Bini’s charm and the road to P-pop stardom

Bini’s charm and the road to P-pop stardom
Bini: P-pop's latest sensation —BINI'S IG PHOTOS

True enough, the eight-member girl group was named after either from the first or from the last alliteration of “binibini” (Filipino word for a single woman, a young lady mostly described and alluded to a maiden), a reference to the modern Filipino woman as an independent, informed, sweet yet fierce individual.

Without minding, though, the name of one of the national heroes, Apolonario Mabini, also referred to as the Sublime Paralytic, might have influenced Star Magic, its head Laurenti Dyogi and his advisers, to refer the group’s name to the last two syllables of his name.

Dramatist Nicanor G. Tiongson, an active member of the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, has penned a Tanghalang Pilipino stage musical titled “Mabining Mandirigma,” an adaptation of the biography of Mabini, the first Prime Minister of the Philippine government under Emilio Aguinaldo, with the titular role portrayed by a woman, Monique Wilson. 

Mabini, the brains of the Revolution against the Americans, could also allude to Bini as a group of feminine show girls, gentle and brave against all odds.

A few days back, I was told by movie scribe Ismaelli Favatini during a concert of the classical pianist Nick Nangit at the Bulwagang Gat Antonio J. Villegas that the ABS-CBN’s all-female group is also known as Biniverse—a penchant, a binary by adding verse and diversifying a fictional nature to practically anything that could inspire a dreamer, this time, young girls or colleens to conquer any universe by versatility.

Another spunk era

Whatever. The dawn of another spunk era has arrived. After the Aldeguer Sisters, Ambivalent Crowd, Circus Band, 4th Impact or Viva Hot Babes?

Bini is here to stay. Thanks, but no thanks to the K-pop culture which blazed the trail of the more disciplined, refined, unified and focused entertainers who could give any pro or doyen or wizard a run for their money however colonial.

K-pop has been the pursuit and benchmark of Filipino producers, investors, promoters, marketers, entertainers and other stakeholders in the name of multimedia supremacy ever since the success of Koreanovelas on local tubes burgeoning in the advent of the millennium.

Not to be outdone, hallyu or the Korean wave was initially pursued by recording magnate Vic del Rosario of Viva Records when he launched P-pop which stands for the copycat version of Philippine-pop.

Didn’t you know that top-notch actress Nadine Lustre was once a part of it? The other Viva talent, Ella Cruz, was also launched as a P-pop member. As a matter of fact, Viva Entertainment has the longest history of forerunners of P-pop ahead of many big recording companies. Until now, the Del Rosario media conglomerate has been giving breaks to P-pop artists masquerading as K-pop counterparts and they thrive.

It seems though that ABS-CBN’s Bini is the most persistent, most popular and luckiest Korean culture inheritor. Its rise wasn’t a walk in the park but a product of rigorous program training.

‘Star Hunt’

The all-female group is now on top of the Philippine musical charts.

In 2018, ABS-CBN launched “Star Hunt, the Kapamilya Grand Audition” nationwide. The search was the brainchild of Laurenti Dyogi, head of production, to discover new female talents showcasing a Pinoy brand of sing and dance entertainment, an approximation of the Korean pop template.

“Star Hunt” was a tryout in singing, dancing, acting, hosting and even modeling but eventually concentrated on singing and dancing. According to the Bini Fandom site, the 250 passers were trimmed to 50 and later to nine and eventually eight.

But then the health emergency of the coronavirus pandemic was imposed. The situation, however, did not dampen the spirit of the final choices—Aiah (Maraiah Queen Arceta), Colet (Maria Nicolette Vergara), Maloi (Mary Loi Yves Ricalde), Gwen (Gweneth Apuli), Stacey (Stacey Aubrey Sevilleja, Mikha (Mikaela Janna Jimenea Lim), Sheena (Sheena Mae Catacutan) and Djoanna (Djoanna Christine Robles).

The eight were trained from 2019 to 2020 by Kitchy Molina, former chair of the Department of Voice, Music, Theater and Dance of the University of the Philippines’ College of Music; Mickey Perz, an Austrian-born dance coach; and South Korean Pygmalions to their Galateas from the MU Doctor Academy.

Gradually, they were guided and molded to professional outing in the tradition of the Pygmalion effect.

As part of their practice routine, Bini interpreted the novelty song “Da Coconut Nut.” In 2020, they performed the original “Ngiti” of Young JV and Gary Valenciano on Twitter. Online platforms like TikTok, YouTube, X (the former Twitter), Facebook etc. were employed to promote the group.


Bini is here to stay.

In 2021, Bini was soft-launched in live shows “The Runway” and then “The Showcase” from a collective showcase billed “Born to Win” that captivated the audience with their sights and sounds wearing Francis Libiran creations. 

A year later, it was launched in ABS-CBN’s Sunday musical variety show “ASAP.”

A string of digital record albums was waxed with matching MTVs. Endorsements, live appearances, TV guestings and other multimedia exposures were offered and done in 2023.

At the moment, Bini is on top of the charts.

While the girls were being trained and promoted for public consumption, a boyband of sorts to be known later as SB19 was gaining foothold among screaming and shrieking fans in the middle of a dreadful pandemic. It is safe to say, therefore, that SB19 is the male counterpart of Bini.

P-pop indeed is alive and kicking.   

Read more: SB19 is on the ‘P-Pop’ road to stardom

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