Updated: May 6
The curious case of SB19 has been such a revelation to me lately - especially from this specific conversation among friends from the Philippines. I’ve always wondered why despite getting massive support abroad from both Pinoy & non-Pinoy fans, the full support this talented group is getting locally still seems to be a work-in-progress. I cannot speak for all the Filipinos in general but I think that the main reason why SB19 had such a hard time getting full support from the locals is not because they are not talented but because of how they are perceived.
Being away from the Philippines for almost half of my life, my main source of Philippine entertainment is the internet. I’ve come across the name SB19 quite a few times through Waleska who reacts to a lot of musical content from around the world. This reactor has an array of K-Pop content in her channel and all along I thought that SB19 is just one of them, hence I never really bothered to check any of their content relating to SB19 – at least until lately when I found out that they’re actually a Filipino group.
However, if you already found out that they're such a talented Filipino group and yet you still refuse to support them, then that's another story. This is where we need to educate ourselves and be more open-minded. Just because SB19 was trained under a Korean company does not necessarily make the group Korean. SB19 did articulate this already despite being bashed. I mean, if we take Toronto Raptors for example, there's hardly any player in the team who is truly Canadian but when they won the NBA championship, it was still viewed as a victory for Canada.
What’s so interesting about the music industry in the Philippines is that there’s such an abundance of talent and yet not very many really succeed internationally. No less than Pablo himself said that they’re not the best and yet - why is it them who 'made it'? I do think that there's something fundamentally wrong about the music industry in the Philippines and the general attitude of the Filipinos towards our own aspiring artists. Based on some broken ideals, we find it difficult to support our own and only recognize them if they managed to 'make it' on their own. We sometimes tend to downplay the achievements of our own local artists but are so quick to identify ourselves with Bruno Mars, Olivia Rodrigo, etc. who although acknowledged their Filipino heritage were not really born and raised in the Philippines.
For those who are continuing to hate on SB19, it's fine if you want to patronize BTS or any other K-pop artists instead. But just in case you haven't realized it yet, you did not discover K-Pop culture (entertainment, music, TV dramas and movies) by accident. K-Pop content is all over the place ready for consumption because the Korean government actually funds its proliferation. This is literally one of the top priorities of the Korean government. Don't get me wrong though. I'm not saying that any Korean won't 'make it' without the help of their own government. But can we at least appreciate the fact that SB19 is not just a product of hype or promotion? They've achieved something because of their own hard work. As American radio host Zack Sang puts it, SB19 is highly authentic!