16. Compared to last year’s two-day event, the organizers added another day to this year’s convention to accommodate the “overwhelming demand and growing popularity of P-pop in the Philippines.”

The event held at Quantum Skyview 2 in Quezon City witnessed a total of 30 P-pop groups and solo artists, showcasing the best P-pop has to offer through performances, fan signing events, and interactive booths organized by fan groups. 

A fandom wonderland

Upon entering the venue, visitors were greeted with a sea of colors and energy. Each group’s fanbase hosted booths that offered fan-made freebies and sold merchandise such as hand fans, banners, photo cards, posters, photo books, and albums.

Fan groups introduced their respective idols to passers-by by giving out flyers and informational materials, which included the background and music style of each act, and these acts’ social media accounts. 

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BRGY MAGILIW. Fans at the ALAMAT booth. Jacob Maquiling/Rappler

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BGYO BOOTH. Lots of BGYO merch up for grabs. Jacob Maquiling/Rappler
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MNL 48 BOOTH. The little costume cut-outs are adorable! Jacob Maquiling/Rappler

Fan groups also organized games such as dance-offs, singing competitions, and trivia quizzes, with special rewards and souvenirs as prizes. 

The BGYO x ACEs booth, for example, challenged attendees to unlock a treasure chest using multiple sets of keys in only 15 seconds – a nod to the concept behind BGYO’s “PNGNP.”

“In terms of physical work, 10 people helped to put this all together,” said Levy, a fan of groups BGYO and BINI. “Nung nag-ingress kami the other day, until 3 am kami sa set-up. Pero support for the boys and for the fandom, wala sa akin yung puyat, hirap, at pagod. It’s definitely worth it.”

(When we did ingress the other day, we were setting our things up until 3 am. But when it comes to supporting the boys and the fandom, all the sleepless nights and exhaustion is nothing. It’s definitely worth it.)

Rev, a fan of ALAMAT and a first-timer to P-Pop events, was impressed by how fandoms were able to manage mounting such activities. 

“I’m very happy. During the pandemic, super limited ng content and super limited din yung interaction with the fans. Pero right now, it’s giving them more room to grow and meet the fans,” he said. 

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WRITE AWAY. Fans write on the event’s Freedom Wall. Jacob Maquiling/Rappler

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FAN LOVE. Fans write their love for P-pop on Post-its. Jacob Maquiling/Rappler

The convention was, of course, more than just a gathering for the fans. It also featured fan signing events – where supporters had the chance to get up close and personal with their favorite acts. Among those who held fan signing events were Alamat, 1st.One, KAIA, G22, and SB19 member Josh Cullen. 

Given that this was a rare opportunity to meet their idols, some fans didn’t hesitate to go all out. One attendee, for example, attended the fan signing event of Josh Cullen in a wedding gown, complete with a wedding certificate which she asked the “Wild Tonight” singer to sign.   

The convention was made even more special by surprise visits and performances by participating P-Pop acts. 

BGYO surprised fans on weekend dates, performing onstage and visiting the booths dedicated to them. Other P-pop groups also visited their respective fan booths, including YARA, SB19’s Pablo and Ken, and G22. 

SB19’s Stell also spent some time by the booths, posing beside his The Voice Generation standee. 

P-pop artists in one stage

The highlight of PPOPCON Manila 2023 was undoubtedly the star-studded concert that unfolded over the course of five hours. Fans were treated to new arrangements, longer dance breaks, and teasers on upcoming releases from their favorite P-pop artists. 

Though the concert kicked off two hours later than its anticipated start of 6 pm, this delay did not dampen the spirits of the attendees; in fact, it added to the excitement, especially when the house lights were finally turned off and the spotlights onstage were turned on.

P-pop group leaders took the stage to co-host the event alongside MYX VJ Ai Dela Cruz. These leaders included VER5US’ Kheene, SMS’ Alyanna, ECLIPSE’s Dean, and DAYDREAM’s Denise. 

The concert kicked off with girl group YARA performing their unreleased song “Eksena.” It’s amazing to think that they were just audience members in the previous year’s concert and had now become performers in 2023.

Boy group Yes My Love took the stage next, captivating the audience with their renditions of “Gusto Ko Nang Bumitaw” and debut single “Rhythm.”

Yes My Love member Bri took to social media and shared how amazed he was by his group’s journey, as he was actually an associate stylist for SB19 during last year’s convention, unaware that he and his group mates would soon hold their own debut.

D1ONE also brought it with powerful performances of “Bling Bling” and “Break You Down.” They were followed by girl group CALISTA, who performed their debut single “Race Car” and latest release “Ugnayan.”

The concert also featured performances by girl groups PPop Generation and MNL48.

PPop Generation performed “Hanggang Tingin Ka Lang” and “Prinsesa,” while MNL48 had the audience singing along to hits like “Pag-ibig Fortune Cookie” and “Green Flash.” MNL48 also performed a special tune, “MNL48,” which incorporated the names of each group and fostered a sense of unity between artists and fans.

Gutted not to be able to perform physically for their fans, boy groups HORI7ON and VXON still made sure to participate in the event via telecast. HORI7ON performed their unreleased song “Hit Me” and their version of the Dream Maker song “Lovey Dovey,” while VXON performed their track “Breaking Bad.”

Currently, both groups are out of the country – HORI7ON is preparing for their debut in South Korea this July, while VXON has an ongoing tour in the United States with their fellow Cornerstone artists.

In between sets, fans were also treated to interactions and games – with one of the segments being hosted by SB19’s Stell.

This then set the stage for the Hatawcast, where several lucky Magiliws got the opportunity to dance alongside ALAMAT as they performed their track “Maharani.” 

Press Hit Play were up next, delivering performances of “Balaraw” and “Wala Na Ba?,” while female alphas G22 hyped the crowd with “Turn Up” and “Dalawa,” then ended their set with the electrifying “Boomerang.”

KAIA then took the stage to perform “Turn Up,” “Dalawa,” and “5678.” On social media, the group shared that they didn’t actually have a coach to help prep them for these performances, and thanked their fans for their support.

Next, BGYO showcased their hits “Magnet,” “PNGNP,” and “Extraordinary.”

G22’s AJ, 1st.ONE’s Ace, KAIA’s Angela, and Press Hit Play’s CHRLS then took the stage to host certain segments and introduce their fellow artists. Attendees were also excited to see BINI’s Jhoanna and SB19’s Josh together onstage to introduce BGYO. Later that night, BGYO’s Gelo also joined VJ Ai onstage to talk about his viral 2×2 picture. 

Solo performances from MNL 48’s Sheki, and SB19’s FELIP and Josh Cullen also primed the audience for these artists’ group showcases. 

Decked in a silver ensemble, MNL48’s Sheki debuted her song “Tell Me” – it was the first time for her to perform it live since its release in December 2022. 

Josh Cullen then performed his unreleased song “Get Right,” his latest release “Pakiusap Lang,” and his hit “Wild Tonight.” The part when he climbed inside a coffin and was carried away by his backup dancers earned one of the loudest cheers of the night. 

Meanwhile, Josh’s fellow bandmate FELIP made a grand entrance during his solo stage, and wore a cool mask during his performances of”’ROCKSTA,” “STRAYDOGS,” and “MICTEST” from his EP COMP.LEX. 

Nation’s Girl Group BINI then delivered a medley of their hit tracks “Na Na Na,” “Lagi,” and “I Feel Good,” followed by performances of “Strings” and “No Fear.” During their spiels, the girls of BINI also expressed their appreciation for all the different fandoms present at the concert.

“It’s just so nice to be filled with a kind of energy where we support the rise of P-pop,” BINI Aiah said. 

Ang sarap sa feeling na galing tayo sa iba’t ibang fandom. Pero tingnan niyo naman – iba ‘yung cheer nila kapag nagpeperform ‘yung iba’t ibang grupo,” BINI Jhoanna added. (It feels so good to know that we all come from different fandoms. And just look – everyone cheers their heart out for each and every group.)

The group also emphasized that the concert is not a competition, but rather an event where P-pop groups and fandoms could come together as one community. 

Eto ‘yung ganitong klaseng event, hindi ‘to isang paligsahan, isang competition, pero magsisibleng inspirasyon,” BINI Jhoanna expressed, reiterating a previous tweet of hers. (This is the kind of event where it’s not a competition, but a source of inspiration.)

ALAMAT then returned onstage with their set, doing renditions of “Dayang” and “Day and Night.” The boy group also announced their upcoming full-length album titled ISAPUSO. 

The excitement reached its peak when powerhouse boy group SB19 finally took the stage. With their upcoming world tour just around the corner, the group gave their all as they performed hit songs like “GENTO,” “I WANT YOU,” and “CRIMZONE,” with the crowd’s screams filling up the venue.

The concert ended with all acts present onstage for one final bow to their fans.

Even though the concert had ended, the venue was still pulsing with energy at 1 am, as the show had lived up to its promise of uniting fans and artists in the name of P-pop. –

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