The sudden rise of the male pop group SB19 in the music charts, dance showdowns, bigger and wider media outlets like free TV, FM stations, concerts, and social media, has proven one significant thing: Star-making is not the monopoly of private talent management agencies, giant movie outfits, individual discoverers, talent scouts and managers, or big television networks.
Industry Pygmalions and their Galateas who were born peacocks might find the situation more competitive and tough; it won’t do for them to sleep on the job.
Even government institutions can now produce shooting stars.
Not that the traditional handling of talents has stopped altogether. ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., aside from its Star Magic which has extended to its ally pool of talents Rise Artists Studio, has now and then launched newbies in its reality search show “Pinoy Big Brother” and in singing contests or star quests like Star Circle.
GMA Network has Sparkle (formerly GMA Artists), and TV5 has Artista Discovery.
After Sampaguita Pictures, Premiere Productions, LVN Pictures, Lebran Films and its successor Lea Productions, it’s now Regal Films leading the way in grooming new stars. Unfortunately, all these decades it has yet to launch a new batch of Regal Babies, after Gretchen Barretto, Nadia Montenegro and Benedict Aquino, among others, in the 1990s.
In the recent past, Regal Entertainment matriarch Lily Monteverde gave the breaks to wannabes like Ricardo Cepeda, Lorenzo Mara, Raymond Keannu, Mike Magat and Giorgia Ortega in the action and bold genres, and in the millennium, Angelika de la Cruz, Katrina Halili, Carla Abellana, Tom Rodriguez, etc. (Katrina is a graduate of Channel 7’s talent search “StarStruck,” while Abellana and Rodriguez were identified with GMA Network.)
Gov’t’s vital role
SB19—namely Pablo, Josh, Stell, Ken and Justin—might have their own talent agency (initially ShowBT, an affiliate of a Korean company) but the Philippine government has a vital role in burnishing the teens’ star quality.
I hadn’t heard of SB19, particularly before the invasion of Covid-19, even when they were already organized as lab talents creating distinct Filipino song-and-dance pin-ups akin to the K-Pop culture or hallyu.
As a matter of fact, SB19 had started training under Korean mentors, but according to reports, they chose to shift to another management company.
The singing and dancing group is supposed to be the answer to the dream of Filipino talents to get to the international stage like K-Pop.
And then I attended an online press conference of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, where the group was formally introduced as the NCCA Youth and Sentro Rizal Ambassador.
The NCCA might have seen the boys’ potential for influencing and empowering the youth, hence the chance to represent the government program on arts and culture. It might have also noted SB19 as the blueprint in developing and nurturing Filipino stars as rigorously as K-Pop.
SB19 has since been a fixture in most of the NCCA’s events and many public-domain performances, like “Binurda” of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), which displayed the intricate embroidery and design of Philippine weaving.
The CCP as a public estate also launches and stages pop singers, but they are wards (like Poppert Bernadas, Gab Pangilinan, and Arman Ferrer) of managers and mentors (like Ryan Cayabyab and Noel Ferrer).
Finding a niche
SB19’s Pablo, Josh, Stell, Ken and Justin are under 1Z Entertainment these days. That they now have a niche in showbiz is a fact, and a credible one, too. Their association with the NCCA is clearly a factor to reckon with in their search for a place in the entertainment sun.
They have the talents and the looks, surely, but media exposure is also an important thing to consider in their climb to fame. At the moment, they have been invading shows in the big TV networks and, per the surveys and word of mouth, they are gathering throngs of followers. It won’t be a lie to say that the world will soon be rooting for them.
After all, the boys have been performing abroad, too. Their universal appeal continues to be boosted by their affiliation with government institutions that promote Philippine traditions in the course of seeking modern, global participation.