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What advocacies do P-pop groups VXON, YARA, AJAA support?

by Joanna Deala

HUNDREDS of Korean popular (K-pop) culture fans gathered at the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD) in Quezon City to attend the ninth installment of “HALLYUNIVERSE.”

“HALLYUNIVERSE” is the flagship event of the University of the Philippines Society of Students for Korean Popular Culture (also known as HallyUP), the UPD’s premier Korean Popular organization. 

Titled “HALLYUNIVERSE: 9OLDEN,” the event held at the Ignacio B. Gimenez–Kolehiyo ng Arte at Literatura (IBG-KAL) Theater promoted the K-pop culture in the Philippines by giving opportunities to Filipino aspiring artists and rising artists to showcase their talents.

But beyond promoting K-pop culture, HallyUP’s flagship event is held annually to support advocacies of its beneficiaries. For this year, “HALLYUNIVERSE” initiated a fundraising campaign for the University of the Philippines Transportation Group (UPTG) and Kopino Children Association, Inc.

The UPTG is a group of jeepney drivers that advocates for the rights and welfare of jeepney drivers nationwide, while the Kopino Children Association, Inc. is a non-profit organization that promotes and advances the welfare of Korean-Filipino children and youth in the country.

For its ninth year, HALLYUNIVERSE invited nine sets of artists to grace the event, which included P-pop groups VXON, AJAA, and YARA. Like the event organizers, these young P-pop idols have advocacies that they support, too.

Different advocacies

In an exclusive interview with republicasia, P-pop girl group YARA—composed of Gelou, Rocher, Christa and Kim—shared the different advocacies that each of the members supports.

Photo courtesy: @official__yara | X

For Rocher, raising awareness about animal rights issues is an advocacy she would like to promote to the youth.

“Gusto kong makatulong sa mga stray animals kasi syempre yung mga animals, hindi naman sila yung makakasalita na maiintindihan natin. Kung hindi naman natin sila matutulungan, ‘wag na lang din natin silang saktan,” she said, adding that she aims to donate to animal welfare organizations if given an opportunity.

Apart from this, she said that she also advocates for mental health.

“Sa generation natin ngayon, ang dami ng mga nakaka-stress na nangyayari tapos marami rin na hindi siya binibigyan ng importance,” said Rocher.

She also emphasized that taking care of one’s mental health is as important as keeping an eye on one’s physical wellness.

Meanwhile, YARA’s leader Gelou advocated for the environment, which she believed is being taken for granted.

“It’s not really evident pa kaya siguro yung ibang tao hindi pa super aware or hindi pa sila natataranta na we need to help our environment. Kasi climate change is real. We can feel it,” she said.

Gelou said people can contribute to a greener world in their own little ways through proper waste segregation, or sorting and separating garbage and waste products, to help improve the recycling process.

Christa, on the other hand, would like to promote senior care to help the elders be aware of their benefits.

“I want sana na magkaroon tayo ng more healthcare facilities for them, especially outside the city, sa mga province,” she said.

YARA’s youngest member Kim has an advocacy close to her heart: promoting the rights of all members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

“Lumaki po ako na meron po akong LGBTQ family members. Nakita ko po kung ano yung struggles nila and yung explanation. Doon ko po na-realize yung importance ng acceptance at ng equality,” she said as she pushed for the passage of the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression) Equality Bill.

The SOGIE Equality Bill passed through the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality in December 2022, with the support of 19 senators. The proposed anti-discrimination measure, however, remains pending in Congress for over two decades.

Accessible, free education

As young artists, P-pop boy group VXON—composed of C13, Sam, Franz, Vince, and Patrick—has been vocal in their advocacy for accessible and free education for students in the country.

Photo courtesy: @vxonofficial | X

“Sobrang importante po kasi ng education for everyone na makamit ‘to ng bawat Pilipino, ng bawat bata sa’ting bansa,” said Franz, VXON’s vocalist.

P-pop boy group AJAA—composed of JC, Ash, Alex, and Axl—had the same advocacy as their labelmate, adding that every Filipino citizen has the right to education.

Photo courtesy: @AJAAofc | X

“As students din po, sinu-support po namin yung accessible education for everyone since right po ‘yon ng mga tao na makapag-aral ng libre and accessible sa lahat. Tsaka matutulungan niyo din po yung country natin kapag may education po na accessible for everyone,” said Axl, AJAA’s vocalist.

This was not the first time the boy groups promoted their advocacy for free education. They graced the University of the Philippines (UP) Fair’s “Pop Rising” event in February, which pushed for free and quality education.

Supporting jeepney drivers

VXON’s Franz said that the group also supports the rights of jeepney drivers, whose livelihoods are affected by the implementation of the government’s public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.

“We’re very honored to be part of this event kasi sinu-support din ng event na ’to yung paglaban sa rights nila [jeepney drivers], sa rights ng bawat Pilipino,” he said.

VXON’s leader C13 agreed with Franz, highlighting the challenge that student commuters had to face with fewer jeepneys on the road.

“We all know maraming struggles yung students when it comes to school, and on top of that, nag-sa-struggle din sila na makapunta sa school,” he said.

Despite the obstacles, C13 pointed out how students and the UPTG support one another, with the latter helping Filipino students swiftly reach their destinations.

Now that the PUV consolidation has ended, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) told GMA’s Unang Balita that it would start to flag down and apprehend jeepney drivers of unconsolidated PUVs.

Advice for youth

These P-pop groups also gave some advice to their fellow young individuals, in hopes of creating positive changes within themselves and in society.

YARA’s Gelou emphasized that there’s more to life than spending much time in the online world.

“Enjoy the run. Kasi I think social media has a really big impact ngayon, lalo sa mga kabataan. And I think mas nagfo-focus [sila sa] perception ng tao sa kanila when it comes to physical and everything,” said the P-pop idol.

While social media has its disadvantages, Gelou said that it’s better to use it in the right way. She also stressed the importance of knowing more about oneself and not how others perceived them.

“Yung pinaka-important is to know who you are kasi that will be the first step sa lahat. Doon mag-i-start yung pakikitungo mo sa ibang tao, kung ano yung gusto mong gawin sa mundo, kung ano yung gusto mong i-improve sa mundo, gusto mong i-ambag sa mundo para your life is well-lived,” she shared.

Similar advice was given by Sam, VXON’s rapper, who said that change begins within oneself and not in society.

“Ang tanging advice na maibibigay ko sa inyo is to implement inner change. Kasi when you decide to change yourself and really find your purpose, mag-a-align ‘yan lahat sa actions mo and positively, and unconsciously, mapapansin mo makakatulong ka sa surroundings mo,” expressed Sam.

Franz also advised the youth to keep believing in themselves, and that nothing is impossible when they are focused on achieving their goals.

“You just have to keep on dreaming and keep on believing,” he said.

Meanwhile, AJAA’s leader Ash encouraged his fellow students to give importance to their education and enjoy their youth.

“As early as possible, in a young age, it’s better na may natututunan tayo. It’s better to be educated sa mga nangyayari sa paligid natin. Of course, have fun. Minsan lang tayo maging bata,” he said.

JC echoed this and said, “Dapat every day lagi tayong may natututunan. And every day seize the day!”

Event highlights

Each set of artists had their time to shine on the IBG-KAL Theater’s stage to wow the audience with their energetic dance performances and powerful vocals.

While the P-pop groups promoted their own songs, other performers did dance covers of several hit K-pop songs that had the audience grooving and singing along.

The P-pop idols also participated in various games, such as guessing a dance choreography and giving song titles that started with letters the hosts gave them.

Outside the theater, attendees enjoyed shopping from booths that sold a wide range of K-pop merchandise like photo cards, albums, and stickers.

There were also food and drink stalls to boost their energy for the fun-filled event.

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