Celebrate The Past, Present, and Future Of OPM At Pinoy Playlist Music Festival 2023

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It's gonna be a grand time.

This September 29 to October 1 at the BGC Arts Center, celebrate the best of Filipino music with a stacked lineup of local artists, relevant talks, and fellow Filipino music enthusiasts at Pinoy Playlist Music Festival 2023.

Related: And We’re Live: Concerts, Festivals, and Fanmeets Coming to the Philippines This 2023 (and Beyond)

Filipino music has never felt more rich, diverse, and loved as it is today. Spanning generations and decades upon decades of different genres, styles, and messages, our diverse local music is rooted deep in our culture and history. There’s a reason why we show up and show out for every musical performance, whether it’s karaoke at your friend’s house or a full-out music festival featuring well-established musicians or up-and-coming indie artists!

Well, now we have the chance to show up and show out at Pinoy Playlist Music Festival 2023: Gunita At Mga Bukas, a 3-day music festival presented by the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. through BGC Arts Center and curated by National Artist for Music Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, Moy Ortiz, and Noel Ferrer. PPMF will feature a wide array of Filipino artists and musicians, performances, and conversations all about the past, present, and future of Filipino music.

THE RICH TAPESTRY OF FILIPINO MUSIC

Main poster Pinoy Playlist Music Festival 2023

From September 29 to October 1, there will be over 45 performances across three venues at the BGC Arts Center in Taguig City: the Globe Auditorium, the Zobel de Ayala Recital Hall, and the Sun Life Amphitheater. The sets are designed with photos from the Camera Club of the Philippines and digital art by local artists.

Filipino artists, solos and groups, will give their usual best while also performing something a little different. Each performance will bear a tinge of “change” from how it’s usually performed or heard on playlists. Whether you’re a music connoisseur or someone who sticks to one genre craving to explore the diverse genres offered, you’ll definitely find your niche—or find something new to love—at the event.

To honor those that made rippling waves in Filipino music, PPMF will also pay tribute to the Ryan Cayabyab Awardees of 2023, Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata, Mel Villena, and Regine Velasquez-Alcasid, with special performances on each day. Exemplifying the theme Gunita at Mga Bukas (“Memories and Futures”), these tributes, along with the entire event itself, is an amalgamation of the past, present, and future—an exploration of how Filipino music is a unique blend of all three as new artists, new genres, and new stories emerge through the art.

CATCH THESE ARTISTS LIVE

Artist lineup Pinoy Playlist Music Festival 2023

Day 1: Abby Clutario, Adjeng, Jasmine and Noelle, Joey Ayala, Mijon, Pauline Cueto, Raven, Sam Concepcion, Simon Tan Walotao, Sitti, & Tamara. Special tribute performances for Mr. Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata by Pundaquit Virtuosi & Steps Dance Studio.

Day 2: Autotelic, Ebe Dancel, 春 haru, Kammerchor Manila, Leanne and Naara, Of Mercury, Rivermaya, The Edralins, CHNDTR, Viva, Vicor, & Wild Dreams Records Artists: Amiel Sol, Matt Wilson, Nicole Abuda, & Rob Deniel, & Young Cocoa. Special tribute performances for Mr. Mel Villena by AMP Decktet, The CompanY, Pikong, & Mitch Valdes.

Day 3: Arman Ferrer, Davey Langit, Debonair District, Gary Granada, Janine Teñoso, Lara Maigue & Gian Magdangal, Nica Del Rosario, Room for Cielo, Therese Villarante’s “Girl With A Broken String” feat. Ivy Gallur & James Gulles, & The Nightingales. Special tribute performances for Ms. Regine Velasquez-Alcasid by Katrina Velarde, Phi Palmos, Trina Belamide, Ima Castro, Sweet Plantado-Tiongson, Jona, & Jed Madela.

MUSIC IN CELEBRATION, ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION

Talks poster PPMF 2023

Besides the live performances, PPMF will also host talks and workshops that delve into the current issues and circumstances surrounding Filipino music and its artists—namely, songwriting, artificial intelligence, and the Filipino audience.

  • Day 1: “Filipino Songwriting: From Dreams to Sheet” with Trina Belamide, Jonathan Manalo, and Moy Ortiz
  • Day 2: “AI: Friend or Foe of Filipino Music?” with Thyro Alfaro, Gino Cruz, and Marlon Barnuevo, moderated by Maria Isabel Garcia
  • Day 3: “The Difficult Filipino Audience (Perfect Ka, Teh?)” with Direk Floy, Dexter Martinez Santos, and Paolo Valenciano

Pinoy Playlist Music Festival 2023 is all about the Filipino, and all about the music. Get your 1-Day Pass or Festival 3-day Passes via the TicketWorld website (or call 8891 9999) or at the BGC Arts Center TicketWorld Box Office.

For more information, visit their website and follow BGC Arts Center on Facebook for more updates. See you there!

Continue Reading: Everything We Know So Far About the Manila Pop Culture Convention 2023

Meet The Final 7 Members of The Girl Group Project

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Go off, queens!

The final members of the upcoming, yet-to-be-named girl group of The Girl Group Project have been making the rounds on social media, and after months of training and evaluations, they’re almost ready to take on the P-Pop stage.

Related: 10 Things You Need to Know About Dream Academy’s Sophia Laforteza

If you were on TikTok the last few weeks, then you definitely have come across the “I Wanna Go Back” dance trend set to a sped-up version of Do It Again by Pia Mia. Well, did you know that the creators of the trend are young Filipino trainees getting ready to debut as members of a new, upcoming P-pop girl group?

@ggprojectmedia boy can we go back? 🤷🏻‍♀️ dc: jezrene 🐝 & nicole 🐣 #fyp #ppoprise ♬ do it again – ᶜ ʰ ˡ ˡ ˣ ᵉ ᵈ ⁱ ᵗ ˢ

That’s right, dancers and artists Jezrene and Nicole, whose names you may have seen credited under TikToks of the trend, are members of a yet-to-be-named girl group formed by DreamCloud Media Productions. DreamCloud recognized the immense potential of Filipinos in the pop music industry, and so, in early 2023, they started The Girl Group Project. It was a passion project, an initiative to select, train, and evaluate talented young girls to form a group ready to take the P-pop world by storm.

After the final evaluation at Eton Centris last July 30, seven trainees were selected to debut. It’ll take some more time, work, and decisions before they make it big, but for now, let’s meet the young girls who have made it steps closer to living their dreams.

NICOLE

Nicole from the girl group project

1/2 of the pioneers of the “I Wanna Go Back” trend, Nicole is The Girl Group Project’s center, and has shown her prowess in singing, dancing, and playing the ukulele—which she’s been playing since she was in high school. She’s driven by her desire to show the world her talent. She’s a Virgo, and her MBTI is ESFP-T.

JEZRENE

Jezrene of the girl group project

The other half of the TikTok trend’s creators, 19-year old Jezrene is a strong singer, which got her the position of lead vocalist. A true introvert but with a powerful voice, she’s a Gemini, an INFP, and, like most of us, her hobbies include sleeping. She’s been inspired by K-pop since she was young, and pushed through some mental and physical challenges before she got to where she is now.

HANA

Hana of of the girl group project

Keen-eyed girl group enthusiasts may recognize the 22-year-old as a former center of idol group MNL48! Her stage name used to be Aly, and she can be seen in MNL48’s videos like Ikaw Ang Melody. Hana is the group’s lead rapper, visual, and sub-vocalist. She’s a Capricorn, INFJ, and she likes playing mobile games.

JANE

Jane of the girl group project

Jane is the group’s main rapper and a lead vocalist. She’s a Capricorn and an INFJ-T, often in dark clothing and makeup to match her fierce and independent spirit. She likes to sing, cook, and watch anime. She made, sold, and delivered food to help out her sick parents all while studying and trying hard for her dreams.

KATH

kath of the girl group project

Kath was the first trainee to be announced as part of The Girl Group Project. The 20-year old is the group’s main dancer and lead rapper while also being a diligent university student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She’s got grit and stage presence for days, and is a Taurus and ISFJ-T.

MITA

Mita of the girl group project

Lead vocalist and dancer Sushmita, or Mita for short, is a proud Taurus and INTJ. She loves cats and owns a handful of them—18 to be precise. A multi-talented performer, Mita was influenced by her aunt to get into music.

PEARL

Pearl of the girl group project

The ever-fashionable Pearl is the group’s main vocalist and resident baton twirler. A Taurus and INFP-T, she was the last trainee to complete The Girl Group Project. She also loves to design clothes. Emotional during her last interview before making the final lineup, Pearl is driven and determined to reach her dreams.

Stay tuned on The Girl Group Project’s social media accounts (TikTok, Facebook, Instagram) to keep up with these talented Gen Z artists! Do you have a bias yet?

Photos courtesy of Jionor Verona for The Girl Group Project/Facebook

Continue Reading: Girl Group Calista Puts the Pedal to the Metal With Their Debut, ‘Race Car’

5 Reasons Why SEVENTEEN’s New Comeback Has Us Hyped For Their Upcoming Philippine Concert

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Say the name!

SEVENTEEN’s new album Seventeenth Heaven is getting us way excited for new songs, new promo, and fun visuals, some of which we’ll get to hear and see at their upcoming FOLLOW concert in the Philippines!

Related: Moments From Seventeen’s BeTS in Bulacan That Hit Different

SEVENTEEN’s right here once again as the world-famous, record-breaking 13-member K-pop group announced a new album, a new comeback, and a new Asia tour with a stop in the Philippines all in one month! Their 11th mini album, titled Seventeenth Heaven, will drop on October 23, 2023 in all its bright, funky, amazingly SEVENTEEN glory. Get ready for a month of teasers, promo, and killer visuals with the comeback calendar below! And no doubt, the album will feature new songs that they’ll perform at their biggest, grandest, most iconic tour yet: the FOLLOW To Asia tour, with stops in Bangkok, Bulacan, and Macao!

Seventeen follow to asia tour poster

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Seventeen seventeenth heaven comeback scheduler

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As their fandom CARATs marveled at the promise of the new comeback, the buzz of their much-anticipated concert grew louder and more intense. After three successful Philippine shows last year at their Be The Sun concerts in October and December, the supergroup is coming back big with their Philippine show at the Philippine Sports Stadium on January 13, 2024. Before then, though, here are some reasons why their new album is garnering so much hype around it and the upcoming concert!

A NEW AESTHETIC

Seventeenth heaven main album concept photo

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The promos for Seventeenth Heaven are bright, fun, and colorful, a different creative direction set apart from their previews albums such as FML and Face the Sun. It signals, perhaps, the comeback of “freshteen,” a fun, fresh, and upbeat branding they’ve been known to have. Regardless of the type of music or aesthetic the new album will have, and given that SEVENTEEN has excelled in the different genres they’ve explored, we predict that it’s going to be a banger in all aspects.

NEW SONGS ON THE SETLIST

The band already embarked on their new FOLLOW tour before the announcement of their 11th mini album, so we mostly know what the setlist is going to be at FOLLOW in Bulacan. The setlist echoes that of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour’s as it included a mix of songs from all of their past eras and albums, such as Pinwheel from their 2017 album Teen, Age and their 2015 debut song Adore U. Now, with Seventeenth Heaven giving us a handful of new tracks, we can’t wait to see how the setlist changes with a new title track and b-sides!

ALBUM INCLUSIONS

Who doesn’t love the little trinkets that come with K-Pop albums? Whether you’re excited about the usual inclusions like the photobook, photocards, stickers, posters, or the CD itself, or whatever idol groups cook up to include in their albums like bookmarks or keychains, album inclusions are a staple in the K-pop experience. This time, the members are giving CARATs another art project like the weaving kit in their Semicolon album in the form of a “paper art kit.”

MEANINGFUL REFERENCES

Seventeenth heaven album versions

If you’re a CARAT, you might find something familiar about the names of each Seventeenth Heaven album version. That’s right—they’re dates that mean something to the band, their fandom, and the album. 5/26 is SEVENTEEN’s debut date, May 26. 2/14, February 14, is CARATs’ “birthday,” the day they were given their fandom name. 10/23 is the release date of the album. It drops on 10/23/2023. What do you get when you add those digits together? 1+0+2+3+2+0+2+3 = 13, the number of members in the group. Intentional or not, that’s some Taylor Swift levels of easter eggs.

SEVENTEEN FESTIVAL THEME?!

Given the album art, the festival wristband teaser and album inclusion, and the copious amount of spoilers about “festivals” during the band’s FOLLOW concert in Seoul, Seventeenth Heaven seems like it’s going to channel big party vibes, outdoor music celebrations, and endless fun. With FOLLOW in Bulacan being held at the Philippine Sports Stadium, it’s sure to be a blast—rain or shine. 17-hour long Aju Nice encore anyone?

Continue Reading: How to Get Early Access to K-Pop Concert Tickets Using Weverse

Filipino Fans Proved That We Have the Best Concert Crowds During Kodaline’s Return to Manila

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It was a moment, to say the least.

Here’s the thing about Filipino concert crowds, artists don’t serenade us—we sing to them.

Related: 6 Moments When Filipino Fans Won At NIKI’s Manila Concert

No matter how old or young you may be, Kodaline won’t just ring a bell—they’ll tug at your heartstrings, even if you’re just hearing them on the radio for the first time. If you allow their music in, it could heal a broken heart. Imagine hearing them serenade you live?

Since Wanderland 2018, it’s been five years since Kodaline’s last visit to Manila. The palpable excitement for their comeback was clear in the sold-out, jam-packed Filinvest Tent. And just when I thought Kodaline would be serenading the crowd, we were the ones singing to the band—and Kodaline loved it. In case you’re feeling FOMO, here’s what went down. These were the moments when Filipino fans proved that we have the best concert crowds during Kodaline’s return to Manila.

Ten Seconds and We Were Already Wildin’

It only took ten seconds to understand why we boast one of the best concert crowds. Last night, as Kodaline stepped onto the stage, the crowd went wild. The tent erupted into a symphony of chants and screams that could be heard from miles away. It wasn’t just about giving them a warm welcome, but the fact that they also opened the night with a fan fave, Wherever You Are.

Ocean of Lights

A beautiful sight to behold, every Filipino concert crowd transforms into an ocean of lights during slow songs, and last night was no exception. As Kodaline began singing The One, there was no need to ask – every phone was swaying, creating a breathtaking sea of lights. This moment perfectly encapsulates the emotional connection between Filipino fans and artists.

“Manila, That’s Beautiful”

One of the most heartwarming moments for Filipino concert crowds is when artists openly express admiration. Over the years, performers have paused mid-performance to listen to the passionate voices of Filipino fans, never hesitating to compliment our singing skills. Last night, during High Hopes, Kodaline paused to say, “Manila, that’s some beautiful singing.” Well, it’s been a day and I’m definitely still kilig.

The Best Crowd

Kodaline complimented the crowd not once, but twice. As the night drew to a close, Steve said, “You guys are one of the best crowds we’ve ever played for.” I’ve been to a couple of concerts over the years, and this was one of the most genuine compliments I’ve ever heard. I’ve never been prouder to be part of something.

No Words, Just High Hopes (and Encore)

Kodaline had originally planned to wrap with Love Will Set You Free, but the Filipino fans had one specific song in mind—All I Want. As everyone passionately sang the entire song acapella, the band couldn’t resist the heartfelt request and graciously granted it. This moment is a testament to the undeniable energy and unconditional love that fans bring to every concert. It’s no wonder why every artist and collective falls head over heels for our concert crowds.

Surprise! They Have A Message for Every Filipino Fan

Before their concert, we had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to chat with Vinny May, the drummer of Kodaline. As it turns out, they’re not just looking forward to eating Filipino food—they have a message for fans as well. “Thank you so much for all the support. The Philippines has always been one of the most welcoming places. The people are great, the food is great, and the weather is always nice. We’re grateful that you’re allowing us to perform here over the years. It’s incredible being back. I hope you guys have as much fun as we do,” he shared.

Continue Reading: Highlights Of Bruno Major’s Manila Concert That Gave Best Performer Core

Here’s Proof That Olivia Rodrigo Was The Gen Z Pop-Rock It-Girl at the 2023 VMAs

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Gen Z icon.

Olivia Rodrigo is well on her way to her pop/pop-rock icon status as her much-anticipated appearance and performance at the 2023 MTV VMA’s became the talk of the town.

Related: 6 Songs From Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS Album That Didn’t Have to Go That Hard

Twenty-year old Olivia Rodrigo, fresh from the launch of her much talked-about second album GUTS, absolutely slayed at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards. From her vampire music video winning Best Editing, a killer performance, and viral moments not even featuring her but about her, Olivia was a major highlight of the awards show.

This Fil-Am Gen Z singer-songwriter is making waves as she continues to be bold in her lyricism, authentic in her character, and brave in the way she’s blazing a trail for this new generation. She came, slayed, and left the VMAs like it was nothing. Here are just some of her best moments from the show.

A GAG-WORTHY PERFORMANCE

Olivia kicked off her set sitting on a foggy, forest-like set singing vampire, the lead single from GUTS. Her red Sandy Liang set and leg warmers over sneakers were exquisite, perfectly matching her bold, youthful energy.

As the beat picks up, sparks flew from the set and she, ever the actress, looks around worriedly as if the stage was collapsing. It was, in fact, a recreation of the vampire music video, complete with being fake-escorted from the stage only to come back for an incredibly fun and hyped performance of get him back alongside pink-clad Olivia clones.

TAYLOR SWIFT CHEERED FOR HER

Put those beefing rumors to rest! Taylor Swift, another woman of the hour as she had fun (and looked gorgeous doing it) at the VMAs, showed support for Olivia during the singer’s set. The two have been subject of unfortunate social media rumors, but in this moment, this was just one singer-songwriter who started off young showing unbridled support to another.

STRAY KIDS WANTED TO SEE HER

International K-Pop group Stray Kids is just like us! After being asked who they wanted to run into at the awards show, member Felix revealed that the members really wanted to see Olivia Rodrigo. The band has shown appreciation for her music before, so fingers crossed that they got to meet.

A VISION IN SPARKLES

If her Sandy Liang set and her plaid vintage dress from Chloe Sevigny’s sample sale wasn’t enough proof of her fashion icon status, the young star’s sparkling custom Ludovic de Saint Sernin gown she wore to the VMAs definitely was. The 150,000 hand-embroidered Swarovski crystals catch the lights perfectly and light up a room the same way she does.

THE TALK OF THE TOWN

After weeks of social media discourse about the young artist’s music style, Gen Z icon status, “beef” with other artists (that she’s promptly squashed), Olivia’s still making headlines as her performance garnered confused reactions. From Selena Gomez’s reaction to the faux stage malfunction to people thinking Olivia herself was unaware of the malfunctions, the 20-year old certainly isn’t leaving the trending page any time soon.

Continue Reading: Olivia Rodrigo and V Had a Moment During the 64th Grammys and Got ARMYs Talking

10 Filipino Songs We’re Manifesting To Hear BamBam Sing At His Upcoming Manila Concert

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Let’s get the prayer circles ready.

Thai international superstar BamBam is coming to Manila! A few weeks before his show, he took to X to ask what Filipino songs he should perform—and his fans gave him plenty of options.

Related: All the Times K-Pop Idols Were Obsessed With SB19’s Gento

Three things you should know about soloist and GOT7 member BamBam: first, he’s having a concert here in the Philippines on September 22 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with special guest Sandara Park! AREA 52 is his first solo world tour, with stops in Manila, Seoul, Bangkok, Macau, and more.

Second, along with Dara, he could also be an honorary Filipino with the way he partakes in our meme (and drinking) culture. He says “shot punoalmost every chance he gets! And third, BamBam has been immersed in OPM for a while now. He’s performed Filipino song Ngiti by Ronnie Liang several times over the years, including during KPOP Masterz Manila last year.

So, when he asked his fans on X for Filipino song suggestions to sing at his concert, Bammies jumped at the chance to recommend upbeat dance songs, emotional ballads, and even threw in some joke songs for the idol to consider. Below are some of the frequently-suggested and top-liked songs that we hope he performs at the concert!

GENTO – SB19

Following the trend of K-Pop idols dancing to SB19’S Gento, so many fans suggested the song to the idol, hoping for a full performance complete with the powerful choreo. If he does pick Gento, we know he’ll kill it.

RAINING IN MANILA – LOLA AMOUR

Clear skies or otherwise, a Raining in Manila performance will surely brighten up our day. We’d love to see the idol sing it with a stadium full of people screaming it at the top of their lungs.

I WANT YOU – SB19

Another SB19 song makes it to BamBam’s replies! The R&B track would 100% be right up BamBam’s alley, as the artist’s solo music, like his track Subliminal, is infused with R&B and just as smooth.

BIBINGKA – BEN&BEN

Kicking off the Christmas season, this fan suggested Ben&Ben’s Bibingka, a wistful song that will surely make the night just that much sweeter.

MABAGAL – MOIRA DELA TORRE & DANIEL PADILLA

This slow, nostalgic hit performed by Moira Dela Torre and Daniel Padilla in the 2019 Himig Handog music competition is soothing and romantic, and hearing BamBam sing it would totally be swoon-worthy.

CHUVA CHOO CHOO – JOLINA MAGDANGAL & NIKKI VALDEZ

The star, a jokester himself, is not safe from his own fans’ pranks, and suggestions like Jolina Magdangal’s upbeat Chuva Choo Choo would make for a hilarious moment in the show.

LEAVES – BEN&BEN

Leaves is beloved by a handful of K-Pop idols, and BamBam’s even heard the song himself! The fact that he already knows it gives this gorgeous track a leg up in the race.

IKAW – YENG CONSTANTINO

Ikaw is an emotional Filipino ballad by singer-songwriter Yeng Constantino, emotional and romantic. Actor and artist Seo In-Guk also covered the song during his 2023 Manila fanmeeting as did Stray Kids’ Bang Chan during the group’s concert earlier this year! We can already see BamBam wholeheartedly throwing himself into singing those scream-worthy lyrics.

PASILYO – SUNKISSED LOLA

This wedding-themed love song is perfect for the idol who’s known to be a big flirt as he matches his own fans’ energy. Once he sings a song like this with his signature playful charm, it’s over for everyone in that stadium.

CHRISTMAS IN OUR HEARTS – JOSE MARI CHAN

And of course, what’s an event in the Ber months without the Filipino Christmas song? Hopefully BamBam gets wind of our rich Christmas culture and he and his Bammies turn the Araneta Coliseum into one big caroling session.

Continue Reading: GOT7 is the Name: GOT7 Make Their Long Awaited Return With the Fun and Laid Back ‘NANANA’

10 Things You Need To Know About Dream Academy’s Sophia Laforteza

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She's about to be the it-girl.

Here are some fast facts about Sophia Laforteza, up-and-coming superstar and the only Filipino competitor on The Debut: Dream Academy!

Related: Meet the Only Filipina Competing for A Spot in HYBE X Geffen’s New Global Girl Group

In case you didn’t know, Sophia Elizabeth G. Laforteza is competing to become part of the newest global girl group formed by K-Pop industry leader HYBE’s collaboration with American record label Geffen Records! Using her talent in singing and performance, the 20-year-old Filipino artist will participate in K-pop survival reality show The Debut: Dream Academy.

The show’s first episode aired on September 1 along with the competitors’ introduction videos. While we’ll definitely learn more about Sophia during her The Debut: Dream Academy journey, for now here are some fast facts about the up-and-coming it-girl.

She’s the only Filipina to make it to the final 20 of Dream Academy.

Out of hundreds of thousands of applicants all over the world, Sophia Laforteza is the only Filipino performer who made it to the top 20 finalists competing for a spot in the new girl group. With her style, talent, and pride in her Filipino roots, Sophia is blazing a trail for the new generation by taking the chance to be a world-renowned artist under one of the biggest K-Pop companies in the world.

Talent is in her blood.

As the daughter of actress and performer Carla Guevara Laforteza and chef and former performance artist Godfrey Laforteza, Sophia’s very genetic makeup is filled with talent and ambition. Her parents have also been constantly rooting for her on social media since the Dream Academy lineup was announced.

She’s an ARMY—just like her dad!

In an Instagram post, Sophia showed off her purple blood as she posed with her father after watching supergroup BTS’ Permission to Dance in Seoul livestream. Dressed to the nines, with an ARMY lightstick in hand, we can plainly see her love for the boys, and we can only guess how excited or nervous she was to audition for the company that houses her idols.

The Debut: Dream Academy isn’t her first time in the spotlight.

At the young age of 5, Sophia made a guest appearance with her family in the Philippine talk show She Said, She Said where she talked about how she wanted to be a pediatrician and a performer. She also showed off her pipes by dueting with her mother!

She’s been singing since she was 3, and she’s been dancing for around the same time.

@sophialaforteza #duet with @clintonkane ib: @ysawitha_y ♬ original sound – clintonkane

Sophia’s been showing her talent on social media for years, and let us tell you—this girl can sing. We’ll let her TikToks speak for itself. Also, at five years old, she was already taking a variety of dance lessons at Julie Borromeo’s dance studio! She mentioned in She Said, She Said that she loved dancing and wanted to be an artist just like her mother.

Her confidence took a hit after an ankle injury—but she bounced back stronger than ever.

In her intro video for The Debut: Dream Academy, Sophia revealed she had to sit out some of her work due to an ankle injury and that it really affected her confidence. “I need you to give your everything,” she told herself. Once recovered, Sophia bounced back tenfold and performed well in one of her “strongest months in the program.”

Being nurturing and practicing self-love are integral to her character.

Sophia believes being nurturing is a special characteristic of Filipinos, and that it’s a big part of who she is, as well. After her ankle injury, she pushed herself to do her best and told herself that she deserves to be where she is. Self-love, no matter how “cheesy,” as she said in her introduction video, helped her “a lot” and allowed her to continue pursuing her dreams.

She graduated in 2021 with high honors and adorned with medals.

Sophia is a graduate of the Humanities and Social Sciences strand from Multiple Intelligence International School. She won 10 awards and 7 medals, proving that the young trainee is not just a superstar in the talent industry, but also in school! Bonus: she was also accelerated in school at a young age.

She has a killer fashion sense.

One look through Sophia’s Instagram and you’ll see how trendy and stylish the 20-year-old is. From pink pants to sequined dresses, her clothing pieces are always styled to perfection. She exudes an effortless, genuine charm through her fashion, and we’re this close to spamming her with questions as to where she gets her collection of boots.

She’s going to be performing Paramore’s Still Into You with fellow competitors Lara, Celeste, Samara, and Nayoung.

@dreamacademyhq Are you ready for Mission 1? ✨Your first chance to watch and vote for your Dream Academy fav is coming Sep 6. Watch the announcement now on YouTube! #DREAMACADEMYHQ #HYBEGEFFEN #HYBE #GEFFEN ♬ original sound – Dream Academy HQ

The girls’ first mission on The Debut: Dream Academy was revealed on September 1. Split into four teams—two dance and two vocal teams—the competitors will perform their assigned songs to secure their spot in the next stage of the show. Sophia’s team, Vocal Team B, will be performing a special arrangement of Paramore’s Still Into You.

All of the performances will premiere on September 6, 11 PM Philippine time on YouTube. After the missions, two girls will be eliminated, so be sure to stay in-the-know about voting by joining the Dream Academy Weverse community and checking on their socials!

Stay tuned on the Dream Academy website, socials, and HYBE LABELS+ on YouTube to be updated with the show and Sophia’s journey! Voting also begins September 6th on Weverse and YouTube.

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

Zack Tabudlo Is A Whole Mood With His New Single ‘Ako Nalang Kasi’

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Seen and heard.

In an exclusive interview with NYLON Manila, Zack Tabudlo shares all about the feels behind new single Ako Nalang Kasi.

Related: Zack Tabudlo and Al James Want You To Vibe To Their First Collab Together

While we’re still obsessing over his collab with Al James, singer-songwriter Zack Tabudlo is leading listeners down memory lane with new single, Ako Nalang Kasi. The track pays tribute to his artistic beginnings with a sound that resonates with Binibini, Nangangamba, and Yakap. And it also has us going, same.

Ako Nalang Kasi reveals a heartfelt narrative of falling for someone who doesn’t see you as anything more than a friend. It captures the sentiment of a person yearning for that special someone to acknowledge their intentions and presence. TBH, we’ve all been there with that delulu love moment. We recently got the chance to sit down with the OPM star as he shares the feels, nostalgia, and story behind his nearly six-minute ode to unrequited love.

What’s the story behind your new single Ako Nalang Kasi?

I just finished Ako Nalang Kasi last week. I was revisiting my old sound, recalling Nangangamba and all the earlier tracks that went viral. I was also returning to my previous songwriting style. Also, I’m going through an ‘ako na lang kasi’ phase where I have feelings for someone, and I’m trying to incorporate those emotions into the song.

You mentioned recalling your old sound, what do you think changed through the years?

There has been significant growth in terms of my music. Over time, I’ve explored different genres. For example, my last track was with Al James, and it had a pop sound. I’ve also released an album that’s more funky, it was called For All. I think many changes have happened because I’ve been maturing— I wanted to be more vulnerable in my music. Right now, with Ako Nalang Kasi, I find myself moving back-and-forth with new sounds and the songwriting style I had before.

Describe the person that inspired Ako Nalang Kasi?

I don’t think there’s a specific person. Actually, I can’t say. Still, I feel like the track goes for everyone talaga that likes someone na hindi ka nakikita. I’m kind of in that perspective na nandito ako and bakit hindi ako nakikita— ako na lang kasi. Wait, sige na nga. I guess, she’s very admirable.

What was your favorite lyric and why?

It was a reference back to my second song, Binibini. It goes, ‘binibini ikaw ba ang isasayaw sa gitna ng ulan? Matagal ko na kasing hinahanap ‘yan.’ Anyway, I think it’s cool.

Were there any memorable moments from behind the scenes while working on the track?

It was a nostalgic experience, to say the least— returning with these elements. When I created the track, I dived deep into the old material and how I wrote my previous tracks. There were subtle effects reminiscent of my guitar playing in Nangangamba and songs from the Episode album.

Tell us more about the track’s visual concept.

Even the album art goes back with how I created the first batch. We went with the very first artist who made Binibini and Nangangamba– Chris Costello. All of these album artworks were created by this close friend of mine. Given that we’re all about the style, it felt right to reconnect with him as well.

Should fans anticipate a music video accompanying Ako Nalang Kasi?

Absolutely. I can’t reveal much, but a clue would be ‘going back.’

Continue Reading: Being The First Filipino Featured Globally On Coke Studio Is A Regular Monday For Zack Tabudlo

Breaking New Ground: A-Team Is Highlighting Filipino Excellence Through Dance

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They're making bold moves.

“We believe in this saying: by the community and for the community.”

Related: All The Performances That Made NYLON Manila’s Big Bold Brave Awards Night Unforgettable

For elite dance crew A-Team, pushing the boundaries of dance means learning from every experience and offering their very best selves to the world—and not just as performers.

We got the chance to talk to MJ Arda, one-half of The Ardas—the founders, choreographers, and directors of the multi-awarded dance crew. With him and his sister Angelica Arda, the duo are leading a team of driven, talented dancers to take on the world, one step at a time.

Arda talks all about how A-Team has grown over the last decade and how they’re using everything they’ve learned to give back to the community that’s uplifted them from the very beginning.

BUILDING A LEGACY

A-Team Dance Crew

Founded and led by MJ and Angelica Arda, A-Team is an independent street dance and hip-hop group known for their explosive, artistic, meticulously-curated, and impactful performances. Beginning as a small group of young dancers in 2011, A-Team has grown to be a community of dancers championing dance and movement in the Philippines.

As the first ever Filipinos to win the gold medal in the Megacrew division at the World Hip Hop Dance Championship in 2014, A-Team has earned renown and respect from participating and winning competitions all over the world throughout the years.

While they immediately started off participating in international competitions as early as their founding year, it was a long road to get to where they are.

Arda muses that dancing wasn’t celebrated before the way it is now. But as appreciation for the arts and movement grows and as pioneers make their marks, showing the world the value of what they do, it’s clear that much has changed.

“We really started from the bottom,” Arda shares. From small studios and a handful of members, to international titles and opening FIBA World Cup 2023, the team has grown so much not just in reputation, but in terms of who they are and what their role is in the community. They’ve learned from each competition, each performance, and each other.

In the international scene, “There’s so much more you can improve on. You’re not the best. There’s so many ‘bests,’ and you’re competing with all of them.” Constant improvement is a principle they strive to abide by. The global stage isn’t easy to step on, but it does provide an avenue for learning, discipline, and improvement.

Challenging themselves every day not just sharpens their skill, but also strengthens their own idea of who they are as individuals, as a team, and as dancers representing their nation.

REINFORCING IDENTITY

A-Team Dance Crew

As time passed, A-Team was able to form a stronger, more cohesive idea of who they are and who they want to be. By telling stories through each performance, they also tell their own.

Because before each story is shared to audiences through movement, there’s also everything else—music, direction, mentality, style, and all of the other pieces of the puzzle.

Music and style are important aspects of a performance. For Arda, he refers to music as the most important thing. It is the “water” while the dancers are the “boat”. They ride the waves, letting their movements intertwine with the music to make a piece nothing short of magical.

And not only does the crew feel the movement magic in the music and steps, they also channel it through their looks. Watch any A-Team performance, and you’ll quickly see that fashion and styling are distinct essentials to their identity. 

“Fashion, styling, clothing…that’s our bread and butter. It’s who we are.” The team, known to always be decked out in cohesive, well-put-together outfits, takes pride in what they wear. It’s an extension of their performance, and an extension of themselves. Their style is an outward expression of their identity and pride at being dancers.

The influence they’ve earned now paves the way for them to help develop the mentality that dance is more than just a form of entertainment. Their members also aren’t just dancers—their roles have also shifted and changed along with the freedom and creativity that a change in mindset allows. They’re leaders and teachers, coaches, artists with a future.

It’s important to A-Team, and to Arda, that the identity they forge with their dancing isn’t just about them. Sure, going out to chase outside experience is good, but he asks a very relevant question: “why do we keep chasing the opportunity or the talent when we have it here?”

Several Filipino dance teams have won renowned global dance competitions—A-Team’s Megacrew division gold medal win, for one. And just recently, Filipino teams HQ and Legit Status brought home gold medals in the Adult and Megacrew divisions, respectively, in this year’s World Hip Hop Dance Championship.

Given the heaps of talent we have in the Philippines, from well-established crews to independent dancers, the world should be acknowledging that we could learn so much from local Filipino dancers and choreographers. Clearly there is no lack of talent nor opportunity for Filipino dancers to tell their own stories and to share their gifts with the world.

WITH HEART AND PURPOSE IN EVERY MOVE

A-Team Dance Crew

Every A-Team performance is eclectic, meticulously designed with much consideration in mind regarding each one’s purpose. Preparation for a performance is fraught with having to make difficult creative decisions to exhausting conditioning sessions. There are “a lot of ups and downs,” Arda admits, and preparing both physically and mentally is a mountain to be climbed.

“The stronger the body, the stronger the mind. The stronger the mind, the stronger the body.”

And while producing, choreographing, and directing a dance piece for a large-member crew is a long, painful process, he admits it’s very fulfilling.

Their recent large-scale dance showcase DEMO Vol. 9 required a lot of patience and preparation. The DEMO is one of A-Team’s biggest projects, and it’s also one of their favorites, because it’s not done to win anything, but to express who they are and why they dance.

“You’re exhausted after that, but at the same time it’s full of emotion.” The emotional rollercoaster that is a performance, tied with the physical toll it takes, could get dancers to reach a sort-of “Nirvana” state that Arda refers to, where they realize just exactly why they do what they do.

“Because of these things, these experiences, that make you feel something.”

What makes A-Team is the artistry, athleticism, mentality, and community behind every performance. It takes so much out of every dancer mentally, emotionally, and physically, and it takes a village to create something electric, something wonderful to share with the world.

At the end of the day, dancing is not just about the creative process or how excellent a piece is technically. “At the end of the day, dance is a feeling. You get to feel something and you get to share that to a lot of people.”

BRANCHING OUT

A-Team Dance Crew

Today, A-Team strives to “create newer paths” in the world of Filipino dancing. Their new era is marked by endeavors that will—more than just bring home more trophies—empower the dance community and inspire aspiring athletes and creatives. They own Zero Studio PH, where they host classes and workshops, and they constantly try to uplift the dance community and celebrate local artists.

“We believe in this saying: by the community and for the community.” Arda shares that the strengths of the members of A-Team is that they’re able to connect with the community on a daily basis. They encourage their members to create their own paths and build communities that love and appreciate the art of dance.

So when they announced the Ultimate Dance Cup, a dance competition to be held in October 2023 to highlight Filipino dance teams, they brought together everything they’ve learned to give back to the community.

The Ultimate Dance Cup is the third in their line of competitions meant to, literally and figuratively, put the spotlight on members of the local dance community. They began with the Choreographer’s Cup for local choreographers and the Freedom’s Cup for freestylers.

“The whole concept behind the ‘cups’ is for us to have a space and platform where everybody is given the equal opportunity to be seen.” UDC gives opportunities to teams who just want to try, those who may not have the infrastructure, support, or visibility in the dance scene. Dancers, established or new, young or old, have the opportunity to sign up to compete in the Cup.

The Ultimate Dance Cup ties together what A-Team was, is, and what it could be as it showcases their efforts to empower Filipino dancers and highlight dance excellence in the Philippines.

Grounded and driven by passion, a commitment to the craft, and a love for the community, A-Team is steadily pioneering a new era that brings performance art to a whole new level.

A-Team Dance Crew

Outfit Credits: MJ: Revibe Culture Reworked Jacket, Paxon Pants, Jordan Boxer Shorts/APES: Reworked Zara Top, Miss Sixty Mini Skirt, Nike Boxers/JAJA: Neric Beltran Bralette/NICA: Nike Skirt/ANGEL: Paxon Pants, Stone River Body Jewelry/YSAI: Blackbough Swim Belly Chain worn as Necklace/SHAWN: Toqa Tank Top, Give Me the Loot Vest/KOBE: MM6 Oversized Tee, Give Me the Loot Pants/JOSH: Revibe Culture Reworked Jacket/CHAEL: Revibe Culture Reworked Jacket

Photographer JAN MAYO

Assistant Photographer ENNUH TIU 

Creative Director ANGELO DE CARTAGENA

Stylist LYN ALUMNO 

Assistant Stylist RAF VILLAS 

Special thanks to MUD Studio Manila

Continue Reading: 6 Filipino Dance Crews That Rocked The World

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

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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.

dreamacademyhq/X

dreamacademyhq/X

MEET SOPHIA

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

dreamacademyhq/Instagram

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

GOING GLOBAL

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