Cover Story

“It feels very much like a good introduction to this new era—who we are, who we have become.”

Engrained deep within their very name lies a profound mission: BGYO, known to its legions of fans as an acronym pulsating with purpose—“Be the Change, Go Further, You and I, Originally Filipino”—has long stood as a testament to their commitment to inspire and uplift the youth worldwide while joining the call to reshape the landscape of Philippine Pop.

Photographed by Jerick Sanchez

The quintet, put together by industry juggernaut ABS-CBN, is made up of the dynamic talents of Gelo Rivera, Akira Morishita, JL Toreliza, Mikki Claver, and Nate Porcalla and each hailing from diverse musical and entertainment realms, converges to form a harmonious force poised to redefine the boundaries of creative expression.

Amid the chaos of the shoot location, deep into hair, make-up, and styling options cluttered in the confines of Studio LAJ in Quezon City, the members of BGYO, the Philippines’ ACEs of P-Pop, sit poised, their expressions a blend of contemplation and anticipation. As the recorder whirs to life, Rank Magazine opens a dialogue aimed at delving into the depths of the group’s artistic evolution, thus leading us to what they boldly declare as their new era.

On Gelo: Beaded suit, Thian Rodriguez. Mesh pearl top, Proudrace.

Gelo, towering as the group’s charismatic leader, interjects with a sense of anticipation. “I think for this era, in terms of our music, audiences will witness a different side of BGYO from our first two albums. With ‘Patintero’, itong song na ‘to, magandang introduction siya para masimulan namin yung new era na papasukin namin.”

“When we look at ourselves, understanding and being accountable to who we are as artists, from working with who want to collaborate with in our sessions, joining meetings, down to our schedules, we see how we are now more proactive in being involved with who we are as a group.

Patintero” serves as a captivating invitation of the group to their solid fanbase to join them as they take on this surge to a renaissance of sorts. This song exudes youthful exuberance, with a fresh sound that appeals to a wider breadth of audiences—a direction they are keen to explore further, starting with this bop.

As of this writing, the song, having premiered at the onset of last month, has officially breached the 2 Million mark on YouTube alone. On Spotify, it has made its way to over 600,000 streams barely a month since its music drop—a feat that continues to be celebrated and advocated for by the group’s ACEs, a name fondly attributed to its army of supporters.

From the birth of the group in the midst of an uncertain time in 2021, then exploding to fan acclaim and jubilation, down to its recent celebration of their third year, it is enough to say that BGYO’s titanic rise is, in great lengths, the doing of their avid fans who let out collective squeals with their every move in response to the group’s continuing dedication to consistent rehearsals and trainings, and artistic exercises backed by their management and subsequently their music label, Star Music.

But three years into the game, now that the perfect storm of fan frenzy and critical acclaim that tailed their debut had quieted down, already cementing their spot as one of the most formidable forces to come from the throngs of acts that heeded the rallying cry for P-Pop’s rise, the story of BGYO is not without challenges not foreign to the territory they are treading.

In a series of interviews recently released on TikTok, with ABS-CBN star maker Laurenti Dyogi at the helm, the group intimately divulged and addressed hurdles that contributed to their education as young artists of influence and as growing individuals. The video series, as is expected, continued on to be a polarizing force that sparked discussions between long-standing supporters and naysayers, but, in response, the boys of BGYO, off the infancy of their young careers with a renewed sense of self and purpose, emerge as men raring to roll up their sleeves and set out to further their mission, focusing on their growth—all gas, no brakes.

Photographed by Jerick Sanchez

As the leader of pack, as the day’s dialogue explores the evolution of BGYO’s dynamics from their early days as newcomers to their current status as seasoned performers, Gelo reflects on the group’s journey, “I think tama lang yung track namin ngayon na third year na namin as a group. This is the year that we are most solid, kahit yung chemistry kung paano kami mag work, at paano kami gumalaw as one. Sobrang nag-improve talaga compared to the past years and the most important thing is kahit may isang leader, every one of us can lead.”

He highlights the importance of being able to listen and take charge within the group. As the leader, he observes that their journey over the past years and its lasting impact to their artistry and their person, greatly contributed to their increased efficiency and creative synergy, making them stronger and wiser in their decision-making processes.

Peeling back the curtain, offering a glimpse into their artistic evolution and the ethos that underpins their music—a journey marked by growth, resilience, and an unwavering commitment to authenticity—the group seeks to navigate this new phase with unparalleled enthusiasm and grit, inviting audiences to join them on a transformative voyage of self-discovery and creative exploration.

In a probing exchange, the conversation takes a turn into the collaborative relationship between BGYO and Star Music, inquiring about the band’s level of involvement in shaping their artistic direction. Responding thoughtfully, the group sheds light on the collaborative process, emphasizing the importance of extensive listening sessions that is part of a meticulous selection of songs for what is to be expected as their upcoming album.

Gelo underscores this proactive involvement not only in song selection but also in various aspects of creative planning and scheduling, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between BGYO and Star Music and a shared commitment to artistic excellence and creative synergy. He divulges, “Now, hands-on po kami hindi lang sa songs, kahit sa mga plans and schedules sa creative side and that really helps build up collaborations made between Star Music and our team.”

On Mikki: Printed suit, Randolf Clothing. Mesh top (worn underneath), Proudrace.

Mikki, the soulful main rapper of the group, articulates the essence of the new era, emphasizing growth both as an artist and an individual. “The start of this new era is focused more on our growth as artists and as individuals,” he begins. It’s hurdling the myriad challenges they’ve faced over the past years, that bring this very evolution.

Medyo mahirap yung pinagdaanan namin but because of that, we’ve seen ourselves grow as artists and as persons. We’ve become more hands-on with our artistry, from the songs we choose to release to [crafting] music videos and [fine-tuning] digital art. We’ve immersed ourselves in these creative pursuits.”

Mikki adds, “The group had a lot of listening sessions for this coming album and hindi lang isang beses kasi mas binigyan namin ng time yung selection of songs and also nakapagpasa kami ng mga kanta. So, it’s more of a good collaboration between Star Music songwriters and us because now, we make sure to have this moment na mabigyan ng oras yung process namin at hindi madaliin yung songs, or anything na ilalabas namin for that matter.

On Nate: Graffiti jacket, patch denim pants, and mesh top (worn underneath), all Thian Rodriguez.

Nate, the main dancer and sub-rapper of the group, contributes further to the discussion on the band’s growth and creative inspirations with thoughtful insight. “Some of our influences are still the same, but as time went by, we started becoming a solid form of ourselves. So, we were able to express ourselves in a more certain way. We can say that we are enjoying creating with our own ideas now.”

With this, it is safe to say that the band’s progression towards self-assurance and artistic autonomy has taken a significant shift from mere emulation and homage to their artistic influences to authentic, and organic avenues of self-expression—a clear indication of their maturation as artists.

Transitioning from virtual exchanges to in-person engagements in a “post-pandemic” world, BGYO notes the bigger playground afforded to them now that ideas then incubated and harnessed in lockdown conditions through countless Zoom meetings are given more wings, as they continue their thrust into a freer environment. They acknowledge, however, the difficulty in adjusting to distractions of real-world interactions while expressing optimism about continuously improving despite the challenge of facing such disorienting realities.

After all, it does not go unnoticed that more than three years ago, even before the world succumbed to a haunting standstill, the group joined together, cooped up in a creative sanctum at young, impressionable ages. Coming out to an entirely different world long after their debut, in many ways, is a feat as freeing as it is daunting.

Nate discusses, “With this transition, yes, it did get harder because everything opened up compared to it just being digital. Now, there are so many opportunities and things for us that we can cover. So, we have a lot more things to do and we do what we do before with challenges that are tenfold while in this microscope,” discussing the expanded scope of responsibilities and the need to adapt in navigating the evolving landscape. A challenge, but a welcomed one at that.

Making their strides from the digital sphere to an entirely different post-pandemic landscape marked a pivotal juncture for BGYO, presenting them with a rich tapestry of a combination of challenges and opportunities that have significantly influenced their current position and therefore, their trajectory. 

On Akira: Mahal Kita custom printed button-down shirt and lace cutout shirt (worn underneath), Proudrace. Trousers and patchwork kimono overcoat, Thian Rodriguez.

Lead vocalist and main visual, Akira, emphasizes the advantages of face-to-face interactions, stating, “Mas naging smooth yung process compared dati kapag mayroon kaming request. With face-to-face we get to explain more on what we want with specific sound or execution na we want to do in social media or sa mga execution na kasama yung ACEs.”

On JL: Printed overcoat, and shirt, Randolf Clothing. Leather oversized trousers, Thian Rodriguez.

In, and of itself, the collaborative nature of their relationship among themselves along with the stronger ties bolstered by their management, even as they have gained their footing in the industry continues to be paramount, allowing them to gain muscle in playing around concepts and directions their artistic proclivities would take them.

Main vocalist, JL, shares, “Actually ngayon, we are still guided by our management sa lahat, and we are so blessed that then until now, hindi nawala ang support ng mga taong unang naniwala sa amin, now that we can actually call the shots.”

The Third Act

Photographed by Jerick Sanchez

Marveling on the stronger foundations of what the group has now become, the discussion delves deeper into the challenges and pressures of introducing new material to their dedicated fanbase and inviting more to their growing community of supporters, and of P-Pop as whole. They acknowledge the pressure they face but assert their resilience.

Emphasizing that pressure is a normal part of their journey, the group banks on their strength since day one, maintaining unwavering confidence in themselves and their capabilities, considering it their ultimate weapon.

On Akira: Leather jacket and pants, Thian Rodriguez. Cutout hoodie, Proudrace.

For Akira, the challenges posed by the band’s hiatus and the need to reconnect with their audience through new music is an unnerving task, but one that is met with excitement to further their relationship with the very people that keep them going.

He shares, “After the first two albums, of course, it is challenging for us kasi kailangan namin makahanap [ng paraan] paano makabawi with our listeners, especially with the songs that we are about to release.”

Despite these uncertainties, he, with much verve as with the rest of the group, expresses confidence in the new material and the positive reception it has received. He concludes on a hopeful note, reflecting on the encouraging feedback garnered from their latest release, “Patintero,” instilling a sense of optimism for the band’s bright road ahead. But to the group, it is more than just about coming up with a hit that collects streams, likes, and dancing challenges. It is telling their story and how their own story relates and becomes the story of those who come to listen to them.

On Mikki: Top and pants, Nina Amoncio. Mesh top (worn underneath), Thian Rodriguez.

“Just like this new phase in our careers, in ‘Patintero,’ we aim to convey a message that transcends mere victory or defeat in life,” Mikki muses. “Life, much like the game of ‘Patintero,’ is about savoring the moment, regardless of the outcome. As long as you embrace the joy of the experience, alam mong panalo ka pa rin.

Mikki’s reflection adds a layer of depth to the world of meaning that BGYO builds with each creative pursuit, emphasizing the importance of embracing life’s journey with positivity and resilience, a sentiment echoed not just in their latest track but on their overall body of work. Of note, “The Light”, which recently got a third anniversary commemorative re-release, was a song written about self-love.

Armed by this continuing vocation, Mikki reflects on the band’s growth and readiness for the challenges ahead, “Actually, this new year feels very much like our debut. Because for me, the first two years parang hindi pa kami super ready. Now, we’ve been focusing more on rehearsals, more on how to improve ourselves, let’s say with the creative input. [I think, we are entering this new year], na ready na kami,” leaving an air of childlike wonder and anticipation as BGYO embraces the opportunities presented by the new year, signaling a newfound confidence in their creative vision and direction.

On Nate: Top and pants, Nina Amoncio.

When asked about the timing behind BGYO’s venture into a brand new creative direction, Nate, shares, “I think this is the best time for us musically, because after two albums, ‘The Light’ and ‘Be Us’, we see it being the same. [It’s] the perfect time for us to give something new to our listeners. And leading to 2024, we went through a lot, so it’s a good time now to give something different. We, ourselves, are very different from the years that have passed.”

Separately, the group has seen themselves traipse into forays in fashion, music video appearances, dance, social media, and even theater, each of them tapping into other aspects of their creative sensibilities to bring well-loved outings in their chosen creative outlets. Together, each individual push has glued them altogether, stronger than ever.

On Gelo: Button-down shirt and trousers, Nina Amoncio. Leather skirt and chest leather cage strap, Thian Rodriguez.

Gelo echoes this and expresses, “Lahat kami nag-grow talaga and it’s about time na ipakita namin kung ano pang meron. We really do branch out with everything especially with our solo ventures habang dala yung pangalan ng BGYO. I think that’s also an indication that we are growing as separate individuals and all of these learnings na nakukuha namin sa kanya-kanyang endeavors namin, naa-add sa well of knowledge namin as a group.

On this, highlighting JL and Akira’s involvement in theater ventures such as “Tabing Ilog“, the members emphasize the positive impact of their individual ventures on the group’s overall improvement, to refine their abilities and substantially enhance collective performances and creative output. 

More than that, Akira shares, “Ang maganda rin kasi with having solo projects, even though magkakahiwalay kami, BGYO pa rin kami, with how we introduce ourselves to the world. Mas nakakahatak ng tao para mas makilala pa kami that’s why we’re very thankful for our solo projects,” framing how these individual endeavors contribute to the collective identity of BGYO, enhancing their visibility and enabling them to connect with and to a broader audience.

On JL: Hooded jacket and zip-up pants, Nina Amoncio.

In a forward-looking dialogue, the discussion dives deep into the big plans and future trajectory of the group. JL articulates this collective vision, “I think this year gusto talaga namin mas maganda yung ipakita namin sa mga supporters. Pwede pa rin namin magkaroon ng mga solo agenda pero ngayon parang mas pipiliin namin mag-focus sa mga gawain namin together. Mas gusto namin ipakita, lalo na sa ACEs, na mas solid kami this year.”

Such words reflect the group’s commitment to unity and cohesive vision, amplifying their desire to showcase a stronger and more fully-realized front to their supporters and the industry at large. As they navigate the future, BGYO remains steadfast in their dedication to collective growth and excellence.

When asked about the future prospects for BGYO, Nate shares, “This year, our timeline and our plan is filled with things that are needed for us to be strong as a group. So, it’s a perfect time for that.”

Gelo adds, “Ang dami talaga naming pinaghahandaan this year. Our aim is to focus on what matters and yung makakatulong not just for ourselves but for everyone else.”

Photographed by Jerick Sanchez.

Fresh off the release of “Patintero“, it is no secret that a new string of songs is definitely in the horizon, and with it, the meticulous creation of their forthcoming album. Despite the absence of a confirmed release date, the band pledges to devote their efforts towards ensuring its readiness, reflecting their dedication to delivering a product that resonates deeply with their audience. This glimpse into their creative process offers fans an anticipation of what’s to come, fostering excitement and anticipation for the album’s eventual unveiling.

From reflecting on their growth as a group to embarking on solo endeavors, the members exhibit a profound sense of unity and purpose. With a new album in tow, the group further solidifies their commitment to artistic vision and innovation, promising a future filled with musical richness and depth.

Their latest single “Patintero” emerges as a beacon of youthful energy and creative ingenuity—every bit a part of their DNA, coalescing to the pervading spirit of today’s generation of fighters and dreamers. Serving as an anthem for the generation, the song encapsulates the spirit of resilience and joy in the face of life’s challenges. Its vibrant beats and infectious melodies showcase BGYO’s ability to captivate audiences while staying true to their roots and their ethos as a group.

Learning all of this, it is without question that BGYO’s now-three-year journey of highs and lows, and of bright hues and shadows, is marked by education, evolution, unparalleled vision, and laser-focused ambition. BGYO’s narrative is one of growth, grit, verve, and artistic exploration.

As they venture into this exhilarating new phase, BGYO’s star ascends, illuminating the path ahead with their electrifying presence and magnetic passion for music that continues to fuel the firepower that they already have, constantly pushing boundaries and redefining their role as a force in the P-pop scene.

Produced by Rank Magazine
Creative and fashion direction, styling, and interview by Leo Balante
Photography and art direction by Jerick Sanchez
Video direction and editing by Roniel Sañez
Beauty direction Leo Balante and BGYO
Hair and makeup by Lars Cabanacan
With fashion by Nina Amoncio, Thian Rodriguez, Randolf Clothing and Proudrace
Editorial associates: Kevin Renzo Daniel, Alexi Aquilino, and Nina Tansengco
Final art by Nina Tansengco
Photographer’s assistants: Karl Rimando, Bryle Albano, Toph Villasanta, and Buddy Reyes
Creative partner: Studio LAJ
Made in collaboration with Starhunt, Star Magic, BGYO Management, Star Music
With acknowledgments to the support of Rens Dingli, Miko Cestina
Special thanks to: Nadynne Esguerra, Ayee and Lauren Javier