Ever since their debut amidst the pandemic in 2021, BGYO, which stands for "Becoming the change, Going further, You and I, Originally Filipino," has gone to become one of the new faces and promising acts of Pinoy Pop. In the past two years, they’ve managed to have chart-topping hits and remarkable live shows and TV appearances, as well as received recognitions from various award-giving bodies.
And recently, the boys, namely Nate Porcalla, Gelo Rivera, Jl Toreliza, Mikki Claver, and Akira Morishita, had the chance to open up about the beginnings of their respective journeys, the struggles they went through that led to their current success, and their aspirations as individual performers and a group in their recent interview with Star Magic and ABS-CBN TV Production Head Direk Laurenti Dyogi for an episode of Tatak Star Magic Celebrity Conversations.
Akira disclosed that all of them were scouted, but it was Nate who he first met, yet they didn’t instantly get on well since he felt a bit awkward that Nate was talking to him in English. Meanwhile, Gelo and JL initially met at a special audition, wherein they pitted against each other in a singing and dance battle. As both of them were able to impress the talent scouts, they made it to the next level, with JL being the first one to proceed since Gelo still had to think about it for a day.
Mikki, on the other hand, was scouted by his friend’s manager who helped him gain connections to ABS-CBN and even accompany him to Star Hunt Academy every time he had callbacks and trainings since he was still a minor then.
Direk Lauren commented on how difficult it is actually to form a boy group since it is not easy to look for young talents who can both sing and dance. Thus, they really needed to scout for them. He also reminisced about the first time he met them, recalling that it was Gelo who he first interviewed, that JL came with his mom on their first meeting, and Mikki was brought by his manager to them.
When asked what made them decide to be part of the group, Gelo said that he thought that there are no other opportunities like it that would ever come into his life again, so he grabbed it. It may have entailed several sacrifices, which includes getting out of the normal life he used to have and being separated with his family and friends, but its return has been incomparably huge for him.
JL recounted how he used to be always rejected in the past auditions he got into, which discouraged him to continue pursuing his dream of becoming a performer, until Star Hunt came. He may have to enter a long-term contract and undergo trainings, as well as be separated from his family, but he toughened up himself and thought that it could be the break he’d been waiting for.
Even though it had been his dream to be become an actor or performer, Mikki never took any opportunity to make it come true. However, since Star Hunt Academy offered free homeschooling to its trainees, he decided to grab it in order to help his family by accomplishing his last year in senior high school.
For Nate, becoming a full performer like his Korean pop idols BTS and EXO has been his dream. He might not have succeeded in his World of Dance Philippines stint in 2019, as well as in the first-ever voice lessons he took, but his love for Kpop and his dream of becoming a well-rounded performer motivated him to go for it.
Lastly, Akira almost had the same mindset as JL, confessing that he was actually on the brink of giving up his showbiz dream, too, until someone contacted him to audition and his mom persuaded him to do it. Thankfully, he did despite not being a dancer at first, as his journey in the academy continued and he found himself enjoying the process – from their trainings to personality development courses and experiences. Besides, the pandemic also played a role in his decision to stay.
Direk Lauren the quizzed them how they were able to survive the challenges of the pandemic, with Nate imparting that he’s a home buddy, so staying in for a long time has not been a problem to him. At the same, having discipline and passion for dancing, as well as bonding with his kuyas in BGYO.
Gelo reiterated the value of discipline in being able to overcome the hardships of trainings, because even though they feel demotivated sometimes, it has helped them to create progress every day. Being with each other round-the-clock was also beneficial for they were able to find something that they could laugh or smile about in their gloomy days.
JL may be the kind of person who has a sunny disposition in life, but his Star Hunt journey made him realize that he could still have problems, too. There were instances that he got frustrated on himself because he wasn’t able to perfect their routines, but he just motivated himself everyday.
Mikki also had his own share of down times then, but thinking that he’d already gone far and life had been relatively tough during the pandemic, as well as his faith to their group, made him decide to keep going on.
With regards to the most challenging thing that happened to them during their trainings, Akira said that it would be their sessions with the Korean coaches because of how strict they were from their practices up to their diet, which took a toll on his mental health and caused him to have insomnia.
On the other hand, Nate shared what seems to be the most thrilling and memorable experience they have had as a group during their P-Pop Convention gig. He stated, “All of our performance before we’re usually satisfied po and we’re happy with the reaction. But it’s not as satisfying as this because the crowd before did not come for us or for P-Pop; they came to see a performance just to watch people perform. But for P-pop Con, they came for the whole thing we do – our music, our name, and to see our faces specifically and to see how we perform our songs, and because they appreciate our hard work po. And you could tell by the reactions when we stepped onstage po, they really came for all of us.”
Leader Gelo seconded it by commenting how pure the reactions of the audiences then, proving that they’re indeed true ACEs (as how their fandom is called) and P-Pop fans they all are. JL then imparted how the said event made them truly feel that they’re already loved and well-known as they finally got to see their supporters, instead of just cameras.
When it comes to what their beloved ACEs must watch out from them, Gelo said that they’re going to release fresh music, tap on new genres, offer level-up performances, and new contents for their YouTube channel and social media accounts.
Nate added that they also aim to “make each song really us and each lyric fully us”. Besides, they’re looking forward to be able to produce and do whatever they want, as well as give ACEs whatever they want.
And to make those goals possible, the boys laid the things each of them are willing to commit. Akira said that apart from dancing, singing, and writing songs, he also wants to learn how to produce music since it’s not forever that other people will provide it for them, and they want to express their true selves too. Furthermore, he wants to inspire others, especially the ACEs, to not easily give up on their aspirations.
The same goes with Mikki, who considers further honing their craft and artistry as a way of contributing to the success of BGYO and the P-Pop community. JL echoed it by promising to improve his own skills, allow himself to display his distinct character, and continue being open to what others tell about them. For Nate, meanwhile, it would be to carry himself “much, much nicer and be able to please as much people as possible”.
Before saying his piece, Gelo remarked how delighted he is with the responses of his brothers, saying: “Feeling ko, nasa tamang grupo ako kasi gano’n din ako, gusto kong naggro-grow. So, kapag lahat kami gusto mag-grow at matuto ng lahat ng bagay, grabe ‘yan.”
He then vowed to never lose his hunger to be better in order for him and the whole group to be the best. They also promise to never doubt themselves nor compare themselves with others, and just believe in themselves and in their band.
When asked what Tatak Star Magic they possess, Gelo conveyed that it would be never settling for less, being passionate and hardworking, and having respect and good attitude towards the people around them.
Direk Lauren capped off their lighthearted and insightful conversation by reminding BGYO that he is so proud of them.