Meet The Only Filipina Competing For A Spot In HYBE x Geffen’s New Global Girl Group

Class is in session.

Twenty-year-old Sophia Laforteza has made it to the Top 20 finalists that will compete in new reality survival show The Debut: Dream Academy.

Related: All the Major Announcements From HYBE’s Community Event Briefing

K-Pop industry leader HYBE, home of global supergroup BTS, is teaming up with American record label Geffen Records to find the next global girl group that’ll take the world by storm! Twenty finalists chosen from hundreds of thousands of applicants have made it to the “Dream Academy,” where they’ll compete for a spot in the final lineup of the group. And one of them hails from the Philippines. Here’s what you need to know about the young Pinay hoping to make her idol dreams come true.




Sophia Laforteza, 20, is the only Filipina to make it to the finalist lineup alongside other international competitors hailing from the USA, Japan, Australia, Sweden, Argentina, Thailand, South Korea, Switzerland, Brazil, Belarus, and Slovakia.

Sophia Laforteza


She and the other finalists will showcase their skills and talents for 12 weeks on the reality competition and audition program The Debut: Dream Academy, which will air on YouTube and Japanese platform ADEMA starting September 1st to November 17, which will be the live finale.

The Debut: Dream Academy Contestants

Photo courtesy of HYBE/Geffen

In Dream Academy’s social media reveal of the finalists, Sophia, or Sophie/Fifi/Sopheezy, describes herself as “hysterical, caring, and diligent.” She is the daughter of actress and singer Carla Guevara Laforteza and Chef Godfrey Laforteza, who, like her, is a proud ARMY.

She graduated senior high school in 2021 with high honors from Multiple Intelligence International School after studying in the Humanities and Social Sciences strand. Her Instagram is filled with stylish outfits, travel pictures, and fun, sun-drenched adventures.

Sophia is also proven to be a talented vocalist, having posted singing videos to her Tiktok. With her talent, style, looks, and poise, Sophia looks to be a strong contender in Dream Academy, and we can’t wait to see how well she does.

@sophialaforteza singing on here again after months 🫶🏼 vanessa’s trick for ya #thelittlemermaid #vanessastrick #singing @halle ♬ original sound – sophia laforteza


John Janick, chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M, says of the contestants, “Each candidate is incredibly talented, dedicated, and driven, making this an exciting moment for music fans worldwide.” To introduce the finalists and their talents, HYBE and Geffen released an art film on YouTube, and we can already tell it’s going to be a tough competition.

Dream Academy was born out of HYBE chairman Bang Si-Hyuk’s desire to form an international group based on “K-Pop methodology.” Upon collaborating with Janick, they got started on developing the concept and process for forming the next diverse, world-class music group, which led to where we are today.

Once the final lineup and the name of the new group is revealed on November 17, Billboard reports, the group will undergo further training and development, a process that will be documented for a Netflix docuseries to be released in 2024. Meanwhile, The Debut: Dream Academy will see these 20 trainees showcase their skills and talents through challenges and performances to earn evaluators’ praise, the public’s votes, and a spot on the group.

If you want to support Sophia as well as your other faves, you can join The Debut: Dream Academy Weverse community or vote on Tiktok. Voting starts September 1st. Stay updated on their website and socials (@dreamacademyhq on X and Instagram) to see how far Sophia goes and how the next big global girl group will be formed!

Continue Reading: Meet R Rules, the Half Pinoy, Half Japanese P-Pop Girl Group All About Empowerment

bts pop up store manila

7 Things You Need To Know Before Going To The BTS Pop-Up Store In Metro Manila

I checked my map of the soul and it led me straight to the BTS Pop-Up store.

Concerts and world tours may be postponed but that won’t stop the BTS POP-UP: MAP OF THE SOUL showcase to tour in Metro Manila.

That’s right, ARMYs! The BTS POP-UP: MAP OF THE SOUL has reached the city and it opened its doors starting today, May 29, 2021, at one of the country’s premier shopping centers, SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City at the third level of Mega Fashion Hall.

For those who need catching up, HYBE IP (formerly Big Hit IP), an independent corporation that leads HYBE’s IP business, previously operated a new form of experiential space complex under the name “BTS POP-UP: HOUSE OF BTS” in October 2019. This time, it draws concepts from BTS’ fourth studio album, MAP OF THE SOUL: 7, released in February of 2020.

The 190-sqm pop-up store showcases over 400 products ranging from apparel to stationery and household items. So, ready to pay a visit? Here are a few things you need to know to have an amazing and smooth experience when you go to the BTS POP-UP: MAP OF THE SOUL showcase in Megamall!

How to secure a slot at the BTS POP-UP: MAP OF THE SOUL showcase

Register on the MorningKall website in advance to secure a schedule. Admission guidelines such as physical distancing and crowd control will be enforced to ensure safety of its patrons. Every Wednesday, the website will open slots at the pop-up store, so make sure to mark your calendars.

Can guests walk-in?

Yes. There will be a separate queue for those who don’t get a slot, but it’s highly recommended to schedule a slot so that you don’t have to wait too long! Those with a scheduled slot will be prioritized.

How many tickets are being sold?

There are a total of 30 tickets available per timeslot, starting at 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Each day will have a total of 13 timeslots with 30 tickets available for reservation.

What are the items being sold?

With MAP OF THE SOUL:7 as its central theme, the official products feature songs from the album such as Black Swan and ON. But don’t worry if you don’t get what you came for. New products are scheduled to be released every two weeks that you can anticipate.

Prices range from:

  • P200-P800+ for the small accessories
  • P700- P1,000+ for TinyTan merch
  • P2,000+ for t-shirts, bags, and totes
  • P4,600+ for hoodies and sweatshirts

(Side note, because we got asked this a lot: So far, there were no Mikrokosmos lollipops (we suspect Jungkook hoarded them all… just kidding), no photocards, and no ARMY Bombs.)

Do you have to purchase anything to enter the store?

No, but it’s definitely hard to resist the merch when you see it. The store is like a gold mine for ARMYs! But if you want to visit purely for the experience, then you definitely won’t be disappointed. The pop-up store features photo zones for fans and customers to enjoy the full BTS: MAP OF THE SOUL experience.


A sneak peek of the ##bts ##popup store in Megamall!

♬ Butter – 방탄소년단 (BTS)

How long will the pop-up store be in Metro Manila?

The BTS POP-UP: MAP OF THE SOUL showcase will be operational until August 29, 2021. It is slated to launch in Malaysia and Taiwan in the coming months. Just like a concert, the store is touring the world!

Pro tip: Ready your Manda tracker before entering the mall

To avoid delays, register for a Mandaluyong tracker prior to going to the mall so that you can easily show your QR code upon entering the Megamall building. They will require a QR code and a temperature scan at the entrance before you can proceed to your destination.

To find out more about BTS POP-UP: MAP OF THE SOUL Showcase in Metro Manila, please follow @morningKall on Twitter and Instagram or stay tuned for announcements through SM Megamall’s social media pages.

All The Times BTS (And Their Merch) Appeared In Dramas

Some call them artists, some call them idols. They're proud of it.

Have you spotted these little BTS gems in your favorite dramas?

At this point, it’s pretty clear that BTS is the biggest group not just in Korea, but in the whole world. You’ll see them everywhere; commercial advertisements, billboards, landmark buildings, and even your local telecommunications company.

RELATED: How BTS Changed The Game In Live Online Concerts

So, who wouldn’t be proud of their success? After all, they started from the bottom of the food chain, and now, BTS is breaking through and at the top of the entertainment industry, defying all the people who discredited their success. That’s why even with the group’s countless achievements nowadays, the fans whom they call ARMY are still grateful for all the acknowledgment BTS gets. Yes, even if it’s as little as a two-second appearance in K-dramas.

Below are all the times BTS and their merch were mentioned and appeared in dramas.

True Beauty

BTS’ Love Yourself: Her album made a brief cameo in episode 14 of True Beauty, and tbh, it’s a whole mood.

Sisyphus: The Myth

Looks like we’re not the only ones who have a soft spot for Spring Day. Seohae, the lead character in the upcoming drama Sisyphus: The Myth, finds comfort in BTS’ song, too.

Lovestruck in The City

Jimin’s Cold Brew coffee appeared in the Netflix show, Lovestruck in The City.

The Uncanny Counter

BTS was mentioned in episode 9 of the K-drama, The Uncanny Counter. The main character talks to a sick little girl about BTS and he says he likes them too. He promised that when she gets better, they should go to their concert together. Brb, crying.

Crash Landing On You

Jungkook’s name was mentioned in the hospital scene of Crash Landing On You, when SonYe Jin’s character was speaking to a young girl who told her that her bias was Jeon Jungkook.


Of course, we can’t forget about V’s debut as an actor in the K-drama series, Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth. Ever since then, his bond with long time friend, Park Seo Joon was solidified.

The King: Eternal Monarch

In an episode of The King: Eternal Monarch, BTS appeared in the newspaper. It wrote: “BTS who makes the world’s heart beat, charts on Billboard Main Album Chart for 10 consecutive weeks, fixed into the US Billboard Chart…writing a new history of K-Pop.”

Twenty Your Life On

J-Hope’s BT21 Mang t-shirt from the BT21 x Uniqlo collection appeared in a popular Chinese drama titled, Twenty Your Life On. It was worn by one of the female protagonists.

Wise Doctor Life

The Jungkook and Suga edition of Cold Brew Coffee appeared in an episode of the K-drama, Wise Doctor Life. One of the characters was a self-confessed ARMY.