In the Philippines, 2010 is truly the year of K-pop.
Filipino K-pop fans proved once and for all that the Philippine K-pop community is alive and well, as they flocked to the Philippine International Convention Center Forum last December 11 for the 2nd Philippine K-Pop Convention. Organized by the Philippine K-pop Committee, Inc., the event not only provided an opportunity for K-pop fans to have fun, it also gave them an avenue to help improve society through a partnership with Gawad Kalinga.
The event raised ₱500,000 (US$11,400) for Gawad Kalinga's Bayani Challenge, to be held in Cebu on April 4 to 9, 2011, where GK volunteers from all over the world will come together to build a community by hand within a week.
The convention, first held in Starmall Alabang last year, has shown improvement in both attendance and organization. This year's convention featured a fashion show, album launches, costume play, dance contests and the Philippine K-Pop awards. It is truly a joy to see the exponential growth of the Philippine K-pop community within a year of its mainstream inception. The energy that emanated and is still emanating from this event proves that K-pop is here to stay.
Filipino K-pop fans express their idol love
To promote their idols and cater to fan club members, more than 40 fan clubs maintained booths during the convention. The concept of the booths reveal the creativity and dedication of the fan clubs as they spent money from their own funds for these designs.
The standout booths include CloudPH (Rain), CN Blue Philippines, Girls Generation Philippines, Super Junior United, CassPH (DBSK, JYJ), and U-KISSMe. The most coveted items from these booths were the life-size standees and/or tarpaulins that adorned them. I myself had to battle the urge to steal the standees of my favorite K-pop artists.
Visitors who attended the event will agree that the most visited booth was the carnival-inspired booth of Super Junior United. It was interesting to witness how fans patiently waited in line for their turn to have a photo taken with a standee of their favorite member. Chi Chi, a fan club representative, explained that fans were asked to donate money for the photo service and the money raised will be used for food support during Super Junior's upcoming concert on February 26. Other fan clubs also prepared various games and gimmicks for attendees who visited their booths. Girls Generation Philippines, for instance, set up a wheel where visitors might end up having to sing and dance a portion of a Girls Generation song. On the other hand, the Shinhwa Philippines booth featured quotable quotes from members of other idol groups expressing their respect to Shinhwa. The 2NE1 Philippines booth had a dice game; CN Blue Philippines prepared a Guess who? game where parts of the members' faces were cut-up for visitors to identify.
The fan clubs also encouraged visitors to write messages for their idols. SS501's fan club, Triple S Philippines, asked fans to leave a birthday message for one of the SS501 members.
Having witnessed the excitement and love expressed during the convention, it is apparent that Filipino fans have embraced K-pop and their beloved idols. Perhaps Raia, a CloudPH fan representative, expressed it most eloquently when she said that though it would be sad when Rain serves in the military next year, she will continue to make his name known. She added that she will also support MBLAQ, the idol group Rain helped develop.
Filipino K-pop fans put their money where their hearts are
No convention will be complete without merchandise and the 2nd Philippine K-Pop Convention did not disappoint. Aside from the MCA Universal Records booth which sold K-pop albums, there were many merchant booths selling items including fans, posters, pins, light sticks, stickers, and photo cards. Many, if not all, of the fan clubs, also sold official club merchandise including baller IDs, lanyards, pins, and shirts. The SHINee World PH booth offered a truly unique piece of merchandise: the official sky-blue SHINee balloon from Korea. Observing the garb of the attendees, it seemed that the merchandise hit of the convention were the Chikara Hats popularized by Super Junior's Donghae. I would not be surprised if 1 out of 3 attendees actually bought one or more of these cute hats. The Chikara hat will probably be a good way to spot a K-pop fan in a crowd.
Proud to be a Filipino K-pop fan
Having seen first-hand the joy and excitement of more than 5,000 Filipino K-pop fans at the PICC, I have to say that it is truly a privilege to be part of an ever-growing community of K-pop lovers who cross language barriers to enjoy great talent and express their love and appreciation in an inspiring way. We all have high hopes for what next year's K-Pop Convention will bring. One thing is for sure: the passion for the music, the uniqueness of the fashion, and the civic-mindedness of its attendees, can only serve to raise the bar for upcoming conventions.
Source: Yahoo! Philippines (check out the slideshow at the source)
Still bummed that I didn't go.