Proving that they are more than just the clap, cheer, and clamor, these Filipino fandoms dedicated to K-pop, love teams, and artists are paying it forward.
Wherever one tips the scale in interest, a day won’t go by without even the slightest graze of the fascinating complex celebrity culture in the Philippines. An ever-shifting and evolving phenomenon in itself, there is definitely a lot to see and say when it comes to the business of show within our shorelines, or what is more familiarly filed as Pinoy showbiz. Whether it is whirlwind romances, gurgling blind items, or unrelenting competition, a lot compounds the craft that many artists claim an unerring commitment to. It is known as a turbulent industry for a reason, what with the swirl of razzle and dazzle, egos, and stories that stand to be the cogs of an insane and intense system of art and commerce. While celebrities, networks, and the box-office are important considerations, the industry would cease to be successful without the fans and its more consolidated counterpart, the fandoms.
From record-breaking returns at the tills and TV ratings, firing up trending topics and hashtags on social media, and of course, catapulting wide-eyed hopefuls to the spangled constellation of stars, the entertainment industry, particularly of Philippine show business, would be nothing without the dedication of Filipino fans and fandoms.
Where some would scoff at this religious-like reverence as rabid, others see as a concentrated sense of support that is everything from an escape to an inspiration. A preoccupation of passionate proportions, there is a lot more to the fandoms of celebrities than just a perceived fixation. Apart from the obvious screams, thrills, and attention, it is the sense of precision and purpose that sets these highly coordinated communities apart.
The Stan Culture
Over the years, the comprehension of these celebrity-centered connections have grown from mere clapping, cheering, and clamoring to expending energy and emotion to movements and efforts that matter. While still hinged on the artist they have pledged an unbending allegiance to, the concept of fandoms became increasingly known on its own as a unique social unit with its own values. Usually inspired by the qualities of their idols, these fandoms have increasingly become more progressive, whether through personal and political dissent, advocacies, and charities. Propelled by its lightning-quick mobilization, which is mostly realized online, campaigns, programs, and conversations are steered in a rigorous manner to effectively engage, amplify the message, and most importantly, to get things done.
Where the fans congregate as fandoms can optimize the relevance and assert the power of the love teams they ship or the bands that they stan in terms of merchandise, endorsements, and content, they also have carved out a complementing reputation with the work that they do beyond scope of entertainment. Opting out of the simply superficial, there have been increased efforts to be more and do more, as seen through the assembly and activation online and IRL in the name of worthy causes as inspired by the philanthropies and predilections of who they’re a fan of.
In recent memory, this quality has been defined and exemplified by K-pop fandoms, whose exercise of solidarity have contributed greatly to encouraging dialogues and championing causes that range from equality, mental health, and human rights, among many others. From the support and donation of BTS to the Black Lives Movement, as well as of their constant and consistent calls for self-love and social consciousness, the BTS ARMY have long followed suit, mounting efforts on both a global and local scale.
The Filipino Fandom
From the onslaught and aftermaths of natural disasters, as well as of the crisis caused by the pandemic, the K-pop fandoms from the Philippines have heeded the calls for help. Through the consolidated efforts of the BTS ARMYs in the country, they were able to collect a little over two million pesos in donations for the relief efforts of the communities affected by Typhoon Ulysses in 2020, put up the BTS Tree Park in Mount 387 (Carranglan, Nueva Ecija), and initiated the #BuildTheSoop fundraiser focused on climate change and the sustainability of Zambales forest and indigenous communities. More so, an offshoot from the BTS ARMY, the ARMY Bayanihan, has given back to fire victims, jeepney drivers, homes for the aged, and local farmers. And this year, for the band’s 8th anniversary, BTS PH – Bangtan Boys Philippines, together with ARMY Cavite Fanbase and TaehgersPH, adopted eight whales from the Babuyan Marine Corridor through Balyena.org, while other ARMYs donated to the BTS back-to-school kit for children.
Even the fans of J-Hope hosted birthday fundraisers and charity events to build classrooms in the Philippines, to benefit homeless children, to teach children with developmental abilities to dance, and to collect funds for free surgeries for children born with cleft palates. And as for V, his Philippine fanbase, Taehyung Philippines, supported the non-profit organization, AAPAFinc, which sponsors food pantries for families of indigenous people.
Other Filipino K-pop fandoms in the Philippines have banded together in the name of bayanihan, too. From the likes of Yedam Star International (Bang Yedam of Treasure), FILO BLINKS PH (Blackpink), and Project Renaissance (NCT Philippines alongside the local fan clubs of Super Junior and SHINee), they all responded to relief efforts in the string of calamities that ravaged the country last year.
Meanwhile, this year, when the strict lockdowns were implemented, which severely limited physical and economical movements, there emerged an organic social undertaking in the community pantries. Inspired by the efforts of Ana Patricia Non in Maginhawa, Quezon City, barangays, companies, and similar collectives from all over the Philippines, including Filipino K-pop fandoms soon followed suit, with the strongholds of Blackpink, BTS, EXO, GOT7, NCT, Red Velvet, Sandara Park/2NE1, Seventeen, Super Junior, Sechs Kies, Treasure, and Winner mounting their own take on the system of honesty and humanity.
The Kindness Clubs
While the likes of Angel Locsin, Bela Padilla, Alden Richards, Maine Mendoza, and Jericho Rosales, among many others, act fast and efficiently for fundraisers, donation drives, and relief operations during many a harrowing crisis in the country, many young actors and musicians have followed their lead, both storming their social media timelines with appeals for help of the necessary sort, as well as of committing their own time and finances to gather as much as is needed to help the displaced and disenfranchised. Consequentially, their fans would either heed their calls or in a remarkable development, create efforts to give back as fandoms in the Philippines.
Acting on different causes, the fandoms of Filipino artists have gone beyond standard stanning, committing themselves to the environmental consciousness and social justice. Working towards helping build a future worth living with the efforts to be as inspired, informed, and involved like Nadine Lustre, her fandom has been mindful of the ways she pays it forward. To celebrate her birthday last year, they helped out by donating essentials to the frontliners of the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez hospital, reaching out to Meraki (an organization that aims to help jeepney drivers), and raising funds for Greenpeace Philippines. Apart from that, the singer and actress is also raising awareness for sustainability and taking action, specifically working to raise funds to aid the 20-year reforestation project for the Aetas of Yangil, Zambales with For The Future, Bioten, and Make A Difference, which her followers have eagerly supported to achieving its goal of pledging 88,000 trees.
Similarly, the KaDreamers fandom of Kathryn Bernardo from beyond the Philippines in Indonesia have planted and dedicated 266 trees in her name. But aside from that, in the year prior, the KathNiels have taken it upon themselves to encourage empathy with the launch of the Share The Love Fund Drive for the benefit of those affected by the lockdown then. Not stopping there, the supporters of Kathryn and Daniel (Padilla), through the Manila Department Of Social Welfare, continued with the distribution of food packs to street dwellers that took solace at the Fugoso Sports Complex.
Moreover, the fans of Liza Soberano and Enrique Gil did their idols a solid by collecting over half a million pesos over the course of a four-month fundraiser with Save The Children that will help 530 families with an initiative to help them adjust to life in the pandemic by giving them parenting and learning kits.
To A More Compassionate World
Not to be left behind with their elevated efforts, the A’Tins (aka the equally loud and proud support system of prime P-pop group, SB19) have been funneling their electric energies to support their best boys beyond just trending topics, rockstar numbers on social media, and global acclaim. Always one to make things special and memorable, including anniversaries and birthdays (as manifested by the mangroves planted in the name of Josh and Stell and a community pantry as well), the Filipino fandom-turned-family of the charismatic quintet have been raising funds for WWF-Philippines, which is a cause close to their hearts. Holding the spirit of bayanihan near and dear, just as SB19 have long been espousing in their music, this undertaking is not only meant to mark the third anniversary of the band, but to encourage the conservation of biodiversity and promoting sustainable development for the benefit of the Tuna Value-Adding in Lagonoy Gulf and Mindoro Strait, as well as of its environmental frontliners and community.
Now this is stanning done right. While not entirely independent of the stars, it has to be underscored that while these passion projects are done in their name and honor, it still is geared for the greater good of and by the fans. Besides, these remarkable and admirable endeavors only add to the respectable reputation of the people that perched and pedestalled to intimidating heights. If anything, this further humanizes them, and most importantly, looking at things in the bigger picture, makes for a more compassionate world worth living in. All it takes is one act of kindness, really.