‘Pare, sino bias mo?’: When boys learn how to do fan chants

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — While most parts of the world were on lockdown due to the pandemic in 2020, Joc Bulan and his friends suddenly found themselves in a rabbit hole called Korean pop or K-pop, thanks to Blackpink's Netflix documentary "Light Up the Sky."

“We came across this ‘Light Up the Sky’ ng Blackpink, and one of my friends, parang ‘Shoot your shot kumbaga, try lang natin ‘to,’ pinanood lang. And then, eventually, ayun okay naman pala,” said Bulan. “From that point on, mas nag-research kami kumbaga sa four girls na nakilala namin through that documentary.”

[Translation: We came across Blackpink’s ‘Light Up the Sky’and of my friends said, ‘Let’s shoot our shot, let’s try watching it,’ and we just watched it. And then, eventually, we realized that it’s okay. From that point on, we researched more on the four girls that we knew from that documentary.]

READ: Lovesick Boys: Why I’m a Blackpink stan

Bulan is a huge fan of American hip-hop music especially of Eminem, Drake, and Kanye West. Although he is already familiar with the K-pop genre, he thought that such music was all about cute and bubbly concepts.

But his misconceptions on K-pop have changed after listening to Blackpink’s 2020 hit “How You Like That,” an EDM and hip-hop track that matched his music taste.

“Especially within my circle, ang music talaga na pinapakinggan namin was really more on rap, mga Kanye West, Drake, Eminem. I’m a huge fan of Eminem, more or less doon nagre-revolve yung sound na nae-expose ako, “said Bulan.

[Translation: Especially within my circle, the music we usually listen to is more on rap music from Kanye West, Drake, and Eminem. I’m a huge fan of Eminem, so more or less that’s the type of sound that I was exposed to.]

“When you think about the genre siguro ng ‘How You Like That’, more on parang rap and bass heavy, medyo may pagka-EDM nga lalo na sa outro part. Na-realize ko na may ganito palang tunog sa K-pop, kasi akala ko before talaga cute side, parang bubblegum pop,” he added.

[Translation: When you think about the genre of ‘How You Like That’, it’s more on rap, it’s a bass heavy track, and it has an EDM sound on the outro part. I realized that there is such kind of sound in K-pop, because I’ve always thought that it's just all about the cute side or like a bubblegum pop.]

And the rest was history for Joc as he later found himself listening to other K-pop groups such as NMIXX, Le Sserafim, and Stray Kids.

But why are more guys nowadays becoming K-pop fans?


Erik Capistrano, the principal investigator of the University of the Philippines Korea Research Center, noted that males today are more open to show their vulnerability and resort to K-pop music to find refuge.

"Before, kapag lalaki ka (when you are guy) you are typically not allowed to express such feelings," he explained. "But now, we have this growing movement that males are also vulnerable to such personal issues and K-pop has been one of those things that helped us to go through."

For instance, K-pop powerhouse BTS was known for songs encouraging self-love, which Capistrano thought have resonated as well with male fans.

"Ang naging pinakamalaking appeal ngayon ng Bangtan Sonyeodan is their content (Bangtan Sonyeodan's biggest appeal is their content)," Capistrano said. "It all started with their messages of self-love. It resonated not only with the female, but also with the males na parang (that seemed) for the longest time, they’ve been holding to inside."

Even before the term "fanboy" was coined, Capistrano was already a long-time fan of K-pop groups, starting from the 1st generation K-pop boy group g.o.d up to the 2nd generation girl group Girls' Generation in the 2000s.

He noted further that the music genre has become accessible to many because of social media.

“Just because there are so much content out there and there are so many ways to consume it, hindi mo na maiiwasan (you cannot avoid it),” said Capistrano. “It's everywhere and it's so easy to consume such content these days, so it's easy to get hooked.”


Capistrano said that K-pop music has also helped many male fans in terms of their personal and professional growth.

He shared that within the Girls’ Generation fan base that he is part of, five of them fanboys are also busy with their day jobs.

"Nagtuturo ako (I’m teaching), and part of my mandate as a professor is to do research and publish," he said. "Right now, I have at least four academic journal articles, which are research papers on K-pop."

He continued: "Mayroon akong isang case study on K-pop and I've also been invited to talk in a number of symposia, na nakatulong din sa professional development ko (I have a case study on K-pop and I’ve been invited to talk in a number of symposia, which helped in my professional development)."

"Obviously, these opportunities are not limited just to the female fans, so it's also a way for the male fans to grow," he added.

Meanwhile, Bulan was inspired to start his own YouTube channel which initially featured unboxing videos of Blackpink merchandises.

"So bumili ako ng albums tapos gumawa din ako ng unboxing videos pero may hiya pa rin," he revealed. "So ang ginawa ko lang dun sa videos ko ay more on kamay ko lang and even the name of the channel is not my name. Para hindi talaga siya parang mahanap ng friends out of nowhere, kasi may side pa sa akin na nahihiya ako."

[Translation: So I bought albums and I made unboxing videos, but I still felt shy then. So what I did was only my hands were seen in the videos and even the name of my channel was not my name. I didn’t want my friends to accidentally find it, because I was still shy about it.]

Eventually, Bulan became more comfortable and open about being a K-pop fan boy. His channel "Boc Unboxing" later expanded to reaction videos to music videos of different K-pop groups and other content.

Breaking stereotypes

Bulan stressed that looking up to basketball players or having posters of your favorite rock band is no different from idolizing K-pop groups.

"I love Backstreet Boys, I love Westlife, pero ano'ng difference nun (but what’s the difference)? I mean they’re idols, the people we look up to...someday I want to be like him, someday I want to inspire people just like them," he said. “Let's say may poster ka ng Maroon 5 (Let’s say you have a poster of Maroon 5), why is that different from having a poster of BTS?”

“You can enjoy music as it is. Kaya feeling ko ngayon, hindi ko rin masikmura when people are starting to hate K-pop, not because I’m a fan but more on the logic behind na if you think about it, it’s just music as well,” added Bulan. “What's there to hate?”

[Translation: You can enjoy music as it is. That’s why I cannot fathom people starting to hate K-pop, not because I’m a fan, but more on the logic that when you think about it, it’s just music as well. What’s there to hate?]

READ: Escaping through K-pop

For his part, Capistrano defended that not all male fans support K-pop girl groups just because of their physical appearance.

“Simply because we know the story behind kung ano yung pinagdaanan nila to become K-pop idols," he said. "We just want to appreciate na they chose na pasayahin tayo through music."

[Translation: Simply because we know the story behind their journey to become K-pop idols. We just want to appreciate that they chose to make us happy through music.]

“Marami sa mga lalaki, I believe ay may pinaghuhugutan why they chose to follow this group, why they chose to be in K-pop in the first place […] We just want to return the favor, in terms of like ng mga ginawa nila para tulungan tayo sa kung ano man ang pinagdadaanan natin,” Capistrano added.

[Translation: Many of the male fans, I believe have a reason on why they chose to follow this group, why they chose to be in K-pop in the first place […] We just want to return the favor, in terms of what they did for us just to comfort us whenever we are struggling.]