Whether as a global pop group or as Gen Z Filipinos, HORI7ON is making and taking space in a world that can be so unfamiliar.
It’s no secret that Filipino talent is worthy of the global stage. From our regular karaoke gatherings to our kababayans on Broadway, there is no shortage of potential here. But potential doesn’t automatically translate to making it across borders. Whether it’s a lack of opportunities, resources, or platforms, there are homegrown Pinoy talents who miss making their mark in the world because of barriers both external and internal. However, as we’ve seen through the years, with fiery dedication, unrivaled passion, and just the right timing, it is possible and it can be done. HORI7ON, who just debuted last July, epitomizes that story – what it means for stars to align and to have the willpower to make your dreams come alive.
A year ago, Vinci, Kim, Kyler, Reyster, Winston, Jeromy, and Marcus were young Filipinos contemplating whether or not they should join the reality competition show Dream Maker. After several rounds of competition and a historic debut later, HORI7ON is living it. And as they set on their worldwide voyage, these seven young men are making space for themselves and telling their story.
HORI7ON is not even a year old and yet they already have achievements akin to those of a veteran group. The global pop group is the first all-Filipino boy group to debut in South Korea and the first all-Filipino group to perform in some of the country’s biggest music shows. Their debut album, Friend-SHIP, has sold tens of thousands of copies. Additionally, just 47 days into their careers, they held a concert at the Araneta Coliseum.
Even with so many milestones under their belt, when HORI7ON arrived for their cover shoot, they were just regular Gen Z Filipinos who, in between their turns, were dancing to K-pop songs, scrolling on their phones, and hyping up their members who gave face cards that never declined.
You wouldn’t think that these boys have history riding on their shoulders, but they don’t take the moment for granted. “It represents a lot of things, especially for Filipinos,” says Vinci on what it means to be a global pop group. The title feels particularly special as Vinci sees the impact of what HORI7ON does on a new generation of Filipinos who see that their dreams are valid. “Back when I was thirteen and if I saw HORI7ON on YouTube, I’d be ‘Oh, I can do that too.’ And I hope that is what we give out and resonate and inspire a lot of young Filipinos.”
The reception the group has had, particularly in Korea, has stood out as a special moment for them. There is no one quite like HORI7ON in the Korea, yet many Koreans have welcomed these seven Filipinos in their teens and early twenties with open arms as the septet has made loving and passionate fans, called ANCHORs, across all four corners of the world. “Sobrang masaya po kami. Hindi naming inaasahan na makakatanggap ng maraming suporta galing sa iba’t-ibang lahi. We’re just very grateful and happy that they appreciate the Filipino talents,” shares Winston. “Akala ko lalamukin kami kasi mga Filipino kami pero [nung naperform] namin yung debut namin, kahit mga cameraman pumalakpak para sa amin po,” candidly adds Kim.
It’s been a journey, to say the least, for these boys as they adjust to being a global group in the public spotlight. And yes, that includes getting shipped by their fans. “It’s so funny because the imagination they have for that is wild,” muses an amused Vinci. “It’s very interesting to see the ships come to life with the TikToks and clips. I’m so glad ANCHORs are interested enough in HORI7ON to build those types of ships.”
While HORI7ON makes what they do look easy, the boys had to pour in a lot of effort to reach where they are now and where they will be in the months and years to come. It’s been well-documented how the members struggled to adapt to the training as they left their families to move to Korea. And while the struggle is real, so too is the conviction to adapt to their new settings. “Kinaya ko naman sa tulong ng mga kuya ko and sa tulong ng mga coaches naming doon and sa staff po,” expresses Jeromy, who said that he’s at an 8.5/10 in terms of being fully adapted to Korea.
After all, getting to live in a new country away from your family nudges you into early adulting, something the members already have experience with from their time at Dream Maker. On the adulting moments he’s had in Korea, Kyler shares, “Natutunan ko yung sumunod sa tamang oras. Kailangan on time ka kasi bawal po ma-late kahit nang isang minuto.”
Aside from the responsibilities as a group and taking care of their dorm, the members also shared that they find time for R&R like playing video games and watching anime. Behind the pop star life are seven young men who do things most barkadas who live together have to deal with.
TAKING UP SPACE
To be thrust into a world that can be unwelcoming can be scary – even more so when you’re young. To add to that, the responsibility of often being the only Filipinos in the room can make it seem daunting. But for HORI7ON, being who they are is not a curse, but a blessing. “That’s what we’re so proud of,” says Vinci on Filipino representation on a global scale.
“It’s such an honor to represent the Philippines kasi nga kami yung first talagang Filipino boy group na nag-debut as South Korea kaya it’s such an honor to have that opportunity. Everyday, lagi kaming thankful na nagperperform kami doon at nasa South Korea [kami]. It was just our dream before, but I think collectively it has become the dream of everyone. I hope everyone is looking at us and are proud of us.”
Their mere existence is historic as they make room for themselves in a space that wasn’t originally made for them. And to do so at such a young age is, as Reyster sees it, a joyous occasion. “Super happy po ako. Ang bilis ng pangyayari pagkatapos ng Dream Maker. Sana po magbloom ang group namin.” From making moves in Korea to traveling the world, the boys manifested their dreams, attendance at the Asia Artist Awards 2023 this December at the Philippines Arena included.
“Last year, we were all watching that and we thought, it must be nice to be able to perform there, and here we are,” says a shocked Marcus, who thanked ANCHORs for making it a reality.
And even if HORI7ON may have songs in Korean and have a Korean team, don’t get it twisted, these seven young men are Pinoy through and through. Even as a global pop group, the members still find ways to add that signature Filipino flavor to what they do. “We made songs that are in full Filipino,” points out Marcus with regards to their track Mama.
As for other Filipino-coded moments from the Gen Z group, Marcus says, “I think we really got to show a unique personality, the Filipino humor is something that I think a lot of ANCHORs love about us. Especially in K-pop, sometimes you have to be formal but since Filipinos are often casual, I’m sure it’s something everyone loves about us.”
OVER THE HORIZON
Understandably, all of this comes with pressure not many Gen Z Filipinos can relate to, and neither can HORI7ON look to many predecessors to see how it was done. What the group does moving forward may very well lay the groundwork for the next generation of Filipino artists who want to make their mark across borders. So, as early as now, the group takes the pressures and, more importantly, the responsibility of representing Filipinos seriously.
“In Korea, it’s a pool of Korean idols, and we’re the only Filipinos there. It’s intimidating to be honest because they already know the culture, and we’re the first Filipinos to experience that. Any wrong move we make can be a wrong move for the country. We always try to be gentle, adapt to their culture, and be good Filipinos,” Vinci expresses.
At a young age, they understand the responsibility they have with their platform and want to use that energy as a blueprint of sorts for young Filipinos like them. “It makes us feel that it is our responsibility to represent the Philippines,” says Winston matter-of-factly. “But kami yung light na nag-eenlighten sa Filipino dreamers na yung talents nila hindi lang lokal, makikita din internationally.”
From Manila to Seoul and the rest of the globe, HORI7ON is doing what they love as they continue to navigate and take up space that is deserving of Filipinos. Whether as musicians or Gen Z Filipinos, these talented young men are further proof that representation does matter as they help local talent be seen and heard. The band is true to their name. And when the going gets tough, they know they have each other to rely on.
As Marcus adequately puts it, “All of us struggle. It wasn’t a smooth journey. Everyone had their worst points and best points during this long journey. But one thing is for sure, we are here for each other and that’s the most important thing. We’re not doing this alone. All seven of us are doing this together, and that makes it easier. We’re always here for each other and we always uplift each other.”
Watch the rest of our conversation with HORI7ON on the newest episode of Seated with NYLON Manila podcast, coming out this October 20, 2023 on Spotify and YouTube.
Creative & Art Direction GELO QUIJENCO
Sittings Editor AYN BERNOS
Cover Story RAF BAUTISTA
Photography JOSEPH BERMUDEZ
Lighting Director BENEDICT BIGALBAL
Videography KIM SANTOS & JR RAMIREZ
Editorial Assistant JASMIN DASIGAN
Video Editor BENI MATEO & GELO QUIJENCO
Shoot Assistants EZRI MITRA & JAMES JACINTO
Production Design BOTIN STUDIOS
Fashion Stylist QUAYN PEDROSO
Associate Stylists JIA TORRATO & ALEXIE from Rustan’s
Makeup Artist KIM DO YEON
Hair Stylist SONG YOO KEUN
Special thanks to MLD Entertainment and Star Magic
Continue Reading: Hot Debut: HORI7ON Is The First Filipino Group To Perform On MCOUNTDOWN