GINATILAN, CEBU— Have you ever felt small in a throng of people? Even though you don’t know them all, the moment they discover your innocent passion for a certain hobby, a collective gasp ensues, followed by judgment.
For years, Sheila Cabedo cherished her love for Korean music, movies, and lifestyle. Yet, with the onset of the pandemic, a noticeable shift towards K-pop began among Filipinos—a gradual wave that stirred conflicting feelings within Sheila.
From experiencing years of teases from classmates and mutual friends due to her interest in K-pop, Sheila, on the other hand, decided to stand tall, and embrace them; grateful for an additional member of the community.
SHEILA’S FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH KPOP
Sheila’s journey began like many other K-pop “titas”—marked by her first brush with K-pop through former Korean boygroup, Super Junior.
And as though she was sucked into a whirlpool, she’s been stuck with the K-pop crowd since then.
“When I first discovered SUPER JUNIOR when because of their music played in TV, I became interested in Korean musics. I looked them up on Wikipedia to see some of their popular songs, […] I watched the video and fell in love, Sheila shared to CDN Digital.
The beats, choreography, and vibrant culture of Korea’s music scene fascinated her from an early age, and Sheila cultivated that passion.
MINGLING WITH THE WRONG PEOPLE
However, mingling with certain people at that time made her feel the need to keep this fervor a secret, burying it under layers of shyness and fear of societal judgment.
She remembers a specific time in her life when one of her favorite K-pop boy groups received backlash merely for wearing makeup, and she was teased along with them.
“A lot of people think that k-pop fans are koreaboos and weird jud daw, […], it is required for them (K-pop idols) to wear makeup for stage performance and photo shoots obviously. I don’t find anything wrong with that,” Sheila reminisced.
Nevertheless, this didn’t deter her. She actively engaged in dance contests and joined dance groups that centered on K-Pop choreography, adding their unique flair to the covers.
FINDING THE ‘RIGHT GROUP’ OF PEOPLE
Eventually for her, she found solace in seeing other people loving the same thing she likes as she journey towards her love for Kpop.
“I’m smiling more and it’s definitely made me a happier person. I can never thank my parents enough who bought me a personal computer and by that I listen to my favourite (K-Pop) groups, because it really really has brought a source of light into my life,” Cabedo adds.
In a brief interview with CDN Digital, Sheila also shared that at the beginning of her journey as a K-pop enthusiast, both her parents discouraged her from continuing her ‘hobby.’ They cited concerns about the increasing expenses as her collection of albums grew one by one.
But Sheila found ways. One way was through joining dance championships with her dance group.
JOINING K-POP DANCE GROUPS
Sheila is currently a member of Cebuana Kpop girl group, N’ovellus.
Before joining N’ovellus, Sheila was a member of the dance group Twinea, known for focusing on K-pop dance covers. Seemingly destined to pursue her passion for K-pop, a fortuitous opportunity arose when Sheila and her former dance group entered a contest, changing everything.
Hesitant yet excited to dance in front of an audience, she cautiously stepped into the stage, where her life underwent a seismic shift.
For this particular event, Sheila and the rest of her group chose a song that literally lifted the chilly atmosphere as rain pattered on that day.
“The choreography is also very good and we want the judges and audience will enjoy too,” Sheila shared with newfound enthusiasm.
The encouraging atmosphere of the event, coupled with the camaraderie among fellow enthusiasts, emboldened Sheila to shed her inhibitions. She embraced her love for K-Pop openly, finding empowerment in expressing herself through dance covers and performances.
During that event, Sheila and her group bagged the first place, opening a future full of positive energy and enthusiasm towards Korean music, dance, and their culture in general.
Sheila’s journey, from an entranced child watching a music video, to enduring teasing for her interests, and ultimately evolving into a confident performer, reflects a larger trend among the youth in Cebu.
The rising popularity of K-Pop has birthed a vibrant community that celebrates diversity, creativity, and self-expression.
For Sheila, K-Pop isn’t just about the music, it’s a culture that fosters inclusivity and encourages you to embrace your uniqueness, even if the whole world tells you otherwise.
Today, Sheila Cabedo stands tall as a beacon of inspiration for the youth in Cebu and beyond. She is currently a member of a dance group named N’ovellus in which girls aging from 19-23 express themselves through dancing covers of famous KPop songs.
Her courage to break free from being scared of being judged and wholeheartedly embrace her passion has ignited a movement—a movement that encourages the youth to embrace their interests, regardless of societal expectations.
As she continues to mesmerize audiences with her K-Pop dance covers and performances, Sheila’s story serves as a testament to the transformative power of embracing one’s true passions, irrespective of societal judgment.
In a world where conformity often stifles individuality, Sheila Cabedo’s narrative stands as a testament to the exhilarating freedom that awaits those who dare to embrace their passions unapologetically.