It’s only been less than a month since BGYO’s debut, and this rookie P-Pop group has already made big waves, reaching 1 million views on their first music video, The Light, in just a week since its release.
The group—comprised of members, Gelo Rivera (19), Akira Morishita (19), JL Toreliza (19), Mikki Claver (18), and Nate Porcalla (17),—is the first boy group to be formed and debuted by Star Hunt Academy (SHA) to kick off the new decade. BGYO (pronounced B-G-Y-O) is the brainchild of Director Laurenti M. Dyogi, Head of Entertainment Production, and its talent management arm, Star Magic at ABS-CBN.
So, who is this new P-Pop boy group that is taking the world by storm? Here’s why BGYO is all over your timeline.
BGYO released their first single, The Light last January 29 and it became very clear that aside from watching out for this group, the world needs to pay close attention to this force of nature (read the full review of The Light here.) Their illuminating energy didn’t just happen overnight, though. They spent two years rigorously training to get to the point where they are today.
Blood, sweat, and tears formed this new P-Pop group. Mikki even recalls crying after one of their evaluations during SHA training, when he received what he now calls constructive criticism. “There was a time when Direk was giving us feedback because we had evaluations. When I went upstairs to meet Direk Lauren, I received negative feedback, so I cried when I heard that,” he said, bashfully smiling at the memory.
While Mikki can rap and make his own music now, he actually had zero experience in both singing and dancing prior to joining SHA. “That [feedback] really helped me to become better, and now I am able to catch up with them,” he added while the rest of his group nodded in full support.
Gelo, the leader, also shares one of his most memorable experiences as a trainee. “There was one time during Korean training, we had a lot of homework, we slept late, and was on a strict diet. Then randomly, someone played a worship song, and all of a sudden, I started breaking down.”
Not one to hold back his feelings, Gelo prides himself in being the most expressive of the group. And it rings true the most when he performs onstage. It also helps that he had training in dancesport, which is a technical competition for ballroom dancing. It became quite a useful skill now that he’s in BGYO; his movements and expression having a way to captivate and enchant the audience.
GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Living together for the most part when the pandemic hit, these boys naturally became tight-knit as a group. But it wasn’t always that way. Akira shares that he was close with the rest of the group during the early days of training, but when it came to their leader, Gelo, he wasn’t sure how to approach him.
To break the ice between the two, Akira would often ask Gelo if he had eaten already. “Bro, kumain ka na ba?” Akira re-enacts while Gelo starts laughing, as if it was an inside joke running between the two boys. “Ganun usually ‘yung tanong ko para mag-usap kami,” Akira explains.
It’s easy to see that Akira has a charming personality. After all, he started working at a young age, doing TVCs and modeling for high-profile brands. This led him to more acting jobs, the most notable being the indie film, Sundalong Kanin, which won him the Most Promising Actor recognition. He’s basically a natural in front of the camera now!
No stranger to the Korean wave, the boys of BGYO were trained for international standards. Inspired by K-Pop’s global domination, and motivated by the success of SB19 breaking through worldwide charts to show the promise of the Philippine music industry, BGYO’s goal is to be just as recognized as their Korean idols and the P-Pop trailblazers before them.
“Actually, my mom introduced me to K-Pop. She introduced me to BTS, EXO, and then eventually I learned about Wanna One, SEVENTEEN, and new groups like that,” says Nate who was beaming excitedly while sharing his love for K-Pop.
Though Nate is the youngest of the group, he is considered one of the most seasoned dancers in BGYO. Dancing since he was six years old, competing and performing around the US fueled his dream to perform in front of huge audiences. In fact, if it were not for SHA, he was prepared to relocate to Korea to train there as an idol. So, don’t be fooled by his seemingly sweet and bubbly disposition, he’s actually a dancing machine on stage.
A lot of things came unexpected last year when the pandemic hit. Having to camp inside SHA and be away from their families was a big challenge for the boys who are close with their family, along with the uncertainty of their future because of the ABS-CBN shutdown. But that didn’t stop the boys from getting overwhelming love and support from their fans. What was supposed to be a one-time appearance on a show became a regular occurrence in the high-rating Sunday noontime variety show, ASAP Natin ‘To. This further solidified their fandom, leading them to the light, which is their much-awaited debut this year.
And while the boys’ journey this year remains illuminated with opportunies, thanks to the support of their fans, BGYO is determined to work even harder to improve their skills.
JL, known as the mapanakit balladeer of the group because of his soulful voice, opened up about wanting to learn how to rap and branch out with his style of music. We won’t be surprised if, in the next few months, he’ll get a rap solo. His wide vocal range is definitely an advantage, and if he proved anything from camp, it’s that with enough persistence, he can power through and learn anything he wants to.
It’s a dream for BGYO to reach international recognition. During the fancon last January 29, they shared that they have plans to translate their song into different languages so that their international fans will be able to understand their music as well.
Recently, BGYO was featured in a New York fashion brand, Prive, co-owned by EXO’s Baekhyun. Naturally, Nate was gushing from the feature. Mikki recalled that they used to cover EXO’s songs, and now, they’re wearing one of the members’ collection.
Surely, there is more in store for BGYO. Things are looking good ahead of them, so there is no doubt in our minds that BGYO is ready to shine their light to the world, onward and upward, as their story continues to unfold.