fandom culture

Rising together: Here’s how P-pop fans mounted PPOPCOM in just 10 days

Ysa Abad

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Rising together: Here’s how P-pop fans mounted PPOPCOM in just 10 days
What started as a joke among P-pop fans snowballed into an amazing display of solidarity

For any fan, the days leading to a concert are pretty exhilarating. From planning where to stay before and after the event, to coming up with fan-made freebies and coordinating OOTDs, shows are elaborate affairs that fans allot ample time for preparing. 

Imagine how devastated fans must feel when they find out that the show they’re looking forward to is not pushing through – with the announcement coming just a few days before the actual event. This was how most P-pop fans felt when they learned on March 9 that PPOPCON 2023, slated for March 18-19, had been postponed. 

Ang dami talagang tao na gumastos ng accommodation, gumastos ng ticket papunta dito sa Pilipinas or papunta dito sa Manila. And then, ayun, nga, hindi na nila ma-rebook eh. Wala na, kasi 10 days na lang,” Margarette Francisco, an A’TIN (a fan of SB19), told Rappler. “Hindi ako na-disappoint for myself, na-disappoint ako for the whole community.”

(A lot of fans had already spent for accommodations and tickets to go to the Philippines or Manila [to attend PPOPCON]. They couldn’t re-book those anymore since the event was canceled just 10 days prior. I wasn’t just disappointed for myself, I was disappointed for the whole community.)

To P-pop fans, it wasn’t just a postponement, but a cause for concern. 2022 was a big year for the P-pop community, with more P-pop groups making their debut and even making a mark in the international scene. PPOPCON 2023 was supposed to keep the momentum going. 

Now na meron na tayong door, meron na tayong way, and then suddenly, gagawin mo ‘to. Nagsta-start palang ang P-pop community tapos biglang gagawin ‘yun. ‘Yung mga casuals, instead na ma-engganyo, na-disappoint na sila,” CK Barcelon, another A’TIN, said.

(Just when a door had opened for us, this happened. The P-pop community had just started growing and then this happened. Instead of the event enticing casual [listeners], it ended up disappointing them.)

The fans’ disappointment, as well as their frustration and anger, resulted in them venting their feelings on a Twitter Space. It was in this random and casual catch-up session on March 9 that someone jested that they should just hold a gathering of their own. 

What started as a joke – a coping mechanism, they quipped – snowballed into something totally unexpected. They ended up actually taking matters into their own hands. 

Rising together: Here’s how P-pop fans mounted PPOPCOM in just 10 days
How the Pinoy Pop Community Event came to be

Z Punzalan, also an SB19 fan, took the reins putting up a core team, calling for volunteers, and coordinating with all parties involved. And in the span of 10 short days (the organizers said it was the longest 10 days of their stan lives), their small team of 200 individuals successfully mounted PPOPCOM – an event that has now found a place in P-pop history. 

“I had a gut feeling na parang (that) we have to be involved because we wanted to make it something na magiging proud ‘yung buong A’TIN (that the A’TIN, fans of SB19, would be proud of),” Z told Rappler.

Shortly after the Twitter Space ended on March 9 – just hours after the cancellation of PPOPCON 2023 – Z had already set up three committees: Community Management and Engagement, Project Management, and Events Organizer and Logistics Teams. All three committees had subcommittees, from Creatives to Program and even Medic and Police Assistance.

Sabi nga ni [SB19] Pablo, (As SB19’s Pablo once said), it’s okay to make mistakes, but don’t,” Z said. She knew that when she decided to make PPOPCOM happen, she also committed to making it right. “We only have one week. Wala akong isang buwan para magkamali (I don’t have a month to freely make mistakes),” she said. 

Luckily, Z found the right people to make up her core team. The team consisted of Margaret, CK, Natassia Pelaez, Jaybee Gonzales, Saint Alibudbud, Jen Esguerra, Maryrose Laurente, Ariann Singua, Paula Amor, Kimberly Cervantes, Rejoyce Tan, Stella Dandoy, Myr Villanueva, Gel Valencia, and Joy Altamia. They came from different P-pop fandoms, and many hadn’t even met each other in person, but all of them wanted the event come to fruition.

“It was great kasi (because) they understood where my vision was coming from, why I made the committees, because the committees were supposed to keep things in place,” Z said.

Even more commendable was that the whole planning process was done remotely. It was only through online meetings and chats that they agreed on the guidelines for their social media posts, finalized the program flow, and assigned volunteers their tasks. The core members only met each other in person a day before the actual event. 

With just limited time, the team learned to work smart; their contracts for the artists and volunteers were all automated, while attendees only had to scan QR codes instead of manually filling out registration forms.

“That’s what also made it work, kasi collaborative kaming lahat (because everyone’s collaborative.) And then, focus kasi ang pinaka-importante (focus is really important) for this event,” Z said.

Finances, however, were the major hurdle for PPOPCOM – they didn’t have funds to pay for the artists, the venue, and the equipment, much less the volunteers.

Z recalled that she only gave her team two days – until March 11 – to find a venue, or else the whole event wouldn’t push through. Thankfully, several VIXIES (fans of VXON) sent them a contact person for ETON Centris. With just a quick negotiation, ETON Centris agreed to host the event for free.

From that point, everything started falling into place. They managed to pay for the lights and sound system thanks to donations from A’TIN and ACEs (fans of BGYO). Z noted that one specific A’TIN shelled out P10,000 in a span of 10 minutes. 

As the event continued gaining traction on social media, sponsorships started pouring in, and more artists started signing up to be part of the program – resulting in the organizers extending the program later and later into the evening.

Kung tutuusin, ‘yung buong event ng PPOPCOM, kung bibilangin natin, hindi muna natin isasama ‘yung talent fee ng artists ha, kung mga nasa P300,000 to P400,000 na ‘yung kailangan naming pera,” Z said.

(If we had to compute it, without including the talent fees of the artists, we would’ve needed around P300,000 to P400,000 for the event if we hadn’t gotten lucky.) 

“There was just so much money involved in the process. The venue cost almost P150,000 and we got it for free, the sound system was also discounted…. We’re happy that at zero amount of money, we were able to do it and pull it off really well,” Z continued. “For me, I’m still amazed by how we were able to do that.” 

It wasn’t a smooth process, though, with Z admitting that there had been hiccups and arguments. Despite these, Z had nothing but praise for her team members. 

“I’m really thankful that the people I work with, sobrang-sobra ‘yung passion nila (are so passionate in being able) to uplift the whole P-pop community,” Z said. “[Mounting a huge event] is not a question of possibility. I think it’s really more of how much the people behind the scene actually know how it works and want to make it work.” 

#PPOPRise: No fans and artists left behind

All preparations were done on top of the volunteers’ school and work duties. Many sacrificed sleep, rest days, and time for their friends and family, but to them it was all worth it, bound as they were to a singular goal: letting P-pop rise. 

Masaya ako na magkaroon ng ganitong event na at first, fan gathering lang, fans lang ‘yung mag-eenjoy, fans lang ‘yung magpe-perform…. Tapos ito na, kahit ‘yung mga nagsisimulang groups pa lang, maso-showcase na nila ‘yung talents nila,” Jen said. “Gusto nilang ma-promote ‘yung Filipino music kasi kaya naman talaga natin. The goal really is to celebrate Filipino music all over the world.”

(I’m happy that there are events like this. It started as a fan gathering, where our goal was to just let fans have fun and perform. But it ended up as a place for budding professional groups to showcase their talents. We really want to promote Filipino music.)

Saint, an A’TIN, said that events like these allowed fans to give back to SB19. “When SB19 started, walang nagbigay sa kanila ng ganitong opportunity to showcase their talent, kasi walang audience. So I think it’s time na kaming A’TIN, since hindi namin nagawa ‘yun sa SB19 dati, gagawin namin siya ngayon for upcoming P-pop groups.”

(When SB19 started, they barely had an audience, so they weren’t given the opportunity at first to showcase their talents. That’s why we think it’s time for A’TIN to do what we weren’t able to do for SB19 before. We’re going to do it now for upcoming P-pop groups.) 

Margarette echoed the sentiment, recalling a line from SB19’s Pablo. “Sabi ni Pinuno, ‘As a Pinoy, sama-samang angat. Ito na ‘yun.” (Pablo once said, ‘As Filipinos, we should rise together.’ Now’s that time.)

“I’m excited for all of the artists to have that opportunity to shine, and for other people to see them,” Natassia said in the lead-up to the event. “There are going to be several groups of people watching from different fan bases, and they’ll watch and know other groups. Filipinos have so much talent, and there are so many groups out there that sometimes, we don’t notice them right away. But PPOPCOM now has an objective to let these groups shine. We’re a stage now for these groups to showcase their music.”

“To contribute by making a space for people to do what they love, and show their passion, ang laking bagay,(it’s a big deal),” Ariann said. “It’s very fulfilling that you see other people shine, you see other people do what they love to do, and somehow, you open doors for them as well.” 

The organizers of PPOPCOM knew there was a lot at stake especially during the actual event day. “We have to make it work, by hook or by crook. These people and artists trusted us. This is their chance and this is P-pop’s chance,” Paula said. 

For many of the volunteers, it was the first time that they got to be up close and personal with several P-pop groups. But instead of spazzing, they knew that they had to be professional. “There’s no room for mistakes,” Kimberly stressed. 

Everything paid off after attendees and artists praised them for pulling off PPOPCOM and going beyond their expectations. “The satisfaction that I felt at that time was on another level,” Merose shared.

Kimberly added, “The sleepless nights were all worth it. We successfully showed the people how talented our groups are and how hardworking our volunteers are.” 

The organizers also decided to donate 50% of profits from their merchandise sales to a chosen charity. 

It’s inspiring to see how a canceled event drove the P-pop community to create opportunities of their own. With this display of solidarity by fans for fans, there is no doubt that P-pop will rise to greater heights.

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