SB19 on defying gender norms: ‘Bakit natin ililimit yung sarili natin?’

Amanda T. Lago
SB19 on defying gender norms: ‘Bakit natin ililimit yung sarili natin?’

SB19. The group makes fashion choices that break gender norms.

Sony Music Philippines

The P-pop group says they perform better when they wear what they feel confident in

SB19’s Stell, Pablo, Ken, Josh, and Justin really don’t seem to give a damn about gender stereotypes. They take time to do their make-up. They wear dangly earrings and pearl necklaces and ruffled shirts. They get emotionally vulnerable in their music, and they don’t apologize for it.

This isn’t unheard of in the global music scene, where the likes of Harry Styles and BTS can wear heeled boots, purple feather boas, fishnet stockings, and skirts and still count millions of loyal followers.

In the Philippines though, masculinity is still enclosed in tradition, and only a few musicians dare defy gender. Among them is SB19, whose fans seem to embrace the new brand of masculinity that the boys are defining.

As Josh put it, gender rules only put a limit on what people can wear.

Minsan parang cinclose lang natin yung mind natin about those things. Parang ang norm dito, ganito lang dapat, ganyan lang dapat. Pero kami, parang iniisip namin, bakit tayo magkakaroon ng limitations, bakit natin ililimit yung sarili natin sa kailangan isuot na para maging normal ka diba?” Josh said in a July 21 press conference.

(Sometimes, we close our minds about these things. The norm here is, this is how it’s done, this is how it should be. But for us, we think, why should we have limitations, why should we limit ourselves with what we can wear to look normal, right?)

Stell added that people shouldn’t stop others from dressing how they want to either.

Bakit natin pipigilan ang isang tao na maging masaya at maging komportable sa gusto niya, diba? Kung ikaw nga malayang nakakapagsuot ng gusto mo, bakit ibang tao hindi mo hayaan kung dun sila masaya?” he said.

(Why would we stop a person from being happy and being comfortable with what they want? If you’re able to freely wear what you like, why can’t you let other people do the same if that’s what makes them happy?)

He shared that the group performs better when they are comfortable in what they’re wearing. 

Kami nga eh, pag nagpeperform kami gusto namin comfortable kami sa suot namin, yung feeling namin na madadala namin ng maayos yung sarili namin and feeling namin na mas mape-present namin yung sarili namin sa audience ng mas maayos,” he said. 

(When we perform, we like being comfortable in our clothes and feeling that we can carry ourselves better, that we can really present ourselves to the audience better.)

Pablo summed it up in a sentence: “Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident.”

The group released a new EP, Pagsibol, on July 22 – a six-track record that they conceptualized, recorded, and produced themselves.

They are currently gearing up for their online concert, which will stream on August 1. –

Amanda T. Lago

After avoiding long-term jobs in favor of travelling the world, Amanda finally learned to commit when she joined Rappler in July 2017. As a lifestyle and entertainment reporter, she writes about music, culture, and the occasional showbiz drama. She also hosts Rappler Live Jam, where she sometimes tries her best not to fan-girl on camera.