CEBU, Philippines–Formed from the catchy tunes of pop, upbeat melodies of hip hop, soulful sounds of R&B and many more, Korean Pop, or simply known as ‘’K-pop,’’ has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Usually composed of 4 to 10+ members, each with their own assigned positions, K-pop groups have successfully pushed beyond the boundaries and limitations set by differences in language and culture, all the while connecting with millions of people globally, including Filipinos.
Apart from the music itself, K-pop transcends way beyond just captivating tunes and melodies. It also showcases world class performances characterized by complex choreographies performed with precision and synchronization, highly influential and fashion forward styles, exceptional visuals and looks, and a presentation of well executed themes and concepts.
When I first got into K-pop back in highschool, completely unbeknownst to the fandom culture, it had stunned me to know that there are people who spend their time, money, and effort and go through such lengths in their ventures as fans.
These included buying merchandise, forming fan bases, organizing and attending fan gatherings, and going to concerts. It was only natural for me to also aspire being able to act my fondness towards K-pop through these acts.
Though one’s capacity to do these is not a measurement of how much of a fan you are, the fact remains true that the full K-pop experience certainly includes these.
It wasn’t until years later that I’d be able to not only experience these things myself but also get more familiar with the local fandom scene.
K-pop fandom in Cebu
One person that has an abundance in these experiences is local K-pop fan Cyndie Ejan.
From having a huge following in her fan account, having a merchandise collection, to her experience in organizing fan gathering events and attendance to concerts, she has explored the extent of being a K-pop fan.
Ejan, who has been a K-pop fan since 2007 shared her insights and experiences as a K-pop fan here in Cebu.
She said that one of her favorite groups is EXO, a K-pop boy group composed of members Xiumin, Suho, Lay Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O. Kai, and Sehun.
Ejan’s fondness of EXO is evident in the number of concerts she has attended. She was able to attend EXO’s ‘’The ElyXiOn’’ concert twice, once in Manila and once in Malaysia, and ‘’EXplOration’’ thrice, twice in Manila and once in Indonesia.
Apart from EXO, she is also a fan of SEVENTEEN and Enhypen. SEVENTEEN is a K-pop boy group consisting of members S.coups, Jeonghan, Joshua, Jun, Hoshi, Wonwoo, Woozi, The8, Mingyu, DK, Seungkwan, Vernon, and Dino.
Enhypen is her latest and according to her ‘’hopefully the last’’ favorite group. Formed in 2020, the group comprises members Heeseung, Jay, Jake, Sunghoon, Sunoo, Jungwon, and Ni-ki.
Unique to Cebu
Last year, she was able to complete all two days of SEVENTEEN’s ‘’Be the Sun’’ concert in Manila and this year, all three days of Enhypen’s ‘’Manifesto’’ in Manila, for which she enjoyed from VIP section.
Amidst her enviable concert experiences in Manila, she indicates that an aspect unique to Cebu based K-pop fans, is the very fact that they live in Cebu. How so?
It’s because Cebu has enjoyed numerous surprise visits from our favorite K-pop idols.
READ MORE: Fan spots K-pop stars in Cebu resto
It can be recalled that EXO Kai was seen participating in a zumba session in front of Cebu City Hall, while SEVENTEEN’s Joshua and Mingyu were seen shopping at a Mall in Mactan, and ITZY’s Yuna were spotted at a bakery in San Fernando. JYP also made an appearance at a religious seminar at Quest Hotel.
‘’They’ve been here multiple times. It’s like a pride and joy as someone living in Cebu [that you are able to say] they’ve been here multiple times and they love being here’’, Ejan said.
Apart from that fact, being a part of the K-pop community here in Cebu also means getting in touch with others and making new friends.
From Ejan’s experience, it was through K-pop that she was able to forge genuine friendships here in Cebu.
‘’It’s different when you have the same wavelength; Interactions are much easier and the flow of conversations are much more effortless.’’
Through her experience in organizing fan events, Ejan attests to the presence of K-pop fans in Cebu.
‘’Through those events, our horizon grew when it came to knowing more fans here in Cebu. We found out that there are actually a lot of fans here even though we know there are more in Manila.”
Indeed, Cebu’s fandom scene is active as much as it is relatively small compared to other places like in Manila.
But a sense of intimacy undoubtedly exists in Cebu’s fandom scene, one that stems from shared mutual interest that forges friendships.
Francine Jimenez, admin of Seventeen Cebu, the fanbase of Cebu based Carats (fans of SEVENTEEN) formed way back 2016, is also able to attest to the fandom scene by imparting her observations on Cebu Carat’s reception of their events.
‘’I can really say that Cebuano Carats are some of the most active and hyper fans out there. Each of our events can gather up to 50 people, which only increases with the importance of each event. It really amazes me how much love we can show 13 people without even knowing them personally.’’
Amidst all these, the common man might ask, ‘’Why would you even go through such lengths for these idols?’’
Ejan and Jimnez’s answer bear the same tune: happiness.
For K-pop fans, the groups they idolize give them a certain amount of unexplainable delight and solace. It’s a feeling that can’t accurately be described through words, they say.
This has been a feat that K-pop has successfully accomplished, not necessarily through words alone, but through a connection. A prime manifestation of how music’s magnetizing pull, regardless of language, successfully connects people together.